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Time-consuming reinstalls end with Windows 98


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 3, 1998

Q. I started with DOS, upgraded to Windows 3.1, then to Windows 95, and I suppose shortly to Windows 98. Must I remain an upgrade forever? If I have a crash, change hard drives (three times now) or if I upgrade to Windows 98 I am told I must always start with DOS and go through each operating system because upgrades depend on files from the preceding operating program. As it is, it takes me hours to reinstall. When does this stop?

A. It stops now. Neither Windows 95 nor Windows 98 requires DOS to be loaded previously. In fact, it is better to start out with a clean system when installing these operating systems. That way you do not carry over any unnecessary entries in your autoexec, config.sys, system and win.ini files. You may be required to prove ownership of an existing operating system in the case of an upgrade, but in these cases, the disk 1 floppy is sufficient.

Q. I added a Umax Astra 610P Scanner, which worked fine. Then I added a Canon BJC4400 printer. My scanner stopped working. I tested it, and it came out okay. When I try to “acquire,” I get an error message, Error Opening Data Source. I e-mailed Umax but received no answer after two weeks. I also e-mailed Canon, which said I cannot daisy chain.

A. Assuming that the Canon tech support people are correct, the best solution would be to install a second parallel port. This is relatively simple and inexpensive. You may also want to try changing the bi-directional printer communication (Start/Setting/Printers), right-click the printer and select Properties, then the Ports tab and toggle the Bidirectional support setting.

Q. When I go on the Internet, I get a message indicating a script error.

A. Since you didn’t say what URL you are accessing, I’m not able to check the page to see if it is a genuine script error or the result of your using an older version of IE, which you also didn’t specify. If you find this annoying, change your home page (View, Internet Options, General Tab).

Q. My 5-year-old computer suddenly developed a serious mauve haze on my screen, increasing in intensity from left to right. It creates a horizontal shadow on practically every screen.

A. This doesn’t sound good. Before you buy a new monitor, some basic monitor troubleshooting steps:

1. Check the monitor cable connection. Look at the end of the cable and check for any bent or pushed-in pins. (It is normal for up to four pins to be missing inside the end of the video cable that attaches to the computer.)
2. Plug the monitor into another wall plug.
3. Try connecting to another system to see if it functions the same.
4. Electrical interference from other devices such as televisions, radios, microwave ovens, etc., can cause your monitor screen to jump or shake. Interference can also make the display appear blurry or fuzzy. If the system is close to a fluorescent light, turn the light off or move the light away from the monitor to see if the video clears up.
5. Try degaussing the monitor (usually a button in the back of the monitor). Consult your monitor’s user’s manual to see if your monitor has that capability.
6. Reseat the video card inside the PC.

Q. My screen saver does not come on all the time.

A. This can be caused by any of the following conditions: A key or mouse button is being held down. A menu (such as the Start menu) is active. A “system modal’” dialog box is active. A system modal dialog box requires user input before the system will continue. The active program is an MS-DOS-based program for which the Allow Screen Saver property has been disabled (if this is the case, in the MS-DOS-based program’s properties, click the Misc tab, and then click the Allow Screen Saver check box to select it). The active program is an MS-DOS-based program that is using a high-resolution graphics mode or high-resolution text mode, or is a disk utility. Quit the program that is preventing the screen saver from running.

– Send hardware and software questions to techtimes@sptimes.com, or Tech Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions will be answered only in the column. John Torro, a systems engineer for a software company in Tampa, is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer.

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