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Issue #116: October 11, 2009

Q: We have a std Dell 4550 tower. Running Windows XP we recently bought a new Dell monitor (22′ diag.) and the associated video card that we needed (I believe it’s a Radnor?).  Anyway somewhere, somehow I’ve set the display screen, skin, theme, background whatever you call it to basically white…. And with that I can’t see a lot of the “buttons” that you push to make things happen.  Example… (www.msn.com) On my computer here at work the area (background) on either side of the text is a blue faded from top to bottom… at home its white… on msn page left side you see the hotmail box with the icon of an envelope, at home I just see the word “Hotmail”.  At the bottom of msn is the Bing search bar, w/ blue on either side and the word Bing, at home its the outline of the box only, and white on either side. I know that there can be interactions because the pointer will turn from arrow to the hand w/finger when hovered over a spot and by clicking the mouse an action will take place… We just can’t see it?

I’ve updated.. The Adobe viewer, flash player 10, the most recent ATI s/w for the video card. I’ve done the control panel, display properties resets, defaults etc, etc, countless number of times… Asked my web developers and IT folks here and still no progress… Hope you have a new trick to try…

– Jeffrey C.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A:  Athough it never hurts to make sure you have the latest versions of everything on your system I think you’re taking wild stabs in the dark doing all those updates and hoping one of them will fix your problem.  I don’t have any “tricks” but I think I can help nevertheless.  I believe you hit the nail on the head when you said that YOU somehow set everything to all white.  It’s a little tough to tell from your e-mail, but I’m going to guess that you’re talking only about Internet Explorer, and not about the rest of your system.  Try this: in Internet Explorer, click the “Tools” menu, and select “Internet Options”.  On the on the “General” tab, click “Accessibility” and uncheck everything in that box.  You may also want to click “Colors” and make sure that “Use Windows colors” is checked.  I hate to flaunt my Geekiness, but (assuming that this fixes your problem) I can’t help but wonder why your web developers and IT folks weren’t able to guide you to a solution? 

Dear Readers, there has been an increase in my e-mail lately of overly vague problem descriptions.  As much as I want to help, I cannot really diagnose problems if all you can tell me is that something “doesn’t work”.  When you write, please include (along with your name and city) all relevant information about your problem, particularly any error messages you are receiving.  It also helps to know what version of the software you’re using, and in some cases, information about your computer’s configuration, such as the amount of installed memory, processor type, Windows version, etc.  Be careful about swinging too far in the other direction too!  I get an amazing number of e-mails from people who find it necessary to describe where, when and why they purchased their computer, for whom it was purchased, how much they paid for it, etc.  Hmm…maybe I need to publish an It’s Geek To Me blooper column…


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