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Advice for wayward Windows users

One important thing Microsoft’s knowledge base doesn’t cover is Norton AntiVirus. Windows Advisor hed: Advice for wayward Windows users dek: problems, conflicts, and glitches (part 1). dek: one important thing microsoft’s knowledge base doesn’t cover is Norton AntiVirus. by Joe DeRouen

Microsoft offers support for all its operating systems–Windows Millennium, 98, 2000, NT, even 95 and 3.1. But with so much disparity from PC to PC, not to mention the huge amount of third-party programs available, problems, conflicts, and glitches are bound to come into play.

This month we’ll look at several of the more recent snafus floating around the Web, and offer several different tips, hints, and solutions to each. Just remember, while not every solution is easy or obvious, most every problem does have a fix, even if it means scrapping the programs altogether and reinstalling from scratch, as we’ll illustrate several times below.

Norton AntiVirus lock-ups in Windows 98

When you reboot your Windows 98 PC, the system should shut down, tell you it’s restarting Windows, and then go through the regular driver-loading routine. If this doesn’t happen, then you’ve got a problem.

According to Microsoft, there can be several reasons why your PC isn’t rebooting. It could be a damaged exit-sound file, an incompatible or damaged device driver, or even incorrectly configured hardware.

Microsoft’s knowledge database suggests you perform a selective startup to help determine the problem. Details on how to do this could easily take half a dozen print pages to explain, so visit Microsoft’s Web site and type “How to Troubleshoot Windows 98 Shutdown Problems” in the search box.

There are many reasons why the Windows 98 PC might hang on reboot. One thing that Microsoft’s knowledge base doesn’t cover is Symantec Norton AntiVirus. Virus programs are notorious for interfering with many other applications, and Norton AntiVirus is no exception.

If your PC hangs after it checks drive A: in the normal reboot procedure, then it might very well be the fault of Norton AntiVirus. In effect, the program is trying to scan the empty drive for viruses. When it can’t do this (because you’ve removed any floppies before rebooting, which you should always do), it hangs. Normally, Norton AntiVirus detects that the drive is empty, and bypasses the scan during reboot. But with certain systems things seem to go awry, which results in the freeze.

How do you fix it? The most obvious solution would be to switch to a different antivirus program. For something less drastic, go into the program’s preferences and tell Norton not to scan drive A: for viruses. Not an elegant solution, but it usually works. And if it doesn’t, uninstalling and reinstalling the antivirus package will.

Windows Media Player 7 and Easy CD Creator snafus

If you have Easy CD Creator 4.02 standard or deluxe (formerly by Adaptec, now from spin-off company Roxio) on your system and are considering upgrading your copy of Microsoft Media Player to version 7, you might want to think again. Media Player, which comes with a free Roxio CD-burning plug-in, can cause registry problems with the already-installed Easy CD Creator software, effectively rendering your CD-ROM drives invisible to the CD burning software.

There are four possible fixes to this problem. The first option is the easiest. If it works for you, then thank your lucky stars and go create a CD. If it doesn’t, though, you’ll have to go with option 2, which can take a good 20 minutes of your time. Worse still, even that solution might not work and you’ll have to go with the third or fourth solution. Things are never simple when dealing with Windows.

This fix comes in the way of a registry patch, which you can download. Uninstall all Easy CD Creator and components, including Take Two and DirectCD if they’ve been installed. Reboot, and then reinstall everything all over again. In the end, you might have to uninstall, reinstall, and then download another patch (available from Roxio’s Web site) to upgrade your copy of Easy CD Creator to version 4.03. After that, everything should be running smoothly–at least until the next upgrade of Windows Media Player, that is. If all else fails, buy the just-released Easy CD Creator 5.0. Uninstall all previous versions, and then install the new program fresh.

RealPlayer 8 video freeze-up

There are a few requirements with the video enhancements in RealPlayer Plus 8 that may not be readily apparent when first installing the program. The requirements are there to ensure the best video experience possible, but to the unsuspecting user they can be frustrating. If video appears erratic (or if your system freezes while you’re trying to play video files) you may be able to solve it easily.

RealPlayer requires a minimum of 16-bit color in Windows 95, 98, Millennium, NT, and 2000. If your computer isn’t set to display at least 16-bit color, you may only get a black square in RealPlayer when playing video.

To check your color settings:

Click the Start menu, choose Settings, and then Control Panel. Double-click the Display icon. Click the Settings tab. Make sure that either “High Color” or “True Color” is selected in the colors list. Click OK. Restart your computer if prompted.

RealPlayer requires Microsoft DirectDraw-certified drivers. RealPlayer uses DirectDraw for Hardware Stretching, Blitting (moving images from one surface to another), and Overlay support. The video hardware must support these features in order to function correctly with the Optimized Video setting.

Unfortunately, many popular video cards use WinDraw drivers instead of DirectDraw drivers. The WinDraw driver incorrectly reports the capability of the video hardware to RealPlayer, causing RealPlayer to think that the video hardware can do things that it cannot. Problems occur when the video is optimized and the video hardware cannot support the optimization. Problems range from poor quality or garbled video to RealPlayer becoming unresponsive and causing system freezes.

If you experience similar problems, try disabling the Optimized Video setting in RealPlayer. You won’t get quite as nice a picture as you might otherwise be capable of getting, but at least it’ll work.

To disable Optimized Video in RealPlayer:

Start RealPlayer. Click the View menu and choose Preferences. Click the Performance tab. Click to clear the “Use optimized video display” check box in the Video card compatibility section. Click OK. Restart your computer if prompted.

There are several video cards currently on the market that have known DirectDraw problems. Regardless of the RealPlayer settings, optimized video is automatically disabled if the program detects one of these cards. For a listing of the problem cards (there are several dozen), visit the Real help section.

Do you have a problem with your Windows PC? Write us, and we’ll try to include the problem (along with the fix) in a future column.

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