The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 074 15/03/08


Forgotten Password

A few years ago I wrote my life story and saved as ten Word documents. To keep them from prying eyes I gave them a password, I think the same one in each case. I am 66 years of age, afraid that my memory is not what it was and I have completely forgotten the password. I have tried all the familiar words and names I can think of but to no avail. Is there any way to open these documents?


While on the subject of security, I am reminded that banks and other institutions advise us not to use the same PIN number for different cards and account.  This would mean me remembering about 20 different PIN numbers, do you know of any software that would assist but still satisfy the banks that I had kept them secure?

Michael McFarlin, by email



Wordís password protection isnít very difficult to break and there are plenty of commercial and freeware password recovery Tools on the market. Accent Office Recovery (http://www.passwordrecoverytools.com/) is as good as any; the licence key will set you back around £15, which will teach you to not to forget your passwords in future!


Speaking of which, there are also lots of programs for encrypting and storing multiple passwords, but you still have to remember at least one password in order to access them; their very presence indicates that you have stored passwords and pretty well all of them can be cracked by someone who is determined enough and has access to your files.


My own strategy is to write them all down in a Word document, give the file an anonymous or meaningless sounding name then save it in a Windows sub-folder. And yes, before anyone writes in, you still have to remember where you buried it, but it should be easy to find using Windows Search. Further refinements include writing PINs and passwords back to front and making the text invisible by changing the font colour to white.



Hard Lines

The screen on my notebook PC, which runs Windows XP, has started developing vertical coloured lines. It began 12 or so weeks ago and there must be nearly 100 of them now. I tried a System Restore to the earliest possible date but it has made no difference.

John Sausby, by email


If the lines are always there then it may be a hardware fault. This could be due to a faulty display panel, though it is more likely that the ribbon cable, which connects the LCD to the motherboard, has developed an intermittent connection. Sometimes all that's needed is to reseat the cable connections. Occasionally the cable itself may need replacing if one of the fine conductors inside has fractured, due to the constant flexing as you open and close the lid. Either way this is a job for an engineer and if it is a cable problem it should be relatively cheap to repair but if the LCD panel has failed then a replacement could easily cost more than the PC is worth.




Vista Memory Malady

I am trying to get to grips with Windows Vista. I pressed Ctrl + Alt + Del to see what System Monitor showed and after selecting Task Manager, then the Performance tab I discovered a new button called Resource Monitor. This presented me with a new screen, which was very interesting but under a heading called Memory it says that I have 13 hard faults per second. When I ran a memory check it said memory was OK. What does all this mean?
R. Macdonald, by email


Thereís no need to worry and your memory is fine. A Ďhardí page fault happens when an application looks for a piece of data (a Ďpageí) that it expects to be in your computerís RAM memory. However, if it canít find it, it then looks for it the Ďvirtualí memory storage space on your hard disc drive, and logs this action as a page fault. A few page faults are quite normal but it may also mean your computer is suffering from data bottlenecks, which could be due to not having enough RAM. In my opinion Vista needs at least 1Gb, 2Gb is better still.




Double Date, Double Dutch

Microsoft Word 2000 is driving me mad. When typing dates if I don't hit the space bar after the date and use carriage return I get a prescriptive date typed after the original date, i.e. 15 March 2008 then 15.3.08.  How can I get rid of this?

Heather Jeffery, by email


In its defence some people find the AutoDate feature quite useful, though Microsoft rather spoil it by making it a default setting, and then making it difficult to switch off. If itís just the date format thatís annoying you, in Word 2000 you can change it by going to Insert > Date and Time and make a selection from the list. If you just want to switch it off, you canít, at least not on its own. The only way to disable AutoDate is to switch off the AutoComplete feature. To do that go to Insert > AutoText > AutoText > AutoCorrect and uncheck 'Show Autocomplete tip...'.





© R. Maybury 2008 2502

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