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Originally published November 29, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Page modified November 29, 2013 at 6:00 PM

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Speaker wires likely Static culprits

Questions on distracting static, reverting wallpaper and an email item that can’t be opened or deleted.


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Q: I am picking up what seems to be TV transmissions on my monitor, and I have the speakers turned off. There is a lot of static, so I can’t hear distinct words, but it is very distracting. Have you heard of this problem before?

— Pat Rolfe

A: Yes, I’ve heard of this problem before. I’ve even experienced it myself.

Are the speakers turned off or just down? Is the sound coming from the speakers? Or might it be coming from the speaker in the computer?

Wherever the sound is coming from, the real question is how is it getting in? A number of years ago, I had a computer that had such bad shielding that it was picking up radio signals inside the box.

But the most likely culprit is your speaker wires. Most inexpensive speaker wire is not very well shielded and can pick up radio signals. The longer the wires are, the more susceptible they are to interference.

My suggestion is to first try simply moving your speaker wires. Even a small adjustment can increase or decrease the signal.

You might also want to shorten the wires if they are longer than necessary.

Finally, if you have determined the wiring is the problem, but you can’t eliminate the sound, you can either replace the wiring with better shielded wire or you can attach ferrite clamps to the wire as close to the speaker as possible.

Of course, if it isn’t the wiring, you’ll need to keep moving other parts of your computer and peripherals to find what is picking up the signal.

Q: On both my desktop and on my Lenovo V570 laptop, both running 64-bit Windows 7, I have a problem of the whole display reverting back to the wallpaper background, all windows disappearing, when I bump the mouse after positioning the cursor where I want to enter typing. It will come back if I slightly move the mouse, but is extremely frustrating.

I thought it could be a display driver, but since it happens on both platforms I suspect it is a Windows 7 problem. Any ideas?

— Dirk Nansen

A: I haven’t heard of this before. Is there any chance that you’re bumping the mouse to the lower-right-hand corner of the screen? There’s a bar at the very end of the task bar that allows you to summon the desktop. If you hover the mouse over the bar, active windows will revert to an outline, revealing the desktop beneath.

When you move the mouse off the bar, your applications are visible again. If you click on the bar, the desktop is revealed without the application outlines and clicking again will return the display of the applications.

By the way, the same trick works in Windows 8, though the bar at the end of the taskbar may not be visible, depending on your color scheme.

Q: My problem: There is a single email item in Outlook that cannot be opened, forwarded or deleted from the Deleted Items folder. In each instance, I get the error message suggesting that I run Scanpst.exe to repair the data file.

If deleted in the Inbox, the message moves to deleted items, but then cannot be deleted manually, or by Tools/Empty “deleted items” folder. It can be moved to other folders (just to hide it away somewhere), but I don’t like having it lurking around. I have tried the Scanpst.exe solution suggested in the error message, without success.

Any suggestions?

— Tom Ruebel, Camano Island

A: Sounds like your data file is corrupt. Once you’ve tried the Scanpst.exe tool without success, the next step is to create a new PST file and then transfer any of the mail and contacts you want to retain to the new account.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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