Readers Weigh In on Windows 3.11 Start-Up Problem

Last week, the friendly geeks at Q&A; labs didn't have any great ideas for a fellow who kept getting a start-up error after removing some printer files from his system loaded with Windows 3.11 and DOS 6.22. Several of our readers did, however. We think the most likely solution is to check the WIN.INI file, where it's likely that a reference to the problem child, HPFDSmo4.exe, will be found, most likely in a line that starts something like "load=". But we persist in our belief that the Win 3.x operating system causes more problems than it solves, especially when you're upgrading equipment.

Q: I work for a company based in the East. Recently, the company changed e-mail servers, so I created a new account on my Outlook Express. My problem is that the old account won't go away. I have to remove the account every time I open Outlook Express. Is there a way to permanently remove this old e-mail account?

A: Let us know if this method doesn't work for you: Click the Tools menu and go to Accounts. Click Mail, then highlight your old account and click Remove. Remember to click Yes and follow the process through to the end.

Q: Certain sites on the Internet always freeze up on me when I use Netscape's browser. I upgraded to Netscape 4.77, but it still freezes on me. When I used AOL's browser, it was fine. I like Netscape better. Would Netscape 6.0 be better? I hear it's not worth upgrading.

A: Alas! Poor Netscape, we knew it.

Netscape hasn't really come out with a decent upgrade in two years. Our expectation is that 6.0 will not help. We might have been able to make a better diagnosis if you had given us an idea of what sites are causing poor Netscape to crash, but we'll take a stab at this anyway. It's possible that this is just a system resources problem.

You can take a crack at identifying that cause by going to visit one of the troublesome Web sites first thing after you start your box up, when all your system resources are brand spanking new. If you manage to get in then, chances are more RAM on your computer would solve the problem.

But we think that scenario is unlikely. We expect that your problem is due to people developing fancy schmancy Web sites based on some nonstandard features that Microsoft is constantly introducing into each new version of its browser. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The browser guys introduce new capabilities, the Web site guys use 'em, and poof, we have a new spec. But in the meantime, it causes headaches for users.

You never mentioned whether you use the Internet Explorer Web browser. We'd suggest using IE or one of the alternatives, such as Opera, to look at sites that make Netscape freak out.

Q: I'm looking into buying a new computer with a 700- or 800-megahertz central processing unit. The one thing I'm not sure about is the video card. Should I get the video memory on board with 64 megabytes shared, with a total of 128 MB of RAM? Or should I just get a video card with 32 MB of RAM?

A: We think shared RAM is a tool of the devil and all those who foist it off on unsuspecting users should be forced to work on a command line interface. Get yourself a video card with its own RAM--32 MB is swell for most of us--and 128 MB for the operating system and its applications. You'll thank us. RAM is very cheap right now.


Dave Wilson is The Times' personal technology columnist. Submit questions to Tech Q&A; at


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