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Free Tips on Microsoft Windows and Windows Programs


We have a regular series of tips in our free monthly newsletter: Subscribe now!


Access often gets Corrupt
Backups - what and why?
Can't Load Programs
Developer is keeping my Source Code
ISDN keeps dialling out
Microsoft Office Licensing
Modem Not Dialling Out
Network connection lost
NT workstation on Windows Server
Old Software Won't Load
Outlook blocks Attachments
Outlook on Apple
Redfern Label Templates don't fit
Show File Extensions
WinFax Pro becomes the Default Printer
How to do a "Print Screen" in Windows

Questions and Answers

Question:  I zipped and e-mailed a large file on my hard drive, but the zip is tiny --Why?

Answer: You probably zipped a shortcut, not the file to which it refers!  If you can not see the file extension in Windows Explorer, click Tools (menu) > Folder Options > View TAB, and turn OFF "Hide Extensions for Known File Types".

Question:  Why does Lotus 1-2-3 version 5.0 / other software that’s more than 7 years old not load on Windows 2000 / XP / Vista / 7?

Answer: It does not have the necessary compatible files to do so or the original disks are damaged. Software of this age is not replaceable; unfortunately you will have to invest in the latest version.

Q:  My modem won’t dial out since we had a new switchboard installed!

A:  Analog modems will not work on digital lines, so make sure that you have an analog line for the modem unless you have already moved to ISDN, which only works on ISDN lines and not digital. ISDN is definitely worth the expense as downloads are markedly faster. An alternative we prefer is ADSL, which is "always on". Again, this requires its own type of modem.

Question:  Our NT workstation refused to find the Windows 2000 server using either a static IP address or DHCP. We checked the network card, changed the port on the hub and the network cable with no success. Changed the identification from domain to workgroup – and then attempted to go back again, no joy.

Answer: So what worked? Going into Windows 2000 Server’s administrative tools, Active Directory Users and Computers; here we reset the computer’s account. Bingo – back on the domain! This despite the fact that the account was active and reporting no problems on the server.

Q: Why would my networked Access database keep getting corrupt?

A: In the recent case of one of our favourite customers, our hardware people diagnosed a faulty hub. Remember that databases are very sensitive to corruption, and you need to keep frequent backups.  

Q: I cannot load a new program on my PC, why not?

A: There are two possible reasons:

1.      You are running Windows 2000 Pro or XP Pro and do not have administrator rights.  In this case, ask your IT support person to log on as administrator and load the program for you.

2.      You are running Norton Utilities and this program sees a new program being loaded as a virus attack.  We suggest removing Norton Utilities (but not the AntiVirus program) completely and then rebooting and loading the program.  With Windows 2000 and XP Pro, you do not need Norton Utilities and the program causes a lot of problems on these platforms.

Q:  Norton AntiVirus will not load and I am getting strange messages about OVHA.exe trying to write to gjdamag.dll, what is the problem?

A: .You have the bugbear virus. Contact us or your support person for the fix or download it from the Symantec site. PLEASE update your antivirus EVERY WEEK to prevent this happening.

Q:  Microsoft Outlook refuses to let me see attachments to incoming e-mails, with the message “Outlook blocked access to the following potentially unsafe attachments…”, even though they come from someone I trust. What can I do?

A:  Outlook 2000 SR-1 (Service Release 1) and later include what Microsoft calls “a new security feature that blocks attachments considered potentially unsafe”. This includes EXE (executable files), MDB (Access Databases) and many others. There is no way of removing or modifying this bug and Microsoft currently don’t intend providing one. They say this “provides an additional level of protection against malicious messages”. First, we suggest sending a flame to feedback@microsoft.com about Microsoft crippling their products because they always know better than the users do about what is good for them and are too bone-idle to address the problem in a constructive way, like warning the user if something malicious actually tries to run. Secondly, get the sender to change the file extension to something Outlook does not block yet, like FBG (BG for “Bill Gates”, you can guess what the “F” is for) and re-send the mail (telling you what the extension should be). Note that self-extracting Zip files, having an EXE extension, will also be blocked. 

Programmers!  If you want your software to be able to by-pass the problem, get "Outlook Redemption".


Question: Why has my default printer changed after installing WinFax Pro?

Answer: – This caught me out completely as I had forgotten that it made itself the default printer. Be warned and check that you have not lost your printer!

Q: I downloaded the Redfern Label templates from your web site but they don’t work – as one goes down the sheet, they print progressively higher and higher relative to the actual labels, and the bottom row of labels is 20 – 25 mm too high!

A: Your printer is set to print to (US) Letter paper, which is 25 mm shorter than A4. The problem usually arises when Windows has been left with the default United States settings by a lazy (or ignorant) installer. Fix this as follows:

  • Click Start > Settings > Control Panel.

  • Double-click Regional Options.

  • Select the language as “English (South Africa)” (or your specific version of English) {not ”English (United States)” (the default)}.

  • Do not reboot the PC yet.

  • On the "Time" Tab, check that the format is the way you want it (use HH:mm for a 24-hour clock – Note the Capital "HH").

  • On the "Date" Tab, check that the formats are suitable (we suggest dd/mm/yyyy and d mmmm yyyy).

  • Click OK and restart the PC.

  • The default paper size will then automatically go to A4.

  • This change will also do useful things like causing the default dictionary to be English rather than American!

Q: What is a wildcard and why is it useful?

A: It is the character * on the keyboard and we use it particularly in searches when the search must return all known examples that we are looking for – e.g. *.bat will give you all the PC’s batch files; *.co.za will return all the .co.za domain names or e-mail addresses that you might have on your database.

Q:  My ISDN line keeps dialling out - Why?

A: This happens on Windows 2000 server using MS Proxy Server whenever someone accesses an HTML document. There is no fix! We will be testing ISA server soon to see if this fixes it. Our current solution is to take the user name out of Proxy and put it back when we actually need other network users to have access!

Incidentally, this does not happen if you are using Midpoint Lite Internet Access software, so that may well be a better solution than Proxy – please ask us about this if you are interested.

Q: What is a Backup?

A: It is a compressed form of your data and can be obtained in a number of ways. Windows 2000 Server and Professional come with a Microsoft backup solution that works and backs up to diskette, CD or tape. It does not work as well on 200 Pro, so a proprietary solution such as Veritas Backup Exec is a good idea.

Winzip will zip your data across diskettes and the Iomega zip drive will use its own software to do the same but onto its larger drive.

Regularly writing your data to CD also gives you a backup. Maximizer has its own backup utility and this can be used to back up your vital CRM information at least once a week.

Q: Why make Backups?

A: You mean we haven't bored you out of your skull by insisting that you do backups? Sorry, but its true. Your PC is fragile and if you don't have copies of your data elsewhere, you are at serious risk!  We continually harp on the need to keep backups, yet we recently had a customer who had a virus delete her Maximizer contacts, and she had made no backups. "I didn't think I'd need a backup", she said. 

Q:  How dangerous are viruses?

A:  Very! Please keep your Norton, McAfee, whatever, updated weekly. Your contacts will not appreciate being spammed with virus-generated e-mails and you don't want your valuable client databases deleted or damaged.

Question:  Why can’t I send out my mailshot? I get an error message saying no disk space available for this procedure.

Answer: Unfortunately that’s why – clear some space on your PC’s hard drive so that there is room to write the files to it, by deleting the *.tmp files from it. If you are really short of hard drive space, then you will have to look in depth at what else is not wanted on the drive or purchase a new drive for your PC. 

Q: Can I use Microsoft Office on my laptop as well as my PC?

A:  Providing it is an 80/20 situation, you may load your copy of Office on both. The two must each have their own operating system software as this cannot be shared.

Q: Someone developed a Program/Web Site for me, now they say it is their intellectual property and refuse to give me the source code. What can I do?

A: To avoid this problem you should always have a development contract in which copyright and ownership of code are explicitly stated (we always do this in our development contracts). If it is developed exclusively for you, you should have copyright and ownership. If you have only a verbal agreement, you may face a legal battle to get them.

Q: Someone wrote a program for me a few years ago. They have now disappeared and I need the program modified. Can you do it for me?

A: With great difficulty, if at all, unless you have the source code! Always insist on the source code of anything that is developed exclusively for you. If you aren't entitled to the source code (as with off-the-shelf software), does the supplier have a support plan in case they are no longer willing to support the software? For example, Communication in Action (Software Africa) has taken over Pastelizer from Partner Systems, and various programs from EngiNet (Pty) Ltd.

Q: Network connections were being lost on two Windows 2000 Pro PCs regularly, with loss of work and database corruption. A similar site did not have this problem, what was the cause and why?

A:  The Windows 2000 Pro PCs on site 1 were not being regularly updated from the Internet. Microsoft Mail, which was being run on both sites, can and does cause a loss of connection as it drops the SMTP connection. Updating the PCs with SP2 and all the latest patches appears to have sorted it out. We are now watching to make sure that we regularly update all users with the relevant patches!

Q:  What is the Apple equivalent of Outlook?

A:  Don’t trust your Apple supplier to know this! It is part of the Apple version of Office and is called Entourage! Incidentally, Apples and PCs can talk using AppleTalk but on a peer-to-peer network you will require additional software from the Apple supplier to make this happen.

How to do a "Print Screen" in Windows

We sometimes ask users to do this, and a Computer Super Secrets e-mail tip from Andy Lanning reminded us that others might like to know too.

Say that you need a picture of what your screen looks like, for example to show the IT Support person an error message.  Follow these steps:

  1. Press the "Prt Scr" button above the Insert and Home keys (if you want a picture of just the active window, not the whole screen, use Alt+Prt Scr instead).
  2. Nothing seems to happen. Actually, a copy of the screen is now on your clipboard waiting to be pasted.
  3. Open Word, WordPad, or a new e-mail.
  4. Paste (Ctrl+V or Edit, Paste or right-click, Paste).

Contributed Tips

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See alsoExcel Tips, Excel Programming Tips, Microsoft Word Tips, Microsoft Access Tips, Maximizer Tips.


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