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Declining assistance from Word


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 26, 2000

Q. Microsoft Word keeps asking me, "It looks like you're writing a letter. Would you like help?" I don't want help and would like to clear this prompt permanently.

A. If the Office Assistant (the animated character) is showing, right-click it and click Options. If not, on the menu bar choose Help, Show Assistant, then right-click it and click Options. On the Options tab, de-select the "Using features more effectively" option. If you had to turn the assistant on, remember to turn it back off.

Startup lock-up

Q. When I start my computer, I get a pop-up box with "error starting program, a required DLL file EXCELLACCESS.DLL was not found." I click an OK button, it disappears and everything seems okay. I installed Windows 98 Second Edition over Windows 98, which was installed over Windows 95. I have a lot more lock-ups now, where even Ctrl-Alt-Del won't help. I have no alternative but to switch off the computer. I have reloaded Win98 Second Edition but to no avail.

A. I couldn't find anything related to that specific file reference. Fortunately, Windows 98 makes it relatively easy to trace startup problems. Run the System Information tool (Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information or Start, Run, type MSINFO32 and press enter). Select Tools, System Configuration Utility. From here you can selectively turn off the different areas within Windows from which programs run at startup. You'll see a tab for each area: Config.sys, Autoexec.Bat, System.ini, Win.ini (expand the Windows option and check the Load and Run lines) and Startup (this contains the programs that start from within the registry). Try disabling one at a time until you find the area where the offending program is starting. This should at least give you a clue as to what is making this happen. As far as the intermittent lock-ups, this could be any number of things from faulty RAM to misbehaving device drivers. Often lock-ups are caused by the drivers controlling your video adapter. Make sure you have the latest version of the video adapter drivers (check the vendor's Web site). You also can adjust the Video Hardware Acceleration slide bar (right-click My Computer, choose Properties, Performance, then click the Graphics button). It is a good idea to start with the setting on the right (the Full setting) and move the slider one setting to the left until you find the setting that works best.

Powering off monitor

Q. I have the screen saver set to come on after 10 minutes. I would love to have the monitor shut down instead while the PC stays on as you suggested recently. How can I do this?

A. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel. Double-click Power Management. Choose the Home/Office Desk Power Scheme. There will be a separate setting for your monitor. Set this to the number of minutes of inactivity before your monitor powers off.

Damaged registry

Q. I have used Windows 95 for several years without problems, but recently an error message has appeared: "There is not enough memory to load the registry, or the registry is corrupted. Some devices may not operate properly." Several programs, including Quick Books, have begun to lock up randomly. Also, I get another error message that Word or Excel has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down. My laptop has 40 megabytes of random access memory and plenty of hard drive capacity. If the problem is corruption rather than lack of memory, is there a repair process? I spent 45 minutes with a Microsoft technician but he was unable to solve the problem. A technician friend advised upgrading to Windows 98 or 2000 but told me I would have to reinstall my programs and backed-up files.

A. Upgrading to Windows 98/2000 should create a new registry and fix your problem, and no, you won't have to reinstall your programs. The update process will preserve your settings. Another alternative is detailed in Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q131431. This involves quite a few steps, more than we can fit in this column. Go to and search for Q131431 for the full article.

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