November 2006


Is AVG All I Need?

Hi Rick, I have been using the Spybot, which says my PC is free of malware. I followed your recent Top Tip and downloaded AVG Anti-Spyware and it said that I had 18 problems. These were mainly tracking cookies but one of them was ‘serious’. Is it worth keeping Spybot or can I now just rely on AVG?

Charles O’Connor


A. As I said in the Top Tip I was been very impressed by AVG’s new free Anti Spyware program. It found a fair number of infections on a PC that had just been swept with another well known cleaner (not Spybot, by the way), but that happens with almost every new malware cleaner I try.


The fact is no one program catches everything. The people who create these things are constantly coming up with new ways to exploit the weaknesses in web site and browser security and it takes time for the cleaner companies to identify and work out how to get rid of them. Cleaner ‘A’ may well pick up something that cleaner B is not yet able to identify, but next week the situation may be reversed.


My recommendation, as ever, is to have at least a couple of decent malware cleaners on your system, and run them once a week. Adding AVG Anti Spyware to the mix is a good idea and unlike most of the others it runs in the background, keeping a constant check on your system.



Printing With Adobe

Hi Rick, I have downloaded to my PC a mobile phone manual and now want to print it. The problem is I do not know how to reduce the size of the individual Adobe pages so I can fit at least four or more onto a portrait A4 sheet. It insists on printing one Adobe page per A4 sheet whatever the size of the text and with 117 pages to print it is a bit much.

Jon Raynes-Wharton


A. Adobe Acrobat Reader’s print options can be a bit limited and they can be further constrained by the author, however. I have a couple of things to try. First go to Page Setup on Acrobat Reader’s File menu, click Properties and this should take you to your printer’s Properties dialogue box and check the Layout tab for a ‘multi-page’ printing option.


It is possible to convert Pdfs into Word documents, check Google and you’ll find plenty of freeware and shareware pdf ‘rippers’, and you can even do it online using a service like http://www.fastpdf.com/. One final thought, I have found the most recent versions of Acrobat Reader slow and unwieldy so I’ve gone back to Version 4, which is fast and stable and often more flexible when it comes to printing. It is also free of those annoying popups and upgrade reminders. You can find it, along with many other classic programs at: OldVersion.com



Web Page Overhangs

Hello Rick, firstly, thanks for being there over my PC developing years, I feel I am confident with most problems thanks to you. BUT! always a but... In the last year or so I have noted that some sites expect me to have a widescreen, almost Cinemascope (If you recall that? you may be too young?) One example is:  the online Telegraph newspaper. I have a 17-inch screen and the Telegraph 'overhangs' at least one column each side. All this means that I have to shuffle both sides back and for to read. I tried changing screen size and seemed to get in one hell of a mess. What do you think is the problem? I know it's probably simple and an operator error as my PC is sound.

Tony Wood, Manitoba


A. Not old enough to remember Cinemascope, I wish… I’ve seen more cinema formats come and go than you can shake a stick at, and I could add a few TV and video formats to the list as well, but I digress.


There’s nothing unusual about the Telegraph website, well, my bit of it at least, and it is designed to be viewed on a normal 4:3 aspect ratio PC monitor screen so the problems is at your end. My guess is your screen resolution is wrong. I can’t tell which will be the right one for your setup but I suspect if both PC and monitor are less then five years old, and you have the correct drivers installed for your video adaptor it should be 1024 x 768 or 1280 x 1024 pixels.


To change it right click onto an empty area of the desktop and select Properties then the Settings tab. Move the Screen Resolution slider to one of the two settings and click OK. Windows XP will automatically resize the image and ask you if you want to keep the change. If the screen goes blank this means there’s a driver problem but if you wait for a few seconds the picture will reappear. To resolve a driver problem you need to visit the video adaptor manufacturer’s website and download the correct driver. You can find out the make and model of your adaptor by pressing WinKey + Break then click Hardware > Device Manager and double click on Video Adaptors. Download the driver then go back to your video adaptor’s entry in Device Manager, right-click on it and select Properties, then the Driver tab and click Update Drivers. When prompted point it to the location of the downloaded driver file. 



Make Firefox Forget…

Hi Rick, using Firefox, when I begin to type in a search, I get the list of previous searches beginning with whatever initial letter I have used. Is there a way of deleting this facility?

Roger Robertson


A. This is Firefox’s version of the AutoComplete feature in Internet Explorer. It is largely benign and designed to make your life easier but I can see why some people regard it as a potential infringement of their privacy, especially on PCs that are used by other people. It’s very easy to switch off and clear the memory, simply go to Tools > Options, select the Privacy tab then the Saved Forms tab and deselect ‘Save information I enter in Forms and the Search bar’. Click OK and it’s done.



Dial Up Disconnect Departed?

Rick - I have just downloaded IE7 and am frustrated at trying to find my way around! It will come in time I guess. However, one function I found useful in IE6 was the small box that appeared asking if I wanted to disconnect or stay connected when I closed IE6 or Outlook Express. I cannot find it in IE7 - is it still there, waiting to be turned on?

Colin Baker


A. This feature has a life of its own and is wont to disappear for no particular reason. I suppose it’s possible the IE7 install had something to do with it, but equally it might just have been due for an awayday… Fortunately behind the scenes nothing much has changed in IE and you should be able to get it back easily enough. Go to Tools > Internet Options and select the Connections tab. Highlight your dial-up account, click Settings then the Advanced button and uncheck the box marked ‘Disconnect when connection may no longer be needed’.



Drive Decisions

Hi Rick, I have had my PC system for several years and it is time to move on. About a year ago I added an extra hard drive (80 Gb) myself to supplement the original 9Gb one, on a master/slave basis. I kept the original one for programs and transferred my folders on to the 80 GB one. I liked the idea of this clarity, but am unsure if it really has any benefits.

I now wish to buy a new PC with a Windows XP op system and probably a 160Gb HDD. My main use is small office work, and digital image storage and manipulation. Before I spend too much time assessing the options could you advise if it would be sensible to plan to take the 80Gb HDD out of my current PC and add it to the new one, when I get it. Also, would it be better to have the 80Gb HDD for system & programs with the 160 GB for my folders, or would this be too complex to change over.
Rob Bradley


A. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to drive installation and management. Ask a dozen experts and you’ll get a dozen opinions. In your case you have several options. The most efficient use of space would be to have the OS on the 80Gb drive, assuming that the performance to drive in your new PC, and use the new drive purely for data storage and backup. However, this is only a practical proposition if you have an installation disc and the option to choose where to load Windows otherwise it can get messy. If that’s not possible then simply fill your old 80Gb drive with everything you want to move across to the new PC and slave it to the new drive, you can then shift your data folders onto the new drive, or leave them where they are. I would be inclined to do the former as this will make more efficient use of the new drive and leave you with the option to wipe the old drive and use it for backup or ‘cloning’.



Run That By Me Again…

Hi Rick. You often, very knowledgeably, refer to useful commands that can be used in Start/Run or in Desktop short cuts. Is there anywhere that we can find a definitive list of all such commands, with full details as to their use?

Howard Galloway


A. Off the top of my head I would probably have said there were more than fifty Windows apps, utilities and processes that could be launched from Run on the Start menu, so imagine my surprise when I Googled for a list of Run commands and came across this page from Fixmypc, which currently details 156 of them…



Drive Noise Annoys

Hi Rick, many thanks for all of your articles and information over the years.  I approach PCs with less trepidation than when I first started and that was late enough in life! A quickie for you - I recently purchased a second Maxtor HDD for my Dell PC.  It accepts data and seems to work OK. A scan with HDTune showed no errors at all.  However it searches for data very noisily as if the data arm is busting a gut. Is this just one of those things or should it be 'returned to sender'?  The other Maxtor is almost silent in operation. I did read somewhere that is possible to slow down the rate of data search on a drive, but cannot find it again - any ideas?

Michael Findlay


A. I’m not sure about slowing a drive down to make it less noisy, even if it were possible, and it probably is, I wouldn’t recommend it. Anything that changes the way a drive operates should be avoided like the plague. If Maxtor wanted you to be able to slow down their drives they would have put a knob on case…


It’s difficult to say if there’s a problem with the drive without hearing it but If, as you say, it is much noisier than your other drive then there’s either a fault, or it is being made to work too hard by Windows or some application on your PC. I would be inclined to be safe rather than sorry and return the drive (having first backed up and deleted any information it contains), because the noise could be an early warning of failure and if it pops its clogs you could loose data or even your system. If the new drive is still noisy let me know and we’ll delve deeper.



Missing Scroll On Dell Laptop

I came across your site from the Daily Telegraph and it’s been useful to the extreme. My question is probably childishly stupid: how in the name of all that’s holy do I get virtual scrolling to work on my Dell Inspiron laptop touchpad? I’ve been through every possibility that my limited IT skills point me at and no joy. It used to work but I had a disk failure and had to have a total re-install. I run XP Pro, if that’s relevant. It’s a handy feature, so if you can be of some help, I’d be eternally grateful.

Andrew Borg-Cardona


A. I’ve checked the specs for your model and it seems that this model doesn’t have a built-in scroll functions so I’m wondering if you are referring to the hidden Scroll feature in Microsoft Word. As well as being handy for reading long documents it can turn your PC screen into a teleprompter or autocue. To fire it up click on Customise on the Tools menu, select the Commands tab, scroll down the list and highlight 'All Commands' in the Categories window. In the right hand Commands window find, single click and hold on Auto Scroll, drag and drop it onto a toolbar and a button will appear. Close Customise and click on the Auto Scroll button, you can vary the speed and direction using the arrows that appear in the left hand scroll bar.



Silent Dial Up

Hi Rick, I have a dial-up Internet connection and when I connect, with the speakers turned on, I have always been able to hear the computer dialling out.  For some reason the dial up is now silent.  The connection works and my .wav files are audible.  Is there an explanation please?

Peter Watson.


A. This is almost always caused by a mute switch or volume adjustment in your modem’s ‘Properties’ menu, rather than by anything in Windows. In most cases all you have to do is go to Modems in Control Panel (Windows 9x) or Network Connections in XP, right click on your modem icon or entry and select Properties and you’ll usually find a volume slider of mute button on the General tab.


Otherwise the driver, or the actual modem may be faulty. You can try installing the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website, or swap the modem if you have one (if not they’re really cheap nowadays, typically less than £10 for an internal PCI card type). One last thought, some ancient modems connect to the PC’s audio adaptor so check behind the PC to see if there is a cable going from the back of the modem to the soundcard, if so test or replace.



Free Alternatives to AVG Anti Virus

Hi Rick, what is the best option for home users anti-virus now that AVG-Grisoft are charging for their products? Thanks for this excellent series – Boot Camp 446 etc., Linux - Mandriva – I am following it closely. I’m awaiting Mandriva DVD, I will then get this installed and dual boot with Windows XP on my DT Mk2.

David Wiscombe


A. Thanks for the encouragement, much appreciated, and good luck with the Mandriva dual-boot project on your DT Mk 2 computer (DIY Vista-ready PC for around £200), I think you'll enjoy trying it.


As far as I am aware AVG Free will continue, the current version (7.1) is going to be discontinued early next year but it is being replaced by v7.5, which is available for download now. If you fancy a change try AntiVir or Avast! they're both free and work well, at least nothing has got through yet and believe me, I do get quite a few dodgy emails…



Running Out of Space on Windows 98

Dear Rick, my computer is more than 8 years old and uses W98SE. I am very happy with everything, except that, if practicable, I would like to obtain extra disk space. I have always been the only user, but in case I did something foolish, I originally set up a User named Test. Test is exactly as I want it and I never log on the standard screen view. My C:\windows\profiles has two sub directories: All Users (approx 34 Mb with 206 folders and 696 files) and Test (approx 62Mb with 565 folders and 1035 files, plus with more than 100  folders which do not contain any files, visible, hidden or system).


I presume I can at least delete the empty folders; but do you have any other suggestions? I am not brilliant, but I persevere, and I could and would take a full back up if you have any suggestion, which might be somewhat complex.

Mike Buxton


A. Tinkering with an old and obviously well used system almost always ends in tears so I wouldn’t delete anything. However, your PC is now well past its sell by date and you can expect something to fail, probably sooner rather than later. You can effectively kill two birds with one stone by installing a second hard drive as a ‘slave’. This will give you the extra storage space that you need, and allow you to backup your data, which is at risk if it only exists on your 8 year old drive. When the time comes to replace your PC you will b able to move your slave drive to the new computer and copy your files across with minimum disruption. Hard drives are cheap -- you can pick up an 80Gb model for less than £40 and they only take a few minutes to install (see Boot Camp 87 for Win98 details).



Budget Laptops and Projectors

Hi Rick, my question is about connecting a budget laptop to a budget digital projector for use at a camera club meeting. Any advice would be welcome before we buy a projector. I stress the word ‘budget’ because we are a group of octogenarians. 

Stan Witty


A. The first thing to say is that cost isn’t a consideration because one way or another any laptop can be connected to any video projector. If all you want to do is display still JPEG images then you can safely get away with the cheapie laptop. The cases and keyboards may not to be as rugged, and they may not be as well-built or stylish as their more expensive cousins but under the skin the key components -- operating system, CPU, memory, hard drive and quite often the screen -- can be identical to those used in models costing two or three times as much.


With projectors higher prices usually does translate directly into performance, more specifically the resolution, contrast ratio, brightness and the lens get better the more you pay. You will also get more secondary features but this may not matter too much if you are only showing still images.


There are several connection methods and the one most likely to be supported by both projector and laptop is VGA -- the same method used to connect a PC to a monitor. Many laptops also have video and sometimes S-Video outputs as well, and these are also more or less standard on most projectors. In the extremely unlikely event you end up with a laptop and projector and laptop that cannot be connected directly then there are plenty of conversion and adaptor devices available that make a connection possible. The best advice I can give is buy your laptop first then use it to audition projectors.



Slipstreaming XP Using ImgBurn

Hi Rick, I want to make the slipstreamed Windows XP disc, following your guide, but I have neither of the disc burning programs you mention there.  As I haven't needed them before, I'm loathe to install them just for this one job.


More recently you've mentioned ImgBurn, and I can see from one of the guides there how I can specify  ISO 9660. However, I can't see how to specify the value 4 for "loaded sectors" or "Sector Count". Is there any chance of you elaborating on what this latter criteria refers to, so that I can see how to specify it (and perhaps, do you think I will be  able to use ImgBurn for this job.


Thanks for the work on the site, and very glad to see you back in print on Saturdays - also very much enjoyed the DT Mk2 articles.

Steven Smith


A. And thank you for the encouragement, much appreciated! The short answer to your question is possibly, maybe… I suspect that you can use ImgBurn to create a Slipstreamed XP installation disc (see Boot Camp 428), I haven’t tried it myself and my guess is it involves a fair amount of faffing around, which is why I suggested the commercial programs. They are reasonably easy to use and I know they work. By the way, you can download discontinued versions of Nero, which supports ISO burning, free from Oldversion.com


If you still want to have a crack with ImgBurn I suggest you read the through this Forum thread on the ImgBurn website first, which tackles this issue and let me know how you get on.


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