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How to eliminate an annoying sound

The Baltimore Sun

When I move from one Web site to an- other, I get an annoying sound. I'd like to remove it but don't know how. I suppose that I should go to the Sounds and Audio Devices part of Control Panel, but that's the extent of my knowledge. Can you help?

- Phil Grinstead, Chicago

You're almost home free, and I'll show you the next steps in exorcising that annoying sound, which, I assume, is the one called Exclamation. This sound is used generically for many different audio notifications and deserves a place in the PC Annoyances Hall Of Fame.

Click on Start and then Control Panel. Now go to the icon called Sounds and Audio Devices. There you want to open the tab marked Sounds. This is a control panel used by Windows and several other programs to register what sounds are to be played when different things happen, such as exiting Windows or getting a new e-mail message. This is where America Online stores its infamous "Welcome, you've got mail" sound to be played whenever AOL's software comes up. Talk about annoying.

Your sound event is one called Internet Alert and is listed under the category Windows at the top of the list. When you select that item, or any other item in the long list, the words will change in a text box at the bottom of the menu to display the name of the sound file, such as Windows XP Ding.wav or Windows XP Error.wav.

When you display Internet Alert, you will see the name of the sound, probably Windows XP Exclamation.wav. If you click the down-arrow to the right of that text, you will get a drop-down list of all the available system sounds. You can either change this to something else or scroll to the top and select "none" to silence that particular alert.

People with too much time on their hands will find this little-known tool will let you change the sounds that go off when different things happen, such as playing the Windows Log Off tune when an e-mail message arrives. Other than annoying friends and neighbors, this bit of information is useless, of course. But, hey, what are friends for?

There was a time when I could use Outlook Express to prepare e-mails. Now, all I get are error messages reading, "The host 'SMTP' could not be found. Please verify that you have entered the server name correctly. Account: POP3(1): Server SMTP Protocol: SMTP, Port 25, Secure (SSL): No, Socket Error: 11001, Error Number 0x800CCCOD." Can you help to correct any error?

- Mel Weis,

Wow, what a mouthful. Thankfully, the fix is less complicated than reading the error message. Your computer's settings for outgoing and incoming e-mail have become corrupted. You need to restore those settings by clicking on Tools in the Outlook Express command bar and then selecting Accounts from the drop-down menu that appears.

In the display, select the Mail tab and you will find a line with your e-mail address. Give it a double-click. In the Properties box this summons, open the one for Mail. In the display, select the tab for Servers, which is where two settings are supposed to be: one for incoming mail, called POP3, and one for outgoing messages, called SMTP.

You need to type this address in the box for the Juno Simple Mail Transport Protocol computer:

In the box for POP3, you type in

That's the whole drill. So simply fixed, so poorly described by Microsoft's programmers behind Outlook Express.

I'm running Windows XP on a desktop and tried to install Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 several times with the same results. After initialization, the computer would hang up, and I could only correct it by turning off the computer. Each time I tried to install, I first downloaded the upgrade from the Microsoft site. IE 6 was working correctly before the upgrade. Any suggestions on how to fix the problem, or how I can go back to IE 6? I was able to upgrade to IE 7 on a new laptop without any problems.

- Robert Cunningham, Arnold, Calif.

At the very least, you can most definitely backtrack to Microsoft's older version 6 of the browser. But, first, let's try fixing things by using the Add or Remove Programs icon in Control Panel.

First, click on Start, then Control Panel and locate the Add or Remove Programs item.

This brings up a list of all the software on the machine in a box on the right and a list of a few special tools on the left. Select the one for Windows Components and then remove the check mark from Internet Explorer and select OK.

This does not actually remove the Web browser, because the company has built it into the Windows XP operating system to handle most of the boxes and windows and graphics. But, in response to complaints about antitrust issues, Microsoft set up this tool so that a seller can hide all reference to the Web browser and thus permit selling computers that don't come with Explorer hard-wired as the default Web software.

You want to do this because hiding the browser from the startup scheme for Windows probably would keep it from interfering long enough to get past that hang-up. If so, the installation of IE 7 might very likely go as it is supposed to the next time you try.

If that fails, you are either doomed to backtrack to version 6 or try a complex fix involving editing the Windows System Registry, which probably should be used only by a professional driver on a closed roadway. You can get details for these registry edits at the Microsoft Knowledge Base at At that site, enter this article number as a search term: 318378.

You will find the registry edits at the end of a long essay on fixing certain Windows problems.

You also can use the Microsoft Web site to download and reinstall Internet Explorer 6.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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