Failing battery slows clock


My clock is not working right. I've had my PC for seven months, and the time in the lower right corner of the desktop has been perfect, even telling me it switched to daylight-saving time. Then this week, it started running slowly, losing over 30 minutes in a day. Any suggestions (other than resetting the clock every time I boot up)?

The symptoms you describe fit a failure of the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) battery that your computer uses to keep track of time when you turn the power off. Unless you know your way around the inside of your computer, I would recommend taking it to a shop for battery replacement. This entails paying somebody $50 or so to replace a $2 battery, but likely will save you much grief.

There's an outside chance that one of the programs you are running is resetting the clock. To rule this out, you might try finding a day when you don't need to use your computer and then turn it on in the morning, do nothing else but check the time and then turn it off until the next day. If the clock is correct the next day it means software is to blame and you can find the offending program through the process of elimination.

You techno-geeks are all the same. You've got to have the fastest and newest. You're telling readers they can't use Windows 95 or the Internet on a 486. I do it and have absolutely no problem. Is it slower? Slower than what? How fast do I need?

As the prophet once said, there are none so blind as those who will not go to the computer store to see. In other words, you've really got to try out a new computer before making the claim you make about your doddering old 486 dinosaur.

To see just how pathetic your current experience really is, I urge you to drop by your neighborhood computer store and just click the icon for Internet Explorer on any Pentium you see.

This huge piece of software will spring up just as fast on that Pentium as the Windows Notepad text editor will load and run on your 486. By contrast a 486, as you surely must know, takes on the order of 30 seconds just to call up the browser.

Jumping from Web site to Web site at that speed will make one crazy, or at least cranky, as your note itself sounds. Try it; you'll like it.

I have a persistent but intermittent problem with Windows 95. Ever since I installed 95, my computer has been locking up. Sometimes I can go for days without this problem, and sometimes it will occur several times in one day. Occasionally, it will occur only once or twice in one session. When it happens, the arrow appears on screen, but neither the mouse nor the keyboard can move it. Ctrl-Alt-Delete has no effect. The only cure is to turn the machine off and back on, or to hit the reset button.

Two words: Windows 98.

Two reasons:

First, chances are excellent that whatever glitch in your hardware or software is causing the failures will simply go away once you load the new drivers that Windows 98 offers for virtually every program and device on the market.

RTC Second, a key Windows 98 feature allows the operating system to boot up and check each device for potential problems in turn. Chances are excellent that this auto-repair feature will find the gremlin vexing you and fix it.

It is, of course, an outrage to have to suggest giving Bill Gates still more money because you can't get through to his technical support people. But, hey, if I wanted to cover an industry that doesn't gouge its customers and keep them waiting for endless upgrades, I'd apply for the HMO beat.

Mea culpa, forgot your advice for tricking AOL to keep me online when I've been idle for a few minutes. Please advise.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't hear from another reader asking for a repeat of how to find the shareware program popups26.exe, designed to outsmart America Online's automatic hang-up on the customer feature that kicks in whenever a user doesn't push a key or move the mouse for 10 minutes or so.

Countless AOL customers have been inconvenienced by this effort to discourage people from making full use of the service's untimed billing practices.

Sadly, America Online has just rewritten its so-called terms of service to outlaw these time-zapper programs and so popups26.exe is no longer available. You can find more about this at the popups26.exe Web site:

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Pub Date: 6/29/98

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