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Jewish World Review April 25, 2001 / 3 Iyar, 5761

The Computer Maven by James Derk

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Consumer Reports

Disk defragmenter...firewall...ppt -- THE mailbag is bulging...let's cut to the chase.

Q. Whenever I run Disk Defragmenter in Windows 98, the process never gets past 10 percent and keeps restarting over and over. What is wrong?

A. Usually this happens when you have a program running that is accessing the hard disk periodically. The Defragmenter restarts when it senses the disk's content may have changed. So make sure your screen saver and anti-virus software is disabled before you start the defragmenter. Turn off your cable modem and disable your Internet firewall. You also can run defragmenter in Windows' "Safe Mode" (hit the F8 key right as Windows starts to launch and select Safe Mode.)

Q. I just received a file in the mail with the file extension "ppt." What is that?

A. That's most likely a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation. You can look up nearly every file extension under the sun (and what application to use to open them) at "". However, make sure you use your anti-virus program to scan any attachment you receive in e-mail.

Q. Where is the cheapest place to buy computer parts on the Web? I want to build my own PC.

A. Good plan, except remember price isn't everything. If this is your first PC construction plan, you may want to spend 10 bucks more on the parts and get some advice along with it when you get stuck. That makes a local store often the better buy. That said, the Web site Pricewatch ( keeps a pretty close eye on prices for raw components such as processors, memory and motherboards.

Q. Do I really need a personal firewall if I have the File Sharing and Printer Sharing turned off in network settings?

A. Absolutely. Having those settings turned off is a fine first step, but what about Trojan horse programs (a type of virus) that get in to your system and send information out? What about port-scanners and other tools to find open systems? If you have an always-on connection (cable modem, etc.) then you need a personal firewall to keep people out of your computer. Keep in mind that some of the programs are harder to install for beginners than others. I think the newest version of Norton Internet Security 2001 (Version 3.0) does a dynamite job. It is far easier to use than earlier versions and has a nifty feature that "ignores" persistent attackers.

Q. I have a problem. How can I delete unwanted files in My Documents section of the START menu?

A. Hit START, SETTINGS then TASKBAR. Select the START MENU PROGRAMS tab, then at the bottom you will see an area to select CLEAR your Documents list.

Q. If I clear my Temporary Internet Files to make more room on my computer, will I still be able to get to Web sites?

A. Absolutely.

WEEKLY WEB WONDER: Want to see the city hall of Gyor in Hungary? Me too. Head to ""

James Derk is computer columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. Comment by clicking here.


04/18/01: Cisco...taxes...Iomega upgrade...bills online
04/11/01: How private is your e-mail; recovering deleted e-messages
04/03/01: Internet Explorer 6.0...get rid of temporary Internet files
03/28/01: Tips on traveling with a laptop
03/20/01: Naughty e-mails...which side up...see a castle
03/16/01: Personal choices for the computer
03/06/01: Apollo printers...CD problems...more
02/27/01: Good firewalls to keep your computer safe
02/12/01: How to set up a LAN party
01/30/01: Used computers... picture.exe...other problems
01/23/00: Cool computer tricks

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