Jewish World Review April 5, 2004 / 14 Nissan, 5764


Compressed driver leaves fax in a funk; computer "meows"; expensive scanner solution that wasn't necessary

By James Coates

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) - Q. I enjoy your column every week. In fact it has become part of the ritual, right after the funnies. Now I have a mystery of my very own that might interest your readers as well. Windows XP advertises the ability to send and receive fax messages, provided you have a modem and are connected to a phone line.

I have two machines running XP but when I attempted to add the fax Windows component, I was told that a file called fxsapi.dll cannot be found. I searched everywhere and it's just not there. Have I fallen victim to another of Microsoft's dirty little secrets?

Pat Tuohy @hotmail.com

A. You're among a great many business people who try to use Windows in place of a dedicated fax machine. So let's make sure you've taken all the ordinary steps to activate the fax feature that comes with Windows XP but isn't installed by default.

To activate the fax feature, users need to click on Start and Control Panel, then click the Add/Remove Programs icon. Click on the tab for Windows Components there and you will find the fax console.

It's a cakewalk for most users, but some find their fax modem's drivers aren't working and get the message demanding the fxsapi.dll file. Let's try the easiest fix first.

The reason you couldn't find fxsapi.dll when you searched is that it is stored in compressed form as a so-called cabinet file. During compression, Microsoft renamed it by dropping the final letter "l" in fxsapi.dll, so click on Start and Search and use a wildcard search of fxsapi* to bring up the driver file.

When it comes up, double click on it and you will get a prompt for a program to use to open it. Click on Browse and go to the Windows Directory and then the System32 directory. There select Win32 Cabinet Self-Extractor, and the driver should be uncompressed.

If you get the message about not being able to find fxsapi.dll when you order the Add for Fax after doing this, you can point the computer to the driver file using the Browse box that accompanies the error message. It probably is in the Windows
i386 directory.

If you fail to find the driver, you can find it at several Web sites that offer driver downloads in exchange for viewing advertising and providing a few personal details.

A popular one for this type of issue is Modem-Drivers.com.

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Q. I have a cat in my PC. Every once in a while it will meow. Also, it sounds like a door opening, and then it will close. I am running Widows XP. Usually AOL is running, sometimes Kazaa. Thanks.

Richard Reynolds @aol.com

A. I have been in stores and even a lawyer's office once where that sudden loud squeaking of a rusty hinge (you called it a meow) and a loud door slamming shut with window-rattling force made for a poor impression at best.

The sound effects come from the intrusive Buddy List that AOL forces on everybody as a default. The sounds indicate that people in your e-mail address book or list of Instant Messenger contacts have logged on or logged off.

You can shut it all off but it takes some navigating around the AOL network.

One fix is to stop the Buddy List from coming up unless you initiate it instead of letting it run automatically. Or you can keep useful IM features but shut down the sound effects. Or you can set it up so people you know well, such as co-workers, are the only ones who can communicate with you.

Select the Setup button at the bottom of the Buddy List pane and click on the IM Settings line. In the display that follows, open the General tab. There you will see a check box to run the feature at startup. You also will see options to restrict who can see your Buddy List, which will stop it from sounding every time your address book contacts log on or strangers message you.

Finally, the tab called Expressions lets users shut down the sounds but otherwise leave things as they were by default.

For readers who haven't exactly seized upon using AOL as a business tool, this gives me an opportunity to suggest AOL users log on and type Control plus K, then use the search term small business.

Send a dart to AOL for allowing those silly sounds to spoil its service for many users drawn to America Online's otherwise impressive small-business offerings. They include a serious Outlook-style e-mail module, calendars that can be shared by a half-dozen people, copious downloads of business forms and rapid dedicated online access to services like FedEx, UPS and office-supply vendors.

Q. I recently upgraded my desktop at work with an HP Pavilion a350e. I soon discovered that this computer running Windows XP did not have a driver to run my old HP Scanjet 3300C. I went to the HP Web site and found the area where I could download a driver for my computer that would make my scanner work.

Not only did the driver not work, I now have an error message that constantly pops up and freezes the computer until I click on the Close button. I removed the new software, but it didn't help.

I called HP technical support about this problem, and they told me it was a scanner problem and that they would help me fix it for $30. So much for tech support. Next time I'll spend my $1,500 with someone else.

Michael Brantley @bellsouth.net.

A. If I boycotted every tech firm whose policies outraged me I'd be writing this answer in a cave by candlelight, Mr. B. And that assumes I won't get sold any candles with wick malfunctions.

But your anger at getting charged for technical support is justifiable as ever more companies take the outrageous step of making a profit out of fixing their own faulty products.

All the tech person needed to tell you is that the machine probably was messed up because you plugged the scanner into the computer before installing the new drivers it requires.

The trick is to totally remove all references to the scanner in the XP settings and then reload the driver software; only then should you plug in the device so Windows will recognize it and perform a clean installation.

Move the cursor over the My Computer icon and select the Hardware tab that appears. Click on Device Manger and scroll down the list to the Scanner heading. Select it and then click the command button below the list to remove the device. Then go back and install the drivers and updates from the company.

Finally, plug in the scanner. The machine will detect a new device for which it has drivers and do what you paid for it to do.

If you want to just be done with the whole thing, you can stop those error messages that pop up each time you switch on that computer. Click on Start and use the Run command to call up the msconfig Windows tool. Click on the Startup tab in msconfig, scroll down to the line for the HP scanner and remove the check in the accompanying box.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of this column by clicking here.

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