Ask Rick 2009 & Houston We Have a Problem 09



Ask Rick 025, 13/02/09, Houston 018, 28/02/09


Blinking Broadband

I have a Windows XP PC and my broadband connection is through a wireless ADSL router. Every day there are periods when the connection goes on the blink sometimes for 5 or ten minutes at a stretch. I can usually tell when it is happening before I connect through the browser as the ADSL light on the router blinks instead of being steady. It can happen several times in an evening. Is this something to do with my equipment, my ISP or too many people connecting locally?

Roger Peart, by email


It could any of those things however, the majority of broadband modems/wireless routers operate independently of the PC they're connected to (the exceptions are some older USB modems). Intermittent connections may be due to the modem, the phone line and the wiring in your home, and not forgetting the equipment at the exchange. Problems with the latter are fairly unusual, though, and normally fixed fairly quickly. The number of users sharing a broadband exchange link -- the so-called Contention Rate -- usually results in a slowdown rather than broken connections.


The distance from the exchange is a major factor and the further away you are the more likely you are to suffer stability problems caused by line noise and signal attenuation. Even if you are well within the nominal 4-6km service area there are plenty of other things that can go wrong. These include bad connections in the junction boxes between your home and the exchange. Inside your home there’s the possibility of dodgy wiring in phone sockets and interference from other devices connected to the line. ‘Microfilters' are notoriously unreliable and the cable connecting the modem to the microfilter can also cause problems. In short there’s a lot that can go wrong.


The first thing to do is see what happens when you unplug all other telephones and devices, including fax machines and SKY boxes, if you have them. Also change the microfilter and the modem cable. If you are still having problems then it’s time to check the connection. Line noise is one of broadband’s worst enemies; I suggest using a secret BT facility called the 'Quiet Test'. Dial 17070 on any BT phone and choose option 2. The line should be almost completely silent. If you hear anything more than an occasional crackle, pop or barely audible background hiss then that could be your problem and you should contact BT to check the line. (There are several other interesting tests on this number but you need a BT engineer's PIN code to access them). If the line is clear and you still have a problem then it’s starting to look like the modem could be to blame, but eliminate all other possibilities first.


Untangling Word

I am in the middle of typing a manuscript using Word. Suddenly I find that I have, inadvertently, introduced a hyperlink in the middle of the script - I think I must have hit Ctrl + K, rather than Caps + K - and I can't get rid of it.  Everything I now type comes out in red and is underlined, and there is a long vertical bar along the left side of the printing, and I have a red horizontally elongated box, which says Delete, and then has anything in it that I try to delete. I don't seem to be able to do anything to get rid of all this and allow me to continue with the manuscript - and I have a tight time deadline!

Jill Firman, by email


It sounds as though you have enabled Word’s ‘Track Changes feature’, and you can toggle it on and off by pressing Ctrl + Shift + E. On a more general note, whenever you get into a tangle with Word’s extensive range of obscure text-mangling options the quickest and simplest remedy is usually to save the document as a text file and this strips out any unwanted formatting. All you have to do is go to SaveAs on the file menu and on the Save as Type drop-down menu choose ‘Text Only (.txt). Click OK, close the document, re-open the .txt version you just created and use SaveAs again to save it in Word Document (.doc) format. If the document is a long one with lots of formatting that you want to keep then just copy and paste the affected block of text into a new document, save that as a text file, delete the original block and paste the cleaned up text block back into the original document. 



Jittery Java

My PC has recently developed a very annoying problem! It started to operate extremely slowly and I eventually got the Task Manager up to show that the CPU was 98-100% busy with something called

"jusched.exe. I have no idea what this is or where it comes from - or what it might be doing, and why.  I deleted it and emptied the Recycle Bin but it was there again the following morning and I have since had to repeat the whole process about ten times. How can I get rid of this wretched thing permanently?

Andrew Ward.


Jusched.exe is the Java updater Service, which usually checks for new versions once a month. Yours may be stuck on a failed or corrupt update. I suggest that go to Java in Control Panel and disable it on the Update tab and ignore the warnings. Leave it for a few weeks, by which time a new update file should be available and re-enable it.



Where’s Word?

Whilst tidying up her computer my wife accidentally deleted the Word program in Microsoft Office XP. Is it possible to recover the software rather than having to re-install it?

Keith Thomson, by email


It’s very difficult to remove Word by ‘accident’; my guess is she has just deleted the desktop or Quick Launch shortcut. Check the Recycle Bin, it might still be there, if so right click on it and select Restore. If you’ve emptied the Bin recently you can easily create a new shortcut to Word by opening Windows Explorer or My Computer and go to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office. Look for the blue Winword.exe icon, right click on it and select Send To > Desktop (Create Shortcut). If the program really has been uninstalled then I'm afraid that you'll have to re-install it from your Office disc.




© R. Maybury 2009 2001


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