When I insert a DVD or CD in one of the drives on my computer, they don’t play. They show up in My Computer as being loaded but won’t start. If I leave the disc in the drive and shut down the computer and restart it with the disc in the drive, sometimes it will read it. Can you help me before I wear out my PC starting and stopping it?

– Betty Randall gmail.com

You needn’t wear out any more moving parts with frequent restarts if you change a setting that sometimes gets switched out of the blue, Ms. R. Click on My Computer and then move the mouse arrow over the malfunctioning drive’s icon.

In the box that pops up you will find a choice for Properties at the bottom of the list. Open Properties and a tabbed menu appears. Open the tab called, drum roll please, Auto Play.

The box this summons has a drop-down list of possible files in a box at the top. It then shows a list of programs to use to automatically play files of that sort, starting with Music File and moving to movies and pictures and videos and even what to do when a blank disc is inserted. Click on the radio button for “Select an Action to Perform.” You can then either specify a program or click the Restore Defaults button at the bottom to handle the fix.

Someone talked me into letting him install Microsoft Outlook Express. I had Comcast e-mail that I get through the Web browser. Now I’m getting e-mail on both but can only send e-mail by Comcast. Every time I try to send e-mail by Outlook Express I get an error message. I would like to get rid of Outlook Express entirely. Please advise.

– Don Kamrar comcast.net

I can tell you how to stop Outlook Express from kicking in when you do e-mail and how to make it work correctly, which you might want to consider, Mr. K.

Your problem is that a setting in Outlook Express called SMTP (simple mail transport protocol) is incorrect, so that when the software tries to find the address to start sending a note it kicks back an error message instead.

Outlook Express and Microsoft’s more powerful Outlook use a registry of accounts to establish each e-mail option, and you can either fix the settings on your e-mail account or just deep six the whole thing.

Run Outlook Express and then click on the Tools item at the top and then scroll down and select Accounts. This brings up a box with all of the e-mail accounts available, and your Comcast account will almost certainly be the first listed. You can select it and then click on the Remove button to simply get rid of the whole thing, thereby stopping the error messages.

I checked the list of frequently asked questions on the Comcast support pages and found the directions you need to make the Outlook Express software send as well as receive.

Go back to the Accounts setting and select the Properties button instead of Remove. In the box that appears select the tab for Servers. There you will find settings for POP (post office protocol, which receives notes) and SMTP for sending. You will see that the POP setting is for mail.comcast.net. If you type in smtp.comcast.net next to SMTP your outgoing notes will work fine through Outlook Express, which is a program with a great many plusses once one starts exploring.

By the way, here is the address for Comcast’s FAQ on the issue:


When I try to bring up a project in Microsoft Works 7.0, I get a message stating that LTKRN13N.dll is missing and cannot open the files. It says to try and reinstall it. I have done it a few times but the problem still appears. I can copy my work to a CD and use it on another computer and it’s fine, but it’s a hassle since the other computer is for the kids. Any hope for me?

– Diane Schmidt yahoo.com

What a bummer, Ms. S. You can count yourself among legions of folks who caused this problem by deciding not to accept an offer to upgrade a copy of Office 2003 that came with their computer and deleted Office instead. Doing this deletion eliminated that LTKRN13N.dll file, which is a “dynamic link library” holding instructions for word processing shared by both Office and Word.

There are two fixes. You can haul out the CDs for software that came with your computer and reinstall the trial version of Office, or you can jump through some hoops to restore the file using instructions from Microsoft.

First, says Microsoft, you need to click on Start and then type in CMD and click OK. This brings up a box that accepts text commands. You need to enter this one: ren “C: 1/4 Program Files 1/4Microsoft Works 1/4WkImging.dll” WkImging.old

This renames another library file involved in the mix-up, and the fix won’t work if the WkImging.dll file is found.

Now go back to the CMD box and enter this command: appwiz.cpl

This runs the Windows XP Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. In the list of programs scroll down to Microsoft Works and click on the button for Change. This will lead you through a series of steps to reinstall Works 7.0 with the missing dll file back where it needs to be.

Contact Jim Coates via e-mail at jcoatestribune.com or via snail mail at the Chicago Tribune, Room 400, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60611. Questions can be answered only through this column. Add your point of view at chicagotribune.com/askjim.