QHow can I force a program to quit when the "End Task" command won't work?

AWhen you open the Task Manager window (in Windows 2000 or XP, hit Shift-Ctrl-Esc), click the Processes tab instead of selecting the offending program from under the Applications tab.

Now click the "Image Name" heading, look for the filename of the stuck program. That will often resemble its brand name (Internet Explorer shows up as "iexplore.exe," and Firefox is "firefox.exe") but sometimes won't (Adobe Reader appears as "acrord32.exe"). Select it, then click "End Process." If that, too, doesn't punch out the offending application, go ahead and reboot.

Windows Millennium Edition, 98 and 95 feature neither the Task Manager nor the generally reliable multitasking of Win 2000 and XP -- so if a program is hung up on those systems, you're going to have to reboot most of the time anyway.

How do I know if my laptop has USB 2.0 ports?

You can't tell from its appearance, since USB 2.0 ports look just like the far slower USB 1.1 variety. Most laptops made after 2002 include USB 2.0 (except for Apple's, which didn't gain this technology for another year or so), but to know for sure you'll have to look up the fine print about your system.

In Windows, open the System control panel (under the "Performance and Maintenance" category), select its Hardware tab, then click the Device Manager button. Click the plus sign next to "Universal Serial Bus controllers;" if any "host controllers" listed there are labeled "enhanced," you've got USB 2.0. In Mac OS X, go to the Apple-icon menu, select "About This Mac . . ." and click the "More Info . . ." button to open Apple's System Profiler. If "USB high-speed bus" appears in the USB category, you have the faster port.

-- Rob Pegoraro

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or rob@twp.com.