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Issue #306: June 2, 2013

Q: Dear Mr. Geek; I enjoy your column and read it weekly. Thanks for your help to the community. My computer would not boot and I did a partial install of Windows XP SP2. I thought I lost everything but I found my pictures and tax files were still there.  I lost music, programs, printer program, etc. – a lot of add-on stuff that can be reloaded. My screen resolution is minimum 640?  I cannot seem to change it. I get to the horizontal slide bar, it sees my arrow and changes color but will not move.  Some of the setting controls are in grey scale and will not respond.  Could the monitor drivers be the problem?

Paul S.
Gulf Breeze, Florida

A: Dear Mr. Paul; thank-you for being a reader, and for the kind words.  Since your partial re-install did not format the hard drive, it’s not surprising that your files are still intact.  In fact, I’m a little surprised to hear you lost your music.  Is it possible that what was lost was Media Player’s list of songs (your library) and that the files still exist on the drive?  Take a look – you may be pleasantly surprised.  It is no big surprise to hear that your printer driver and other software are gone, since your registry was probably rebuilt during the installation, and that’s what contains all the information that Windows uses to keep track of that kind of stuff.  As you said, simple reinstalls are in order, and you should get them back.  I also think you’re right on track with your screen resolution issue.  The “minimum 640” you mentioned is actually 640×480, which is the standard VGA resolution.  Can you believe that there was a time when we actually considered that to be “high resolution” graphics?  This is Windows fall-back resolution when it lacks information about the video capabilities of your hardware.  You’re on the right track in suspecting a driver, but it could just as easily be your video card driver as your monitor driver.  These are typically detected by Windows plug-and-play when the system boots, so if yours didn’t, you’ll need to install them manually.  Once everything is working again, be sure to visit Windows Update (select Tools->Windows Update from Internet Explorer) to make sure you have all the latest security updates and patches.  I suspect you’ll have several dozen of them to install, so it might take a while.

Q: My older Dell laptop runs on Windows XP. When I try to watch a video on UTube, the audio and video do not match, and the video will stop while it catches up (showing a blank screen with the little rotating circle). How can I solve this problem?

Marian G.
Destin, Florida

A: I can think of three things that might cause this to happen.  The most likely cause would be simply a low bandwidth Internet connection.  If your video also pauses a lot to rebuffer, or your file downloads are slow, look into this.  I found a nice online resource at that will help you figure out if you have enough bandwidth to properly view YouTube videos.  Another possible problem is that your Adobe Flash needs to be updated.  Visit to ensure you have the latest version.  Finally, it’s possible that your graphics hardware driver’s accelerated mode is not properly supported by YouTube.  To disable hardware acceleration, perform the following steps: Click Start->Control Panel.  Double-click Display.  Go to the Settings tab and click Advanced.  Click the Troubleshoot tab.  Slide the Hardware Acceleration slider all the way to None.  Click OK and close the trail of windows you opened to get here.  Finally, reboot your system, and cross your fingers!  Good luck.

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