Jewish World Review June 25, 2003 / 25 Sivan, 5763


NT flashes "at least one service/driver failed during system startup"; automatically converting .doc and .xls files to .dat; transfers to XP not as vexing as they may seem

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) Q. Much of our office work was saved on disks compatible with the Ami Pro word processor on our old Hewlett-Packard computer and now needs to be transferred into our new Windows XP/Office XP system.

Is it possible to program my new XP Dell computer to accept my old Ami Pro disks? Please don't tell me that they all have to be retyped.

A. Your quandary vexes many thousands, if not millions, of folks who have been herded away from such non-Microsoft word processing software as Corel's Word Perfect and IBM's Lotus Ami Pro.

When Microsoft Word newcomers first go to the File command and pick Open - hoping to access documents prepared in Corel and Lotus formats that dared compete with Microsoft - they find that only a few foreign documents can be opened in Word and then converted into Microsoft's .doc format.

This is a shame because Microsoft programmers actually prepared conversion modules for a great many formats that are not listed in Word when it is first installed. Happily, one can either acquire these converters (Ami Pro included) from the Microsoft Web sites or from the CDs that usually come when one acquires Office. Here is the Web address to get both instructions and directions for downloading converters: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;212265.

Because my gig involves messing with a great many programs, I personally solve these conversion problems by using a superb program called Quick View Plus, designed to open just about anything anybody can create on any computer. You just point the Quick View software to the file and its contents get displayed in a viewing window.

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It's a cakewalk then to copy the data and then paste it into other software. This doesn't always keep things like headlines and graphics exactly intact, but it does permit users to get nearly full use of the hordes of foreign files swirling about us all. Check Quick View out at www.avantstar.com.

Q. Our computer, based on business-strength Windows NT, is staging a major revolt and we're in danger of losing important data. Every time I try to shut down I receive an error message "at least one service/driver failed during system startup."

Keystrokes now have a three-second delay, the modem takes forever to disconnect; it can't find various Web pages, and it won't shut down unless I click on End Task. Also, I noticed the C drive is suddenly full. It is an old machine and will be upgraded, but I need to get it going so I can transfer data to the new machine.

A. There is a chance that a simple tool built into NT's boot-up sequence will straighten out those errant drivers for stuff like your keyboard, modem, printer and such, Mr. O. Otherwise you're not going to like what I have to tell you.

So cross your fingers and turn the machine on while watching closely for a line to flash on the screen offering to boot from the last good configuration. Hit the space bar when that bit of text appears, and the machine will run using a version of the system registry deemed to be trouble-free. This works a lot of times but not always.

Otherwise, your problem is a classic illustration of why tech support experts assigned to Windows NT-based outfits like to say that "NT is far too secure for its own good." Security features built into the operating system mean that there is no Safe Mode available of the sort that saves the day with other flavors of Windows when driver conflicts create problems like the impossibly slow keyboard responses you are facing.

Safe Mode starts a computer without most of the drivers running and thus lets users of other operating systems get a machine running reasonably well long enough to fix things. But NT requires quite complex fixes involving rewriting the system registry, and this is way too complex for folks like me and you, I fear.

One can acquire expensive software like ERD Commander from Winternals that is designed to boot NT machines from a CD and permit file recovery. You can get details at www.winternals.com. But in my mind you would be best served by taking the hard disk to one of the numerous data recovery services where it shouldn't cost more than a $75 or so fee to get the data files restored to a CD for use on your new system.

A great many storefront computer repair shops offer this kind of help, and it's probably the best way out for you.

Q. When certain individuals send me e-mail with attachments of things like Excel spreadsheets or Word documents, they come through as a .dat file rather than the .xls files for Excel or the .doc files for Word.

The only way we have found around this is to have senders zip the file before sending it so I can unzip it and then open it and see the attachments. Any idea what is converting .doc and .xls files to .dat?

A. Those files, called winmail.dat, get created by Microsoft Outlook's e-mail software and a variety of conflicts with other types of e-mail software sometimes create problems opening them. So instead of seeing the attachments all the receiver gets is an icon called winmail.dat.

The best fix is to contact the senders and tell them to change the way they send files to you. Specifically, users of Outlook can stop the problem by changing the settings in their address books so that all messages sent to your e-mail address go as plain text rather than Rich Text or HTML, the formats used to make e-mail messages display fancy headlines and graphics like Web pages do.

Of course you also could fix things by changing your e-mail to Microsoft Outlook, which means that Microsoft seems to have little motivation to fix the phenomenon, eh, Ms. G?

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

Up


06/19/03: Can't open Zip files; RealPlayer won't play .avi files; step-by-step process to "burn" digital images
06/18/03: Restore missing Word task bars in a normal way; computer was zapped, how to fix it; spell check won't upgrade


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