The General Drill
& Other Such Nonsense

By Inferno
(updated 11Apr07)

Unfortunately, because of the way WindowsXP is set up to do its magic with regard to getting legacy applications (for example...those old games we love to play) to run correctly, there are certain procedures and tweaks one must do to accomplish the task at hand. Now, that isn't to say that all games new and old will run on your System. There will be few games which simply will not run natively on WindowsXP...yet. ("D" and "Amber: Journeys Beyond" come to mind here...)
The good news is, that for the games and various programs that will, once these procedures are done you'll only have to make minor adjustments as a particular program requires it. Although a brief version of The General Drill is there for you to see on every Setup, it isn't always necessary to perform it with each and every new game that you install and prepare to play as long as the game before was similar... do it or don't do it; use it or not, the choice is up to you. But if the game doesn't run on your system and there is a Setup Walkthrough for it on this site which says it does, then you have a variable some where, causing a conflict, and the reason is NOT WindowsXP. This is why the General Drill was created in the first place. It is designed to be a set of "guidelines" for the prospective gamer to start an install with a system cleaned of all needless extraneous garbage that WindowsXP seems to collect along its way. While it is perhaps a basic start to what you can do for your particular WindowsXP System, it isn't the only step. I will agree that for some programs it may be all that you need to do, but there may be others which you might still need to tweak more. So let's have a look at some of the possibilities for tweaking here.

Main Index

The General Drill

Some Other Ideas You May Be Looking To Try

Acceleration Levels
AutoPlay (Enable or Disable)
Clean Boot
DOSBox Setup Tutorial
Drivers for Sound & Video
File Extensions
Hotfixes (Removing)
Got SP2? Get The Patch
Increasing Your Files
Safe Disk Fix
Send Me Your Specs
The Task Manager Step
Virtual Memory:Increasing
Virtual Memory:Decreasing
Win Zip

"General Drill"

Let's take a look at the "General Drill"

Whenever I start a new game, especially an "older one," I have always made it a habit to make sure my system is clean. So let's clean house. Our cleaning products?? No, I'm not talking about special Orange Sprays or Smelly Pine disinfectants! I'm referring to the "Three Musketeers" of WINTEL Systems. They are: "Disk Clean Up, "Check Disc” (the old Scan Disc in pre XP Windows based systems)and "Defrag".

Now some people do this in "safe mode" ... and I have to admit that I am one of them...probably because I tend to be rather lazy and like the fact that I don't have to close down so many programs for these 3 utilities to work correctly. I'm also one of those wacky gamers who has a tendency to visit my "Aunties" ('cos I know they love me... Shall I introduce you??? May I present: Auntie Virus, Auntie Spyware, Auntie Adware and Auntie Hijack. Sorry, couldn't resist, but I religiously do use these wonderful programs each time I come off the internet... I DETEST BUGS, CREEPY CRAWLIES of any kind in my System!!!

First, let’s do a Disk Clean Up. Don't know how?

Empty out what you don't need (you'll be surprised at what you can accumulate!) Shut down all extra programs. For those of you who don't know how to accomplish this read on:

The easiest way to terminate your TSRs or Terminated but Staying Resident programs which are also known as background applications, is to right click on each of the little icons in the lower right portion of your Tool Bar. These are located near your clock. As you right click on each of them you will get the option to either exit, close or unload. Do this for each of them. Then, if you have a Screensaver go ahead and disable it. The reason behind this is so these three utilities can run unencumbered. They'll do their tasks more efficiently if you give them this environment to work in.

If you haven't done the Ole Scan Disk in a while... In XP it's called Check Disk and Defragged recently. Here is a good time to do it.

The nice thing about Windows XP is that if it isn't necessary to perform a Defrag of your Hard Drive unless you have to. Windows XP will simply tell you this if you need to...and you can skip this step if the answer is no.

You might want to check on your Video and Audio Acceleration at this time, make sure you set the Video at the 2nd notch from the right. The Audio should be set to the 2nd notch from the right as well

(I find that this is the best setting for many older adventures as a general rule for MY system. Yours may be different, but this is always a good place to start and you can increase or lower them as you see fit after the game is installed.)

Restart your System.

Check your system by doing a Ctrl, Alt & Delete, this will bring up The Task Manager.

If you have closed out all Windows Programs, the field under Applications will be blank. Leave the field marked Processes alone. (Yep, I know there are lots of interesting files in there...but you’re really better off not touching anything in there unless you really know just what you are doing.)

I know this seems like a bother, but if you take the time to make sure your system is sparkling on the inside, you'll have fewer headaches later. Remember, a healthy XP is a happy one.


It's also helpful to either be logged in as either The Administrator, Owner or Power User make sure that your personal log in has full Administrator rights.

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Acceleration Levels
Adjust Your Video and Audio Acceleration Levels

Need to Change your Display or adjust your Video and Audio Acceleration Levels?

No problem.

To change your Display to 800X600 and 16bits True Color, for example:

Right Click--> on the Desk Top--> Properties--> Settings--> Advanced--> Adapters--> Display All Modes--> Choose 800X600/16bits True Color/100Hz. Click OK. Then Click Troubleshoot from the Tab at the Top--> (This is your Hardware Acceleration) --> Move the slider to the right or left depending upon which effect you wish to take place... Click Apply Click OK--> Click OK once more to close Display Properties.

For the Sound: Start--> Run--> Type: DXDIAG--> up comes your DirectX Control Panel. Let it load and then select Sound. Move the slider as you wish to achieve the effect or correct the problems with your game.

Of course always remember to Click Apply, Click OK as the case may be and restart your system.

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Enable or Disable

Sometimes a game will not run properly if your DVD, DVDRW, CD, CDRW-ROM's AutoPlay is engaged. Conversely, Sometimes a game will not run properly if your DVD, DVDRW, CD, CDRW-ROM's AutoPlay is not engaged... and sometimes the game just won't run at all, but hopefully the latter won't happen here with the particular game you've chosen to play.

The fix is a relative simple one and there are a number of ways to accomplish this.

The easiest ones are these:

didn't work? Then try this:

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Clean Boot

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Many gamers has been afraid to load the newer versions of DirectX fearing that if they use anything greater than DirectX8 they will no longer be able to play "Legacy Games" ... Not entirely true. The only difficulty was DirectX9.... and that was only for a short while. I will tell you now that it also depends on which type of Video Card you have and which drivers for that card you are using (you see, it all goes into the mix)

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DOSBox Setup Tutorial

Please click on the link below

The DOSBox Tutorial

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Drivers for Sound & Video

It's been my experience that you should always try as a rule of thumb to have the most up to date drivers for this hardware. However, (there's always a however)that isn't to say that there will be the odd instance where a particular game may not operate well with the latest and greatest video driver... and you may need to roll back to an earlier version.

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The DXDIAG Diagnostic Utility is a wonderful tool to see what is going on in your system with relation to how your Games will perform with your installed hardware such as your Video and Sound Cards. To run this tool is really quite simple. So let's begin:
Go to --> Start --> Run.
When the window popup appears type in the word DXDIAG and then click on OK.
Let the Utility load completely.

At the top of the Utility you will notice a series of Clickable Tabs, marked System - DirectX Files - Display - Sound - Music - Input - Network - More Help. This is for version DirectX9.0c - you may have more tabs if you are running an earlier version of DirectX.

We will be working with only 5 of these Tabs. Right now you are looking at The System Tab Here you can see what your system is made of. Have a look... well gone on ... I'm waiting.

Got it running? Good ... The System Tab shows us what we have on our system. Here you will see all sorts of information about your system such as The Current Date & Time - Computer Name - Your Bios version - Processor Memory (or RAM) - Paging File Usage and Maximum Setting and your Direct X Version installed on your system.

Let's click on the Display Tab

In the upper left quadrant you will see the pertinent information about your Video Card and your Monitor Driver Type.

The upper right quadrant will give you information on your Main display or video driver. The top line will tell you what the Main Driver file name is . The line underneath it will give you the driver version number and it's date.

Underneath this is the section for testing your DirectX Features. Click on each button in their turn to perform the tests.

Now let's click on the Sound Tab.

In the upper left quadrant you will see your Sound Card Device information and in the upper right quadrant you will see the information about your sound card drivers.

Below you will see under the heading of DirectX Features Your Audio Acceration Slider. click on the link to read how this works. To the right of this is a test you can perform for DirectSound.

Now click on the Music Tab

Here you see that the screen is divided into 2 main sections:
General MIDI DLS Collection music ports and DirectX Features.
Under the DirectX Features section there is a test to perform for DirectX Music. Go ahead and click on it and run the test.

There are other tests and features for this Utility - read the help files for more information on these, but for our purposes --- we are done. So the final step is to save our progress.

At the lower bottom of the program you will see a few buttons which are: Helpon the left and Next Page Save All Information and Exit Click on the Save All Information button and save the file to your Desk Top (which is the default) or somewhere else that you can easily find. This file is very useful for seeing where you may have a problem. Many gaming forum techs will ask you to "paste" extremely long file into their threads when posting for help. This way even if you can't decipher it --- they will be able to see your "specs" of your system and any problems your might be experiencing with your drivers and DirectX.

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File Extensions
(They should be showing)

Often times when you are having trouble with a game and you go to a game forum, site such as mine or news group it is very important to make sure that your file extensions are showing and readable. If the not, the main complaint will always be, "But, Inferno, I just don't have that file on my Game CD!" or "The computer didn't copy all the files because I can't find the file you are talking about" or "I can't install the patch because I can't find the file you are talking about". Well, we are going to kick that problem right in its posterior with out any further delay. If you haven't done this as experienced gamers all do, please do it now.

A File Extension is a "suffix" or ending to the files name... every file has one, repeat every file; however (There always is a however) Windows XP comes to the user with the File Extensions hidden by default. My guess is that Microsoft feels that new users just aren't clever enough to have the extensions show... so that their confusion toward their system has less impact. Rubbish, I say. So, what are File Extensions? They tell you what the file does. Here are two examples:

So how can you have these files displayed so that you'll be able to read them? There are many ways to do this, but the easiest is the following:

Go--> Start --> My Computer --> up at the top (just below the Blue Bar Double Click on Tools --> Folder Options--> Click on the View Tab--> and look at the box entitled "Advanced settings".

Here you may see one folder(if you've never been here before) as in the figure above, if so then please Double click on the Folder named: Files and Folders to open up the cascade Shown below:

What you are looking for is located right under the Folder: Hidden Files and Folders. If this folder is also open you may have to use the side vertical side bar to scroll down to the phrase which is highlighted "Hide extensions for known file types" Please uncheck the box. Click Apply. Click OK. Then close out of the My Computer window.

What this does is show to all file extensions, so you will have no more confusion. So what originally looked like this:

will now look like this:

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Sometimes certain Microsoft Hotfixes, while they might be good for "security holes" in Windows XP, can play havoc with certain "Adventure Company" games.

Omega Stone
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Mummy's Tomb

It seems that the problem with these games (and there might be others) is that they will not run if you have Microsoft's Hotfix "KB82414" installed on your system. As soon as you delete the Hotfix, these games will run. Of course before you delete a really should make sure that you have a proper restore point working, so that in the event of and "error" message your can restore and continue on with life.

Here is what The Adventure Company says to fix this problem of the dreaded KB82414

"Hot Fix KB824141of this update for Windows XP leads to display problems in a few of our games, rendering them unplayable. Please call Microsoft at 1-800-936-4900 (press option "1") to obtain Hotfix #833509 that will correct this problem. After installing this Hotfix, restart your computer and play the game.

Alternately, Microsoft has offered a workaround to this problem by removing Hotfix #824141.

To Uninstall the Hot Fix:
1. Open the Start Menu
2. Go to Control Panels
3. Open Add/Remove Programs
4. Select Windows XP Hot Fix KB824141
5. Click Remove
6. Follow the prompts to remove the Hot Fix. If you get any error message regarding win32 or user32 getting corrupted you must stop immediately and click on the start menu button -> all programs -> accessories -> system tools -> system restore -> restore system to an earlier configuration.

Removing the Hot Fix should not place most users at undue risk. Per the Security Bulletin, "An attacker must have valid logon credentials to exploit the vulnerability. The vulnerability can not be exploited remotely."

.....The Adventure Company

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Got SP2? Get The Patch

Many of you have newer Windows XP systems which either have been upgraded to SP2, or your system came with it already installed. Much to your dismay while SP2 has certainly improved many of the security issues with Windows XP; many of your legacy games will refuse to function. The reason is because the SP2 update deletes certain files which allows your NTVDM subsystem to run. This is especially true for DOS programs and a few Windows95 programs as well. Now, if you download this fix from Hewlett Packard (and yes, you can use it even if you don't have a HP system. It should fix your problem.

It is called dosapps_sp2_patch. exe

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Increasing Your Files

There are some games which will not run correctly unless you increase you files to equal a value greater than "40", which happens to be Windows XP default. I have decided to increase mine permanently to "100" which works well with all the games I have played to date.


...just to name a few. How do you do it? ... very simple.

We need to change that in Window XP's "CONFIG.NT" file. This file is located in C:\windows\system32\CONFIG.NT. (Be brave, you can always change it back when your finished playing the game. Although I didn't and don't see any reason too.)

To get to this file, make sure that you are either the administrator for your system or have administrator rights. Then go to --> Start --> My Computer --> Local Disk C --> WINDOWS --> system32 --> CONFIG.NT. Right Click on this file and select "open". A new window will appear:

It will ask you if you want to use a web service to find the appropriate program to open the file, or if you want to select the program from a list that you would like to use. Choose Select the program from a list and Click OK.

A new window will open. Make sure that everything looks like the one in the figure below: You want to open this files with "notepad" and you want to make sure that the box that says "always open with this program" is "unchecked"

Click OK.

The "CONFIG.NT" file will now open in "notepad" ready to be edited. You can save a copy of this file if you feel you need to ..but that isn't necessary, because XP will do it anyway for you. Once you've made your edit, the system will copy the original file and rename it CONFIG.TMP , it will be placed right next to the one we are changing.

Now, scroll down to the bottom of this file ... the very last line should say files = 40. Change the number 40 to 100. Now look up at the top left of the window, click on "File" and then click on save. That's it ... you're almost done. Close out of all open programs down to your Desk Top. The setting won't take effect until you restart your system.

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Sometimes certain Hot fixes or updates can play havoc by altering or deleting certain needed files for your NTVDM. So you should test it periodically. The NTVDM stands for N T Virtual DOS Machine. You can test it simply by

This should start a command prompt window like the one above. If this does not work properly, then there is a problem with the NTVDM subsystem, and you should check the following articles located in
The Library

Troubleshooting MS-DOS-based programs in Windows XP

Err: "Hidden Console of WOW VDM" Running 16-bit or MS-DOS App

Troubleshooting NTVDM and WOW Startup Errors

but hopefully you won't have this problem.

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Many of the older games require a particular version of Quicktime. So, what I've done for myself is searched through my games and applications and found various versions of this program and loaded them all into one place, separate from my XP system. Now, I can install or uninstall the various versions as needed by any particular game. The result: no conflicts with having more than one version of Quick Time

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Many programs and Legacy games, even newer games require "Patches" or "Shims" to help the application to run more effectively. Some times the software, because it was produced at a time when Windows XP, 3D Video Cards, Fast Processors, Hard Drives larger than 2Gig, Various types of CDROM Drives etc...did not exist.(. the list of programs can go on ad infinitum here ...but I'm sure you get the picture) and because of this fact of progress, said application can not cope with the way any of these variables may interact with said program. Sort of like the idea of cramming that old precious "45RPM" recording into a brand new DVD player and then wondering why it doesn't work. Certain obvious conversions have to be made first.

OK, I agree the analogy might be more than a tad over the top, but you get my point. Sometimes the "Patches" or "mini-programs" or " altered .dll or .ini or even .exe" files need to be put into the game folder to replace the "original ones" so that the game will run. My suggestion would be that to avoid further frustrations...with regard to an older game (say more than 1 year old) would be to check the version. You usually can find this either right on the original CD itself or the jewel case or box information, but if you aren't lucky enough to have these items; you can always look at the "Read Me.txt" file on the installation CD (many times this is on CD1) Then it's just a matter of going on to the internet and doing a quick search to see if there is a "Patch" "Shim" or "Update" for it. If there is I would suggest that you download it to a place on your System where you'll be able to find it easily in the event that you need to utilize it for your game. Mine are in two places:

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Safe Disk Fix

When certain programs or applications are created and an additional program known as "Safe-Disc" is added for the sake of "copy- protection", sometimes after installing said program there can be problems with how Windows XP handles the main program, This is especially true if you are not signed in as either "Owner" or Administrator", your system is setup for "fast-user switching". These issues can prevent the game from starting correctly. Sometimes the errors can appear in the form of "CD read" errors. Example: The original "CD" is in the CRROM Drive, however the program will still ask for the CD to be placed into the Drive.

To solve this issue, download this fix but make sure that you are signed into your system as either "Administrator" or "Owner" to install it. SAFE DISC FIX.

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Send Me Your Specs

Ever go to a help website or post in a game forum asking for help on a particular game only to get the above reply??? Why do they say that to me? The answer is simple: We need your "Specs" and the version of your problem along with the exact error response(s) in order to correctly answer your question. Remember for as many Windows XP Home, Pro, Media, SP1, Sp2 and whatever else systems there are in the world there can (and often is) be just as many "Configurations" .

"But, Inferno, I can't find my "Specs". Baloney! Yes you can. Here's how. The easiest way to do this is to login to the Internet and go to The Belarc Advisor. Download the free program (yes, it is safe. No, there is no spyware.) and then let it run. There are your specs. Here below is an example of what information most helpdesks, forums and the like want, you don't ever give them anything personal.

Type Gateway E-3600 4000777
System Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 2002 with Service Pack 1
Processor Pentium 4 CPU 2.00GHz
Memory 512MB DDR Memory
Video Display 64MB NVIDIA GeForce 2 MX/MX 400 AGP

(Driver - nv4_disp - - nVIDIA Detonator 52.16)

Sound Card Creative SB Live! (WDM) Series (Driver 5.1.2603.0)
40x/12x/48x CDRW
16x/48x DVD-ROM Drive
Monitor LG Studioworks 78i
DirectX Version: 9.0c
Virtual Memory & Paging File set to: Min 768Mb/ Max 3840Mb

Now, remember that last two items, Virtual Memory/Paging file and Config.nt will not show on the Belarc Page. But you can get the information easily from the General Drill Page now, since I just know that all y'all have read the entire page through.

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Quick Time:

Many of the older games require a particular version of Quicktime. So, what I've done for myself is searched through my games and applications and found various versions of this program and loaded them all into one place, separate from my XP system. Now, I can install or uninstall the various versions as needed by any particular game. The result: no conflicts with having more than one version of Quick Time.

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Spy Ware

Believe it or not but this stuff (Spyware, Adware, Viruses, Trojans, Worms, BHOs, Junkware, any Try-This-I'm-Sure-You'll-Like-It-Even- Though-You-Didn't-Ask- Me- For-It-Ware, Phone-Home-Ware,Drive-By-Ware and just plain Garbage that doesn't belong.) can really slow down your system. Learn how to weed it out and practice "SIBM" or Safe Internet Browsing Methods. I guarantee that your relationship with your Computer will most definitely improve ten-fold.

So, just what is Spyware and how do I get it off from my System? Well, if you use your Computer to access the Internet... all I can say is "You must be Vigilant!" ... And you also must have some protection. I do have programs that I use and recommend.

But keep in mind there are a whole plethora of various programs out there to help you. The ones above are the ones that work for me. You may need these, you may need others. It's a personal choice, so I encourage you to find and try different ones until you find the ones that are right for your needs and the needs of your system.

You might want to take a look at an article I wrote recently about "Spyware and the Like"and what's out there to help us combat it.

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The Task Manager Step

Many of you already have your system's set to perform a "clean boot" when you restart your system, but for those of you who do not want to set your system this way please make sure that the following is done before installing and playing a game:

explorer.exe Owner
vsmom.exe SYSTEM
svchost.exe (there may be more than one instance here)
spoolsv.exe SYSTEM
devldr32.exe Owner
Isass.exe SYSTEM
winlogon.exe SYSTEM
csrss.exe SYSTEM
smss.exe SYSTEM
System.exe SYSTEM
System Idle Process SYSTEM

You will not need to perform the Task Manager Step again unless the Install Program tells you to restart your system. In which case go ahead and restart it or let the application do it for you by clicking on Yes. Once your computer is restarted, the Install Program has totally finished its work and all patches have been applied, close out of all programs once again and repeat the Task Manager Step.

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Virtual Memory

Increasing Virtual Memory

For those of you who would like to know how to increase your Virtual Memory, have a read below, but I will caution you here: read the following article before attempting this, take the time to understand it as well. To have Windows select the best paging file size, click System managed size.

Remember that the Recommended Minimum Size is equivalent to 1.5 times the RAM on your computer. The Recommended Maximum Size is equivalent to 3 times the RAM but not larger than 4095Mb; which is the Pageing File LimitSo if you have the same Memory as this example below -- it might help you to understand

RAM = 512Mbs

Recommended Minimum Size = 1.5 X 512Mb RAM or 768Mbs.

Recommended Maximum Size = 3 X 512Mb RAM or 1536Mbs.

This means that for Best Performance, do not make the initial size to less than the Recommended Minimum Size under Total paging file size for all drives. (See third graphic below)

This is because the Recommended Minimum Size for your Paging File is equivalent to 1.5 times the RAM on your computer as well. While many experts will tell you to leave the Paging File at its recommended size, you may still increase it if the programs which you frequently use on your system utilize a lot of memory.

Get it? Good.

If you click on "Change" you can then see what your "Virtual Memory is set to."

I strongly suggest that you write your initial configuration down somewhere safe, so that you may be able to change it back if you need to.

My system's initial size is actually set right now to 1500Mb as the minimum (my maximum is set to 3000Mb) and seems to work well with almost all the games and applications I use (even the new ones). The setting won't take effect until you restart your system.

Decreasing Virtual Memory

Note**There will be the odd game which will refuse to play with Maximum Virtual Memory settings larger than 1532Mb... case in point is SaferCracker. This game will run with settings between Minimum 400Mb - 766Mb and Maximum 800Mb - 1532Mb. For a system which has 512Mb RAM we can run this game perfectly well with my Virtual Memory set to Minimum 766Mb and Maximum 1532Mb.

Which ever you need to set your Minimum to for your system always set your Maximum to Double your Minimum.

Remember, however... when you've finished with your gaming session, you must return to the original or recommended Virtual Minimum and Maximum or you other applications may not run correctly.

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Win Zip

It's come to my attention that some you have trouble with WINZIP. I've written a short tutorial on how to do it. The Win Zip Tutorial

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hope they help...

Begin your adventure.


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Please write to: Infernos Adventures
Copyright©10/2004 INFERNO