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Solutions: Spyware can make icons disappear from your desktop

We are running Windows XP. For some reason, we lost all of our desktop icons. Is there a way to retrieve them?

This could be a number of things. You should make sure your antivirus/spyware programs are active and up to date with the latest definition files. Try this: Right-click anywhere on your Desktop, select Arrange Icons, and make sure that the Show Desktop Icons option is checked.

When opening Word, Excel or another document application, I receive this message regarding Windows Installer and Norton Antivirus 2005: "The command cannot be performed because a dialog box is open. Click OK then close open dialog boxes to continue." I do this, but then I get this message: "Please wait while Windows configures Norton Antivirus 2005," and "Error 1706. No valid source could be found for product. Windows Installer cannot continue." I hit cancel to close these messages, which allows my documents to open. What is the problem, and how do I fix it?

This was a common problem with the Norton AntiVirus 2005 Office plug-in. Check your Norton configuration and turn the Office plug-in off. When Microsoft releases a free antimalware product later this year, uninstall Norton and load the free Microsoft offering.

I have a Dell Inspiron with Vista Premium. I cannot open attachments in my Hotmail with the .doc extension. It comes up either corrupt or not coded properly. I have Adobe Reader 8. I have tried to right click to send it to my documents file, which is Works. I have tried to send it to Word within Works, but to no avail. Is there a way to open these documents?

Based on that error message, I'm guessing that the .doc attachments you're receiving were created with a version of Microsoft Word that your version of Works cannot open.

Go to and type "word viewer" in the Search box and click the magnifying glass (Go). Check the results for a link (the title should simply say "Word Viewer") that will take you to the Word Viewer download. Give that a try.

I think my biggest problem is not understanding file management. Sad to say, I seem to be swamped with excessive files and very capable of deleting important ones. Can you recommend a book, site or tutorial that might help?

That's not unusual. After all, everything on your hard drive is really just a series of zeros and ones (binary). The concept of logical drives, directories/folders is really just an abstract organization of these 0s and 1s.

Folders/directories such as \Windows and \Program Files (and their subordinate folders), as well as many others that are hidden, by default should be left alone. Now every PC is going to be different, but changes made outside of the places or files mentioned in this reply should at least keep the integrity of the operating system intact.

As for book recommendations, there are literally thousands that cover all aspects of computing. My advice is to sit in a bookstore or library and try to find one at a level that you're comfortable with. The Internet can be very useful. Just pose your question in a Google search. The trick there is discerning fact from fiction in the returned results. The more you learn, the easier that will become.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Spyware can make icons disappear from your desktop 05/03/09 [Last modified: Sunday, May 3, 2009 4:30am]
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