Q: When I drop the File menu in my Windows Media Player, a list of previewed but unsaved files appears below the menu options. How do I delete...

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Q: When I drop the File menu in my Windows Media Player, a list of previewed but unsaved files appears below the menu options. How do I delete these file names? Any suggestions you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


A: The bottom of the Files menu has a listing of the most recently opened files. If you want to clear that list, go to the Tools menu and select Options. In the dialog box that appears, click on the Privacy tab. At the bottom of the dialog box you’ll see a button marked “Clear History.” If you click on that, the listing of files will disappear. And if you don’t want them to appear again, simply uncheck the box labeled “Save file and URL history in the player.”


Q: I would appreciate some education on the efficacy of hubs. I have an iMac DV Special Edition with a G3 400 MHz processor and I am using OS X 10.2.8. About a year ago I bought a seven-port Belkin hub and connected the following: Super Drive, printer, scanner, wireless mouse and, occasionally, flash drives. Most of the time, the scanner is disconnected, however. The hub and keyboard are connected by USB to my computer ports.


During a storm several weeks ago we lost power momentarily, so my computer went off. When I turned it back on and attempted to use the wireless mouse and Super Drive, they wouldn’t work. So after testing various ports and finding them all “bad,” I took the hub back to the store. It was tested there and worked, so I came back home, reconnected everything and all seemed well.


The next day I attempted to back up some more work and while I heard the Super Drive clicking away, it never appeared on my computer screen. I disconnected it for a while, came back an hour or so later, connected it to the same port and it worked. What gives? Should you have everything disconnected except when you are going to use it?


— Nancy J. Baird


A: Hubs, whether Ethernet hubs or USB hubs, are actually pretty simple devices. In the case of USB hubs, as it seems you have, they allow you to connect multiple USB devices to the USB controller in your computer. And, no, you don’t need to have just one device connected at a time.


That said, any electric device — including hubs, your computer, peripherals such as hard drives and scanners — can malfunction, especially after experiencing a power surge. Tracking down just which device is malfunctioning can be tricky, especially when the problem is intermittent, as it is in your case.


It may be that a single device or driver has gone bad and, when you connect it, the device causes problems for your entire system. I’m afraid there’s no way to locate the problem except for the old-fashioned method of having only a single device connected, then adding devices until your problem shows up again.


Note: In a recent column, a reader asked about connected multiple computers using Outlook Express to a single e-mail account so that each computer can access the same messages. I replied that it can be done only if the server supports the IMAP protocol. Servers using just the POP3 protocol — and this includes most of the popular Internet e-mail servers — don’t support this feature.


A number of readers responded that there is a way to achieve this goal even with a POP3 server. Outlook Express has an option that allows you to leave messages on the server for a specified amount of time after you download them to a client PC or device. I should have been more clear and added this information in my reply.


Be aware, however, that if you use this feature, all the clients will receive all the messages, even if you have deleted messages on one of the clients. There is, in short, no synchronization of clients using this method. What’s more, if you leave messages on the server this way, you may exceed your storage limit, at which point messages to you will be bounced back to the sender.


Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail 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/columnists.