i know how to access safe mode via the f8 method.
i would like to acquire as much info about all the features and options available immediately following the msdos screen (the screen with the flashing dash in the upper right hand corner).
what i am hoping for, is as many tutorials and articles as i can get. i wish to become as close to an expert as i can be.
to be fair, i will also be posting this request on other sites. i hope it's ok. i would also be willing to share any info with anybody who wants it. Ed James

If you have a comunity college close by look into taking a class for windows XP, this will teach you the basics of using the OS and provide you with a vocabulary which will allow you to ask specific questions once you start looking on line.

As an alternative I did a quick google for windows tutorials and found several, I might suggest that you try that as well. Here is one that I thought might help.

a very quick briefing on what i think you want. I assume you are talking XP. Then, for a start, you do not need to go into Safe mode to play with this stuff - safe mode is just a mode where windows loads a small subset of the available drivers and processes, and you have a limited choice of subsets available - safe mode with explorer, with networking, or with command prompt. Less stuff loaded, less chance of loading things with errors. It sounds like you loaded the last. Your screen has a black background because the full colour map is not loaded. And the "MSDOS" box you refer to is not that at all, it is a command window... running cmd.exe. It is not the same as DOS.
So play with this from normal mode so that you have access to the net for more info.... just go start > run, and type cmd, and press OK [or Enter]. And the window that opens is the same as you got in safe mode, except that it opened in C:\Docs and Sets\User [that's you]>
You can change it to C:\> by typing cd c: \ [and press Enter]
So what can it do? if you want a list of commands and their options, type help
-that immed gives you a list of common commands and a one line description of what they do
- to get more info on a command type it and /? as the parameter. eg: at /? Note that there is always a single space between the command and any parameters that follow....
But that is not all, there are more available, and to see them do this. In normal mode, go Start > Run, and paste in this line exactly, and enter it:
%windir%\hh.exe ms-its:%windir%\Help\ntcmds.chm::/ntcmds.htm
Toggle it to full screen, and go nuts. There is a wealth of opportunity there.... read it, learn it all, and we will not hear from you for another 6 months...
You want more? Then if you load Safe mode with minimal drives you get the explorer window [it's the uppermost option]... and then, as in normal mode, you have access to the Start > Run window.
And a whole new world of possibilities opens. When you are ready for it, just ask.

dcc and gerbil,
i am checking out what you both have given me. thanks, and more is always welcomed, Ed James

i hope you bounce back to my thread. i tried what you said, but it didn't work. the attachment will explain it better than i can. any ideas on why it's not working? thanks, Ed James

Ed, i am afraid that you have come up against the infinite wisdom of M$. That command is only available in XP Pro..... Not only that, but M$ are not afraid to recycle anything, so that guide you are working thru will not be totally accurate. Some commands will not work in the cmd.exe window, but must be used via Start > run....
Anyway, if you are desperate for any specific and missing command you can generally copy em from a friend's XP Pro CD and load em into the corresponding folder... but in the case of systeminfo it can be easier, even better, to use the Help & Support centre in xp.
Go to Start > Help And Support.
Under the Pick A Task heading on the Help And Support Center page, click Use Tools To View Your Computer Information And Diagnose Problems.
On the Tools page, select My Computer Information in the Tools column.
On the My Computer Information page, select any of the links to view a graphical report of your system.
Or go on the web and dl this beauty, Belarc Advisor from:

please check back to my thread when you can. i will let you know when and if there are any problems. maybe even use the screenshot feature. i get a lot of mileage out of that tool. i am getting on this immediately. thanks again, Ed James

i know that belarc is a well respected, reputable name, but what if i want to uninstall it? it doesn't mention uninstall in their faq.
good suggestion about the help and support center. i never really went in there and explored in depth before yesterday.
your suggestion in post #3 where you say to run %windir%\hh.exe ms-its:%windir%\Help\ntcmds.chm::/ntcmds.htm worked fine. thanks, Ed James

belarc... it will come up in your add/remove pgms list as is normal [for good software, anyway..]. Meaning, it creates an install.log and comes with its uninstaller.
I try hard not to give advice, point to pgms, methods, that i have not test run. Sometimes that is not possible... and then i will point that out.

it sounds to me like it will be even better use on my dad's computer than my own. i haven't got a clue what's on his, and it needs some attention.
i'll download it right now on my own computer and i will know what to expect. now that i have a definite thumbs up, i feel alot better. i have this healthy dose of cowardess that sometimes hurts me. i've heard of belarc from the kim komando show, a radio show about all things digital.
hope it's ok to give you a hollar if i have a problem. thanks again, Ed James