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by Lloyd A. de Vries

Vol. 10 - Transitions

People assume I'm some kind of computer whiz, yet there is nothing that makes me feel as stupid as a computer.

I have a small scar on one knuckle from the time I reached into my Apple IIe and it bit me — honest!

This point was driven home yet again one New Year's Day (a wonderful day in which to undertake a new project for which you may need assistance), when I tried to upgrade my main e-mail software and create a new main e-mail identity. It took most of the day and innumerable e-mail messages to a friend. I did everything as instructed, and still things didn't work.

After more than four years using one service as my primary e-mail address, I knew that "disengagement" was not going to be fun: I notified as many people as I could without going into the spam business, and I finally set a forwarding order on the old service (which would last only a little while). However, I know I'll miss some people.

Years ago, we grew tired of a home telephone number that looked like a business: 262-3300. We got calls for everything from the police in a neighboring town (one digit off) to corporate headquarters (transposed digits). We asked for a new number, and I notified everyone there, too — but missed cousin Rose. I don't know if she's forgiven me yet.

Anyway, the transition worked, but I can't say it was been smooth.

A few days later, I downloaded a new version of a virus program. I double-clicked the set-up file, it said it was copying a bunch of files...and then quit, leaving behind a bunch of junk. In the process of trying to fix it, I think I "updated" Windows. Now I can't print and my "wallpaper" (screen background) disappeared. (Later, I fixed the printing, which was an unrelated dumb move on my part.)

The point here isn't to commiserate with you, it's to show that we ALL have problems with computers. You shouldn't let that stop you.

My wife once asked me how I got to be so good with a computer (but I'm not, really), since I've never taken a course. My answer is that I say, "What happens if I do this?" and then I reboot the computer and try again.

Just like you, I crash, I reboot, I yell at the computer. My 13-year-old son used to run rings around me, too. (He still does, but he's no longer 13.)

Life goes on.


The only harm that a crash does to my computer is it fills it up with junk files. (In Windows; I don't think Macintoshes have this problem.) Pretty soon, those junk files have filled up your hard drive, and slowed performance, too.

After a crash, and every so often even if I haven't crashed, I seek out and destroy these files.

How? With no other programs operating, I open up Windows Explorer, click on the Tools menu, then on Find, and then specify "Files Or Folders."

In the "Named" window, I type "*.tmp" (without the quotes) and then click on Find Now. I then select all the "temp" folders that come up (I click on one, then use CTRL-A), and then hit the Delete button.

Then I do the same thing with "~*.*" The asterisk is the "wildcard;" you're searching for all files that begin with the tilde. (That's the squiggle.) Any such files are bad files that you don't need, so you can delete all of them, too.

You're not done yet. In Exploring, go to the Windows folder of your C drive, and look for the "Temp" folder. You don't need the files in there, either.

Finally, click on Recycle Bin, and you'll see all those files you deleted. Now right click on that folder's listing on the left side of Exploring, and tell the computer to empty it.

There's one more place to clean up your hard drive, if you're using Internet Explorer: Click on the Tools menu, and Internet Options. The middle window is "Temporary Internet Files," and tell the program to "Delete Files." You'll be amazed at how much space you'll recover on your hard drive!

While you're there, in the window below is "History." Check to see how many days' worth you're saving. Do you really need to remember what you looked at two weeks ago? Reducing the number of days will save space, too.


E-mail list servers are popular: You subscribe to the group, and then receive all the messages anyone sends to the group, and you can send messages to it, too.

Almost all of these list servers send a message to you when you first sign up, with basic instructions. Those instructions include how to get off the list.

You should save that message. Sending multiple irate messages to the group with "unsubscribe" and "Get me off this stinkin' list!" won't work, but will encourage the other members of the group to think less of you.

If you've lost the instructions, as I did for one list, send an individual message to the leader of the group asking how to do it. Quietly. If you don't know who the leader is, a private message to an active member of the list may get you the method for unsubscribing.

A different version of this article originally appeared in Global Stamp News in its January 2001 issue.

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