Ask Rick 2008



Ask Rick 011, 22/12/08


Service not Included

My Epson C48 printer was working normally then a message appeared: 'Servicing required, internal parts need replacing'. At which point the printer stopped working. There is no indication what parts are affected, but in any case it probably would not be worth the cost on a cheap printer. Is there anything I can do or must I ditch my printer and spare cartridges?

Peter Cattrall, by email


If both panel lights are blinking then nine times out of ten this simply means that the printer thinks that a pair of sponge pads that collect waste ink when the printer goes through a cleaning cycle are soaked. It's actually just a guess, based on the number cleaning operations it has carried out and the pads are probably fine, or at worst just need rinsing through and drying out. It's a job you can easily do yourself at not cost. However, the first step is to verify that this is the case using a little program called SSC Service Utility (free from This has a Protection Counter utility (amongst many other useful tools), which tells you if this is the cause. Once you've cleaned the pads you can use SSC to reset the counter. There's a step-by-step guide to removing and replacing the pads at:, the last time I mentioned the SSC utility I had a lot of emails from readers asking if there is an equivalent program for other makes of printers. Unfortunately the situation hasn't changed and it only works on Epson models.



Searching for an Answer

The Search facility on my 2-year old Dell XP computer seldom works any more. It very quickly comes up with the message: 'There are no results to display'.  Even when I insert the full name of a file or folder, it sometimes fails to find it. I am not aware of any software, which might have caused this to happen.

Peter Ramsden, by email


I know of several glitches that stop XP Search working but I'm not aware of anything that makes it work part time. There was a bug in the original XP release that prevented Search from finding some file types and text strings but this was fixed by a patch released in 2001 so we can discount that one.


I suspect it's due to a corrupt or missing system file or Registry entry but this is not a job for a novice, and you will need an XP installation disc, which I suspect you do not have. I suggest that you let sleeping dogs lie and install an alternative Search utility. Try Copernic Home (, it's freeware and it actually does a better job than Windows Search. It indexes everything on your drives so results are returned as you type (just like Windows Vista), it's faster too and quickly homes in on word processor files, emails and attachments, web pages, pdfs and downloads.



Leaving Home

I am about to purchase a new laptop. Can I install my old programs, such as 'Home Publishing', which I have been using on my Windows ME PC setup? Also, does Vista Premium contain any programs with spreadsheet capability?

Brian Bishop, by email


I fear this is asking rather too much of a program that was written more than ten years ago for third generation Windows 9x (Vista is generation 6). It's so old that Microsoft don't even bother to list it on the Vista compatibility web site ( Nevertheless you have nothing to lose so it's worth trying, it will tell you straight away if its possible and you never know.


More bad news, there are no spreadsheet programs in Windows, nor have there ever been but you might be able to persuade a retailer to bundle in a copy of Works, or Office, if they're feeling really generous. Otherwise download the excellent free office suite (, which includes an Excel compatible spreadsheet called Calc.


OpenOffice also comes with Write, Impress and Draw, which have many of the layout and presentation features in your Home Publishing program. Other freeware offerings, like Picasa and PhotoFiltre ( will fill in the gaps when it comes to managing, displaying and editing your image files



Wind Back Windows

I wish to buy a new laptop, which only comes with Windows Vista pre-loaded.  Unfortunately I use a specialised program for my work that only runs on Windows XP. How should I go about getting XP installed on the new laptop?

Ian Bennett


Check with the vendor. In response to early resistance from corporate users Microsoft allowed manufacturers to create so-called 'XP Downgrade Discs' and these would be supplied to customers on demand. Initially this only applied to the major brands selling PCs with Vista Business and Ultimate editions but they now appear to be quite widely available, but you have to ask.


Otherwise, if you have a full retail copy of an XP installation disc then you can use that to wipe Vista and install XP. Alternatively if you fancy giving Vista a chance then you can dual-boot both operating systems. It's fairly straightforward, all you have to do is pop in the Vista installation disc, skip the product key screen and select Install Windows. Select any of the versions of Vista listed and this launches the Diskpart partition tool. This creates space on the drive for XP and you will need to work out how much space to allocate each system. When it has finished you can insert your XP disc and it will install Windows into the newly created partition. At boot up a window appears that lets you choose which version of Windows to load, or you can set it to default to one system after a preset delay.




(c) R. Maybury 2008 0212

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