What Is the Best Way to Unstick My Frozen PC?

Q. How do I get my computer going again when it freezes and doesn't respond to the keyboard?

A. Is it really frozen, or just very slow? Take a short break, and if everything's working again when you get back, clear the cobwebs by clicking Start, Turn Off Computer, Restart (be patient; it could still be slow).

If you're still stuck but your keyboard works, press <Ctrl>-<Alt>-<Del> to open the Task Manager (in Windows 2000, you'll have to click a Task Manager button; in Windows Vista, the button is Start Task Manager). Click the Applications tab, and check the Status column for any application that is 'Not Responding'. If you find one, select it and click End Task. Next, click the Processes tab and look for any process running at 100 percent CPU utilization (or 50 percent, if you have a dual-core system). If there are none, select Shut Down, Restart-or press <Alt>-U, and then R-to reboot Windows gracefully.

If your keyboard and mouse are unresponsive, press your <Caps Lock> key while looking down at your keyboard. If the indicator light doesn't change, your keyboard and your PC aren't communicating. Move your mouse around while looking at the screen. If the pointer doesn't budge-even after a few seconds' wait-your mouse is out, too. Either your PC needs a hardware reboot, or you have a keyboard and mouse problem.

If they're wired, unplug the mouse and keyboard, then plug them in again. If they're wireless, press their reset buttons, or change their batteries-or do both.

Your last resort is to try a hardware reboot. You may lose whatever work wasn't saved when the problem started, but if you have no choice, press and hold your system's power button for five seconds.

If that doesn't turn your machine off, unplug the power cord. On a notebook, you may also have to remove the battery. Your next boot-up may take longer than usual; Windows runs additional diagnostics whenever it doesn't shut down properly.

Synchronize Outlook

Q. How do I synchronize my Outlook data on two computers?

A. Yahoo's free services can sync Outlook's address book, calendar, notepad, and to-do list, but not its e-mail. They require a free Yahoo account; sign up at www.yahoo.com. Log on to this account, click Mail, and then choose the Calendar tab. Click Sync to download and install Intellisync for Yahoo, which syncs your Outlook data with Yahoo's services. To share your e-mail, you'll have to use your ISP's Web-based e-mail service, and then add the account to your Outlook inbox. To sync a work account, try SynchPST (free demo available here; see FIGURE 1). The $40 Basic version meets all of my needs, but the $70 Professional version adds mail-sync automation and password protection.


Lock cell references when you Copy an Excel Formula

When you use Microsoft Excel's Copy or Paste option (or when you -drag) to move a formula to a new location, the program maintains relative cell references. For instance, if you copy cell C5, containing =A3*B4, to cell F8, that cell will have the formula =D6*E7. Most of the time, this is what you want. But not always. To copy the exact formula to a different cell, select the cell containing the formula, press <F2> to edit the formula, enter <Shift>-<Home> to select it, and then press <Ctrl>-C to copy it. Press <Esc> to exit cell editing. Now you can paste the formula, unchanged, into any cell. You can also record a macro for the copy/paste process by selecting Tools, Macro, Record New Macro.

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