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'Bad sectors' on a hard drive explained


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 26, 1999

Q. What are bad sectors? How do I tell if my system is AMD 350, K6 or K6-2? I also get error messages such as "Driver failed to load" or "System low on memory."

A. Bad sectors are parts of a hard drive that are no longer capable of reliably storing information. Utilities such as ScanDisk will try to move the data from these bad sectors to other areas while marking the bad sectors so they will not be available for use.

Your chip type should identify itself at boot-up. The AMD K6-2 comes in a 350MHz model, so yours may be a K6-2. You will need to be more specific on the failed driver message. It may be related to the low memory message, but without more information I can't be specific. You may want to try to get support from where you purchased the PC.

Checking a video adapter

Q. My computer freezes while I am online and I scroll. How do I check the video adapter?

A. The easiest way to check your video adapter is to right-click anywhere on your desktop and select Properties. Click the Settings tab, then the Display Type button. This screen will display your adapter type and driver version information. If your computer still freezes after you have updated the video drivers, try adjusting the Video Hardware Acceleration slide bar (right-click My Computer, choose Properties, Performance, then click the Graphics button). 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.

Swapping applications

Q. When you hit alt-tab you get a box of icons that you can ratchet through for the one you want. How can you change those icons?

A. The icons you see when you hit alt-tab are the default icons for the launch applications. You cannot change the icons. You can't click them at all -- just alt-tab to the one you want and let go.

Task manager shutdown

Q. Is there a problem if you shut down Windows 98 from the task manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete)? When I use task manager to shut down, I get the message that it is okay to turn off the computer as if I had used Start, and then Shutdown.

A. There is no difference between shutting down with the task manager or using the traditional Start, Shutdown sequence.

Colorific problem

Q. Following your advice about using Ctrl-Alt-Delete to close everything running to enable ScanDisk, I closed something called HGCCTL95, which made my system run faster and colors much brighter. It did seem to hinder shutting down my computer. I tried to disable this but got the message that Windows was using it. Is there something else I can do to get the effect of this feature?

A. HGCCTL95 is part of a software product called Colorific that supposedly gives you better control over display colors and enhanced image quality. If you are convinced that your system runs better without it, try uninstalling it from the Control Panel, Add-remove programs. It sounds as though it was not operating correctly, which may have something to do with the version of your video adapter. You can find further technical support at its Web site (

Q. How do I print one section of a document instead of a full page or pages?

A. I assume you are using Microsoft Word since you didn't specify. From the menu bar, select File, Print. In the Page Range box, click the Pages option and then specify the Section/Pages accordingly. Section numbers are prefixed with an "S" and page numbers with a "P." For example, to print pages 5 through 7 in section 3, type p5s3-p7s3. To print an entire section, type S and the section number (for example, s30). To print noncontiguous sections, type the section numbers with commas instead of a hyphen between them (s3,s5). Another way to do this, especially if you are not using Microsoft Word, simply is to select the text that you want printed, select File, Print, and choose the Selection option in the Page range box.

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