Houston We Have A Problem 067, 22/08/09
I often stay in a
rural part of France, which has no broadband. Is it possible to get mobile
broadband in France using a dongle at a reasonable price?
Richard Pugh, by
Not really and
whilst 3G coverage in France is usually okay in and around the towns, elsewhere
it can be patchy, especially in valleys and mountainous regions. I suggest that
you do a little homework the next time you are there. Ask the neighbours or at
the local phone shop about 3G reception in the locality.
If you can get a
signal then you will need a mobile broadband dongle or ‘clé 3G’. They
are generally cheaper in the UK (prices start at under £10) but most models are
tied to a network and using it abroad, on a UK broadband contract or pay as you
go (PAYG) deal can be very expensive indeed (between £1.50 and £9.99 per Mb).
My advice is to buy a dongle here and get it unlocked so that it will work on
any network; this costs around £10, depending on the model.
Once that’s done you can
purchase a PAYG or ‘Offre Sans Engagement’ SIM card
and data bundle in France. However, they are nowhere near as common or cheap as
they are in the UK and the best deal I’m aware of is from Orange France (http://tinyurl.com/2gjumh). This costs €25
and buys you 6 hours of Internet connection time over a period of 15 days. But
shop around, new bundles and tariffs are appearing all of the time and if
anyone knows of a cheaper method please let me know and I’ll pass it on.
Otherwise log on to Wi-Fi hotspots, which you will find in many bars and
restaurants and hamburger chains like McDonalds and Quick, and some of them are
free to use.
A Change of Identity
Not long ago I purchased
a computer from a friend who lives a fair distance away from me. How can I
delete his details from my computer? I
have recently written a book on the computer that shows him as being the
Mick Fox, by email
In XP and Vista
Registered Owner information is entered during the initial setup of Windows and
stored in the Registry. Programs installed subsequently, like Office, use this
information to set up the user or owner’s name. In Word you can easily change
this by going to Tools > Options > User Information, but if you want to
do the job properly and make the computer yours you will have to edit the
As usual I have to warn
of the dire consequences of messing about with the Registry but that said it’s
a simple enough procedure. Begin by setting a new System Restore Point – just
in case – by going to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools.
When that’s done go to Run (in XP) or Search (in Vista) on the Start menu, type
Regedit then navigate to the following Registry key:
Double click on the
Current Version key icon, in the right-hand pane double-click on
RegisteredOwner and in the Value Data box make your change, click OK and exit
the Registry Editor.
Dial Up Pop-Up
Some time ago I switched
to Mozilla Firefox because IE crashed with some websites. However, I have a
different and recurring problem now. Often, when I click on a hyperlink on a
web page, instead of opening the relevant website, up pops the dialogue box
that would normally appear if one were using dial up, even though I have a
broadband connection. If I close that, I get an error message saying that the
website that was requested is not available. Can you tell me what to do to
prevent this happening?
Maryanne Roach, by email
There are several
possibilities, including malware and spyware infections so eliminate that
possibility first and give your PC the once-over with two or more malware
cleaners. I suggest AdAware, A-Squared, MalwareBytes and Spybot. They’re all
free and you’’’ find links to the downloads at: http://tinyurl.com/2woy5u.
Next, go to Control Panel
> Internet Options > Connection tab and delete any entries in the Dial-Up
box and check ‘Never Dial a Connection then click OK. If, after a reboot it
happens again and ‘Never dial a connection’ has been unchecked your security
software may be trying to protect your system settings, so check the Help
section to see how to switch this option off.
Billy Bunter Won’t
I bought some discs on ebay with some vintage video
recordings of Billy Bunter but they are recorded in MP4 format.
How can I play these recordings either on my Dell PC or my Panasonic DVD
Michael J Phillips, by email
There’s nothing you can do to persuade your DVD player to
recognise these discs but you can play them on your PC. I suggest an excellent
freeware media player called VLC. This can cope with most popular audio and
video formats, including MP4, and it’s also a dab-hand at difficult DVDs, that
other players have trouble with. You’ll find a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/nvqmm9
Margin of Error
A wide blue margin has
appeared on the left-hand side of the desktop on my XP laptop and I cannot find
any way to remove it. It's only on the desktop and doesn't affect anything
else. When I described it over the phone to my local IT service centre said
that it wasn’t possible. I took the laptop in to them and they were astonished
but could offer no help or reason why it's happened. I can live with it if I
have to but I don't like mysteries.
Mike Josey, by email
It sounds very much
like a rogue Common Tasks list and it’s due to a corrupt Registry entry but I
haven’t the foggiest idea how or why it happens, it’s just one of those things I
suppose… Anyway you can edit the Registry yourself but it’s quicker and easier
to download a small Visual Basic script that will fix the problem and you can
download it from Microsoft Expert Doug Knox's website: http://tinyurl.com/sz1
© R. Maybury 2009 2707