Sometimes things just don't work right on the computer

The other day I picked up the telephone and called Microsoft Technical Service. Even though I think I know a bit about computers, I was having a problem I just couldn't solve.

This is not an uncommon occurrence with modern computers. Sometimes things don't work right and as hard as we try, we can't get them fixed.

My particular problem was that ever since downloading Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, my machine would randomly lock up. The mouse would stop 'mousing' and the machine would have to be rebooted to get it working again. Needless to say, this was a major annoyance.

I took my own advice and started with the Windows Help menu. No help there. Then I went to Microsoft's support page, "", and searched the Knowledge Base. No help there either. Finally I posted a message on the Newsgroup, "microsoft.public.win98.gen_discussion". I received a couple of answers that I tried but they didn't work either.

I tried all the things I tell others to do but couldn't get the problem solved. And the problem wasn't the type you normally take to a computer repairperson because it's software related.

So I broke down and called Microsoft. The procedure was a little complicated but it worked. In the first place, calling Microsoft Technical Service is a long distance call, so there is a telephone charge. I got around this by doing what a lot of people now are doing; I used our cellular telephone that gives us free minutes.

Microsoft also has a technical service charge but the first two incidents are free. I reached someone who assigned me a long "case number." Then I was transferred to a knowledgeable person in Utah who worked on my problem.

It's informative to go through this particular problem because its' solution is applicable to similar situations. The problem started after I downloaded something from the Internet. Downloading programs and upgrades is getting quite common.

He asked if I had a virus protection program. I did. Had I disabled it before downloading? I thought I had. Even so, he told me to uninstall the virus protection program, not just disable it. I found the uninstall program that came with the virus protection program (McAfee) and completely uninstalled it. Possibly I could have used Control Panel-Add/Remove Programs-Remove to do the same thing, but McAfee had its own uninstall program that I found using the Program menu and highlighting McAfee.

Next we went to Control Panel-Add/Remove Programs and found the listing for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0. I highlighted this and clicked Remove. A new window appeared in which one of the selections was Repair. I clicked Repair and this seemingly repaired Internet Explorer 6.0. Not all programs have this repair feature but apparently someone anticipated this problem with Internet Explorer!

Finally I reinstalled the virus protection program and now everything seems to be working properly.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this adventure. One is don't be afraid to call technical service if you have tried all your "home remedies." Then use a cellular telephone to get around long distance charges. I was on the telephone for a total of 37 minutes. Finally, be sure to disable your virus protection program before downloading any programs or upgrades from the Internet. I thought I did, but maybe I didn't.

Of course, if the problem really has you stumped, see if the group at the Friday 'Coffee and Computers' can help or take your computer to Con Tran at Universal Computer Service, 2124 N. Tustin Avenue, 714.564.1686, for his expert help.

If you would like to hear more about fixing computer problems, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning from 9 a.m. until noon. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

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


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: 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:

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