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Organizing items in the Programs menu

By JOHN TORRO

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 22, 2001


Q. Is there any way to sort entries in Windows Start/Programs menu? Is there any utility that would check consistency of this menu (if entries are valid)?

A. If you have Windows 98 SE and Internet Explorer 5, all you'll need to do is right-click anywhere on the Programs menu and select Sort by Name. For Windows versions prior to Windows 98 SE and Internet Explorer 5, this can be accomplished with registry edits, but needs to be done every time a program entry is added. Therefore I'm hesitant to recommend or outline this procedure.

Restoring monitor colors

Q. My computer crashed and now I don't have 256 colors any more.

A. First check to see what options are available by right-clicking anywhere on the Desktop, choose Properties, select the Settings tab. If the 256 Color option does not show when you click the Color Palette select list, then you will need to reload your video adapter software drivers. You will need to locate the CD-ROM that contains them or locate the directory on your PC that may have a copy. From that same screen, click the Advanced button and then the Change button on the Adapter tab. Click the Have Disk button and then the Browse button and navigate to the source for the video adapter software. If you can't locate the original software, try the video adapter vendor's Web site and download the latest version for your video adapter. There should be installation instructions included with the download.

Optimizing optimization

Q. I have the Microsoft Me operating system and used Norton's Optimization Wizard to fine tune my PC. After three hours, a window appears that says: "IMAGE 32 Too many other files are currently in use by 16 BIT programs. Quit one or more 16 BIT programs or increase the Files command in your config sys file." How do I do this?

A. First you need to make sure that you are running the version of Norton System Works that is compatible with Windows Me (Norton System Works 2001). If you are, you'll need to call Symantec to investigate further, since I could not find any relevant information on its Web site. I can tell you that increasing the FILES configuration in your Config.sys should not be necessary for any application made for Windows Me. My recommendation is to make sure you have sufficient random access memory, keep your hard drive defragmented with a good percentage of free space and minimize the number of programs that run and stay resident at start up. Software that promises optimizations beyond this will have minimal effects at best and, in some cases, may be detrimental to the system.

Scanning color slides

Q. Is there a device at a practical price that can copy the images from color slides?

A. I recently had to do the same with almost 500 slides from my family archives (some 60 to 70 years old). The scanner I used was a UMAX Astra 2200 that comes with a "transparency adapter." The transparency adapter is built into the scanner cover and diffuses light evenly through the transparent media allowing you to scan, among other things, photographic slides (black and white or color). It did a great job on all but the very darkest slides. On the few slides that were too dark for a quality scan, a professional photo processor (with equipment presumably much more sophisticated than what I had) did not noticeably improve the quality. Overall I was very happy with this product. You can expect to pay between $100 and $150 for the UMAX Astra 2200 or equivalent scanner with a transparency adapter. Transparency adapters also can be purchased separately and added to some scanners. At the higher end, there are products such as the HP S20 Photo Scanner, which directly scans 35mm film and slides and costs between $400 and $500.

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