Helpdesk: Y2K bug causes date to leap ahead 94 years

Friday, May 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Q: Since the beginning of the new year, mycomputer (486, 120 MHz) starts with a default date of the current day in the year 2094. I correct the year to 2000 in the Control Panel and everything is fine - until the next time I boot up the machine. Can this problem be corrected, or am I doomed to changing the date manually until I buy a new computer? - R.T., Plano

A: Your problem is in your computer's BIOS (basic input/output system), a small program on a chip inside your computer. The BIOS stores the basic system settings such as time and date. Your BIOS is obviously not Y2K-compliant. If you know your BIOS' manufacturer, which is displayed in the first words you see when you boot your PC, you can look to its Web site to see if there is an updated version of the BIOS for your system. Award and Phoenix are two of the more common brand names. This upgrade is called "flashing" the BIOS. These updates should be free, and instructions will be included on the site. Third parties also make fixes for this problem. You can look at Accute-Date at These fixes will cost you $40, but try looking for a free one first.

Q: After writing an e-mail message, I click the spelling tab and Outlook Express comes on and says: "An error occurred while the spelling was being checked." I click OK but still cannot get my spelling tab to work. I have always had the spelling tab to make corrections in my spelling, but now it does not work.
Please help me!

- T.D., Marshall, Texas

A: Sounds like your spelling checker has become corrupt or is gone.

Simply reinstall the program, which should only replace the program files. It will leave your data files intact. The reinstallation will replace the spell checker, which should do the trick. I found a plethora of answers on why this occurred and how to deal with it at Microsoft's Knowledge Base at Try selecting Outlook Express and entering the keyword "spell" and hitting the Go button on the site. This will bring up a whole page of possible solutions. According to Microsoft, "To resolve this issue, install or reinstall a program that includes a 32-bit spelling checker, such as Microsoft Works 4.5, Microsoft Office 7.0 for Windows 95 or Microsoft Office 97 programs: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint or later versions." You can try searching the Knowledge Base for articles Q178238 or Q253351.

Q: I am having trouble with my Sony Spressa CD-Rewritable Recorder.

I have installed all the necessary software.

However, when I try to use it, I am supposed to specify the destination CD-R/RW drive to use, and nothing comes up for me to select.

- M.L., Balch Springs

A: Because you don't mention which Spressa you have, I will direct this to all the versions.

It is possible for you to buy a drive that can connect to either a PC or a Macintosh computer.

You can also choose the interface that the drive uses to talk to the computer, depending on the platform. The four choices are SCSI, IDE, USB or iLink (FireWire).

The ports on the back of your PC will determine how you connect. (For a definition of the interfaces, go to Sony offers the Spressa as an external drive, with its own power supply, or as an internal drive, if your computer has an open expansion bay and the proper connector inside.

The interface and the type of drive you choose will determine how to connect it.

Sony has a technical support database at There will be a pop-up menu for you to enter your model number and then choices as to what kind of support you need.

Good luck.

Q: My Hewlett-Packard Pavilion 6535 has many power management options that include choosing to require a password before leaving standby. I would like to select this option, but there is a problem: I do not know my Windows password. I honestly cannot remember encountering this when I first started my computer with Windows 98 Second Edition.

I do not know if I set up a password or not. I do not desire a password at start-up, nor do I need it for a network and/or multiple users. However, the Power Management Box states that the password it will use will be the Windows password.

How can I change the password? I already have the screen saver password option in place but would like this additional security.

Can you help me?

- H.P., Tyler, Texas

A: Lots going on here.

First of all, if you don't have to enter a password when your computer starts up, you haven't set one.

There is a password control panel, which you access from the Start Menu, then Control Panels.

This dialogue box lets you set or change your Windows password.

Windows 98 and 95 don't actually prevent users from starting the computer.

Simply entering a different user name and password - or no password - will add the user to the Windows password list and boot the computer.

Adding a password to the Energy Saver may cause your PC to ask you for your password when you boot.

It's hard for me to tell without using your computer, but it could happen.

If by chance you want to know how to get Windows to stop asking you for a password, do the following: Right-click Network Neighborhood, and then click Properties. On the Configuration tab, click Windows Log-on in the Primary Network Log-on box and then click OK. When you are prompted to restart your computer, click No. In Control Panel, double-click Passwords. Click the Change Passwords tab, click Change Windows Password and then click OK. In the Change Windows Password dialogue box, type your current Windows password in the Old Password box. Leave the New Password and Confirm New Password boxes blank, click OK, and then click OK.

Click the User Profiles tab and verify that the "All users of this PC use the same preferences and desktop settings" option is selected. Click Close. Shut down and then restart Windows.


Jim Rossman, desktop support manager for The Dallas Morning News, answers questions about computers, home entertainment devices and other consumer electronics.

Write to him at Personal Technology, The Dallas Morning News, P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265, or send e-mail to Include your name, daytime phone number and home city. Letters cannot be returned.