Computer Problems
Our own The Fixit & problems computers Club of wizards have put together this information page to help you solve your problems. This will include such things as why your pc froze, what are cookies for, and what do those error MSG mean? Someone from the Goldtoken team will be on most days, so if you get a problem and can’t fix it then feel free to send one of them a message.

What do you do when your computer suddenly seems possessed? Whether it's satanic software or a rebellious hard drive, there are hundreds of vexing problems that can make it devilishly difficult to get anything done.

Don't call for an exorcist just yet. For most people, a little troubleshooting knowledge goes a long way. We'll show you how to solve puzzling network failures. Not every trick will work for everyone, but they are worth a shot when things go bad. With a pinch of luck and a bit of skill, you can send those digital demons back to wherever they came from.

If you need more help we have a club that has a great bunch of computer nerds who will help out in any way. If you need further assistance, send a message to one of the Presidents of The Fixit & problems computers Club, who are always available.


FAQ
Why does my computer freeze?

1) Virus
  • Test each computer on the network for a virus. Do a virus check with the latest anti-virus software. Some viruses can hide in the boot sector and are invisible for some anti-virus software. Boot the computer from a clean bootable disk or CD and then do the virus check.
2) Configuration
  • Check the configuration settings.
    • Open the following files in the root directory:
      • AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS
      • Change all the settings to remarks as follows:
      • Type REM followed by a space in front of each line e.g.
      • REM Files=200
      • REM DOS=high
      • Save the changes and re-boot the computer.
3) Free disk space
  • Make sure that there is enough free disk space. Windows needs a minimum of 100 Mb free space. To check the free disk space, do the following:
    • Double click on MY COMPUTER
    • Right click on (C:)
    • Click on PROPERTIES
4) Windows settings
  • Set all Windows settings to the default settings:
    • Click on START
    • Click on SETTINGS
    • Click on CONTROL PANEL
    • Double click on SYSTEM
    • Click on PERFORMANCE
    • Click on VIRTUAL MEMORY
    • Let Windows manage my virtual memory settings.
5) Screen saver
  • Disable all screen savers:
    • Right click an open space on the windows desktop.
    • Click on PROPERTIES
    • Click on SCREEN SAVERS
    • Click on the up arrow and set the screen saver to none.
6) Hardware devices
  • If a hardware device like a CD Rom is faulty it can freeze a computer.
    • Shut down the machine.
    • Disconnect the power, open the box, disconnect all hardware devices, close the box and restart the machine.
7) Hardware conflict
  • Each hardware device has an electronic address. If two devices is set to the same address, it can cause trouble. To look for hardware conflict:
    • Click on START
    • Click on SETTINGS
    • Click on CONTROL PANEL
    • Double click on SYSTEM
    • Click on DEVICE MANAGER
  • If a device is not working properly, it will be indicated by a red X or a yellow !
  • All devices should be working properly.
8) Memory managers
  • Disable all external memory managers.
9) Other applications
  • Close all other applications.
10) Start-up
  • Disable all applications that load into memory at start-up.
    • Click on START
    • Click on SETTINGS
    • Click on TASKBAR & START MENU
    • Click on START MENU PROGRAMS
    • Click on REMOVE
    • Double click on START-UP
    • Click on the program that you want to remove from the start-up.
    • Click on REMOVE
11) Power saving
  • Power saving options can freeze a computer.
  • Disable all the power saving features of Windows:
    • Click on START
    • Click on SETTINGS
    • Click on CONTROL PANEL
    • Double click on POWER MANAGEMENT
    • Change all the settings to always on.
    • Disable all the power saving settings in the CMOS set-up:
    • Restart the computer.
    • Press DEL at the start-up before Windows loads to enter the CMOS set-up.
    • Go to power management and disable all the power saving features.
    • Save the changes and start the machine.
12) Operating system
  • Renew the operating system by re-installing Windows. This can be complicated. You will need the Windows CD and the certificate of authenticity with the serial number. The Generic printer driver will be altered and has to be re-installed according to the Microvet manual.
13) Bad sectors
  • Run scandisk in the full mode. There should not be any bad sectors. Bad sectors indicate physical damage on the hard drive. Such a hard drive is unreliable and should not be used for the file server.
    • TIP: Change the file server. Move the data to another computer and set that up as the new file server and change the old file server to a workstation.
14) UPS
  • An UPS gives emergency power supply. A faulty UPS can freeze a computer. ** Disconnect the UPS and connect the computer directly to the power supply and see if it makes any difference.
15) RAM
  • RAM can easily become faulty and freeze a computer. Replace the RAM with new RAM and see if problem is solved.
16) Fan
  • The power supply has a cooling fan. If the fan does not work, the power supply will overheat and freeze the computer. Test for air blowing out through the ventilation openings at the back of the computer.
17) CPU fan
  • There is a cooling fan on the CPU. If the fan does not work, the CPU will over heat and freeze the computer. Get a computer technician to open the box and inspect the function of the fan.
18) Network cables
  • Loose connections of network cables can give problems. Check all the connections and replace loose connections. Replace damaged network cables. Most Ethernet network cards are supplied with a disk that can test the cable. Run the diagnostic test on the network card. Co-axial cables, t-pieces, and terminators can also cause trouble.
19) HUB
  • Check the connections at the hub and make sure that the pilot lights of the hub burn.
20) Network cards
  • Shut down the computer, switch it off and disconnect the power. Open the box and make sure that the network card is firmly seated in the slot.
  • Most Ethernet network cards are supplied with a disk that can test the cable. ** Run the diagnostic test on the Network card.
  • Replace the network card
21) Format the hard disk
  • Do NOT do this unless you have experience in this field.
    • The operating system, all programs and all data will be lost. Make copies of everything. Make sure you have the Windows CD with the serial number, copies of all the software and backups of all the data.
    • Format the hard disk
    • Install Windows
    • Install all the applications
    • Install the printers
    • Restore the data
    • Configure the network
22) CPU
  • Replace the CPU and see if it makes any difference. This has a financial implications, so leave it as a last alternative.
23) Mother board
  • Replace the motherboard and see if it makes any difference. This has a financial implication, so leave it as a last alternative.

My mouse quit working correctly

Question: Why do I have to use my arrow keys to get to where I need to be?

The most likely explanation of this problem is that your browser's mouse functions are being disabled probably by Javascript. You can try disabling Javascript for example in Internet Explorer by

1. Left click on Tools from the menu bar.
2. Click on Internet Options from the drop down menu.
3. Click on the Security tab.
4. Click on the Custom button.
5. Under (Java)Scripts, click on the disable option.

Note you want to disable Javascript or Scripts not Java which is different.

Of course disabling Scripts will effect the functionality of your browser so you may need to re-enable it.

If this doesn't work, it could also be your mouse needs cleaning or replaced.

What are cookies?

Web sites use cookies to simulate a continuous connection to that site. This makes it more convenient for users by allowing them to visit pages within a site without having to reintroduce themselves with each mouse click. Contrary to popular fears and misconceptions, cookies were not created to spy on or otherwise invade the privacy of Internet users. Cookies contain only information that users volunteer, and they do not have the capability of infiltrating a user's hard drive and sneaking away with personal information. The simple function of a cookie is that of helping the user navigate a web site with as little obstruction as possible.

Cookies are small data structures used by a web site (server) to deliver data to a web client (user), request that the client store the information, and in certain circumstances, return the information to the web site. Web sites can thus "remember" information about users to facilitate their preferences for a particular site and allow the use of user passwords. The web site may deliver one or more cookies to the client. The client stores cookie data in one or more flat files on its local hard drive.

Cookies allow web sites to maintain user information across HTTP connections. The current HTTP protocol is "stateless," meaning that the server does not store any information about a particular HTTP transaction, each connection is "fresh" and has no knowledge of any other HTTP transaction. "State" information is information about a communication between a user and a server, similar in many ways to frequent flyer profiles or option settings in desktop software. (For example, a preference for aisle or window seats is cookie-like information that a frequent-flyer program might store about its customers.) In some cases it is useful to maintain state information about the user across HTTP transactions.

For Internet Explorer 5 and above, you can follow these directions to clear out temporary files and delete cookies.
  1. Open Internet Explorer and click on Tools
  2. Click on Internet Options
  3. On the General Tab, in the middle of the screen, click on Delete Files
  4. You may also want to check the box "Delete all offline content"
  5. Click on OK and wait for the hourglass icon to stop after it deletes the temporary internet files
  6. You can now click on Delete Cookies and click OK to delete cookies that websites have placed on your hard drive.

To clear the Internet History in IE:
  1. Open Internet Explorer and click on Tools
  2. Click on Internet Options
  3. On the General Tab, in the middle of the screen, click on Clear History
  4. Click OK

To clean up other temporary files on your computer in Windows 98 or higher:
  1. Click Start, Programs (or All Programs), Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup
  2. Choose the correct drive, usually C:\
  3. Check the boxes in the list and delete the files

What is a ‘Virus’?

Computer viruses are called viruses because they share some of the traits of biological viruses. A computer virus passes from computer to computer like a biological virus passes from person to person.

There are similarities at a deeper level, as well. A biological virus is not a living thing. A virus is a fragment of DNA inside a protective jacket. Unlike a cell , a virus has no way to do anything or to reproduce by itself -- it is not alive. Instead, a biological virus must inject its DNA into a cell. The viral DNA then uses the cell's existing machinery to reproduce itself. In some cases, the cell fills with new viral particles until it bursts, releasing the virus. In other cases, the new virus particles bud off the cell one at a time, and the cell remains alive.

A computer virus shares some of these traits. A computer virus must piggyback on top of some other program or document in order to get executed. Once it is running, it is then able to infect other programs or documents. Obviously, the analogy between computer and biological viruses stretches things a bit, but there are enough similarities that the name sticks.

What is a ‘Worm’?

A worm is a computer program that has the ability to copy itself from machine to machine. Worms normally move around and infect other machines. Using a network, a worm can expand from a single copy incredibly quickly.

Types of Infection

When you listen to the news, you hear about many different forms of electronic infection. The most common are:
Viruses - A virus is a small piece of software that piggybacks on real programs. For example, a virus might attach itself to a program such as a spreadsheet program. Each time the spreadsheet program runs, the virus runs, too, and it has the chance to reproduce (by attaching to other programs) or wreak havoc.
E-mail viruses - An e-mail virus moves around in e-mail messages and usually replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to dozens of people in the victim's e-mail address book.
Worms - A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself. A copy of the worm scans the network for another machine that has a specific security hole. It copies itself to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts replicating from there, as well.
Trojan horses - A Trojan horse is simply a computer program. The program claims to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead does damage when you run it (it may erase your hard disk . Trojan horses have no way to replicate automatically.

An Ounce of Prevention

You can protect yourself against viruses with a few simple steps:
  • If you are truly worried about traditional (as opposed to e-mail) viruses, you should be running a more secure operating system like UNIX. You never hear about viruses on these operating systems because the security features keep viruses (and unwanted human visitors) away from your hard disk.
  • If you are using an unsecured operating system, then buying virus protection software is a nice safeguard.
  • If you simply avoid programs from unknown sources (like the Internet), and instead stick with commercial software purchased on CDs, you eliminate almost all of the risk from traditional viruses. In addition, you should disable floppy disk booting -- most computers now allow you to do this, and that will eliminate the risk of a boot sector virus coming in from a floppy disk accidentally left in the drive.
  • You should make sure that Macro Virus Protection is enabled in all Microsoft applications, and you should NEVER run macros in a document unless you know what they do. There is seldom a good reason to add macros to a document, so avoiding all macros is a great policy.
  • You should never double-click on an attachment that contains an executable that arrives as an e-mail attachment. Attachments that come in as Word files (.DOC), spreadsheets (.XLS), images (.GIF and .JPG), etc., are data files and they can do no damage (noting the macro virus problem in Word and Excel documents mentioned above). A file with an extension like EXE, COM or VBS is an executable, and an executable can do any sort of damage it wants. Once you run it, you have given it permission to do anything on your machine. The only defense is to never run executables that arrive via e-mail. By Following These Simple Steps You Can Remain Virus Free

Some Useful sites for good antivirus/malware protection


http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html
http://www.grisoft.com/doc/1

How Firewalls Work

If you have been using the Internet for any length of time, and especially if you work at a larger company and browse the Web while you are at work, you have probably heard the term firewall used. For example, you often hear people in companies say things like, "I can't use that site because they won't let it through the firewall."

If you have a fast Internet connection into your home (either a DSL connection or a cable modem, you may have heard about firewalls for your home network as well. It turns out that a small home network has many of the same security issues that a large corporate network does. You can use a firewall to protect your home network and family from offensive Web sites and potential hackers. Basically, a firewall is a barrier to keep destructive forces away from your property. In fact, that's why it’s called a firewall. Its job is similar to a physical firewall that keeps a fire from spreading from one area to the next.

What It Does

A firewall is simply a program or hardware device that filters the information coming through the Internet connection into your private network or computer system. If an incoming packet of information is flagged by the filters, it is not allowed through. Let’s say that you work at a company with 500 employees. The company will therefore have hundreds of computers that all have network cards connecting them together. In addition, the company will have one or more connections to the Internet through something like T1 or T3 lines. Without a firewall in place, all of those hundreds of computers are directly accessible to anyone on the Internet. A person who knows what he or she is doing can probe those computers, try to make FTP connections to them, try to make telnet connections to them and so on. If one employee makes a mistake and leaves a security hole, hackers can get to the machine and exploit the hole.

With a firewall in place, the landscape is much different. A company will place a firewall at every connection to the Internet (for example, at every T1 line coming into the company). The firewall can implement security rules. For example, one of the security rules inside the company might be:
  • Out of the 500 computers inside this company, only one of them is permitted to receive public FTP traffic, allow FTP connections only to that one computer and prevent them on all others.
  • A company can set up rules like this for FTP servers, Web servers, Telnet servers and so on. In addition, the company can control how employees connect to Web sites, whether files are allowed to leave the company over the network and so on. A firewall gives a company tremendous control over how people use the network.

Firewalls use one or more of three methods to control traffic flowing in and out of the network:
  • Packet filtering - Packets (small chunks of data) are analyzed against a set of filters. Packets that make it through the filters are sent to the requesting system and all others are discarded.
  • Proxy service - Information from the Internet is retrieved by the firewall and then sent to the requesting system and vice versa.
  • Stateful inspection - A newer method that doesn't examine the contents of each packet but instead compares certain key parts of the packet to a database of trusted information. Information traveling from inside the firewall to the outside is monitored for specific defining characteristics, then incoming information is compared to these characteristics. If the comparison yields a reasonable match, the information is allowed through. Otherwise it is discarded.

What It Protects You From

There are many creative ways that unscrupulous people use to access or abuse unprotected computers:
Remote login - When someone is able to connect to your computer and control it in some form. This can range from being able to view or access your files to actually running programs on your computer.
Application backdoors - Some programs have special features that allow for remote access. Others contain bugs that provide a backdoor, or hidden access, that provides some level of control of the program.
SMTP session hijacking - SMTP is the most common method of sending e-mail over the Internet. By gaining access to a list of e-mail addresses, a person can send unsolicited junk e-mail (spam) to thousands of users. This is done quite often by redirecting the e-mail through the SMTP server of an unsuspecting host, making the actual sender of the spam difficult to trace.
Operating system bugs - Like applications, some operating systems have backdoors. Others provide remote access with insufficient security controls or have bugs that an experienced hacker can take advantage of.
Denial of service - You have probably heard this phrase used in news reports on the attacks on major Web sites. This type of attack is nearly impossible to counter. What happens is that the hacker sends a request to the server to connect to it. When the server responds with an acknowledgment and tries to establish a session, it cannot find the system that made the request. By inundating a server with these unanswerable session requests, a hacker causes the server to slow to a crawl or eventually crash.
E-mail bombs - An e-mail bomb is usually a personal attack. Someone sends you the same e-mail hundreds or thousands of times until your e-mail system cannot accept any more messages.
Macros - To simplify complicated procedures, many applications allow you to create a script of commands that the application can run. This script is known as a macro. Hackers have taken advantage of this to create their own macros that, depending on the application, can destroy your data or crash your computer.
Viruses - Probably the most well known threat is computer virus. A virus is a small program that can copy itself to other computers. This way it can spread quickly from one system to the next. Viruses range from harmless messages to erasing all of your data.
Spam - Typically harmless but always annoying, spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. Spam can be dangerous though. Quite often it contains links to Web sites. Be careful of clicking on these because you may accidentally accept a cookie that provides a backdoor to your computer.
Redirect bombs - Hackers can use ICMP to change (redirect) the path information takes by sending it to a different router. This is one of the ways that a denial of service attack is set up.
Source routing - In most cases, the path a packet travels over the Internet (or any other network) is determined by the routers along that path. But the source providing the packet can arbitrarily specify the route that the packet should travel. Hackers sometimes take advantage of this to make information appear to come from a trusted source or even from inside the network! Most firewall products disable source routing by default.

Some of the items in the list above are hard, if not impossible, to filter using a firewall. While some firewalls offer virus protection, it is worth the investment to install anti-virus software on each computer. And, even though it is annoying, some spam is going to get through your firewall as long as you accept e-mail.
The level of security you establish will determine how many of these threats can be stopped by your firewall. The highest level of security would be to simply block everything. Obviously that defeats the purpose of having an Internet connection. But a common rule of thumb is to block everything, then begin to select what types of traffic you will allow. You can also restrict traffic that travels through the firewall so that only certain types of information, such as e-mail, can get through. This is a good rule for businesses that have an experienced network administrator that understands what the needs are and knows exactly what traffic to allow through. For most of us, it is probably better to work with the defaults provided by the firewall developer unless there is a specific reason to change it.

One of the best things about a firewall from a security standpoint is that it stops anyone on the outside from logging onto a computer in your private network. While this is a big deal for businesses, most home networks will probably not be threatened in this manner. Still, putting a firewall in place provides some peace of mind.

Some good firewalls if you need one

http://www.softperfect.com/products/firewall/
http://www.jetico.com/index.htm#/jpfirewall.htm
http://www.fs-security.com/
http://www.kerio.com/us/kpf_download.html
http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp


What Causes Things Like Fatal Exception Errors And Invalid Page Faults?

When a program like Microsoft Word or Excel "crashes," it means that something has gone seriously wrong during the program's execution. The operating system often recognizes that there is a serious problem and kills off the offending application in a clean way. When it does this, the operating system will say something cryptic like "fatal exception error" (and often display a large collection of hexadecimal numbers that are totally useless to you, the user, but might be of some use to the original programmer). The other way for a program to crash is for it to take the operating system down with it, meaning that you have to reboot.

Even though there is nothing you can do with the cryptic error messages, it might be nice to at least know what they mean! So let's go through the three most common:
Fatal exception error - An application program like Microsoft Word is made up of many layers and components. There is the core operating system, an operating system services layer, perhaps an encapsulation layer on top of the system services, hundreds of software libraries, internal function/class libraries and DLLs, and finally the main application layer. Most modern operating systems and languages (like C++ , Java support programming concepts known as exceptions and exception handling. Exceptions allow different layers to communicate problems to each other. For example, say that a program needs some memory, so it asks the operating system to reserve a block of memory. If the operating system is unable to honor the memory request (because the requested block is too big, or the system is low on memory, or whatever), it will "throw a memory exception" up to the layer that made the request. Various layers may continue to throw the exception upward. Somewhere along the line, one of the layers needs to "catch the exception" and deal with the problem. The program needs to say, "Wow -- the system is out of memory. I need to tell the user about this with a nice dialog box." If the program fails to catch the exception (because for some reason the programmer never wrote the code to handle that particular exception), the exception makes it all the way to the top of all the layers, and the operating system recognizes it as an "unhandled exception." The operating system then shuts down the program. Well-designed software handles all exceptions.
Invalid page fault - A program uses memory RAM to store data. For example, when you load a document into Microsoft Word, large parts of the file you are editing take up space in RAM. As the program needs memory, it requests blocks of memory of specific sizes from the operating system. The program remembers the location of each block it allocates using a "pointer." If the program tries to write data to a location beyond the end of a memory block, or if the program gets confused and tries to access a non-existent block of memory using an invalid pointer, the operating system can see that happening and generates a "page fault" or a "segmentation fault." The operating system shuts down the program because the program obviously does not know what it is doing.
Illegal operation - A microprocessor has a finite number of instructions it understands, and each instruction is represented by a number known as an "opcode." The opcode 43 might mean "add," the opcode 52 might mean "multiply," etc. If the microprocessor is executing a program and comes to an opcode that it does not recognize or that it cannot execute because of the current state it is in, then the microprocessor stops to complain. The operating system handles this complaint by shutting down the offending program. Illegal opcodes normally come from software jumping to a location in memory that does not contain valid program information.
Steps to change security settings

Some browsers have difficulty viewing sites protected by 128-bit encryption. Two versions of Internet Explorer, in particular, present problems.
Here are some steps which may fix the problem.
1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Click on help.
3. Click on About Internet Explorer.
4. Cipher Strength should be 128 bits, if it is not, then please click on (Update Information)
5. A new window will be opened. On this window click on NEXT button.
6. In the agreement page click on I AGREE button.
7. On the next page click on the blue DOWNLOAD button
8. On the file download dialog box, check the option for run this program from its current location. And click OK button.
9. Answer YES for the next question and for restart your computer.
Those steps will change your Internet Explorer security settings, you now have the highest security while surfing the net.

What to do about error messages during Windows startup
You may have seen a strange message when Windows is loading. If it only happens once, don't worry about it. If, on the other hand, it is recurring, many different things can cause it. Here are the usual culprits:
A file can't be found- A driver or program is configured to load when Windows starts, but the file is either corrupt or missing. Usually this means that you need to reinstall the driver or application, or remove the reference (if the respective device or application has been removed).
A driver won't load- This could either be that the driver is corrupted, or the device that the driver controls isn't functioning properly
Virus- Viruses can cause this type of problem, and malfunctioning viruses can as well! Scan your system with updated anti-virus software.

The following are places that files or drivers can be specified to load when Windows starts. Often simply removing the reference to the file solves the problem - at the very least, locating the driver will help determine the culprit.
  • Look in your Startup folder (usually found in your Start Menu folder) for outdated or unwanted shortcuts.
Older programs might still install themselves in your WIN.INI file (on the same line that starts with "LOAD="). Use Notepad to edit this file. (Windows 95, 98, and Me only)
  • Search your Registry for the filename. Try looking in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Run for a place to start.
Programs notorious for putting things in these places include backup utilities that automatically load their useless scheduler programs, and the software that comes with older versions of Microsoft mice and keyboards.

Troubleshooting Driver Problems

Drivers are used to help your computer communicate with a specific piece of hardware, and if the driver is flawed or outdated (both very common), the device will either not work properly, or will cause another device not to work properly. Contact the manufacturers of the various devices in your system for their most recent drivers; most are available for free download (be sure to scold the company if they try to charge you for drivers for their products). Newer drivers can also improve performance and add new features. This is especially true of video drivers; new versions can improve speed and can increase the maximum resolution and color depth of your display. In fact, most visual problems (flicker, mouse cursor problems, and even errant font behavior) can be attributed to buggy video drivers. Although it's a good policy to check with your manufacturer for the most recent drivers on a regular basis, you should only do so if you have the time to spend on it (new drivers may introduce new problems, as well). In other words, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

Top reasons for random, fatal crashes in Windows XP and Windows 2000

Have you been experiencing random crashes in Windows XP or Windows 2000, and you can't find any reason for them? Windows XP and Windows 2000 are both supposed to be (and typically are) much more stable than Windows 9x/Me, but there are still things that can bring down the entire system in a heartbeat, displaying the BSD (Blue Screen of Death) or simply restarting. Go over this checklist and see if any of these apply to you.
Power Supply - a bad (or insufficient) power supply is the most common cause for random crashes, especially if you have a lot of cards, drives, or fans, or have a dual-processor motherboard. A 350W or 400W power supply is recommended if you're experiencing this problem.
A mix of FAT32 and NTFS drives - If you have more than one hard disk, and there are different file systems on each one, try converting them all to NTFS.
Audio Card Drivers -try removing your sound card, or at least uninstalling and then reinstalling the drivers.
USB Hub - if you have a USB hub, try eliminating it and see if that solves the problem (especially if you have a USB-based Palm cradle and your system crashes every time you hotsync).
Overheating - a computer will crash if the processor overheats. Make sure the CPU fan/fans are working, and that the processor temperature (read in the BIOS screen) is within normal limits. Make sure your computer case has adequate ventilation.
Bad memory - a bad memory module can cause this problem. Try removing one of the modules (if applicable) to see if that solves the problem; rotate through all modules until you've found the culprit. Note that some computers require memory to be installed in pairs, so, for example, if you have four modules, you'll have to remove two (no more, no fewer) for this test.
  • Note: these things aren't necessarily problems in and of themselves, so if you're not experiencing random crashes, don't waste your time solving problems that aren't there.

These errors are usually caused by a bug in software, where two applications (or drivers) try to use the same part of your memory. For the most part, these are intermittent errors, and aside from the annoyance, they can be ignored.
If, however, this is happening frequently, it can be caused by anything, including bad RAM, buggy drivers, and disk errors (run SCANDISK to correct). The best strategy is to try to figure out how to reproduce the problem, and then contact the manufacturer of the offending product. Write the message down, but keep in mind that all of those numbers (memory addresses) are absolutely useless to you; don't bother recording them unless a technician specifically asks you to do so. If you have reason to believe it's hardware related, a bug, or an error in software that causes it to work improperly or not at all. This term comes from an occurrence when an actual bug made a nest in an early hard-wired (without software) computer, causing it to malfunction.

Dealing with Bad Memory (RAM)

Bad memory can manifest itself in anything from frequent error messages to your system simply not starting. Errors in your RAM aren't always steady or reliable, either - they can be intermittent, occurring at completely random intervals. The first thing you should do is pull out each SIMM, and make sure there isn't any dust or other obstruction between the pins and your motherboard (don't use a wet rag to clean this, however). Make sure all your SIMMs (or DIMMs) are seated properly; they should snap into place, and should be level and firm (don't break them testing their firmness, however). If all that is in order, there are two ways to determine if your RAM is actually faulty.

The first way is to use a software testing program (CheckIt <http://www.checkit.com/> and Windsor Technologies' PC Diagnostics <http://www.windsortech.com/>, both commercial packages, are the only programs we know of that do this) to run a continual test of your RAM (have it repeat the test many times, perhaps overnight).

The second way is to go to your local computer store and buy more RAM. Replace your SIMMs one-by-one until the problem subsides - if this doesn't work, there is nothing wrong with your memory. If you find a bad SIMM, toss it.

Resolving Hardware Conflicts

A hardware conflict occurs when two devices try to use the same hardware resource, such as an IRQ or memory address. The telltale signs of a conflict is either a particular device not working, or your system hanging or crashing every time you try to use a specific device. Nearly all devices made since 1996 are Plug-&-Play (PnP), meaning that they adjust these settings automatically to avoid conflicts. The more PnP devices you have, the less likely you are to experience a conflict. (For non-PnP devices, resources are assigned by setting jumpers or switches on the device itself, or by using special drivers or software.) So, what remains is trying to resolve conflicts between non-PnP (Legacy) devices; here is a general attack strategy for this type of problem:
1.) Open the Device Manager, select System from the top of the list, and click Properties. Windows tries to list all your resources, and which ones are being used by which devices.
2.) From here, you should be able to determine if there is a conflict, and which devices are causing it. Now, it's only a matter of reconfiguring one or more of the devices so that the conflict is eliminated (refer to the specific device's manual for information on changing its settings). If you can't find the cause of the problem here, continue to step 3.
3.) Remove or disconnect all unnecessary devices (sound cards, CD-ROMs) from your computer, except for the one that isn't working (if applicable). If the device still doesn't work, either it's broken, it's a driver problem (see below), or the conflict is with a key piece of hardware (such as the motherboard or video card).
4.) If the problem seems to have been fixed, start adding devices one-by-one, until the problem reappears. You've now isolated the culprit, and it's now only a matter of reconfiguring that device so that the conflict is eliminated (refer to the specific device's manual for information on changing its settings).
5.) Note that drivers can cause problems, too.

Prevent File Corruption Problems

Run Scandisk (scandskw.exe in Windows 95/98/Me, or chkdsk.exe in Windows 2000/XP) whenever you suspect a problem. This includes if the system crashes whenever you try to perform a particular action, and if a particular program or driver refuses to load. It's also good practice to run Scandisk and the Disk Defragmenter (Windows 95/98/Me only) after a serious crash of any kind, as well as on a regular basis (such as at the end of the week).

File not Found Msg When Trying To Start Any Program

Do you get an error message telling you that Windows cannot find a certain file every time you try to start any program? It may be the result of a virus or even (ironically) the result of a misconfiguration in an antivirus program.
This is NOT the same as getting a "not found" error when trying to start a particular program. Use the following solution only if you get the message when you try to start any program.

The cause of this problem is an invalid entry in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ exefile\ shell\ open\ command Registry key. The correct data for the (Default) value should be "%1" %*
Of course, given the nature of the problem, you can't run Registry Editor (regedit.exe) to fix it directly. Note the following workaround: although you can't launch any programs directly (e.g. Notepad.exe), you can launch them by double-clicking on an associated document (e.g. readme.txt). Another example: you can't open a web browser directly, but you can select Run from the Start Menu, and a browser will open!
The solution is to use our little patch: 07-102.. (Click the link to download.) If your browser asks you what it should do with the file, instruct it to save it to your desktop. If, instead, your browser simply displays the contents of the file in the browser window, select Save from the File menu, and save the file to your desktop.
Next, right-click the new 07-102.inf file, and select Install.
The fix should take effect immediately.
Although this fix will restore your ability to launch programs, it won't remove the cause of the problem. You should install antivirus software.

Pages don't fully load or load incorrectly

It is likely a corrupted cache, but can be changed settings. A list of things to resolve it:
  • Try resetting your browsers settings. Tools/Internet Options/Advanced/Restore
  • Empty your cache, cookies and reboot
  • Lower your security settings to allow graphics. Tools/Internet Options/Security/lower the bar.
  • In IE8, at the top of the screen, is an icon called a Compatibility Button. Pressing it cures a lot IE specific page load problems.

Question I did an up grade and now all I see is xxxx for game pieces. What can I do to get things back right?

If the Compatibility View settings noted above didn't correct the problem, go back through the process and uncheck it. The next step is to again, go to the Tools tab, and click the Internet Options tab. That will open a box. Click the Security tab, and set your security to medium, and do the same on the Privacy tab. Then go to the Advanced tab, and scroll down to the Multimedia section and make sure the Show Pictures box is checked. Click apply, and close the window. Then close your browser to fully rest it. When you reopen your browser, your graphics should properly display. ;;up;;

Enlarge Text in Your Web Browser

;;2;;;;2;; Internet Explorer

Method 1

1. From the View menu, select "Text Size."
2. From "Text Size," choose from smallest, smaller, medium, larger, or largest. Medium is the installed default.

Method 2

1. Increase your font by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing = (i.e. the + key)
2. Decrease it by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing -

Method 3

1. If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can hold down the Ctrl key and use the scroll wheel to increase or decrease font size


;;2;;;;2;; Firefox

Method 1

1. From the View menu, select the "Increase text size" option

Method 2

1. From the Tools menu, select "options,"
2. select the "fonts and colors" button, and choose the "minimum font size."

Method 3

1. Increase your font by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing = (i.e. the + key)
2. Decrease it by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing -

Method 4

1. If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can hold down the Ctrl key and use the scroll wheel to increase or decrease font size


;;2;;;;2;; Netscape & Mozilla

Method 1

1. From the View menu, select the "Text zoom" item.
2. From "Text zoom," choose from smaller, larger, or a predefined percentage value. 100% is the installed default.

Method 2

1. Increase your font by holding down Ctrl and pressing =
2. Decrease it by holding Ctrl and pressing -
Note: This does not apply to older versions of Netscape. We suggest upgrading Netscape if this is the case.


;;2;;;;2;; Opera

Method 1

1. From the View menu, select the "Zoom" item.
2. From "Zoom," choose from predefined percentage values or percentage changes. The default is 100%.

Method 2

1. Increase your font by holding down the Ctrl key and Shift and pressing = (i.e. Ctrl and +)
2. Decrease it by holding Ctrl and pressing -

Method 3

1. Alternatively, if your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can hold Ctrl and use the scroll wheel to increase or decrease font size


;;2;;;;2;; Safari

Method 1

1. From the Preferences menu, select "Advanced."
2. From the "Advanced" menu, select the checkbox to "never use fonts smaller than the selected size."
3. Choose a font size from the pop-up menu.

Method 2

1. Simply hold the Command key and press the + key to enlarge text, or the – key to decrease it.

Method 3

1. Select View from the menu bar.
2. Click Make Text Bigger or Make Text Smaller


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