Hello Rick, I was interested to read the query regarding Auto Disconnect with Firefox. I use Internet Explorer but my Auto Disconnect prompt stopped appearing a couple of years ago. I looked everywhere to try and reinstate it and also posted a query on a forum but nobody came up with an answer. I have Windows XP SP2; I wonder if you might have the solution.

Peter Watson.


A. The Auto Disconnect option is buried deep inside XP’s modem settings, I think it unlikely that you would have turned it off intentionally so I’m guessing it was the work of an update, or my preferred explanations for unexplained PC maladies, Gremlins or evil spirits. Anyway, to switch it back on go to Start > Control Panel and double-click to open Internet Options then select the Connections tab. Next highlight your dial-up connection, click the Settings button then the Advanced button and uncheck the items ‘Disconnect if Idle’ and ‘Disconnect when connection may no longer be needed’. Keep clicking OK to exit the dialogue boxes and it’s done.




Dear Rick, I have been using Outlook Express on a Windows 98 PC since 1999.  Recently I have been unable to open email attachments. Clicking on the icon has no effect. I haven't been able to find anything on the OE Tools menu or Help and I have not (knowingly) "fiddled" with anything. Can you give me some guidance on the management of email attachments?

Jim Sargent


A. The usual reason for an email attachment refusing to open is a change to Outlook Express security settings. There was a bit of a kafuffle last year when Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. This included a patch to switch off the automatic opening of attachments, which at the time was a major factor in the spread of viruses and worms. I suspect seomthing similar has happened to you, though normally in place of the attachment icon there’s a message that says ‘OE has remove access to the following unsafe attachment’. Nevertheless, this should be the first thing to check so go to Tools > Options, select the Security tab and make sure that  ‘Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened…’ is unchecked. Click OK and try again.


If that doesn't work there are a couple of other things to check. Some Firewalls can block email attachments, so try switching yours off temporarily; you can usually do this from the program’s System Tray icon (next to the clock). Otherwise there may be a problem with OE so backup all of your mail folders by using the change Store folder facility on Tools > Options > Maintenance. You should then uninstall and then re-install Internet Explorer from your Windows CD (OE is a component of IE) then update to the latest version from the MS website  




I am teaching computer studies to a group of elderly people at my local U3A (University of the third-age). There are six ancient computers in the room and none is connected to the Internet nor has a virus checker.  I have been instructed to ban the use of work saved on floppies and subsequently used on students' own computers in their homes, which may or may not be connected to the Internet.  There is one computer in the main office, which is connected but not by broadband. Is it possible to bring in a virus and infect the main system?

Cecilia Norman


A. No PC is safe and in years past viruses did indeed use floppy discs as a means of moving from one PC to another but these days the medium of choice is the Internet. Of course it is possible for an infected email or web page to be copied to a floppy and from there transferred to another PC but I think it highly unlikely, more so given the age of the machines concerned. Nevertheless, the risk exists so why not install a freebie anti-virus program, something like AntiVir Personal Edition Classic, which is compatible with all versions of Windows from Win 95 onwards, should do the trick. As for the PC in the office, unless it is connected to your machines on a network then it is at no risk whatsoever from any floppy borne viral infections that may find their way onto your PCs. In any case it should have anti-virus software installed and hopefully a firewall as well.




Hi Rick, I have recently changed to Broadband from Dial-up. I wish to keep my original email address Wanadoo but my new ISP seems to block my sending new emails or replies from my Wanadoo address. I can receive all emails OK. I cannot change my broadband ISP as my local exchange doesn’t seem to allow other ISP's in. Is there any way that I can overcome this 'blockage' and still use my Wanadoo address as my default?

Grace Broad.


A. Yes and yes… Some ISPs take the fairly understandable view that they would rather you didn’t use their connection to send emails bearing the imprint of another ISP, yet there is usually no restriction on downloading emails from as many email mailboxes as you like. In short it’s not a problem and all you have to do is make a small configuration change to Outlook Express. Open OE and go to Tools > Accounts, select your default ISP, click the Properties button then select the Servers tab. Make a note of the entry in the ‘Outgoing mail (SMTP)’ box, it’s usually something like ‘smtp.myisp.net’. Don’t change anything. Click Cancel to take you back to the Accounts box and highlight your Wanadoo entry, click the Properties button, select the Servers tab. Make a note of the entry in the SMTP box (just in case something goes wrong..) then replace it with the entry from your default ISP. Click OK and exit the boxes. Basically what you are doing is leaving the incoming mail setting as is, so IE checks all of your various mailboxes, but all outgoing mail is now sent through your default ISP, so you can now send and receive from all of your accounts.




Hi Rick, there used to be a very small piece of software that stops the modem noise when I dial up. Is it still around please?

John Suttle


A. You shouldn’t need to install any extra software. Some modems have a volume control and you can usually find this by going to Start > Control Panel > Phone & Modem Option sand click on the modem icon then the Properties button. In Windows 98 the route is Start > Settings > Control Panel > Modems, select your modem then click Properties. If there’s a volume control it will be on the General tab, if not there’s something else you can try. This involve entering an ‘AT’ command (AT means ‘attention’), which lets you directly control various modem functions. Follow the same route to your Modem’s Properties dialogue box (see above) click the Advanced tab. In the box under ‘Extra Initialization Commands’ enter ‘ATM0’ (without the quotes and that’s a zero not an ‘o’), click OK then OK again to exit the dialogue boxes. This should work on most dial-up modems but if neither of these solutions work you’ll just have to remember to mute the sound when you log on.




Dear Rick, I have built my own PC and taken the opportunity to change to Firefox as my default browser. I am using a dialup connection. The problems is that when I have finished browsing with Firefox and close it down, I get the expected prompt about closing 2 tabs, but I do not get the Autodisconnect prompt asking me if I want to stay online or disconnect.  Is there a setting in Firefox that will correct this? I do get the Autodisconnect prompt if I just use Outlook Express and then close that down.

David Lee


A. The short and unfortunate answer is that Firefox does not have the facility to Autodisconnect when you exit the program. It’s not really Mozilla’s fault, Internet Explorer and OE are tightly integrated with Windows and make use of internal ‘switches’ that are unavailable to third-party programs. There used to be a couple of utilities that would trick Windows into disconnecting when Firefox was closed but they were a bit buggy and have since disappeared. I am afraid that you will just have to live with it and disconnect manually from the connection icon in the System Tray and just hope that someone comes up with a solution.




Hi Rick, do the various web blocking programs like Net Nanny, Cybersitter, We-Blocker work with Mozilla Firefox, the information on the manufacturers web sites is not very clear.

Angela Douglas


A. It’s a mixed picture, due to the differences in the way these programs work. I am fairly sure Net Nanny is for Internet Explorer only, at; Cyber Patrol is listed as Firefox friendly and Cyber Sitter and We Blocker also appear to work with any browser but as you say, the web sites are not especially informative on this matter. However, before you try a commercial program why not give a freeware web content filter a go? It’s called Naomi it works with Firefox and it has received a lot of good reviews, you’ll find a link to the download at: http://www.radiance.m6.net/




Please can you help me with a problem? My 3.2GHz AMD Athlon PC running XP with 1Gb RAM 256Mb graphics and 200Gb hard drive freezes on games. After playing for 10 minutes or so the computer will either lockup or crash. DVD copying, playing movies and all other applications function fine. I am at my wits end as my children keep buying new games only for them to crash.

Keith Pope


A. It sounds like a classic case of overheating. Fast action games really push a CPU to its limits whereas the other applications you mention are less demanding. The core temperature of AMD processors shouldn’t rise above 70 degrees Centigrade and ideally should be a lot lower. Any higher and you risk shortening the life of the CPU and if it strays above 100 degrees then damage will almost certainly occur. Most motherboards allow you to check CPU temperature from the BIOS program, though this doesn’t really tell you much as it’s not under any strain. A better solution is to use a freeware utility like Motherboard Monitor, which displays the temperature whilst the CPU is running programs.


If overheating is a problem then the first thing to do is check the condition of the CPU and power supply fans; make sure they are operating properly and all ventilation slots and cooling fans are clear and free of fluff and dust. It’s possible the CPU fan wasn’t installed properly -- there should be a layer of thermal compound between the fan’s heat sink and the top of the CPU. Sometimes this is too thin or it hasn’t been applied. Otherwise the fan may be the wrong sort for your CPU. If the PC is still under warranty then I would have a word with the manufacturers, otherwise you can try upgrading to a more efficient fan or heat sink or install an additional cooling fan.  




Hi Rick, I have been following your articles for years and would like to thank you for teaching me so much, and easing my whole experience with my computer. I have Windows XP Home Edition and amongst other things I use Tweak UI to disable Balloon Tips in the Start Menu.  It is really irritating to be told for the 1000th time what a program is and does. This is fine but it doesn't appear to work for the icons in Quick Launch.  Is there a way of scratching this particular itch as well?

David George


A. There is and you can even write your own little messages. They’re actually called ‘Tooltips’ and they’re very easy to get at. There’s two parts to the label that appears when you hover your mouse pointer over a Quick Launch icon, the top line is the title and you can change it, but not get rid of it altogether. The text underneath you can do what you like with; so let’s get started. Right-click on the offending icon and select Properties. The name of the icon appears in the box at the top of the General tab and this must contain at least one character. The Tooltip text that’s underneath can be found on the Shortcut tab, in the Comment box and you can delete the lot, or put in something more to your liking.




Dear Rick, I have tried to export my Outlook Express Address Book with a remarkable lack of success. After highlighting the list of addresses on OE, I am offered a choice of two places to which to export them, both of which I have tried - repeatedly - and though I get an icon on my desktop - several in fact - I cannot then find the list of addresses which I have apparently exported. 


There is no way for me to choose the program or file I wish to use other than the two offered even though it is listed in my documents. I still cannot find it! I use Outlook express on my Dell computer with an XP Home edition which I have had for about 18 months, and used all the menus I can find that seem pertinent, though I do find at my age that ‘Americanese’ can be difficult to understand.

Hazel Brooks


A. If you choose to export the Address Book from the Address Book window do not select the Address Book (WAB) option as this restricts you to the proprietary and somewhat messy Windows Address Book file format. If you want to be able to open and read your Address Book in a word processor the trick is to convert it into a text file. This menu will also let you export your Address Book as a comma separated value (*.csv) text file, which most other email programs can read (including OE) so you can easily transfer your Address Book, with all of its formatting, from one PC to another.  


To Export the Address Book as a plain text file on the Address Book window go to File > Export > Other Address Book, click ‘Text File (Comma Separated Value)’ then the Export button, give the address book a name. Now click the Browse button and a Save As window opens, choose the folder the file will be save in (usually My Documents), then click the drop down menu arrow on the Save As Type box at the bottom and select Text (*.txt), click OK, tick the boxes for the items you want to included then click Finish and its done.




Rick, I have a query about e-mails (OE6 and AVG) and I am sure that you will have the answer.  Recently I sent a message out but realised that the attachment was making it very VERY slow to send so I disconnected and deleted the message or so I thought. The next time I logged on the system immediately tried to send the deleted message (AVG E mail scanner bar appeared “sending message to…). I again disconnected and tried to find the message but was unable to do so.  Once again as soon as I reconnected off it went again. After 13 minutes only 75% had been sent. Where was this message and how, if at all, can one delete such unsent or only partially sent and supposedly cancelled messages?

David Thomson


A. The AVG email scanner doesn’t actually store or send messages; it simply gives them the once over, checking for viruses and worms when you click the Outlook Express Send/Receive button. The only place this message can be coming from would be the Outlook Express Outbox and since it hasn’t been sent it should still be there and every time you open OE or click Send/Receive it has another go at sending it. To stop this happening you need to open your Outbox folder icon, double-click on the message and you can then delete or change the attachment and try again. 




Hi Rick, I just cannot get rid of an annoying error message that appears when I start up. It says: ‘At least one service or driver failed during system start up’. The problem appears to relate to a file called "eplpdx01.dll", which belongs to my Epson printer. I have tried uninstalling, and re-installing the printer software and I have even updated from the Epson website. This problem has dumbfounded an experienced colleague and a solution would be very welcome.

Hugh Sawyer


A. It’s not one I’ve come across before either but I have managed to find a couple of references to this problem and like other faults of this type it looks as though the trick is to start over with a clean slate. My guess is something went wrong with the first installation but even after you uninstalled the printer some files and Registry entries were left behind, and these are fouling up the re-installation.


Begin by uninstalling all of the software that came with your printer from Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel and you might as well do the same with any other printers that you may once have had and are no longer using. After that it is important to reboot the PC to give the System files a chance to refresh. Next give the Registry the once-over with the freeware Cleaner utility in RegSeeker and don’t forget to reboot again afterwards.


Check Device Manager (Winkey + Break) for any references to printer drivers, remove any than you find then go to Search on the Start menu and make sure there are no traces of eplpdx01.dll lurking anywhere on your system. Open Windows Explorer and look for any folders with Epson in the name and delete them (assuming that you have no other Epson devices on your PC). Check also the Startup list on the Configuration utility (type ‘msconfig’, without quotes, in Run on the Start menu) and deselect any items with Epson in the name. Finally reboot again and then try reinstalling the printer using the most recent software and drivers that you downloaded from the Epson website.




Dear Rick, my computer runs XP Home Edition and the automatic storing of emails in Outlook Express has been giving me problems. I simply cannot read the stored DBX files. On opening said files they are in a format I can't decipher. Is there any way I can prevent the files from changing to DBX, and to leave them in the format that they arrived?

Roger Burrows


A. No, my guess is Microsoft was trying to be clever with Outlook Express and email store files are encrypted. The idea seems to be that messages can only be read using Outlook Express. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time and it makes it difficult for PC users to migrate to other email programs but there’s no obvious benefit for the user and the encryption does nothing for privacy, as .dbx files can be easily opened in a variety of ways. If storing your emails in a plain text format is important to you then I suggest that you switch to another email client and I recommend Thunderbird, which comes from the same stable as Firefox and you can quickly import all of your messages and settings from OE. 




Hi Rick, as a user of Outlook Express, I have been trying to print several emails at once.  If you hold down the shift key to highlight several and then either right click or use the print button to print, you only get the one email printing. Is there any way to send them all to the print spool at once and therefore save a lot of time and effort?

Charlotte O'Kane


A. Unfortunately there is no multiple messages printing facility in Outlook Express, but I do know of an obscure feature that does something very similar. It’s called Combine and Decode and it creates a single email or text file out of two or more email messages, which you can print as one document. To use it open the message folder where the emails are stored then holding down the Ctrl key highlight the ones you want to print. Next go to the Message menu and select Combine and Decode. A message box opens and you can change the order of the messages. When you are happy with it click OK and a single email window opens showing the first message. Go to the File menu, select Save As and save it either as a text file (*.txt) or email message file (*.eml) in the location of your choice. If you save it as a text file you can open, edit and print it in Word; if you’ve saved it as an email file just click on it and it will open and you can print it out.




Hello Rick, a few years ago I used a program called, something like 'Grammatic'.  As I remember it was a sort of combined grammar checker and editor (it suggested better ways of expressing the thought, cutting out passives and clichés etc.). Have you come across anything like it? Can you suggest a modern version? I use XP Pro.

Jack Pickles


A. I am probably not the best person to ask and I am in awe of those who know their way around the maze of rules that govern English grammar. Nevertheless I have done a little research and it seems the experts are generally quite dismissive of computerised grammar tools, and the grammar checker in Microsoft Word comes in for a lot of stick.


I’ve hunted high and low for your long lost program and I suspect you are referring to Grammatik from Novell software. This was incorporated into PerfectWorks in 1995 and then taken over by Corel, after which it seems to have disappeared without trace, though it might be possible to still find a copy; try a search on ebay.


There are a number of modern equivalents and the best known appear to be Stylewriter and Grammar Slammer, but as I say, I am no expert and I’m more than happy to pass on recommendations from more knowledgeable BootLoggers.




Hello Rick, a simple question for you, I have Avast! anti virus, Spybot, AdAware, MS Antispyware, Spyware Blaster and Peer Guardian all running behind a hardware Firewall (Belkin router). When I write them all down it seems like solid line of defence. In fact I used to run a software Firewall as well but I thought that this was probably overkill, and running one on top of all the other programs would be too great a drain on system resources, so I uninstalled it. Now I'm having second thoughts - should I go for the full on belt and braces approach and reinstall it? Great site by the way - I have followed your columns since early on in the Connected days and learnt so much.

Joe Martin


A. Thanks for that and I guess we’ve all learned a lot in the last few years, including that you can’t have enough protection. Personally I feel a lot safer behind a decent software firewall. Hardware firewalls are good at blocking inbound attacks on your PC and protecting a network from hackers but they’re rarely any good at stopping viruses, worms, trojans and malware which might sneak through your defences from making an outbound connection. They also let you keep tabs on legitimate programs attempting to make use of your Internet connection, without asking your permission. A good software firewall will do all this, as well as provide protection from hackers and in general they do not consume a lot of resources so you shouldn’t notice any extra strain on your system.




Dear Rick, my 2-year-old computer has started misbehaving.  I can no longer watch DVDs as the computer can't 'see' anything in the CD drive; Autorun no longer works for CDs; there is no defrag option under accessories - system tools, my broadband connection drops and I have to reboot to get it going again; etc., etc.  I have backed up everything that I can think off as well as making 10 pages of notes of network settings for my external modem, wireless router, email settings etc.  Is there anything else I should do before re-installing Windows?  Is that my best option? Thank you for (in my case) nearly 10 years worth of advice - you have taught me all I know about PC's, including building my own web site which amazed SO many people!

Carla Hawton


A. Whoa there! From the age of your machine I’m guessing you are using Windows XP and although your system sounds as though it has its fair share of problems there’s a couple of things you can try before doing something as drastic as a complete re-install. Firstly I would try using the System Restore facility, which will wind back the clock to an earlier time when hopefully your PC was behaving itself. To use System Restore go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools, click the System Restore icon and from the dialogue box that appears select Restore my PC to an earlier time, click Next, select a date from the calendar and follow the prompts. The alternative is to try a ‘Repair Install’, which should preserve all of your applications and data but replace all of the parts of Windows that could be causing the problems. There’s a simple step-by-step guide to both System Restore and Repair Install in Boot Camps 334 and 336. Thanks for the support by the way and don’t forget to tell your friends about BootLog!




Dear Rick, how do I give an individual file or folder a password to prevent casual snooping in Windows XP?

Julian Guest


A. There are two fairly simple methods. The first requires that your hard disc has been formatted using NTFS (virtually all XP computers are) and that your PC is set up so that you have to enter a password to logon to your account. All you have to do is right-click on the folder in question, select Properties then the Sharing tab and check the box ‘Make this folder Private’ then click Apply. If you logon without a password you will be asked to create one and you will have to use this in future to logon to your PC.


The second method can be used in both Windows ME and XP and makes use of the built-in file compression utility. It can be used on any file system (FAT32 and NTFS) but the disadvantage is that the file has to be uncompressed before it can be modified, so it is better suited to files that do not need to be accessed very often. It’s also worth noting that the list of files inside a compressed folder will still be visible to anyone who cares to look.


To use the compression utility open Windows Explorer or My Computer and select the location where you want the compressed folder to be then go to File > New > Compressed (zipped) Folder. Give it a name and press Enter. To assign a password to the folder double click the file icon to open it then go to the File menu and select Add a Password, enter the password, confirm it then click OK.


Don’t forget you can also password protect Word documents, the option is on the Save As box under Tools > General Options, and you can also hide private folders on your PC by using the Hidden attribute (right-click folder select Properties and General tab), though this only works if ‘Do not show Hidden files and folders has been enabled in Windows Explorer’s Folder Options > View option has been enabled. You could always  ‘bury’ your private folders, just give it a teccy sounding name (e.g. filesys789) move it to an out of the way location several layers deep inside your Windows folder. Just don’t forget the name or where it’s kept…




Dear Rick - on sending pictures either as a picture attachment or as a file attachment to an email, the picture also appears as a huge image in the main body of the email.  I'm sure there is a very simple solution to avoid this? Whatever it is I can't fid it anywhere. Can you help please?

Marje Sladden


A. No problem, the option to include an image in the body of an email is tucked away on one of Outlook Express’s configuration menus. On the main OE window go to Tools > Options and select the Send tab. Under ‘Mail Sending Format’ you can either select Plain Text, and this will stop it happening, or if you prefer to leave it on HTML (this means you can use different fonts and formatting in your message (bold, italic, underline, change font size etc.) then click the HTML Setting button and deselect the item ‘Send Pictures with Messages’.




I have Windows XP and OE 6. Microsoft Works is included but the Spell-check is greyed out in Outlook Express. How can I make Spell-check available please?

Doug Pollard


A. This is an old chestnut and in most cases the missing OE spell check is due to users not realising that in order for it to work they must have MS Office, Word or Works installed on their PCs. The alternative is to use a freeware utility called Spell Check, which adds the functionality but in your case it looks as though something has gone wrong, probably with the Windows Registry so try this fix. Before you start, however, set a new Restore Point, the procedure is quite safe but it’s better to be safe than sorry…


Step one is to open Windows Explorer and go to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof (where C: is the drive used by Windows) and rename the file ‘CSAPI3T1.dll’ to CSAPI3T1.old. Next pop in your Windows XP installation disc or make a note of where the Windows installation files are stored on your PC and go to Run on the Start menu, type ‘msconfig’ (without the quotes) then on the General tab click the Expand File button.


In the File to Restore box enter ‘CSAPI3T1.dll’ (no quotes again) and in the Restore From box type ‘X:\i386 \CSAPI3T1.DL_’ (where ‘X’ is the letter for your CD-Rom drive or the folder location where your XP files are stored). In the ‘Save File in’ box enter ‘C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof’ then click on the Expand button. Now all you have to go back to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof’ again and rename the file from CSAPI3T1.DL_ to CSAPI3T1.dll. Lastly in OE go to Tools > Options, select the Spelling tab and make sure ‘Always check spelling before sending’ is checked. Exit OE then Windows and reboot and give it a try. Whew!




Hi Rick, after installing Internet Connection Sharing in Windows ME the ICS icon automatically appears in the taskbar. From there, by right-clicking and using options, you can remove it.  Is there any way, apart from uninstalling and re-installing ICS, to get the icon back?

Bill Martin


A. There is but I had to do a fair amount of digging around to find it... The solution is to go to Start > Settings > Control panel and double-click the Internet Options icon. Select the Connections tab and click the Sharing button and under ‘Settings’ check the item ‘Show icon on taskbar’.




Hello Mr. Maybury, can you please tell me whether it is possible to restore a Windows 98 to its original operating state? Whilst trying to get it going after I had moved house, I uninstalled everything possible in a fit of desperation! I have the original discs which are "Application CD, Version 1,5”, "System CD, Version 5,4" and a disc simply titled "Microsoft Windows 98”. As you can probably already tell, I am not an advanced user and it just seems a pity to me to have to dispose of a system which otherwise appears to work quite well.



A. Unlike Windows XP there is no ‘repair’ install option in Win 98 though I have successfully managed to reinstall Windows several times over an existing installation simply by booting from the Windows CD (the Microsoft Windows 98 CD). It’s by no means guaranteed but if it works it has the advantage preserving all of your existing programs and data. I would only try this if you have either backed up all irreplaceable data, or do not mind loosing it. Otherwise I suggest a fresh install and the full procedure is outlined in Boot Camp 99. Don’t forget you will need the Product Key that should have been supplied with your Windows disc otherwise it’s a no-go.




Dear Rick, if I have Norton Anti Virus and Firewall do you think I really need to install a separate anti-spyware program?

Jill Worth


A. Yes I do, especially if you use Internet Explorer for web browsing. It’s almost impossible not to get infected with ‘malware’ when visiting websites and I strongly suggest that you run a cleaner utility at least once a week. There’s no need to buy anything, in fact be very careful about some of the offers that pop up on to your screen, suggesting your PC may be infected. An alarming number of these ‘antispyware’ program actually carry their own malicious payload or generate ‘false positives’ to scare you into buying them, there’s a list of rogue products on the Spywarewarrior website.


I suggest using AdAware, Spybot and MS AntiSpyware (the latter is for XP computers only), they're all free and there are links to the download sites on the BootLog Software page. Switching to the Firefox browser (also free) will greatly reduce the chances of Malware getting into your computer since it is not being targeted to anything like the same extent as IE, nevertheless, you should still disinfect your PC on a regular basis.




Hello Rick, is there a way of creating a selective or additional address book in Outlook Express or Word? I find that my OE Address Book fills up with address data that may or may not be useful or necessary at a later time but for the moment simply clogs up the useful stuff and it's a pain in the neck fishing out the address that I need.

Lee St. Lawrence


A. Not as far as I am aware -- and if anyone does know of a solution please let me know -- but you can easily tidy up your OE Address Book by ‘grouping’ your contacts  (i.e. Office, Friends, Family and so on). Just open the Address book and go to File > New Group, give it a name, click the Select Members button and drag and drop your contacts into the Members box then click OK.




Dear Rick, I hope you can help me solve what is probably a common problem.  Some time ago I inadvertently damaged my Internet Explorer 6 and was unable to repair it as I kept being told that I already had a more recent version of IE installed.  In the end I gave up and installed Firefox and Thunderbird, which work perfectly well. The only problem I have now is that updates for XP Home SP2 are not possible because the Microsoft update site will only work using IE.  I have completely removed IE6 using both Windows removal and subsequently System Mechanic. Help! You run a great site, by the way!

Bryan Mooney


A. Yes it happens, and there are several solutions. There’s an alternative route to downloading IE6 on the Microsoft web site that doesn’t seem to mind if you use Firefox. If you have your original Windows installation disc you can install Internet Explorer from that, it will be an old version so after its installed your first stop should be the MS Update site to download the latest version, then you can get to work on the Windows updates. If you haven’t got a Windows CD then you should be able to find a copy of IE on one of those freebie Internet installation discs (but not AOL). The last time I looked the Wanadoo disc had IE6, I don’t know if it has any branding but you can easily removed using a couple of tricks mentioned in an F!F!F! query in October




Hi Rick, is it possible to clear the history of searches done in Google or Ask Jeeves? I use Secure IE as my browser, I run CC, SpyBot and AdAware so it seems crazy to me that if anyone double-clicks the Search box they can see all the searches I've ever done.

Ray Poulter


A. In fact this has nothing to do with Google or Ask Jeeves, it’s your browser trying to be helpful by speeding up the entry of previously used search terms and URLs with a feature called AutoComplete. You can remove stored entries by right-clicking on them in the drop-down menu or switch it off completely by going to Tools > Internet Options. Select the Content tab and click AutoComplete, uncheck the option and click Clear Forms to remove any remaining entries. By the way, if you have installed the Google Toolbar this does store previously used search terms and you can clear it by clicking the Google logo and on the drop-down menu select Clear Search History




Hi Rick, I am on BT Broadband, Basic, which has served me well and reliably. But just recently it has taken to disconnecting itself for no obvious reason, sometimes after only half a minute or so, sometimes not for five minutes, and nearly always when I am in the middle of something quite innocuous (such as writing this). Any ideas?  I use Windows XP and regularly update with Norton Antivirus LiveUpdate software.

John Reeve


A. The possibilities are many and various but since the connection was initially stable and has only recently started to play up I would begin by checking out the wiring and connections. ADSL filter boxes have a bit of a reputation for unreliability so I would definitely change that. If that’s okay then swap the cable between your modem and the phone socket, and if the problem persists check out the phone socket, if moisture or dirt has got inside this can result in line noise or an intermittent connection. You should also ask BT to carry out a line quality check. If you have access to another PC it would be worth setting the connection up on that machine and this will confirm (or refute) my suspicion that the problem lies with the cables and boxes, rather than your PC.


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