Houston We Have a Problem 09



Houston 057, 13/06/09


Re-Using Windows Discs

Can I install the Vista system recently supplied with my Dell desktop PC on my Hewlett Packard laptop? Dell says in the manual that it only works on Dell machines.

Mark Fisher, by email


They are essentially right and the branded OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Windows installation disks supplied by the large PC manufacturers are 'keyed' to the machines they came with and will not install on other makes of PC, or even other models from the same manufacturer’s range. Needless to say there are nefarious ways and means of overcoming this restriction but it's horribly complicated and you will still be faced with problems if you try to activate a copy of Windows that is running on another computer.



Recovering Deleted Messages

I had a lot of emails in the Deleted Items folder in Outlook Express. I am usually very careful to remove only specific mail items, however, in a rush I deleted the whole lot! I have contacted BT to see if the lost messages can be recovered but they tell me that that they do not keep records. Is there any way in which the deleted mail can be recovered?

John R D Morse, by email


Normally when you delete an email it goes into the Deleted Items folder and it can be restored at any time simply by dragging and dropping the message back into the Inbox or the folder it came from. If the Deleted items folder has been emptied or you have recently 'compacted' the message store folders then they may well be lost, as the space they used to occupy is marked as free and will eventually be overwritten. However, there are a number of third-party applications that claim to be able to recover deleted emails (Advanced Outlook Express Recovery, E-Recovery, Email Recovery, Recover My Files, to name just a few). Providing you haven’t left it too long it may be possible to get some or all of them back. I can't make specific recommendations but there are free demo or trial versions for most of these programs that will tell you if there is any recoverable data so you can decide if it is worth stumping up for the fully functional version.



Jazzing up MP3 Tracks

I have a Samsung MP3 player and my music library includes numerous albums that are indexed as ‘Unknown Artist’. This wouldn’t matter too much but it is frustrating on some of my old jazz recordings that I copied from vinyl disc to CD, then via the computer, to the MP3 format. Is there any way of giving these untitled tacks an identity?

Bill Webb, Chester.


All MP3 files contain hidden information or 'metadata', also known as an ID3 Tag, that’s readable by most media players. This includes such things as the album title, track name and number, artist name, duration and so on. You can edit an MP3 track's ID3 tag directly in many media players and to some extent in Windows XP and Vista by right-clicking on the filename in Windows Explorer and selecting Properties then the Summary tab. A more elegant solution is to use a dedicated ID3 Tag editor. One of the easiest to use is AudioShell, it’s free and you’ll find a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/6j5cy. This type of program is known as a shell extension, which basically means that you don't have to run it every time you want to use it, instead the various options appear on the file's Properties menu when you right-click on them in Windows Explorer 



Keeping Track of the Addicts

I have a house full of computer addicts and I am interested to know if there is there a program that will record when my computer is switched on/off, and track the activity?

Hugh Sawyer, by email


If you are a concerned parent then you definitely should be keeping tabs on what your computer is being used for. The first thing to do is set up separate password protected user accounts for everyone that uses it. This is vitally important as it helps to maintain your own privacy and can limit the damage if, for example, one of the user accounts is infected with spyware or malware.


Once that is done you can easily find out who has been using your computer, and when, by consulting the System logs. Windows records switch on and off and log on/off times by all users for diagnostic and faultfinding purposes. In both XP and Vista you’ll find it by going to Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer. For a more detailed summary of what your computer has been used for and to restrict access to undesirable websites and so on, then you need to install some third-party parental control software, like K9 (free from http://tinyurl.com/23fvnf). If you are using Windows Vista have a look at the built-in parental controls. There’s an explanation of how to set them up at: http://tinyurl.com/4fn2z3

Old Time Protection

AVG antivirus no longer supports older versions of Windows. What alternative free antivirus software do you recommend for Windows 98SE?

Anthony Curnow, by email


There is a school of thought that says you probably don’t need anti-virus protection on older versions of Windows for the simple reason that it’s no longer being targeted and no new viruses have been written for these operating systems for many years. That may be true and my feeling is that you should be reasonably safe provided you take the usual precautions (do not open unexpected attachments, stay away from porn sites and pirate downloads) but there’s still a lot of old viruses circulating on the web, and some of the newer infections can still affect older machines, so you shouldn’t take chances. Obviously anti virus programs that still run on Windows 98 are getting a bit thin on the ground but there’s a couple left so have a look at Avast! (http://tinyurl.com/56jes) and ClamWin (http://tinyurl.com/47gqw.




© R. Maybury 2009 0806


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