Ask Rick 2009 & Houston We Have a Problem 09



Ask Rick 019, 19/01/09, Houston 116, 7/02/09


Shuffle Kafuffle

My old iPod Shuffle isn’t recognised as an external drive on my newer laptop of six months, which has Vista installed on it. This is maddening as there is no way I can find of changing the songs I have on my Shuffle. Any ideas?

Daphne Kasriel, by email


By old I suspect you mean it’s a first generation model, in which case this is quite a common problem. There are several possibilities, including of course a faulty iPod, but you should be able to eliminate that by trying it on another PC with iTunes installed. As far as Windows goes, the Apple Support website ( is the place to go and I would be very surprised indeed if your problem isn’t resolved after working through the suggestions under ‘Still can’t see your iPod’



Age of Compatibility

I have a new laptop with Vista Home Premium installed. However I am unable top get Age of Empires III (2005) to install. It gets to about 15 percent but then stops. I have tried the option 'Use an older program with this version of Windows' but this doesn't work either. I do not receive any error messages. Any suggestions?

Cameron, by email


You are in luck and Microsoft has a package of compatibility updates, which includes, amongst many other programs, Age of Empires III. It’s free and you can download it from:



No Disk Mystery

A message saying ‘Windows – No Disk Exception Processing Message c0000013…’appears on my desktop every time I boot up my XP computer. It also virtually stops the machine from running until I have cancelled it from the screen, which seems to take an inordinate number of mouse clicks. Even then it will occasionally reappear and be just as difficult to remove. I do not have any trouble accessing any of the drives on my machine (removable or permanent) so it appears to mean nothing at all.

Brian.T, by email


This baffling message usually means that Windows can no longer access a removable drive installed through a memory card reader or USB port or there’s a glitch with QuickTime. If it’s the latter an easy fix that seems to work for a lot of people is to clear the Recent Documents and Files list. To do that right-click on the Start menu or Taskbar, click Properties, select the Start Menu tab, click the Customize button, select the Advanced tab and click the Clear List button. If that doesn’t work and you have a memory card reader try removing then re-installing the device driver software from Device Manager (Winkey + Break > Hardware > Device Manager), which you should find listed under USB Controllers. Right-click on the entry, select Uninstall, reboot and it should be automatically restored. If not the driver can be downloaded from the card reader manufacturer’s web site. 



Cleaning Solution

I do a disk cleanup and defrag regularly. Is this a correct method to keep the computer working efficiently or is there anything better I should or could do?

Michael Loughlin, by email


If your PC is well used then they’re both worth doing two or three times a year but in most cases it makes relatively little difference to overall performance. Recent versions of Windows (XP and Vista) use a fairly advanced filing system that’s quite good at avoiding clutter and making efficient use of the space available. Nevertheless, Windows does slow down over time. It’s inevitable and mainly due to having too many programs vying for limited resources, so only install the software you actually need and remove anything you no longer use.


When installing new programs read through the setup options and untick any boxes that offer to start the program with Windows. You should also keep an eye on the Startup list (type ‘msconfig’ in run/search on the Start menu) and periodically deselect any unwanted Services and utilities that launch after Windows. However, my ultimate tip is to make a copy or ‘clone’ of your hard disc drive, once everything is running smoothly and configured to your liking.  Every eighteen months or so, when the slowdown usually starts to become noticeable, switch to the clone system. Copy your backed up files to the new drive and it’s like having a brand new PC. It’s not as difficult as it sounds and there’s a simple to follow guide in Boot Camp 550 (



Card Games

I can successfully download from my camera to my PC where I use Picasa to edit the pictures. Is it possible to then upload these edited pictures from the PC back to the camera’s memory card so that I can see them on my TV?

Geoff Hill, by email


Absolutely no problem. Open the image in Picasa then go to SaveAs on the file menu, specify the location (your memory card) and click OK. However, why not try Picasa’s Gift CD option (on the folder menu), which may be playable on your DVD player if it has a JPEG file reading facility. Otherwise there are plenty of commercial programs for creating photo slideshow discs on DVD, or if you fancy a challenge, try my DIY method, which uses free software, you’ll find it in Boot Camp 504 (



Essential Mac?

Our daughter is reading psychology at Uni and needs a new computer. She wants a MacBook but they are dreadfully expensive, compared with other makes. Do you think it is worth paying the extra and, if so, why? I should maybe point out that her faculty is equipped with Macs and she uses them in lab work.

Jane Ackroyd, by email


There are some amazingly cheap Windows laptops around right now and these days it’s fairly civilised and most of the old arguments about reliability and ease of use have disappeared. However, it appears that your daughter is accustomed to Macs and the course is based around Mac systems and software so a Windows PC will probably be an unwelcome complication. Deals and discounts on MacBooks tend to be few and far between but it’s worth asking at your local Apple store about refurbished models and there are a number of student discount schemes, which may be available through her University, or try for special offers




© R. Maybury 2008 2912


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