Cyberville mailbag opens May

Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 11:11 p.m.
The Cyberville Inbox has been buzzing lately. Here's a sample of what readers have on their minds.
  • Q: I'm a retiree, and I have two older computers, one with Windows 98, the other with Windows 95. Both have some apparent software issues, with the older system no longer able to properly connect to an HP printer. My sons tell me if they were in town, they think they could have the issues resolved in a few minutes. Is it worth trying to have them fixed?
    A: Depending on the nature of the problem, the answers may fall either way. However, be aware that a competent service technician will want to tune up the system at the same time to try and prevent further problems, so it can easily take several hours each to do so. The Windows 95 system will also likely be harder to locate drivers and updates for.
    In either case, don't expect a good service technician to only charge you for an hour's time to fix two older machines. Troubleshooting PCs takes time, training and patience, especially with older machines.
  • Q: My Windows XP computer for no consistent reason I can figure will click, sometimes when using the mouse, and the screen gets larger than it is supposed to. It will also be fuzzy and faded looking. Then for no known reason it will resolve itself, at some point. It gets so large than I cannot reach the X to close it down on upper right but have to squeeze to reach the menu on upper left.
    I thought it might be spyware or a virus, but Norton AntiVirus 2006 didn't help the problem. My settings on desktop are for "normal."
    My other suspicion is something on automatic updates may be causing interference. Have any ideas?
    A: I have several, actually. It's possible your video driver has a keystroke or mouse click combination you're accidentally engaging which changes the screen resolution. Try to be sure nothing like that is loading on your system. I'd also want to have access to the latest video driver for your system from the manufacturer's Web site.
    On occasion, the video and audio drivers available from Microsoft Update or Windows Update create odd problems. You can also use the Roll Back feature (see Windows Help) to go back to an earlier driver to see if that resolves the issue before downloading a new driver. From the problem you describe, the issue is most likely related to a video driver. There is also an outside possibility the video card or video chip on the system motherboard may be malfunctioning.
  • Q: I'm debating getting one of the fancy new mobile phones that will surf the Web and get e-mail. I've seen a lot of advertising for the Palm Treo 700w, and wondered if that was the best choice out there?
    A: While the Treo 700w is the latest in the popular series of Palm Treo phones, it may not be the best option for many users. The Treo 700w is the first Treo phone to use the Windows Mobile operating system, which is preferred by some large corporate users.
    If you want Blackberry-style "push" e-mail, Microsoft is just introducing that service for its popular Exchange Mail server program for use on Windows Mobile. The 700w is only currently available through Verizon, which has pricey data service compared to competitors such as Sprint. Look for the 700w to be available through other vendors this summer, as well as a new Treo 700p phone through Sprint that is nearly certain to be a very hot seller.
    Tom Meek is a computer and media consultant. He can be reached at or via His columns also are available at
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