Windows XP network icon upsets a new user

January 31, 2002|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I bought a new Compaq Presario 5000 in October that came preloaded with Windows XP. It always comes up with an error message that worries me.

When I log on, on the status bar in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, there is an icon with an X through it. It refers to the local area connection and says "network cable unplugged." Is this anything I should worry about?

That alarming red X seems to be Microsoft's software engineers' idea of telling you that there is nothing to worry about. It is simply informing you that your computer has room for you to plug into another network than the one you currently are using.

Ignore the red icon and proceed with your daily computer sessions.

One of the major features of Windows XP is to allow a single PC to be connected to multiple networks, including those that dial in to America Online or EarthLink, a cable modem or DSL line, a home Ethernet network and even two computers connected by a FireWire cable.

Those red X symbols appear for available networking schemes not activated (plugged in) on a given computer. I don't know why Microsoft engineers decided a screaming red X would calm its customers.

I read that if images are scanned and saved in one extension, they can't be opened by the wrong program. I recall you are supposed to check the file types and change the program that opens that file extension.

My .jpg files are being opened by the Microsoft Windows Media Player. How do I fix this?

In your case the problem is setting which program opens files when a given extension is assigned to them, such as .jpg, .doc or .mpg.

To change which program opens a given file extension type, right-click on the icon of a file of that type and look for the command Open With.

If it doesn't come up, hold down the Shift key while right-clicking to produce the Open With option.

The Open With menu suggests programs to open with a given type and also includes a Choose Program command. Pick that and you get a list of all of the programs on your computer capable of opening any type of file whatsoever. Pick the one you want (iexplore.exe is my favorite of .jpg files).

Look for the box to set whichever program you pick as the future default for a given file type.

James Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. He can be reached via e-mail at

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