Dear Rick, may I firstly say that your columns and web sites are great, thanks.  I’m a regular visitor but haven't come across my problem yet. It concerns 'My Pictures', when I try to delete files they multiply instead, I also think that when I scroll down they increase in number. It happens so quickly that it's hard to know what is happening!

Mary Sime


A. Thanks for the support, much appreciated and I think I know the answer to your problem, it happens to me all the time… If I’m right it’s all down to keeping a steady hand when dealing with highlighted files. The usual scenario is you’ve just spent several minutes highlighting a large number of files -- to mark them for deletion or to move to another location -- by holding down the Ctrl key, and clicking on each file in turn. It’s a tedious job and you’re getting a bit tired then you lose concentration for a fraction of a second and move the mouse whilst clicking on a file.  At that instant all of the previously highlighted files, which have been ‘grouped’ together, are displaced slightly. Windows interprets this as a Copy command and it duplicates all of the highlighted files.


Whatever you do don’t try deleting them by highlighting. By this time you’re pretty wound up and you’ll only end up doing it again… Instead take your hand off the mouse and press Ctrl + Z to undo the last action. The simplest way to avoid it happening, or at least reduce the effort when it does, its to only highlight 10 files or so files at a time.    




Hello Rick, what a host of useful information there is on your site. However, I haven't been able to find the answer to my question. I had a new computer 2 years ago. It has Windows XP Home and I have the disk plus product code. My wife has started using the computer more and more, so we have decided to bring back into use my old machine, which is working fine except it has Windows 95 and a dial-up modem. I have been told that I cannot install my XP disk on the second computer at home. Is this correct?

Keith Trainer


A. Everything you need to know is contained in the Windows XP ‘EULA’ or End-User Licensing Agreement. This is a remarkably long and completely impenetrable document that makes Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity look like a model of clarity. Anyway, the gist of the bit that’s relevant to your question can be summed up as saying that you are entitled to install, access display and run one copy of Windows XP on a single computer, workstation or terminal. If you want to use it on more than one PC you have to obtain a separate licence for each PC. You are not supposed to back it up, make a copy, in fact you have few if any rights to the software you have paid for, in short you are just borrowing it and you give Microsoft the right to install software on your PC without asking, add or remove bits of Windows as they please. It offers no guarantees that it will work, or continue to work nor is it liable for anything if it goes wrong… There is a plain English translation on the LinuxAdvocate website that makes it a bit more digestible.


Back in the days before WP there was nothing to stop you installing multiple copies of Windows on as many PCs as you liked.  However, this resulted in widespread piracy so Microsoft took steps to stop it by introducing Product Activation. Most recent MS products now have to be registered -- on line or by phone -- and if you don’t it stops working, usually after 30 days. If you try to install software on a second PC the registration process will flag up the fact that it’s already registered and it will fail so the short answer is no. However, on a more practical level I think it extremely unlikely that XP will run on your ancient Windows 95, so perhaps it’s time to update?  




Hi Rick, I have downloaded an ISO file; on burning it to CD I have Track 1, which is 600+ Mb and that is it. How do I get this to run?

Len Guppy


A. First let’s deal with the term ‘ISO’ in relation to CD burning. It’s short for ISO 9660, the International Standards Organisation technical specs for a filing system for creating an ‘image’ of a optical disc. In plain English -- or at least as plain as I can make it -- a CD (or DVD), whether it contains computer data, audio or video comprises many different files, in addition to the main chunks of data. These include things like the table of contents (TOC), information about the number and types of files on the disc and various other bits of housekeeping.


An ISO image is essentially a way of packaging all of the data on a CD (or DVD) into one convenient file, or image. This makes it easier to move around and use to make copies. However, the fly in the ointment is that most CD or DVD burning programs are not very smart and when asked to burn an ISO file will treat is as a single data file, so when it is loaded into a CD or DVD player the table of contents and the other management files can be read, and that is what has happened to your disc. To get around this problem an ISO image has to be burnt in ISO mode, which effectively unpacks all of the files, puts them back in their proper places thus creating a ‘normal’ CD or DVD. We looked at ISO recording using the popular CD/DVD burner applications in Boot Camp 403.




Hello Rick, from sunny Perth, Western Australia! My OS is XP2 Pro and it is up to date with all the usual MS fixes.  I want to backup my system, or at least my main (C:) drive and files, and have gone the route to Accessories/System Tools/Backup.  My problem is that the only option I am presented with in the Backup Wizard is to select to backup to Floppy (A:) which, to my mind, would entail using several if not many 3.5" diskettes to store the data.  What I really want to do is backup to a DVD-RW but can't see how this can be achieved, at least using MS Backup utility. 


I know there are other programs I could use, such as NTI Backup Now! that I have used in the past; however, if XP Pro has the facility I should be able to use it.  What am I missing?  Your suggestions or a fix would be greatly appreciated.

Chris McDonald


A. Hi from a wet and windy UK -- late February and it’s snowing -- fancy a swap? But I digress. The XP Backup facility is a bit limited in that it only ‘officially’ recognises secondary hard drives and floppy discs as backup media but there is a workaround. If you format a blank CD or DVD for Packet Writing (or UDF), then it will see the drive as a rewritable medium and treat it in the same way as a hard disc. Have a look at Boot Camps 376 and 377 for more on XP Backup and CDs.


However, I wouldn’t try backing up your whole system -- it’s unlikely you’d get enough of it on a disc to be useful -- just stick to important and irreplaceable data files and key system files. If you want to backup you whole system I would fit a second hard drive and mirror or ‘clone’ your CD drive (see Boot Camp 352) and in that way you can be up and working in minutes, rather than hours, should your drive suffer a catastrophic failure




Dear Rick, many thanks for your columns and web sites. I am an avid reader and I've learned so much from them. You've got me out of several scrapes, but this latest thing has me worried.

I run Windows XP SP2, on a 4-5 year old computer. Increasingly I am getting blue screens appearing, rather like the old Windows BSOD. Sometimes they appear at the boot-up and Chkdsk has to check my files. Then, once or twice, in the middle of doing something my computer locks solid, does nothing for a while until a dark blue screen appears saying Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to my computer. Frightening! The most recent one said: ’KERNEL_STACK_INPAGE_ERROR…’, which is gobbledegook to me. A computer literate friend tells me that, after a few years the Windows Registry is filled with junk and the whole system becomes very buggy.


He advises that I back up my data, re-format the hard disk and reinstall Widows and all my regularly-used programs. This sounds a bit drastic and I'm not sure how I reinstall something for which I have a constantly updating subscription, like Norton AV. Can you advise? I'm beginning to lose sleep over this.
Alistair Scott, Switzerland


A. Your friend is right about the Registry getting filled with junk but it’s easy enough to clean it out now and again and I don’t think it’s the cause of your problems. The Kernel Stack message is quite serious and can indicate a Boot Sector virus (unlikely as you have anti-virus software) or more likely a hardware problem. An iffy hard drive would be high on my list of suspects but it could be almost anything, including dicky RAM, a loose adaptor card or even the motherboard, but whatever it is it needs to be sorted out pronto because it’s not going to get better!


Microsoft Knowledgebase Article 315266 is worth reading as it has some useful troubleshooting tips, which might help you to localise the problem. If the drive proves defective and you have to reinstall it will take a while to get everything back to the way it was but programs like Norton AV will automatically download the necessary updates as soon as they are installed. Windows will also take care of patches and service packs when it carries out its first automatic update, so I wouldn’t worry about that and just concentrate on making sure that all of your irreplaceable data is securely backed up. 




Hello Rick, on your recommendation I downloaded Mozilla Firefox. I have been very pleased with it but one little thing bugs me.  When I begin to type into the Search Bar, as soon as I type the first letter, I get a menu of all the sites previously visited beginning with this letter. I know this is to help in allowing me to highlight and click onto a site rather than having to type in the entire name each time but I would much rather it didn't do this.  I think there is a way of getting rid of this list, in fact I seem to remember you once covering it but I can't find it. Could you point me in the right direction please?

Barry Jones


A. I’m always worried by emails that begin, ‘on your recommendation…’ but this time I’m happy to have been of assistance. Typed addresses or URLs that appear on the drop-down menu are stored in the browser’s History files. To stop it happening go to Tools > Options and click the Privacy icon. To delete the list once and for all click the Clear button next to History and to prevent it from storing entries in the future set the ‘Remember visited pages’ box to zero. Firefox saves other things, which you may want to purge, like information entered in web page forms and boxes. To do so click the plus sign ‘+’ next to Saved Form Information, uncheck ‘Save Information I enter…’ then click the Clear button.




Dear Rick, just over a week ago I downloaded a 3-day trial of something called Movieland and I admit that didn't read the terms and conditions. After 3 days a reminder popped up on my computer saying that as I had not cancelled in the trial period I now had to pay. If I didn't pay up all sorts of awful things will happen, including further steps to collect the payment and my credit rating being affected.

I do not feel like giving my card details to such a firm, and in any case how can I guarantee that they will remove it?  A search of the net produced four websites that say they will get rid of Movieland, but they all turn out to be the same firm, and I think they may all be part of the same scam. My pop-up blocker is on but this doesn't help either. So I am dealing with it at the moment by simply turning off the computer and restarting as soon as it appears. It appears the first time I go online but not immediately when I restart. How can I get rid of it? Incidentally, I will be changing my ISP at the end of the month. Will this help at all?

Terry Kendrick.


A There's a lesson for us all here, and not just about reading the EULA and terms and conditions notices, but to be wary of any download from the web, without checking it out first. Just tapping the name into Google will usually give you a good idea of what it is about. Movieland is a particularly intrusive piece of work and the payment demands and those paid-for removal sites have got a lot of people's backs up. Unfortunately it can be a bit of a swine to remove but it can be done and there is a comprehensive set of instructions on the Visionary Communications website. By he way, changing ISPs won't make a jot of difference, scams like this one are almost impossible to block and the only thing that will make them go away is if we stay on our guard and don't let them on to our PCs



Dear Rick, I am having trouble with my 250Gb LaCie external hard drive. In the middle of data transfer the hard disk stopped functioning. Normally it would appear in the My Computer window as 'E:\ Lacie' but now it appears as 'E:\ Local Disk'. When it is turned on it no longer autoloads its files, and when I try and open its folder in My Computer, I get a message telling me that the disk needs formatting and asking whether I want to do this (which I haven't, as I need to get my data back off it!) It appears in the Device Manager as a USB device, and doesn't list any problems. I've tried it on another laptop and it behaves the same. I tried updating the driver but apparently the driver is up to date. I scanned the computer for viruses, but haven't found any. My laptop OS is Windows XP. Please help,

Harry B.


A. Sorry, the fact that it won’t work on two different PCs points to a faulty drive, though there is one thing you could try. Problems of this nature can sometimes be caused by the power supply. If you are connecting it to your PC or laptop through a USB hub then try plugging it directly into the USB port. If it is powered by an external mains adaptor check to make sure it is the correct type and if possible try it on another one of the same type or try one of the ‘Universal’ types available from supplied like Maplin. It may be possible to recover the data on the drive but it could be difficult and/or expensive, depending on the nature of the fault. I’m happy to be proved wrong, so if anyone has experienced similar difficulties with this drive please let me know and I’ll pass it on.




Hi, I use Windows media Player 10, and up until now have quite happily been able to rip CDs to mp3. However, WMP10 has just decided that it doesn't have the correct codec to do this anymore. The right mp3 settings are present under the "rip" tab in options, and I've re-installed WMP, but it still claims it can't do the rip to mp3. Any idea why?

Rob Gibson.


A. There is a known glitch in Windows Media Player 10 that stops you ripping CDs if you’ve upgraded from WMP9 or installed an MP3 ripper plugin. You would normally expect to see an error message along the lines of ‘error C00D00FAA’ and this indicates that a Registry setting has changed. This MS Knowledgebase article suggests a couple of workarounds.


The first is a temporary fix and all you have to do is change the audio quality from the current setting. Ripping should be restored but you won’t be able to rip CD tracks at settings lower than 128kbs. The permanent solution is to edit the Registry, and the usual warnings apply, about not to mess with it unless you know what you are doing and then only after you have made a backup. The procedure is to open the Registry Editor (type ‘regedit’ in Run on the Start menu) and work your way to:  





In the right pan double-click on LowrateSample then in the Value data box delete the displayed value, click OK and close Regedit.




Hi Rick, I am going to be in the Far East for a few months and need to manage my UK finances -- credit cards etc. -- online while I am away. There are some cafes where we are going with wireless links but we are staying in simple accommodation with no Internet. Is it safe to use these wireless facilities to access my bank and card details? The problem is that I cannot see any other way of accessing them. I would appreciate your comments.

Mike Shepherd


A. The simple answer is no. Many Wi-Fi ‘hotspots’ especially in out of the way places have little or no security and without the protection of WEP encryption it’s easy for anyone nearby to monitor the data flowing into and out of your PC. The absolute minimum precautions you should take are to completely disable all file sharing, install a good firewall and make sure your anti-virus software is working and up to date. You should also disable your Wi-Fi adaptor’s automatic connection to any network and ‘ad-hoc’ mode, if enabled, always check that the SSID you are logging onto is the correct one and as soon as you have logged off disable your Wi-Fi connection if you are going to continue to use your PC.


Other problems to be aware of are the so-called ‘Evil Twin’ or Rogue Hotspot scam, where a legitimate hotspot is taken over by fraudsters who mimic the sign-on page and then proceed to harvest your passwords, PINs, credit card numbers and so on.


I think the safest thing to do would be to use a good old dial-up connection where you are staying. You can keep the costs in check by using an ISP like AOL or Compuserve, which have local-rate connection numbers all over the world.




Rick, I have recently done a clean install of Windows 2000 involving a full format of the hard disk (this was to remove a partition). However, when I boot up the DOS window asks me which operating system I want to start; the two on offer are Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Professional. There appears to be a ghost on my machine. I wait or hit enter to start the first option but it slows down my boot-up. Why would this have happened and what can I do about it?

David H. Williams


A. My guess is the ‘ghost’ operating system is simply a spurious entry in the Boot.ini file. Boot.ini is used by Windows 2000 (and NT and XP) to control the boot sequence. I suspect you will find two instances of Windows 2000 Pro in the Bootloader section and if you hike one of them out your PC should then boot normally. Editing the Boot.ini file is not difficult but do make a backup first. Rather than run through the procedure here have a look at MS Knowledgebase article 311578, which shows you how to do it.




Hi Rick, as a non-techie, I am hearing ominous noises from my tower PC. It sounds like a rusty bike – no, I have resisted getting out the WD40!  It goes away after 5-10 minutes. I probably have two options – a complete new tower, or a new HDD. I would prefer just a new HDD, as the rest of the setup seems fine. The problem that I am faced with is that I have been using Quicken in its various versions for the past 11 years, and have amassed a fair amount of data. What I would like to do is to continue using Quicken on the new tower/HDD.  However, I remember graphically the problems I had with registering my current XG 2004 version, which was the last one they produced for the UK.  It was such a frustrating process at the time that I actually went out and bought Money 2004 – which I installed. In spite of many attempts and phone calls I was unable to convert my Quicken files satisfactorily. I gave up on that any uninstalled Money.  I did, eventually, manage the registration process for XG 2004 (All the forums at the time were complaining about it). I have always understood that just trying to copy programs never works satisfactorily. Can you please advise on my best approach?


John Palmer


A. I would be very surprised indeed if the noise was coming from the hard drive. The motor and bearings inside HDDs are designed to last many thousands of hours and any problem that would make the drive sound like a rusty bicycle would also be likely to stop it working. The most likely culprit is the CPU cooling fan; power supply fans also become noisy though it’s usually fairly obvious where the sound is coming from. CPU fan bearings fail surprisingly often probably a combination of heat and dust, and this would also fit in with the noise going away after a few minutes, as the bearings warm up. The noise is a sign that the bearing will fail, and probably sooner rather than later, and this could mean trouble if the CPU overheats, so get it replaced.


In the unlikely event it the HDD is failing it must be replaced as soon as possible. You will of course need to reinstall Quicken along with everything else, although no longer sold in the UK it is still supported. I understand the online registration process has been sorted out and is now a lot simpler; hopefully if it becomes necessary it won’t take you more than a minute or two.




Rick, can you help? I must admit that I haven't done a disc defrag for some time now, but on attempting one it starts off OK and builds up to 3% complete at which point it reverts back to 0%. This process just goes on repeating itself. I cannot get it beyond 3%. What am I doing wrong?

Tony Morris


A. Regulars will know the drill by now but for the benefit of newcomers to BootLog and Facts! Faqs! Fax! it is time once again for the annual outing of what must be the longest -running and most frequently asked query I have been asked over the past ten years. The reason it hangs or freezes is because there is a program or Service running in the background, changing the contents of the hard disc drive that defrag is attempting to optimise. The solution is to close all running programs, disable your screensaver, exit all other programs by right-clicking on the icons in the System Tray (next to the clock). Finally press Ctrl + Alt + Delete then End Task anything that’s still left on the Processes tab and try again. If that doesn’t work then the simplest option is to close down the PC and restart it in Safe Mode (repeatedly press F8 at boot up) then run Defrag from there.




Dear Rick, my query concerns mains networking. I have looked at your website, and others, but I am stuck. My understanding is that modern surge protection also takes out noise and some say this affects the very high radio frequencies used for data transmission over mains wiring. Several suppliers’ tech staff say the best that they can come up with is “buy and try” but this is not an economical approach if it doesn’t work.


I cannot abandon my surge protection because my area suffers from this problem; neighbours without protection have suffered equipment loss. Wireless will be impossible because of distance, thick stone walls and one wall with foil in it. A long Ethernet cable would have to run round almost entirely on the outside of the building. BT can only come up with “move the PC or install a second line” but that’s also uneconomical. I would appreciate any comments.

John Edwards


A. Tricky stuff mains networking, it’s one of those weird technologies that has been around for ages. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and for some it is the ideal solution, but not you, I fear. Without knowing a great deal more about the type of surge protection you are using it is impossible to say if the data will pass through unhindered but my real problem with it is that it can be painfully slow.


You say Wi-Fi isn’t an option but it might be worth having another look. You can now buy range extender kits in the shape of high-gain antennas and boosters. These can double or treble the nominal 100 metre range of a standard setup and the aerials can be mounted outside or in closer proximity to the router. Wireless also has the added advantage of letting you roam free with a laptop. Equally I wouldn’t dismiss a wired network. Okay, so it has to go all around the houses, but cable is cheap and very fast.




Hi Rick, I recently had Windows XP re-installed on my computer so I had backed up my
Inbox and Sent folders but now I cannot find where to paste them back in. The Search facility cannot find them and nor does a trawl through Windows Explorer. I have looked at Folder Options but no files remain hidden there. I would appreciate any help you can give me.

Robert Marwick


A. Outlook Express uses a convoluted system to store and manage messages and each mailbox ‘.dbx’ file is linked to a master index file called folders.dbx, so unless this was also copied, along with your Inbox and Sent files the chances are OE won’t be able to access your emails. Simply pasting the dbx files into the same location doesn’t work either, OE has to ‘Import’ the messages, though this is easy to do by going to File > Import > Messages. The normal location for OE’s mail store folders on an XP PC is:


C:\Documents and Settings\<User>\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{GUID}\Microsoft\Outlook Express


GUID is the ‘Global Unique Identifier’, a long string of characters unique to your PC. It’s worth trying to Import your messages but I fear OE will ignore them without folders.dbx. All is not lost, however, and you can still read the messages using a freeware utility like OE Viewer. For an easy step-by-step guide to moving OE files and settings see Boot Camp 309.




Dear Rick, quite suddenly I am unable to access my motherboard (ASUS P4R800-VM) BIOS during Startup. The delete button on my keyboard does function i.e. carries out the delete function in the various programs when required. Is there any way that the present inability to access the BIOS can be overcome or do I have to buy a new motherboard?


My computer was built in accordance with your recommendations in 2004 and has given reliable service up to this present time. The only additional changes have been to double the memory and add a further hard drive in March last year. Your guidance to resolve my problem is much appreciated. Might it be a suitable time for you to produce another article on building a computer given the component advances made since your previous article in 2004?

Gordon Blake


A. The Boot Camp build your own PC articles were incredibly successful and hundreds, possibly thousands of machines were built and as far as I am aware, they’re still going strong. All of the parts are still available -- they’re even cheaper now -- so it is still relevant but you are right, it is time for an update and it’s on my list of things to do so watch this space.


As for the dicky BIOS on your PC I suggest that you try clearing the CMOS memory, effectively resetting the BIOS to its default condition. However, be warned this could stop the PC working altogether so try it at your own risk. You need to disconnect the motherboard power connectors then move the J5 ‘jumper’ to the ‘Clear’ position for a few seconds.  You’ll find the location of the J5 jumper in your motherboard manual. After a reset, and providing the BIOS screen reappears you will have to change the time and date but since you haven’t changed anything it should fire up as normal. If the reset procedure doesn’t work I fear there could be a more serious problem and since there’s ‘no serviceable parts’ it will have to be replaced.




Hi Rick, following your suggestion I tried to install Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) on my second computer but the validation failed despite it being properly activated. Never mind, I then installed it on my main computer using XP Pro operating system. No problem despite all the sorry stories on Microsoft's web site from users. There certainly seems to be less conflict between it and Zone Alarm because I sometimes used to have to switch that off to get an Internet connection. The only problems I have are that I cannot now upload pictures into the ebay listings. I have also found that the ebay toolbar cannot be displayed in the convenient manner it was previously in IE 6 and Google spell check spots mis-spelt words but it will not correct them. I assume the email problem must be to do with security. I have emailed ebay's help line but they will probably not have heard of IE7 yet.

Richard Haute


A. I was very careful to point out that IE7 is still in the beta testing phase and there are bound to be bugs and glitches but on the evidence so far none of them seem too serious and hopefully most, if not all of them will be sorted by the time it is officially released. As a matter of interest I found that it stopped web links in Outlook Express from opening Firefox, I still haven’t got to the bottom of that one.


The toolbar issues appear to be down to Microsoft who, for reasons of its own, has decided to disable third-party toolbars, which to be fair it is entitled to do, though it seems a bit petty. Uploading images to ebay looks like a more conventional compatibility problem -- it relies on a plug-in, which I suspect will require updating for IE7. No news on this yet so stick with Firefox or uninstall IE7. Incidentally, a couple of people have written in saying they can’t find IE7 in Control Panel Add/Remove Programs. It is there but you’ll find it right down the bottom in amongst the Updates.




Dear Rick, I have a Sony laptop running Windows XP home with broadband. It boots up quickly and no problems. However when I come to shut down it takes at least 4 minutes to eventually close. It takes some 3 minutes for the 'saving your settings' message and another minute or two at least after that. Have any explanations and or solutions for this problem please?

David King


A. Slow shutdown is second only to slow boot up on the list of XP annoyances and the cause is often the same, namely programs or Services running in the background that you probably don’t need.  When you shut down Windows a message goes out to all running applications and processes to stop what they are doing, save any data then unload from the system’s memory. Most of the time everything does as it’s told but in your case something is stubbornly refusing to quit and clogging up the works.


You may be able to find out what it is by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete after you have exited all running programs. Check to see if there’s anything left on the Applications tab, if so highlight and click End Task and see if you can shutdown cleanly. If that doesn’t help then I recommend that you work your way through the suggestions on the XP Startup/Shutdown Troubleshooter (type ‘shutdown troubleshooter’ in the Search box in Help on the Start menu).




Hi Rick, how can I, an arty type who uses Adobe Photoshop extensively, set the ‘scratch disk’ to a different drive volume preferably a separate disk drive? My computer (Windows XP Home, 300Gb HDD, 1Gb RAM) is very new and PhotoShop keeps freezing because of this issue. I have a lot of files installed and the system is otherwise running perfectly, so I do not want to format it again to partition the drive. I have read an article that suggests a drive can be partitioned after Windows has been installed with out losing valuable files. Could you tell me if this is possible and please give more directions, so I can't possibly stuff it up?

Vanessa Trendle


A. You can create a new partition on an existing Windows system, without loosing data, using third-party disk management applications like Partition Magic or Acronis Disk Manager. However, I don’t think it would solve your particular problem, the scratch disc will still be on the same physical drive so instead of relieving the load it will only make the drive work even harder. The best solution, and the one you first mentioned, is a second hard disc drive. They’re cheap, easy to fit and Windows XP takes all the effort out of configuring the drive, have a look at Boot Camp 315 for a simple to follow DIY guide.


To change the location of the Scratch Drive in Adobe Photoshop go to Edit > Preferences > Plug-Ins & Scratch Discs. Select the second drive or partition on the first pop-up menu, click OK and restart Photoshop.




Dear Rick, the 'Show Desktop' icon has disappeared from my Quick Launch Taskbar and I've tried all sorts of procedures to restore it, but without success.  Can you advise please?

John Marwick


A. Before you ask I haven’t the foggiest idea why it disappeared in the first place -- we’ll put it down to just another of Window’s funny little ways -- but the good news is that I do know of a couple of ways to get it back. If you are using Windows XP try this first, go to Run on the Start menu and type the following command:


regsvr32 /n /i:U shell32


If that doesn’t work, or you are using Windows 9x (95/98/SE/ME)  then here’s something else to try. Open Notepad and type the following lines, exactly as they appear here:




Next, Save the file -- call it Show Desktop.scf and save it to the desktop. If Windows tries to save it with a .txt extension change it back. Now all you have to do is drag and drop your Show Desktop icon on to the Quick Launch toolbar and it should reappear.




Hi Rick, I've downloaded Thunderbird and imported all the settings from OE as instructed. However I haven't yet made it my default email program as every time I try to do anything a request for a password pops up. As I didn't have a password set for OE, I'm not sure how to deal with this.


If I do adopt Thunderbird as my default email program, presumably it is possible to reverse the process and return to OE if I wanted to. How do you reselect OE as the default?

David Lowe


A. You will find the default email program setting on Thunderbird’s Tools menu; click Settings and select the General tab then all you have to do is check the item ‘Use Mozilla Thunderbird as the default mail application’. If for any reason you want to revert back to OE, or use another email program, simply uncheck this box and your alternative program will then ask you if you want to make it the default.


I’m not sure which password you are referring to but if it’s the one for your email account(s) go to Tools > Options, click the Advanced icon then the Manage Stored Passwords button and this will lead you through to your mail password. Thunderbird’s ‘Master Password’ configuration can be found by going to Tools > Account Settings; select your account and click Security in the left panel. Now click on Manage Security Devices then Software Security Device and click the Change button.




Hi Rick. Please forgive me if I don’t manage to make myself clear but I’m having a problem with Windows Explorer. It looks normal, with the Folders in the left pane and the folders within the folders on the right side. However, when I double-click on a folder in the right pane instead of it opening I get "Search". What I really want it to do is to go to "Open", but I can only do that by right clicking on the folder and selecting Open.

Ron Roe


A. Don’t worry, it’s crystal clear, and not that uncommon. Unfortunately several different things, including a glitch in the Registry, problems with Internet Explorer and File Types settings, can cause it but I would begin with the Registry. There’s a possible fix on Doug Knox’s Tweaks and Tips site, it's a download that changes a couple of Registry values so make sure you set a System Restore point first. Failing that I would work through the raft of possible solutions, suggested by fellow sufferers on the Aqua-Soft forum, one of them is bound to work…




Hi Rick, I am unable to send an email with a photo attachment, even by reducing the size to under 100Kb - the connection is terminated. The email can be sent without the attachment. This problem suggests an inadvertent change in settings but I cannot locate which settings have changed. Your suggestions would be most welcome.

William Morrison


A. There are several possibilities but there is no setting in OE that restricts the size of attachments. However, there is a control that breaks messages into sections if they exceed a preset size limit. It is disabled by default and I doubt very much that this has anything to do with it but you should check it in any case. Go to Accounts on the Tools menu, select your account then click Properties and then the Advanced tab. Under Sending the item ‘Beak apart messages…’ should be unchecked. 


Do you have any web filtering programs on your PC? If so these can stop OE from sending messages with attachments. Check the program’s configuration menu; switch it off or uninstall it if you are no longer using it.


Some ISPs impose a limit on the size of email attachments, it’s not the sort of thing they’ll tell you about or they may have only just started doing it, so check the ISP’s website or call/email the help desk.


Your anti-virus software or firewall could be behind the blockade. The best way to check that out is to switch off of disable the suspect programs one at a time then send yourself an email with an attachment. Some firewalls just block certain types of file but they can be difficult configure, in which case you can fool them into letting your attachments through by changing the file extension. The usual convention is to swap the last letter for an underscore, in other word a file called photo.jpg becomes photo.jp_. The only proviso is that you’ll have to tell whoever you are sending the attachment to that it’s an image file and they need to change the extension back to its original form in order to open it.




Hi Rick, I have a problem with my DVD rewriter in that my PC can't see it.  If I insert a CD or DVD all I get is "Please insert a disk".  If, however, the computer is in Safe Mode, disks can be read.  The exceptions to this are Media Player (which can read disks) and Nero, which can erase and burn disks without going into Safe Mode.


To solve this silly problem I decided to try out a Repair Install (Boot Camp 336) but cannot get past changing the Boot Sequence. When I get into the appropriate part of the BIOS I can highlight the various possibles but cannot change them.  The instructions are to use Up/Down to move between the various possibilities and U/D to change the order.  I thought U/D stood for Up/Down but that changed nothing. Sorry this is so long-winded and rather garbled but have you any ideas for a possible fix?

Harry Jones


A. The DVD writer glitch sounds very much like a driver problem so the first thing to do is pop along to the manufacturer’s website and download the latest driver for your operating system. Once that’s done go into Device Manager (Winkey + Break > Hardware > Device Manager in Win XP or Winkey + Break > Device Manager for Win 9x). Right-click the drive on the list, select Properties, then the Driver tab, select Update and when asked point it to the new driver download.


I doubt that you will need to do a Repair Install but for future reference when you are in the BIOS or Setup Program up/down actions are usually directed by the Page Up/Page Down keys, rather than the up/down arrow keys.


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