TechBite: How to Fix Common PC Annoyances


By Steve Bass

I Can’t Get Online!

The Annoyance I can’t access the Internet. Outlook times
out, my browser says it can’t connect, and Norton’s
security app won’t update itself. Now what?

The Fix You know what a schmendrick is?
It’s defined as someone who’s written a dozen
troubleshooting articles, a book about PC annoyances, and
spent hours helping other sort out their computing tsuris,
and then can’t get online himself.

Yep, it was me spending a day trying everything I’ve ever
recommended — rebooting the router, rebooting the
cable-modem, and checking each and every ferschlumiting
cable. I used System Restore and tried WinSockFix
(in Win 7, do it
manually: From a command line, type netsh winsock reset
catalog, hit Enter. Then type in netsh int ip reset
reset.log hit, hit Enter and reboot.).

I tried standing in the corner of the office, whistling a
happy tune while spinning on one leg. The dogs loved it,
egging me on, but I was still offline.

The rub, the utter frustration in this day-long effort,
was that every so often I’d get online. That’s the bane of
troubleshooting — inconsistent, varied results.

Right about now my smarter-than-me tech friends are
saying, no, probably shouting at the monitor, Idiot, Try
Another Computer. Oh, yeah, right, of course. What a dope.
I did and, of course, same problem.

The brouhaha ended when I called Charter and they found an
almost sliced line at the pole, perfect for intermittent

The lesson, which I’ll promptly forget, is — repeat after
me — include calling your ISP when troubleshooting.

Quick: Turn Off my Monitor

The Annoyance I go to a lot of meetings and have to keep
my notebook on, even though it’s not being used. I use a
screensaver to turn off the monitor and not drain the
battery. I’d rather a way to just turn the monitor on and
off. –Harry Montgomery, by e-mail.

The Fix Those meetings drone on, don’t they. Too bad you
can’t play Portal 2,
the hot new game, while pretending to pay attention. I’ve
got three freebie solutions.

Some notebooks have a series of keystrokes that’ll blank
the monitor. Find out how it’s done by digging into your
notebook’s help file. It’ll give you something to do at
your next meeting to keep you from dozing off.

The tool I use is Saver Starter
. It gives you
four hotspots, one at each corner of the monitor; hover
the mouse on a targeted spot to start the screensaver,
which you’ve configured to be a blank screen. The hotspots
can be turned cold — keeping your mouse on the spot stops
the screensaver from activating.

If you don’t want anything fancy, and don’t want to bother
with a screensaver, try Turn Off LCD
. Click the icon on your desktop and the
monitor’s off; hit the space bar and you’re back in

I Hate the TouchPad!

The Annoyance I just got a new Asus work computer, but it
has an accursed Touchpad
. I hate the things
— they mess up my typing unless I’m super careful, which
I’m not. — Gavin Burgess, by way of Broad_band

The Fix The very first thing I did on my ThinkPad was
successfully disable the bloody TouchPad with TouchFreeze
. The other freebie
to do the job is TouchpadPal.
Neither worked for Gavin.

Gavin also tried disabling the device
] — it didn’t help — nor
did deleting the driver (nah, he said, it re-installs
itself, just like a virus).

The clue for members of Broad_Band, a technical help
YahooGroup was the fact that the notebook’s built-in
function-key disabler on Gavin’s notebook didn’t work.
K-Squared and Ivan T. both suggested calling Asus tech
support. Problem solved: The notebook needed a free,
quick-to-download chipset update.

FYI: Subscribe to Broad_Band, a terrific spot for free and
smart tech help, and a forum I help moderate.

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