Reinstall Java plug-in to solve that search error


November 26, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I am having a major problem with the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser. Every time I do a search on or on a Web site that contains a search box, I get an error saying that there was a problem with Internet Explorer, and that it will be shut down, sorry for the inconvenience and that IE will restart ... but it is not the illegal-error message. I have tried to repair IE through add/remove programs and reinstalling IE altogether, but I still get the message. Can you help?

Your problem is with what is called a browser plug-in, software designed to let your copy of Internet Explorer use the Java code incorporated in many Web sites instead of Microsoft's own software for doing that kind of stuff. If you reinstall the Java plug-in, the problem will vanish quicker than you can say "double decaf latte with a twist of ozone." Here is the Internet address you need to download the needed plug-in: http://java.sun. com/j2se/1.3/jre/.

You might need the actual URL because there is a chance that your computer won't let you perform a search when you log on to the main page for Sun Microsystems at

What does this mean: "illegal operation?" How does it come about?

In the end, all computer crashes, lockups, freezes and meltdowns related to software occur because the same thing happens inside the machine's central processing unit or main chip. A disruption occurs in the process of moving bits of data back and forth among the thousands of transistors dedicated to manipulating the zeros and ones that are the only numbers that a chip understands.

When one of these registers gets corrupted, it essentially remains as part of the system, but its value is zero, no matter what other stuff goes on - including the majority of times when it should convey a value other than zero.

Eventually, one of the commands will be to divide some other number by the corrupted register. And that means dividing a number by zero, which, as any high school algebra teacher will be delighted to tell you, is an illegal operation. So when you get an illegal-operation notification, you can assume that nobody knows why your machine crashed, but that its designers had at least one class in algebra.

While we're on the topic, let's deal with the other error message that drives people nuts but means nothing. Error messages that say "kernal32.dll is responsible for the problem" sound helpful but actually convey no more helpful information than do illegal operation messages. "Kernel32" is nothing more or less than the entire operating system running the computer.

Of course, when there is a kernal32 error, the machine is frozen.

I have an extensive music collection (more than 750 files) in the MP3 format. I would like to make a copy of these files to protect against a hard-drive crash, virus, etc. My PC is a Gateway 133 mHz with 32 MB of RAM. What is the easiest (and most cost-effective) way of accomplishing this?

I borrowed a friend's CD burner, but I was unable to use it because my PC does not have USB connectivity (it's an old PC). The collection is roughly 3 gigabytes in size. I would hate to have to download these files again if something should happen to my collection.

DeKalb-based MicroSolutions Inc. continues to make CD-RW drives that work through the parallel or printer port on clunkers like that Gateway you've kept while the world moved to far faster machines based on the superior Universal Serial Bus standard.

Check out www.micro-solu for the backpack Triple Play CD rewriter, built by a company that became famous in technology circles for squeezing every last inch of power out of the parallel ports on PCs. The gadget costs in the sub-$300 range, and I mention it because it has USB powers, which you will want when you finally move up to a badly needed new computer.

You also can find parallel-port-only CD drives from MicroSolutions. But take it from me, after performing the amazing feat of collecting 750 music files on that Gateway workhorse, you will be amazed at how much easier it will become to collect music on one of today's CD-RW-equipped Pentium III or 4 machines with 128 MB of memory or more.

James Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached via e-mail at jcoates@tribune. com.

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