Houston We Have a
Problem… 011 18/11/06
finally persuaded my 76 year-old mother, living in a small hamlet in Devon, to
join the digital revolution and buy a computer. Unfortunately she is having
problems with BT Broadband. The service is fine for a few minutes but then it
drops out. She can reconnect but the same thing keeps happening. It is very
irritating and makes surfing the web virtually impossible.
have tried moving the computer next to the master BT phone socket and
unplugging all the phones, which is rather impractical. I believe the computer
is fine and it seems to be the broadband connection that is at fault.
seem to have eliminated most of the possible causes at your mother’s end of the
connection, though make sure there are no other devices still plugged into the
line, such as a SKY box, fax machine, extension bell and so on.
theory broadband should be available to anyone living within 6 km of a suitably
equipped BT exchange. It’s possible that your mother is at the limits of BT’s
reach, or there is a problem with the phone line. Either way it is a BT issue
and your case would be strengthened if any immediate neighbours with broadband
are also experiencing difficulties. Explain the problem to BT and ask it to
check the line; it is in its interest to get the connection working properly
and in many cases all that is needed are some simple tweaks.
VHS on PC
do not own a TV and have no wish to get one but I enjoy watching movies on my
computer, which has a DVD player. Would it be possible to connect a VHS video
recorder to my PC so I can watch tapes as well?
P. by email
It is and the Dazzle
DVD Recorder, which costs around £40, connects between your video
recorder’s audio and video (AV) output and the PC’s USB port. You can also use
it to ‘capture’ and record your videos onto DVD. You should do this in any
case. VHS is now virtually obsolete; VCRs will disappear from the shops within
the next few years and tapes deteriorate so you should start thinking about
preserving your recordings now.
you do not have a TV licence, however, connecting a video recorder to your PC
puts you into a grey area because virtually all VCRs have built-in TV tuners,
which would enable your PC to display TV programmes. You could have this
facility disabled by an engineer, or buy a video ‘player’; they haven’t been
made for several years but you might find one on the ebay auction website.
use a USB portable memory key drive, which on my Windows XP laptop I can disconnect
using the icon in the System Tray. Our main computer runs Windows ME and offers
no facility to remove the drive safely while the machine is still
running. I was told that just pulling out the drive, could
damage both USB port and the drive but my daughter says she does it all the
time (she uses a laptop with Windows XP), with no ill effects. Can you advise?
Arreman, by email
Windows XP has built-in support for USB and it is usually tolerant of ‘hot
plugging’, i.e. connecting or disconnecting a device without re-configuring
software or rebooting. Earlier versions of Windows (Win 98, ME and SE) also
support USB but require a specially written program or ‘driver’ for each
device. A few drivers allow hot plugging but most do not and removing the drive
usually results in a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death…). This can sometimes involve
loss or corruption of the data on the drive and very occasionally messing up
the drive’s filing system, so you shouldn’t do it but I don’t think you need to
worry about too much damaging the drive or the port.
Taking a Detailed View
am using Windows XP and in the My Documents folder I cannot find out how to set it so that it always goes to the ‘Details’ View.
Some folders open on Details and others on Files View so I have to manually
change each it time.
Russell Abrahams, by email
default Windows stores the View setting for each folder but it may have been
disabled. To switch it back on open Windows Explorer or My Computer then go to
Tools > Folder Options and select the View tab. On the Advanced settings
list scroll down to ‘Remember each folder’s view settings’ and make sure that
it is checked. To set all of your folders to the same View click the ‘Apply to
All Folders’ button on Folder Option’s View tab.
Windows remembers the Views and customisations for up to 400 folders and this
can be increased but it involves editing the Windows Registry. This is a
critical System File that controls and configures Windows and the programs on
your PC and the procedure is not for novices but if you would like to know how
it’s done see Microsoft
Knowledgebase article 812003.
R. Maybury 2006 0611