Q. When I go to a URL with my browser on one computer, the machine typically "hangs." However, if I go to the same URL on a different computer using a different ISP, I have no difficulty getting there. What might be the problem?
A. The problem could be that there is a defective entry in a routing table at the first ISP's system, or any system between it and the system that hosts the Web page. On each machine, open a DOS command window and run Tracert, the utility program that traces the route between your system and the remote. For example, to trace the routing from your system to the DACS Website, you would type tracert and the program would show the various systems between you and the destination. If you compare the listings, they eventually should converge at or before the target site. If an entry times out, or worse, loops, it means that there is a routing problem. Send the information to the tech support at your ISP.
Q. I have a 486/25 machine that upon booting reports that the CMOS battery has died, the CMOS settings are invalid, and that the clock must be set. What is the CMOS battery, and can I replace it?
A. CMOS (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) memory retains its value even when the master power switch for a computer is turned off. It uses a very small amount of power from the CMOS battery. The ROM-BIOS uses CMOS memory to keep track of various hardware settings, such as the type of hard drive(s), number and type of floppy drives, boot sequence, keyboard repeat rate, whether there is a hardware password, etc. The battery also keeps the time-of-day clock within the computer running when the power is turned off. It is usually a lithium battery about the diameter and thickness of a stack of two quarters, and is held in place on the motherboard via a small spring clip. Even though trickle-charged when the machine is on, the battery will eventually die. It is easily replaced-you usually need only a small Phillips-head screwdriver. When you turn on the machine, you will need to get into the ROM-BIOS "Setup" utility, often by pressing "DEL" or "F1" or "F10" while the machine is performing its self-test functions. You will then have to enter the values that describe your hard disk and floppy drives, and set the system clock. Newer machines that have IDE drives will probably have an "Auto- detect" capability that will identify the drives for you. If not, you may have to read the number of cylinders, tracks and sectors off of the label on the hard drive so that you can enter these numbers into the BIOS. Suggestion to all: Go into the ROM-BIOS "Setup" utility before your system has a problem and record the values for your settings. If the screens are "character based" and you have a printer attached, you can usually print the values by pressing the PrtScrn key.
Q. When I get an e-mail that has a jpeg image attached and visible as an icon and then select "print," I get the text of the message and it prints the icon rather than the image. I am using Netscape 4.7.
A. Netscape is treating the "Print" request literally and printing the page. Try right-clicking on the icon and see if there is a print option there. If not, there is probably an "Open" option, which will cause the image to be opened in whatever application is associated with jpeg files. Look in the options of your mail reader and see if there is an option that reads "View in-line content" or similar. Lastly, if some application has "commandeered" jpegs such that Netscape no longer has an association with them, you may have to be content with the method you use-save and print from a graphics application.
Q. I have an eMachines system that is about six months old. My son has downloaded lots of music, and now the system frequently crashes. Other times it gives me a "disk error" message and won't boot. What might be the problem?
A. Audio files are very large files, so theoretically the hard drive might be getting full. Check temporary folders and clean them up. Be sure to empty your "Deleted Files" folder to actually reclaim the space. Another problem that can surface as a disk error is the system's inability to create a file due to a full "root" directory. If the files are being saved in the root of a hard disk, i.e. into C:\ rather than in a folder attached to the directory, such as C:\Music\Downloads, then there is an absolute limit to the total number of files and folders that may be in the root directory-if memory serves, it is on the order of 511-move data files out of the root into folders. Another step to take is to boot into true DOS (not a "DOS Command Window" from Windows) by pressing F8 at the instant you see "Starting Windows" message on your screen. Select "Command Prompt Only," and when you get the C> prompt, type SCANDISK and answer the questions. Do not let it fix anything if it finds a problem; just write down the errors that it finds, if any. If it says that there is a hardware problem, you will need a utility such as OnTrack Data Advisor to make the repair. If it is a cross-linked-clusters error, then you may run SCANDISK again to repair it, but be aware that both of the files named in the cross link are probably suspect and should be replaced. A cross link means that the file system "thinks" that two files own the same section of the disk-an impossibility. This can happen if a program is terminated abnormally, such as by powering off the system without closing open programs.
Q. My IBM Aptiva came configured with partitions C:, D:, and E:, with Windows and the bundled applications on C:. The C: drive, which is only 1 GB, is now full, and I can't install any other applications, even on other partitions, since the applications insists upon putting some of their components into the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory. Can I combine the partitions using, say, Partition Magic?
A. Yes, you may reallocate the size of the partitions with Partition Magic. You might be tempted to delete partitions D: and E: since your operating system supports large partitions, but there is a problem with that: The Aptiva recovery CD installs by placing an image of the installation on the last partition (in your case, E:) and then installing from the image. So you want at least a separate partition available so that you can still reload from the Aptiva recovery CD. Be sure that you back up your personal data files before you do any changes to your system. Another way that you might be able to recover about 250MB is to move the Windows swapper file from the default drive, which is the boot drive, to another drive, such as E:. To do this, first, defragment the drive you are going to use for the swapper file. Then go to My Computer, Control Panel, System, then select the Performance tab. At the bottom, select Virtual Memory, and change the setting from "Let Windows Manage" to "Let me specify." Select drive E: and give it a minimum of at least four times the size of your system's RAM, i.e., if you have 32MB of RAM, you'll want a minimum swap file of 128MB (since it is measured in KB, it would be 128,000KB). If the applications that you run use a lot of memory (such as graphics/photo editing, etc.) then you should reserve even more. Close the property page and let the system reboot. It will have created the swap file on your E: drive, and you should now have the space that the swap file previously occupied on C: available.
Q. I have a workstation that is running Windows 95 and is attached to a Small Business server. When I tell it to shutdown, it brings up the blue "Shutting Down Windows" screen and then just stays there, without turning off the machine, or giving me the black and orange "You may turn off the machine now" screen. When I bring up the machine, it always goes into scan disk because it senses that Windows wasn't shutdown properly. How do I fix this?
A. Windows is based upon a "message queue" system, where messages are sent to applications, such as "here is a keystroke" or "here is a mouse click", etc. A special broadcast message is "shutdown," which should stop any and all running applications and device drivers. Some application or device driver is not recognizing the message and reporting back to Windows that it has stopped, so Windows won't shutdown. There are several things to look for. Let's look at the simplest first. Most anti-virus programs check the floppy drive when you turn off the machine against the possibility that you left a floppy in the drive. The reason for this is that at boot time most machines look at the floppy for a system before they look at the hard disk. They do this because if you want to install a new operating system or new version, you have to do it from the distribution media, which used to be one or more floppy diskettes. Since replacing the operating system with a newer version is something that no one does with the frequency that Microsoft marketing would like, you really don't have to check the floppy at shutdown. Instead, do both of these changes: a) go into your ROM BIOS "Setup" (see question above for how to do it) and change the boot sequence so that it starts with the hard disk. You can always change it back if you need to boot from a floppy since you don't need to boot the machine to make this change. Then, change your anti-virus program so that it does not scan the floppy on shutdown. For many anti- virus programs, this will resolve the problem. If it doesn't then you will have to identify the application or driver that is not terminating. Close all programs that you can identify so that your task bar is empty. Also close "applets" that appear in the "system tray" next to the clock - usually by right-clicking and selecting "Exit" or "Close". Now try to shutdown the machine. If it shuts down properly, it was one of the applications or applets. If not, then repeat the steps, but before you do the shutdown command sequence, press Ctrl-Alt-Del to get the "Task Manager" window. You will see other applications and device drivers here that are normally not visible either in the task bar or the system tray. The only two that you really need here are "Explorer" and "Systray." In this case, Explorer is not Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer but rather the Windows Kernel, which is what gives you the start button, desktop, etc. Remove everything else by selecting and clicking End Task. I have found that for some reason it works best if you hold down the button on the "End Task" for a few seconds. Once you are down to just Explorer and Systray, try to shutdown the machine. If it works, then it was one of these applications or drivers-experiment to find out which one. Once you find it, you should then look for an update for that application or driver.
|Bruce Preston is president of West Mountain Systems, a consultancy in Ridgefield, CT, specializing in database applications. A DACS director and moderator of the Random Access segment at the monthly general meetings, Bruce also leads the Access SIG. Members may send tech queries to Bruce at email@example.com. Responses will be published in the next issue of dacs.doc.|