For cleaning flimsy plastic of keyboards, alcohol the pits

Help Line

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

I ran to the grocery store yesterday to find a cleaner for my dirty keypads. I asked the cashiers what they used, and two responded, "Alcohol." A man standing in line agreed. He said he once repaired typewriters and used it. All said to dampen cotton swabs in alcohol (don't soak them). Nothing should leak down. It worked. Cost: 81 cents.

I disagree with the advice you got at the cash register. Because keyboards are made of plastic -- and often pretty cheesy plastic at that -- most experts warn against using alcohol, because it tends to pit the surface of keys and may eventually remove the letters for those who get fanatical about cleanliness.

And, as the folks at the grocery store noted, drip-down is dangerous. The boilerplate advice is to use a solution of weak soapy water and a damp sponge but to do the cleaning while holding the disconnected keyboard upside down and to dry the job with a paper towel while still inverted.

To clean the little rubber ball inside a computer mouse, alcohol is just the ticket because the balls are not plastic.

How do you access the Autosave function in Microsoft Word? We have lost many a document (term paper, etc.) because we didn't officially name it and save it soon enough.

Autosave has been coming on every few minutes, supposedly saving the doc. Trouble is, we can never find that deleted doc anywhere.

You turn Autosave off and on in Word by clicking on the Tools menu and then Options. A box appears with one tab marked Save and another marked File Location. Use the Save box to turn on Auto Recover and set how often the program will automatically save whatever is being written.

Then click on File Location and activate the Auto Recover setting and tell the software where to save versions.

Since I updated the Microsoft Internet Explorer to the latest edition, I frequently get a message that "Explorer caused an invalid page fault in module KERNEL32.DLL at 015f:bff7b9e7."

If I close the message quickly I can sometimes stay connected to the Internet, but most of the time I have to reconnect. Sometimes I can't even shut down Windows; I have to restart and wait for ScanDisk to scan my drive because I improperly shut down.

I've tried suggestions that include running the defragment routine (the one that can take a couple of hours) and reinstalling the browser. That seems to cut down on the frequency of illegal operations (I have done it a couple of times), but it's not a fix. A long-distance telephone diagnosis was that the video board might need replacing. I thought I would ask you before I do that.

I doubt that a video board is your problem, however. KERNEL32.DLL error messages tell you little more than your computer received a command that caused it to stop processing whatever it was doing.

Because this means in your case that the browser software is clashing with the operating system, I would suggest that you reinstall the entire Windows 98 operating system, including whatever browser was on your computer before the upgrade turned sour.

I also would advise you to stop sitting through the entire ScanDisk process every time your system crashes and you are forced to reboot when one of these glitches sets in.

The ScanDisk routine gets triggered automatically every time a machine crashes, even in cases like yours where the problem has nothing to do with hard drive integrity.

If this sounds risky, then let ScanDisk run its course the first time, but don't let the machine force you to wait through repeated scans afterward. Just hit the Escape key and then the letter "X" as in Exit.

Send e-mail to jcoates@

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