November 2003 Reader Challenge

Congratulations to our November Reader Challenge winners, who win copies of "Admin911: Windows 2000 Registry." Robert Everson of British Columbia wins first prize. Brian E. Anderson of Trumbull, Connecticut, wins second prize. I enjoyed reading the answers from all the IT professionals who reported that they've had to deal with the problems outlined in the November Reader Challenge many times.

The Problem:

October 31, the night of ghouls, scary events, and children demanding treats, seems to affect computers, or at least computer users. My phone rang several times last Halloween as people called to report eerie computer events. I don't believe in all that spooky stuff, and now that my children are grown I even find it difficult to get into the spirit of the evening. In fact, I put an empty bowl on my porch and taped a sign on my front door above the bowl, saying, "KIDDIES--PUT ALL YOUR CHOCOLATE IN THE BOWL AND GO AWAY QUIETLY AND NOTHING BAD WILL HAPPEN." For some reason, everyone laughs and rings the doorbell, so I still have to keep walking to the door to give out candy. I'll have to come up with a better scheme.

Here are two of the calls I received on Halloween. Can you figure out what ghostly event occurred for each caller?

1. "Help! I opened a document in Microsoft Word and there are little dots all over the document. There seems to be a dot between every word."

2. "My taskbar disappeared, so I couldn't even do a regular shutdown. I turned off the computer manually and lost my work. When I restarted, the taskbar was back. What happened, and how can I prevent it in the future?"

Solutions:

1. The user accidentally clicked the Formatting Marks icon on the toolbar. I told her to click the toolbar, explained what a "toggle" is, and she thought I was a genius for figuring it out so fast.

2. The user inadvertently hid the taskbar. If you position your mouse pointer at the top of the taskbar, the pointer changes to a double-headed arrow. If you then click the left mouse button and move the mouse down, even a teensy amount (such as with a tiny muscle twitch), the taskbar disappears. To bring the taskbar back, move your mouse pointer to the bottom of the window until you see the double arrow, then click the left mouse button and drag upward. When the taskbar is missing, or if you lose your mouse, press the Windows key on the keyboard (the one with the Windows logo)to bring up a Start menu. From the menu, you can perform a clean shutdown by maneuvering through the menu with the arrow keys on the keyboard.

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