Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Mossberg’s Mailbox

There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

If you have a question, send it to me at mossberg@wsj.com, and I may select it to be answered here in Mossberg’s Mailbox.

Do you think the Treo 650 will be the last true Palm OS-based mobile phone?

No. A new, improved Treo that uses the Palm operating system will be available soon. Palm (the hardware company that makes the Treo and other products) has said it isn’t abandoning the Palm OS (which is made by a separate firm) despite the fact that Palm now makes a Treo model that runs on the Windows Mobile operating system from Microsoft.

However, there is reason for Palm OS fans to be concerned. Although I regard Palm’s user interface as superior to Microsoft’s, the Palm system is relatively old and limited under the covers, compared with Windows Mobile. Its maker, PalmSource, came up with a prototype of a new version, but never completed it. Now, PalmSource has been acquired by a Japanese company, Access, that is said to be working on yet another new version of the Palm OS, based on Linux. Palm is optimistic about this project, but I haven’t seen it, and have no idea when it will appear.

Last week, you alluded to the fact that some Web-based calendars can synchronize with hand-held devices. Can you cite an example?

Yahoo provides Intellisync software that can synchronize its Web-based calendar, address book and notepad with Palm and Windows Mobile hand-held devices, as well as with such Windows PC programs as Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus Organizer and ACT. For more information, see: help.yahoo.com/help/intsync.

Do you recommend using a registry-repair program on a Windows PC?

For most people, I don’t recommend fooling in any way with the Windows registry, which is a part of the operating system that contains important instructions for every program on your computer. It is quite dense and technical, and poking around in it can lead to dire consequences.

I know that there are registry-repair and editing programs that claim to be so safe and simple that anyone can use them, and it’s true that they are simpler than manually editing or repairing the registry. But I still advise mainstream users with little or no technical knowledge against touching the registry. If your computer is behaving badly enough that you’d consider trying to “fix” its registry, then it’s time to call in a pro.

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