Ask Rick 2008



Ask Rick 004, 28/11/08


DVD Stills up for Grabs

I want to be able to print a screen shot from a DVD playing on my XP computer. I have tried a program called The Gimp but there were no picture details and the Windows Print Screen option only gives a black screen. I would welcome any suggestions.

Bob Bifield, by email


Normally you can’t make a screengrab of a DVD because the video image is not a normal window but an ‘overlay’, effectively a separate display generated by your PC’s video adaptor. On some PCs you can get around this by disabling graphics acceleration. In XP right-click on the desktop, select Properties then the Settings tab. Click the Advanced button, on the Troubleshooting tab move the acceleration slider to None and click Apply. Another solution is to install a DVD player with it’s own screen grab utility, I suggest VLC Media Player, which is versatile and free; there’s a link to the download at:



Small Problem with BBC iPlayer

The Beeb allow us to download TV programmes on our PCs using iPlayer.  However, I only have a 15-inch display on my computer and I find the quality of the image pretty poor.  Is there any way I can watch these downloads on my TV?
James Barrett


If you have a laptop you’re off to a good start as in addition to being able to park it next to the TV, many models have a TV or video output socket. If so all you need is a suitable ‘AV’  (audio and video) lead, which you can get from your local TV or computer stockist. They will need to know the make and model of your PC and TV as there are several different types of connector.


Many LCD and plasma flat panel TVs are PC friendly as they have VGA input sockets and can function as computer monitors. In addition to a VGA connector lead – and they can be up to 10 metres long, in case your PC is in another room -- you’ll also need an audio cable for the sound. If the PC and TV are some distance apart you can use a widget like the One For All PC to TV Wireless Sender, which sells for around £60.00.




Portable Puzzler

I have a Vista laptop and I’m using Windows Mail for my emails. Just lately pdf attachments will not open and I get a message saying  ‘This file does not have a program associated with it…’. The only way I can read the attachment is to save it in the Documents folder, then it will open with Adobe Reader.

Derrick Purser, by email


The standard procedure is to reassociate pdf files with Adobe Reader and in Vista go to Start > Default Programs, click Associate File Type or Protocol, scroll down the list to .pdf, click to select then click the Change Program button. Adobe is probably already selected but click it anyway then click OK. This should work, but I have to say that I’m getting a lot of emails lately concerning Adobe Reader, which seems to be having more than its fair share of problems. I suggest switching to Foxit, which is smaller, faster and in my opinion a more reliable pdf reader. It's free and there's more about it and a link to the download at If you can't bear to be parted from Adobe then try an earlier, less troublesome version – v4 works well -- and you'll find a copy on



External Threat

My PC was working extremely slowly, and it appeared to have some kind of infestation that was protecting itself when I tried to run a malware cleaner program. I have since had the whole HD wiped, everything is now reloaded and it appears to be okay.  However, I also have an external HD that may still have this infestation. Is there a way I can have it debugged without loosing all the data that is on it?  My wife has quite a lot of ancestry data on it, and the gas, electric, and phone bills data going back 20 years.

K.W, by email


I have a horrible feeling that your PC was just suffering from a simple case of Windows slowdown. It happens on most well-used or underpowered PCs after a couple of years. It’s easy to fix (see Boot Camp 355 though it can be time-consuming and I am afraid that some PC ‘experts’ take the easy way out, tell you that your PC is infected by something that defies detection and the only solution is to wipe the drive.


If it was a virus or malware infection -- and a gradual system slowdown is not a typical symptom – it should have been eradicated by any half decent anti-virus program and malware cleaner, and these normally scan all drives attached to the machine. Provided your security measures are up to date then I think the chances of any nasties lurking on your external hard drive are very small, in any event they generally only exist in software downloads, email attachments and system files, which are generally only on the primary drive. You can put your mind at rest with a full anti-virus and malware scan and for the latter I suggest AdAware, A-Square, Spybot and SuperAntiSpyware (run all of them), they’re all free and safe to use and links to the downloads are at:




© R. Maybury 2008 2710


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