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Fixing the Incredible Shrinking Monitor Screen

March 29, 2001|DAVE WILSON |

Q: When I bought my new PC in December the screen filled the frame of the monitor. Now it has been reduced with a 1-inch black frame all around. I went to Control Panel and Settings and increased the area with the slider to maximum, but all it does is reduce the size of the icons. How can I correct this?

A: The friendly geeks at Q&A labs suspect this is a hardware problem. Specifically, you need to adjust the monitor itself, like the controls on a television set when the picture starts rolling. Look for buttons on the front of the display, toward the bottom, under the screen. You'll find more adjustable settings in back. Don't go crazy or you'll make the problem worse.

Q: This morning I turned on my computer and my start-up bar moved from the bottom position to the side of the screen without any prompting on my part. I have Windows 98 Second Edition. How did this happen and is there a way to move it back to its original position?

A: We've addressed this problem in this column before, but it's worth repeating. You can place the taskbar on any edge of your screen. To make it move, left-click on a blank portion of the taskbar and then slowly drag it in the general direction you'd like it to move: left, right, up or down. It should suddenly snap into place against the edge of the screen in whatever direction your cursor is moving. But be careful. If you shove the taskbar too low against the edge of the monitor, it will disappear and you'll have to tease the edge back up and drag it into the proper position.

Q: When my computer goes through the boot-up process, it immediately flashes the screen where you can choose to start Windows 98 in Safe, Normal or DOS mode. Any option that is selected sends the screen black with a script that says "VKD is missing." Have you ever heard of this?

A: This is a somewhat unusual problem, but we have a vague idea of what's going on.

VKD means virtual keyboard device. First, try booting with the keyboard unplugged. If you can get into Windows at this point, you might have a bad keyboard. If you're still hosed, your problem could be far more complicated, such as a bad port on your motherboard. But it's more likely that you've got a corrupted file on your hard drive.

If you were able to get your box started in DOS mode, you could type "scanreg /fix" at the command prompt. This scans the system registry for you and automatically repairs errors in some cases.

But since you can't, try this: Restart the box and hold down the Control key until the Windows 98 Start-up menu shows up. Select "Command prompt only;" this will load something called Himem.sys (things work differently when you're in Safe Mode and go for the command prompt). See if that will at least let you get in.

But the only really reliable fix here is to reinstall the operating system. If you have an emergency boot disc, use it. If not, you might have to pay somebody to fix this for you.


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

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