Upgrade patch should fix flight simulator woe


Plugged In


My computer freezes up a lot when I run the Microsoft Flight Simulator program. I will be flying and without rhyme or reason the video freezes while the sound continues to "fly on," including the engine sounds and the air traffic control chatter. I cannot "unfreeze" the video and must perform a "crash reboot" by shutting off the computer and restarting. I get the "fatal error" info box and I am attaching a copy of a recent data block. The errors all seem to be similar for each lockup.

I have sought help through Microsoft and eMachines without resolution. I am running an eMachines model T3302, 512 mb SDRAM, an AMD Sempron Processor 3300+ and S3 UniChrome 3D video.

- Elliott Fowler@aol.com

This almost always is caused by problems with system driver software for your video card conflicting with the software for programs like Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2004. You probably can fix it by going to the Microsoft Web site and downloading the latest upgrade patches for FS2004.

Here is that Web address: www .microsoft.com/games/flightsimulator /downloads.asp.

Next, download the latest driver software for that Unichrome video feature, which is integrated into the motherboard rather than as a stand-alone card. Go to www.viaarena.com to seek out and download the latest drivers.

The gamers I consulted agreed that your computer should have the horsepower to handle this FS2004 software, but an obvious last-ditch fix would be to buy and install a dedicated video card. Your T3302 computer from eMachines includes an empty AGP (accelerated graphics port) slot available for upgrades to more powerful video cards.

I have an eight-year-old Presario PC running on Windows 98. It has USB ports but does not burn CDs, and I just bought a mini-Mac. Is there a sensible way I can move my AOL download files from my old PC and either load them into my new Mac or have them reside on a CD or flash drive or something so that I can access files in the old AOL download files and use them on my mini-Mac? I tried transferring the AOL downloads to a flash drive, but "Windows could not locate a driver" for the flash drive. Would an external CD burner be any different? I've got years' worth of stuff in that PC AOL download file that I want to continue to use. Do I have to forsake it?

- Nik Cecere, Santa Fe

Your Windows wheezer with those USB ports was among the first to offer this type of high-speed connection, Mr. C., and that's the problem. The version of Windows 98 called SE for Second Edition was built for USB 1.0, which was far faster than earlier ports but now is about 30 times slower than the USB 2.0 devices just about everybody now uses.

So you need to find a storage device that comes with driver software for Windows 98SE, and that can take some serious shopping.

You need either a flash drive or a USB 1.0 CD-R drive in order to move the documents and images and sounds collected in that AOL downloads folder.

Makers of these devices routinely post drivers for download on their Web sites and these latest drivers should work fine with Windows 98SE with the exception that the transfer will be quite slow by today's standards.

Check out the SanDisk Web site (www.sandisk.com) for USB flash drives, and check the site's driver list to make sure there is a driver available to download for the one you pick.


Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. Contact him by mail at the Chicago Tribune, Room 400, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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