Computers will crash despite your efforts, so save your work

Help Line

February 01, 1999|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

My computer will suddenly freeze up when I am running a program (no set length of time) and it takes Control + Alt + Delete several times to unfreeze it. Sometimes it has to be cut off and turned back on again.

I must offer the pathetic answer that such annoying breakdowns are commonplace and usually beyond repair.

The insane dance known as Control-Alt-Delete will be required on many days (maybe on most days) by perhaps 50 million people like yourself who have laid down many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on the promise of experiencing the information revolution.

The fact is that PCs were crashing out of the blue for no apparent reason when they were invented two decades ago and even the costliest and best-maintained computers continue to crash today for no apparent reason, despite every high-tech triumph that has transpired in the meantime.

So let me offer some lame but very important advice along with the sadly lame answer: Seize-ups happen. No matter what you're doing on that computer, save everything you've done every 5 or 10 minutes.

Your last column addressed how to view so-called MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) e-mail attachments when online with America Online, but I need to know if there a way for a non-AOL member to see such a file offline.

Most Web browsers and other e-mail software handle MIME attachments automatically, so it's usually not an issue beyond America Online, where the e-mail software flat out fails to deal with the format quite often.

But, as you suspect, there are many ways to view and create MIME files.

The best software I know to view MIME as a stand-alone proposition is TurboZip, a shareware package that handles MIME along with a plethora of other exotic and not-so-exotic compression formats.

Check it out at www.pgcc.com/turbozip. You can download a sample for free and if you decide it's worth keeping, you can pay a $40 fee later on.

How do you delete files that have been created in Microsoft Word? I have a Compaq computer and after I create a file in Microsoft Word, there is no option to DELETE the file. You can delete what is written in a file but not the file (heading) altogether. I know there is a simple solution but I have tried and can't seem to get rid of all the old Memos I no longer need.

The trick is in using the right button instead of the left one on your mouse.

Run Word and then choose the command File from the top menu. Then choose Open and go to wherever you are keeping those heretofore impervious Memos.

Select one of them and then right-click instead of left-clicking. Up will pop a menu with numerous choices including Delete. Zap them by this route and you'll be one step ahead of the next undocumented trick to making Microsoft software work.

Regarding your suggestion in a recent column on clearing your ``history'' file on Microsoft Internet Explorer: There's a quicker way, and one you can do directly from the Web browser. Go to the top of the page and click View. Scroll down to Internet Options. The third icon down is your history file. Just click Clear History and you're done!

Right you are. But going that route is like swatting a mosquito with a hammer, in that it wipes out everything in sight without letting a user preserve sites that are important. Therefore, my suggestion was to use the Explorer feature in Windows to go to the directory Windows/History and delete items one by one.

I recently used BPBackup to back up my computer. The process seemed to work fine, but the software kept automatically starting every few seconds. I used CyberMedia UnInstaller to remove the program. Now, whenever I turn on my computer, it looks for that file. How do I get Win95 to automatically boot up without looking for that file?

You probably need to make a small change in a file called autoexec.bat to remove the command to run the errant software. Select the Start menu and then choose the item Run. Type ``sysedit'' in the Run box and then select the autoexec.bat window and place the word REM in front of the line with the name of your software in it and then save the file.

Send e-mail to jcoates@tribune.com.

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