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FIRST AID FOR `ILL' PC WORTH PRICE.

Byline: Barry Cooper The Orlando Sentinel

I used to have this problem with my personal computer. It would stop working. Whenever I tried to open my word processor, a message on the screen kept telling me something about a missing DLL.

The word processor wouldn't open.

That left me floored. I know more about the CIA than any DLL, and I didn't know where to turn - until I loaded a new copy of First Aid 95 Deluxe, the latest in a crowded field of utility programs for IBM compatibles.

First Aid 95 Deluxe found my misplaced DLL - that's Dynamic Link Library - and put it back in the right place.

Just like that, my problem was solved.

Manufacturers are continuing to roll out software that will fix your IBM compatible with the click of a mouse button. First Aid 95 Deluxe is the latest and the best, leapfrogging past WinProbe, WinCheckit and similar programs that have been on the market for a while.

No sound from your sound card? No problem. Click your mouse and tell First Aid 95 Deluxe to go to work. Your modem won't connect to your on-line service? Don't sweat it. CD-ROM on the blink? Piece of cake.

First Aid 95 Deluxe is second-generation software. The original First Aid 95 became a top seller. Then WinProbe and some other programs came along with slightly improved features.

Now First Aid 95 Deluxe is back out front again.

There is a reason why the field is so crowded. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has yet to deliver on his promise that personal computers are going to become foolproof. His Windows 95 operating software allows you to move easily around by pointing and clicking, but behind those friendly screens and colorful icons lurks complex software that is easily fouled up. Take Dynamic Link Libraries, for example. Chances are you know nothing about the little devils. Neither did I until that error message popped up on my screen.

DLLs are like tentacles stretching from an octopus. Each program has its own DLLs, and they're needed to carry information to your printer, fax modem, scanner and to various other programs on your PC. Fouling one up is like snatching a spark plug wire from your car. The PC won't run smoothly until you get the problem fixed.

I've reluctantly embraced First Aid 95 Deluxe and similar programs. Most people are better off learning about how their machine works. Then they would be better prepared to fix problems. But few people have time for that. The technology is changing so fast that computer technicians are taking classes all the time just to keep up. It's impossible for the home computer user to undergo such training, and that's one reason why First Aid 95 Deluxe and other programs are necessary.

First Aid 95 Deluxe boasts that it can fix more than 10,000 software-related problems. It won't protect you against a disk jammed inside your floppy drive or a monitor whose picture tube has become flawed. Those are hardware problems. Most of us can grab a screwdriver and gently pry out a disk. We can recognize a picture tube that's failing. But start talking about DLLs, IRQs and other alphabet-soup terms, and we're left looking for help.

``Consumers want self-cleaning ovens,'' says CyberMedia President Unni Warrier. His company produces First Aid 95 Deluxe. ``Why not self-maintaining and self-fixing personal computers?''

First Aid 95 Deluxe promises to stay up to date with changes in computer technology. One improvement over the original First Aid 95 is a feature called CyberFix. Using your Internet Web browser, you can visit CyberMedia's World Wide Web site to update Windows 95 Deluxe. Another new feature is RetroFix. Say you install a bunch of new stuff in your PC and foul up a bunch of configuration files. RetroFix lets you return to your original setup.

First Aid 95 Deluxe continues to offer the most appealing feature of the original program - an AutoFix button. Say your PC is about to crash because of some software problem. First Aid 95 Deluxe warns you of the impending disaster and gives you an option of fixing the problem by merely clicking on an AutoFix button. That feature alone makes it worth the price.

First Aid 95 Deluxe sells for about $60 in stores. The original program, First Aid 95, is available for about $40. Current First Aid 95 users can buy an upgrade for $20.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Review; BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 13, 1996
Words:739
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