In the last article, we talked about networking as a way to make our lives more convenient. This month, we are going to collect information from each of our computers. My instructions will be based on the XP operating system. Any changes to this grid will be based on what type of sharing you decide to use. Even if you make no changes, having this information may be useful at a later time.

Start by creating the grid or table with four columns for computer information and a column labeled with the names of each person who uses computers. The computer columns should be labeled Location, Name, Workgroup and Sharing Type. Now you will go to each computer and record your computer information.

The computer location simply identifies where the computer is in your house. Your labels might be downstairs or den. Use any type of descriptor you want—the idea is to have an easy way to identify to which computer the information refers.

To find the Name and Workgroup, you will right-click on the My Computer icon on the desktop or Start menu. A popup menu will appear; choose Properties, and a dialog box will appear. Click on the tab called Computer Name. On this tab, you will find Full Computer Name, followed by the name of computer, as well as Workgroup, followed by the name of your network. The name of your workgroup may be Workgroup. Record this information and then click Cancel.

Next, you will collect information about the file sharing type. To do this, double-click on the My Computer icon on the desktop or choose My Computer from the Start menu. The My Computer window will open. From the menu at the top, choose Tools and then from the drop-down menu, choose Folder Options. The Folder Options dialog box will appear. Click on the View tab. On the bottom half of the tab, use the scroll bar to move to the bottom of the Advanced Options list. There will be an option called Use Simple File Sharing (recommended) which will have a check box in front of it. If it is checked, indicate simple in your grid; if it is unchecked, indicate not simple. Click Cancel.

Finally, we are going to record information about computer users. To list existing users, right-click on the My Computer icon on the desktop or Start menu and choose Manage. Under System Tools, click the plus next to Local Users and Groups. Next, select or click on Users. On the right-hand side, all the users on your computer will be listed—don’t worry about the “extra” users for now. Jot down the exact name of each user that corresponds to a name on your grid. Right-click each these users and choose Properties. On the Properties dialog box, choose Member of. Record the group listed, usually Administrators, Users or Power Users. Click the X in the upper right-hand corner.

Congratulations—your documentation is done! Next month, we’ll look at file sharing. TPW