Hi Rick, I followed
your very useful advice and turned off the annoying User Account
Control in Vista. However, I now get another annoying message telling me that
the UAC is turned off and it really should be turned on! Can you advise how to
get rid of this second unwanted annoyance?
A. Yes I can, but be
warned that this is a global setting and if anything else is upsetting Windows
Security Centre – such as your anti-virus or firewall programs not working -- you
won’t see a pop-up alert.
do the deed double-click the Security Centre icon (the little shield in the
System Tray, next to the clock) and in the Tasks pane on the left click ‘Change
the way Security Centre Alerts me’ then click the item ‘Don’t notify me, but
display the icon’.
When Windows Won’t Go Away
I find that sometimes Windows XP will not close down, but
hangs on the closing system down screen. Is there any way I can prevent this?
A. When Windows
won’t go away the usual reason is there’s a program or ‘Service’ running in the
background that has either frozen, or is not responding to instructions from
Windows to shut down. Most of the time you can find out what it is simply by
pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del and select the Applications tab, which should be
clear. If anything is showing, and it’s the same program every time, you should
go through the usual routine of checking the support section of the
manufacturer’s website for clues, and where applicable downloading any updates,
patches or drivers. Failing that try working through the suggestions on the Windows XP Shutdown &
Who is this Asp Net User?
Hi Rick, out of
curiosity I checked the user accounts in the Control Panel on my PC. There is
an entry shown as 'asp.net machine A....Limited Account - Password Protected',
with an icon of a yellow sports car. I did not configure this user account and
I've no idea what it is. I'm using Windows XP Home SP2 with automatic
updates. Do you think that this user
account is something that should be removed or is it normal?
A. You can relax,
it’s nothing sinister and is due to a Windows Update. I have heard from a
number of people recently who have stumbled across this entry and are naturally
concerned about the appearance of this unknown ‘User’.
actually dates back to a Windows update released in September 2004, and
followed the installation of Service Pack 1.1 for the .Net Framework. This is
basically a set of utility files used by some recent Windows programs, there’s
more on the phantom User in Microsoft
Knowledgebase article 555299, but the bottom line is you can leave it
alone, it’s doing no harm and your PC’s security hasn’t been compromised.
I have an
application I am testing, which needs a special printer. In the office this is
fine, but at home I don't have the printer and it’s tricky to test without it.
Do you know of a
utility, which will take the 'print' output and display it on screen instead of
sending it to the printer? Ideally it would install as a Windows printer but
display instead of printing. Or is this not possible?
Basically what you are looking for is a ‘Virtual Printer’, and the simplest
method is to create a pdf or portable document file, which can be viewed on any
PC using Adobe Reader or a similar pdf reader. There is now a good selection of
PDF authoring software and I suggest that you try PDF Creator, which is
freeware, and very easy to use. You might also like to have a look at Polestar
Virtual Printer, which can create BMP, JPEG and Tiff images from common
document types, it is commercial software, costing $30, but you can try before
you buy with a 30-day
Wandering Wi-Fi Woes
I have a problem
with Wi-Fi. My laptop has an integral 11g Wi-Fi adaptor with 128-bit
encryption, which I use at home, but when away I cannot logon to any unsecured
network nor my son's 128-bit protected net, although I have entered his WEP
code so many times in so many manners that I can now remember it. I've checked
his setup for anything odd, but all seems quite conventional. I've checked your articles, both old and
new, but without success. Is there anything obvious, please?
I wish I could give you a simple one-shot solution but Wi-Fi can be a tricky
customer, when it works it is great but changing networks is sometimes akin to
black magic. The only tips I can give, especially when trying to log on to home
networks, is to first disable the firewall and any other Internet/network
monitoring software on your PC, then reboot the whole network. Switch
everything off, including any other PCs connected to the router, then go
through a sequenced re-boot, starting with the router, then one PC, and if
that's okay move onto the next one. If that doesn’t work try a sequenced
reboot, this time with encryption switched off on the router (and your PC). In
both cases don’t forget to re-enable the firewall and encryption as soon as
possible. Otherwise try this trick, for flushing out old network settings, from
the Internet section of my PCTopTips
Hi Rick. As you know the Display section of Windows XP
Control Panel has a screensaver, which,
after a preset time of inactivity will display a random selection of pictures
stored in the PC. I find it quite fascinating to see pictures I had
often forgotten about leading me to reflect on their history. The thing
is I would very much like to reproduce as many as possible of my pictures
together on to a DVD. Can this be
A. There are lots of ways of doing this,
however, since this is first time you’ve tried it I suggest that you keep it
simple and copy some pictures to a CD using my all time favourite freeware
picture viewer/editor, Picasa.
This has a feature called ‘Gift CD’, it’s really simple to use and creates a
slideshow disc, with a built-in viewer that plays on just about any DVD player.
Lost Inbox and
I hope you can help
Rick. Recently the contents of both my Inbox and Sentbox disappeared. My
local computer expert was sure that he could resurrect them but was unable to.
Everything is working normally since.
Unless you or your local expert have done anything drastic those message
folders are still on your drive, though there is a high probability that they,
or the indexing file that looks after them, are corrupted. It may be possible
to recover them and normally I would suggest a freeware utility to do just
that, however, I’m not aware of any, so why not try the Repair Tool
for Outlook Express or Scandbx; free
trial versions of both programs are available and will tell you which, if any,
files can be recovered, if so you can pay the licence fee *£15 - £20) and the
files will be restored.
CD and DVD Speed
Hi Rick, what is the
significance of 4X 16X and 32X CD's and DVD's? I have a recordable Philips DVD
and a Dell computer. Which one should I be using?
A. The ‘X’ numbers on blank discs is the certified maximum
‘burn’ speed. To make sense of that we have to go back to the original audio CD
specification, which is for data to read off a disc at around 150kbs or roughly
9Mb per minute. This is the standard speed for CD operation, designated 1X.
When CD audio and data recorders first started to appear they all operated at
1X speed, but as the technology improved, drive manufacturers started to
increase writing speeds and by the mid 1990s we were seeing 4X, 8X and 12X
‘burners’. Now, as you know, you can get 48X and 52X CD drives, though the race
for ever faster CD and DVD drives now seems to have settled down.
However, getting there was tricky business and
in the early days there were a lot of problems getting blank discs to work at
speeds higher than 2X and 4X, let alone the speeds we are used to today.
Needless to say disc manufacturers eventually got it sorted and blank discs are
now marked with the maximum burn speed. The idea is you should only use discs
that are as fast, or preferably faster than the maximum burn speed of your
drive. In practice the faster you burn data the more chance there is the disc
will be toasted so for important recordings it is usually better to select the
slowest burn speed you can live with. By the way CD-RW discs work differently,
and drives have separate burn and erase speeds for re-writeable discs, so find
out what your drive is capable of, and check the blank disc labels carefully.
Hi Rick, in the last few days, access to web pages has been
significantly slower; even your page took a little while to load just now. I
put this firmly down to my aged home PC with its modest 256Mb RAM. However, an
office colleague and I noticed the same thing on our work PCs. A co-incidence -
or is the new rush for downloadable TV programmes and DVDs overloading the
A. It is unlikely to be your PC and I don’t
think it’s necessarily anything to do with TV downloads but Internet data
transfer speeds do vary throughout the day. It is affected by the amount of
traffic, plus there are numerous local and regional influences, everything from
breakdowns at your ISP’s end to sudden surges caused by major events and so on.
Download speeds can also be affected by how many other people in your
street are using their broadband connection, in short it could be anything, but
the thing to do is check the speed at several times in the day using a
bandwidth test website. In fact I would use a couple of sites such as: http://bandwidthplace.com/speedtest/ and www.pcpitstop.com/internet/bandwidth.asp then average out the
results to get a better idea of what is happening. If the results are
consistently and significantly slower than the service you’ve been paying for
then you should check with your ISP.
Rick, I have run FireFox 1.5 happily for some time. A couple
of days ago at the behest of my son I used the link to update to version 2 and
at the same time I accepted the invitation to update Google. After this nothing worked. Every time I tried to visit a website either
by typing a new address or using the bookmark list I had a message reading: FORBIDDEN The website you have just visited
has tried to provide you with search results from Google. The site violates our
terms of service so your search could not be completed...........
If I use Internet Explorer with Google I get the same
response to typed addresses. Using MSN
works but it is painfully slow. What
has happened? Can I reinstall FireFox
1.5? I run Windows XP with automatic
updates. Please please help.
A. I’m still not exactly sure what is happening but I
wouldn’t mind betting that you are using OnSpeed, the Internet accelerator. If
so disabling it will make the message go away. So far I’ve been unable to track down
anything definite but it seems like the problem is at OnSpeed’s end and for
some bizarre reason it doesn’t seem to affect searches using Google Ireland (http://www.google.ie/).
Errant Epson C66
Rick, we exchanged emails some time ago when I advised you
that I used to try and understand your articles in a computer magazine -- my
fault not yours -- you remarked that I might be as old as you -- I am 82!
I have an Epson printer and so also does a friend who uses
me as advisor. Both our printers recently ceased to display the amount of ink
in the cartridges though we can find out via Control Panel > Printers and Faxes > Epson C66 (my
printer) Printer > Properties > Advanced > Printer defaults >
Maintenance > Status Monitor. but this is a little prolonged!
I have heard that some manufacturers install a life-expectancy
program, my burglar alarm has one, which I could install, and at the date
entered it prevents the alarm working. I have not installed it as it seems open
to abuse. Do Epson also have such a feature?
A. Okay, you win on the age thing, but I’m
really not that far behind – at least it feels that way some mornings… Back to
your problem, and there’s a number of reasons the Status Monitor has
disappeared into the background, and I’m happy to say, none of them to do with
any dodgy self-destruct software. In no particular order the possibilities are
that you’ve been poking around in the Microsoft Configuration Utility
(msconfig) and pruned a startup item or ‘service’ (it may be called something
obscure like ‘EPS’ ‘Epson Status Monitor’ or listed as e_srcv03.exe. Otherwise
I would try uninstalling and reinstalling the software that came with the
printer and this will replace the old monitor, or the link to it, which may
have become corrupted.
Disc Activity Dilemma
Hi Rick, I am sitting at my PC. I am the only user logged
on, and no applications are running. Yet the disc light is flashing and from
the sound generated there is some pretty intense activity going on. Windows
Task Manager indicates that processes MsMpEng.exe and System Idle Process are
very active and using significant amounts of memory. This happens quite regularly.
Disc indexing is off. Is this a known issue that is readily resolved, or are
there diagnostic packages available that would identify the problem?
A. It’s Windows Defender, the anti-spyware
program, running a full scan, and these can take hours. My guess if you have it
set to continuously run full scans, which really will gobble up your PC’s
resources. The solution is to schedule it to run a Quick Scan, once a day, and
then if it detects anything, run a manual full scan.
I’ve also come across
another Windows Defender anomaly with PCs that have ‘Hyper Threading’ enabled
in the BIOS. Disabling it may solve the problem, though possibly at some cost
to performance, but it’s worth trying, and hopefully MS will sort it out in
Partitioning an old PC
Hi Rick, I would like to create a new drive on my XP PC
where I can store all my documents, etc. so making it easy when I come to
back-up (i.e. just back-up everything on drive E:\, for example).
How does one partition a new drive and can this only be done
on a new PC before it has been used (my PC is several years old now)?
A. Partitioning is best carried out before the operating
system is installed and both XP and Vista (and Linux) have tools that let you
do this, before the OS in loaded. Once a PC has been used for a while it gets
increasingly tricky. Files are not neatly stored on a single partition drive
and the free space that you want to use to create the new partition is not in
contiguous chunks. This means a lot of data has to be shuffled around.
It can be done, using a commercial program like
Partition Magic, and there are a number of freeware utilities too, but
personally I wouldn’t do it. There is a risk -- albeit only a small one with
Partition Magic -- that you’ll trash the lot. It’s far better to install a
second slave drive and use that. It’s also a better bet as far as backup
security is concerned; if your partitioned drive suffers a catastrophic
failure, you’ll lose your backup files as well.