Ask a Windows Expert – Week 4

Hello everyone! This week, we’ve been in short supply of questions, but they were good nonetheless. In “Ask a Windows Expert,” you get the opportunity to have a question of yours analyzed by a resident Windows expert and answered here every Wednesday. Today, we’re going to make an attempt to answer a couple of complex questions that have been submitted via our inbox. To submit a question to MTE’s Windows Expert, click on the “Ask Our Experts Now!” button on the right-hand side of the screen below the search bar. It’s as clear as day. You can’t miss it!

A Reminder Before Answering Questions

Please remember to mention as many details relevant to the question as possible, such as what hardware you’re using, your Windows version, and a couple of factors that could help narrow down the answer to keep it short and sweet. As an option, if you use Windows 7, you might want to try the problem steps recorder included in the operating system. If you don’t know how to reach it, read about it here. OK, so let’s get to the questions!

Q: My computer’s saying an “Internet not available” message after four years of using my wireless card flawlessly. What’s wrong?

A: Judging by how you formed the question in the original email, I’d assume you’re using a 2G, 3G, or 4G wireless Internet card that operates on cellular antenna radio frequency. That said, four years is a long lifespan for a card under heavy use. I see one of two possibilities here – one that involves shelling out some cash and another that involves trying another area.

  1. Wireless Card Died – There’s a distinct possibility that the bell has tolled on your wireless card after all that usage. You’re in luck if your card is still under warranty, but I doubt it would be after four years. It doesn’t hurt to try. Networking equipment dies all the time because of flaws in their design. It happens even to the best devices.
  2. Antenna Lost Signal – When a carrier’s antenna loses signal, it often means that you have no way of connecting to the Internet from your wireless card unless you try doing it in another location. This could happen for a number of reasons: malfunctioning antenna, malfunctioning link with a repeater in another zone, downed antenna, or repairs and upgrades.

My suggestion: Try using your wireless card in another area. If it doesn’t work, the card is probably bad. Try using another person’s card in a different area, and if that doesn’t work either, your computer’s PCMCIA/USB connection is having issues and neither the card nor the antenna you receive Internet from has the aforementioned problems.

Q: I just partitioned my new laptop to include two operating systems. When I boot on Windows, I instantly get a message that says “ERROR: F3-100-0008.”

A: This one’s tough! I looked through Microsoft’s own error codes and found zilch. It seems to have to do with the laptop you’re using. You probably use a Toshiba Satellite, which has proprietary hidden partitions within the hard drive that function chiefly as recovery partitions. You should not install a new operating system on these kinds of laptops, because you risk losing everything to this annoying error. I’m hoping that you didn’t just hunt for that partition and erase it. Your laptop might have a boot procedure hard-wired into it that depends on that hidden partition. If you didn’t erase the partition, your best bet is to recover the system to the way it was. Look through your laptop’s manual for this recovery information. On another note, if all that doesn’t work, your hard drive must have been damaged where you currently have the Windows partition, judging by the error’s categorization. Good luck!

Q: I’m using Windows 7 Home Basic and cannot change my wallpaper. How do I do this?

A: Are you sure you’re using Windows 7 HB? I heard of this issue happening in Starter. To change your desktop background in Windows 7 Home Basic, click your “Start” menu and click “Control Panel.” In the search box on the upper right-hand corner, type “desktop background.” You’ll see an option that will allow you to change the background, in the form of a link. Click on it and enjoy!

In case that didn’t work, you’re using Windows 7 Starter, which doesn’t allow background changes. There’s a workaround to this, though, and I’m going to let you in on the secret:

  1. Download and install Stardock My Colors. Don’t run it yet!
  2. Go to your “Start” menu, click “Pictures,” and navigate to “Sample Pictures.” Dump your desired wallpaper here.
  3. Run Stardock My Colors.
  4. Select a theme within the application other than Windows Aero. Selecting the Aero theme is simply used to revert any settings and brings you back to the inability to change the wallpaper.
  5. Click “Wallpapers” within the application.
  6. Choose the wallpaper you just moved and click “Apply.” You now have a brand new wallpaper on Windows 7 Starter!

Q: I’m seeing a padlock icon with the letter “A” on it all the time and it’s getting annoying. How do I remove it?

A: I’m assuming you see something like this: winhelp-padlock

Well, that little icon appears because of custom display properties placed by proprietary software installed on your machine to interface with your keyboard. It appears when you press the “Caps Lock” key. To remove this:

  1. Right-click an empty area on your desktop and click “Screen resolution.”
  2. Click the “Advanced settings” link.
  3. Click the “On Screen Display” tab. This usually will be the name of the tab.
  4. Click “Show the indicator for a few seconds” if you would like your “Caps Lock” indicator to appear only for a brief period. If you consider this an inconvenience and would like to remove the icon altogether, eliminate the checkbox next to “Enable on-screen display.”
  5. Click “OK.” The icon will behave normally now.

Should you continue to have problems, leave a comment on this article and I’ll do my best to fix the issue with you.

That’s All, Folks!

We’ll be waiting patiently for any new questions. Please leave a comment below if you have anything to say about the current questions in this article. For new submissions, don’t forget to use the contact form linked on the front page next to the top banner ad.

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