Friday, October 31, 2008

Blackberry Cheat Sheet

From the main e-mail messages screen:
- Typing “c” will put you into the address book to compose an e-mail.
- Typing “p” will jump to the top of the previous day’s e-mail messages (newest message for that day).
- Typing “n” will jump to the top of the next day’s e-mail messages (newest message for that day).
- Typing “t” will put you at the top of the e-mail screen (newest day and message) or a message.
- Typing “b” will put you at the bottom of the e-mail screen (oldest day and message) or a message.
- Hitting the spacebar will go down the message screen one page at a time and holding the “cap” key and hitting spacebar will go up the message screen one page at a time.
- Within an e-mail message, typing “r” will bring you to the reply screen.
- Within an e-mail message, typing “f” will bring you to the forward screen.
- Within a received an e-mail message, typing “p” will bring you to the previous message.
- Within a received an e-mail message, typing “n” will bring you to the next message.
- Within a received an e-mail message, typing “j” or “k” will let you jump to the next or previous message in that message thread.
- To capitalize a letter, hold down the letter for about 2 seconds.
- To use letters with accent marks or special characters, roll the wheel while holding down the letter.
- To copy text, hold down the “cap” key and roll the wheel until the text is highlighted, then push the wheel in and choose “Copy”. If you let go of the “cap” key, you can copy the whole line instead of letter-by-letter.
- If you want to delete all messages older than a certain date, scroll to the most recent date (where you want to start deleting) and push the scroll button in and select “Delete Prior”.

- From the home screen, hitting the green telephone key brings you to the phone screen. You can also start dialing a phone # from the home screen and you’ll go right into the phone screen.
- If you have a phone # with letters in it (i.e.: 1-800-GO-FEDEX), Just hold down the “alt” key while in the phone screen and dial the letters and the phone will translate for you. It also works while you’re already connected.
- To End a call, hit the red phone key.
- To mute the phone, press the mute key on top of the phone (next to the power switch).
- You can store an extension with a phone # by putting an “x” next to the phone number. After you dial the number, the phone will wait for you to choose to dial the extension. Just hit enter or push the wheel in to dial.

Calendar Tips
- To type in an appointment quickly, scroll to the time of the appointment and start typing the subject. You can change the time (if not on the hour) by hitting enter and edit the appointment details.
- You can change the month, day, year or time of an appointment by rolling to the area you want to change, holding down the “alt” key and moving the wheel or trackball up or down to make the change.
- To type in a reminder, just add the subject and inside the appointment, scroll to the “All Day Event” check box and hit the space bar. It will show up at the top of your calendar.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Computer noise

Cheap power supplies often make noise when the computer is turned on in a cool room. The noise will go away as the machine warms up. This kind of computer noise, though a nuisance, is not serious.

Other computer noises are a sign of a serious problem.

Click HERE to learn more about computer noise.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Laptop screens

Laptop screens are easy to replace, but the part is very expensive. It's just not worth buying a new one from the manufacturer. You might as well buy a new computer.

As laptop screens wear out, don't bother looking for a used one. A used screen might very well be about to fail.

There are dealers that offer good buys on new equipment. Each model of laptop uses a different screen. Sometimes the part changes even within production runs. It's not unusual to find that a new screen has some small difference that makes it unusable.

If a laptop screen does not light, first check that the computer is not set to display only on external screen.

If the display on the notebook computer has indeed gone dark, the entire screen needs to be replaced. There's no way to change just the bulbs.

To recover data -- or just get by -- a laptop with a non-working screen can be used with an external monitor.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Notebook computer keyboards

When a key falls off of a notebook computer there's no practical way to replace just that key. The entire keyboard needs to be replaced. If you've got the key, you can try snapping it back in place. It'll probably fall off again.

Basically, every model of laptop uses a different keyboard. You can't just stroll on down to the office super store to pick up a replacement. The easiest way to get a new laptop keyboard is from the computer manufacturer -- Dell, Gateway, Lenovo, Hewlett Packard (Compaq), Apple, Sony, Toshiba, etc. You can also search at eBay for a replacement keyboard for a notebook computer. DO NOT buy a used one! Keyboards wear out. If you get a used keyboard, you're very likely going to have to replace it very soon.

Sometimes, all the keys are in place, but nothing appears when a key is depressed or the wrong character shows. This sort of damage often is due to a spill on the laptop keyboard. You probably need a new keyboard here, too. Unfortunately, the other possibility is that the motherboard is damaged. In this case, the most practical course of action is to replace the computer. Manufacturer warranties usually don't cover damage caused by liquids. If you tell the company rep that you spilled something on a computer, the repair won't be under warranty.

A stuck key can make both portable computers and desktops / towers seem crazy or possesed, exhibiting all sorts of bizarre behaviour. Gently tapping each key will often remedy the situation. If this doesn't work -- or if the problem returns -- then the keyboard must be replaced.

The price of a new keyboard is around $50. A shop might charge $50 to do the install, for a total of $100. You can do the job yourself, but you need to the correct tools and to be careful. Have the correct size Phillips screwdriver before you start. If you strip the screw, a small job becomes a big headache. Don't lose the tiny screws! It's not easy to get screws for a notebook computer. Also, do note how to remove the keyboard cable. If you break the connector at the motherboard, then for all practical purposes the laptop computer is ruined.


Saturday, October 25, 2008


Peering into the glowing, information-laden screen, it's easy to think of a computer as a crystal ball. That's not so. Everything saved on your computer -- documents, pictures, email archives, etc. -- is on the local hard drive. Accidents, viruses, theft, and power surges are just a few of the things that can result in a total loss. Hard drives are essentially mechanical devices. The miniature motors and moving parts can fail at any time.

In the workplace, back up your information to the network for safekeeping.

To do backups, copy the files to a CD or a DVD. Use the backup feature in Outlook to create a backup file. Copy that file to a CD or a DVD.

Don't rely on external hard drives or flash drives. These are prone to failure.

Even if you make your own backup disks, it's still a good idea to backup your files to the network.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Recovering data from a computer that won't start

1) Remove the electric cord (and the battery from a laptop).

2) Hold the on-off button for 5 seconds or so. This drains power from the system. On a tower / desktop, you'll see a light on the motherboard go off.

3) Touch a water pipe to discharge static electricity from your body.

4) Remove the hard drive from the crippled computer.

5) Install the hard drive as the 2nd (or 3rd) hard drive in a healthy system. Notebook SATA drives can be directly installed in a desktop / tower. Notebook EIDE drives need an adapter to install on a standard EIDE cable. As the installation is temporary, don't worry about mounting the notebook hard drive. DO use paper and / or a book to insulate the drive and to make sure that it's secure (won't fall out or onto the motherboard).

6) Start the host computer.

7) Once the "hospital" machine boots, copy all data from the piggy-backed hard drive. Go into Documents and Settings and copy the user profile(s). If the permissions won't give you accesss, right click on the folder and add yourself as a user. Each profile's Desktop and Internet Explorer Favorites is immediately available in the user's folder in Documents and Settings. The Outlook PST and other files normally are in
Local Settings > Application Data > Microsoft > Outlook
Outlook Express files will be in the Outlook Express Folder.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Application hanging on shutdown or logoff, Explorer.exe error at shutdown, no icons on desktop

These problems are related. The solution is in two parts:

1) To automatically end hung applications:
a) Start > Run > regedit.exe
Change the value of AutoEndTasks to 1 to automatically end tasks. (0 prompts for action.)

b) Change the default time-out before ending the task by changing the value of 'WaitToKillAppTimeout' to 1000. The default value is 20000 (= 20 seconds).

C) Windows needs to restart before changes take effect.

- - -

2)User Profile Hive Cleanup Service

Download UPHClean-setup.msi

Microsoft describes UPHClean.exe:
Brief Description
A service to help with slow log off and unreconciled profile problems.

The User Profile Hive Cleanup service helps to ensure user sessions are completely terminated when a user logs off. System processes and applications occasionally maintain connections to registry keys in the user profile after a user logs off. In those cases the user session is prevented from completely ending. This can result in problems when using Roaming User Profiles in a server environment or when using locked profiles as implemented through the Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can't delete email account on Blackberry

The issue: you want to remove an email account from a Blackberry, but it's not showing in Email Setup. The solution: Options > Advanced Options > Service Book and then from there delete the references to the unwanted account.


How to remove spyware and viruses

Like lots of things, the best way to stop is NOT TO START! Make sure that your computer has an anti-virus program installed. Do use a major brand.

New spyware and viruses show up in "the wild" all the time, So, in addition to the anti-virus program, you need updates installed automatically. Don't let this subscription expire!

Even with a up-to-date anti-virus product, DO NOT CLICK on suspicious e-mail attachments! Do not click on pop-ups warning that your computer is infected. Close these messages by hitting CTRL-ALT-DEL and then using the Task Manager.

Even when successful, removing spyware and viruses is very time consuming. Most often, copying off the data (or data recover) and then Ghosting, using the manufacturer's Restore disk, or just formatting and reinstalling is a lot faster.

Here's how a professional computer technician removes spyware and viruses:
Removing Viruses, Spyware, Trojans, and Worms


Sunday, October 19, 2008

"A problem on your computer is preventing updates from being downloaded or installed"

"A problem on your computer is preventing updates from being downloaded or installed"

On a new Dell running Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3, I got the above error message when trying to install updates using Windows Updates. The method outlined below solved the problem for me:

. . .

Scenario 2

This problem occurs when the latest Windows Update client has been installed and then you install Windows XP SP3 before restarting the computer. This causes the new Wups2.dll file not to be enabled (registered). When Windows XP SP3 is installed, it does not detect the Wups2.dll file, and it sets the registry to point to the original Wups.dll file version that is included in Windows XP SP2 and Windows XP SP3. Because the registry files that correspond to the Wups2.dll file are missing, update installations are unsuccessful.
Back to the top

To resolve this problem, use one of the following methods.
Back to the top

Method 1: Register the Wups2.dll file in Windows
To register the Wups2.dll file in Windows, follow these steps:1. Stop the Automatic Updates service. To do this, follow these steps:a. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK.
b. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
net stop wuauserv

2. Register the Wups2.dll file. To do this, follow these steps:a. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
regsvr32 %windir%\system32\wups2.dll
Note For a computer that is running Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
regsvr32 %windir%\syswow64\wups2.dll
b. Click OK on each verification message that you receive.

3. Start the Automatic Updates service. To do this, type the following command at the command prompt, and then press ENTER:
net start wuauserv
4. Exit the command prompt. To do this type exit, and then press ENTER.

. . .


After following the above instructions, I again ran Windows Update. This time the update worked.

BTW, on the XP Pro machine that I worked on, the below command did not work. The fix still was successful.
regsvr32 %windir%\syswow64\wups2.dll


Loose Laptop Power Connection

This is when the connection from the AC adapter to the laptop needs to be wiggled or held at an angle to get power. This seems like a little nuisance, but it's actually a big problem. The power plug connects directly to the motherboard. When it's loose, that means that the solder has broken on the motherboard.

The only real fix is to replace the motherboard. As laptop motherboards -- basically like all mobile computer parts -- are both of proprietary design and make / model specific, replacement parts are very hard to find. The manufacturer usually charges an arm and a leg. The power connector is a weak link in nearly all laptops (with new Macs as the rule-proving exception). Forgetting that the computer is plugged in and then trying to move it will damage the connection. So, the used Online special often will wind up either being broken or on its way out, too.

You can try resoldering the broken connector, but that often just breaks again. In any case, the entire laptop needs to be disassembled. Generally, the most practical course of action is to replace the laptop.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Computer does not start because of bad capacitators

When a computer does not start -- especially if it's completely dead -- bad capacitators -- "caps" -- are a prime suspect. Capacitators are the tube-shaped components on the motherboard that look like little firecrackers. No matter the age of the computer, if the capacitator is in good condition, the top will be flat and clean. If instead the top is bulging, cracked, and / or shows stains, rust, or a discharge, then the motherboard needs to be replaced.

The Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) can also be caused by bad capacitators.

NTLDR Is Missing Error Message

The NTLDR Is Missing error message in XP, Windows Server 2003, or Windows 2000 is most often caused by the computer trying to boot from a floppy, CD, or USB (flash) drive that doesn't contain system files.

If you want to boot from the hard drive, just remove the non-bootable floppy, CD or USB (flash). If you are trying to boot from the removable media, then use a disc with the system files.