Low-tech clock causes PC to lose minutes

Helpline

April 30, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have a problem with the correct time on my computer. I leave my computer on all the time and the clock is losing minutes. I have replaced the battery. Do you have any idea what could be wrong?

Huge irony resides in the fact that personal computers are terrible timepieces. This is because PCs keep time using a relatively old-fashioned and quite cheap quartz crystal technology rather than the ultra-precise electronics that reside elsewhere inside a modern personal computer.

The problem is that using the main processing unit to track passing seconds and update a clock would slow things down, so manufacturers typically use timepieces with a piece of quartz costing only a few pennies that is surrounded by a chip. That small microprocessor tracks the time it takes for a signal to cross the crystal and estimates the time. With a 25-cent crystal in the clock circuit, your $1,000 computer really does lie like a $3 watch.

If you want the exact time, log on to www.worldtimeserver.com. There you can download software that will update your PC each time you boot up by checking with the atomic clock used by the U.S. government for precise time keeping.

I had specified that my Windows 98 PC should open JPEG files with Photo Deluxe all the time, but now something got changed and whenever I click on a JPEG photograph's icon the file gets opened with Microsoft Photo Editor. I already know how to right-click on an icon and then choose Open With and then scroll down the box that comes up until I find the Photo Deluxe program. But every time I change this and restart the computer I'm back where I started with Microsoft Photo Editor. I can't find Microsoft Photo Editor in the Add/Remove control panel. How do I get Adobe Photo Deluxe to open the JPEG files once again?

The reason you can't find the photo editor software in the Add/Remove menu is that it is part of Windows itself rather than a separate application. You can, indeed, remove it, but there really is no reason for doing so.

Instead, let's just change your default program to Photo Deluxe, and in the process, you also will see how to make the Internet Explorer software your default picture viewer.

Instead of using that Open With procedure, click on the My Computer icon and choose Tools and Folder Options. Choose the File Types tab in the box that comes up, and you will get a list of the extensions available on your computer, including .doc, .txt and, of course, .jpg. Select .jpg, choose Edit and follow the prompts to set Photo Deluxe as the default program.

I would like to create a daily reminder that would open automatically when starting Windows. This calendar could remind me of important dates, appointments and so forth.

In order to get your daily reminder file to open each time you boot up your computer, move the icon for that file into the Startup folder. (To open the Startup folder, right-click on the Start menu and choose Explore. Look for the icon marked Programs to the right in the pane that comes up. Open it and scroll down to the icon for Startup, and open it.)

The trick is to create this document using the Notepad text editor built into Windows. Notepad has an undocumented feature that lets it automatically open with the day and date already typed at the end of the document.

In order to activate this feature, you need to make the first line of the Notepad document read .LOG and then start your text after hitting the Enter key. Type in whatever material you want to remember for the next day, and the machine will come up with that memo, complete with a notation of the time and date.

At the end of that day, type the next day's events at the end, and when your machine boots up next you will get that material displayed at the end of the document that opens.

No matter how long this file grows it always will come up with the end of the document displayed so you can type in the next day's schedule without having to scroll through the previous entries.

I use this feature not only as a to-do list but also as a log for all of the phone calls that come into my voice mail, and I sometimes use it to take short notes while chatting on the phone.

I have also created a shortcut icon for this file, which I named LOG, and I keep it on the desktop so that I can quickly call it up during the day as well as when the machine boots up every morning.

Send e-mail to jcoates@tribune.com.

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