Every once in a while a Windows system will lock up, showing nothing but a blank blue screen and a small message box. This has come to be called “The Blue Screen of Death.” What causes it? Who knows? What can be done about it? Who knows? You can always reboot.

We recently came across a web site named, which attempts to explain what happened. Experts at the site point out that Windows’ own messages about what went wrong are frequently wrong themselves. The real reasons are often to be found among some common errors with wonderfully cryptic names like: “IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL,” and “KERNEL MODE EXCEPTION NOT HANDLED.” Well! We thought that was the problem all along.

The web site has some suggestions of what to try to restore things to a working state. We have one as well: If you reboot in “Safe Mode” you usually have the option of selecting an option that lets you return the machine to its last known stable configuration. Safe Mode is reached in a few different ways, depending on the operating system, and you can find out the way for your system by doing a Google search on your system name, like Vista, XP, Mac, etc. and safe mode.

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