The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 070 16/02/08


Sky+ Larks

I think this may be a little out of your area but I wonder if you can help with a troublesome eighteen-month old Sky+ box. I have had several problems with it in the past but until recently Sky sent an engineer but the guarantee has run out and they want to charge me for the callout and repair. Previously the engineer managed to get it working again just by pressing a few buttons. Now for no apparent reason programs in the Planner have ‘Failed’ next to them and they will not play. Is there anything I can do to get them back? I have tried switching it off and removing the power lead but this time doesn’t help and the Failed messages remain.

Jenny Thorpe, by email


Sky+ boxes are just computers dedicated to a single task and they suffer the same collywobbles as home PCs so they’re not that different. I am fairly sure those Failed recordings are now lost but there is something you can try. Most Sky+ boxes have a hidden Service menu and this is probably what the engineer used last time, but you are not supposed to know about it and you fiddle with it at your own risk. Press the Services button on the remote handset, then 4, 0, 1, Select.  Highlight Sky+ Planner Rebuild then press Select. The Screen goes blank and the box plays dead for a while, but after about five minutes it will come back to life and you will be able to switch it back on.



No Hiding Place on the Web?

A firm who sold me a memory card for my camera is mucking me about. They say my order was cancelled but I can't get through and the website refuses my password. They sent me a new one but that doesn’t work either. I've sent them several emails, but no replies. I'm worried because, of course, I've given them my credit card details. Is there some way of checking on these firms or finding a phone number so that I can speak to somebody?

Lawrence Hughes, Bromsgrove


I would be very wary of doing business with any company that doesn’t publish an address and phone on its web site. However, you can find out who the website is registered to using a ‘Whois’ search tool, like the one at www.domaintools.com. The details may refer to the website’s holding company or agent, who could be overseas, so it may not lead directly to the people you are actually trying to contact, but it’s a start.



Harsh Words for Old FIles

Until recently I used to be able to open documents produced in Word for Windows Version 2 in Word 2003.

Now when I when I try to do this I get the following message: You are attempting to open a file that was created in an earlier version of Microsoft Office. This file type is blocked from opening in this version by your Registry Policy setting’. Can you tell me how to change the Registry Policy to allow the document to open, please?

Brian Case


This message is due to a recent security update for Word 2003, it also appears when you try to open documents created in Word for Windows V1 and Word for Mac V4 and 5, in Word 2007. Either way there are several ways to remove the block but they all involve editing the Registry, which I would not recommend unless you are familiar with the inner workings of Windows. If you are confident of your abilities then there is a DIY guide in Microsoft Knowledgebase article 922849



Blue Backgrounds

I have a Dell Inspiron PC running Windows XP-SP2 and when I go into the Desktop tab in Display Properties it has locked on one of my photographs which I can't change as the browse button is greyed-out. Worse, it doesn't show this photograph on desktop but just a plain blue background. It does show the picture briefly on startup and shutdown. Can you help me unlock it?

Ian McKinlay


This may be due to a web page taking over your desktop, in which case try this. Right-click on the desktop and select 'Arrange Icons by' and on the menu that appears uncheck the item 'Lock Web items on Desktop'. If not it could be due to a malware infection so I suggest running cleaner utilities like AdAware, A-Square and Spybot, and there’s no harm in using all three of them. They're all free and you'll find links to them all at: http://tinyurl.com/2woy5u



Blue Words

When I go into Word, click on File then Open then choose a file, the document names within the open file are turning blue. Bit by bit they are doing it themselves! How can I return them all to black?

Debbie de Spon, by email


If filenames appearing in Open/Save boxes are coloured blue that probably means they’ve been compressed, possibly by the Windows Drive Cleanup Wizard, to save space (to switch this off open Windows Explorer and go to Tools > Folder Options > View tab > Advanced Settings and deselect Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color). But if you are saying that filenames in documents are coloured blue then that means Word is mistaking them for web addresses and turning them into hyperlinks. You don't say which version of Word you are using but in most recent editions the way to switch this feature off is go to Insert > AutoText > AutoText, select the AutoFormat As You Type tab and under Replace as you type, uncheck, 'Internet and network paths with hyperlinks





© R. Maybury 2008 1911



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