Dear members,

Here is your Tico Byte for this month; I hope you enjoy it.

TICO BYTE September, 14, 2004


Item 1: Service Pack 2

For those of you who want the Microsoft update to Windows XP, I have the following advice:

1)      Don’t do anything at this time, even if you have a good Internet connection and can download it. This is because of the many unknowns involved in applying it to your particular computer. Go on the net and read all you can about what’s going on with this major revision.

2)      Contact me for a copy of it on CR-ROM. I have ordered the full version from Microsoft and it will arrive in the next couple of weeks. They encourage copying it and passing it on to anyone who wants it. This we will do, once we have it.



Nearly 40,000 laser printers made by Lexmark have been recalled
for a potential shock hazard. The printers were sold under the
brand names Lexmark, Dell and IBM.

Lexmark discovered the problem while testing a printer with several
years of simulated use. To pose a shock hazard, multiple components
would have to fail.

The recall includes Dell printer models 1700 and 1700n, IBM 1412 and
1412n, and Lexmark E232, E232t, E330, E332n, and E332tn. According to
the Consumer Product Safety Commission, no injuries have been reported.

Consumers should contact their printer company for a replacement.
Contact information is available from the CPSC at:

Item 3: (From Kim Komander) Q. My computer is driving me crazy! It reboots by itself three or four times a day. There doesn't seem to be any pattern. I'm ready to dump this thing! Can you help?

A. I can only imagine your aggravation. Unfortunately, a number of things can cause this. So let's work through them. But before you do anything that I have below, if you are not computer savvy or don't know how to safely work on a computer by grounding yourself and such, do yourself a favor. Take the computer to a local repair shop and ask them to fix it. Be sure to get an estimate up front.

Okay, so you decided to keep reading? Brace yourself!

Have you installed something new recently? Hardware or software? Try uninstalling it. If the problem goes away, check the manufacturer's Web site. It may include a fix or new drivers.

If the situation continues, check programs that are booting automatically. Click Start>>Run. Type msconfig and click OK. Select the Startup tab. Click Disable All>>Apply>>Close. Restart the computer.

Run the computer for awhile. If the problem disappears, restore the items in MSConfig one at a time. Assuming you can isolate the program that is causing the problem, check the manufacturer's Web site. Or just get rid of it.

Still have the problem? Maybe the computer is running too hot. Take the sides off the computer case. Be sure the interior fans are working. The power supply fan blows out the back of the computer. Others should be visible. The microprocessor may have a fan atop it. The chipset on the motherboard may have a fan. Same goes for the video card. Other fans are sometimes attached to the front or back of the case. Fans are crucial. Heat can make a computer act strangely.

Fans working? Set up a fan to blow directly on the computer's interior. It this solves the problem, you need more internal fans. You can buy small fans at computer parts stores.

Still rebooting? You probably have bad hardware. The only way to check this is to replace the parts one at a time. Bad memory chips are sometimes a problem. If you have multiple memory sticks in the computer, remove them one at a time. If you only have one, try to mooch another from someone else. I've borrowed parts from work computers when I had that situation.

While you're at it, try to get another video card. Swap it out, too.

If you have a network interface card (NIC), pull it out and run the computer. You won't be able to surf the Web without the NIC. Find something else to do with the computer. NICs and memory are cheap, if they need to be replaced. Video cards are also cheap, unless you need an expensive one to play games.


Item 4: Checking the validity of a site. (From Fred Langa)


I have a suggestion for your readers that are concerned about entering sensitive information into a spoofed web page form. Lately, when I am prompted to enter my username and password to log into a web site, I've been entering a bogus username and/or password. If the site accepts it, I know it’s not a good idea to continue, even if it is an https: address. If the site rejects the bogus info, then I can assume that it is legitimate and continue my purchase, transaction, or whatever I am doing. It only takes a few seconds, and gives me a little more peace of mind against a spoofed web page getting my username, password, or other sensitive information.


Item 5: A modem connect trick

If you get disconnected frequently, try this extra modem setting:

  1. Go to Modems in Control Panel (Start > Settings > Control Panel)
  2. From Modems select Properties, select the Connection Tab, click the Advanced button
  3. In the Extra settings dialogue box, enter S10=50

This will force the modem to stay connected without a carrier, up to 5 seconds.

Item 6: Did I mention that the LCD market is said to be saturated?

I am buying a new monitor. This one will be an LCD, as the market prices are pretty good. I am getting a MAG 15”. The price is $329 at Best Buys. There are better prices out there if you want to look and then have a place to send it to, so that you can bring it into the country. This one I picked has all the features that I want; principally that the contrast ratio is 400:1 (that’s good).

So if you need a new monitor, the prices are really good these days.

Item 6: Next meeting

Our next meeting of the club is next Saturday. It will include:

1)      Beginners class with Rhoda. This class is open to anyone wanting to learn about computer use or just trying to improve their skills. Rhoda is open to hearing from you as to what you would like to learn. Just remember the topics are “basic”.

2)      Hardware and software clinics. This is the place to bring your problems and your solutions. We want to hear from you on both of these scores. We will talk about recent experiences with changing a CD-RW and finding that Windows ME had had files erased by Adaptec EZ CD Creator, and what the solution turned out to be.

3)      This is the year end wrap up for official business. We will have elections of offices and Fiscal. And reports by the Treasurer and President.

4)      There will be information sharing about keyboard shortcuts from Ken Booth and discussion about the lost art of “right clicking”.

5)      Additionally, we will talk about the upcoming fun event schedules for October. We expect it to be an auction as a fund raiser, with food and fun for all. Come and add your advice.

Item 7: Remember

 I've learned....

 That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks

See you all at the meeting Saturday at 8:30 at the Pan American School