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Blank Screen Could Mean Resource Problem

February 01, 2001|DAVE WILSON |

Q: When I use the scroll function from my mouse the entire screen goes all white. I then have to hard boot to get back in. I have PacBell DSL service and my CPU is by CTX. I went to a different mouse and keyboard and it still occurs. It does not happen a lot but it sure is inconvenient. Any advice?

A: Sounds like a resource problem. Because it's intermittent, the friendly geeks at Q&A labs are guessing that it occurs most often after lots of programs have been opened or closed, which leads the system to think it's got less RAM available than is actually on board. Leaving the computer running for many hours will have the same effect.

The free solution is what you're doing: reboot. You also can minimize use of resource-intensive programs; for instance, don't open up that huge picture file.

If this is indeed a resource issue--and we can't say for certain that it is without actually examining your system--you also can resolve the problem by adding more RAM to your machine. RAM is cheap right now, so if you've got a couple of spare beans, it's worth a try.

Q: I have suddenly developed a problem staying online. I use Outlook Express on my IBM ThinkPad. When I am online and send an e-mail, I am immediately disconnected when I press the Send button. The unsent message goes into my Outbox. I then have to press the Send/Rec button to get back online and the message goes out. However, as soon as I write another e-mail and press Send, I am disconnected again. This came on suddenly a couple of weeks ago after I had been on a trip with my laptop. I didn't change any of my preferences or settings--only the access number--while I was away. Before this, my e-mail ran beautifully.

A: The good news is this is fixable. The bad news is you may have to fumble around before you can find exactly what needs to be tweaked.

Because you changed the phone number recently, we have an idea of where to start, but there's no guarantee this will work. Click on the Tools menu at the top of the Outlook application (it should be the fourth choice from the left if you're using a recent version) and choose Accounts.

Under Internet Accounts, hit the Mail tab, highlight your Internet account and then hit the Properties button. Once the Properties box opens, hit the Connections tab. There's a little box there that says something like "Always connect to this account using:" with a little box on the left. Uncheck the box, hit the Apply button at the bottom, then check OK and see if your problem is solved.

If it's not, why, it's time to try something else. Under the Tools menu, open the Options box, hit the Connections tab and see if a box next to a line saying something like "Hang up after sending and receiving" is checked. If so, uncheck it.

Q: I have a Dell 733 with Windows ME. My desktop is not using the entire viewable area of my monitor. On the right the width is an inch less than it should be and at the top it's a quarter-inch less. I am losing some part of my message on the left edge. A new hard drive was installed last week by Dell. How do I correct this problem?

A: There could be a couple of things going on here. We're assuming you've tried adjusting the settings on the monitor itself, so we'll think about weirder stuff (we can't be very detailed in this small space, so we'll just give you stuff to consider). As always, make extensive backups of your data before monkeying with your system.

First, right-click on your main Desktop and open the Properties box. Go to Settings. Monkey with the Screen Area slider to see if that solves your problem. If not, experiment with some of the other settings there (use some caution, as you can make your life exceedingly difficult if you choose an extreme setting your monitor can't recognize at all).

If there's no joy to be had, make sure the guys who installed your new hard drive didn't do something to your display driver; take a peek and make sure your system is using the right driver. You might even want to reinstall it.

We've heard of this kind of behavior showing up when people install free ISP software; you didn't mention doing this, but if you've done so, we have no idea how to help you short of reinstalling the operating system.

If none of this helps, feel free to write back.


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

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