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Question:  Why can't I start Word, or I why do I get errors starting it?

Answer: I've seen a lot of problems lately with the normal.dot file corruption. This file is the main template file Word uses for configuration. If you can't start Word or are getting errors, try going to the Start button, click on Find or Search, type in normal.dot and then click Find Now or Search Now. When the computer finds the file, either rename it to normal.old or just delete it. You need to be careful about what you do with it in relation to how much customizing you have done in Word. For instance, if you have customized your button bars, input any Autotext entries, or created any macros, created styles, all of these are stored in normal.dot. If you rename the file then open it and try bringing the items back in with Organizer, you won't lose any of these items, unless one of them is causing the problem.

Question: How can I get Windows to start without logging in?

Answer: The procedure of logging into windows with a password is only useful to keep people from using your saved passwords for networking and hooking up to the Internet (Windows versions prior to XP). It does not keep people from starting the computer, running programs, and accessing your data files. It is actually more of an inconvenience than anything else. To eliminate the login screen, first go to the Start button, Settings, Control Panel. Double click on the Network icon, then click on the drop down arrow in the Primary Network Logon box. Select Windows Logon. After you do this clock OK and it will restart the computer. When the computer restarts, if you didn't set a password, and the password screen comes up, just hit enter. Now the screen will not come up again. You are actually logging in with a password of nothing so it never asks for a password again. If you had a password set, you will need to go to the Passwords icon in Control Panel and change the password to nothing.

Question: I don't like XP's logon box, can I change it?

Answer: One of the cosmetic changes made to Windows XP is the look of the log on and log off boxes. If you would rather change them to look like they did in previous Windows versions, when the log on box comes up, press Ctrl, Alt, and then tap the Del key. If you do this twice in a row the box will change.

Question: How do I put my picture on the Windows XP log on screen?

Answer: If you don't like the default selections and you have a picture you want to use, you can follow the steps here to replace the logon picture with another of your choosing. First, the picture you use will have to be modified in a graphics program to a 48 x 48 pixel size and saved in a BMP format. Save the picture to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\User Account Pictures\Default Pictures. This is where the pictures for the logon are located. Now, you can go to the Start button and click over the picture for the account at the top. This will bring up the selection screen. Select the picture you want and click on the Change Picture button.

Question: How do I change the desktop wallpaper?

Answer: At the desktop, move the mouse to an area where there are no icons. Click the right mouse button. This will bring up a menu. Select properties, then click on wallpaper. Now either pick a wall paper from the list, or browse for the image you want to use. Be sure to select the stretch option so that the image will fill the screen. If the size of the picture you select is a lot smaller than the screen, then you will either have to tile the image or center it. You can play with the setting and decide what suits your needs.

Question: Why do Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter take so long to work?

Answer: This can be a very involved answer. Usually the problem is there is a program running in the system tray which causes the hard drive to be accessed. This will interrupt the Scandisk and Defrag processes. If you have Windows 98, or later, refer to this FAQ for how to disable these programs. I have found that some computers will still have problems with drive accessing even though these programs are disabled, but in most cases, this will work. Also, the size of the hard drive and number of programs and files will affect these processes.

Question: With DVD writers getting cheaper, should I consider buying one?

Answer: The newer DVD writers are considerably less expensive and much more reliable. If you are looking for a backup device, they are great, lots of space, and easy to use. Note: If you are considering a drive because you want to copy DVD movies, you may be disappointed. You need special software to copy movies and a lot of movies are copy protected so you still won't be able to copy them. These drives are great for people with a lot of "stuff" to backup. You can also use them to make DVD's of your camcorder movies. As of August of 2003, there is still no standard for the way these writers make disks. What this means to you is that some players may not play the disks you make. Until there is a universal standard, this could be a problem. All the manufacturers think their format is the best and so they have not been able to agree on a format yet. This really doesn't matter as far as making backups.

Question: Why can't I get my CD to eject?

Answer: On some computers, with CD burners, there seems to be a problem ejecting CD's after you write to them. It mainly affects only CD-RW disks. The disk won't eject when you push the button on the drive and will if you restart the computer. The easiest thing to try is to start Windows Explorer, right-click on the CD Drive, the left-click on Eject. The door will usually open this way.

Question: If I get Road Runner Service, do I need to worry about people getting into my computer?

Answer: Yes, definitely, you need to use a firewall, or a router. I suggest using both. You can download and install the free Zone Alarm program by clicking here.   Since Windows Vista and Windows 7 have improved their built in firewalls, they should be adequate for most users.

Question:  Is there a way to make a record of problems I'm having with Windows 7 and I can make a visual display to show my computer guy?

 Answer:  Yes, you can either do individual screen dumps, or use the new feature in Windows 7 which will make screen dumps for you.  When any app starts misbehaving under Windows 7 then all you need do is click Start, type PSR and press Enter, then click Start Record. If you then work through whatever you're doing then the Problem Steps Recorder will record every click and keypress, take screen grabs, and package everything up into a single zipped MHTML file. It saves a lot of time from using the individual screen dump method, then all you do is email it to me.

Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.