Approximately 25% of our club meeting time is spent discussing questions and issues that our membership is having with their computer experience. Members of the club support each other by answering these questions during our monthly Q & A time.
Q: Is it ok to install WinXP SP3?
A: Probably. If you have already installed IE7, you won't be able to un-install IE7 after installing SP3, btw.
Q: I got AVG. I noticed a virus in the vault. Now I can not download upgrades, something is missing. I tried to get it back but it would not work. Delete & re-install AVG?
A: Yes, re-install AVG.
Q: I have an HP printer that won't print because of a paper jam. I cannot find any paper, but it won't print.
A: It just takes a small piece of paper stuck in the right place to cause a jam. Normally you have to open up the printer to find it. Also it could also be just dirt/dust. Inside some printers are mirrors with LED sensors to 'see' the paper. If one goes out or a small piece of paper gets stuck there, the printer will signal a jam.
Q: Windows Vista is installed on the hard drive and I want to install WinXP. But when XP looks at the drive, I do not get the option to reformat the drive. What step is being missed?
A: You probably need to delete the partitions and remake them (destroying all data) and not just merely reformat the drive. Or you need to use a bootable knoppix or other suitable CD that can delete partitions.
Q: A couple of months ago, I installed Zone Alarm that includes virus, spy and firewall protection. I have two programs on the computer and suddenly they disappeared. I found them in the ZA virus list. I have re-installed the games, but ZA keeps removing them. Now what?
A: Contact the Zone alarm people as this is what is called a false positive. ZA is falsely calling these programs bad when it should not. They can probably tell you how to make an exclusion for them and they can research the issue and clear the false positive in their definitions. Usually after a couple of weeks, a new update will come out that will fix this false positive, as I am sure you are not the only person to find this issue.
Q: Recently each time my computer boots at the end of the process I hear a pop sound. Then as I enter the Internet, I hear that pop again.
A: Sounds most likely a bad sound file. Go to Control panel and in Sounds, check the built-in windows sounds to see which may be bad. It's also possible that your sound card/device is going bad.
Q: Can you lock and/or password protect an external hard drive?
A: A program like True crypt will do that for you.
Q: I have a new laptop with WiFi. I can not connect to my wireless router. I have other laptops connected and I use MAC address restrictions.
A: You probably mistyped the MAC address in the router and have locked this laptop out of the router.
Q: I have an AT&T air card and it connects to a USB port. Can I use a hardware firewall with this?
A: You can, but unless you want to share this connection with more than one computer, just use a good software firewall like Zone Alarm and save the money.
Q: I want to get a larger hard drive for a computer. What type do I get? I see IDE, PATA, SATA???
A: IDE and PATA and ATA are really the same thing. SATA is the 'new' standard and has been around for about 2-3 years. Before that, most computers are IDE or ATA. They started using the term PATA after SATA type drives came out, but PATA is the same as IDE or ATA.
Q: Please explain the dual layer DVDs?
A: It's a new DVD technology that can hold 25g on a single disk. There is a newer type coming out soon that has a capacity of about 50g. They are reliable and we use them where 25g is enough to back up data on a small server.
Q: I have a PC with WinXP that won't startup. No messages on the screen, just won't start. Once it starts, it will run fine until it's powered down.
A: I have seen this before. The power supply or motherboard is going bad. I can't tell without replacing one of them and trying again. It's usually easier for us to try the power supply before the motherboard.
Q: File://c:/documents and settings/<user name>/application Data/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/desktop.htt is giving an error and I cannot get the regular desktop back.
A: Delete that file desktop.htt. It's probably damaged and you can get your desktop back or will be able to reconfigure it.
Q: tries to install the streaming multimedia player as an active X control, but it never finishes.
A: You mentioned using dialup. That can be part of the issue here as it may take too long to download. It's also possible that IE security settings are not allowing this to be installed as an active x control.
Q: I have a phone listing for a club. Can I allow someone else to have read/write access to the file at the same time I am using it?
A: It would take some work to accomplish this and is not just an easy task. If you wanted one person at a time to work with it, it would be easy. The best alternative would be a web based database and even then it will take a little bit of work to setup and get working. Once set up, the only real costs would be the hosting needed.
Q: What is the best way to convert 35mm slides to a digital format? 8mm Movies to digital?
A: 35mm slides can be converted using a good scanner with a 35mm adapter. Movies are best left to a professional conversion service.
Q: In Windows Vista - How do I customize the start menu choices?

The user specific start menu items are stored at:
        c:\users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\

The common or what used to be referred to as All Users is now stored at:
       c:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

Q: Is there a good 'group email' program?

Based on our discussion, this person wants to look at what is called 'Mailing lists'. They are very configurable and can be used in many ways. There are free ones at or if you want one managed for you, LCR Computer does provide that service. You can contact Lyle at 815 338-1072 for more information.

Mailing lists can be used for free discussions between members or for one way postings (one email sent to many, many people). It all depends on how you set the list options.
Email works for very small groups. But has disadvantages as some people have a habit of hitting Reply instead of Reply All and email servers will have limits on the number of email addresses on any one single email.

With lists, the reply can go to the group and be resent to all members by the mail server. Also with mailing lists the number of members or email addresses getting copies can be virtually unlimited. We have a couple of lists we host that have several thousand member email addresses.
Another advantage is that users can be allowed to sign up and drop off by sending commands to the list server or via a web based front end to the list server. The list server can also auto-drop email addresses that are no longer valid.

Q: I am building a new computer and am having problems installing WinXP on it. The process keeps stalling out with errors about 'Can not copy file xyz' and will eventually blue screen.

This is probably a hardware issue of some sort. But first let me explain what is going on here.
The Windows installation files are all in .cab files and are compressed. So the installation process needs to read the .cab files and uncompress the files it wants and save them to the hard drive, one at a time. Plus there is a checksum process involved to insure you have a good copy of the original file. Something is going wrong with this process. The 'can not copy' error really means the install process was not able to extract and save a good copy of the file it wanted. It makes this determination by comparing the checksum of the file on the hard drive with what a data file on the CD says the checksum should be.
In order of things I would try:

1) Change CD player
2) Try different media(different CD)
3) change memory (A Windows install is one of the single best memory checkers made for computers, better than MemTest86)
4) weak/bad power supply
5) different Hard drive, esp. if using a used hard drive
6) Motherboard and/or CPU

Part of this order is based on how easy/hard/expensive it is to replace each component and on based on experience, how frequent that this is an issue for you.

Q: When looking at your email in Mozilla, how can you make your message full screen without all the ads & commercials?
A: When using webmail, you are always at the mercy of the company providing the email service. Using a mail program, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, etc., you then control the size and won't have the banner ads.
Q: I am using Adobe Reader V9. All of a sudden I cannot open a .PDF file in mail (VISTA).
A: Uninstall Adobe reader and re-install. If that does not work, use FoxIT instead It's a free workalike for acrobat reader.
Q: "Fatal Error"? is this Recoverable - New Hard Drive?
A: Fatal Error is very generic in this situation. What type of Hard Drive? PATA (older 'standard' IDE drive) or SATA? Bad cable? Bad jumper/options setting (cable select/Master/Slave [this is important on the older PATA or standard IDE drive])? Are you putting this drive in as a second drive or to replace the existing drive? It's possible that the two drives you have just don't like each other or the jumper settings conflict with the settings on the other drive. The possibilities tend to go and on and the answers depend on some of the technical specs I mentioned.
Q: I have a laptop blue screen with a stop 0x00000050 in CLFS.SYS page_Fault_in_nonpaged_area. I was doing a Sys Restore when this happened. I am unable to start the laptop in any mode. Will Acronis Tru Image backup work for this state?
A: You will need to re-install Windows. You might get lucky with a repair install and not lose any data. As far as Acronis goes, I am not sure. It is designed to back up an entire drive like ghost. I do not have any experience using Acronis in this manner.
CLFS.SYS is a new way to create log files and was introduced in WinXP. It stands for Combined Log File System. Looking through Microsoft support and Google, several things can cause this problem and the surest way to get back is to do a repair install of Windows.
Q: I re-install HP Deskjet 970Cxi printer and WinXP keeps asking for the driver again and again and again...
A: You are probably turning off the printer and turning on the computer and then when you want to print, you turn on the printer and get asked at that time. WinXP is starting up, sees no printer on the USB ports and 'forgets' about the printer. Then you turn on the printer and it thinks it's a new device.
Q: I installed a new motherboard and had to re-install WinXP, but cannot install SP3. SP3 crashes and I have to re-install.
A: You probably are missing a hardware driver or have a hardware driver that is not compatible with SP3.
Q: When playing video with sound, the computer flashes a blue screen and goes black. Have to power off to reboot.
A: Your computer is set up to auto-reboot on a critical error and is unable to restart for some reason. To turn off auto restart, open Control panel in classic mode and double click on System. Then Advanced, then settings under Startup and Recovery. Uncheck Automatic restart under System Failure. Then you will see the error that is blue screening the computer and we can come up with a better answer. But it could be the video card driver or sound card driver causing this.
Q: Need a webcam recommendation...
A: Most any will work. There are some nice ones with a microphone also.
Q: What are your thoughts on using "Bit Torrent" for downloading?
A: Bit Torrent is a P2P (peer 2 peer) file sharing program. You are allowed to access someone else's computer to download programs/music/etc. If not careful, you could open your own computer to others to access files on your computer. You are trusting that the files on some stranger's computer do not have viruses or trojans in them. And that is besides the copyright infringement issues that go
along with this.
Q: I am trying to use the Save As function in Excel and try to save to my D drive and I get an incorrect Function error.
A: The D drive is probably a CD-ROM or DVD drive, and, unless it's preformatted to be a big floppy, that is the error I would expect. Also, depending on the version of Excel, it might not be smart enough to know about writing to a CD, and this would be the error you would get.
Q: Confused about firewalls... I don't really understand whether I need fire walls. My XP desktop uses DSL and has for a long time with a firewall, ZoneAlarm. I have had no problems. A short time ago I acquired a Toshiba XP laptop and a Linksys Router and a wireless card. I now have a network, I guess. I have a firewall in the laptop also. I was told that I don't need a firewall when using a router. Would that apply to both computers? With the current warning about the April 1st virus (Conflicker), the 'experts' have been in the media with information. If you have all the updates of your antivirus, firewall and Windows, you are safe. Of if you have AT&T DSL, you are safe and you can continue to dance with the stars, I am up to date with everything. So, do I need a firewall or not?
A: This is actually a series of questions and I will try to answer each of them.

A firewall is software (like ZoneAlarm) that will not allow un-authorized Internet traffic to enter your computer and also checks your outgoing Internet traffic. That means if a trojan or virus gets in and tries to "phone home," Zone Alarm will stop that unless the virus disables the firewall first. A home router does not examine or stop outbound Internet traffic, only incoming traffic to a minor degree.

Having a router with NAT does mean that SOME of the things Zone Alarm protects against won't touch your computer, but ONLY if the router is doing NAT and you only have one computer. Adding a second computer also means if you don't have a firewall on the computer, viruses and trojans can more easily travel between the two computers. A router with NAT does not stop email viruses or a bad website from downloading and installing malware on your computer!

And if you have the laptop working with an unsecured wireless, you are open to your neighbor or someone driving down the street getting into your laptop if you run without a firewall.

Yes, that does happen. Many people do it regularly - steal your Internet bandwidth if it's convenient to do so and think nothing of it. They could be downloading illegal material and you would be the one they come after since it was your Internet connection...

With or without a router doing NAT (very important distinction, it HAS to be doing NAT to provide any protection at all), a good firewall like ZoneAlarm is useful and I do recommend using ZoneAlarm. Also if you travel with your laptop, you would be open to whatever the others on the same wireless access point are doing without a good third party firewall like ZoneAlarm.

How do I know if my computer has the Conflicker (AKA DownAdup)? Try surfing to or to or This worm blocks access to these websites in an effort to prevent you from downloading new virus information into your antivirus program.

What will the Conflicker worm/trojan do on April 1st? No one really knows for sure except the people who created it. The experts only know that it will change behavior on April 1st. It will change behavior and do a much wider search for further instructions or updates. Yes, it's self-updating. It searches out computers on the Internet with the worm on it and if it finds a partner with a newer version of the worm, it downloads and updates itself from that new partner.

How do I know if my router is doing NAT (Network Address Translation)? Open a command prompt window (Start -> Run -> type in CMD and then enter. You should have a black screen. Type ipconfig and hit the enter key. It will show you your computer's IP address. If your ip address starts with 10.x.x.x or 192.168.x.x or 172.(16-32).x.x, your router is doing NAT - which for the home user is a "Good Thing."

If you have AT&T DSL and a black Speedstream modem with the Internet light, do the above test and make sure you have one of the IP addresses above. If your ip address starts with anything else, your modem/router is NOT doing NAT and that opens your computer up to a lot more malicious traffic from the Internet trying to break into your computer. Get some professional assistance to fix that and check your computer for viruses and/or trojans!

Without NAT, in less than one hour, someone will be trying to hack into your computer. If you are missing one Windows Update, you are toast. Yes, it's now under one hour before an unprotected computer will get owned by a bot master.

One last question, how do you know that you are up to date on everything? Is Windows Update working? Or is it broken and just thinks that there are no updates to download? How do you know that your antivirus program is working and has the latest updates?
Q: I have 2 separate programs "My Mail List" and "My Labels" both were written by the same company. When I load data in one program, it shows up in the other program.
A: It appears that no one else at the club has used or seen these programs and you will need to contact the company that writes these programs.
Q: I have to shut down Zone Alarm to open Yahoo.
A: You have something turned off in Zone Alarm that the Yahoo home page needs, like Java or some other scripts. You can check what programs are blocked in Zone Alarm (Program Control --> Programs). And you can check the logs at Alerts & Logs --> Logviewer.
Q: What causes WinXP to hand when doing a shutdown?
A: That is the single hardest problem to troubleshoot because logging has been turned off and you get no clues as to what is not closing down. Most likely, it is either a background program not shutting down or a hardware driver.
Q: I have to re-install WinXP. Is there a way to activate Windows without calling Microsoft?
A: That's entirely up to Microsoft because of their anti-piracy policies.
Q: When do you use Paint?
A: I have always used it to do screen print dumps. I know there are better programs, but every copy of Windows ever made has Paint, so it was a tool that was always just there.
In WinXP and Vista, there are more features to Paint than there used to be. Open it up and take it for a cruise, you might be surprised that you can convert formats and resize pics.
Q: Anti-Virus - What is a good free AV program?
A: AVG still has a free version. AVAST is another AV program with a free version.
Q: There is supposed to be a way to upload songs from an iPod to a PC. I lost my library in my PC and want to upload from the iPod to the PC.
A: There are several third-party programs available to do that. I googled for iPod songs to PC and came up with several good answers. The issue is that iTunes never implemented iPod to PC syncing for piracy reasons.
Q: I can't arrange the icons on my desktop any more.
A: Right click on the desktop and then under arrange icons there is an option to lock the desktop. Uncheck that.
Q: At startup, message reads “Thermal Event – Computer Restarted.” When XP starts, at event Viewer nothing shows, just normal startup.
A: The Bios has detected an overheat event. You probably need to clean the computer, fans, & heat sinks. Then check for any fans that are not turning. i would guess that the motherboard manufacturer makes a program to run within Windows to monitor temperatures also.
Q: How do I backup the email in Outlook Express 2007? How do you restore email?
A: Outlook Express usually stores email in .dbx files. They are flat file database files actually. Inside Outlook express, go to Tools, Options, Maintenance, click on Store Folder and that will display where they are stored. Because these are database files, you replace the files with the ones from your backup, overwriting what is already there.
Q: Can I look at my email from work that is using Outlook 2003?
A: Ask your IT group. There may be a way to look at your email using webmail via your mail server.
Q: For some unknown reason, WinXP fax has developed a problem. I get a message 'All Fax printers are inaccessible'.

My research shows this to be a known problem with several fixes depending on how your system got into this mess. I did see a common thread mentioning that corrupt in the security database (one of three databases that makes up the registry in WinXP). I have seen this particular fix in a couple of places.

Here's a link to the article:

I would highly recommend backing up the registry, if not imaging (making a ghost image), before trying this fix.

Q: How do you select a good 22-inch Monitor/TV.? I would like a good monitor & TV. What is the
best way to make this choice?
A: Go to a store like Best Buy and do side by side comparisons. My personal opinion is that TV
with the flesh tones presented is the key and may be the hardest to get 'right'. Side by side
comparisons will show the differences and your personal preference will tell what looks best to
Q: I want to print text in a larger font from a web page.
A: I would cut & paste into an editor/word processor and change the size of the font. It's not
easy from within a web browser.
Q: How do I get column titles on multiple pages when printing?
A: Go into Page Setup and it's set there before printing is selected.
Q: When attempting to install programs from a CD or DVD, I get an error message saying
"Invalid Win32 application...". OS is WinCP Pro and I have tried Safe Mode.
A: My experience is that this is usually a hardware issue - bad CD or a bad CD/DVD drive. It's
possible that bad memory can cause this, but this is a distant third choice behind the other two.
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