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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in laterlife 

Getting the most from your computerYou can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.

Jackie has also written the books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s. 

Every day computer activitiesVia Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too..

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers



October 2011

Q: My computer closed down without any obvious reason and all I have now is a blue screen with an error message on it. Is there any hope?


A: When something horrible like the "blue screen of death" happens, it is hard to work with your machine and the only option will be to re-boot and start in "Safe mode" (see option c. below). This allows you to make some changes to settings without the full operating system having to run in the normal way.

Even if less catastrophic faults develop, you can spend hours searching for advice through website forums, phoning help desks or shouting at your computer. Yet there could be a simple way to fix the problem.

a. If changes come after installing a new program and you can still work reasonably normally, the solution may simply be to uninstall it again via the Control Panel's "Add or Remove Programs" option.

b. If it isn't so simple, perhaps because the fault developed after an automatic "patch" or Windows update, or you installed a new driver, you may need to go back to before you carried out the update i.e. to a time when the computer was functioning perfectly normally.

In many cases, you could do this by reverting to a System Restore point (on Windows XP machines this is found by going to Start – Help and Support, clicking Performance and maintenance and then clicking the System Restore tab and following the guidance.)

Performance and maintenance

c. If there isn't a restore point, you may need to restart your computer and, as it starts beeping but before Windows opens up, keep pressing the function key F8. This will take you to the Safe Mode page offering various safety options, and you can select Last Known Good Configuration.

d. If a problem to hardware develops with no obvious cause, you can possibly identify the item that has gone wrong by looking down the Device Manager list. This is available via Control Panel – System – Hardware and then clicking the Device Manager button. In the window that opens, you will see a list that can be opened to display all the devices on your computer and any one with a yellow question mark next to it is likely to be faulty.

Device manager

Double click its name and look at the properties. You may be able to update the driver, roll back to a previous version, uninstall the most recent one or make other changes as necessary by clicking a Troubleshoot link.

change hardware properties



Q: My home page has changed and, even if I navigate back to the correct page, it changes back again next time I go on the Internet.

A: This is likely to be the result of a change to your settings caused by a website you visited or a rogue program that you have downloaded by mistake. If you shut down and then re-start your computer, you may find the problem has gone away. If not, you will need to install a free anti-adware or spyware program such as Spybot or Ad-Aware and run it on a regular basis as this type of software is designed to pick up such annoying but not harmful programs.

On some occasions, you could have a more serious virus infection that is directing your page to somewhere like a false Security website that will be encouraging you to click for new software. In this case, run Malaware Bytes (described in an earlier Laterlife column) and then make sure you keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

It includes both one off articles and also associated regular columns of a more specialist nature such as Healthwise, Gardener's Diary, our regular IT question and answer section called YoucandoIT and there's also 'It could be you' by Maggi Stamp laterlife's counsellor on human relationships. 

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