October 2007



Camera to PC to TV

Hi Rick, having somehow (still learning!) managed to transfer a set of photos from a newly acquired digital camera to computer and then on to CD, s it possible to show the results on TV or is some extra software required?

Eddie Gaskill


A. Yes, maybe…Sorry about the uncertainty but it all depends on what hardware you have. If you own a laptop and a flat screen TV then you can almost certainly connect the two together using the VGA output on the PC and the PC input on the TV. Some laptops have a TV or Video output, in which case they can be connected directly to older TVs with video inputs. You may be able to pop the disc straight into a DVD player, many recent models – especially at the budget end of the market  -- have a JPEG replay facility, otherwise you have two options, create a Video CD of still images, which all DVD players can replay, or a DVD slideshow disc, and you will need some extra software to create both types of disc. Rather than run through the options here I will direct you to a Boot Camp article I wrote for the Daily Telegraph a few years ago, it’s a bit out of date and in need of revising, (something I’m planning to do in the next few weeks), but it should give you an idea of what’s involved.



Help With Help

Hi Rick, I desperately need to access the Remote Assistance help files so that I can get access to a friends PC – but when I try to open Help and Support I get an error message saying ‘Windows cannot find helpctr.exe’,  and if I try to start Remote Assistance from the Start menu, I get the second which says Windows cannot open Help and Support. To fix this problem start the service named Help and Support’.


I’ve checked the msconfig Services to see if I had unchecked Help and Support, but can’t see anything like this in the list – can you help? I’m a fairly experienced PC user so don’t worry if you need to get technical!

John Paterson


A. Windows Remote Assistance needs the Help and Support Service to be running in order to work and there’s a couple of reasons why this might be switched off, or missing, but it’s easy enough to put right.


Open Windows Services by going to Run on the Start menu and typing ‘services.msc’ (the Services menu in msconfig is per-user, rather than global), scroll down the list and hopefully you will see the Help and Services entry. If so right-click on it, select Properties and set the Startup type to Automatic; in the Status column it should show that it has Started.


If you can’t see Help and support on the list then it may have been removed by an over-enthusiastic Registry cleaner or optimisation program, but you should be able to put it back with a simple Registry tweak, which you can download from the excellent Kelly’s Korner website. Scroll down the list to item 235 ‘Restore Help and Support Service’, right click on it and in Internet Explorer select ‘Save Target As’ or in Firefox, right click and choose ‘Save Link As. Save it to your hard drive then double-click on it and answer OK to import it into the Registry and after a reboot Help and Support should reappear on the Services list.



No Disc, No Worries, Maybe…

Hi Rick, when I bought my computer Microsoft Windows XP was already loaded. You sometimes mention reloading the disc for certain reasons. What do I do if I don't have one?

Raymond Payne


A. You shouldn’t need one; at least that’s the theory… In most cases the XP installation files are stored on a separate and usually protected partition on your hard disc drive so if the worst happens all you have to do is pop in the Recovery CD or press a few keys and  your drive will be reformatted and Windows re-installed. This suits manufacturers because it it’s a quick and easy way of installing Windows on lots of machines, and saves them a bundle on costs, and discs. It suits Microsoft because it means they can supply Windows in bulk, it makes it difficult to make illicit copies and if you study the small print, it absolves them from having to supply technical support. You benefit from cheaper hardware and hopefully an easy fix for major problems with the operating system.


However, it all hinges on premise that the hard drive doesn’t go wrong, and it has to be said Lady Luck is on your side because they are incredibly reliable, but if it does fail you will have to return the machine for a factory fix, rather than being able to put it right yourself. The other downside is that occasionally you may need to install files or divers that normally only reside on the disc, admittedly the occasions when this will be necessary are few and far between, and the files can usually be found on the net, but it does happen. In short it shouldn’t be a problem, but I do mourn the passing of installation discs which gave me a feeling of comfort and security, not to mention the option of reinstalling the OS on another machine when original PC popped its clogs.



Signatures in Thunderbird

Hello Rick, Is there a way I can add my name and title to the end of any emails I Send?  I have tried to find out through 'Help' etc, but no luck. I thought there may be something like Autotext that I use in Word, but somehow I can't find anything. By the way I use Thunderbird for emails.

Jill Judge, Penzance


A. Luckily I spotted the ‘by the way….’ at the end of your message in time because I was just about to launch into a 'How-To' on email ‘Signatures’ in Outlook Expressr. However, since you are using Thunderbird the technique is slightly different. Incidentally, for anyone looking for a way to add a Signature in OE see Boot Camp 373.


Anyway, back to Thunderbird and the first job is to use your word processor or Windows Notepad to create a text file of your signature, normally your name, email address, phone number etc., or anything that you want to tag on to the end of your messages. Give the file a name and save it. Now open Thunderbird and go to Tools > Account Settings and double-click on the Account name. Check the item ‘Attach this signature’ and use the Choose button to locate your signature .txt file then click OK and it’s done.



Burning Issue

Hi Rick, what exactly is the meaning of 'burning a CD/DVD'? Does the term/action have any special significance? When I store or copy or record information on a CD/DVD is that not as good as burning? Should I use another action to 'burn' information onto a CD/DVD?

David Braisher


A. It’s computer jargon for recording on an optical disc and I suppose it refers to the way data is recorded, using a low powered laser, though no actual burning is involved. The laser simply changes the optical characteristics of an organic compound layered inside the disc. On record-once CD-R discs it’s a one-way process but on rewritable CD-RW discs it can be reversed, and all data on the disc erased, by applying a lower power laser beam, which ‘melts’ the photosensitive layer making it transparent and ready to record new data.


Confusingly the term ‘burn’ is also used to refer to a CD writer drive’s ability to cope with an erratic flow of data. In the old days even a brief interruption whilst recording, or burning, would result in a ruined disc. An interruption or ‘buffer underrun’ is solved by fitting memory chips inside the drive – now a standard feature – to ensure a smooth flow of data. Drives so-equipped would often be referred to as buffer-underrun or ‘burn free’.



Vista Burning Questions

Hi Rick, I have a notebook PC running Vista Home Basic. When I put in a blank CD-R in to copy a document a box comes up asking me if I would like to burn my file to CD. It worked perfectly but when I put the disc back in to burn another file - no box appeared, it just told me what was on the CD!  When I put a new CD in the box comes up again. Surely I don't have to put in a new disc for every file I need to copy? Am I doing some wrong?

Margaret James


A. Windows Vista has two CD/DVD burning modes, called ‘Live’ (the default) and ‘Mastered’. In Live mode, as long as the disc remains in the drive you can add (and erase) files, until it is full up. If you eject the disk Windows closes the session but you can pop it back in and add more files at a later date and it will be readable on other Vista and most XP PCs. In Mastered mode you record selected files to the disc straight away and the disc is automatically finalized, so no more files can be added and the disc, when it is ejected, will be readable on any PC.


Normally you get the option to prepare or Format a blank disc in Live or Mastered mode when it is loaded. You should chose Live and you’ll be able to keep adding files. If for some reason you are not being asked open Computer, right-click on the CD/DVD drive icon and click the Burn button on the Toolbar, then the ‘Show formatting Options’, and make sure ‘Live’ is selected.



Cyclic Redundancy Error

Hi Rick, I backed up my old laptop 4 years ago onto good quality branded CDs. Now I am trying to read the data and the newer laptop keeps showing “Data error (cyclic redundancy check). Is there any way I can get at the old data?

Andrew Stracey


A. It's not as scary as it sounds and Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) errors relate to problems reading and writing data from disc drives. There’s all sorts of reasons it might appear but if you are lucky it will be something simple like dirt or dust on the laser pickup, so the first thing to do is clean the drive with a good quality CD/DVD cleaner.


If you are very unlucky it means the discs are corrupt or damaged, though I think the chances of all of your backups suffering from the same problem is slight, so a dirty drive is the most likely. Of course it could be the actual drive that is faulty, or a problem with the connecting cables but there’s an easy way to find out and that’s to see if the discs can be read by another PC. 



Unmountable Boot Volume Error

Dear Rick, my father has a problem with his Dell Inspiron laptop running Windows XP Home Edition.  After the Dell flash screen, a blue screen appears with the following message: A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer. Unmountable Boot Volume….. Stop: 0XOOOOOOED


He has not been able to start the computer even in Safe Mode.  Is this a sign of a failed hard drive, or is there a solution?

Michael Taylor


A. It’s not good, I’m afraid… There are a number of possibilities, including a loose or detached data cable, an incorrect or corrupt BIOS setting, however, the most likely cause is a damaged file system. No don’t despair just yet, it may be repairable, Windows XP has a  ‘Recovery Console’ and if you can start the PC in this mode you should be able to run the Checkdisk (chkdsk) utility, which can fix straightforward glitches. There’s more about this error message and a simple to follow guide to using chkdsk in Microsoft Knowledgebase article 297185



Sticky Windows Mail in Vista

I have just bought a laptop with Vista Home Premium and loaded all of the updates. When I open Windows Mail it sends and receives just like my old system (It is set to do this). When working, it checks for messages every 5 minutes, and receives but will not send either when I click Send on the message or when I click Send/Receive. It will only respond to Send/Receive if my Outbox is empty. To send messages from the Outbox I need to close Mail and re-open it, and away they go! I have no problems getting onto the Internet. The vendor’s Helpline say it is a known issue, which Microsoft will be sorting. Any thoughts?

Keith Hammond-Gearing


A. I have come across a few references to a similar problem in Windows Mail, which basically involves a ‘phantom’ email becoming stuck in the Outbox. It doesn’t show up in the folder but WM thinks there’s one there and it gums up the works. Various remedies have been suggested but I favour using a small freeware utility called WMUtil, which amongst other things, ha a Clear Outbox function. It can also fix problems with the WM database, and there’s a Compacting option, which should keep it running smoothly when the mailbox folders start to fill up. 



Mixed Connection KVM Switch

Hi Rick, I have two computers one with PS2 and one with USB only for mouse and keyboard connections. Is there a switch that will accommodate both?

Ron Turrell


A. There may well be but I haven't come across one yet, however, you could try a combination of PS2 to USB (or USB to PS2) adaptors, to convert the mice or keyboards to the correct terminations. They're widely available from PC suppliers for a couple of quid.


I can't promise it will work on all devices, and faced with a similar problem recently I discovered that a fancy USB keyboard wouldn't work through a USB to PS2 adaptor, though standard models were okay. Also, be aware that on some PCs a USB keyboard will only become active after Windows has loaded, which might be a problem if you are dual/multi-booting and need to choose an operating system from a bootloader immediately after switch on.


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