Solved

Blank Desktop with no options

Posted on 2002-07-14
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Last Modified: 2013-12-28
A friend of mine wanted me to work on her pc because her husband was working on there system and messed up some of the system files. I messed around and got the system to boot but it kept giving me an explore page fault. I decided to reload win98 to try and fix the problem. Windows 98 ran the setup fine but now I have no Icons, no taskbar, no right click menus. I want to save the data on the drive before rebuilding the machine. What is the issue with the desktop icons and how can I backup the files before rebuilding the system. I can boot into safe mode but there are no icons there also.
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Question by:stheller
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Author Comment

by:stheller
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A friend of mine wanted me to work on her pc because her husband was working on there system and messed up some of the system files. I messed around and got the system to boot but it kept giving me an explore page fault. I decided to reload win98 to try and fix the problem. Windows 98 ran the setup fine but now I have no Icons, no taskbar, no right click menus. I want to save the data on the drive before rebuilding the machine. What is the issue with the desktop icons and how can I backup the files before rebuilding the system. I can boot into safe mode but there are no icons there also.
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
Comment Utility
Do you have a START button?  If not, how do you shut the system off?  If you do
have the START button, do you have access to FIND and PROGRAMS?  Do you have
access to the RUN command?  If so, run MSCONFIG and look at the STARTUP files.  Some
of them that are needed may not be checked.

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Author Comment

by:stheller
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No, I do not have a start button. hard shutdowns are the only thing I can do or hit restart button on the box. I cant do anything. No keystrokes or anything. On bootup, I can see the cursor icon animating as though its loading everything but thats about it.
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Expert Comment

by:hewittg
Comment Utility

Restart your computer and go to the startup menu by hitting ctrl on bootup.

On the Startup menu, choose the Step-By-Step Confirmation menu option, and then press ENTER.

You may have to say no to each one, one at a time, until you can locate the problem.

View the following table for the choices and how it is recommended that you respond to the prompts that you receive:

Prompt                                            Your response
---------------------------------------------------------------
Load DoubleSpace Driver?                          Yes
Process the system registry                       Yes
Create a startup log file (BOOTLOG.TXT)           Yes
Process your startup device drivers (CONFIG.SYS)  No
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS                       Yes
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\DBLBUFF.SYS                     Yes
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\IFSHLP.SYS                  Yes
Process your startup command file (AUTOEXEC.BAT)  No
Load the Windows graphical user interface         Yes
Load all Windows drivers?                         Yes
Note that the location of the Windows folder on your computer may vary. You may not receive all of these prompts, depending on the startup files that are on your computer. Press ENTER to respond with Yes, and press ESC to respond with No.

Note each static .vxd file and respond with No to avoid loading each file. View the following partial list of Microsoft static .vxd files:

Static .vxd file          Provides support for
----------------------------------------------
Vnetsup.vxd               Microsoft Networking
Ndis.vxd                  Microsoft Networking
Ndis2sup.vxd              Microsoft Networking
Javasup.vxd               Microsoft Java
Vrtwd.386                 Clock
Vfixd.vxd                 Video Phone helper
Vnetbios.vxd              Microsoft Networking
Vserver.vxd               Microsoft Networking
Vredir.vxd                Microsoft Networking
Dfs.vxd                   Microsoft Networking
Ndiswan.vxd               Microsoft Networking
Msmouse.vxd               Microsoft Mouse
If the behavior no longer occurs, repeat steps 1 through 6, but press ENTER to respond with Yes to each of the files in the previous list. If the behavior no longer occurs, the behavior is not related to any of the static .vxd files in the list.

Use the restoring by halves process to isolate the static .vxd file that is causing the behavior.

Delete the incompatible static .vxd folder under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\VxD registry key.

Notes
Msdos.sys
The Msdos.sys file contains basic information about the location of the Windows folder, startup files, and other options. You can edit some of these options on the Advanced Troubleshooting Settings tab in System Configuration Utility.

Config.sys
The Config.sys file is provided for backwards compatibility with MS-DOS- based and earlier Windows-based programs. The Config.sys file may not be present on your computer. The Config.sys file loads low-level MS-DOS-based drivers, and many of the files have a .sys file extension.

Autoexec.bat
The Autoexec.bat file is also provided for backwards compatibility with MS-DOS-based and older Windows-based programs. The Autoexec.bat file may not be present on your computer. The Autoexec.bat file loads MS-DOS-based programs, and many of the files have either a .com or .exe file extension.

Winboot.ini
The Winboot.ini file is a temporary version of the Msdos.sys file that may be present on your computer if a program is making changes to your computer that may affect the boot process. Typically, the Winboot.ini file is deleted after the program is complete, resides in the root folder, and overrides settings in the Msdos.sys file.

Winstart.bat
The Winstart.bat file may not be available as a check box on the General tab in System Configuration Utility. The Winstart.bat file is created for programs that need to run an MS-DOS-based program to enable functionality of a Windows-based program. Most users do not have this program.

System.ini
The System.ini file contains information about your computer's settings for specific hardware. This file must be present in the Windows folder for Windows to start. The System.ini file is used to load various drivers including sound and video adapter drivers. The System.ini file may also contain additional 16-bit drivers for hardware does not use 32-bit drivers.

When you click to clear the Process System.ini File check box in System Configuration Utility and restart your computer, the following changes occur:

Your display is set to a resolution of 640 X 480 pixels with 16 colors. If you had the display set to a higher resolution, program shortcuts on your desktop may overlap.

Your sound card no longer works correctly.

Win.ini
The Win.ini file contains information that is specific to the overall appearance of Windows. The Win.ini file must be present in the Windows folder or it is re-created by Windows, is read at startup for backwards-compatibility with Windows 3.x, and many of the settings are duplicated in the registry. When you click to clear the Process Win.ini File check box in System Configuration Utility, a generic version of the Win.ini file is created.

Wininit.ini
The Wininit.ini file is used to complete the installation of various components for Windows and third-party products. Each time that a program needs to copy or remove a file that is in use, instructions are written to the Wininit.ini file. Windows checks for the presence of the Wininit.ini file during the boot process and, if found, performs the instructions. Rename the Wininit.ini file with a .old file extension to troubleshoot behaviors, if the Wininit.ini file is present.

System.dat
The System.dat file is one of two registry files that are required to start Windows. The System.dat file is similar to the System.ini file, and contains computer and software settings. The Load Startup Group option contains the entries that are loaded from the System.dat portion of the registry.

User.dat
The User.dat file is the second of two registry files that are required to start Windows. The User.dat file is similar to the Win.ini file because it contains information about how to run specific programs and information about the overall appearance of Windows.

How to Create a Backup Copy of Startup Files
You can use System Configuration Utility to create a backup copy of the startup files that are described in this article. To do this, click Create Backup on the General tab in System Configuration Utility. You can choose to save the files in a folder on one of your hard disks, or you can save the files to a floppy disk, which is recommended.

Static .vxd files are used to load virtual hardware and software drivers. Many third-party manufacturers add their own static .vxd files.

 

End of process.
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
That was a lot of great information, however, Ive went through the process of selective process. I followed the item above exactly as most of the options were available as you discribed. I did not load any vxd files and i still had no desktop, so, its not related to vxd i gather. I went through the process again to no avail. Any more suggestions?
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by:stheller
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One thing Ive noticed is that when I put a boot disk into the floppy, it doesnt want to boot to it. Ive tried dos 6.0,6.2, startup disk, etc. I do have an Windows 95 emergency boot disk which is made by Firt Aid. It is the only disk which works. It will load a cdrom driver and I can get to a c:\prompt but I cannot do anything. I can see the directorys but cannot run any commands.
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Expert Comment

by:rid
Comment Utility
The dysfunctional commands may be a path issue. The boot disk may not contain the commands you want to run, or the files reside in a subdirectory not included in the path. Can you make C:\windows\command your current directory? If so try to run something (say scandisk) from there. Does it work?

The situation suggests a reformat and new O/S install, but I also appreciate your desire to save documents from the drive first. If you can browse the HD after booting from a floppy, all is not lost.

Regards
/RID
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by:stheller
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I have found a floppy disk that will get me to the command prompt. I can see the windows directory. I cannot run any programs from there because it states that this program cannot be run in dos mode. (Remember, Im at C:\windows). I can however, from the C:\windows directory, edit the system.ini, win.ini, config.sys, autoexec.bat, and user.dat. Are there any files here that I can change that would allow me to see my desktop icons?
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Expert Comment

by:hewittg
Comment Utility
Let's try to build your SellIcon Cache.

While at the dos prompt, go to the windows directory

type attrib shelliconcache.* -r -h
than see if you can delete it

Windows will rebuild it on the boot

Glenn
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
I get an incorrect dos version when I do that.
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
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Under certain circumstances you may be in a DOS loop that keeps you from getting to Windows.
Here is a solution:

http://support.gateway.com/support/techdocs/software/windows/30792.shtml

I always keep backup copies of AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS that can be copied, but
the article describes a fix with DOS EDIT.
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Author Comment

by:stheller
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I followed these instructions also to no avail. There is nothing in these files under c:\. There is files listed in these files under c:\windows.
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
I followed these instructions also to no avail. There is nothing in these files under c:\. There is files listed in these files under c:\windows.
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
Comment Utility
If you can locate AUTOEXEC.BAT open it with DOS EDIT and highlight the first 3 or 4 lines
with your mouse.  Then, issue the COPY command and close EDIT. Paste those lines here.
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Expert Comment

by:tandy
Comment Utility
You say you reloaded windows 98..Was that the os that was
on the system originally. I ask becasue later you said you
had a win95 boot disk.  

It is possible that a special setup disk may be required for some systems. What kind of computer is it?

I tried to install win98 on an IBM aptiva once only to find
out that the machine was IBM selective and would ony use
IBM's version of windows due to the unique set of IDE bus
master drivers it required. Win 98 went through the entire procedure but failed to load properly. I colud only boot to
safe mode...Are you using the CD from the OEM to do the re-install?

If the old drivers are still on the computer and you can get boot with a win98 starup disk yuo could try to
restore the old registry by runnin
C:\windows\command\scanreg /restore
and restore using a previous date if one is there..

Backing up the files would be difficult without some hardware help. An interlink cable could be used under dos
and data files could be transferred to another pc. Also
adding antother hard drive if you have one available to copy to and store until you finnish setting up..




Anyway
Good luck..



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Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
Comment Utility
Try hitting CTRL-ALT-ESC.  This should bring up the task manager.  If it does, go to file>run and enter in "explorer"

Also, check the win.ini files and make sure shell=explorer.exe
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Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
Comment Utility
from M$
Error Message: Error Loading Explorer.exe You Must Reinstall Windows (Q306599)
SYMPTOMS
When you start your computer, Microsoft Windows may start to a blank desktop and you may receive an error message similar to the following

Error loading EXPLORER.EXE. You must reinstall Windows.
Explorer.exe unknown program name
http://support.microsoft.com/search/preview.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q306599
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
I found an article similar to this which adds the progman.exe file to the shell. Shell=progman.exe. Program manager starts when booting. Safe mode is exactly the same as the desktop (no icons, no right click, no menus or keyboard commands. But, in safe something is trying to load and the only option I get is to try and save the file or open it. It also wants to open a browser so it could have been a virus which invaded my friends machine. Nevertheless, I have attached a zip drive to the box but I can get the pc to recognize the zip drive. I have dos drivers but it tells me that I need the IOMEGA TOOLS loaded first. Well, when the system boots it does not recognize the cd rom drive so how am it to get the system to recognize the zip drive to back everything up?
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
Comment Utility
You need guest.exe to access the Zip drive in DOS.  Get it here:

ftp://ftp.boka.ru/Drivers/ROM_drive/IOMEGA/GUEST.EXE
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
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BTW, you do NOT did the Iomega Tools to access the zip drive in DOS, I know that for a fact.
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
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You do not need* the Iomega tools to access the drive in DOS.  Why doesn't Experts-Exchange have an edit option, grrrr!
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
I have the dos drivers for the zip disk. When I tried to load them as guest, it started to go through the setup looked for drives but couldnt find any and then hung.
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
Comment Utility
> Question: Blank Desktop with no options

> No, I do not have a start button. hard shutdowns are the only thing I can do or hit
> restart button on the box. I cant do anything. No keystrokes or anything.
> On bootup, I can see the cursor icon animating as though its loading everything
> but thats about it.  

As written, your question is confusing.  Some of the responses above indicate
that you can see your Desktop window.  However, your response to one of my
questions indicates that, in fact, you DO NOT SEE YOUR DESKTOP.  From your own
words it appears that you are looking at a blank screen and CALLING it your desktop.

Please clarify.
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
Comment Utility
I assume that you tried changing the modes of the parallel port to EPP, ECP, Bi-directional, unidirectional, etc. and then running guest?
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
Absolutely, You are correct. I apologize for not being more clear. Yes I am looking at the windows desktop with no icons. As a matter of fact, if I leave the system alone for awhile, the screen saver actually appears. I,ll hit the space bar to clear the screensavor this takes me back to my blank desktop. This is where I have no options such as right clicking or a taskbar, just a blank desktop. If I boot into safe mode, I get the same thing only difference is, there is some sort of installer trying to load. This is why I wanted to attach a zip drive and copy through dos the files I need to back up and then rebuild. But, in some of my previous notes, even dos is giving me fits also. We,ve done step by step bootup, safe mode...etc. The only way I can edit the config.sys, system.ini...etc,etc, is to get to a command prompt and go to the windows directory (C:\windows). From here, i can now type in edit config.sys...etc, but not from the root. Editing from the root of c: gives me an error. Ive also tried c:\scanreg /restore and it told me there were no backups to restore. I also, did this from the windows directory. After all of that, this is what lead me to change the system.ini shell file to shell=progman.exe so that I at least have something on the desktop which might give me some options for backing up. Now I need to get the drivers loaded for the zip drive. I hope this clarify's everything.
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
Comment Utility
Well, I think it is important for you to recognize that there is an actual FOLDER
that supports your DESKTOP.  If you can get to C:\WINDOWS then you should try to
get to C:\WINDOWS\DESKTOP and get a directory listing with the DOS command: DIR

That will tell us whether or not there is ANY content in the DESKTOP folder.  If there
is content, then the problem lies with the startup procedure.  I tracked that
once (in Windows 95 as I recall) and could probably figure it out again.

My point is that it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of the ailment
before trying various and sundry antibiotics in the form of "try this, try that" approaches
based on POSSIBLE situations that MIGHT be involved.
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Accepted Solution

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stevenlewis earned 0 total points
Comment Utility
press F8 at boot up, choose command prompt only
then from the prompt type
cd\windows (hit enter)
edit system.ini (hit enter)
Use the ARROW keys to place the cursor at the line that starts with shell=Explorer.exe .

NOTE : This line is in the [boot] section of the System.ini file.
Type a SEMICOLON at the beginning of that line. The line should now appear similar to the following:
;shell=Explorer.exe unknown program name
Use the ARROW keys to move the cursor to the end of the line, and then press ENTER. A new blank line is inserted.


On the new blank line, type Shell=Explorer.exe . This portion of the System.ini file should appear similar to the following:
;shell=Explorer.exe unknown program name
Shell=Explorer.exe
Press ALT+F.
The File menu appears.
Press S.
The file is saved.
Press ALT+F, and then press X.
The command prompt re-appears
reboot
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
Point well takin. Some of us who dont consider ourselves experts often come to experts-exchange for the answers, there-fore, various and sundry antibiotics in the form of try this, try that" approach, might be our only option. I have submitted a lot of questions on this subject and have actually learned a couple of things here and there, and might add that I also followed some your own suggestions which have not resolved my issue. I do agree however that it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of the ailment but in some circumstances, even this might be difficult. But Hey, we'll keep trying.
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
Thanks stevenlewis! These are the kind of reply's Im looking for. Direct suggestions on the next thing to do in my troubleshooting. As you can probably see in some of my responses, im starting to get schooled on my approach to solving this problem. I think I,ll accept your answer and bow out. Some are getting frustrated.
Kind Regards
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
Comment Utility
Well, for the PAQ we should ask if Steven's advice worked for you and Steven should
describe WHY it worked (if it did) or WHY he thought it might work (if it did not).

Otherwise, the question is open-ended without resolution, which is unfair to those
who tried to help.
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
Comment Utility
Since I suggested the "shell=explorer.exe" tip first, I would like clarification on why stevenlewis was given the points.
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
All of the suggestions are good. You all do your jobs well. I just didnt want to get into personal shots about how to go about things. Prior to pleasenospam's response, stevenlewis was the last one to respond. Its as simple as that. No disrespect here. Everysingle one of you has tried to help. The disrespect comes from pleasenospam's choice to speak for all of YOU! And when you make comments like the following
(My point is that it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of the ailment
before trying various and sundry antibiotics in the form of "try this, try that" approaches
based on POSSIBLE situations that MIGHT be involved). These kinds of comments extinguish all the efforts that others including yourself have tried to make. People do have bad days though. No fault of yours! Great suggestion.
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Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
Comment Utility
stheller I am confused here, did the comment resolve the issue here?
This is important for the intergity of the PAQ. If some one was having the same problem, and purchased this question, we would want the solution to have worked.


aleinss, the problem with your shell=explorer.exe is that this line is in the system.ini and not in the win.ini
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
Comment Utility
Well, I should not have injected that note of frustration. I have a thread elsewhere on
that subject.  My point is that sometimes the various fishing trips work and points
are awarded without anyone knowing why the method worked or what was really wrong.
In other cases the question is abandoned and we never hear whether the individual found
a solution.  It seems to me that we all want to learn or we wouldn't be here.  So, it
would be nice if all participants were "let in on the secret".
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
Comment Utility
Posted comment to Community Support (since I think it's proper to discuss it there then here)
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
I did resolve the issue of getting the files backed up on the pc with the support of all of you. I love this website and what it does for those of us who need answers. Last evening, I tried the ";shell=explorer unknown program name" modification in the system.ini, to no avail. I then got the correct dos drivers for my iomega zip drive and booted the machine with the boot disk. Got to dos prompt and loaded the drivers. This time the drive was recognized. I then went through the directorys and backed this individuals files up. After that, I formated and re-installed the operating system. Am now in the process of updating the system. So in one since, i resolved my issue of getting the files backed up, but on the other issue, Im still not sure what the actual fix is for no desktop icons. I did boot to a command prompt and go to the windows directory. There were links there to all the desktop icons. I still would be interested in more information on this issue even though I have now rebuilt the machine.
To pleasnospam, I can imagine its pretty frustrating when people dont update you guys on the resolutions of there problems. I will try not to do this myself in the future. You fellows sure help me a lot. I would highly recommend.

Kind Regards
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Expert Comment

by:Mindphaser
Comment Utility
stheller

There seems to be some confusing about who earned what. If you think more than one of the experts should be awarded with points, please let me know. For now I will handle that from my account :-).
Whenever you think that more than one expert has contributed to the solution of your problem, feel free to post a 0 point question in CS at http://www.experts-exchange.com/commspt/ and ask for a split of the points you offered.

** Mindphaser - Community Support Moderator **
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Author Comment

by:stheller
Comment Utility
I accepted the answer for stevenlewis. It would be unfair to pull the points back from him or split. We will leave as is. The next time I have questions, I will understand how your system works better.

Kind Regards

stevenlewis gets the points
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:Mindphaser
Comment Utility
stheller

For the justice of it, I offered to give points from my account to compensate others experts. Please tell me who should get points and I will take care of that. (One of our services :-)

We NEVER take points away from experts if they were legally earned!

** Mindphaser - Community Support Moderator **
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LVL 41

Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
Comment Utility
Left a comment in aleinss thread in CS
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:Mindphaser
Comment Utility
I removed the points from this question as stevenlewis suggested. This way everybody will we able to 'see' the question in the PAQ area for free.

** Mindphaser - Community Support Moderator **
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
Comment Utility
Sounds good
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
Comment Utility
Peace.
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