Q: I send out a weekly newsletter to a church group through a distribution list using Microsoft Outlook 2003. I am very frustrated with...

Share story

Q: I send out a weekly newsletter to a church group through a distribution list using Microsoft Outlook 2003. I am very frustrated with a problem in the attachment window. I understand that when I insert a graphic (.jpg, .gif or .png), I should expect the graphic file name to show in the attachment window. However, even when there are no file names showing when I send to the list of recipients, they see many repeats of the graphic file names in their attachment windows.

I have not been able to find any solutions that address this problem and am hoping you have one.

Jo Lewis, Redmond

A: First, I have to say that generally I’ve been fairly impressed with Microsoft’s knowledge base. The company does a pretty good job of documenting problems with its software and offering solutions.

But I was unable to find a single note on this issue, even though I found quite a number of people struggling with it.

In scouring the broader Internet, I have run across a couple of proposed answers. Since I haven’t been able to duplicate the problem, however, I haven’t been able to test any of the solutions.

First, it may be that you need to change the “server timeout” setting in Outlook.

If you’re getting a slow response from the e-mail server — and this may be caused by the server itself, a poor connection, a large file attachment or a large distribution list, or the time required by an antivirus scan for outgoing mail — your e-mail program may repeatedly send the same attachments.

Alternatively, if your antivirus software is scanning outgoing mail, it may be getting tripped up by large files. Try configuring your antivirus program to suspend such scans and see if it makes a difference.

Q: I have to send PDF attachments to many of my clients. About one in seven cannot open them. This is the message they get: “There was an error opening this document. The file is damaged and could not be repaired.”

I use Windows XP and have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader downloaded, as do the clients who tell me they cannot open the file. I have spoken to Adobe about this, but it doesn’t know what the problem may be.

Chris Fleck, Edmonds

A: First thing to check on is whether users who can’t open the file are first saving them. E-mail programs can be kind of quirky about directly opening attachments without their first being saved to a directory on your hard drive.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, I’d guess the files might be corrupt. Because six out of seven users aren’t having any problems, I would imagine the corruption must be occurring with the downloads processed by the one out of seven users.

The next thing I’d wonder is whether those users receiving corrupt files use the same Internet service provider.

Q: I have an older Sony laptop computer. Its capabilities are far beyond mine and I feel like I am driving a dragster to the grocery store.

However, some years ago I had to send it back to the Sony folks in California, and they kept it for three months. When I got it back, it had a new CD player but within days it disappeared from my desktop.

Several whiz kids have looked at it and say it is a motherboard issue. Therefore, I cannot use the brand-new CD player. Who can I send it to that will get it back to me quickly, and is it worth fixing?

David Dahlin, Chickamauga, Ga.

A: I understand your frustration … and I frequently share it.

It seems that the more complicated technology becomes — whether cars or computers — the more the answer to the problem is to throw the dang thing away and get a new one.

There are so many things that can go wrong with older equipment. And when the price of repair is a significant percentage of the price of replacement, you have to wonder how much time and money to spend on diagnosis.

That’s pretty much where I am with the issue you’re having with the CD drive.

If the laptop is more than five years old, I’d be inclined to recommend getting a new laptop rather than spending money trying to diagnose the problem.

And maybe you can use the new CD drive in the new laptop.

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.