October 2006


Read Only Folder Cannot be changed

Hi Rick, many thanks for the advice via your site - I look at it every day. However, I have a problem. I run XP pro with Service Pack 2. I wish to add comments to pictures I have scanned in from slides. I have put them in a folder, which, for some reason, says it is 'read only'! Even though I unclick the 'read only' box and click 'apply' it still comes up, the next time I open it, with a 'click' in the 'read only' box! i.e. the instruction has not been saved. Having said that the files inside the folder do not have the 'read only' box ticked!


But when I try and add a comment to the files (TIFFs) I get the message "access has been denied. The file may be marked 'read only' or may be in use by another application." The latter is not the case as I have nothing else open at the time! Hope you can follow what I am saying and are able to give me some advice.

Mike Barker


A. A Read Only attribute applied to a folder is largely irrelevant, and meaningless since Windows will ignore it and let you change or delete the folder and its contents. If fact it is simply a flag that tells Windows that the folder’s View has been customised, so if you have changed anything unchecking Read Only won’t work. Files, on the other hand, can be protected by the Read Only attribute, but even if you uncheck the box you can still be denied access because you simply do not have the right ‘permissions’. To resolve the problem start XP in Safe Mode (press F8 at startup) and when it has finished loading open Windows Explorer and right-click on the folder containing your pictures, select Properties then click the Security tab. Click the Advanced button and tick the box next to ‘Inherit from parent the permission entries…’ . Click OK and restart.



XP Reboots after Shutdown

Dear Rick, I have been using Windows XP Home on my desktop computer for several years and have always experienced problems shutting down since I originally installed the Operating System.


When attempting a normal shutdown the machine will go through the expected procedure quite satisfactorily but as soon as the machine has shut down it immediately reboots. The remedy I have to adopt is to physically switch the power off the machine in the few seconds between the completion of shut down and start of reboot.


I have tried out the "XP Shutdown" shortcut that you describe in one of your tips.   I use it with the "shutdown.exe -s" setting in the properties dialogue box, as required for a straightforward shutdown. The shutdown sequence proceeds normally until I get to the screen that displays the message "Windows is shutting down" and then the machine just "hangs" with the HDD LED constantly lit. I have left the machine in this situation for up to 20 minutes but it never completes the shutdown. Can you help me out on this one please?

Roy Henson.


A. Rebooting after shutdown is often a symptom of a problem elsewhere as by default Windows is set to restart after a serious system failure. Switching this off might help to localise the problem and to do that go to System Properties (Winkey + Break)  select the Advanced tab, under Startup and Recovery click Settings and under System Failure uncheck ‘Automatically Restart’.


Some other possibilities include a conflict with Advanced Power Management  (APM) in the PC’s BIOS. If it is on switch it off, and vice-versa. While you are in the BIOS look for ‘Wake on LAN’ and ‘Wake on Modem’ settings and if you have them, disable them both. USB devices can cause problems, remove them all and see if that affects shutdown. Older versions of Roxio Direct CD and Easy CD caused this behaviour in the past, check the website for recent updates, some Logitech mice have an unfortunate habit of causing a reboot, if you are using one uninstall any software that came with it.



Firefox TypeError Alert

Dear Rick, every time I open Mozilla Firefox I get an Alert message that says ‘TypeError: this docShell has no properties’. Reinstalling Firefox didn’t solve the problem. Any idea what might cause this alert?

Harry Bar


A. This type of error message is often caused by a dodgy ‘Extension’ or toolbar and the easiest way to find out is to start Firefox in Safe mode. This launches the browser in its basic default state, so if the problem persists it’s almost certainly due to an add-on of some sort. To launch it in Safe mode go to  Start > All Programs > Mozilla Firefox and click the Mozilla Firefox (Safe Mode). If it opens properly go to Tools > Extensions and uninstall the most recent one(s) which are most likely the cause of the problem. If you are not using any extensions or toolbars then I suggest uninstalling Firefox, delete any remaining Mozilla folders then run a Registry cleaner like RegSeeker and reinstall.



Boot Out the second XP

Hi Rick, at boot up 2 copies of XP are displayed. The first is "spurious" (it doesn't work) and I would very much like to get rid of it! This phenomenon appears after the BIOS check and of course, before Windows boots up, so where do I go from here?
David P. Robinson


A. The bootloader screen you are seeing is controlled by a file called ‘boot.ini’ and you can get to it by opening System Properties (Winkey + Break or System in Control Panel), select the Advanced tab and under Startup and Recovery click Settings. The operating systems Windows thinks are on your PC are shown in the top drop-down menu and you can make the opening screen disappear by unchecking ‘Time to display list…’ and Windows will boot into your default OS.


However, you should remove the reference to the second version of Windows, so you need to edit the boot.in file. It’s not difficult but it involves a bit more explanation that I have room for here so take a look at Microsoft Knowledgebase article 289022, which explains the whole thing with examples of what your boot.ini file should look like.



Sky on a PC Screen

Hi Rick, I subscribe to Sky and have it in my home office but my old TV. takes up too much room. I have a fairly new 19-inch digital flat screen monitor with my Windows XP system. Is there a way I can feed my Sky reception onto my PC either as a window or full screen?

David Montgomery


A. No problem, you just need to equip your PC with a video capture card/module, or video adaptor card with video input; most TV tuner cards also have this facility. Once fitted all you have to do is connect the audio and video (AV) output form your Sky box to the TV/Video card’s video input and the PC’s line audio input.


The software that comes with most cards usually lets you select a full screen, picture-in-picture or variable sized window display. Incidentally most tuner cards come with video recording software, so you can record programmes as well. Prices for basic video capture cards start at around £25, Video capture modules that plug into a USB socket cost from around £50 and TV Tuner cards can be found for around £35.00.



Synchronising Browser Favourites

Hello Rick, I have been using Firefox as an alternative to Internet Explorer because of the frequent security problems with IE. Firefox has recently begun to have its own security problems and so I now also use Opera as well. I am using all three browsers as appropriate. The problem is.. I often add to my Favorites/Bookmarks (CTL+D) when I am online, which of course adds to the Favorites folder of whichever browser I am using at the time, but it will not be available on the other two browsers. Is there any way I can synchronize/update all three Favorites folders without having to remember to manually copy new additions every time?

Richard Harris


A. Not as far as I know, at least not all three. You can, however, synchronise IE and Firefox. In fact it used to be a feature in earlier versions of Firefox but was later removed. Anyway, to do it now you need a ‘plug-in’ called FavouriteSync and it automatically keeps both browsers Favourites folders updated. If anyone know a way of synching Opera, or all three please let me know and I’ll pass it on.



Laptop Keyboard Error

Hi Rick, my daughter bought a laptop for university a couple of years ago. It now keeps displaying a warning about a keyboard controller failure and she has to try and reboot. Sometimes it does and sometimes she has to wait a while for it to reboot.  As she is trying to type her essays on the laptop this problem is extremely frustrating. Would connecting a normal PC keyboard to the laptop overcome the problem, or might it cause even more?

Denis Barrett


A. Connecting an external keyboard should get your daughter out of trouble provided the keyboard controller -- a chip on the motherboard -- isn’t to blame. If so then I’m afraid it is going to be a very expensive job, quite possibly more than the laptop is worth, but this is quite unusual so if an external keyboard works you can proceed on the basis that the problem lies with the actual keyboard module.


Keyboards are pretty reliable and it’s worth asking your daughter if she has spilled any liquids on it recently, in which case it will need to be removed and cleaned, or replaced. It could be something as simple as a loose ribbon connecting cable. Another very common cause of this type of error message is a stuck or sticky key. Either way it will have to come out and depending on the make of laptop this can be very simple, or a nightmare.


The first thing to do is find out how easy, or difficult it is to remove. You may find some guidance in the manual, especially if the memory modules live underneath, in which case it should be a fairly simple job, otherwise it requires expert attention. Replacement keyboards, if one is needed, vary in price from around £30 to well over £100 but you may be able to find a sensibly priced one on ebay.



Changing Keyboard Language

Dear Rick, I've just bought a new computer system with keyboard. Some of the keys are not producing the correct characters when struck. I've tried using the keyboard with another PC and it works OK, so I presume the problem lies in the computer setup. The OS is Windows XP Pro vers. 5.1


After a lot of Googling, I've discovered that this computer has been installed with the English (US) option, which has resulted in the keyboard being mapped to the US type and not the UK one. I've looked through the languages lists in Control Panel > Regional and Language Options, but there's no English (UK) in there. How can I map it to the UK version please?
Jeanne Wood


A. You were so close… To change from a US to UK keyboard return to Regional and Language Option in Control Panel, select the Languages tab and this time click the Details button. On the Text Services and Input Languages dialogue box that appears select the Settings tab and on the drop-down menu select ‘English (United Kingdom) - United Kingdom’, click the Add button and then ‘OK’ your way back. You may see a message saying that the change won’t take effect until after a reboot, after which everything will be set.



Office Source Engine Errors?

Hi Rick, my Windows XP has developed an annoying habit.  Every time I start up, a ‘Welcome to Found New Hardware Wizard’ window opens. When interrogated
it turns out that the 'New Hardware' in question is 'Office Source Engine', of which I had never heard.  On Googling 'Office Source Engine'. I find that it is software, not hardware!  What is happening? And how do I get rid of this?
Tim McDermott


A. It is a software problem and the Office Source Engine is a component in Office 2003. During installation it creates a hidden folder on your hard drive and copies the Office installation files into it, which Windows Installer uses to load the program. The idea is you can more easily re-install or repair Office, or add new components, without having to load the CD.


My guess your Office Source Engine file is corrupt and there are a couple of things you can try. First copy the Office Source Engine (Ose.exe) from the CD to your hard drive. You’ll find it in D:\Files\setup and copy it to C:\program files\common files\Microsoft shared\source engine (where C: is your hard drive and D: is your CD/DVD drive). If that doesn’t work then I’m afraid the only other thing you can do is make sure all of your Office files are safely backed up then remove and reinstall Office 2003.



Antivirus Software - Time for a Change?

Rick, my paid-for anti-virus program is due for annual renewal in a few days. This is the time to change, would you recommend anything? I've never had problems with my current setup, except it may be responsible for slowing down my computer somewhat, but they all do that, don't they?

John Reeve


A. I’m in a quandry. Normally I would say if it works for you, stick with it, but I’m also bound to say that there are free anti-virus programs that do as good a job as most of the commercial offerings, in some cases they’re even better, or have less of an impact on performance, without sacrificing security.


Personally I have been using free programs on all of my PCs for the past seven or eight years and despite a very high exposure to viruses on the web and through downloaded software and files, not a single one has ever got through my defences and I have no concerns about reduced performance. For the record the two programs I know, use and trust are Avast! and AVG.



PDFs do not open in IE or Firefox

Hi Rick, I have never been able to directly access PDF's in my web browsers - IE. or Firefox. When I click on a link to a PDF I just get a blank screen with a placeholder in the corner. In IE this is normally not too much of a problem because it is possible to right click on the link and select 'save target as' in order to download the document to the desktop. This option is not available in Firefox, which means that I have to keep switching back to IE whenever I need to access a PDF. Do you know of a solution?
Gerry Brown


A. I am assuming that you have a recent copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your PC (sorry, but I have to ask…).  Even if you have it wouldn’t hurt to go to the Adobe website and download the latest version. Try it again and if it still doesn’t work in Internet Explorer go to Tools > Internet Options, select the Programs tab and click the Manage Add-Ons button. Adobe Acrobat should be listed and its status is 'Enabled'; if not highlight the entry and under Settings click Enable.


In Firefox the procedure is a little more involved, this time go to Tools > Options, click the Download icon and under Download Actions click the View and Edit Actions button. On the list that appears scroll down to PDF, click and highlight the entry then click the Change Action button and make sure that the appropriate ‘Open then with…’, or ‘Use this Application…’ box contains Adobe Reader and is checked.



Upgrading DVD Drive Firmware

Dear Rick, I have a Pioneer DVR-109 external DVD writer, which connects to my
computer via a USB port. I recently upgraded the firmware of the drive, so that I could write to it at higher speeds, and I followed the instructions to the letter. I downloaded and ran the software, without difficulty, but I now have problems writing to the drive.

I use Nero Express v.8, which formerly worked well with the drive. Now, when I attempt to write to it, I receive an error message to the effect that the device is unknown and it fails (leaving me with a useless disk). I downloaded the firmware again but it failed immediately on the basis that I already had the latest firmware installed. Is there anything I can do to make this drive writeable? It reads perfectly well.
Alan Hodges.


A. Fwhhhhhh… That’s my version of a sharp intake of breath, the kind of noise builders and car mechanics make when sizing up tricky jobs. Upgrading DVD drive firmware is a very, very risky business. I know it’s tempting and lots of web sites will tell you that by upgrading the firmware you’ll get extra performance, or facilities, but what they rarely tell you is there’s usually no way back.


Pioneer has some advice on its website about what to do if a firmware update fails but the procedure looks a bit messy to me. Give it a try but if it doesn’t work then I’m afraid you have yourself a new doorstop, learned an important lesson and I hope helped warn others of the danger.



PC Freezes on Microsoft Update

Hi Rick, my PC has developed a peculiar problem.  Every time I go to the Microsoft Update page my computer freezes.  I have checked all the inputs to Zone Alarm and restored the System to no avail.  I have only to open the page and I have to use Task Manager to shut it down to recover control. I have run out of ideas (didn't take long) and wonder if you have any.

Harry Jones


A. You are not alone and from what I can see this is a quite a messy business involving Microsoft, the Windows Genuine Advantage Update, Gigabyte motherboards and Nvidia drivers (AMD processors might also be in there somewhere).


Anyway, the upshot of all this is that one or more of these items are not getting on and the solution appears to be to uninstall the Nvidia IDE drivers, though the video drivers might also be suspect. Before you do anything go to your motherboard manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers or motherboard utility. To remove the drivers go to Device Manager (Winkey + Break > Hardware > Device Manager), right click on the driver and select Remove (only do one at a time), reboot and when Windows loads it will go through the Hardware Found routine and when asked you point it towards your new drivers.



Timely Warnings

Hello Rick, glad to see you're still doing your stuff. Keep it up! Any ideas on this one? We're told that spending too much time at a stretch on the computer can be injurious to health. I'm sure I'm not alone in being carried away heedless of time once I  get going.


Is there a simple-to-use method of presetting the PC to sound (or show) a timed warning signal when you've outstayed your welcome?  It would have to be easily reset, say with a mouse click, at the start of each session.

Ken Robinson


A. Everything you need is built into Windows and it’s called the Task Scheduler. Provided you have set and use an XP logon password it’s really easy to use and you can make it do all sorts of things at preset times. The example I give in this Top Tip is to use it to play a tune, a musical reminder or wake up call, but equally it can be used to fire up any program on your PC. If you want something a little more elaborate then have a look at a little freeware utility called Perfect Alarm Clock, which lets you set an infinite number of alarms each day, that will play music files or launch applications.



French Keyboard Overlay

Rick, is it possible to obtain keyboard overlays for a French keyboard layout? I often have occasion to type in French and have found that I can set my keyboard accordingly, but letters come up in unusual places. It would be easier than using insert symbol or other shortcuts for accents etc. If you can suggest where I could find such a thing I would be most grateful.

Duncan Oakley


A. What you need are some French Language keyboard stickers. They’re sticky labels, with the French characters printed on them, but they are transparent, so your original key legends show through. Most of the one’s I’ve seen are made of a tough material like Lexan, so they shouldn’t wear out any quicker than normal key keyboard keys. It seems the best place to buy these is Canada, where they are cheap and plentiful. One or two UK sellers I’ve found are really taking the Mickey with prices of more than £40 -- it would be cheaper to take a day trip to Calais and buy French keyboard… Happily there are cheaper sources, like the Keyboard Company (£19 + VAT) or check out Ebay.com, where you will find US companies selling them for a couple of dollars.



Can I Remove XP Updates?

Hi Rick. I am still learning about computers so please bear with me.  I have over 60 Security Updates and Hot Fixes for Windows XP. These have all been installed by Microsoft updates and my list on the Add/ Remove programs is getting very long. Can I remove please or will this affect my programs?

John Bashford


A. You should leave them alone, I know it’s not very tidy and it looks like they are swallowing up a lot of space but if you try to delete or uninstall them you could well bring your system crashing down around your ears. If you are running short of hard disc space then you should think about installing a second slave drive and if you want to know how to do that take a look at Boot Camp 427.



Cannot Install AVG Anti-Virus

Dear Rick, I am unable to use AVG anti-virus as every time I install it my computer goes into a loop so that when the windows page appears the computer closes down and restarts and this loop continues. I then have to start in safe mode and use restore to get rid of this problem. I use Windows XP and all is OK except this one problem.  If I try to start other than in safe mode a message appears saying that a file is missing or corrupted. Any ideas as to how this can be solved?
Eddie Briggs


A. You need to completely uninstall AVG, using the built-in installer, then you must delete any folders left behind. Finally you should clear out any remaining Registry entries, I suggest using a freeware cleaner called Regseeker. After a reboot you should be able to carry out a clean re-install of AVG. Alternatively, after uninstalling AVG try another freeware anti-virus program, both Avast! and AntiVir do an excellent job



XP Backup Drive Problems

Rick, I am not all that PC literate and am trying to find the way of fooling Windows XP into letting me find a drive, other than floppy or 'F', for back up. I have and oldish 'e machine' that was my son-in-laws and only the CD is writeable. I have been navigating around your site (marvellous place, a gold mine--even for me) but even though I have been to Top Tips etc. etc. I have had no success finding what I want and am in danger of disappearing up my own 'C' drive. Please help!

David Braisher


A. I’m guessing that you are using XP’s built-in backup facility, which is actually quite good but has one fatal flaw, it doesn’t support CD/DVD writers and only allows you to backup to local, external or network hard drives (or floppies, but that’s pretty pointless with only 1.4Mb capacity…). 


However, it can be tricked into doing so but you need to use a utility that can handle UDF formatting, which basically turns a blank CD/DVD into a giant floppy. The full procedure is outlined in the Top Tip attached to Boot Camps 377 and 378, which looks at how to set up the XP Backup utility.  



Windows Upgrade on a New PC

Dear Rick, this seems such an obvious question that I'm sure there is an obvious answer

- except that I can't seem to find it! I have an old PC with pre installed Windows 98.  I upgraded to XP with a retail upgrade disk. Is there any way to transfer this upgraded version of XP to a new computer?  (I note from your article on building a Vista PC for

£200 that you need the original Win 98 disk as well as the XP upgrade).

Christopher Chew


A. Yes, you can install Windows XP on a new PC using the upgrade disc, provided of course that you don’t try to use the old machine again since you are only allowed to install one instance of XP at a time. The Upgrade disc contains the complete operating system but fairly early on in the installation process you will be asked to verify that you are entitled to use the Upgrade disc and you will be asked to insert a Windows 98, SE, ME or NT installation disc, but it has to be a full retail copy, not another Upgrade or a Recovery disc. It spends around 30 seconds checking the disc after which you are asked to remove it and reload the XP disc and the installation will then proceed as normal.



All Programs Button Not Working

Dear Rick, when I click on All Programs on the Start menu I now get no response at all.  Other programs can be accessed after pressing the Start button. Do you know what the cause(s) of the problem might be, and possible solutions?
Keith Carpenter


A. It’s certainly not a common fault, in fact the only references to dicky All Programs buttons I can find is a way to make it disappear, by hacking the Registry or using Group Policies. Since your button is still visible I don’t think this can be the cause.


For the record and for the benefit of those who know their way around the Registry the offending key can be found in: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\



The Value Name is NoStartMenuMorePrograms, and the default (show button) setting is 0.


Nevertheless I suspect this may be a problem with the Registry and you could try doing a System Restore to a date before it started, otherwise I would try switching to the Classic Start menu (and then back again) by right-clicking on the Start menu and select Properties, and failing that try an XP Repair Install, though if you do make sure your backups are up to date.



Is My PC Sending Me Spam?

Rick, last week we noticed last week that in the BT Internet Spam folder there was an E-Mail purporting to come from our own address! We never open Spam but periodically look at what is in there on a just in case basis that something vital has got in there by mistake. Deletion of spam is our invariable practice. We run Spybot, AVG and Zone Alarm on a Windows 98SE operating system. Is this a sign that someone has hijacked our E-Mail address and should we be worried?


There are no obvious signs that something is wrong; apart from the occasional start up and shut down petrifying, everything seems as normal. Your views would be very welcome.

B & ME Cunliffe, Chester


A. The rogue message probably originated from someone you know, with an infected PC, with your details in their Address Book. It might be a one-off and hopefully their anti-virus software has caught it, but if it happens again open the Message Properties (right click message, select Properties, click Details then Message Source) and in amongst the gobbledegook you might spot the address of someone you know. If so get in touch and let them know that their PC may be infected. Incidentally opening the message in text mode is perfectly safe and it won't activate any malicious payload it might be carrying.



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