FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2006


THE DOC IS IN...

Computers are a miracle

It’s a miracle that computers work at all. The other day a friend emailed me that he was getting an error message saying that a file, sBOLExt.dll, was missing and wanted to know what that meant and if I knew how to fix it.

I emailed back that I didn’t know what it was but then thought I would search www.google.com and see what I could find. I searched for “SBOLExt” and got dozens of hits. I told him to do the same. The very first hit told him what he wanted to know and how to get rid of the error message. Problem solved.

We all get similar error messages from time to time. Some we simply “x” off and ignore and everything seems to work just fine. Sometimes we just “reboot” the machine and the error disappears. Other times the message recurs, like that which was happening to my friend, and we have to take corrective action.

Errors can be caused by various things. Sometimes we uninstall a program but remnants remain that cause the computer to look for something even though that something has been uninstalled. This usually means that there is an entry in the computer’s Registry that should have been deleted but wasn’t. The Registry is that magic set of files in the computer that tell the machine how to operate. Fortunately, when this happens, there are some great programs that help us clean up these errors. A very popular program that I use is Registry Mechanic (www.pctools.com). It scans the Registry and fixes errors that can lead to error messages and other problems. You can run a free scan from their web page but, I believe, they want you to purchase the program before they will fix problems. The first time I ran Registry Mechanic, it found over 350 problems. I run it about once a week now.

Sometimes error messages appear randomly and are caused by something on-line and will disappear after awhile. Here it just takes patience. Other times error messages can indicate something serious like a virus or spyware. Every machine should have an UPDATED anti-virus program and at least one of the various anti-spyware programs. I subscribe to McAfee’s Virus Scan on-line and use automatic updates. Jim Mathews likes AVG anti-virus (www.grisoft.com) and others use Norton. But they all must be kept current and up to date. Don’t forget this.

And remember, viruses and spyware are not the same. To remove spyware, anti-spyware programs are needed. I use two anti-spyware programs. SpyBot Search and Destroy (www.safer-networking.org) and Trend Micro Anti Spyware (www.trendmicro.com). Both can run at the same time.

If none of the above help you remove persistent error messages, give Jim Mathews (714.544.1217) or Dan Cusoto (714.838.1974) a call or take your machine to Con Tran at Universal Computer Service (714.564.1686) because the message might signify something more serious.

If you would like to hear more about the error messages or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit my blog at drart.blogs.com.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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