Houston We Have a Problem 09



Houston We Have A Problem 074, 10/10/09


Satnav Lost Connection

I recently purchased a used Honda with built in satnav that uses a DVD. Sometimes it doesn’t work indicating ‘…error reading on DVD’. Recently we went on holiday to the New Forest and I could not set the satnav at home, it just displayed the DVD error message. We stopped at Savernake Forest some fifty miles away and when I restarted the car the satnav started working. Is the DVD likely to faulty or do you think it’s a satellite problem?
Phil Bawn, by email


I think we can be fairly certain that there’s a problem with the DVD, or the DVD drive. The fact that it started working after you moved to another location is simply a coincidence and satellite reception problems generate a different sort of error message. My guess is the laser pickup in the drive is dirty or there was some fluff or dust on the lens that was dislodged during your journey.


Carefully check the surface of the disc for marks, fingerprints or scratches and if necessary clean it. If it is okay give the drive a run-through with good quality disc cleaner. I have found that ‘wet’ type cleaners work best with intermittent drive reading problems. These come with a dispenser of Isopropyl alcohol that you dab onto to a small brush inset into the surface of the disc, but the methods vary so always read the instructions.


So Long Sidekick, Hello Outlook

For a number of years I used a calendar display called Sidekick, which showed the whole year on the screen. I found this most helpful for holiday dates, appointments etc., but unfortunately I lost the package during computer changes. I cannot now find a supplier for this software or similar. My Outlook calendar only has a month to view, which is rather limiting, so I would appreciate your help.

Dennis Tinley, by email;


Wow, that is a blast from the past and as far as I’m aware Sidekick disappeared at least ten years ago, so I’m guessing that you’ve only recently upgraded to Windows XP or Vista. Since you are using Outlook there’s no need to look any further and there are ways to display a whole year’s worth of appointments in a browser window using a simple macro. I have come across several but this one, written by Nick Roemer works well on the three versions of Outlook I’ve tried it on. You can download the macro free from: http://tinyurl.com/2gq4fr


Dusty Archives

I am scanning over 40 years of my family's slides and negatives but they have been ravaged by dust and scratches.  Manually removing blemishes on the digital images is very time consuming. Many articles recommend Polaroid's Dust and Scratch Removal tool as the best automatic solution. However, I can no longer find it.  Is it still available to download?

Chris Kerr, by email


This handy little freeware utility was removed from the Polaroid website some time ago. It’s quite an old program though and to some extent it had become redundant as many photo editing programs have their own dust and scratch filters. I also suspect Polaroid saw no point in maintaining the program, or foresaw compatibility problems with future versions of Windows and Mac OS, but the good news is that nothing ever completely disappears from the web. There’s usually an archive or repository somewhere with what you are looking for and in this case it’s Easy Share, and you’ll find the PDSR zip file at: http://tinyurl.com/l3h6qz



Program Transfer

On my old laptop I have Microsoft Autoroute and I wish to move this to my new Samsung notebook, Both laptops are running Windows XP. I have tried so far without success to copy the program. I have selected the Autoroute folder and copied it onto a memory stick then pasted it to the drive on the notebook. The copy works and you can see the icons but Autoroute will not open and an error message, referring to ‘Registry Settings’ appears each time. What do I need to do to have Autoroute on my notebook?

Bill White, by email


You can’t simply move a program folder from one PC to another, it doesn’t work like that. When you install a new program on a PC in addition to creating the program folder it will also send files to various locations in Windows and on the hard drive. These include such things as dlls (dynamic link library) files, which may be shared by other applications. It will also store program settings in, and make configuration changes to the Windows Registry, which is the large database program that controls how Windows and the programs stored on your PC look and behave.  In short, if you want this program on your computer you will need the original installation discs. There are applications that claim to be able to move programs from one PC to another but I’ve never had much luck with them.


Regional Conflict

I ordered some guitar programme DVDs from the USA, but they won't play on my computers. I am told that they have to be unlocked. Could you please advise me how to do that?

Roy Greenslade, by email


For copyright reasons most commercial DVDs are coded with a ‘Region Lock’ that prevents them playing on equipment bought outside of the country in which the discs are sold. You can’t ‘unlock or otherwise alter the discs but you can buy ‘multi-region’ DVD players that will play almost any type of region-protected disc and you can unlock or change the region on many players by entering a special code into the player’s Service menu.


DVD drives on laptop and desktop PCs work in a slightly different way. Some models start out as multi region but become ‘fixed’ after a playing a few discs – in effect the player decides which region it is being used in. Some PC drives can be unlocked by updating their firmware but this can be a tricky procedure. On some PCs the DVD the player software controls region lock, and again there are ways to override this, or you can simply switch to multi-region software. However, as you can see there’s no one-stop solution and tinkering with region locks is not for the faint-hearted. If you want to have a go, and are prepared to accept the consequences (a failed region hack or firmware update can leave a player or drive inoperable) then Google the make and model of your DVD player, or PC, followed by the words ‘region hack’, and see if there’s one available.




© R. Maybury 2009 3108


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