Ask Rick 2009 & Houston We Have a Problem 09



Ask Rick 053, 22/05/09


Roll Back Vista

How can we make our new Windows Vista Home Premium operating system look and act more like our preferred Windows XP?

Pete Loughlin, by email


Give it a chance, once you’ve got used to it you may even grow to like Vista’s graphics. If you simply can’t stand it then heres’ how, and as an added bonus reverting to the XP look lightens the load on the CPU and graphics adaptor and can even help to liven up a sluggish or underpowered Vista machine.


Step one is to change the colour scheme or ‘Theme’. Right-click on the desktop select Personalise then Windows Color and Appearance. At the bottom of the page click ‘Open Classic Appearance and Properties…’. On the list that appears select Windows Standard, or if you want to revive memories of Windows 98, choose Windows Classic, click OK and wait a few moments as the changes are made.


If you want to go for that old-school look then change the desktop to a plain light blue colour background. You can do that by clicking Desktop Background on the Personalize menu. In the Location drop-down menu select solid colours and make your choice. If you miss the old Windows spinning hourglass when you are waiting for things to happen you can easily get that back by clicking Mouse Pointers. On the Scheme drop-down menu select Windows Standard (Large) then click OK. Finally, to switch to an XP-style Start menu and Taskbar right-click on an empty area of the Taskbar, select Properties then the Start Menu tab and select the Classic Start menu option and click OK.


Out of Date Inkjet

The senior's section of a golf club, of which I am Secretary, was recently given an HP Officejet all-in-one printer and two spare colour cartridges. Soon after I started using it a message appeared saying that the ink cartridge was time expired, so I tried the spares, which produced the same message. I wasn't too bothered so I ordered a remanufactured cartridge from a well-known firm. Shock horror, when I installed the new cartridge the printer advised that this cartridge was also out of date. I send this as a warning to other HP printer users.

Frank Goddard, by email


Printer manufacturers are notorious for devising ways to sell consumables, which is where they make most of their money. It’s mostly water and if you care to do the sums, on some models it works out at almost £3000 a gallon!


This particular ploy seems especially mean; cartridge shelf lives have been reported to be unusually short, preventing users from stocking up (and costing those who do) but apart from anything else there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it. A sealed and unopened cartridges should remain useable for ages. At one point there was talk of disgruntled US customers launching a Class Action; nothing seems to have come of it, but for anyone suffering from this annoyance there is some hope. 


There are several of ways to fool the printer into using out of date cartridges, though I have to point out they are definitely not approved by HP and will almost certainly invalidate the warranty so you try them entirely at your own risk. The simplest method involves briefly removing a small backup battery inside the printer, which resets its internal clock. There are plenty of guides on the web and a YouTube video at: The other methods I’m less comfortable with, and certainly not for novices as they involve modifying driver files but again, there’s no shortage of guidance on the web if you google ‘hp cartridge time expired’.



Seeking the Each Symbol

I've been looking around for a while trying to find the old symbol for 'each'. It is similar to the @ symbol except it uses an e. Have you any idea on how I can find it or create it, or is it something that's not been used since I had my granddad’s typewriter?

Harvey Jubb, by email


This one has me stumped and I’ve been going dizzy trawling through thousands of images of vintage typewriter keyboards. Are you sure you are not imagining it, or confusing it with commercial ‘at’ @, which has been featured on typewriter keyboards since the beginning of the last century?


I haven’t been able to find any reference to a specific symbol for ‘each’; it is normally represented by the letters ‘ea’. The closest I can get to it in contemporary use is the old logo for Microsoft Internet Explorer.


The only thing I can suggest is to insert an e inside a circle. There are several ways to do it in Word, including using WordArt and Unicode fonts but I think the easiest method is to use a Field Code to make one character ‘overstrike’ another, in this example, an uppercase O with an lowercase e, so that the e appears to be inside the O, Here’s how.


Launch the Field Code by pressing Ctrl + F9 and you will see a shaded pair of curly brackets. Inside the brackets type the following, so it looks like this:  {eq \o(O,e)}. Make sure the only space is the one between eq and \. Now toggle the Field code by pressing Alt + F9 and you should end up with this: . You can experiment with the character size and position (Format > Font > Character Spacing > Position > Raised) to centre the e more precisely in the centre of the O. If anyone has any information about the elusive ‘each’ symbol please let me know and I’ll pass it on.



Online Answering No More

I have been using BT's 1571 Online for over 2 years and found it very handy when I was away from home but it stopped at the end of March. What is the best way to pick up messages now?

Gus Carnegie, by email


As far as I am aware 1571 Online was a beta test so there was never any guarantee that it would end up as a permanent fixture, though I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it resurfaced as a paid for service one day. Why not get hold of a cheapie answering machine (or a cordless phone with built-in answering machine) with remote access facility. You can then retrieve your messages using your mobile, or Skype-Out on your laptop, to keep the costs down if you are abroad.





© R. Maybury 2009 2804

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