Houston We Have a Problem... 43, 14/07/07


Broadband Outlook Unsettled

Every time we have bad weather, e.g. heavy rain, we lose our broadband connection. Long conversations with my ISP have not clarified the problem, although they have given me a method of reconnecting, which works. It is frustrating, though, because it happens so frequently. We do live out in the sticks here, and our broadband is very slow, but none of our neighbours has this problem. Any ideas?

Graham Clarke, by email


Since there is nothing in Windows (that I am aware of…) that is affected by inclement weather I suspect that it might be a BT issue. It could be something as simple as moisture getting into one of the phone cable boxes outside your home or up the pole. Since you appear to be at or close to the limits of BT’s reach, any small change in line quality – an intermittent or noisy connection for example -- can cause instability and dropped connections. BT’s Fault service (http://www2.bt.com/faults) should be your first port of call, where you can carry out an automated check on your line.



Vista Not So Bright

I have a Brother printer and I have tried to install the programs on the CD-ROM that came with it but I have since learnt that it is not compatible with Windows Vista. Part of it has installed, but it is of no use to me and now it will not uninstall. I have been in touch with Brother Support and all they could say was that there have been problems with this CD and Vista and they have no solution about how to uninstall it.

Carol Lamerick, by email


Some companies are not bothering to develop Vista drivers or patches for what they consider to be old or 'obsolete' products. If the printer is working normally but the partially installed program is being a nuisance -- with pop-ups etc -- you should be able to disable it in the Startup group. Go to Search on the Start menu, type ‘msconfig’, (without the quotes), double click on ‘System Configuration’ and when the User Account Control (UAC) prompt appears, click Continue. Select the Startup tab and deselect any items relating to your printer.


For future reference when a program doesn’t work or misbehaves under Vista it is worth trying the 'Compatibility Mode’ option. Open Windows Explorer and work you way to the program folder, right click on the program's Application '.exe' file, select the Compatibility tab, check the item 'Run this program in compatibility mode...', select your version of Windows form the drop down menu and click OK.



The Wrong Message

I keep seeing a message from my ‘local system’, which at the moment I am ignoring, as I don't know whether it is safe to let it in. It says ‘Critical Error – Registry Damaged and Corrupted’. Sometimes I find it difficult to cancel the pop-up, but is it safe to carry out the procedure recommended?

Muriel Parker, Uckfield


You are wise to ignore it because it is Spam and quite probably a con as well. It is designed to frighten you into buying what will probably turn out to be useless software, or worse! Most of these products report false positives; some will even deliberately infect your machine with more nasties.


I suspect this pop-up is coming to you via the Windows Messenger Service, which is supposed to be used by administrators to send messages to network PC users. The Messenger Service -- not to be confused with Windows or MSN Messenger instant messaging -- is usually switched off by default in most recent versions of XP and it was turned off by Service Pack 2 released a couple of years ago but your machine seems to have fallen through the net. Don’t worry, you can switch it off manually. Go to Start > Control Panel and select Performance and Maintenance (or Administrative Tools), double-click 'Services' then scroll down the list and double-click 'Messenger'. On the 'Startup Type' drop-down menu select 'Disabled'. Click the Stop button then OK and the annoying pop-ups should be no more. 



Drop Down and Drop Out

I'm using a dial-up connection to the Internet and every so often a small window drops down top left telling me I have ignored an incoming call. Even if I say OK or just close the window, it drops down a couple of times more then severs my internet connection, which as you can imagine is a real pain when either banking or trying to download a file.

Margaret Ward, by email


It sounds as though you are using BT Call Waiting or Call Minder services. You can switch Call Waiting off before you connect by dialling # 43 # (hash 43 hash). Afterwards, don’t forget to switch it on again by dialling * 43 # (star 43 hash). Call Minder also upsets some modems as it generates a 'stutter' dial tone to let you know you have a message waiting, so before you go on line pick up your messages by first dialling 1571.





© R. Maybury 2007 2805


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