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March 2013The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd

My Word

Problem Solving

Have you ever had a computer problem that you just couldn't find a solution to by searching the web? Of course you have - everyone who uses computers has problems with them that are difficult to solve - even me.

I recently had a rather annoying problem with email processing on one computer that at the time of writing this I still haven't fully resolved. I will get it solved eventually but it is proving to be particularly stubborn.

One thing has made solving this particular problem more difficult and that is that the person whose computer has the problem decided to try to solve it themselves by upgrading the email program. So with that change the version of the email program on the computer has never actually worked meaning that instead of just having to fix whatever caused the original problem the settings in the new version of the email program may need changing as well to get everything working again and so it becomes almost impossible to tell whether a particular fix actually fixes the original problem because something else has changed.

If you have a computer problem then don't change anything until you have at least some idea of what the cause is and then only change one thing at a time and change them back again if they don't fix the problem. As reversing out a program upgrade is very difficult to reverse out do not even consider upgrading a program until you have determined that the upgrade is necessary to fix the problem. If it isn't a necessary part of the fix then work out the fix first, make sure everything is working properly again and then and only then apply the fix.

Did you change anything on your system around the time the problem started? If so then that change is potentially related to the problem. With the one I am trying to solve the antivirus program was upgraded to a new version at around the time the email problems started so turning off some of the features temporarily to test if they have any effect is a reasonably thing to try (since in this case you don't want to revert back to the old version and definitely don't want to turn it off completely). New features added in the new version that didn't exist at all before are really the only options that can be safely left off. Turning some of those off did improve things but didn't provide a complete fix.

If you are struggling for an idea of what to try next then run a complete virus scan of your system and clean up anything it finds - it is possible that a virus is causing the problem. Running other security programs to clean up the operation of your system may also help but in each case do one thing and then retest to see if the problem is fixed, don't do several things and then try as then you'll never know what particular change fixed the problem and will therefore have little idea of what the cause of the problem was - making it harder to work out what to try if a similar problem occurs in the future.

Only by approaching the problem in a systematic way and making one change at a time and keeping track of what you have done will you be able to provide all the information needed if you can't figure out the solution yourself and need to ask for help. After all you don't want someone wasting hours repeating everything you have already done (particularly if they are charging you for their time) and you don't want to find that you applied both the fix and another change that broke it again both at the same time.
 

On Site

As I indicated last month I have ended up with lots of JavaScript pages added or updated this month. There are still quite a few more to add but I did get through a decent fraction of the scripts that I wanted to update and so there definitely will be more pages on other topics added next month.
 

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