Hi Rick, why will a computer made video DVD play on my
Cyberhome DVD player but only jerkily on my relative's Sony combi player? Her unit plays
commercial recordings with no problem. As she wants to upgrade her computer to edit her holiday
VHS recordings and put them on DVD it seems she may have to change the Sony
player too. Any suggestions?
A. Even after all these years optical disc recording is still something of a black art,
and there is a surprising variation in the quality of blank discs, which
together conspire to make some players, and some discs, just not get on.
Commercially produced discs use a highly consistent manufacturing process that
produces very sharply defined reflective Ďpitsí that represent the digital
Home-made discs, on the other hand, rely on a low power laser beam changing
the optical characteristics of a thin layer of an organic dye compound. This allows
light to pass through the layer onto a reflective layer beneath, but unlike
shop-bought discs, the edges of the reflective areas are not as crisp. This results
in errors on some players, whilst others, with less fussy or more tolerant
error correction systems are able to read the data. Sometimes just changing the
brand of disc will work, otherwise switching to another player is the only
solution, and ironically cheaper models are often better in this respect.
Ctfmon, Can I Get Rid of It?
Hi Rick, I have a feeling that ctfmon.exe is slowing things
down. It seems to hang around when I switch off and there are some suggestions
on the web that it can be safely deleted by most users of XP. I use WinPatrol,
which would enable me to disable it on start-up. Would this do any harm?
A. Ctfmon.exe is a little application loaded by Microsoft
Office and its job is to keep a watch on what you are doing in case you suddenly
get the urge to use a voice or handwriting recognition application. Itís tiny
and shouldn't use any significant resources so I doubt very that it is the case of
your slowdown. If you want to get rid of it go-ahead, either through WinPatrol, or via msconfig (assuming youíre not using
voice and speech recognition...).
There is also a piece of malware -- a Trojan -- that creates a file
called cftmon.exe, and this has been linked to shutdown problems, so check the spelling and if this is what you have try running a malware cleaner like AdAware or Spybot
Wonky Compaq and HP Wi-Fi
Hi Rick, I have a Compaq Presario V6000 series
Notebook computer, purchased in the UK about 15 months ago, which up until
last week was working perfectly on a wireless signal and now will not recognise
a wireless signal and the wireless light glows orange no matter whether the
switch is on or off. I am currently staying in the USA and know Hewlett
Packard have recognised a component defect and are recalling machines for
repair. Do you know if there is a similar action being taken by HP in the
A. Compaq and HP in the US have only grudgingly admitted a
problem may exist on 6000 series laptops but there doesnít seem to be a single
cause. A fair number of users have reported that updating the BIOS and/or
wireless adaptor driver fixes the problem. Judging by some of the posts in the
forums it also seems a lot of people simply havenít read the instructions and
have switched their Wi-Fi systems off, but there are also users with what
sounds like a common hardware fault, that requires a motherboard replacement.
If you know your way around your laptopís inner
workings and Windows then I would certainly work your way through the suggested
fixes on the HP
Forum . If that doesnít work then I suggest that you get in touch with
Compaq support and remind them that a number of aggrieved US users are banding
together to start a Class Action against the company.
Short Shrift For Shortcuts
Because of my poor typing skills I frequently hit shift and
ctrl together on the lower right side of my keyboard. This moves the text to right align. Is there an easy way to remove this intrusive over helpful
A. I confess to being a little confused by this one
because in Word, and Iím assuming thatís what you are using, the keyboard
shortcut for Paragraph Right Align is Ctrl + R and you would have to be a pretty
dismal typist to brush those two keys accidentally. As far as Iím aware Ctrl +
Shift on its own does nothing. Possibly you are using another word processor, I
know not which one, but on a general note it is usually possible to disable
shortcuts in most WPs and In the case of Word itís on the Customize menu. Right-click
on an empty part of the toolbar or select Customise from the Tools menu and click
the Keyboard button at the bottom. Enter the keyboard shortcut thatís troubling
you and assign it to something innocuous or uninstrusive like specifying ĎNormalí
I defrag my HDD regularly and, at the end of the exercise, I
am generally confronted with a window informing me that some items could not be
defragged. These are usually quite small files (up to about 2Mb) and are
usually no more than 5 or 6. Nevertheless, it is rather worrying to know that
these files may be mounting up in the system and may cause problems at some
Is there any way you know of to defrag these small files
independently of, or in conjunction with, the main defrag operation so that I
can be sure that all of the HDD disc has been dealt with?
A. Defragging, especially on XP and Vista, is greatly overrated and quite
honestly on most PCs it only needs to be done once or twice a year. The only
exceptions are very well used PCs where thereí/s a lot of data coming and going
all of he time. Applications like video editing are a good example, and defragging
the drive helps to ensure the smooth movement of data and avoid glitches in the
picture, or jump DVDs. Otherwise itís not something you need to worry about,
and if a few 2 meg files prove sticky, donít worry, continually defragging
isnít going to help and providing they donít suddenly multiply in number you
can leave well alone. The Windows defrag utility has a fairly light touch and
is reasonably safe but if you want to sort out those rogue files you are going
to have use something a bit stronger, like the Open Source UltraDefrag or one of the many
paid-for utilities, but I really donít think itís worth the bother.
Waiting for the big Switch On
I have just built my first PC, it seemed to take forever but eventually, after 7
hours, it appeared to be finished. I havenít powered it up yet, because, If I
have inadvertently wired a power lead incorrectly (although I have been told it
is impossible as they only fit where they are supposed to and nowhere else) I
donít want to damage anything.
I Have checked and double-checked and the wiring
appears correct, but, I have several unconnected PSU leads, possibly for
components that I do not have, and some mother board plugs that I cannot
find a wire plug to fit, again probably because I do not have a relevant
component. I have also connected one PSU plug lead to three case specific
components in sequence; PSU Ė case component 1 Ė case component 2- etc, is this
correct, as I will not have enough PSU Leads.
A. I hope that by now youíve bitten the bullet and switched
it on, and unless you did something spectacularly stupid I am reasonably
confident that it will have powered up. It really is almost impossible to get
Itís not unusual to have a spare lead or two; most power
supply manufacturers try to cater for several different types of motherboard,
and variants thereof, and quite often the main power connector has a Ďbreakoffí
section, so if the plug doesnít fit, simply snap off the extra connectors and
bend them back out of the way using a couple of cable ties. The golden rule in
PC building is if it doesnít fit donít force it. No connector should require
more than light finger pressure to fit.
When building a PC your bible is the motherboard manual;
this shows exactly where all the connectors and plugs go. On most mobos there
are one or two large sockets for the power plugs and a small one for the fan
supply. The other plugs are for hard drives and the CD/DVD drive (theyíre all
the same) and there may be one small odd-looking one left over for a floppy
The other large bundle of leads coming from the
case are for the power and reset buttons, power and HDD activity LEDs, the
internal speaker, front panel USB sockets and, in some cases, front or rear
audio connectors (line in, speakers, microphone etc.). These use tiny little
plugs that fit onto pins or Ďheadersí on the motherboard and they can be quite
fiddly, and the marking s hard to read (a desk lamp or torch can be
invaluable). Not surprisingly the commonest cause of a home-build PC failing to
work is a wrongly wired power button, but donít worry, even if they are wrongly
wired it will do no harm, it just wonít work.
Hi Rick, I recently purchased an integrated TV with Freeview
but unfortunately was not receiving a strong enough signal. I have now
reinstated my old digibox and am now able to get a good picture. However, when
making all the connections the instructions said to connect phono leads - red
and white - from my old digibox to the Home Theatre system.
However, the sound system has already got a set of leads
installed leading to the TV and I have not got another set of sockets for the
second pair of leads. The result is that I cannot regulate sound levels through
my box and I cannot use the 'mute' switch.
Fred Wilson, Northern Ireland
A. Itís difficult to say whatís going on without actually
seeing the system in the flesh, but this is how I would set it up. I would use
a SCART to SCART (Type V or U) to connect the digibox to the TV, This will
route both video and audio from the box to the TV. I am assuming the TV
speakers are not up to much, which is why you have routed the TVís audio output
to your home theatre system. If so you need do nothing more because the audio
connection from the digibox is now superfluous as the sound is being routed
through the TV back to the home theatre system via the existing phono lead
connection. One word of advice, though, the next time you buy a home theatre
system, make sure that it has more than one line input (in fact double check
yours, one input is quite unusualÖ).
I donít know what your aerial arrangements are
but it sounds as though you are getting a marginal signal. If itís getting on a
bit then it may be worth getting a new one, and this might improve the signal
sufficiently for the TVís built-in Freeview decoder.