Ask Rick 2008



Ask Rick 010, 19/12/08

Address Conflict

My Windows Vista laptop links to the Internet through my husband’s wireless router. The Internet doesn't connect automatically and I have to go through a tortuous process of trying to get on line using Windows ‘repair’ (which doesn't always work). I get there eventually but the original message is always that there is an ‘IP Address Conflict on my computer. It drives me nuts every morning; how do I solve this once and for all?

Alice Summers, by email


Every computer on a network is assigned a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address so data from the Internet and other computers on the network is sent to the right place by the router. IP addresses can be fixed but on most home networks they’re set ‘dynamically’, by the router, which allocates them when a PC is switched on. This is called DHCP or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and IP conflicts occur when a PC tries to use an address that has been assigned to another computer or wi-fi device. This can happen when a PC comes out of Standby or Hibernation mode, and the address it was previously using has been reallocated, or, more usually, the DHCP server in the router just gets in a muddle.


The quick solution is to go to Run or Search on the Start menu, type ‘cmd’ (without the quotes). In the Command window that appears type ‘ipconfig /release’, press Return and this deletes the currently assigned IP address, Next type ‘ipconfig /renew’, the router assigns a new address and you should be back in business. To stop it happening again try rebooting the whole system. Switch everything off (all PCs, the router and any other wi-fi devices) then begin a staged reboot, starting with the router, followed by the PCs and any other wireless devices.



Lighten Up

Instead of making notes I often take a picture with a small pocket camera.  However jpeg images of text and line drawings on white paper appear to have a light grey background.  How can the text be isolated and  'lifted' off the page? Due to random lighting the grey cast is seldom uniform over the picture.


A search on the web suggests this is a white balance issue. My camera has automatic white balance but I understand that it may be possible to correct it using Adobe Photoshop. Even if it can do the job, it is quite a costly solution. Is there any other method?

Jim I, Hastings


It sounds more like a basic lighting problem to me and the answer is to take more time with your photographs. Increase the scene lighting or mount the camera on a tripod or stand and using the low light/night shooting mode would almost certainly help. Upgrading to a more advanced model, with better low light performance and more exposure options is also worth considering.


If you want to keep your camera and can’t do anything about the lighting then there’s still a lot you can do to improve the image on your PC, though there’s no need to go to the expense of PhotoShop. I suggest our old friend PhotoFiltre ( This is an advanced freeware image editing program, and it is easily capable of doing a relatively simple job like this. Try adjusting the Gamma Correction and Contrast settings, with a little trial and error you should be able to bleach out the background and bring up the text. You can also use the ‘sharpen’ control to make the text more readable, both for you and an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) application, which turns clearly defined words in an image into a text file. OCR programs are supplied free with most flatbed scanners, or try a freeware utility like TopOcr (



Wandering Web Site

My web hosting service has just announced that it will be shutting up shop next spring. What will happen to my web site?  Will it simply disappear or can I ask another provider to look after it?  I want to hang on to the domain name and I don’t want to have to start again from scratch.

Cliff Billington, by email


You are free to move your domain to another hosting service at any time. Most web hosts try to make it easy as possible and do all the behind the scenes administration for you so there may be a modest setup cost, in addition to the normal hosting fees. The actual move can take from a few hours to several days and you will have to upload your entire site to the new host’s server but apart from a brief interruption your visitors shouldn’t notice any difference. Shop around, there are scores of web hosting services offering some very competitive deals at the moment, however, I would keep things simple and stick with a well-established UK based company.



Shut Down Annoyance

When I shut down my computer a box appears on the screen saying: ‘End Program - sprtcmd.exe - this program is not responding…’ I always select End Now.  I have no idea what this program is and I am worried that it might be something nasty on my computer. What do you suggest?

Vanessa Drew, via email


It’s not a threat, Sprtcmd.exe is part of a Dell Support utility program and it’s a real nuisance, judging by the number of emails I get mentioning this problem, which seems to have got worse since the release of XP Service Pack 3. You don’t need the Dell program so get rid of it, but first you have to shut it down.  Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete. Select the Processes tab (In Vista select Task Manager first), find ‘sprtcmd’ on the list, select it and click End Process. Now go to Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs (Programs and Features in Vista), locate Dell Support Centre and click Remove.




© R. Maybury 2008 0112


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