Houston We Have a Problem… 038 09/06/07


Restoration Comedy

The System Restore application on my Windows XP has stopped working.  Regardless of whichever date I select it will go through the motions but when the PC automatically restarts it says ‘Restoration Incomplete’. What's happening?

Sean Lenihan, by email


I’m willing to bet that you have the 2006 version of Norton Antivirus or Internet Security installed on your PC. These conflict with System Restore but there is a fix, which you will find on the Symantec Support website at: http://tinyurl.com/mfl6v




Unattached Spreadsheets

I am unable to open email attachments that contain .xls files. After double clicking on the attachment the file download screen appears. Clicking on open file brings the download screen back.

Roger Burke


Files or ‘workbooks’ with the extension .xls are created by Microsoft's spreadsheet program Excel, so in order to open or display them you need to have Excel or a suitable ‘Viewer’ program installed on your PC. Excel is part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs and if you have it then it will be listed in Start > Programs. If not you can download a free Excel file viewer from Microsoft (http://tinyurl.com/cup85), which lets you display and print (but not modify) Excel workbooks.




A Question of Resources

I am puzzled that I seem to be using 80% of the capacity on my laptop hard drive and yet the material I have stored in My Documents, Pictures etc. represents less than 10% of the drive’s capacity.  I have used the defragmenter regularly to maximise use of space but it makes little difference.  What did the rest of the space go?
Liz Gill, by email


It’s the computing equivalent of Parkinson’s First Law, which correctly maintains that Data expands to fill the space available for storage. If the drive really is more than 70 percent full, say, you should take it as warning that you will probably need to upgrade to a larger drive, and probably sooner rather than later, but it’s likely that a lot of it is taken up by files you no longer need and there are some things you can do to reclaim wasted space. There are probably tens or possibly hundreds of megabytes of Temporary and Setup files that should have been automatically deleted, Internet files and an overflowing Recycle Bin. The Windows Disk Cleanup utility will take care of those, to fire it up go to Start > Program > System Tools > Disc Cleanup and follow the instructions.


After a reboot uninstall any program that you no longer use then you can tackle the files that you have forgotten or are no longer needed. These may hidden from view or buried deep in the filing system but Windows isn’t very good at showing you what’s on your drive, and how much space it occupies. I suggest you try a little freeware utility called SpaceMonger (http://tinyurl.com/ykvhvk), which displays the contents of your hard drive as a simple colour-coded map, so you can see instantly what’s taking up all the space. Don’t delete too much at one sitting, though, and reboot every so often to make sure everything is still working properly, and when you have finished defrag the now heavily fragmented drive.




Sounding out PowerPoint

I use PowerPoint quite often, purely for amusement nowadays as I am retired and no longer concerned with the somewhat gruesome medical presentations with which my surgeon boss had me involved.  I insert sounds from time to time and had thought I could use music from the My Music folder. However, I have not been successful. Can you please tell me if there is a program, which would enable me to insert music from my library? I’ve just done a PowerPoint show of my husband’s model tug being rescued by divers (from a watery grave!) and have inserted a drum roll and applause. However, I would love to play about with a musical accompaniment.

Patricia Moore, by email


I suspect you have been trying to add sound files that are not compatible with PowerPoint. For the record the formats it recognises are: .aiff (Audio Interchange File Format), .au (Unix Audio), .midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), .mp3 (MPEG Audio Layer 3), .wav (Waveform) and .wma (Windows Media Audio).


These cover most eventualities, including downloads from the Internet, but if you want to use a short clip from an audio CD, for example, you will need to record and save it using the Windows Sound Recorder (Start > Programs > Accessories > Entertainment). Unfortunately this only records for up to a minute, though there is a workaround (see: http://tinyurl.com/2tfqtt), if you want to make longer recordings use the free sound recorder and editor Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/)





© R. Maybury 2007 2105


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