FAQS! FACTS! FAX!

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SEPTEMBER 2005

 

30/09/05

F!F!F! regular Elizabeth Brown is having trouble with a program running in the background that just won’t go away…

 

SHELLICONHIDDENWINDOW, and all that...

I have a small query. After going on the net, when I try to close down a program is always running and needs to be ended. It is 'shelliconhiddenwindow' which I understand is a Windows component. How do I stop this happening? It doesn't occur when I am using the PC without the net. Hope you can help.

 

A

That’s quite a mouthful and being so distinctive makes it fairly easy to track down. It turns out this program has nothing to do with Windows, rather it belongs to MusicMatch Jukebox., which I presume you have installed on your PC. It’s an automatic update component, which explains the association with the Internet because it is activated as soon as you go online. Its reluctance to go away is a known bug and you have several options. Personally I would uninstall the program if you are not using it. Otherwise you can keep it and just disable this  component.  In my opinion far too many programs take liberties with Internet connections; if you want to update a program you can always do it manually. To switch it off go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘msconfig’ without the quotes, select the Startup tab and uncheck any items with MusicMatch in the file name (there will probably be at least two of them). If you want to stick with the program and its automatic updates then there is some helpful advice and a link to a patch that should fix the problem here: http://64.91.226.241/showthread.php?t=65316

 

29/09/05

Joe Busuttil has been having problems with Word and it sounds like this is could be an old chestnut

 

WILD WORDS

Perhaps you can help a 67 year-old still struggling to master computer navigation? The Problem; I erase text typed in Word but when I do some other work on my computer, not connected with the Word program, the moment I go back to Word to start a fresh document I find that the text previously deleted now pops up again!

 

A

I think I understand, Joe, and my guess is that you’ve accidentally entered some text into your blank ‘Normal’ document template, which opens every time you launch Word. If so then it’s very easy to fix.  Go to Open on Word’s File menu and work your way to the Template folder, which on most PCs should be:

C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates.

Open the file normal.dot, delete the rogue text and then Save it as you would any other document. If you’ve followed all the steps you will see a blank document the next time you open Word. You might also want to have a look at our Word tutorial (Boot Camps 014 and 015) which touches upon how to organise and manage your files, to prevent this kind of thing happening again.

 

28/09/05

 

Paul Dingley is busy with a spot of heavy-duty maintenance on his PC and wonders if Bill Gates is going to object?

 

ACTIVATION ANGST

I need to change the motherboard on a home built computer running Windows XP and wonder if you have any tips concerning the activation, especially if I have to reinstall the operating system as I believe Windows objects to modifications of this sort.

 

A

What you say is basically true and Windows XP is designed to request reactivation if there’s any significant change to a PC’s hardware makeup. It is supposed to stem piracy and stop individuals and unscrupulous manufacturers installing single copies of Windows on multiple PCs. In your case reactivation will almost certainly be necessary, even if you are spared a Windows re-install, but it should only take a few seconds if you elect to do it automatically. I have heard (unofficially) that MS doesn’t query reactivations on systems that have been installed for longer than six months, but even if the online activation fails simply call the phone number displayed and 99 times out of 100 you'll be able to manually reactivate your copy of Windows by tapping in a code. Unless there was a problem with Windows you may not need to re-install it, though you will probably spend just as long loading drivers for the new motherboard (unless it is an identical model) and sorting out the inevitable glitches. Personally I would take the opportunity for a fresh re-install of XP and it will be like having a new PC. 

 

27/09/05

John Hall gets off to a splendid start and then goes on to raise an interesting point about connecting PCs and peripherals using USB cables.

 

DAISY CHAINING USB?

The new site is great, now I can throw away all the paper versions of Boot Camp that I kept! Regarding a recent answer to a query ('Slave to Technology', F!F!F! 24/09/05) there seems to be little info about connecting PCs by USB for data transfer. It seems the obvious way but what is needed in the way of cables and software? Also, was it not the case that USB devices could be daisy-chained? I have yet to see a device with two sockets to allow this.

 

A

Thanks for the support John and keep clicking those Google ad links -- they help pay for the coffees…. Anyway, back to connecting PCs together using USB. The first thing to say is DON’T DO IT!  Sorry for shouting but if you try hooking two computers together using a standard USB cable there is an excellent chance you will blow the ports on one or both PCs. It can be done but you need a specially designed cable and software, like the eXpansys USB Data Transfer Cable (around £16 from www.expansys.com).

 

In theory USB products can be daisy-chained -- up to 127 devices can be connected together -- the trouble is in practice getting just two devices to work in that manner can be difficult. Part of the problem is that some USB devices (digital cameras, personal stereos, etc) are self-powered and have their own internal batteries or use an external mains power supply (printers etc), whilst others draw power from the USB cable, and they just don’t mix. Things are further complicated by powered and unpowered ‘hubs’ or adaptors, used to increase the number of connections on a PC. In a nutshell daisy-chaining is best avoided, which is why few manufacturers bother to fit more than one socket. If you are running out of USB sockets then considering fitting a hub. An internal PCI card adaptor is usually the best bet on a recent PC as this will be powered, and directly linked to the PC’s internals enabling it to use the faster USB 2.0 protocol. There’s more on the ins and outs of USB in Boot Camp 247.

 

26/09/05

Those of us lucky enough to be able-bodied sometimes forget how difficult PCs can be to use for those suffering from physical impairments. Peter Varley provides a timely reminder

 

MOUSE ALTERNATIVES

My wife has arthritis and has great difficulty using the mouse.   Can you suggest another method please?   She has no difficulty using the keyboard and I believe I have read somewhere (probably in one of your Boot Camp articles) that a system of keystrokes may be set up as an alternative to the mouse.

 

A

Windows has a number of built-in ‘Accessibility’ options, designed to assist those with mobility, vision or hearing problems and we last looked at them in Boot Camps 304 and 305. The feature you are referring to is MouseKeys and in Windows XP it is controlled from Accessibility in Control Panel. It is very easy to set up and use, just select the Mouse tab and click the Settings button. From here you can enable the keyboard shortcut that switches MouseKeys on and off (by default Alt + Left Shift + NumLock), and set pointer speed and acceleration. MouseKeys works well, using designated keys on the numeric keypad but there is an alternative. Some arthritis sufferers find that a trackball type mouse provides similar functionality, speed and accuracy as a conventional mouse. They cost a little more than normal mice -- prices start at around £25.00 but you may find that you prefer it, which will make it easier to share your PC.

 

24/09/05

Changing PCs can be a tricky business, as J.C.has been finding out:

 

SLAVE TO TECHNOLOGY

I have recently bought a new PC to replace a very creaky Gateway Pentium III, which was purchased in 2000. The CD-R drive on the Gateway machine blew up some time ago.  Please can you recommend a method of transferring the data on the hard drive of the Gateway machine to my new machine?

 

I have tried installing the old drive as a slave into the new machine but unfortunately on start up there is a delay in activating my TFT monitor (also purchased in 2000) which prevents me from accessing the operating system menus at start-up.  (Actually, I would like to sort that out as well). Do you have a solution?

 

A

Two for the price of one eh Joseph? Let’s start with the data transfer question and you have a number of options. First, you could always replace the CD-RW drive; they are absurdly cheap these days, less than £25 from the likes of online sellers such as Aria  (www.aria.co.uk).

 

However, I still think slaving the old drive to your new PC is the best solution and the sluggish monitor needn’t be a problem.  If the motherboard or Windows doesn’t recognise the slave drive all you need to know is the key combination for accessing your PC’s BIOS setup program. This will be in the manual or motherboard manual. Simply press the keys as soon as the PC is switched on, it doesn’t matter if the monitor remains blank, it will eventually display the BIOS menu and you can use the HDD menu to identify and configure the drive.

 

A network or simple Direct Cable Connection between the two PCs is another possibility though you may need to install some new hardware and software on one or both PCs if they do not have LAN sockets. To learn how to set up a simple network and DCC type ‘file transfer’ in Help and Support on your new Windows XP computer. If both PCs are using Windows 98, SE or ME then look at Boot Camp 67 and 68 for a guide to DCC and networking. 

 

If the monitor is behaving oddly on both PCs then it sounds like a fault, though there may be some sort of delay setting in the monitor’s setup menu, so have a look through the instructions. 

 

23/09/05

Here’s a question about Microsoft Word from Alan Wright:

 

SETTING BOUNDARIES

I have been used to seeing on my Word document pages a dotted line around the area in which I type.  However following a general clean up using CCleaner, as recommended some time ago in Boot Camp, I have now lost this useful facility.  No end of searching Help has helped! Please can you tell me how to reinstate the dots?

P.S.  Mozilla Firefox is brilliant.  Thanks for the tip.

 

A

You are very welcome re Firefox, and why not have a look at some more Microsoft alternatives in Boot Camp 346. Anyway. Back to your little problem and as with so many difficulties in Word the answer is actually quite simple, but only if you know what you are looking for, and where to look for it. In this case the disappearing ‘dots’ are called a ‘Text Boundary’ and it only appears in Print and Web Layout views. I am absolutely certain that CCleaner had nothing to do with its disappearance, it was either just a coincidence and Word threw a wobbly or you accidentally switched it off. Either way you can switch it back on again by going to Options on the Tools menu, select the View tab and under Print and Web Layout options make sure ‘Text Boundaries’ is checked.

 

22/09/05

Jim Matthew’s sister has been seeing some rather unusual error messages on her Windows 2000 PC:

 

SIZE MATTERS

My sister gets a message saying that the registry is too small. She asked me about it but not being very technically minded  I could only comment that I recall seeing some advice in F!F!F! saying "be very careful" before tampering with the registry. I did look in the System Help file and it seemed to say that each user application would handle Registry issues for the duration that application was running. Can you help please?

 

A

You are right about not messing with the Registry, as you may know this is a large System file that controls just about every aspect of Windows and careless tinkering can easily kill your PC stone dead! Fortunately this is a relatively simple little problem and you won’t have to go anywhere near the Registry to fix it. Open Control Panel, click on the System icon and select the Advanced tab. Next click Performance Options then the Change button. On the next dialogue box that appears, at the bottom under Registry Size, increase the setting shown in ‘Maximum Registry Size (MB)’ box. The usual advice is to double the current value. Exit the dialogue boxes and reboot.

 

21/09/05

F!F!F! regular Mike Dexter is having a little problem with his emails and recalls seeing the solution a while back:

 

ANNOYING ARROWS

A year or two ago you told us in Boot Camp how to forward emails without the quote arrow  >>> signs and to be able to delete these signs on emails sent to us. Please would you tell me again?

 

A

No problem, happy to oblige and this is a good excuse for me to plug the site’s increasingly useful Search facility, which is steadily cataloguing the archive. I thought the arrow problem had gone away and I couldn’t remember the exact query either, so I typed ‘arrows’ in the Search box (above) and it came up trumps, with F!F!F! 419. The gist of it is there’s a small freeware utility called ecleaner that can strip out the arrows, and there’s also a way of stopping the arrows appearing on emails that you forward to others.

 

20/09/05

One of last week’s questions caught Keith Carpenter’s eye. He writes:

 

FLUMMOXED BY FIREFOX, part 2

I was delighted to see your advice to Tom Sinclair about being able to use Firefox as the default browser and to be able to read email links in Firefox rather than Avant browser. I have exactly the same problem, having retained both Internet Explorer and Avant, with email links always opening in Avant.

 

Unfortunately, I checked all my settings in accordance with your advice but am still unable to read OLD email links through Firefox. I followed your instructions but the right boxes were already ticked; is there any further advice you can give me please?

 

A

That should have done the trick, Keith, but occasionally it may be necessary to give things a helping hand, in which case open Windows Explorer and go to  Tools > Folder Options and select the File Types tab. Scroll down the list  to URL: Hypertext Transfer Protocol and highlight the entry. Click the Advanced button and check that there’s an entry for Firefox in the box. It should be set as the default, if not make it so, and if there are any other entries, for Avant etc, you can delete them. If Firefox isn’t showing you will have to create a new link, so click the Edit button then in the Action field type 'open' (without the quotes) and in the box: 'Application used to perform action’ you should enter the path for Firefox, which on my machine is "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe", though yours may be different, so check it first.

19/09/05

FINDING THE HP SOURCE

Janice Newton and computers go way back but a keyboard utility on her new HP notebook has her stumped.

 

Thank you so much for this web site. I have been an avid reader of your columns for about 6 years, and have found it extremely interesting and useful. I am an 80 year old who has been using computers since Sinclair brought out his ZX ranges, working my way through the BBC, Amstrad, 486, Windows 98 and now XP on an HP Pavilion ZE4900 and this is beating me! I bought it from an airline steward who had bought it in the US and only used it for a couple of weeks. There are 5 buttons right at the top which light up on opening and the first opens Outlook Express, the second Windows Media Player, the third Internet Explorer, the fourth logs off and the fifth opens the Help and Support Page. He told me these can be altered to different tasks, but I have tried everywhere I can think of, including going on line to HP, but entirely without success. Please can you help?

 

 

A

No problem Janice, and I reckon you must have come quite close to solving this particular problem. I found the solution after some digging around on the HP Support site, it was in one of the manuals, which I presume you didn’t get, in which case you can download them here: http://welcome.hp.com/country/us/en/welcome.html.

Just click the link to Support & Troubleshooting, enter your model number then select manuals and you’ll find it in section 2-7 in the first Reference Guide. To save you looking the keys are called ‘One Touch’ buttons and to change their functions go to Start > Programs > Utilities > One Touch, select the button you want to re-program, give it a name and select the application or function you want to use it with.

 

16/09//05

 

SOCKET SENSE

Read far and wide BootLog is here to help you solve your PC problems, as Suzy Turner in Brussels has discovered.

 

I've read all the latest Boot Camps about networking and I have a query. I have a Dell Dimension running Windows XP and a new laptop, also running XP.  I'd like to buy a new router, which will allow me to keep the wired connection to the PC but connect to the laptop wirelessly. I know I need the Wi-Fi card for the laptop, but the PC doesn’t have an Ethernet socket, which is needed to connect to the router. Any ideas?

 

A

This shouldn’t be a problem and there are at least two possibilities. The simplest solution would be to use a plug-in USB to Ethernet adaptor. They are widely available from online suppliers like ebuyer (www.ebuyer.co.uk), which sells the Belkin F5D5050 for £13.54. The alternative is to install an Ethernet adaptor or Network Interface Card (NIC) in the PC. These are even cheaper, usually costing less than £10. Ethernet cards fit into a spare PCI socket on your PC’s motherboard, so it will be necessary to whip the lid off but make sure you switch the PC off and disconnect it from the mains first. (See Boot Camp 193 on electrical safety) first). It’s not a difficult job and should only take you a few minutes. In both cases once the card or USB adaptor has been fitted Windows will either recognise it straight away or request that you load the installation disc that comes with the adaptor, once that’s done you will be ready to connect

15/09/05

FLUMMOXED BY FIREFOX

Tim Sinclair has followed F!F!F and Boot Camp from print to screen -- a wise and insightful man -- and he’s got a quick question about Firefox…

 

First, thank you for providing such a fantastic service, and now for my question: You have often extolled the benefits of the Mozilla Firefox browser. I've followed your advice and am now using it on security grounds, although I do find the Avant Browser more user-friendly. But, how now can I get links in email messages to open in Firefox? I've looked in every nook and cranny I know in XP to try to stop the links opening my old browser.
Tim Sinclair, Exeter

 

A

The solution lies in Firefox rather than XP, go to Options on the Tools menu. Select the General tab and make sure that the item ‘Default Browser’ is ticked. To make sure this setting sticks close Firefox then open Avant or IE and go to Internet Option on the Tools menu, select the Programs tab and this time make sure that ‘Internet Explorer should check to see if it is the default browser’ is unchecked. As you may know I was also a big Avant fan, I still like it a lot and use it in preference to IE on the small number of web sites that don’t get on with Firefox, but it has one major flaw. It uses the Internet Explorer ‘engine’ and is therefore prone to the same infections, maladies and security flaws. There’s some more Firefox tips and tweaks in Boot Camp 358. 

 

14/09/05

 

BAD START

Iain B’s day got off to a bad start, and there’s an outside chance it won’t get better anytime soon…he writes:

 

A

I came into work this morning to find that my PC monitor was blank. I re-booted and got all the right noises but screen has stayed blank & cannot get it to work. The monitor light indicates power source is OK - shows blue indicating it should be working, as opposed to an amber light when on standby.

Any ideas please?

 

A

Well Iain, the good news is that the sounds your PC is making suggests that it is probably working and the problem lies in the video adaptor, the video cable or the actual monitor. The cable is the most likely candidate, particularly if your office has been cleaned, in which case someone may have disturbed the cable, but you shouldn’t mess around with it whilst the PC is running, so switch the computer and monitor off and check both ends of the cable. I would remove the plug(s), blow or brush away any dust then reseat the plug and tighten the screws. Power up the PC again and watch closely for any signs of life. If that doesn’t do the trick the next step is to determine whether the fault lies with the monitor or the PC, and the easiest way t do that is to swap the monitor for one that you know is working. If the screen remains blank then it’s the PC, and a lid-off job. It could be something as simple as an unseated video card, but if the video adaptor is integrated with the motherboard then it will need to be replaced, either way it’s a job for an engineer.

14/09/05

A CLEARER VIEW

I have a small business reseating and restoring chairs and furniture. I am amassing a collection of CDs with before and after pics of all my commissions and restoration projects and it is very difficult to keep tabs on what is on which disc. 

Is there a way of printing out the contents as it appears on the screen?  There used to be a facility on a PC to "Print Screen" but the latest PCs do not seem to have this button! (My HP notebook laptop has a button labelled PrtScn, which doesn’t seem to be active). Help!

Sue Handy

A

Firstly the Print Screen (PrtScn) key does work, it’s just that it doesn’t print what appears on the screen directly; that function disappeared many years ago and belongs to the pre-Windows DOS operating system. Instead a bitmap image of the screen image is captured and sent to the Windows clipboard (Alt + PrtScn captures just the active window). In order to view and print the image you need to ‘paste’ the image in a picture-editing program, or at a pinch, a blank Word document.

Incidentally, I wrote a semi serious article on redundant and infrequently used keys some years ago, I’ve filed it in the Boot Camp Archive for 1999 or simply click here

Back to your problem, and the Print Screen function is not the best way to view or manage your image files. If you have a reasonably up to date PC you probably have a ‘thumbnail’ view option in Windows Explorer, you’ll find it on the View drop-down menu or icon. Better still, use an image viewer program like Picasa (it’s free and there’s a link in Software), and this will automatically find, catalogue and display every image stored on your PC and any removable discs. Picasa also has a ‘Contact Sheet’ print function so you can make a printed copy of the images -- as thumbnails -- stored on your discs.

 

12/09/05

DELINQUENT DIPHTHONG

I have tried in vain to find the combination of the Alt plus numeric pad keys to produce the lower case diphthong œ. The upper case and lower case diphthong Æ and æ are respectively Alt plus 146 and 145.

Peter Stovin.

 

A

No problem, there is a trick to diphthongs in Word, press Ctrl + Shift + & then the first letter of the diphthong you want to appear on the page. For example, to produce a lower case œ the key sequence is Ctrl + Shift + & release the keys then press o. For the upper case version press shift o, for Æ it’s Ctrl + Shift + & then shift a.

 

 

09/09/05

 

HYPERTHREAD HYPE?

I run Windows XP Pro. Hyperthreading seems to function fine but I have heard that this is less so with XP Home (I want to advise someone who has a XP Home PC), which begs the question why resellers hype-up the benefits of HT but sell systems running Home.  Is it true that HT does not function with XP Home, and if so, why?

Greatly appreciate Bootlog.co.uk!!

Chris McDonald

 

A

Thanks for the kind words Chris, and congratulations on being the first victim of the all-new Facts! Faqs! Fax! section of the website. You are opening a can of worms with your Hyperthreading question so first let’s explain what it is and what it does.

 

Hyperthreading processors have a second ‘virtual’ CPU, so they can effectively do two jobs at once -- many hands make light work and all that -- and this feature is fully supported by Windows XP Home. The reason for the confusion is that XP Home supports only one physical CPU whereas XP Pro works with multiple processors, which scoot along even faster, compared with virtual processors and therefore benefit more from Hyperthreading technology. To check if Hyperthreading is enabled look in Device Manager (right-click My Computer > Properties > Hardware) and under Computer the CPU will be described as a ‘Multiprocessor PC’

 

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