Screen savers blamed for buggy Berkeley computers

February 03, 2000

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A company that sold computer software to Berkeley County thinks it has discovered the culprit behind bugs plaguing the system - fancy screen savers.

Keith Fischer, manager of the Image Systems Division of United Systems and Software Inc., told the Berkeley County Commission Thursday that improperly installed software can foul up computers.

He said he thinks programs such as popular screen savers may be the cause of malfunctions in the Berkeley County Clerk's office and the Circuit Court Clerk's office. Some documents scanned into the computer system from the offices have been mixed with one another.

Screen savers are programs that draw ever-changing pictures or animation on computer screens during nonuse periods to protect the monitor from retaining ghost images called "burn-in."


Fischer compared personal computers to finicky sports cars.

"They are fine-tuned automobiles. Their performance relies upon the mechanics," he said. "Tinker with those PCs, and you're going to have problems with them."

Fischer suggested that the county find out all programs that county employees need for work and have professionals load them.

"After that, I think it's an enforcement issue," he said.

The commissioners voted 2-0, with Commissioner John E. Wright absent, to remove all unnecessary applications from county computers, set up a training program and send a memo ordering employees not to install new software.

"It sounds like somebody's playing," Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart said.

In an interview, however, Burkhart expressed skepticism that the changes would make the system will be problem-free.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," Burkhart said.

- Brendan Kirby

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