PC Annoyances–and Fixes

By  |  Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

PCs are annoying. They do unexpected things and act like little children. I know, because my computer’s always troubled — and from the e-mail I get, so’s yours.

This week: Solutions for some of the computing troubles and annoyances you’ve asked me to fix.

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 access.

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 business.

Configure your screen saver using Saver Starter.

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.

[This post is excerpted from Steve's TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up--it's delivered right to your inbox, and it's free.]

 
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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Mathieu Says:

    “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”
    your notebook’s help file ?!?
    is it a joke ?
    you really need a help file to turn off your monitor ?
    you should get another computer, you know a hardware constructor and a software developer who makes things easy for people to actually use their computer …

  2. Not Horsing Around Says:

    When I downloaded TouchPadPal, a dialog box popped up from McAfee saying it located, blocked & removed a Trojan Horse.

    I could not locate TouchPadPal on my computer to click on it.

    Ten minutes later, I downloaded TouchPadPal. Again, immediately, a dialog box popped up from McAfee saying it located, blocked & removed a Trojan Horse.

    Stay AWAY from TouchPadPal !

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  5. Julien Says:

    Helpful tips, thank you! PCs can be so annoying sometimes, but we need them so much!

  6. Video maker Says:

    I could not locate TouchPadPal on my computer to click on it.

    Ten minutes later, I downloaded TouchPadPal. Again, immediately, a dialog box popped up from McAfee saying it located, blocked & removed a Trojan Horse.

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