Ask Rick 2008



Ask Rick 013, 29/12/08


DVD Go-Slow

I have an Acer PC system that runs Windows XP. It plays and records CDs quite happily but if I load a DVD it plays at what seems to be about eighty percent of the correct speed. This happens if using Nero Show Time or Windows Media Player. All the settings seem to be correct and the computer says that there is nothing wrong with it.

Mike Wood, by email


It sounds like there’s a data bottleneck in the system. Many low cost PCs have an ‘integrated’ graphics adaptor that’s built into the motherboard and these usually share the computer’s RAM memory. A quick and dirty fix that sometimes works is to reduce the screen resolution to 800x 600. Don’t worry you won’t be sacrificing playback quality as the resolution of standard DVD is 720 x 576 pixels. If the PC came with the bog-standard 512Mb of RAM upgrading to at least 1Gb should provide a long-term solution.


You might also find that switching to another media player helps. I suggest VLC, it’s small and consumes very few system resources; you’ll find a link to the download at:


You should also check DMA or Direct Memory Access. This allows drives to use system memory to speed up data flow (and you will need at least 1Gb of system memory). To make sure that it has been enabled open Device Manager by pressing WInkey + Break, select the Hardware tab and click Device Manager. Click to expand ‘IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers’ then right click Primary IDE Channel. Select the Advanced tab and on the Transfer Mode drop-down menus make sure ‘DMA if Available’ is selected. Repeat the above steps for the Secondary IDE Channel entry in Device Manager. Close the boxes, reboot and try again.



Deleting Browser Mistakes

Every time I use the address or Google Search boxes in Mozilla Firefox I see misspelled entries from previous web sessions. Can you tell me how to remove them?

Dave Farmer, by email


I’m assuming that you are not using the Google Toolbar, if so all you have to do is open the drop down list, highlight the errant entry and press Shift + Delete. If you have the Google Toolbar installed you can clear everything, mistakes and all, by deleting Search History. Go to the Tools menu and click Clear Private Data  (if you have saved passwords that you want to preserve go to Tools > Options > Privacy and under Private data click the Settings button and make sure Saved Passwords is unchecked.



Slow and Disconnected

My wife has a 6-year old Sony Vaio laptop running (limping) on XP Professional, which is now taking up to 25 minutes to boot up. She has always been able to access the Internet via my Netgear router and her USB Wi-Fi adaptor.  But today everything failed. The wireless adaptor showed an occasional flickering blue light, but after fiddling (and not knowing what I was doing) I got a steady blue light. When I click on the icon in the System Tray it says ‘limited or no connectivity’, but signal strength is shown as good. Is there anything I can do, or should I relegate the machine to duty as a doorstop? 

Chris Fookes, by email


A twenty-five minute boot up may be some kind of record and I’m genuinely impressed by your wife’s patience. You need to sort this out first as several of the possible fixes for your Internet connection problem involve reboots and having to wait almost half an hour every time to see if it has worked makes the task virtually impossible. Take a look at Boot Camp 355, ‘XP Tuning Tips’ (, which should help you to speed things up.


Meanwhile, the Limited or No Connectivity and signal strength ‘good’ messages usually means the wireless link from the PC to the router is okay, but for some reason the PC has been wrongly assigned a private IP address and cannot access the Internet. It’s probably a DHCP configuration error and I dealt with something similar a few weeks ago in Ask Rick 10. Once again the first and easiest thing to try is a network reboot; simply switch everything off, power up the router, then boot up the PCs. If that doesn’t work the next stop is the built-in Windows Network Repair utility. To launch it go to Start > Control Panel > Network Connections, right click the network adaptor’s entry (the wireless adaptor in your case), select Repair and follow the prompts.



Hotmail Hijack

My son uses Windows Hotmail and for some inexplicable reason he recently answered a Nigerian spam letter and ever since has been blocked out of his connection. The spammers are using his name and ID and have changed the password, so he is unable now to log in, Hotmail just doesn't recognise him anymore.


I have suggested that he should sign up for another email account, but in the meantime the spammers can continue to use his ID. I have tried to contact Windows feedback but they don't seem to be listening and it is causing my son a lot of angst and frustration.

John McQuaid, by email


I trust that you have given your son a good long lecture on the wisdom of replying to Spam messages, no matter where they comes from, and the perils of identity theft. Unfortunately Microsoft does not make it easy to alert them to the fact that an account has been compromised, and you can easily end up going around in circles. However, there are several less well publicised ways to get to the elusive Support Contact form and your best bet is probably: However, even this doesn’t always work, so try: and click the link: ‘What to do if someone has stolen your account’.





© R. Maybury 2008 0812


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