APRIL 2007


Camcorder Connections

Hi Rick I have a Sharp ViewCam (VL-AH50) Hi8 camcorder, which I want to connect to my laptop.  The only ports on the camcorder are audio/video out and DC power in. What would I need to connect this to my laptop?  My laptop only has USB ports and an audio line in jack, however I do have access to a laptop that has a S-Video jack.  Please help, my camcorder is eating up my tapes at times and I want to put them on DVD before they become unsalvageable.

Chyna Richards


A. It’s not a problem, and there’s an excellent piece of kit on the market that will do everything you need, but before I get to that you need to make sure your laptop is up to the job. It needs to be a fairly recent model with at least a 1.5GHz processor, a minimum of 512Mb of RAM (1Gb would be even better), plenty of free hard disc space (at least 30 – 40Gb), running Windows XP or Vista and of course, it must have a DVD writer.


If your machine firs the bill then I recommend Pinnacle’s Dazzle video to DVD outfit. It includes a video input module that plugs into your PC’s USB socket, and it comes with some basic editing and DVD burning software, but the really good news is that can pick it up for less than £50 from on-line sellers.


By the way, if your camcorder is chewing tapes then I really wouldn’t continue using it. You can pick up decent second hand Hi8 machines on ebay for £50 or so.


Incidentally, for the record the S-Video socket on the other laptop is almost certainly a video output connection; at least I’m not aware of any laptops that have an S-Video input.



Slow Canon USB Connection

Hi Rick, when I attach my camera, a Canon PowerShot A530, to my PC (running XP SP2) with its USB cable, there is a gap of at least 2 or 3 minutes before the device is recognized.  All other USB devices, including another camera, are recognized almost immediately when plugged in.  Indeed, the Canon itself used to be recognized straight away too, but not any more.  Have you any idea what may be causing this delay and how I can speed things up?

John Urry


A. There are a number of possibilities but I would start by trying the camera on another USB socket, if that one works faster then you should reinstall your USB Host Controller drivers. You will probably need the driver disc that came with your PC, so make sure you have this on hand before you go any further. Go to Device Manager (Winkey + Break > Hardware > Device Manager) scroll down the list to USB devices, right-click on the Host Controller entry (there may be more than one) select Remove or Uninstall, reboot and if asked, load the driver CD. If switching USB sockets doesn’t make any difference then the most likely cause is a corrupt device driver. With the camera plugged in on the entry for your camera got back into Device Manager, locate your camera’s USB driver on the lost and select uninstall. Uninstall the camera software from Add/Remove Programs in Control panel and start over with a fresh installation.



So many Windows Updates?

Dear Rick, every day when I shut down my XP SP2 PC it wants to install updates. Can there really be so many updates or is this a case of the same one failing to install correctly? Is there any way of finding out what is being updated?

Terry Hughes


A. My guess it is the same one. Most updates and patches for Windows and Microsoft products are bundled together and released on the first Tuesday of each month, so-called ‘Patch Tuesday’. It sounds as though one or more patches and fixes from the April 10th batch has failed to install. The simplest thing to do is carry out a manual update by visiting the Windows Update site (Internet Explorer only). Follow the links and it will determine which ones you are missing.


As far as finding out what all these updates are for, that information is published on the Microsoft TechNet website; scroll down the page and you’ll find a detailed and usually very technical explanation of each one.



Scanner Streaming Solution

Hi Rick, I wonder if you may be able to offer some advice on a problem I am having with transferring audio via remote desktop on XP Pro?


I own a Winradio ISA based scanning receiver, which uses the PC's sound card (via external jumper lead) to amplify the audio output of the receiver. I want to be able to leave the desktop PC that contains the receiver in a fixed location (in a cupboard maybe) and use my Sony laptop to remotely access the functions of the receiver using the remote desktop option in XP. (both PC's run XP - The desktop is XP Pro and the laptop, XP Home)


Having set up the remote desktop function in XP I can now access all the functions of the Winradio on the laptop but there is a catch - there is no audio. I can access other audio files on the desktop PC (like MP3's etc) from the laptop, but cannot get any receiver audio. I have tried all the obvious settings in XP like 'leave audio on remote PC' or bring audio into remote PC' etc, but still no luck. I can however record the receiver audio on the laptop using the XP basic audio recorder function and play it back, but this is no use as it isn't in 'real time'. It seems that I need to digitise the analogue audio output after it has been fed into the sound card on the desktop and then 'stream' it to the laptop. This is where my problem lies - how can I do this?


The manufacturer of my Winradio card offers specialised software to do this, so there must be a way around the problem. The catch is that the software costs about UK pounds 50 and if I can do it without the special software, all the better. Any ideas?

Nick Price, Cape Town, South Africa


A. Streaming would appear to be the obvious solution, however, having struggled with various programs in the past I cannot recommend any specific software. It was all terrible, but I am willing to be guided by more knowledgeable or patient readers. If anyone has any suggestions I will pass them on. In the end, though, I think the answer might lie in piece of relatively a low-tech kit, a Wireless AV Sender. These devices are used to relay audio and video signals from a DVD player or video recorder form one room to another. You can pick these up in the UK (sorry I don’t know about the SA market) for around £25, and all you have to do is connect the transmitter module to your PC’s audio output, and the receiver to the laptops line audio input. They have a range of around 25 – 50 metres, which should be enough to cover most homes.



Disappearing Data

I had an old hard drive I unfortunately decided to connect to my new computer using an external housing. The old drive was FAT32 IDE and the new computer is SATA and NFTS. All the data has disappeared from the old FAT32 drive and I only have some system files appearing in it in Explorer. Is there any way to recover the lost data?

Colin Hughes


A. Without knowing more about the history of the drive it’s impossible to say, however, it is very unusual for large amounts of data to just disappear. Although PCs designed to use SATA drives usually have legacy support for IDE drives, and XP shouldn’t have any trouble reading FAT 32 formatted data, you have at least two possible trouble spots so the first thing I would do is refit the drive to your old PC, if you still have it, otherwise try and get hold of an old Windows 98/SE/ME machine and slave it to that. This should at least tell you if there’s anything on the drive that you current PC isn’t seeing, and it will allow you to extract the data, by copying it to a CD-R, pen drive or network connection. If the drive still appears corrupted then you could try a tool like PC Inspector File Recovery. If the data is valuable you might want to consider buying one of the more sophisticated recovery tools, or paying a specialist first to check the drive, though I warn you this can be expensive.  



Satnav Errors

Hi Rick, is there a website where satnav errors can be notified so that manufacturers can modify their routing? A narrow and steeply winding lane near my house has had a 38 tonne artic and a car and caravan stuck in it in the past couple of weeks with walls demolished and clutches burnt out.

Terry Hughes


A. Sadly not, at least there’s no central agency responsible for all types of satnav maps, and even if there were, I suspect verificaiton would be a nightmare. The maps are resident in the receiver's on-board software and are produced by a number of different companies, using data from a variety of sources, including the Ordinance Survey, satellite photos and so on.


The only thing you could do is find out if there’s a common thread to these misdirections; try asking the stranded users which make or brand of satnav they are using, and if they are all the same you could try alerting that manufacturer.


However, even if they do take note and modify their maps it’ll take a long time to filter through and will only affect devices produced after that date, or systems where maps can be updated. I think in the end a low-tech approach is called for, like a large, well-lit sign, warning drivers that the track is unsuitable for large vehicles or caravans. It’s the sort of thing your local council should be responsible for.



A Tiny Problem

Hello Rick, I am a Silver Surfer who unfortunately purchased a 'Tiny' computer just before the company went bust.  So I don't think that I have anyone to turn to for assistance.


Because the PC is now showing signs of old age, I have decided that it is time to perform a factory reset.  I have the 'System Driver/Software Library and Factory Reset CD'.  I have the printed instructions to help me.  The latter says that having inserted the CD:  'on the screen that automatically appears select Factory Reset'.


Unfortunately I do not get that screen.  However I do get the list of drivers and other bundled software.  I do not see factory reset or anything that could be translated to that.  Feeling clever I put in the CD prior to restart but at boot up received the statement 'drive image special edition backup partition was not found' and that's meaningless to me.


With my lack of pc knowledge is it possible for generic software that will perform a factory reset and where do I get it, or is there anything else that you can suggest please?

Ron Roe


A. The ‘drive image partition…’ error message is bad news as it suggests that the files needed to re-install Windows, which are stored on your PC’s hard drive, may be missing or corrupted. Without getting up close and personal to your PC it’s hard to say if the files are recoverable but I doubt it, and the easiest solution would be to obtain a copy of Windows, wipe and re-partition the drive and start again. All of the drivers you need to complete the re-installation sound as though they are still intact so no problems there. The only thing I would add is that your PC is now approaching early middle age, it probably wasn’t very good to start with, and you may be better off cutting your losses and getting a new one.



Relocated Memory Hhctrl.ocx Error Message

Hi Rick, for the past couple of days when I boot my PC I get the following Message - can you recommend an answer?

"RTHDCPL.EXE - Illegal System Relocation The Systems DLLUser32.dll was relocated in memory.  The Application will not run properly. The relocation occurred because the DLL C:\WINDOWS\System32\HHCTRL.OCX occupied an address range reserved for WindowsSystem DLLs. The vendor supplying the DLL should be contacted for a new DLL"

Peter Keefe


A. My inbox has been flooded with this one over the past couple of days and it’s all due to a glitch in the recent Windows XP Update (KB925902). It conflicts with a number of applications, including the Realtek Audio Control Panel, CD Tag, AVG and numerous others. It’s due to the program loading the Hhctrl.ocx file, which the update has replaced, before it loads the User32.dll file.


Microsoft were on the case almost immediately and it has prepared a patch, which you can download from: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/935448/



Permanantly Erasing Personal Data

Dear Rick, I have an old PC bought under the Government £50 scheme to encourage people to pass the European Computer Driving License. It had obviously been used for the Internet but hopefully had been cleaned before sold to me. I have never connected it to the Internet but when I was made redundant I created a file of my finances on it. I have deleted the file but will the details still be on the hard drive? If so how can I clean it without an Internet connection?

Peter Robinson


A. As you may or may not know when you delete a file on a PC’s hard disc drive all you are actually doing is deleting the reference to it on the drive’s index. The file remains intact but the space it occupies is marked as being ‘free’, so eventually it will be overwritten.


You would think that would be an end of it but there aware ways and means of recovering data that may have been overwritten several times. It’s regarded as such a serious threat to security that when the military and some commercial users dispose of old PCs the drives are removed and physically destroyed. There’s no need for you to go to such lengths, though, and a simple ‘shredder’ utility, which overwrites deleted files several times with random or meaningless data will do the trick. I suggest RJH Extensions, which has a shredder utility than can be used from the right-click menu in Windows Explorer, and if you haven’t got an Internet connection I’m sure a friend or colleague can download it for you and copy it to a floppy or pen-drive.



Slow Shutdown in XP

Rick, I have an XP machine that takes forever to shut down. Any ideas what causes this? I'm tempted to do a clean install of XP (I have everything backed up on an external drive) or is there a quicker way to put things right?

Steve R.


A. The root causes of a slow or stubborn shutdown are many and various but it is almost always associated with a rogue program or background Service that isn’t doing as it is told and continues to run in the background. If it’s a program you should be able to see which one it is, after you have closed everything down, by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del to bring up the Windows Task Manager. Select the Applications tab and see if anything is still listed. If you see an entry, click on it, select End Task and you should be able to shut down okay. If that doesn’t do the trick then try the suggestions in the Windows XP Startup and Shutdown Troubleshooter, and you can fire this up from the Help window, by typing ‘shutdown’ in the Search box, then follow the links.



Failed Installation

I run Windows XP SP2 on an IBM X31 which is less than 2 years old. I have plenty of memory and disc space available but whenever I try to use the Add New Hardware Wizard I get the following error message - 'You can install one device at a time. Another device installation is underway, when it is finished you can try this wizard again.'


Now I understand the logic of this and wouldn't mind if I were actually in the process of installing some hardware but I'm not. Is there any way I can clear this queue or bypass the 'wizard' aspect and add hardware manually?

Paul Facer


A. My guess is you’ve started, but not finished installing a piece of software or hardware recently and Windows won’t let you start a new one until you’ve completed the earlier install. If you know what it is then I suggest you load the disc, or restart the installation and let it finish this time. Otherwise, if you don’t remember what the installation was, or it just happened, then it may be due to a Registry error.


If you know your way around the Registry or are feeling brave and prepared to accept the risk you should be able to fix it yourself, but heed this warning about making a backup first, and it’s a good idea to set a Restore Point as well. Once that’s done open Regedit (type regedit in Run on the Start menu) and see if the following keys are present:





If so right click on them and either delete the key or set the value to 0.




Webcam Woes

Dear Rick, I have had my Creative NXPro webcam for a long time and never managed to get it going properly. It appears to be properly installed but when I run the video the picture freezes, sometimes within a few seconds and other times after a minute or two. It always freezes at some point and can be a real problem getting the program to then close.


What can I do to sort this out? I contacted Creative and they wanted me to uninstall/reinstall etc. I have done that but it does not work. Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

Michael Barker


A. Apparently the early drivers for this camera were a bit buggy so if you haven’t already done so you should download the latest version (, from the Creative website. However, before you install it make sure you have removed all tracers of the previous installation from Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, and any software that came with it, and I recommend running a Registry Cleaner like RegSeeker. If you have any other digital video/imaging programs on your machine I suggest temporarily removing them as well.  


If it is still playing up then I fear you could end up wasting lot of time chasing your tail with this one. Since it is an oldish model, and new webcams are so cheap, I would be inclined to cut my losses and replace it.


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