Ask Rick & Houston We Have a Problem 2008



Ask Rick 005, 01/12/08 & Houston 110 13/12/08


All Sewn Up

I have a Bernina sewing machine with the Embroidery software program.  I have tried to install this on my computer but with no luck. When I phoned Bernina they said it was not compatible with Windows Vista and the solution was to buy another program costing £400, I did think of trying to buy a second-hand laptop with XP installed, however I now know that there are several versions of XP!  Do you have a solution?

Jackie Leigh, by email


I can’t say I’ve had a lot of experience with sewing machine software but a quick visit to Bernina’s support page brought me up to speed but I’m afraid that it’s all bad news. I assume that the Embroidery program you have is version 4 or earlier, in which case it will not run on Vista, nor can it be persuaded to do so using Vista’s XP ‘Compatibility Mode’. Berninia sell a v4 to v5 upgrade package, though rather unhelpfully it costs the same as the normal v5 program. As far as I can see the software isn’t widely discounted, if at all, but it’s worth checking the auction site ebay. At the time of writing pre-owned copies of v5 were selling for around £150.


Buying a second-hand XP laptop would solve your problem and you don’t need to worry too much about the different versions of XP, the software will work on the standard 32-bit Home and Pro variants. (It is extremely unlikely that you will ever encounter a 64-bit XP laptop).


Another possibility is to set up your PC to ‘dual’ boot Vista and XP so that at switch on you have a choice of which operating system to use. It’s a bit of a palaver and not for absolute novices but if you are feeling brave, have a set of Vista and XP installation discs and a few hours to spare it might be worth considering. If so there’s an easy to follow tutorial at:



Handling Problems

All of a sudden I am unable to transfer jpeg or video files from my laptop to an external HD, which I use as a backup. All other file types transfer quite normally. However with the affected files I get an error message which says: 'Cannot copy <file name> it is being used by another person or program'. No other programs are open on my desktop. Likewise when I try to turn-off the laptop in the normal manner I get a message saying that Windows is currently working on a file’. I then have to switch off the power supply and release the battery to turn-off the laptop. Once I have turned it back on I can transfer the files. It would appear that the act of transferring triggers some hidden agenda.

Michael Harris, by email


This is a very common problem and it’s caused by what’s known as an open ‘handle’. When programs or Windows processes open a file a ‘handle’ is applied to it. When the file is closed the handle is supposed to be released but sometimes it isn’t, which means that the file cannot be copied, moved or deleted because Windows thinks it is still in use.


Why this happens I cannot say, it’s another one of Windows funny little ways, but it’s easy enough to fix. The teccy solution is to close then reopen the Windows Explorer background service, which I don’t recommend to novices. The simpler solution is to download and install a little freeware utility called Unlocker ( All you have to do is open Windows Explorer, right-click on the disobedient file and select the Unlocker, which now appears, click the Unlock button and do with it as you will.



Do the SMART Thing

The following message popped up on my two-year old desktop PC running Windows XP Professional:

‘A Hard drive is reporting a SMART event. A hard drive in the system reports that it might fail’. How seriously should I take this and what action would you recommend?

Eddie Hollings, by email


SMART or Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology warns when a hard disc may be about to suffer a catastrophic failure, so take it very seriously indeed! SMART drives measure and record various things like errors reading and writing data, temperature and vibration. Any sudden changes are detected by software on the motherboard and in the operating system and this flags up the warning message you’ve just seen. It is only a prediction and your drive might well soldier on for another 10 years but you would be mad to ignore it! You should backup all of your irreplaceable data immediately and arrange for a replacement drive to be installed.



Not so Super Sonic

I have just installed Nero Burning and a new DVD writer. At switch-on I always get this message: ‘InCD disabled itself because it detected incompatible Sonic UDF software. Please uninstall that software’. However, I cannot find anything resembling Sonic UDF in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, any ideas?

David Rogers, Yeovil, Somerset


Sonic is better known under the brand name Roxio, and prior to 2002, Adaptec, as the maker of the popular ‘Easy Creator’ series of CD and DVD burning applications. I suspect you have one of them on your PC, possibly installed at the same time as your previous CD/DVD writer drive, so look for Adaptec or Roxio rather than Sonic on the Add/Remove Programs list. For the record the UDF (Universal Data Format) components in these programs allow you to drag and drop files onto blank discs, they are incompatible with one another and you can only have one of them on your PC.





© R. Maybury 2008 1111


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