FACTS! FAX! 342 (03/12/02)
The Computer Club at our local secondary school was recently
given about 50 semi-obsolete (Pentium 200) desktops for refurbishment and
distribution to the poor and elderly, each machine comes with a copy of Windows
95 on CD. The hard drives are wiped and the condition of each unit is unknown.
What's the best way to test and determine characteristics of the machines?
David Dreaming Bear
Do what manufacturers the do. The simplest way to test a PC
is to load Windows. The installation disc carries out a number of tests on the
hardware before and during installation, which will flag up any serious faults and
once Windows has loaded you’ll be able to check the PC’s performance and
profile status from System in Control Panel
Some time ago you mentioned a download for Windows 95 that
would delete addresses from the address bar in Windows Explorer and the shortcut
arrows on desktop icons. Do you know whether it has been updated for Windows
That sounds very much like our old friend Tweak UI, which is
part of the Microsoft Powertoys suite of desktop tools. Version 1.33 is
suitable for Windows 95, 98 ME/NT and 2000 and you’ll find it, along with
download and installation instructions at: http://www.microsoft.com/ntworkstation/
Incidentally you can remove those Internet addresses without
the assistance of Tweak UI, just go to Start > Settings > Taskbar &
Start menu, select the Start Menu Programs tab and click the Clear button.
In February this year I bought a new PC and specified
Windows 98 for the operating system. It was loaded with the second edition of
98, which comes with Internet Explorer 6, rather than IE 5.5, which I had used
previously. For a couple of weeks all was well and then, when browsing a site,
the system seems to freeze. Either the progress bar flashes full, goes
grey and the Explorer icon plus 'Done ' appears at the left of
the progress bar, or it is impossible to get a response from the back
button. It is then necessary to refresh and this can take nearly a
minute. Sometimes I even have to refresh my homepage (I use Google) to
activate it when I get on line for the first time.
I have asked a number of IT professionals but none can help,
although two have mumbled something about "known problems," or
suggest that it is not as reliable as 5.5. Should I remove IE6 and
reinstall 5.5, or is there an alternative such as an update or a patch
Eddie van der Straeten, Cambridge
Patches and updates are sometimes half the problem,
replacing or updating files that are better left alone. There are plenty of
possible causes for IE freezing but one that’s definitely worth investigating
is to replace a system file called oleaut32.dll, which can become corrupted
when IE is updated. The easiest way to reinstall it is to use the System File
Checker utility. Type ‘sfc’ (without the quotes) in Run on the Start menu,
select ‘Extract one File…’ then type oleaut32.dll into the box, load your
Windows 98 installation disc, click Start and follow the prompts.
I have a PIII 500 PC with a 17-inch SVGA monitor and a 32 MB
Riva TNT2 AGP Graphics Card. My display is partially corrupted in that any dark
area on screen produces a horizontal dark band the entire width of the screen.
This band moves as the dark area is relocated, so it is not burnt onto the
screen. Does this indicate a monitor or a graphics card fault?
It sounds very much like a monitor fault but before you try
your PC with another display check the settings in Display in Control Panel,
and make sure that you are using the latest/most appropriate driver for your
system by visiting the manufacturer’s web site (www.nvidia.com/content/drivers/drivers.asp)
I am using a d Dell computer with Windows XP and Netscape
6.2 as a browser, via a standard 56K modem to my local service provider.
When I start up the browser, it brings up the connection request window, I
click the connection button and it dials correctly. However, when I shut down
the browser, there is no reminder that I am still connected to the telephone
line and I have to click on the local service provider icon to bring up the
window to enable shut down. This means that there is always the
possibility of forgetting to shut down modem, keeping the phone line engaged.
By the way, broadband is not an option as it is not available where I live!
Firstly you should enable the connection icon, which appears
in the System Tray, next to the clock. This appears, and blinks, all the time
you are on line and uploading or downloading data and you can easily disconnect
by clicking on it. Second, set the connection ‘time out’ so that your PC
automatically disconnects if there’s no on-line activity. To do that go to
Start > Control Panel and click the Network Connections icon, right-click
your modem in the Dial-Up section at the top and select Properties. On the
General tab check ‘Show Icon in Notification Area….’, then select the Options
tab and under Redialling Options set a time, 2-minutes, say, from the drop-down
menu next to ‘Idle Time before Hanging Up’.
I am having some valuable archive 8mm film transferred
professionally to video tape, and then wish to load it onto my computer for
editing before returning it to tape. How do I connect my VCR to my computer in
order to be able to stream video from and to the VCR? I have an nVidia GeForce2
MX 32mb video card. I assume I need another card of some sort.
Geoffrey Shaw, South Croydon
You might want to ask whoever is carrying out the transfer
if there’s the option to also copy your movie as data files to a CD-ROM or
Video CD (or DVD if you have that facility). This bypasses the analogue to
digital conversion stage, which will degrade the picture when you download your
movies from the VCR onto the PC. If you want to go down the VCR route you will
need a video input module, like the Pinnacle Linx (currently £36 at
Amazon.co.uk), which plugs into one of your PC’s USB sockets. You will also
need a graphics card with a separate composite or S-Video (TV) output in order
to get your edited footage out of the PC and on to a VCR. These are readily
available from PC specialists like ebuyer.com; prices start at under £25 for
AGP and PCI types.
Some time back you listed a very useful trick to sound an
audible warning whenever the caps lock was pressed. I have upgraded and lost that
facility. Could you please remind me of how to set it up?
If your PC has an internal speaker (it bleeps when you first
switch it on) you can enable ‘ToggleKeys’ from the Accessibility icon in
Control Panel. If Accessibility isn’t shown you will have to install it from
Add/Remove programs in Control Panel, select the Windows Setup tab and it’s at
the top of the list. Otherwise try a little freeware utility called FirstCap,
which can be downloaded from: http://www.falsinsoft.cjb.net/