November 2011 Q&A
Windows Live Mail
Q: How do I delete mail from the server in Windows Live Mail?
A: Go to the email account in the email program. Open the Server Settings tab and check or uncheck (depending on what you want to do) the boxes for Leave messages on server … For at most xx days … Until I delete them). The default is to delete messages after the server gets a response that they've downloaded properly. Leaving messages on the server can be useful for those who check them on more than one computer and want the computers synchronized.
Comment: On my iPhone with an AT&T account, if you don't say mark as unread on the phone, when you look at the mail on your PC it won't be in the Outlook inbox but they will be there in the "read messages" folder.
Q: I live in a single-story home and my connections are fine in my home. I'd like to do something so I can walk to my neighbor's about 150 feet away and still be connected. What do you recommend?
A: The wireless routers come three flavors - real cheap with one sending and receiving unit; medium with two and more expensive with three. You want the one with three antennas, which are more important and have a wider range and go through obstacles better.
You can get range extenders, but you'd have to mount them on the outside of the house aimed at your neighbor. You'd have to run electricity to it, an internet cable to it and weatherproof it. A window sill is better than nothing, but glass diminishes a signal more than you'd think it would.
Vista Service Pack 1 problems
Q: I'm having trouble loading Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 Home edition. I've added the hot fix. I've run a virus scan and a malware scan. I'm 64 bit. Laptop worked immediately with similar set up.
A: It's something in the computer, not related specifically to Windows 7. Have you called Microsoft? They will work with you on it.
Q: Years ago I gave Microsoft access. They changed the registry and messed up the computer.
A: When I've worked with Microsoft on that they've always backed up the registry so it can be restored easily.
Michael Shalkey: Try running check disk: Open a command prompt (Start, type cmd Enter), Run > Chkdsk / r. When it asks if you want it to be run the next time the computer starts, say yes and restart the computer. It could take two to three hours to do that on a large hard drive.
Toby Scott: All service packs can have that problem if something has crept in. It's not just a Windows 7 issue.
Someone is logged in message
Q: In a network, I sometimes get a message when I try to shut down one computer, I get a message that others are logged on to it. How can I find out who that is?
A: You don't need to. Just tell it to shut down. The computer can't tell if someone logged on is just looking at files or running a program. In a small office you just want to be sure someone isn't using one of the programs or a remote printer, for instance.
Q: I want to shut down computer 3. Is the message talking about computers 1 and 2 or 3?
A: It's referring to 1 and 2. The only time you'd get it on 3 would be if someone logged off and logged back in with a different user name, leaving the other user name semi-logged on. That's fairly rare.
Wireless mouse, keyboard issues
Q: I have a wireless mouse and keyboard. Occasionally one or the other locks up. Is that a sign the receiver is dying?
A: Michael Shalkey: Check the batteries first. Even new ones can be bad or cheap ones fail earlier than expected.
Toby: Sometimes the sending unit can fall behind the computer and not be making a good connection. Maybe it's time for a new one. Wireless keyboards and mice are relatively fragile. I got rid of a wireless mouse and will probably get rid of the keyboard.
Using computer as an alarm clock
Q: If you're listening to music and go to bed, how can I program it to turn off and possibly to turn on in the morning to wake up to music?
A: There are some scripts to shut down, but I hesitate to recommend going out to look for them. You can go into the scheduler to schedule a shutdown, but I don't know of any way to make it wake up. It will be a little clumsy.
Michael Shalkey: What about shutting off the Internet, similar to a parental control program?
Toby Scott: Most routers will let you limit connection times. You could go to security tools in routers and let you set the time you can use and not use the Internet. That could shut off your music and turn it back on again if you're listening to music on the Internet and not on the hard drive. I'm not sure. You can turn the music on and off in the router.
From the audience: How about putting it to sleep?
Toby Scott: I don't know if it will go to sleep with a process running. You might have to shut the process down first.
Michael Shalkey: This site might be helpful: http://www.lytebyte.com/2009/07/07/how-to-set-Windows-media-player-to-start-playing-music-automatically-at-a-certain-time/ It looks as if you can turn off and on your music using these settings.
A: The option to allow it should be in Options in the lower right corner of Firefox or through an icon on the upper left when No Script blocks a script. Use "temporarily allow all on this page."
Microsoft Security Essentials
Q: How effective is Microsoft Security Essentials compared to other security programs, and is it still necessary to run Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware?
A: All the reviews indicate that Security Essentials is the best of the free AV programs and certainly better than the free AVG.
Norton AV generally ranks 1 or 2 for removal of viruses and it has been completely rewritten in the past few years to fix things that slowed computers to a crawl. It runs only two processes in the background. It's now hardly noticeable. Don't get Norton 360 or Norton Internet Security because they run lots of things that do slow your computer down and often make home networking difficult.
It's still a good idea to use Malwarebytes. Anti-virus programs are pretty good at checking programs - that is, .exe files -- but much of today's malware comes in the form of scripts that run on top of Internet Explorer, and its .exe file is clean. Even if you don't use IE as your Web browser, it's the core engine for Windows Update, Microsoft Messenger and five or six other programs you never heard of. It's always running in the background. The Internet Options in the Control Panel is the same thing you find in Internet Explorer, Tools, Options. The applet covers IE and all the other things that use the Active X scripts. Anti-virus programs get a C grade in finding these problems. Malwarebytes does push its paid version, so be sure you're declining that offer and getting the free version if it's for your home use.
Q: I bought a computer from you that has a solid state drive and lots of memory, and Norton 360 doesn't slow it down at all.
A: You bought a great machine, but I still think you'd be better off with just the Norton AV. If you have other computers at home that don't run Norton 360 or Internet Security, you'll probably have problems if you try to create a home network. The two don't play nice with other firewalls.
The other anti-virus that many technical people like is Kaspersky. It gets high marks and has been a good anti-virus longer than Norton has.
Michael Shalkey: Whatever you use, still don't click on links in email or visit porn sites or illegal web sites. Be very wary of any Web site with "free" in the title.
Toby Scott: If you're going to visit those sites, use a boot CD or Portable Apps.
From audience: Malwarebytes doesn't run all the time.
Toby Scott: That's true. The paid version runs all the time in the background, but the result is that you'll be slow and safe. Running it once a week is fine for most of you, but if you're visiting warez sites and similar sites, you should have a version that runs all the time.
Blue screen with SD cards
Q: I have Windows Vista and periodically get a blue screen when I insert an SD or camera card. It asks for a video driver update, but when I go to Microsoft, it says I have the current driver. It's not every time.
A: Michael Shalkey: Is it an internal card reader or USB adapter for a card reader?
Q: It's external. The same thing happened once with my printer.
A: Michael Shalkey: I'd experiment with a different USB port and different card readers, but I'd probably be in the market to upgrade to Windows 7.
Toby Scott: Windows 7 is better for multimedia than both Vista and XP.
Q: I have a Compaq laptop, and when I bring it out of hibernate, I get a black screen with a warning. The date and time stamps are wrong when it does start. It's four to five years old. It's frozen up on me a couple of times, too.
A: Toby Scott: Try running Chkdsk. At a command prompt, type Chkdsk and let it run (see question above on Service Pack 1 installation problems for details). I'd do a backup quickly because it could be a sign of a failing hard drive.
Damaged .pst file
Q: I have a .pst file (Outlook mail) that won't open because, according to the message that pops up, it's corrupted. I have Outlook 2007, which asks me to run scanpst.exe, which I couldn't find on my computer. I copied it from an XP computer and it didn't work. Should I have copied the .pst file and moved it to the XP computer?
A: No. The scanpst.exe file is on your computer, but the search function does not generally look in program files folder. Go to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12.
Q: I did that, and found scanpst.exe.0002, rather than .exe.
A: Do an Office repair. Start, Control Panel, Programs and then click on Microsoft Office. At the top of the panel it will show Uninstall and then next to it either Change or Repair. Click Change (or Repair) and let Windows repair your setup.
Q: I have an XP laptop and the file is working there. Can I just copy it?
A: Is it 2007 Office? Don't run the wrong version or you'll blow it up. The key is which version of Outlook you have. If both are Office 2007, make a copy of the .pst file and try it on that. Don't run it on the original .pst file, just in case it doesn't work.
VCC mail issues
Toby Scott: I have a written question, which leads to an apology from us. Ventura County Computers had mail problems last Thursday because we had a client spewing out some 10,000 messages an hour, which killed the mail server and took up so much bandwidth that we couldn't get online while working on customer's computers. We have suspended the account until the problem is fixed. We had a whole bunch of issues Thursday night. Michael and Rick were thrilled with me.
Liquid spilled on keyboard
Q: I have a laptop and was drinking a cup of Diet Pepsi. A little bit dripped off my lower lip onto the keyboard. I ran to the bathroom with it and used the hair dryer to prevent the liquid from going any further. When I talked to Toby the next morning, he said I should have unplugged the power cord AND removed the battery so now power is getting to the motherboard. The hair dryer melted the four keys that the liquid touched. They still function but they have an ergonomic look to them now. The keyboard can be replaced. I share that so others have the information. I used high heat.
Toby Scott: Any time you spill liquid on a laptop keyboard, unplug it and pull the battery out. If the liquid gets on the motherboard while the electricity is on it shorts the motherboard. People usually shut it down, let it sit for a few days and then turn it back on a few days later and blow it up. If it was a Coke or similar you spilled, even after the liquid has dried, a tiny amount of atmospheric humidity can short your motherboard if the sugar residue is still there. You want to be sure there is no puddle of moisture on the motherboard by opening it up and carefully cleaning all residue. Usually, a computer is not wrecked at the time of the spill but after.
Basic computer standards
Q: A friend is looking to buy a desktop. It's not for gaming, video or pictures. What do you recommend for modest Web surfing and so on?
A: TOBY: You didn't mention RAM; is there anything you want to expand on here? Right now, a basic computer would be an I-3 processor, probably 64-bit but 32-bit would suffice, and Windows 7.
Michael and Rick disagree with me on 64-bit, and it will cause you more trouble today, but the transition to 64-bit is will under way. If you don't go to 64-bit, you'll be locked out of a lot of software. Michael and Rick don't care because they burn their machines down regularly anyway.
Michael Shalkey: I disagree because Windows 8 is aiming at smaller because of smartphones. I think there will be a shift to smaller.
Toby Scott: It's going the other way. There will be 64 bit chips for laptops soon. For desktop users, I still think you're better off going to 64-bit and being prepared for the future. The maximum RAM you can put in a 32-bit computer is 4 Gig, and the most you'll really get is about 3.3 Gig because the computer must reserve some for video.
Intel has a new program. For their Gold Partners, they offer 3 year, no questions asked replacement warrantees on all their components. They pay for next-day air for failed parts. Intel makes this available only to qualified dealers who can also support their server business, leaving out all the big box stores. You can buy a top-of-the-line, all Intel computer with a 3 year warrantee for very little more than you'd pay at a big box store for cheaper components with one year warrantee. If I were out of the business, I'd buy from an Intel Gold Partner (VCC is one).