Q. Help! I think my son managed to get a CD stuck in the CD drive. When I try to open it, I can hear the drive making noise, but the sliding tray doesn't move. I was poking around my computer trying to fix it and discovered that in "My Computer," if I click Drive Information, I get a message that says, "D:\ The Directory name is invalid," but I know the CD drive has always been the D drive. Any idea what's going on?
A. If a CD is damaged or doesn't sit properly in the sliding tray, the drive won't finalize or close, so it becomes dazed and confused and doesn't know if it's coming or going. That happens to me all the time, now that I think about it. When that occurs, the CD reader gets stuck in a loop and essentially is hung up, causing the drive not to be recognized.
One simple fix for this is to restart your computer and press the CD
drive's eject button just as your computer begins to reboot. At that point in the boot-up sequence, before your system's software loads, the eject button should work.
If it doesn't, you can eject a stuck CD with the following high-tech fix: Using a straightened paper clip, gently insert it into the small hole in the CD drive's front panel. Make sure you're not trying to insert it into the headphone jack. The eject hole is a small, often unmarked hole that's, coincidentally, about the diameter of a paper clip. Inserting a paper clip into that hole will cause the ejection mechanism to activate, which will open the drive door and push the CD tray out so that you can remove the CD.
Q. When I was having trouble with my Internet connection, my ISP's tech support person asked me for my IP address. I didn't have a clue what he was talking about. What is an IP address and how do I find out what mine is?
A. An IP (Internet Protocol) address is essentially a street address for your computer on the Internet. Every computer or network has its own unique Internet address.
If you're using Windows 95, 98 or Me, click Start > Run, then type "winipcfg" (without the quotes), followed by OK. A drop-down menu may appear from which you can select your network card, or you may be face-to-face with the IP Configuration dialog box which will display your IP address.
To obtain your IP address in Windows 2000 or XP, click Start > Run and type "cmd" (without the quotes), then OK. At the C:\ prompt, on the wildly colorful DOS screen, type "ipconfig" (sans quotes), and press Enter. This will display several sets of numbers, one of which will be identified as your IP address. Type "exit" at the C:\ prompt to return to Windows.
Q. I was bored one day and just poking around my computer using Windows Explorer. When I opened the Windows folder, I saw a number of folders that have "$NtUninstall" at the front part of each name. What are these and can they be deleted?
A. When it comes to poking around computers, Mr. Modem's Golden Rule is, "If it ain't broke, don't poke." Those mysterious $NtUninstall folders that you discovered were created when you installed one or more Microsoft Service Packs or security updates.
Microsoft doesn't just deposit those folders on your computer without asking for permission, though. When you install a Service Pack, you're asked if you would like to archive files that the Service Pack is replacing. The default answer is "Yes," so if you didn't change that to "No," then one or more $NtUninstall folders were created.
So technically, yes, you can delete those folders, but I wouldn't recommend it because they provide a safety net, keeping your old files available in case you experience problems with a Service Pack and decide to uninstall it.
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