The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 053


Freebie Word Alternatives

The free 60-day trial of Microsoft Word on our new Vista PC has expired. In the past I've seen mention of a similar program, that can be downloaded for free? Please advise,

D.F Owen, by email


Both AbiWord, and Writer (part of the OpenOffice Suite) are entirely free and as well as looking and working a lot like Word, they will also open and edit Word documents. Links to both of them can be found on the Software page PCTopTips at tinyurl.com/28hx9k




Active Piracy

I would like to install a new faster motherboard into my Windows XP computer. I have read that Microsoft read any change in the system’s major components as an attempt to pirate XP, and cuts up rough. Is there anything I should do before making the change to avoid difficulties?

Keith Wood, Wakefield,


Changing the motherboard, CPU or hard drive will usually trigger Windows XP Activation, however, this is only a brief formality, providing your PC has a working Internet connection. The first time you boot up after the change, and once Windows has sorted itself out, you will see an ‘Activate Now’ button. Click this and the whole process should only take a few seconds, though you may be asked to re-enter your Product Key. Normally the only time it fails is if you try to re-install the same copy of XP on another PC soon afterwards, in which case you may be asked to telephone Microsoft to explain yourself, though I have never heard of them refusing to activate a legitimate copy of Windows.



Sun Powered Camera

We will be trekking in Nepal next month with no access to mains electricity. Is it possible to use the solar chargers designed principally for mobile phones and MP3 players with a digital camera?

Simon Makinson-Sanders, by email


The chargers supplied with most digicams are mains powered so you will need to seek out a version that can be used with a 12 volt DC supply. Try the camera manufacturer first, otherwise some ‘Universal’ chargers, designed for popular digital camera batteries, come with a car battery connector that could be easily adapted for use with a solar charger.  



Restore some Space

I have read that old System Restore points can be removed from Windows XP. These take up a lot of hard disc space, so can you explain please how to do it?

Barry England, by email


Switching off System Restore will delete all of your old Restore Points. All you have to do is open System Properties (Winkey + Break), select the System Restore tab, check 'Turn off System Restore' and OK the warning that appears. You can also adjust the amount of disk space System Restore uses by clicking the Settings button in the same dialogue box. However, if you are running out of disk space then the sensible thing to do is add a second ‘slave’ hard drive, or upgrade your existing one as this problem is not going to go away.



Obstinate Windows Mail Messages

How I can remove emails in the Deleted Items folder in Vista’s Windows Mail? It refuses to let me do so; is there a solution or should I install a third-party email program?

Dave Walmsley, by email


Quite a few Vista users have been having this problem and it is normally due to a corrupt Mailstore file, which indexes the contents of your message folders. The solution is to delete this file and Windows Mail will create a new one. It is a safe procedure and your messages will be unaffected but it’s a good idea to back them up, just in case, (go to Export on the File menu, select Messages and follow the prompts).


Once that is done exit Windows Mail open Computer (Windows Explorer) on the Start menu and make your way to: C:\Users\<yourname>/AppData/Local/Microsoft/WindowsMail. Delete WindowsMail.MSMessageStore then open the Backup folder and delete the second instance of the file. Exit Computer and open Windows Mail. The Mailstore database file will be recreated and you will be able to delete those troublesome messages.



Friends Deleted

When a friend sends me an email Outlook Express immediately sends it to the Deleted Items folder. How can I correct this so it goes into my Inbox?

Paul Kay, Cambridge


My guess is you have accidentally added your friend's email address to the Blocked Senders list. It's easy to do as it is on the Message menu, just above the Flag Message option.  To remove it from the list go to Tools Message Rules > Blocked Senders list, highlight the name and click Remove. 



Private Emails

My adult daughter is due to stay in my house soon whilst I am away and wants to use my Windows XP probably for the Internet. That’s okay by me, but I do not want her to have access to my e-mails on Outlook Express. Can this be prevented?

Anthony Robinson, by email


The first thing you should do is set up a separate XP user account for your daughter and this will go a long way towards protecting your system and personal files. Nevertheless it won’t hurt to adopt a belt and braces approach and you can password-protect your Inbox using OE's Identities feature. From the menu select File > Identities > Add New Identity. Enter your name and click the Require Password box and follow the prompts.







© R. Maybury 2007 1009


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