PC Chat presents Ask Mr. Modem! 12-12-03 - East Valley Tribune: Business

PC Chat presents Ask Mr. Modem! 12-12-03

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Posted: Friday, December 12, 2003 9:59 am | Updated: 1:04 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

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.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

Charity Navigator

"Your guide to intelligent giving." Here you can review evaluations of more than 1,700 charities in nine categories, including the percentage of donated dollars consumed by administrative expenses. The information contained on this site is based exclusively on each charity's IRS filing.


Federal Toll-Free Numbers

This toll-free telephone number listing service is provided by the U.S. Federal Consumer Information Center. It provides toll-free contact information for federal agencies ranging from the Agriculture Department to the Veteran Affairs Department, and hotlines for fraud, waste, abuse, identity theft, and fugitive sightings, among many others.


Obscenity Crimes

Sponsored by Morality in Media in cooperation with the Justice Department, this site invites complaints from Internet users who receive spam porn -- unsolicited email that promotes x-rated Web sites. Also welcome are addresses of x-rated sites that pop up unexpectedly while visiting other sites. Complaints are forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C. What happens to the complaints at that point, if anything, is anybody's guess, but presumably they're acted upon in some manner.


(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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