Leo’s Answers #86 – July 13, 2007

Leo's Answers
A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom


*** Contents

*** This Week's New Articles on Ask Leo!

How should I clean my computer?

I maintain the "inside" of my computer with CHKDSK, Disk Defragmenter, registry cleaners, antivirus, and antispyware programs. What advice do you have for cleaning the "outside" of the computer, such as the keyboard and for cleaning dust that builds up on other computer components?

We do spend a lot of time and energy discussing software maintenance. Everything from backups to viruses to keeping your system and applications up to date, healthy, and running smooth.

But we don't spend a lot of time talking about "the outside", as you put it. And we should, because it's just as important.

Continue reading: "How should I clean my computer?"

* * *

Chkdsk runs on every boot, but fails, and my system is unstable. What can I do?

I have an HP computer which is running Windows XP, and to my knowledge has been kept fully up to date. However recently its done a lot of strange things. The first thing I noticed is when I switch my computer on, it comes up with a blue screen saying it has to run a check for consistency (I can not remember the exact wording of the message unfortunately). It runs through three steps to do this, however, before it is complete it experiences an error. It attempts to fix it, however there it freezes, and I'm forced to restart.

If I choose to skip this check (which I have to, if I'm to actually log in) I experience a lot of other problems, which I suspect are in some way related. The computer runs incredibly slowly, and can only run two or three programs at once before it crashes entirely, and I am forced to restart. This can happen several times a day. I am unable to upload certain files to the internet or send them in e-mails (for instance, I have been unable to upload certain video files). I also am having problems with programs such as Jasc Paint Shop Pro. It appeared to be unaffected until more recently, when I opened it up to discover all the toolbars missing and all keyboard shortcuts removed. I was able to put them back in place easily enough, however when I closed the program and opened it again later, the keyboard shortcuts had once again disappeared (interestingly enough, the toolbars hadn't moved this time). Last but not least, whenever I attempt to play the online game "Guild Wars", it doesn't allow me to log in, saying that it was unable to "connect to the login server."

All these problems (with the possible exception of the disappearing keyboard shortcuts) started occurring the same time. I have ran numerous antivirus scans, which have revealed nothing. Frankly, I'm at a complete loss, and would be most grateful if you could tell me what is causing this, and how do I fix it?

That's a long litany of problems. I left it intact just to show how many different things might well result from a single problem.

And, yes, I have a suspicion as to what might be going on.

One clue: before you do anything else, I recommend you backup all your data.

Continue reading: "Chkdsk runs on every boot, but fails, and my system is unstable. What can I do?"

* * *

How do I play this video file?

I receive video attachments from several reliable friends, however, I am unable to open most of them, saying my media player does not support the .cda, .vob, etc. What can I do to change this so I can view some of these?

As I've stated in an earlier article, video playback in Windows is a mess. It really is.

The problem is there are so many formats and players that it's difficult to figure out what to do if your player can't play a particular format.

Even I'm not going to be able to give you a straight answer. But I do have some clues that may help point you in the right direction.

Continue reading: "How do I play this video file?"

* * *

Out of Office Replies are Evil [rerun]

Yes they are. Really.

Continue reading: "Out of Office Replies are Evil [rerun]" Article Includes Audio

* * *

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*** Popular Articles from the Archives

A few years ago family member left one job to go to another. One day she noticed that she was "logged in" to MSN Messenger, and realized that it was from the machine that she had left behind at her old workplace. That motivated me to write this article:

How do I remove myself from a machine?

The scenario looks like this: you're ending a long and successful relationship with your employer. Or maybe not so long or not so successful. But while you were there you were allowed to make use of your assigned computer to do things like check your email, use an instant messaging client, and maybe even surf the web occasionally for non-work related things.

Now on your way out the door, you'd like to make sure that your personal account information isn't left behind. And perhaps clean up a few other traces of your activities as well.

Read more... How do I remove myself from a machine?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Tempting fate is never a good idea.

Last week I mentioned that I'd had some minor surgery, and that "I'm totally fine, thanks."

You can guess what happened next. A complication arose - on 7/7/07 no less.

So, this weeks newsletter is a little anemic because this time I didn't have a number of answers lined up in advance, since my personal downtime was unexpected.

Obviously I'm back, and hoping that there are no further bumps in the road. Smile I expect this weekend's podcast to be a re-run once again, and things to return to normal early next week.

'till next time...


* * *

The Latest:
Forwarded Funnies: "Panhandling"
Taming Email: "Count to 10, to 100, to 1000 if you have to."
Leo's MovableType Tips: "Tolerate Broken URLs"

*** Newsletter Administration

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I'll be honest: I'll try to respond, but I get a lot of questions every day - I just can't answer everyone. Rest assured, though, that even if you don't hear from me directly, I read every email I get.

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Newsletter contents Copyright © 2007, Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.

Posted: July 13, 2007 in: 2007
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3082
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