Hi Rick, the function key (Fn) on my Vaio Laptop has stopped
working. Apparently this is not uncommon. The only help I can find tells me to
reinstall the hotkey application Util.exe. I am unable to find this file
anywhere. I wonder if you can help. My OS is Windows XP.I think any help would
be appreciated by many sufferers.
A. You are right and this does seem to be a particular quirk
of Sony machines. There are several possibilities, so let’s begin with the last
one you’d suspect, and the easiest one to eliminate and that’s a faulty
If the Fn keys do the other things that are printed on the
keycaps then we can safely say the keyboard and keyboard chips on the
motherboard are okay. If they keys are stone dead, then I’m afraid it could be
bad news. Plug in an external keyboard and if that works it’s almost certainly
the keyboard or the connector. If you don’t mind having a fiddle you could
remove the keyboard (it’s probably held in place by 2 or 3 small spring tabs along
the top edge. Check the ribbon cable is properly seated in its connector. If so
a replacement keyboard may be in order, check ebay where they often turn up
quite cheaply. If it’s still dead then it may be the mobo, and that could be
Once you’ve eliminated the keyboard here’s a few other things
to try. On some Sony machines the Fn keys won’t work if Num Lock is on (Press Fn + Numlock to switch off). If it’s
still dead, try reinstalling the keyboard and hotkeys driver, which you will
find on the Sony
Hello Rick, I loaded Firefox today after the warning about
the recent problem with Internet Explorer.
I like it very much but when I added the dictionary add-on, it seemed to
be added but does not work when I try to use it. What do you think is stopping it from working?
A. That’s very odd, it’s pretty straightforward and I’m not
aware of anything that stops it working, though it’s not obvious how it works
and there’s a couple of steps you may have missed out, so let’s start over. Go
to the Dictionary download page (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3366)
and click the Add to Firefox button. The installation box appears, highlight
British English Dictionary (or whatever language dictionary you’ve downloaded)
and click Install Now. The files download and when it has finished click the
Restart Firefox button, then Restart. After a few seconds Firefox returns,
hopefully to its previous state (open tabs etc.) and the dictionary is ready to
use, To test it out find a page with a web form box, type in a nonsense word
and right-click on it, click Check Spelling at the bottom and right-click again
and the suggested spellings will appear, click on the one you want to use and
it automatically replaces the misspelled word.
Winword Security is
constantly telling me the PC is infected - but Spybot, AdAware and Virgin
Spyware tell me I have no problems! Is
this a scam and if so how do I delete it, or do I trust it and buy it?
Iain S Davidson
A. I haven’t come across Winword Security before
but I’m reasonably sure it is a scam and another example of ‘scareware’, which
is rife at the moment. Basically there are two types of scareware. The first
and least noxious is a popup or blinking box that appears when you visit a
webpage. They look like Windows error messages and they say your computer is
infected and you should click the box to seek a cure. Obviously you shouldn’t,
but in most cases it’s simply an ad and clicking on it takes you to a site
selling rubbish or non-existent cleaning utilities. The second, more worrying
sort is a popup that install a rootkit. This is a real malware program that
will infect your PC and install Trojans and other nasties that could compromise
your security. This can happen really quickly and they can be a swine to get
rid of though many respond to an excellent cleaner called Malwarebytes,
and that’s where I would start, if your PC is behaving oddly, the message won’t
go away, or your Google searches are being redirected to pornographic websites.
New Word Virus?
Hi Rick, any
thoughts on why Word Documents (Word 2003 & XP) would become corrupted and
display "FileError_22001" (without the quotes) in place of the text?
I suppose a virus is the obvious
problem but I've scanned with up-to-date AVG 8 and nothing shows. There is
some mention on the web about this error and it only seems to have appeared
relatively recently, which is a little suspicious.
A. I fear this is a
virus, and a particularly nasty one at that. It appears to have started spreading
a few days ago. At the time of writing the main anti-virus companies seem to
have been caught napping and there is very little information. My guess is it’s
a rootkit (a collection of malware programs) and they’ve got onto your PC
though an infected website, probably by clicking on one of those ‘free virus
The main effect is
to encrypt and save your Office files (doc, .jpeg, .xls) and jpeg files with a
.ccd and .flr extensions then overwrite the originals. It smells like a ‘Ransomware’
scam, though I haven’t yet heard of any sufferers being asked to pay to get
their files back, so at this point I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of
recovering your documents.
reports suggest that the infection can be removed using Malwarebytes
though this won’t bring back your lost files. Unfortunately, until the AV companies
get their act together there’s not a lot more to say, except stay away from
dodgy website, make sure you backup all of your Office files, preferably on a
separate, removable drive or media and ideally in .rtf format as well as this
doesn’t seem to be affected.
Hi Rick, I have a new laptop, onto which I have transferred
all my data. I don't yet have Office installed, as I'm waiting for it to arrive
in the post. I have tried to open a Word file by clicking on it and was asked
what I wanted to open it with. I tried to open it with Adobe and all my Word
files have turned into Adobe files and I can't open anything. Any ideas about what I can do please?
A. It’s okay, all that has happened is that the
file association – the way Windows knows which program is used to open a
particular type of file – has been temporarily confused. I suspect that as soon
as you install Office the file association, between files with the extension ‘.doc’
(or .docx) will be automatically repaired. If by some chance it doesn’t you can
easily fix it yourself. Simply open Windows Explorer, right-click on a Word
document file, select Open With and Word should be listed. Select it then make
sure the ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’ is ticked.
Close the boxes and you’re good to go.
Hi Rick, can you tell me if there is any point in having
more than two User accounts on a PC, if the PC is only ever used by one person? Surely one Administrator Account and
one Limited Account (for everyday use) is all I need? I have never used the Guest account (Vista & XP), ‘Public’
account (Vista) or ‘Shared’ account (XP), so couldn’t I safely delete these to
free up space?
A. The first thing to say is that deleting an
Account won’t free up much space. Windows Accounts are represented by fairly small
configuration files. The only way this could possibly make a difference is if
the surplus Accounts had been used and contained large data files, which you
could also delete. There is actually a good argument for having two Admin
accounts; if you only have one and it becomes corrupted or you forget the
password then you could, in theory be locked out of Windows, though there are
ways and means to get back in, but it could be a nuisance. There’s no real need
for Guest and Public accounts if you are the only user, but as I say, keeping
them doesn’t use significant resources, and a Guest Account could come in handy
if, for instance, you want to allow a friend or relative to use your PC, though
it’s hardly worth worrying about as it only take a few moments to create one these
accounts as and when they are needed.
Petulant Printer Properties
Hi Rick, I have a
small – but irritating – wrangle with my printer. It defaults to printing
the last page first. The little box is always ticked (in Properties >
Preferences), and if I bother to clear it, it will indeed start on page
1. But if I have a separate document to print, back comes the tick and
the last page prints first. Is there any way of keeping that box
A. If you are using Windows XP I would try setting
your preferences from Printers and Faxes on the Start menu. Highlight the
printer and click 'Select Printing Preferences' from the toolbar, or under
Printer Tasks. There seems to be some sort of control/default hierarchy,
and preferences set here usually take precedence over settings in the normal right-click Printer
Properties context menu.