Question:  How can I put a customized button on the button bar in most Microsoft programs?

Answer: The easiest way is to move the cursor to the button bar area, click the Right mouse button, then left-click on Customize. From this point you can do what you need to do. To remove buttons simply click on the button and drag it off the toolbar. You can also copy, change, and edit button graphics. This subject can get rather involved and would be better served to set up an appointment to cover what you want to do.

Question: When I run Scandisk (Windows versions previous to XP), it keeps telling me it has to keep restarting due to a program accessing the hard disk and then wants to know if I want to keep running the program. What causes this message?

Answer: There is probably a program in the system tray which is accessing the disk. The system tray is the area next to the clock. These programs start up when Windows starts. Unfortunately, you probably have several programs there which are not really necessary, it's just that the installation of the programs loads them whether you want them or not. If you're using either Windows 95, 98, or ME, you can disable these programs while you are running Scandisk. Since you will be doing this each time you run Scandisk, we will set up a shortcut key combination to start the System Information program. Go to the Start button, Programs, then click on Accessories, then System Tools. Now, right-click on the System Information item then left-click the Properties item. Click the mouse in the Shortcut key box and hold down the Ctrl, Alt, and tap the I key. Now, if you hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys with your left hand and tap the I key with your right hand, the System Information program will start. Go to the Tools menu and click on System Configuration item. Click on Selective Startup and un-check the Load Startup Group Items. When you click OK a box will come up and you will restart the computer. This will disable the programs in the system tray. NOTE: Be sure to go back and check Normal Startup when you are done so things will be back to normal. Windows XP users: In order to run the Scandisk equivalent in XP, start up Windows Explorer.  Right click on the hard drive, then left click on Properties.  Click on the Tools tab, then click on the Check Now button.  Put a check in both boxes, then click the Start button.  You will then get a message that the utility can't run and will run when you restart the computer.  It has to be done this way.  Also note, that running this utility can take a couple of hours since the error checking on the surface of the hard drive is slow, so don't try this when you need to use the computer.  You should run this utility quarterly so it can check your disk.

Question: Is there an easier way to start programs without making shortcuts on the desktop?

Answer: Yes, you can create shortcut keys for any program you want. This really got easy in Windows 98 and ME. For example, lets say you want to create a shortcut to start the Windows Calculator. Just go to the Start button, Programs, then click on Accessories, then right-click on the Calculator item, then left-click the Properties item. Click the mouse in the Shortcut key box and hold down the Ctrl, and Alt keys, then tap the C key. Now, if you hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys with your left hand and tap the C key with your right hand the Calculator program will start up.  Be sure to use key combinations you will remember.

Question: Things have been going OK but now I can't access some of the web sites I used to, why?

Answer: You're probably in the same situation several of my clients have had recently. We would all be able to plod along forever if they didn't keep changing software and adding features trying to outdo each other all the time. Usually the problem here is you have an older version of Internet Explorer or Netscape and they don't support the new Java stuff. Also there are a myriad of add-in programs which also need updating from time to time. Usually all we need to do is update IE or Netscape and you'll be back in business. Besides, it's a good excuse for me to check to make sure clients are current with the other software, especially anti virus, etc.

Question: Why do some Internet sites look OK and others are off center or look funky?

Answer: You can purchase software to make your own web pages. Designing web sites is a whole other profession because of the amount of things you need to know. Many times, if you view a site and the text looks weird, like how it wraps, or doesn't wrap around the graphics, try viewing it with the other browser. This is one reason I think it is a good idea to have both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Some sites are designed for one or the other but some things don't work in the other browser, blinking text is a good example. Today about 70-75% of the people are using IE. How a site looks is also affected by the screen size, in pixels, it was designed for. Again, today most people are using 800 X 600. A couple of years ago most people were using 640 X 480. Some people use 1024 X 768. The world really looks different to these folks.

Question: How important is it to upgrade my software.

Answer: This is really a loaded question. Of course, this is strictly my opinion but, I feel it depends on what software you are talking about. Antivirus software can't be updated often enough. My suggestion, Norton, it updates itself, just make sure it is set to update automatically, and this is the case with all antivirus programs, or for that matter all programs which have an automatic update feature, should have it turned on. You should check for Windows updates about once a month. Windows ME can be setup to do the updates automatically. Click here for Microsoft update links. Microsoft says if you have Office products you should download the updates. I think operating system and mail security updates are far more important than program updates. You need to use discretion when updating programs. The reasons are, the updates may add or delete functions you use and the update may convert your data files so even if you want to go back to the original version, your files won't work with it anymore. I usually like to recommend you only upgrade if they have added some features you want and don't have now or if the upgrade will fix some bugs you have had using the program. If you don't need the upgrade for these reasons, you might be better off staying with what you have now.

Question: Why do I get a lot of 404 errors when I'm browsing the Internet?

Answer: 404 errors mean the page you requested couldn't be found. It's important to remember that the URL, or address, of a site is case sensitive. A lot of people have the caps lock key on when they are inputting data in a database or spreadsheet and forget to turn it off. The address has to be correct and usually all lower case letters.

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.