yes they are off. I did just recently discover this whole form thing, but i 
did not know about the session variables. I put the session registration 
code up in another post, if you would not mind looking at that and 
recommending changes. in the mean time I'll try and get up to speed on the 
new stuff. I really appreciate the help.

>If you upgraded to the new version and overwrote your old php.ini file then
>they are off.
>If you have access to the php.ini file you can open it and search for
>"register_globals" and see if it is set to On or Off. If you do not have
>access to the php.ini you can use :
>$reg_glob = get_cfg_var("register_globals");
>print "$reg_glob";
>I think it will display a 1 for on and a 0 for off.
>If they are off you can either get used to the new, more secure way of 
>things, or you can turn them back on in the php.ini file or in a .htaccess
>file in your directory. If you choose the .htaccess method you only need to
>add the following line to your .htaccess file:
>php_flag register_globals on
>If you decide to use the new, more secure method session vars will be in 
>of two new global arrays:
>  more info about that can be found here:
>So, in your case, $valid_user would become $_SESSION['valid_user'] or
>With register globals set to off you will find that forms will no longer
>work the way you think.
>if you had a form with <input name="var" value="testing">  in it and you
>submitted it on the next page you would expect that $var would be "testing"
>but it is not! Now you must use either $_POST['var'] for form method=post
>and for query strings in URL's or method=get forms you would use
>If you have any more questions I'll help you out.

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