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Stand Back! This Is a Job for an Expert

November 16, 2000|DAVE WILSON |

Q: Quite often when I turn on my computer it will not start. I turn off the switch, then jiggle various connectors, then turn on the computer switch. Sometimes it works. Other times I need to go through the procedure a second time. Can you please advise me?

A: Well, we'd advise you not to try to turn on your box while standing in a bucket of water. All kidding aside, it's not clear from your description whether you're experiencing an electrical problem, a mechanical snafu or a software bug. If you flip the switch and literally nothing happens, we'd bet you have something like a bad switch, failing power supply or a poorly seated board. If you don't know your way around lightning, let a professional take this on.

Q: Is there any way to restore a deleted bookmark folder?

A: Sure, just go to your backup disk and import the old bookmarks into your current Web browsing software.

Oh, wait, you're probably writing us because you don't have a backup. Well, this is a good reason for the rest of you to make a backup immediately. The normally friendly geeks at Q&A labs said immediately. Go ahead. We'll wait. Just take a freaking floppy disk and make a copy of your freaking bookmarks. OK?!

OK, now that we're all backed up, let's deal with this specific problem. You can rummage around your system to see if there's a copy of the original hidden somewhere. For instance, open up your trash can and poke around, assuming you haven't emptied the trash since your bookmarks disappeared.

One other easy trick you can try is to search for "bookmark" or even "book" to see if there's a copy of the data somewhere on your hard drive. We've seen bookmarks vanish when somebody else logs on to a copy of Netscape. Sometimes the original bookmarks file goes "poof."

You can often recover the MIA data--or at least an earlier version of it--through the search procedure. To use Search, hit the Start button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Click Find and then Files or Folders. Do the broadest search you can.

And make a backup.

Q: Eight times out of 10, when I boot up my computer (a PC running Windows 98), a box appears reading "Dial-Up Connection: Select the service you want to connect to and enter your user name and password." Often the reference appears multiple times across the bottom of my screen. To get rid of the boxes, I have to cancel each one individually, which wastes a lot of time. How can I stop this box from appearing, since I never use it to connect to the Internet? I use a shortcut on my Desktop to connect to my two free providers, NetZero and Juno.

A: The friendly geeks at Q&A labs advise against using free Internet service providers unless you're really strapped for cash, because the software used can introduce problems into your system. We can't lay this specific problem at the feet of NetZero or Juno, but we also wouldn't be surprised to discover that's the case.

You may be able to resolve this issue by uninstalling and then reinstalling Dial-Up Networking. Go to the Start button, then Settings and Control Panel, and then open Add/Remove Programs. Make sure you have your original system disk and always back up critical data before messing around with your system. Hit the tab labeled Windows Setup. Double-click on Communications from the lineup of options in the big white box. Uncheck Dial-Up Networking. Hit the OK buttons until everything is closed, then reboot. Once you're running again, follow the same set of steps to reinstall what you just removed.

Q: You recently explained how to get rid of a phantom password prompt in Windows 98. But is there a way to get past a password prompt that requires a valid password if I don't know the password?

A: Yes. But don't think we're going to tell you how to get around someone else's security.

Q: I am unable to place any text or graphics in Microsoft Word Auto Text. It always reverts to the original default listings, which are of no use to me.

A: Autotext uses templates to know what you want it to do. There are two types of templates, document and global. Document templates are available only to specific documents based on the template. Global templates contain settings that affect all documents. We suspect that the reason your changes aren't taking hold is that you're working with document templates. Use Word's help function to learn how to alter global templates.

Dave Wilson is The Times' personal technology columnist. Submit questions to Tech Q&A at

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