AOL's upgrades are overwhelming old system


January 15, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I use Windows 95 and AOL. After I spend any appreciable time on the Internet, my "system resources" abruptly drop to zero. Unless I reboot, the system freezes. Why does this keep happening? How can I stop it?

You can blame your problem on America Online, whose bosses have somewhat arrogantly decided to continually upgrade whatever AOL software is running on any computer that logs on to the service.

As the upgrades get more complex, many older machines can't handle them as well as they once could. Since you are running a now-antique Windows 95 machine, you probably started out with the AOL 3.0 software, and over the years the software onboard your machine has been continually upgraded until it incorporates much of the current AOL 6.0.

Since AOL 6.0 is designed for optimum use on today's Pentium III-level machines, it clearly is more than your PC's resources can accommodate. Only two solutions come to mind, and one of them is to drop your AOL subscription and try a less resource-hungry Internet service provider. You may be able to get by, however, by making sure that the only software running when you go online is America Online itself.

If that doesn't work, and if you've just got to have your AOL, the only solution is to purchase a new computer.

I recently downloaded Netscape 6, and it changed all my JPEG files to something that can only be opened with Netscape 6. I tried uninstalling Netscape 6 but then I couldn't open the JPEG files at "a;;". What happened and how do I undo it?

Both Netscape and the Microsoft Internet Explorer try to register themselves as the default software for displaying JPEG files. So I am going to assume that you were using Internet Explorer to display those pictures before you tried Netscape. You need to re-establish an association between JPEG-type picture files and Internet Explorer.

These file associations are controlled by clicking the My Computer icon on the desktop and then choosing View and Folder Options. In the box that comes up, select the File Types choice. In the next display will be a window showing all of the file types on your computer. Scroll down that list until you find the one for JPEG. Highlight that JPEG icon and then choose the Edit option. Also choose Edit in the display that comes up.

The next display is where you choose the application that you want to run whenever you click on a JPEG icon. To find the Microsoft Internet Explorer software, click on the Browse selection that you will find on the right side of the menu. Use that feature to move through the folders on your hard drive. First open Program Files, then open the Internet Explorer folder under the Program Files. Now look in the pane that comes up on the right hand side of your display for file iexplore.exe.

Click on that and your computer will associate JPEGs with the Internet Explorer and open them using that software in the future, instead of looking for that Netscape 6.0 that you unloaded.

You might find an easier solution by simply reinstalling Windows 98, which will restore the association with JPEGs and the Microsoft Web browser. The CD containing Windows 98 and instructions for restoring the operating system are in the manuals that came with your PC.

I want to view 35 mm slides via some sort of CD/DVD player through a television. I have several hundred 35 mm slides that I want to preserve as they are starting to fade. I know I can scan them and then write them to a CD as JPEG files. Does the technology exist that would allow me to then play them back to a standard television set without using a computer?

Until an affordable DVD burner is created, the best way for distributing home photography for viewing by friends and relatives on their television sets is by making analog videotapes that can be shown in ordinary VCRs. The best way to create these videotapes is by using any one of a wide variety of converters that output computer monitor display as NTSC video, the analog data used by those VHS tapes we all know and love so well.

Take a look at the slick Dazzle USB Digital Video Creator, a $200 device that includes the ability to create slide shows of still photography and output them to a VCR for creation of custom tapes. The Dazzle also permits editing of videotapes from camcorders or VCRs. With features such as transitions and title-making, you would find Dazzle is a superb way to share those 35 mm masterpieces.

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