Ask Mr. Modem! 9-21-07 - East Valley Tribune: Business

Ask Mr. Modem! 9-21-07

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Posted: Friday, September 21, 2007 11:04 am | Updated: 6:27 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q. When I was having trouble with my computer last year, you recommended an online virus checker that worked great. I need to use that online virus-checker again, but I can't remember what it was. Can you remind me, please? I promise to save it this time.

A. Unfortunately, my one remaining neuron can’t recall which one I mentioned a year ago, but here are several excellent ones that I periodically use: Trend Micro’s Housecall (, Panda’s Active Scan (, and Kapersky’s ( will scan your hard drive using the most current virus-checking definitions. If a virus is found, you'll be extended a cordial invitation to remove it. (Hint: It’s never polite to decline a cordial invitation.) You can use these Web-based services as often as you wish, without charge.

Q. I’m having a problem running Scandisk on my Windows XP computer because I can’t find the command to do it. I love your newsletter, Mr. M. Thanks for being there so I can ask stupid questions without feeling stupid.

A. There are never any stupid questions here in Mr. Modemville, so don’t give that a second thought. If you’re curious about anything, just blurt it out and I’ll do my best to lend a helping hand. Turning to your question, Windows XP changed Scandisk to Error Checking. Why? To make things more confusing, of course. (Isn’t that the ultimate objective of all computing?) To run Error Checking and Disk Defragmenter under Windows XP, click Start > My Computer, then right-click the drive upon which you want to run Scandisk, and click Properties > Tools tab.

In the Error-Checking section, click the “Check Now” button. A new window will appear with two options: One is to automatically fix file system errors and the other is to scan for and detect problems with the hard drive. My best recommendation is to select them both.

Click the Start button and Error Checking will run.

When you finish with Scandisk, go back to the Defragmentation section and click the “Defragment Now” button to—well, to defragment your hard drive.

Error Checking and Defragging can take hours to run, so launch them when you’re not planning to use your PC for a period of time or let it run overnight. If either process does not complete, or it appears to freeze at some point, I have an article in my Web-based library that provides tips for thawing it out, located at

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:


A fascinating site that takes an hourly photographic pulse of the world. When you open 10x10, you will see a grid of the top 100 world images for that hour, ranked in order of importance, reading left to right, top to bottom. Along the right edge of the screen are listed the corresponding top 100 words, one for each image. Move your mouse over the images and you'll see which words match which images. Move your mouse up and down the word list and the corresponding images will light up. Click any word or image to zoom in and see the news headlines behind the word.

The Bad Sweater Project

What began as one man’s hideous sweater collection has been expanded to include (and welcome) visitor contributions. Somewhere, deep within the dust-bunny depths of our respective closets and dresser drawers, we all have potential contributions. Mine arrived at Christmas 1978, when evil Aunt Ramona gave me a baby blue, faux-cashmere, pseudo-suede sweater-vest that’s so repulsive, my cats won’t even cough up a fur ball on it.

Ig Nobel Prize

A quirky alternative to the famed Nobel Prize, the Iggies are presented each October at Harvard during a ceremony that recognizes achievements that "First makes people laugh; then makes them think.” Sponsored by several computer and science societies at the university, winners are presented in categories as diverse as Science, Chemistry, Medicine, Technology, Physics, and Public Health. The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize in Ornithology, for example, was awarded to Ivan Schwab for his life’s work attempting to explain why woodpeckers don’t get headaches. Need I say more?

Subscribe to Mr. Modem’s Weekly Newsletter for plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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