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Ask Dr. Deeram, yet again

More questionable answers to your unanswerable questions. Gigglebytes hed: Ask Dr. Deeram, yet again dek: more questionable answers to your unanswerable questions. By Lincoln Spector

Q: I recently downloaded and installed the free diagnostic program Hell2Pay. It told me that all of the drivers on my Kumquat 680 computer are out of date. I went to the Kumquat Web site to get new drivers, but they only had ones for Windows XP. Do I have to upgrade Windows? –Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Ind.

A: Computing with an out-of-date driver can lead to frequent system crashes, denial-of-service attacks, and, in some states, the loss of your driver’s license.

Getting up-to-date drivers for an out-of-date operating system can be tricky. If your system vendor no longer offers the drivers, you’ll have to look to other Web sites. A good place to start the search is any e-mail message with a subject like “Re: Information You Requested #3489.” If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, try a dark alley in a disreputable part of town.

But also consider upgrading to Windows XP. It will give you access to all of the latest drivers and make you a popular and productive member of society.

Q: I’m so worried about e-mail-borne viruses that I won’t even open a message that comes with an attachment. Am I overreacting? For more details on the problem, see the attached file, thisisavirius.vbs. — Neville Longbottom, Hogwarts, Mass.

A: What was the file you sent me about? I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. But someone will. My Sent folder indicates that I forwarded your message to everyone I know (which is strange because I have no memory of doing so).

There’s no great reason to worry needlessly about viruses. They seldom do more than wipe out your data, steal private information, and spread themselves to everyone you know. On the other hand, they’ve been known to destroy alien spaceships and save the world.

But if you’re really worried about viruses, upgrade to Windows XP. It boasts the same high-quality antivirus capabilities as previous versions of Windows.

Q: I’ve been working in IT for over 20 years. When I started out, they told me to learn COBOL. When I couldn’t get work with COBOL, they told me to learn dBase. When I couldn’t get work with dBase, they told me to learn C. Then it was SQL, C++, Visual Basic, and Java. Now there are no Java jobs. What should I learn next? — Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts, Calif.

A: Learn whatever programming language they’re using at the unemployment center. That’s expected to be the next big growth industry. But you could also do well to learn Windows XP. That way, your clients will be among the few who can afford to buy new computers.

Q: We have a three-computer network in our home, and we’re currently sharing a printer, scanner, and cable modem. What other devices can we share over the network? –Ron Weasly, Hogwarts, Mich.

A: With the proper hardware and software, you can also share keyboards, mice, and monitors. Best of all, you can play your own audio-for instance, WAV files or from a CD-through your son’s speakers. This will force him to finally listen to some good music.

But for the best in peripheral sharing, upgrade all three computers to Windows XP. Not only will you be able to share your peripherals, but your Start menu will be prettier.

Q: Between Temporary Internet Files, cookies, the Documents menu, the File menu in Microsoft Office applications, Internet Explorer’s History, and the nerdy little kid standing over my shoulder, all sorts of records are kept about what I do with my computer. How do I clear off these records so I can have some privacy? –Hermione Granger, Hogwarts, S.D.

A: Each of these records can be erased in its own unique way, usually through a technique known as “deleting all of the files in a folder.” (As far as the nerdy little kid is concerned, just throw a piece of candy into the next room.)

Unfortunately, having suspiciously few files in these particular folders will instantly tell anyone who wants to spy on you that you have something to hide, which is just as incriminating as being caught with evidence. Of course, now that I have published your name and city in this magazine, everyone will know anyway. You should have thought of that.

But if you upgrade to Windows XP, people will be so filled with admiration they won’t care what you’re doing on your computer.

Q: I recently upgraded to Windows XP. Now half of my programs and all of my peripherals refuse to work. How do I uninstall it and go back to Windows ME? — Serverus Snape, Hogwarts, N.M.

A: All of your peripherals and programs should work just fine in Windows XP. If they don’t, consider replacing everything you own.

But for the cleanest and most reliable working situation, I recommend buying another upgrade to Windows XP.

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