Format codes could lead to problem with e-mail

Ask Jim

Plugged In

October 19, 2006|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

When I try to copy text from a Word- Perfect or Word file and then paste it into an Outlook Express e-mail message, Express crashes, and the message is never sent. I can't seem to figure this out.

Gary Greenberg, Chicago

To fix this, you should remove the current version of Outlook Express from your computer and reinstall the software.

You also could set up your damaged copy of Outlook Express to treat those clips from Microsoft Word and WordPerfect as though they were just simple text rather than the formatted material complete with fonts and type sizes that cause these troubles.

High-end word-processing programs such as WordPerfect and Microsoft Word have complicated instructions that tell the computer how to make the words look on screen. These formatting codes can cause problems such as your crashes.

To ignore the formatting codes, open Outlook Express, then select Tools and then Options. This brings up a tabbed menu in which you need to open the Read tab. Now look for the box that orders the software to read messages in plain text instead of the HTML code that tries to read word-processing codes and causes your crashes.

If you're uncomfortable sweeping stuff under the virtual carpet rather than properly disposing of it, you can remove and restore Outlook Express by clicking on Start, then Control Panel and then Add/Remove Programs. In the display this summons, select the Add/Remove Windows Components button on the outside of the box listing your computer's software.

In the Windows Components box that appears, you can check a box to have Outlook Express removed and then backtrack and order it freshly restored.

I am a 73-year-old retired engineer and widower who is thankful for having a computer that has kept me both challenged and entertained - until recently.

My problems started in early September when I decided I wanted to write DVDs. I removed the DVD-ROM drive originally installed in my HP Pavilion 760n desktop, with Windows XP Home Edition, and purchased and installed an HP Super Multi DVD Writer with LightScribe and Double Layer.

But if I turn off my computer, I have problems. ... The most prevalent ... is that once the icons appear on my screen, clicking any one to get it open sometimes takes 15 to 20 minutes before it finally opens.

On occasion, I will either hold the "turn on" button or pull the power cord to turn the system off. I will then try a new startup. Eventually, once I am able to open any program, I can quickly access another, i.e., there are no more delays. Also, my computer is now making a soft cyclical sound like someone snoring. I have no idea if this is serious or if I should ignore it.

George Swede, Las Vegas

Most likely your computer is getting hung up because it is confused about what to do with the new DVD drive and assumes it is something on a network and then tries to find its location. Since the device is not on the network, that search goes on for a long time, thus stalling your machine.

Once the computer decides there is no such drive on the network, it stops looking, and so there is no problem opening icons from then on.

First, let's hide that DVD burner from Windows so that it's not detected on boot-up. To do this, go to the My Computer icon on the desktop and give a right-click and select Properties. In the tabbed display that appears, select the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button on the next display.

This displays a list of all of the peripheral devices available, including hard drives, printers, video cards and DVD drives. Click on the "DVD/CD-ROM" drive line and then give a right-click to the line showing your new DVD burner. In the display that appears, select the "disable" item to stop the computer from looking for the drive at boot-up and other times.

Now, shut down the computer and reboot. It will not see the DVD burner, so it will record a hardware list without it. Now, shut the machine down, reopen the case and disconnect the DVD burner, and reboot again. This sets things up so that you can reinstall the burner and its driver software with a clean slate.

Next, reconnect the device and start the computer one more time. This time, the DVD burner will be recognized as a new device, and you will be able to repeat the installation process from the CDs that came with the hardware.

If this doesn't fix the icon-opening problem and stop that snoring sound, which it probably will, you've got a problem with the driver software that came with the burner.

If so, go back to the Device Manager and once again give the DVD-ROM line a right-click. This time select the command to "update driver." This will seek out the DVD burner and either install new software from updates made to Windows XP or point you toward the HP Web site where you will need to download the latest drivers.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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