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Giving Num Lock Default Setting the Boot

November 23, 2000|DAVE WILSON |

Q: When I boot up the computer with Windows 98, the Number Lock button lights up. It's a nuisance. How does one find the on-off switch that enables one to stop this annoyance? Is there such a switch?

A: The Num Lock light goes on by default when you turn on your box as a signal that things are working as they should. The friendly geeks at Q&A labs recommend that you simply get in the habit of tapping the key to turn the light off after the boot sequence is complete if that's your preference.

There is a way to configure your computer so this happens automatically, but there are some hazards involved. You can alter the system's BIOS, but if you make a mistake you could disable your computer. Our advice is to leave this one alone.

If you do want to alter the BIOS, however, first make backups of all the stuff on your hard drive. This should be a major backup, not just data files; back up your entire drive if you can. After that, restart your system. During the start-up sequence, hit the F2 button. That should kick you into the BIOS setup utility.

Do not make any changes whatsoever until you copy down existing settings on a piece of paper so you can try to repair any damage later. An incorrect BIOS setting will cause your system to get funky.

BIOS systems are very different, so you're kind of on your own here. Look for a menu item in the BIOS System Configuration/Setup utility that says something like "Start-Up Options." Open that up, and you should see a line that says "Keyboard NumLock State" with a bracketed box that says "On." (If it doesn't say that, there's something screwy; back out of there and write us again.) Change the "on" to "off," save your changes, sacrifice a Newton to the demons of Microsoft and reboot to see what happens.

Do not under any circumstances mail the normally friendly geeks at Q&A labs with tales of woe because you did something like alter your interleave ratios. We're tired of telling folks not to stick beans in their ears.

Q: I encountered a read-only file in my Excel files. I am not on a network and don't know how it got to be a read-only file. How do I create a read-only file? How do I cancel a read-only file? Any help will be appreciated. My "Dummies" book does not address this problem.

A: Normally, it's the friendly geeks at Q&A labs who are the dummies, but not today because we have an answer for you. It's not a bug, it's a security feature. You can alter a read-only file, but you can save it only by renaming it using the Save As function. From the File menu in Excel, choose Save As and you should see a line called "Read only recommended." Make sure the little box is unchecked and you should be fine.

Q: How do I create a cent sign in MS Word 2000? Is it the same for Outlook Express?

A: There are a couple of ways to do this. The universal way, which will work in Outlook Express as well, is to open Character Map by hitting the Start button, then Programs and then Accessories. Under Windows 98, you might then have to go down to System Tools as well to find Character Map. If it's not there, you'll have to add it to your system from your original installation disc. To do that, open up your Add/Remove Programs icon under Control Panel, hit the Windows Setup Tab, double-click on System Tools and then check the box next to Character Map to install it.

You can also accomplish the same thing using your numeric keyboard by holding down the Alt key and typing "0162"; when you release the Alt key, the cents symbol will appear.

Word will let you do something similar by going into the Insert menu at the top of the program, then hitting Symbol. But you can also accomplish the same thing using the keyboard. Hold down your Control key and slash key (the one that looks like this: /) while hitting the "c" key and the cents symbol should show up.


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

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