Jewish World Review June 15, 2004 / 26 Sivan, 5764


Auto-update feature in need of a quick fix; Word will not allow me to start a new line of text with a lowercase letter; Caps Lock releases when striking Shift key instead of a second depression of the Caps Lock key

By James Coates

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) Q. I'm running Windows XP, and, until recently, my system would automatically check for XP updates whenever I connected to the Internet. After installing the latest set of patches, however, the auto-update stopped working.

How do I reactivate this most valuable feature?

Frank Judisch@ntrs.com

A. With nearly every week bringing another story about how some loophole in Windows code permits yet another worm or virus attack, these so-called critical updates have become essential to computer users. I'll show you how to restore the automatic updates, but it doesn't hurt to point out that Microsoft uses tactics in addition to the Windows Automatic Updates setting to reach customers with security fixes.

For example, there is a good chance that your Web browser occasionally will come up with the Windows Update page instead of your normal home page.

As you note, Mr. J., many computers are set to make these checks daily. Since you are on a corporate network, your company's computer staff may have changed this setting because they handle the chores for the whole network. So check to make sure it is OK to activate the feature.

If so, right-click on the My Computer icon and pick Properties. There you will find an Automatic Updates tab. Click that, and you can pick when and where to access the Microsoft Web site and check to see if your machine has all required critical patches.

You can set the machine to ask you before going online to check for new patches, or to automatically download patches and ask you whether to install them, or simply download and install in the background without bothering you.

Q. I use Windows XP installed on a Compaq Presario laptop. When I use Word, it will not allow me to start a new line of text with a lowercase letter, so I insert a dash.

How can I solve that problem?

Rich Fox@aol.com

A. I can't shake this picture from my head, Mr. F. All over the world, folks are sitting at their workstations, being driven slowly nuts because their versions of Microsoft Word have been set to automatically capitalize the first word of everything that Microsoft programmers decided looks like a sentence.

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As your case illustrates, it's a problem that bugs far more people than just poets who get into e. e. cummings mode.

Two fixes will get you past the agony, and you can decide which one to make part of your workaday computing life.

To disable the automatic capitalization feature, go to the Tools command and select Auto Correct. There you will find all of the most annoying (most of us would add, useful) Big Grammar Brother rules built in to Word. There is a check box for each of them, and you can uncheck automatic capitalization of new sentences.

The second way is to retain this generally useful feature and simply tap the Control + Z keys, which is the code for undoing the last step that the software has taken. Just write out the first word and then tap Control + Z to restore the lowercase. The software will leave it in lowercase ever after, and you still will get the automatic capitalization tool when you want it.

Q. I have a minor but nagging problem with the function of my Caps Lock key release in a specific instance.

We have four people using Microsoft Office XP Small Business, with separate user accounts. In only one of these accounts, the Caps Lock will release when I strike the Shift key instead of a second depression of the Caps Lock key, which is the normal release operation.

This is particularly aggravating when typing along in uppercase mode and wishing to use the Shift key to insert a symbol from the top row of the keyboard. Belatedly, I then find I have typed a row or more of text that has been in lowercase.

If I open any other account, these keys continue to operate properly. However, when I open the third account, the malfunction takes over. It is not dependent on what type of document I am working on.

I have searched the Control Panel under Keyboard and other areas for clues or settings of defaults, and have asked around among tech-savvy people, but have found no answers.

I am hoping you can set me on the proper corrective path.

Bob Sayres @earthlink.net

A. I'll show you how to change the settings for that account using the Regional Settings Control Panel rather than the logical-sounding Keyboard Control Panel.

First, consider this, Mr. S.: Your blighted user account somehow took on different regional and language settings than the other ones, so the most efficient fix is to just delete that user and then, working from the administrator account, establish a fresh user account that will acquire the default settings.

I suggest this in case there is something unknown about this one user account that is changing the setting in question.

To fix the Caps Lock settings, click on Start and Control Panel and then go to Regional Settings and look for the Languages tab. Open it and look for the button marked Details. In the panel this opens, click on Key Settings and you will find toggle buttons to change the behaviors of the Caps Lock and Shift keys your rogue account is using.

All kinds of things could have caused this, starting with software that is available to just that one user, or Internet applets that were downloaded by the person using that account.

If this is the case, there is a chance that changing the Control Panel settings will work only for that session, and they will be switched back on the next time the account is opened.

That's why the bibles of many system administrators include the rule of thumb with these types of glitches: "If a user account offendeth, cut it out."

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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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