A Better Way


Excel: In the August 2003 Technology Q&A column, I demonstrated how to print custom headers/footers. Several readers suggested another way to add them, which we actually had mentioned on several occasions in earlier columns: Just type into a cell: =cell(“filename”) .

While that method is indeed fast and easy, it lacks customization power. But if all you want is a quick footer or header, that’s the way to go.

Operating system: In the May 2003 column, I described a way to stop a computer from interfering with a defragmentation operation by using the msconfig function to block some start-up applications. Several readers suggested a simpler way: Start the computer in Safe Mode , and then, when the defrag is finished, simply reboot. I concede my method is slow and clumsy, but what do expect from a guy who started in DOS?

And for those who don’t know what Safe Mode is (or how to get your computer to open in it), read on.

The Windows operating system allows users the option of booting up with only the most basic files and drivers—mouse, monitor, keyboard, for example—so that various diagnostics can run without the interference of complex functions. Unfortunately, not all computer manufacturers adhere to a standard way to launch Safe Mode . To launch it in my Dell computer, I press the F8 key during the early boot-up stages. Other computers use the Ctrl key. Check your computer documentation—or just experiment—to discover your Safe Mode launcher.

Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at zarowin@mindspring.com .

Because of the volume of mail, we regret we cannot individually answer submitted questions. However, if a reader’s question has broad interest, we will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

On occasion you may find you cannot implement a function I describe in this column. More often than not it’s because not all functions work in every operating system or application. I try to test everything in the 2000 and XP editions of Windows and Office. It’s virtually impossible to test them in all editions and it’s equally difficult to find out which editions are incompatible with a function. I apologize for the inconvenience.

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