Q. I saw your recent column about a clock that resets as a result of (probably) a weak battery, and wondered what you would have to say...

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I saw your recent column about a clock that resets as a result of (probably) a weak battery, and wondered what you would have to say about my similar yet quite different problem. My clock loses time. But it is not just slow — it occasionally jumps. We happened to be monitoring it one night to determine how slow it was running and at 10 p.m. it suddenly jumped to 7 p.m. The motherboard has had this issue from day one. I put a new battery in the motherboard when I installed it. Any ideas?

— Steve Simons

After a bad battery, the second most likely cause of inaccurate time is a bad crystal on the motherboard.

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Getting the correct time on your computer isn’t necessarily just a convenience so that you can know when it’s time for your haircut. If you’re connecting the computer to a network, having the correct time may be necessary for staying connected.

If the motherboard is still under warranty I’d recommend taking it back to where you bought it. Otherwise, if you’re the do-it-yourself type, you can try replacing the crystal. The only other recourse would be to replace the motherboard.

A much less likely cause of time jumping could be that your computer is being hacked.

Occasionally, my ZoneAlarm firewall intercepts certain applications from the C:\Windows\system32 subfolder attempting to access the internet. The applications are: TCP/IP Services App, Spooler SubSystem App, Run a DLL as and App, and Generic Host Process for Win32 Services. I know these are service-type applications but I wonder which program or process is using them to access the Internet. What is available in Windows or third-party software that can track and inform me of programs that are using the service applications?

— Paul Ackerman

Kind of confusing isn’t it?

There are a couple of ways to get information on which applications are actually using the Windows services being red-flagged by ZoneAlarm. First, you can cough up for the premium edition of ZoneAlarm. With the premium edition you can configure it to “high” mode, which will cause the program to track not only which programs are accessing the Internet, but also what programs are using other programs to access the Internet.

An alternative way to gather this information is to use a third-party utility, such as WinTasks 5.0 Professional. You can check it out at www.liutilities.com.

I can’t be the only person with this problem, as I’ve seen other folks on the bus twisting their headphone jacks around in circles. I use my Rio Karma MP3 Player all the time, at least two to three hours per day. My problem comes from this overuse or constant use. The on-off switch gave out several months ago. So now I have to dock it to turn it on, and change it to sleep mode to turn it off. I can live with this. It’s a small price to pay. But now the headphone jack is turning balky. I have to have the jack in at a certain depth, at a certain angle to get full stereo reception. I’ve called all the local computer repair shops in the Woodinville area to no avail and I contacted Rio. Does no one repair these toys? At over $300, it should last longer than one year, right?

— Iris Williams

The best indicator of how long a device “should” last is the warranty the manufacturer is willing to provide. I, too, have a Rio and the warranty on it is only 3 months. If you’re going to make heavy use of the device it’s probably worthwhile to buy the extended warranty offered by some stores. Of course, you have to do that at the time of purchase.

You may be able to get the company to fix your player, but without warranty it may be expensive. It’s likely a better move to apply that money toward a new device. Which is why you don’t see repair shops around for these things.

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.