The official home of It's Geek to Me on the web!

Issue #331: November 24, 2013

Q: My computer had some kind of glitch that happened a year ago. The main symptoms were:

  1. The computer ran slower for most tasks,
  2. The focus would jump from my window to another window seemingly at random times. It seemed “jittery” a lot where it would sometimes quiver between one window and another. That was weird.
  3. If I clicked on a Word or Excel file, the appropriate program would open but the file would not be loaded. I would get an error message that said: “There was a problem sending the command to the program“. If I clicked on the files with Word or Excel already open, then the files would load into their respective program and everything was fine after that.
  4. In Outlook if I clicked on an e-mail from Delta Airlines it took forever to open. Really a long time. Other e-mails were normal.

I took the computer to Office Depot and they did their $100 remote analysis and repair. They said I had some corrupted files which they repaired. The computer ran better but still had problems. I then added 2 more GB of RAM to go from 2 to 4 total GB and the computer ran a lot better. A lot faster. A lot. 

So now it is not running bad except I still have the same problem of clicking on Excel and Word files. That has never been corrected. Any ideas on this little problem?

– Steve F.
Shalimar, Florida

A: The individual symptoms you’re describing could each be caused by any number of things.  However, since you say they all started at the same time, and rather suddenly, that makes these seemingly unconnected anomalies into a rather unique fingerprint of what must have been a single event on your computer.  After giving it some consideration, I’m going to guess that your computer took a power hit, possibly a surge or even a lightning strike.  Whatever it was, it obviously wasn’t strong enough to fry your motherboard, but it sounds like it may have damaged one of your RAM chips, and caused some corruption to your files and to the Windows registry.  The latter symptoms can be caused by improper system shutdown, which would almost surely happen during a power hit.

My recommendations to you include a thorough testing of all your RAM chips, with replacement if any are found operating at less than 100%.  That’s not as scary as it sounds.  The chips don’t have to be removed or hooked up to any special testing hardware.  They can be tested in-place using special software designed specifically for that purpose.  If you do a Google search, you’ll find lots of options available, but the effectiveness of their testing can vary wildly.  There can also be a strong dependence on your level of knowledge about your computer, since some of the better testers require you to build a bootable CD by burning an .ISO image to a blank CD-R, then using it to boot outside of Windows.  So I’m going to let you choose your own utility, but I will provide you this link: which contains a list of some very good programs from which you can pick.  Or not – your choice.

As for your problem with Office, your system is having a problem with a feature of Windows called Dynamic Data Exchange, or DDE, which is the “sending the command to the program” part of the error message you cited.  This error was probably caused by damage to the Windows registry.  Fortunately, you won’t have to go anywhere near the registry to fix the problem.  To fix the problem in Excel, first run the program.  Click the “File” tab, and then click “Options”.  Click “Advanced” and scroll down to the “General” section, and then clear the check box that says “Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE)”.  Click “OK” and you’re all done with Excel.  To fix Word, start with the program not running.  Hit the key combination WinKey+R or click on Windows Start and select “Run…”.  Enter the command WINWORD /r (there is a space before “/r”).  Click “OK” and Word will reconfigure itself, including its DDE settings.

Final word: I hope all my other readers will take note of Steve’s remarks on how much faster his computer performed from the simple act of adding some RAM.  I’ve often said that is the cheapest and easiest way to increase a system’s speed (unless, of course, your system’s RAM is already at maximum capacity).  It sounds like Steve is a believer!

One Response to “Issue #331: November 24, 2013”

Leave a Reply

June 2024

Search the site


Copyright Notice

All content on this site is Copyright © 2007-2024 by Jeff Werner – All rights reserved.