04/09 - PC Chat presents Ask Mr. Modem! - East Valley Tribune: Business

04/09 - PC Chat presents Ask Mr. Modem!

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Posted: Friday, April 9, 2004 12:11 pm | Updated: 4:43 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Q. I've heard that hard drives can be destroyed by computer viruses. If that happens, will I have to buy a new computer?

A. I'm sure computer manufacturers would be thrilled at the prospect, but in a word, no. "Destroying a hard drive," in this context refers to destroying the data, not the physical disk.

A good virus-checking program such as McAfee's VirusScan (www.mcafee.com), Norton AntiVirus (www.symantec.com), or the free AVG antivirus (www.grisoft.com), will keep your computer humming along and virus free, if you keep the program updated and use it regularly. Simply having an antivirus program installed on your computer isn't going to protect you from the more than 300 new strains of computer viruses (virii?) discovered each week. You must keep your antivirus software updated. Consult your software for specific instructions.

Q. How can I delete the Web site names that appear when I try to type a Web address into Internet Explorer? I've deleted my cookies but I can't get rid of the names of these sites that I previously visited. Any suggestions?

A. What you're describing is Internet Explorer's AutoComplete feature that is intended to save time when you type in Web addresses of sites you have already visited. You can change the setting if you right-click the Internet Explorer icon on your Desktop and select Properties > Content tab. Under Personal Information, click the AutoComplete button. In the AutoComplete settings box, uncheck the box for Web Addresses. To clear Web address entries that have been stored by AutoComplete, click the General tab, then the Clear History button.

Q. I'm using Windows XP and wondered if there's a way to check how much memory (RAM) I have. I know RAM is consumed as I use my computer, but is there some way to check this during the day?

A. It requires a few clicks but if you're well rested and feeling up to the challenge, all you have to do is click Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Information. There might be a slight delay while information is collected about your computer. Then, in the System Information dialog box, click System Summary and in the right pane you'll see an inventory of your computer's resources, including "Total Physical Memory." Bonus Tip: If you click File > Print, you can print a copy of this inventory and tuck it away for insurance or other safe-keeping purposes.

Mr. M's Geekspeak Translator: Kludge

In computer parlance, a kludge (pronounced "klooj") is a somewhat awkward or cumbersome, but temporarily effective solution to a problem. It is a quasi-derogatory term that is also applied to any product that is poorly designed or that becomes unwieldy over time. The etiology of the term is unknown. Some believe it is indirectly derived from the German "klug" meaning "clever." Others consider "kludge" an incorrect spelling of "kluge," inspired by the Kluge Paper Feeder, a "fiendishly complex assortment of cams, belts, and linkages...devilishly difficult to repair...but oh, so clever!" To the extent that computer products represent an assemblage of components, almost any product is bound to contain some element of kludginess.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

Getting Through Customs

What to avoid wearing, saying or doing to prevent offending or confusing people when traveling abroad. An excellent vacation-planning resource to help avoid annoying side trips to foreign prisons.


Great Film Quotes

"I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?" Famous quotes and great lines of dialogue from 75 years of film.


The Why Files

Founded by the National Science Foundation, explore the science behind the news with much more personality and punch than you'd dare hope for from a government-funded project.


(For prompt, personal answers to your computer questions, subscribe to Mr. Modem's weekly newsletter at www.MrModem.com. Read Mr. Modem's column each month in "Smart Computing" magazine. For a free issue, visit www.MrModem.com and click the "Smart Computing/Mr. Modem" logo.)

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