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APRIL O6

02/05/06

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?
Diane Barnett

 

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. 

 

28/04/06

LOWDOWN ON SLOWDOWN

Hi Rick, can you explain how to speed up opening and closing my computer please? It seems to take ages

John Bashford

 

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.

 

27/04/06

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?

Frank Millington

 

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.  

 

26/04/06

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?

Elizabeth Gibson

 

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.

 

Incidentally removing KB911567 may fix a range of problems some users have been experiencing recently with email, and programs with embedded email functions.

 

25/04/06

PARTITION POSER

If 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?

Brian Cloughley

 

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.

 

As 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.

 

Partitions 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 PCs.

 

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 Locations.

 

24/04/06

NOSEY WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER?

Hi 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?

Patrick Campbell

 

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.

 

21/04/06

FIREFOX WITH ONSPEED

Hi Rick, how well does Firefox work with Onspeed? Have you tried it or seen any reports on this yet?

B.W.Moore

 

A. 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 few.

 

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.   

 

20/04/06

MAIL OF MANY COLOURS

Hello 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?

Geoff M.

 

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 top.

 

19/04/06

TINY STARTUP PROBLEM

Hello 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.

 

If 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.

Ron Roe

 

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. 

18/04/06

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.

Ian Graham

 

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 PCs.

 

15/04/06

SP2 SLOWDOWN

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.

Alan Goodworth 

 

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.

 

14/04/06

MANAGING FIREFOX BOOKMARKS

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?
Dave Woodham

 

.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 side.

 

13/04/06

SUBTRACT OUTLOOK ADD-INS

Rick, 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\4.7.1.0\ 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!

Martin Bacon

 

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.  

 

12/04/06

OUTLOOK WAIVES THE RULES?

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?

John Swann

 

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.

 

11/04/06

TRANSFER IE 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

Mike Grice

 

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.  

 

10/04/06

FREE FTP PROGRAM WANTED

Hello 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.

Mike Kersley

 

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.

 

07/04/06

PARTITIONING WITHIN WINDOWS

Is 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?

Ian Graham

 

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 backed up.

 

06/04/06

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.

Anne Collins

 

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

 

05/04/06

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 grateful.

Ken Christie

 

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.

 

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