Sharing Outlook Express

Dear Rick, is there any way I can share Outlook Express between two PCs?  I'm running Windows XP Media on both machines.  I've managed to set them up to share Word, Excel and Pictures, but failed to get Outlook Express to share as the spare PC didn't pick up my account, folders or address book from the main PC.  If I set up my account on the spare PC as well, won't it I end up with two different versions of my own inbox?

Jane Wadkin


A. The trick is to set up duplicate Outlook Express accounts on both PCs, however, as you suggest, if left in the default settings you would end up with your messages being split between the two computers because whichever one was in use would download all the emails from the server. The solution is to set one or both email programs to leave the messages on the server for the other one.


If you can designate one of your PCs as the main PC, where all email messages are to be stored then you only have to disable this feature on the second PC. If both PCs have equal status and you want to be able to receive all emails on both of them then you need to set both PCs to leave all messages on the server and either delete them manually, or set OE to do it automatically after a preset period.


You will find all of these options in OE by going to Tools > Accounts and highlight the first account on the list (if you have more than one), click the Properties button and select the Advanced tab. Under Delivery select or deselect ‘Leave a copy of message on server…’ as appropriate, and if necessary configure automatic deletion by checking the item: ‘Remove form server after X days’, and setting the days value as appropriate.   



Mad Mouse

Hi Rick, I can't control my mouse any more! It’s the same with the touchpad. The pointer is just jumping all over the screen. It is OK for a minute or so and then just goes haywire. I have changed the mouse but it's still going mad. Any suggestions please as to why this is happening?

Marjorie MacVicar


A. You would think a problem like this would be easy to solve but so many things can affect mouse movement that it can be a nightmare to track down. However, the fact that it is affecting both the touchpad and an external mouse helps to narrow the field a little.


The first place to start is to give the PC a thorough clean by running a full scan with your anti-virus program, then a session with a couple of Malware cleaners, like AdAware and SpyBot (both free). It’s probably not that but it’s one thing less to worry about. Next, if the problem occurred all of a sudden and up to that point it was working normally, try to remember if you had recently installed any new software. If so try uninstalling it. Otherwise if you can remember when it started use System Restore to reset the machine to a time before it happened.


Last but not least, try reinstalling or updating the mouse driver. Go to Device Manager and remove the existing driver then reboot and Windows will replace it when you reboot. Visit the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s a newer or updated version.



Cramming More onto CDs

Hi Rick, following your past advice I have used Total Recorder (an excellent program) to record plays etc from BBC archives. Now I want to transfer them to CDs so I can play them in the car on long journeys. However I can only get 80 minutes worth on a 700 meg CD, regardless of whether they are in MP3 or .Wav format. Is there any way of compressing them to get more on the CD or can you suggest another solution?

John Baker


A. Obviously there’s nothing you can do about the amount of data you can get on a CD, that’s physically limited to 650 or 700Mb, but it’s how the data is used that counts. If you use the audio files to create an audio CD then you will be limited to the 80 minute playback time, but if the files you record are compressed MP3 files, then the potential playing time is equal to the sum of the playing times of all of the tracks you can get on the disc.


For example, you could get 350 x 2Mb tracks on a 700Mb blank, which, depending on the compression levels and for the sake of argument, could last for 3 minutes each, giving a theoretical running time of 1050 minutes, or over 17 hours.


However the latter scenario is only possible when the playback device can read MP3 files, so I have to ask, does your car stereo have that capability? From what you say it would seem that it does, therefore you must be using a very high compression setting indeed to create the MP3 files. You need to delve into the program’s configuration menu and reduce the level, typically to 96kbs for speech, and 128kbs for music. Incidentally, I’m now recommending Audacity as the best all-round audio editor and recorder and MP3 encoder, and MP3 My MP3 Recorder as a basic MP3 recorder.



Li-Ion for Canon?

Hi Rick, I was wondering if there is a replacement Lithium-Ion battery for the Canon UC9 Hi8 camcorder? At the time I purchased this excellent video camera only NiCad rechargeables were available. Can you help or advise?

Greg Klenofsky


A. Sadly no, you are stuck with old style Nicad, or possibly Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh) replacements, as they share similar electrical characteristics. Lithium-Ion on the other hand is a whole new ball-game, requiring a much more sophisticated charger.


Apart from anything else the camcorder’s power management system wouldn’t be able to cope with Li-Ion’s very different discharge curve, so the battery meter would give spurious results. The good news is that Nicads  (and NiMh) packs are still available from suppliers like Keene and will continue to be so for some time. They’re also cheaper and last longer than Li-ion batteries, which few users realise start to degrade from the day they’re made, and rarely make it past their fifth birthday.



Notification Required

Hi Rick, I want to put a couple of items back into the 'Current' section of the Notification area - can you help?

Robin Adams


A. Icons in the Notification area or System Tray can only be put there by the programs they relate to, however, my guess is you have set Windows to automatically hide icons for programs that you do not use very often, or at all.


To see what's lurking behind the scenes by right-clicking on the Taskbar, select Properties then the Start Menu tab. At the bottom click on the Customize buttons and this will display a list of all icons that can appear in the System Tray. You can control their behaviour by right clicking on each one and selecting an option from the drop-down menu.



Windows 98 Startup Disc

Hi Rick, I have an old laptop, which ran Windows 95 for more years and miles than I care to

remember. With a little project in mind decided to upgrade to Windows 98. I managed to kill 95 in doing this then found that my old Startup Disc that I used to enable the CD for installing doesn't work. I used it lots of times for desktops but this was the first time I tried it on a laptop.


Can you advise me if its possible to get a temporary set up so that I can get my Windows 98 CD to load?

Geoff Howl


A. Assuming that the floppy disc drive on your old laptop is working then your old startup disc is probably just worn out, or faulty. This isn’t a problem, you can easily create another one if you or someone you knows has a working Windows 98 PC, if not you can download the necessary files from the web. Try Bootdisk.com, which has free copies of all Windows and DOS boot discs, with instructions on how to use them.



Accidental Copies

Hi Rick, trying to delete a lot of pictures by selecting whilst holding the 'Ctrl' button down and then sending the selection to the recycle bin I seem to be getting loads of copies of my pictures, at the latest count sometimes up to ''78 copies of copy of 2007.02.jpg' for instance.       The selected files do get to the Deleted Items and disappear when cleared out but there still seem to be even more copies HELP!

Roy Angel, Staines


A. We’ve all done it, and it’s not a fault or a bug, just a slippery mouse or jittery finger. My own tactics to avoid this happening, or at least, limit the damage, is to only use that technique – clicking on files individually with the mouse – on relatively small batches of files, no more than ten or so at a time. When I need to delete large blocks of files I use the keyboard. If you hold down the Shift key you can highlight one file at a time using the up/down cursor keys, or whole pages of files, using Page Up/Down. If there are any files in the highlighted block you do not want to delete then you can pick them out by holding down the Ctrl key and de-select them using the mouse.



Skype Solutions?

Hi Rick, are there any articles available to help me set up Skype on my laptop, or is it a matter of just following instructions?

Les green


A. It sounds as though you are looking for trouble but I think you will find that installing Skype is a relatively painless business. The only things to watch out for are your firewall, which might object, or ask your permission for Skype to use your Internet connection, and connecting and configuring your laptop’s audio connections.


If you do run into difficulty you can be pretty sure you’re not alone, and that someone somewhere has come up with a fix and the natural place to start is Skype’s own Help pages, User Guides, Knowledgebase and Forums. There are also plenty of independent Skype Helpsites to choose from so you can be fairly sure that one way or another the answer is out there.



Minimize to Taskbar Not Working

Hi there Rick, I wonder if you can help with this one? I'm running XP on laptop which in general performs very well.  Sadly, recently if I minimise a page using the "-" gadget on top right, it fails to materialise on the task bar at the bottom of the screen and so cannot be retrieved.  I can manage by reducing the size of the window each time, but it's a bit messy.

Any ideas for a cure please?

Peter Buchan


A. I’ve come across this kind of thing a couple of times and in both cases it was caused by a Registry error. Rather than run through a manual repair you should pop along to the most excellent Kelly’s Korner website and download a free VBS repair script called Desktop Fixall and this should do the trick



RAM-bunctious Drive

Hi Rick, could you help me with a small problem with my computer please? When I put a disc in my DVD-RAM drive the computer does not pick up the disc, I have to go into My Computer and click DVD-RAM drive to open the disc, this usually works all right but sometimes I miss some of the information for installing a program and have a lot of messing about before the program works properly. I bought this new computer in March 2006 and it has always been this way, I had no problem with my last computer. Can you advise how to fix this?

Christine Richardson


A. It sounds as though the AutoPlay function hasn’t been configured, which is odd, because it’s normally set to work by default. Anyway, to set it up right-click on the drive icon in My Computer or Windows Explorer and select Properties then the AutoPlay tab. All you have to do now is select the types of disc you want to open automatically on the drop-down menu then use the ‘Actions list to specify what happens.



Mystery Pictures

Dear Rick, on opening an attachment to an email, I used the ‘Slide Show’ facility and, as well as the photos sent to me, there appeared a series of about 30 pictures of cats and kittens, etc. I had visited a cat website yesterday, and looked at one of two images but made no attempt to save them.


This was disconcerting but, in the past, I have perused pictures of a more adult nature, and it would be most serious if another person came across them. 



A. The pictures you are seeing are in your browser’s Temporary Internet Files or ‘cache’. The idea is images and graphics from web pages are stored temporarily so if you visit the page again it will appear to load much quicker. This was useful in the days of dial-up Internet but it makes hardly any difference nowadays with broadband.


You can empty the cache and set the browser not to store files, or have them automatically deleted after a preset period. In Internet Explorer go to Tools > Internet Options and select the General tab. Under Temporary Internet Files click the Settings button and change your preferences. For complete privacy I suggest checking ‘Never’ and setting the disc space slider to 1 – 2Mb. Click OK, return to the General tab and under History and change ‘Days to Keep…’ to zero and the cache memory will be emptied when you exit IE.


In Firefox you will find a similar set of controls under Tools > Options > Privacy.


You should also know that Windows stores details of every website you every visited in a hidden and protected log file called index.dat, and the only sure way to empty that is to use a utility like Crap Cleaner – there’s a link to the download in the Software section of my PCTopTips website



Caret Browsing and Page Up/Down

While reading material on the internet my Page Up and Page Down button on the keyboard
suddenly ceased to function, either on the special keypad or on the number key pad. If I press Control End the keys work for a few times, the keys also work in Word and in Excel
(thus I do not think it is a hardware fault). Can you help me restore the function of the

Artur Hecht


A. By the sound of it the problem is only occurring in your web browser, which leads me to suspect you have enabled an obscure feature in Firefox called ‘Caret Browsing. Basically this is an Accessibility feature, for those who have difficulty with the mouse and enabling it places a cursor on the screen, allowing the user to navigate the page using the cursor keys. To toggle Caret Browsing on and off simply hit the F7 key and click OK.  




Printing Nonsense

I have an Epson Stylus Photo 750 printer and run Windows XP (SP2). Occasionally when trying to print a document the printer churns out literally about 100 pages with just some symbols at the top of each page.  I am unable to stop this process – just have to keep feeding the printer more paper.  I have tried opening the printer window and deleting the documents queued for printing – but it makes no difference.  Also tried Ctrl Alt and Del – to end printer – again no joy.  Today it happened when trying to print a web page – the printer was out of paper – and when I refilled the paper feed the printer started churning out approx. 100 pages of hieroglyphics, which I couldn’t stop. Any idea of the cause – and a cure?

David Grainger


A. This sort of thing is often caused by a driver problem, or a problem with the application you are printing from but the driver is the place to start so visit the Epson website and download and install the latest XP version for your model and see if that helps.


If it happens again the thing to do is not to waste paper but to switch it off and pull out the mains plug. Press the on switch on and off and this will have the effect of clearing the printer’s internal memory then you can plug it back in again switch on and start again.


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