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Why do things change on your computer? One day everything comes up just as it normally does. The next day, you can't get on the Internet, the icons are in a different place, and/or your program is working differently. Well I am here to tell you that everyone has problems like this -- even me! Here's the whole story!

When weird things happen on the computer, most people immediately blame themselves saying, "I must have done something to make this happen." The truth, however, is that in the computer world changes can happen without your having done a thing to cause them. This was really brought home to me this week when I had several "problems" with my own computer. 

When I sat down to work on the computer last Monday, the icons for my password manager and several other shortcuts that I use regularly were no longer on my browser toolbar at the top of the screen. On Tuesday, when I opened my Quicken program, the numbers and text was twice as large as normal. On Thursday I tried to play some music and found that iTunes was no longer working. On Friday I found that my CD drive, which I hadn't used for months, was no longer working.

Now, it is unusual for all of these things to happen in one week, but it is not unusual for them to happen. I did not do anything to cause any of these changes. So what happened? Well the simple explanation is that the computer is run by millions of lines of code. As you work on the computer, add files, and download programs, things change. Even installing updates from the manufacturer causes changes. Sometimes these changes, even if they are aimed at making a certain part of the computer better or more secure, can adversely affect other programs and other computer operations.

Although these types of changes can produce huge frustrations for the end user, the first thing to learn is that you probably didn't cause the different behavior and that, if you remain cool and calm, you can often correct the changes. Here's how I got through my aggravating week.

To find the missing icons, I had to look carefully at the screen where they normally appear. I found two arrows next to where the icons normally appeared. Low and behold, when I pressed the arrows, the missing icons cascaded down. To actually solve the problem, I simply put my cursor on the area next to the arrows until it turned into a double-ended arrow. Then I dragged that to the left and my icons appeared and remained on the screen.
Quicken was another disconcerting item. For several days, the text and numbers appeared larger one time and smaller the next. To be honest, I never found the cause, but luckily it all went back to normal and has stayed that way.

Why in the world would iTunes stop working? I had no explanation, but I did have an easy solution. I simply reinstalled the iTunes program. It was aggravating and a bit time-consuming to have to do so, but after I did, everything went back to normal.

The most vexing problem was my CD drive. Last time I used it, it worked fine. Now wasn't working. It did not appear in My Computer at all. A trip over to the Device Manager showed the CD drive with a yellow exclamation meaning that it was not working properly, which I already knew. I tried a few things like uninstalling the CD driver and rebooting, but had no success. I knew that this could be a hardware problem. Perhaps the drive itself had stopped working. I also knew, that it could be a software problem. Since the driver and filters from the operating system are used to run the CD drive and other peripherals, I decided to check that out first. I headed over to the Microsoft website where I found a Microsoft tool called "Fix It". I used it to troubleshoot and correct the problem. There are multiple Fix It tools, and the proper one can be a bit hard to find, but Fix It checked out the software, found the problem, and helped me quickly solve the problem at no cost. That sure beat having to purchase and install a new CD drive.

Well, now everything on my computer is back to normal. At least for the moment. The moral of the story is that, unfortunately, we have to expect glitches when working with computers. The best thing that you can do is to keep your eyes open for possible solutions, learn as much as you can about how your computer works and be bold enough to troubleshoot small problems. I keep my Sherlock Holmes hat ready for use at any time. You may want to do the same.