How rude: When hosts don't respond

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Q. What does it mean when I get a message that says, "Host not responding"?

A. Besides describing a typical party at my house, "Host not responding" is geekspeak for "the computer you're attempting to contact isn't answering." The contact could involve sending email, attempting to view a Web page, or anything else that places your computer in communication with another computer. Sometimes this message is caused by heavy Internet traffic, meaning lots of people attempting to access the same Web site at the same time.

When you encounter a message of this type, the best thing to do is try back later -- a few minutes later, an hour later, the next day -- there is no magic formula for what constitutes precisely the correct amount of time to wait. Unless a Web site you're attempting to visit no longer exists, the problem is a temporary one and you'll probably gain access the next time you try. The Web is a continually evolving medium, however, which means on occasion Web sites vanish without a trace, so that's always a possibility as well.

Q. I downloaded a file that had the extension PHP. When I tried to view the file, I couldn't get it to open. What type of file is that and how can I open it?

A. You should be able to open that file with a browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, or whatever other application you're currently using. Click File > Open, and click to select the PHP file you're attempting to open. PHP, which stands for "Hypertext PreProcessor" -- though you would think it would be HPP -- is a scripting language that can be embedded into a Web page, enhancing its appearance through animation or other interactive components.

Q. I don't need or use a password to get into my XP computer, but every time it starts up, it asks me to enter a Network Password. I usually just click it and it goes away, but is there any way to get it to stop asking me for a password?

A. There sure is. On your Windows Desktop, right-click Network Neighborhood (or My Network Places, depending on the version of Windows you're using), then click Properties.

In the Network Properties window, click the Configuration tab and locate the Primary Network Logon section. Using the drop-down list, change the primary network logon to Windows Logon and click OK.

You will be prompted to reboot (restart) your computer for this change to take effect, but once it does, you won't be pestered with pesky password prompts in the future.

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