Ask Rick 013, 29/12/08
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:http://tinyurl.com/2m8jcr.
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
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’ (http://tinyurl.com/5jbmuw), 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
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
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: http://tinyurl.com/5fnc7p. However,
even this doesn’t always work, so try: http://tinyurl.com/6rhb6k
and click the link: ‘What to do if someone has stolen your account’.
© R. Maybury 2008 0812