BOOT CAMP 181 (28/06//01)




Computers are not inanimate objects, they're wilful, deceitful, belligerent and unreliable creatures, conspiring to make their owner's lives a misery, at least that's the impression you'd get from reading the huge number of emails, letters and faxes sent to us. In spite of the understandable hostility many readers feel towards sick or disobedient machines we prefer to think of PCs as our friends, who just need a little TLC now and again and what is abundantly clear is that the same problems crop up time and again. This week we look at the second and last batch of causes and cures for your ten most troubling technical traumas.



Over the past eighteen months we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of virus and email worm attacks on PC users. Most of the time it is just a nuisance and fortunately the incidence of really destructive viruses, the kind that erase or corrupt data on a PCs hard disc drives, is still relatively low. Nevertheless email worm outbreaks like 'Kak' and 'Love Bug', which replicate by sending out infected emails to everyone in the users address book, have the potential to cause enormous disruption, as do the inevitable hoaxes and scares that follow in their wake. The vast majority of worm and virus attacks are a direct result of security loopholes in Microsoft's Outlook Express, so if you are using OE version 4 and early releases of version 5, supplied with Windows 95 and 98 and NT you should install the security patch available from the Microsoft web site (

support/kb/articles/q262/1/65.asp) without delay.


All this is merely first aid, though, the only way to stop this kind of thing happening over and again is to protect your PC with an up to date virus scanner, and keep it current with regular downloads of the latest virus signatures!



Computers don’t last forever. Three to four years is a good average for a home or office machine, before it's replaced or retired. During the average PC's lifetime it becomes filled with countless files, email messages, addresses and favourites lists, utilities, programs and configuration tweaks that make it as uniquely personal as a fingerprint. Starting over with a new PC can be a daunting task, reloading programs is not too difficult, it's all the other odds and ends that takes time, so in readiness for the big day start organising your current machine now. Create a new folder in which to keep the originals of all downloaded zip files, programs and utilities, so you will know where to find them.


There are several ways to transfer data and configuration files from one PC to another, if you have a CD-RW drive you can 'burn' as many CD-ROMs as necessary. A Direct Cable Connection (DCC) between the two machines is a quick and simple way to copy files (see Boot Camp 67 & 68, 8th & 15th April 1999) ). My favoured method is to temporarily install the hard drive from the old machine in the new PC. Most desktop PCs have a spare data connector and power plug for a second hard drive, all you have to do is set the jumper cables on the back of the old drive to 'slave' setting (there's usually a diagram on the case). When the PC boots up it will recognise the second drive and allow you to copy and paste files from it to the new drive.



Printers are surprisingly reliable it's the driver files and ink cartridges that cause most of the problems. If your printer starts playing up your first port of call should be the Windows 98 Printer Trouble-shooter, which you will find in Windows Help (under Printer on the Index tab). The Windows 95 version is on the installation CD-ROM in D:\Other\Misc, and click on 'Epts'. Most printer problems – erratic behaviour, printing gobbledegook etc. – can be resolved by deleting the old driver and re-installing, preferably using the latest version, available from the printer manufacturer's web site, and while you are there have a look through the FAQ to see if there's any mention of your particular problem.



When the clock on your PC starts loosing time or during boot up you start seeing messages like 'CMOS checksum error – load defaults?', the fault is almost always a dead or dying backup battery. The battery, which supplies power to the PC's internal clock is mounted on the motherboard and usually last for between 3 to 5 years. Replacement can be a simple DIY job, or a nightmare, depending on the make and type of motherboard. If you are in any doubt have it looked at by an expert.



Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 is generally well liked, easy to use and mostly reliable but one thing that's guaranteed to get F!F!F! Reader's backs up is the ease with which it can be 'branded'. That's all the logos and messages that litter the IE5 desktop, after you load a signup disc supplied by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This unwanted and blatant advertising drives some users to distraction but the worst of it is when the branding stays, even when you switch to another ISP. Here's how to get rid of it once and for all.


There are two parts to this procedure, close Explorer then delete (copy or rename if you are of a cautious disposition) any bitmap file (extension .bmp) you find in the 'signup' folder, this is located at: C:\program files\internet explorer, in fact you can safely delete the whole signup folder if you have switched to another ISP. Part 2 is trickier and involves editing the Windows Registry. It's not difficult but if you never done it before I strongly suggest you read our guide to the Registry in Boot Camps 126 and 127.


Open Regedit and make the customary backup then drill down to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\

Internet Explorer\Toolbar, there you should find two keys: BrandBitmap and SmBrandBitmap, right-click on each one in turn and select Delete. Finally make your way to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\

Internet Explorer\Main and look for a key called Window Title, which you can delete in the same way. Exit Regedit and restart Internet Explorer.

Next week – Shssh, secrecy!





The main printed circuit board inside a PC, containing the main processor chip (Pentium etc.) memory chips (RAM) and plug-in expansion cards or ‘daughter’ boards



A program or file intended to fix or work around a problem in a software application



A large, constantly changing file in Windows 95/98 & ME containing details of how your PC is set up and configuration information for all the programs stored on the hard disc



Here's an interesting freeware (to home users) utility that claims to be able to spot and zap those incredibly annoying 'pop-up' ads that appear whilst you are browsing web pages. Adsubtract also blocks cookies and in theory will speed up download times having removed all of the clutter. If you want to give it a try pay a visit to:

Search PCTopTips 



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