Invisible Icons in Vista
Hi Rick, I have just changed my Computer and now have Vista Home
Premium as my operating system. I seem
to be slowly getting to grips with things. However, one small thing is annoying
me. I seem to be unable to change the colour of the Desktop icon labels. If I
have a light coloured background, the wording virtually disappears. Under the
personalization section, the desktop icon colour facility is greyed out.
A. This change in Vista, which is a side effect of
the Aeroglass theme, vexes a lot of people but fortunately there are a number
of solutions. The textbook, and least satisfactory answer is to dump the
Aeroglass interface and switch back to the Classic Theme. There are a couple of
third-party utilities that can jiggle the font colour, they are D-Colour XP
1.2 and Iconoid and both are free,
though the authors obviously won’t be adverse to you paying a license fee or
sending a small token of your appreciation if you continue to use them. There’s
another method, which works on some versions of Vista, and that’s to change the
background to a solid colour. For a light coloured image choose white, and this
will force the icon labels to change to black (use a black background to force
white labels). Click OK, reboot and go back into Personalize > Background
and select you image and the icon colour should stick.
Victimised by Vista!
Hi Rick, I am fed up trying to use Windows Vista and have decided,
if it is feasible, to buy an OEM version of XP and install that instead. Do you
know if my Dell computer, which came with Vista will accept an installation of
a “lesser” operating system? Will my Office 2007 software recognise it as the
same machine albeit with a different?
A. I don’t think you will have any problems
installing XP and Office on your Dell machine, after all they still offer XP as
an option on many of their models. However, I really don’t think it’s a good
idea, I know Vista can be a pain seomtimes and it seems like a bit daunting at
first, especially if you have grown accustomed to XP. A few things have been moved around, but
underneath they are pretty much alike, and most of the early driver issues have
now been resolved. Provided the hardware has been properly configured to use it
and you have no performance issues or problems with legacy hardware then it is
well worth getting to know. I think, given time, and once you have learned to
find your way around, you may even come to quite like it. Reinstalling an OS is
a big job and not something to be undertaken lightly, moreover any support you
may be entitled to from Dell will go out of the Window.
Beat the Boot
Hi Rick, I was wondering if you could help me with following minor
issue? I upgraded from Windows XP to Vista (Home Premium) recently; everything
went well and all is OK, however every time I boot the PC, the following prompt
appears which delays the boot process for 30 seconds:
Choose an operating system to start, or press TAB to select tool:
Earlier version of Windows
Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows Recovery Console
How do I stop this message appearing and speed up the boot?
A. This suggests that your XP system may still be present, or at
least parts of it remain, but it’s not a problem as the Vista (and XP) boot
menu is easily accessible and simple to configure. Press Winkey + Break (or go
to Start > Control Panel > System) and in the left hand Tasks pane click
on Advanced System Settings. Select the Advanced tab and at the bottom of the
window that appears, under Startup and Recovery, click the Settings button. On
the dialogue box that appears make sure that Vista is displayed as the ‘Default
Operating System’ on the drop-down menu and deselect ‘Time to display list of
operating systems’, or change the default time to 0 seconds, click OK, exit all
of the open dialogue boxes and reboot.
No so Eeeasy-Peasy
Hi Rick, following on from your enthusiastic comments I rushed out
and bought a mini Eee PC and at first I was very pleased with it. However, as
time wore by I became a bit disillusioned with the limitations of the Xandros Linux
operating system and needless to say it wouldn’t run several programs that I
have come to rely upon over the years. To cut a long story short I followed the
guide in the instructions and installed Windows XP. Everything seemed to go
according to plan, up to the part where I had to install the Asus drivers. I
have tried everything but I can see no way to install them from the supplied
DVD, none of the installation links seem to exist so now I’m now stuck with a
very sluggish XP, poor quality graphics, no sound or wireless Internet connection.
It’s so bad I’m thinking of going back to Linux. Can anything be done?
A. XP on the Eee PC can be very good indeed but
the instruction manual method has a few omissions. First, I recommend that you
strip down XP first, using a program like nLite, which removes all of the fat
and unnecessary extras, with this you can get the installation down to just a
few hundred Mb, leaving much more free space for other programs and your files.
There is actually a pirate distribution of XP, called ‘Tiny XP, which is optimised
for the Eee, but it’s illegal so I couldn’t possibly suggest that you use it.
Anyway, the procedure is as follows load the XP install disc and use it to delete
all partitions on the Eee, including the one called ‘BIOS’, format the SSD drive
and the XP install should proceed normally. When it has finished copy the
Driver folder on the Asus support DVD to a pen drive or memory card and pop
that into the Eee. Install the drivers one by one from the Setup.exe in each driver’s
folder, re-booting after each one. After that you should have a very useable
Licence to Print Money
Hi Rick, I have a Canon IP5200 printer with which has served me
well for three years of generally light use.
Quality seems good enough for occasional photo printing (and the
invitations for my daughter’s recent wedding!). I have always used Canon cartridges in an attempt to maintain
However, colour quality has suddenly deteriorated dramatically and
now print colours are no longer vibrant, but faded as if covered by an opaque
film (and this can be clearly seen in “before” & “after” examples of the
same pictures). I have reloaded the
drivers, cleaned and deep-cleaned the nozzles several times and trawled the web
for help but all to no avail. Have you
any suggestions or do I just go and buy a new printer (which seems a ridiculous
“throw-away” approach but labour costs are, I suspect going to be as much as a
new device) and if so, any suggestions (though this decision may be skewed by
the fact that I have several unused Canon cartridges in the cupboard!).
A. Quite honestly you have done well to get three years of use out
of your printer, in my experience they generally peg out shortly after the
warranty has expired, or a new model with even more expensive cartridges is
Conspiracy theories aside, inkjet printing is one of those
technologies that brings to mind Dr
Johnson’s famous quip after seeing a dog walking on its hind legs: ‘The wonder
is not that it does it so well, but that it does it at all’…
Ink is squirted through scores of microscopic
holes, in precisely metered amounts and all it takes is one hole to get bunged
up and the whole thing falls flat. Inks dry out as dust and paper particles
attach themselves to the print head, and no amount of deep cleaning (or
super-fast cartridge emptying as I like to call it...) is going to fix it. Repairs
are theoretically possible but be assured it will cost more than the printer is
worth. Over the years I have tried all sorts of tricks and remedies to beat the system and prolong
their lives but I think that you are just going to have to face it, it’s time
to buy a new one.
I know, it’s not green and it makes no sense that printer ink
– which is mostly water – costs more than the most expensive French perfumes,
but with new photo quality multi-function printer/scanners costing less than thirty
five quid, and not much more than a set of replacement ink cartridges, what other
choices do you have?
Flash Drive Access Denied
Hi Rick, I had an expensive 8Gb flash drive as a gift to store my
Windows-One-care backup on. I now find that One-Care is only capable of backing
up a few files but nothing of any consequence of my PC. Problem is I went to
other backup sources but cannot clear my flash drive to use anywhere else, it
keeps prompting 'Access Denied', Do Not Delete' - Have I lost it forever?
Running Windows XP with Sec Pack 3
A. There are several possibilities. First check that the drive
isn’t fitted with a physical ‘lock’ switch these can sometimes be hard to spot,
as they can be very small. Next, check that the drive doesn’t contain a
software lock or built-in encryption – the manual or disc that came with it
might provide a clue. However, the most likely cause is a glitch with Windows
File Permissions. This is a set of security restrictions, normally only
employed on XP Pro and some versions of Vista, designed to protect data on an external
drive. Permissions can change spontaneously, for reasons that I have never
quite understood, or it can happen if the drive was removed whilst data was
still being written to it, or on some systems, by not using the ‘Safely Remove’
option in the System Tray.
If you are using XP Pro you should be able to take back ‘ownership’
of the drive by logging on as Administrator, disable Simple File Sharing
(Windows Explorer > Tools > Folder Options > View tab > Advanced
Settings), right click drive icon, select Properties, select Sharing /Security
tab and lick Share this folder.
If you see a Security tab click that then the
Advanced tab and the Owner tab. On the Name list click your username and select
Replace owner and click OK. In XP Home
in order to access the Security tab you need to boot the PC into Safe mode.
in the Works
Rick, BT doesn't send me a paper bill any more but I can print one on-line if I
want. Problem: when I try to view and print the PDF download it attempts to
open in Works Word Processor (I use Works Suite and XP Pro) instead of Adobe
Reader and of course I get a 'cannot open file" error message'. Any idea why this happens? If I save the file to My Docs and then open
with Adobe all goes well and I can view and print OK. Your help would be appreciated.
all down to a sometimes-cranky feature in Windows called File Association.
Basically this means that whenever you double-click a file to open it, Windows
checks the extension (the last three or four letters of the filename, after the
dot) against a list it maintains, to find out which program is needed to open
the file. If it doesn't recognise the extension, or it hasn't been associated
with a program (something that normally happens automatically when the program
is installed) you get the 'cannot open'. It can also happen if the file
extension has been wrongly associated with another program, which is what seems
to have happened in your case.
The solution is simple and in XP all you have to
do is associate the file extension with the correct program, which in this case
is Adobe Reader. To do that open Windows Explorer and go to Tools > Folder
Options and select the File Types tab. Scroll down the Extension list to PDF,
highlight the entry, click Change and Windows should suggest Adobe Reader, select
it and click OK. In Vista it's even easier, just right-click the file and
select Open With. Adobe Reader should be on the list, if not select 'Chose
Default Program' and use that to select Adobe Reader. By the way, I'm not a big
fan of Adobe Reader, it's slow and pretty intrusive so why not check out Foxit
Reader, there's more about it in my PCTopTips
A Question of Identity
Hi Rick, I have bought a wireless ADSL Router and thanks to
your "Wireless Networking" Boot Camp articles 455 - 459 I have it up
and running on my desktop and laptop. I now want to set up WPA PSK security.
These may be silly questions but can you tell me: can I pick any alphanumeric
letters and numbers for the SSID or should I use hexadecimals? Also, should the
new SSID name be the same length as the present default name (9 characters) set
by the manufacturer?
A. The SSID or Service Side Identifier is simply
the name you give to your wireless router. It’s the name that’s displayed when
you do a ‘Site Survey’. It has no particular security implications, so there’s
no harm in leaving it on the default, except that it can help you to identify
your network if there are others in the vicinity, using the same model wireless
router as you. Where I live I can pick up SSIDs from at least half a dozen SKY
and BT networks and several Netgears, so giving yours a recognisable name makes
it easier to find in the crowd. As far as I am aware the limit for the number
of characters you can use for an SSID is 30, though it may be fewer on some
models, and I’m not aware of any models that require or have the option for a