Q: I've been reading a lot about the new law that's going into effect in Seattle this summer (July 1) that will limit how we can use our...
Q: I’ve been reading a lot about the new law that’s going into effect in Seattle this summer (July 1) that will limit how we can use our cellphones while driving. I have a new Ford Fusion with the Sync system and was wondering if I can still use this and comply with the law. Also, my husband has an older car and I wanted to see if you knew anything about the aftermarket car kits that you can install to talk without using your hands on the phone.
— Sophie Benjamin
A: Actually, the cellphone bill is one of the stranger pieces of legislation passed in the state recently. While it does make it illegal to use your hands or send text messages on a cellphone while driving, and while it is in an offense that carries a $101 fine, a police officer can’t stop you just because you’re breaking that law.
Instead, it is only a secondary offense, which means if you’re stopped for something else you can also be ticketed for using your cellphone. You’d think that if legislators thought using your hands on a cellphone is dangerously distractive — and I personally believe it is — they would have simply made it a primary offense.
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Anyway, the answer is a hands-free cellphone kit. As long as you have a Bluetooth-enabled cellphone, you should be all set with your new Ford Fusion. The car’s Sync system supports hands-free operation of Bluetooth-enabled cellphones. (And it even lets you control the music system without fiddling with dials and buttons.)
As for your husband, yes, he can buy a hands-free kit. He should expect to pay between $150 and $350. Suggest that he go to his cellphone provider or search the Internet to find an appropriate kit.
Since my only vehicle is a motorcycle, I haven’t tried any of the hands-free kits myself. But I sure wish everyone would use one. Better yet, it would be even safer for everyone if people would just refrain from talking on the phone while driving.
Enforcement of the law is scheduled to begin July 1.
Q: Every time my computer comes out of hibernation, or if I start or restart it, the time lapse before I can actually do anything is around eight minutes (it only seems like 20 minutes). During this endless wait time I hear the hard drive grinding away doing something. Finally it will settle down and I will have normal reaction speed. I am running Windows XP Home Edition (Service Pack 2) with 1 gigabyte of memory, Norton 360 and Comcast broadband. I suspect Norton 360 may be doing more than I want. I have tried cleaning things up and other measures to no avail. Is there some solution to this problem?
— Jim Raffetto, Mill Creek
A: One of your device drivers is a more likely culprit than the Norton 360 product. Device drivers have to be compliant with the operating system’s energy-saving modes for the system to work properly. Contact your computer’s manufacturer to make sure you’ve got the most up-to-date drivers. If you still have the problem, ask the manufacturer about it.
Since computer makers don’t always update older equipment for newer operating systems, it’s possible that the only solution for you may be to disable the hibernation feature.
Another common cause of such delays is that you may have installed a device, such as an external drive, that is no longer present.
It sounds, in short, like Windows is either getting tripped up by an incompatible device driver or it is searching for some device driver or other resource that it cannot find.
If you’re not able to track down the specific cause, you may want to try reinstalling Windows.
Q: I have a Dell computer with Windows XP Home Edition. I have installed a Visioneer scanner. Recently my scanner somehow disconnected from my PC. So I uninstalled the scanner software and the scanner. I then tried to reinstall the system, but the software CD would not open for the installation. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
— F. Chee
A: I’m afraid there’s not enough to go on here for me to make a helpful suggestion other than to contact Visioneer.
While you’re waiting, here’s one thing you might look into. It’s possible that their software is trying to detect the scanner before loading. And it’s possible that the cable between your scanner and computer is not properly seated or is defective. You might check the cable and see if the problem remains.
Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.