ANNOYING PRINTER WARNING
Hi Rick, I have a laptop PC running XP home edition and an HP
LaserJet1005 I have had a lot of trouble with it, which necessitated
reformatting my hard disc. I couldn't find my printer installation disc so I
downloaded the driver from the HP web site. Reformatting didn't cure my problems and the hard disc
had to be replaced. Again, I downloaded the HP driver and my printer works
perfectly. However, now every time on start up, I get a notice saying that my
printer is not recognised and I should install it correctly from the disc. This
notice is really irritating. The HP helpline doesn't seem able to understand
what is happening and tell me to remove the driver and insert
the disc!! Can you help?
A. This sounds like the work of a monitoring utility that’s being loaded
at start-up, after Windows has finished loading. It’s difficult to say what is
upsetting it but my guess if you don’t need it. You should be able to find it,
and disable it by going to Run on the Start menu and typing ‘msconfig’ (without
the quotes. This will open the Windows Configuration utility, select the
Startup tab and scroll down the list, looking for any mention of HP or printer
monitor. If you find one deselect it form the list and reboot and see if that
makes any difference.
LOWDOWN ON SLOWDOWN
Hi Rick, can you explain how to
speed up opening and closing my computer please? It seems to take ages
A. Over time all PCs
slow down. It’s caused by a combination of factors. As you add and remove
programs the hard disc drive's filing system becomes disorganized so if you
haven’t defragged your drive lately that might help. However, most boot up
and some shut-down problems are caused by the components and services -- installed by applications
and hardware utilities -- that insist on loading with Windows. You can usually
get rid of more than three quarters of them and see a dramatic improvement in boot
up speed and performance. I recently managed to get a PC that was taking almost 5 minutes to boot ready for action in just 45 seconds with some judicious pruning. Have a
look at Boot Camp
355 for some simple XP Tuning tips.
PASSING ON A PC
Dear Rick, my question is
that, having recently updated to a newer and faster PC, I wish to install my
old Compaq (vg!) at the home of an elderly friend, and therefore need to clear
the old stuff off its hard drive to leave it clear for her to enjoy. It has
windows XP Home plus about 12Gb of my various files to delete. Do I need to
uninstall everything including XP - in other words, reformat the HD? There is
also the question of her rights to use Windows if she did not purchase the
machine; i.e. licensing?
A. Strictly speaking when you
sell or give away a PC you should erase Windows and all of the other licensed
programs on the hard drive since technically you do not own them, you are only
licensed to use them. There is theoretically a way to transfer the Windows
licence to a new owner but the last time I tried to find out how to do it I
kept running into brick walls. Back in the real world I don’t think Bill Gates
will be too upset if you pass the PC it on to your friend, he’s had his money
and providing she isn’t going to make pirate copies of Windows no one loses
out. You should definitely delete all of your old data files. As you may know,
it may still be possible to retrieve information if after its deleted, not that
I’m suggesting your friend would do so, but if she scraps or sells the PC there
is a chance you data could still be found. I would play it safe and reformat
the dive and carry out a fresh install of Windows and this will also get rid of
any other nasties that might be lurking on the drive.
KB911567 UPDATE UPSETS OUTLOOK EXPRESS
Hi Rick, I'm running Windows
XP Home edition but my address book has disappeared from Outlook Express. The message "Unable to open Address
Book. Address Book may not be installed
properly" appears. I've been using
it regularly for the past two years so this seems unlikely. Any suggestions?
A. I’m willing to bet it
happened sometime around mid April. How do I know? Simple, that’s when
Microsoft issued Outlook Express Cumulative Update KB911567 for XP SP2. It was
meant to do a number of things, including fixing vulnerability in OE’s News
Reader, a problem with headers in the BCC box and a security hole, and as
you’ve discovered, mess up your Address Book, though the last bit was
unintentional, and doesn’t affect all users.
The solution is to uninstall the
update and hope that some time in the near future Microsoft comes up with a
fix. You can delete it by going to Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove
Programs, scroll down the list, KB911567 should be somewhere near the bottom,
click on it and click Remove. Reboot and all should be well again.
removing KB911567 may fix a range of problems some users have been experiencing
recently with email, and programs with embedded email functions.
without laughing at my ignorance you can explain what the two Drives on my Acer
laptop do, I would be most grateful.
Acer Drive C has 26.2Gb with16.2Gb used and Drive D has 26.6Gb with 26Gb
free space. How do I make use of drive D?
A. It’s actually a very good question and a lot of people find the concept of disc partitions difficult to grasp. The reasons for splitting a hard drive into two or more sections has changed over the years. Originally it was a way of getting
around the inability of early operating systems to recognise large disc
volumes. Windows 95, for example, didn’t support drives over 32Gb, so the only
way to get it to work with larger drives was to create separate partitions,
i.e. create two smaller ‘logical’ drives C: and D: out of one physical drive.
drive capacities increased various means of overcoming the OS limits were
devised, but this bought with it other problems, including the vulnerability of
so much data on a single drive volume. Partitioning a large drive and putting
the operating system on one partition, and data on the other helps protect the
data, if for example the OS becomes corrupt or infected with a virus.
are also used to store copies of the OS or its installation files, which can be
used to recover the system in the event of a serious crash. This also allows
manufacturers to get away with not supplying Windows installation CDs with their
The best thing to do with
your D: drive is to use it to store large data files -- documents, images, music, movies
and so. You can also elect to keep new programs there as well; this option
usually appears early on in the installation process, and many programs already
installed will also let you change the location of their data files. In Word,
for example you can create a new folder for your documents on your D: drive,
and tell the program where it is kept by going to Tools > Options > File
WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER?
Rick, thanks for the great site. I have a problem that I was wondering if you
could solve for me? I use Windows Media Player to play media, and I've just
noticed that some URL's of videos I watched ages ago are still there under
'File' and 'Open URL...' These videos
are nothing dodgy, but it just annoys me that I can't seem to get rid of these
URL's. Is there an easy way to get rid of them?
A. Yes there is and all you
have to do is go to Tools > Options and click the Privacy tab. There you
will find all you need to stop WMP remembering all of your various visitations.
Under History uncheck ‘Save file and URL History…’ then click both the ‘Clear
History’ and ‘Clear Cache’ buttons to clear out anything that might be left
behind. As a further precaution I also recommend a weekly clear out using an
excellent little freeware utility called Crap Cleaner (CCleaner), which also
gets rid of any traces left behind in Internet Explorer and Firefox and empties
the notorious index.dat file, which secretly logs the addresses of every
website you’ve ever visited.
Rick, how well does Firefox work with Onspeed? Have you tried it or seen any
reports on this yet?
As you probably know Onspeed doesn’t actually speed up a dial-up connection but
makes it appear to work faster by compressing web page data. When you call up a
page on your browser the Onspeed software on your PC redirects the request to the
Onspeed server, which downloads the web page, compresses it, sends it back to
the decompression software on your PC so it can be displayed by your browser.
As far as
the browser is concerned it is receiving data from web, so in that respect it
doesn’t matter which browser you use. The exception is AOL and you are
unlikely to see any performance gains, but it is definitely compatible with
Internet Explorer (v5 or above), Netscape Navigator (v6 and above), Firefox
(v0.8 and above), Opera (v7 and above), Avant ((v9.02 and above) to name just a
The amount of acceleration
varies, for some it can make a big difference, others report hardly any
improvement at all and it works best with text-based web pages; graphics and
pictures can be affected by the compression process. It’s not a substitute for
broadband but if for whatever reason you want or are forced to use a dial-up connection
then it is definitely worth a try and it’s covered by a 14 day money-back
guarantee, so you’ve nothing to lose.
OF MANY COLOURS
there, I currently colour code my incoming mail in Outlook Express to enable
easy identification as I have several email address under my default address. I
would like to know if it is possible to also colour code my outgoing mail so I
can tell which account was used to send the mail?
A. As far as I know you can only colour code incoming mail using Message
Rules (see this Top Tip), but there is another option. You can easily sort your
Sent Messages by the name of the Account you used to send them. Open the Sent
items folder, right-click on the column header bar and select Columns then
check ‘Account’. Next, click on the Account column title and the list will be
sorted by Account name, for some reason in reverse alphabetical order but the
entries in each block are listed chronologically, with the most recent at the
TINY STARTUP PROBLEM
Rick, suddenly and unexpectedly I find that my start-up screen has reverted to
the PC manufacturers logo and it take so much time before that disappears and
Windows starts, but why? I feel that the answer lies in the Control Panel but I cannot
find any way to change it to start with Windows Start up. Yet I
must have found it before to make the change.
I say that the manufacturers logo is that for Tiny and the company went down the tubes
almost immediately after I made the purchase - consequently no back up
assistance from them - you will understand why I want to rid myself of such an
annoying reminder each time I switch on.
A. I can’t say why it has happened but it is almost certainly a BIOS
logo, generated by the motherboard. You will need to delve into the setup
program; the keystrokes for opening the BIOS menu should be in your manual, you
may also spot a brief message immediately after switch on, something like ‘to
enter setup press F1’ or similar. Look through the BIOS menus for
something like ‘disable logo screen’ and use the menu commands (usually printed
to one side of the menu) to switch it off.
GOING FORWARD WITH XP?
Rick, I'm probably going to buy a new PC shortly, and I assume it will be a
matter of ‘XP or XP, Sir?’ as far as the OS goes. Our current main PC (on which
I'm typing this) uses Windows ME. We still also use an even older one running
Windows 95. Now, I've gathered that XP works differently as far as files are
concerned - that it will open files created in the older systems, but
that files created in XP can't be exported back to older systems. I've
looked in your back files on XP without finding anything on this - maybe
because I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for, info and advice, please.
A. In fact Windows XP is not
the only game in town, as the many Apple fans will tell you. I would also like
to throw in a mention for Linux, which is now more or less fully housetrained
and a viable alternative to both the Windows and Mac operating systems. In both
cases you will need to allow some time to convert but if you fancy a change
there is life outside Windows. However, I suspect you‘ll opt to stay with
Microsoft, better the devil you know, and the good news is that most common
file types can be readily transported back and forth between XP and older
versions of Windows without any problems. Certainly routine stuff like text files,
images and so on can be moved about with impunity. You may find that documents
created on newer versions of Word may need some tinkering if they’re to be read
on older versions of the program. I suspect the problem you’ve mentioned
concerns the differences in the filing systems used by XP and Windows 9x. Most
XP computers use the more efficient NTFS filing system, older PCs use FAT32
and they are largely incompatible but this only affects the way data is filed
on a hard disc drive, and has no bearing on the transfer of files between
Dear Rick, whenever
I install Service Pack 2 on my PC running Windows XP Home, the PC then runs
extremely slowly. So slow in fact that it seems as if it has frozen. A system
restore takes things back to normal. I have tried this install a number of
times from different sources but to no avail. Any help you can give me
would be much appreciated.
A. I’ve seen several reports of PCs suffering a slowdown immediately
after SP2 installation. Most of them suggest it will return to normal after a
few days. The problem appears to centre on a system file called prefetch, which
helps speed up XP by loading frequently used programs and data into memory at
boot up. Following an SP2 installation the prefetch folder has to be rebuilt
and it takes a good few reboots for it to work at optimum efficiency. You may
find that defragging the drive will also help speed things up.
Hi Rick, as an avid user of
Firefox you can no doubt help me. I imported my Internet Explorer Favorites
into Firefox and have couple of annoying problems. My list of bookmarks is
split in two places by a couple of dividing lines; can I get rid of these?
Better still is there anyway to make the list start a new column when it gets full instead of having to scroll
up or down?
.A Firefox bookmarks are a
lot easier to control than IE and you can do just about everything you want
from Manage Bookmarks on the Bookmarks menu. This will display an Explorer type
window that lets you move entries around, add and removes the dividing lines or
‘Separators’, sort bookmarks alphabetically and so on. To make sideways
scrolling lists all you have to do is group your bookmarks into a folder and
when you ‘hover’ the mouse pointer over the folder icon it will open to one
I wonder whether you can help? I believe I have
uninstalled SpamBlockerUtility from my system (as there doesn't appear to
be any trace of it left), however, I keep getting the following error message
each time I open Microsoft Outlook: "the add in "C/Programiles/SpamBlockerUtility\ Bin\184.108.40.206\ Redemption.d...." could not be
installed or loaded". How do I stop MS Outlook searching for this? Would
be really grateful for any advice you can offer!
A. Outlook has a
little-known hidden utility for managing Add-Ins but it is not installed by
default. To do so right-click into an empty area of the toolbar and select
Customise and select the Commands tab. On the Categories list select Tools then
go to the Commands window, scroll down to the bottom of the list, click on COM
Add-Ins and drag the icon onto a toolbar then close the Customise window. You
should now be able to click on the COM Add-Ins icon and it will display a list
of Add-Ins and you can deselect or remove the offending item. Not all Add-ins
will show up on this list however, in which case I suggest a third-party utility
called Bells & Whistles for Outlook, which has it’s own more comprehensive
Add-In manager utility.
Hi Rick, my
ISP includes "SPAM" in the header of messages it regards as junk. In
Outlook Express I had a rule that did not download these messages but left them
on the server. Having upgraded my mobile phone, I now have to use Outlook but
do not seem to be able to create a similar message rule. I still seem to have
to download junk messages and can only move them directly to another folder
such as Deleted Items. Can you please help?
A. Outlook has a
similar set of Rules to Outlook Express and you should be able to set up an
exclusion rule using the word ‘Spam’ as the specified text. To setup a new rule
click on Rules Wizard on the Tools menu and follow the prompts. Alternatively,
you can use a third-party application like MailWasher, to automatically screen
your incoming mail on your ISP’s mail server, before it gets anywhere near your
PC. The free version of MailWasher does an excellent job but as I’ve said in
the past it’s well worth upgrading to the paid-for Pro version, which has lot
of extra features.
BOOKMARKS INTO FIREFOX
Dear Rick, how
can I transfer my Favourites from IE to Firefox Bookmarks? I remember being
prompted to copy when I installed Firefox on another computer, but this time
the choice was not available
A. Nice easy one
this, in Firefox go to Bookmarks > Manage Bookmarks then File > Import.
If the bookmarks and settings are in Internet Explorer on the same PC select
‘Microsoft Internet Explorer’ and click Next. If they’re on another networked
PC, or in a file copied from another PC select ‘From File’, browse to the
file’s location and click Next then in both cases just follow the prompts.
FTP PROGRAM WANTED
Rick, I need to transfer some images to an FTP
server. My knowledge of such things is limited but it seems that I need
an FTP transfer program. Can you recommend a, preferably free, suitable
program for use with windows 2000 system.
A. FTP or File Transfer Protocol is the system
by which data is transferred from one PC to another over a network, or more
commonly the Internet and it’s most often used to upload pages to websites.
Browsers like Internet Explorer have some rudimentary ftp facilities but it’s
better to use a dedicated program and one of my favourites is an open source
freebie called FileZilla. It’s very easy to configure and use with its Windows
Explorer type interface.
it possible to use FDISK inside an existing installation - i.e. to create new
partition(s) on a hard-drive with plenty of space without losing existing
Windows or data files?
A. You can’t use FDISK but
you can use Windows Disk Management tools to create a new partition only if the
disc has already been partitioned. If it’s just one drive it can’t be done at
least not safely. The alternative is to use a third-party utility like
Partition Magic or Disk Director, which should preserve all of your programs
and data. I say ‘should’ because as you know nothing in this world, especially
if it has anything to do with computers, is certain, so before undertaking any
task of this type make sure that all of your irreplaceable data is securely
CONVERTING PDF TO WORD
Hi Rick, how can I save a PDF file as a Word
document? I have Adobe 7.0 Reader and Word 2000.
A. You can’t, at least not
directly, though you can copy and paste text from a PDF into Word, but only if
the author has allowed it. To copy and paste text you need to click on the
‘Select’ tool (or Tools > Select). Use the mouse to highlight the text you
want to copy (Ctrl + C) than paste (Ctrl + V) it into your Word document. If
the icon is greyed out or you can’t highlight text then the pdf document has
been ‘locked’. Various third party programs are available (Google ‘pdf to
word’) that will do a direct conversion, or you could upgrade to Adobe Acro
FASTER INSTALL AFTER A CRASH
Hi Rick. If disaster strikes some time such
that my hard disk fails for example, I would have to reinstall Windows from my
recovery disc. This is dated about October 2004 since when there have been many
updates. If I had to download all those again it would obviously take several
hours on dial-up Internet access! Is there a way of saving all these updates on
a CD and subsequently keeping this current so that I could get back to an up to
date Windows installation? If you can spare a minute to advise I shall be
A. There is a couple of strategies for avoiding this
sort of problem. The first and simplest one is to ‘clone’ your system, either
on to another disc partition (though this won’t do you much good if the drive
fails), or better still, to a second ‘slave’ hard drive. Programs like Acronis
True Image and Powerquest Drive Image make the job easy and can do it from
within Windows; see Boot Camp 352 for step-by-step instructions. The alternative
is to ‘slipstream’ your Windows installation, which basically means creating a
DIY installation disc with all of the updates and Service Packs incorporated
into it. Take a look at Boot Camp 405 for a simple how to do it guide.