Houston We Have a Problem… 022 17/02/07


Losing Your Cool

For the past seven or eight months my computer has been shutting down quite unexpectedly; it then keeps on rebooting itself until eventually an error message appears stating that the computer has been shut down to protect the system (or something to that effect).  Sometimes I can go for weeks without this problem, sometimes days. The only way I have been able to correct this is to unplug the computer from the mains, wait an hour or two and then try again. Any clues as to what might be causing this and how I can avoid it in future?

Roy Hurst, by email


This sounds to me like a cooling problem. My money would be on a failing or clogged CPU cooling fan, especially if you use your PC operates in a dusty or smoky atmosphere. CPU fans often wear out after three or four years and usually the first sign they are about to pop their clogs is an intermittent high-pitched whine from the bearings. Otherwise dust and fluff can foul the fan blades or reducing the flow of air through the finned ‘Heat Sink’ mounted on top of the processor chip.


It may only need mucking out; this is something you can do yourself with an ‘air duster’ (a can of compressed gas, available from most PC and stationary suppliers for around £5.00), to clean out your computer’s cooling system – just remember to do it outside...


If the fan is running slowly or stopping then it needs replacing. It is not an especially difficult or expensive job though it does involve close contact with some very delicate components on the computer’s motherboard so if you are not entirely happy about tinkering with your machine’s innards leave it to the experts. Incidentally, on many recent PCs you can monitor the temperature of the CPU from the BIOS program (see your manual for details) or by using a free utility like Motherboard Monitor (http://mbm.livewiredev.com/), which will also alert you if the temperature it exceeds a safe, preset value.



What’s ‘dat’ attachment?

As a member of a small investment club, I receive emails from our Chairman with Word and Excel file attachments. Unfortunately these arrive as "dat" files which although I can download them, they make no sense at all when I try to open them. At least three other members experience the same problem and we would all like to be able to open them to see what is happening to our investments. The attachments are called "winmail.dat" files which he says he writes using Microsoft Word.

Richard S. by email


My guess is the Chairman is using Microsoft Outlook to send those emails. You could install a decoder program like WMDecode (http://www.biblet.freeserve.co.uk/) but since other members of your group are also being affected it would be better to ask him to change the way he sends those messages. The simplest option would be to use Outlook Express; otherwise he can make some configuration changes to Outlook to stop it happening. These are outlined in Microsoft Knowledgebase article 138053 (http://tinyurl.com/2cmokw)



Words In Word won’t go away

I typed a page in Word and saved it. Now every time I open Word it is still there on the first page. I have opened the file and deleted it. I have gone to Search found it and deleted it, but it is still there. I have uninstalled Word and reinstalled Word and it is still there. Please tell me how do I get rid of it?

Fred Glasscoe, by email


What has happened is that that you have accidentally entered text into the blank ‘Normal’ document template, which opens every time you launch Word. To remove it you need to edit the template file in Word. It is not easy to find so go to Open on the File menu and work your way to C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates and double-click to open ‘normal.dot’. Once on the screen you can delete the rogue text and Save it and the next time you open Word the page should be blank. 



Printing Web Pages

I want to print certain web pages but it nearly always ends up with parts missing from the right hand side of the page. I have tried changing the margins and switching from portrait to landscape but all with no success.  Any ideas?

Joan Nixon, by email


Changing the paper orientation sometimes helps but the basic problem is that most web pages are simply not designed to be printed. Nevertheless, there are one or two other things you can try. In Internet Explorer select Print Preview and use the Shrink to Fit menu to see if that manages to squeeze everything in. Otherwise I suggest that you try the Mozilla Firefox browser, which does a much better job of printing awkward web pages. Firefox is free (download it from: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/). You can continue to use Internet Explorer, or both browsers at the same time, should you feel so inclined.





© R. Maybury 2007 2901

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