Houston We Have a Problem 09



Houston We Have A Problem 080, 21/11/09


Driven to Distraction

The DVD drive on my PC will not open and it seems jammed. I have tried the paper clip in the little hole trick but to not effect.

Doug Aitken, by email


Have another go with the paperclip and the manual release catch. On some models the recessed switch or latch can be deeper or stiffer to operate than you think. Is the drive powered up? If so you should see the activity light blink when you boot up, the data cable could have worked loose, you can check this in Windows Explorer, if the drive icon is displayed right-click on it and select Eject.


If the drive’s activity light doesn’t come on or it shows up in Windows Explorer but doesn’t respond to the eject command then I’m afraid it’s a lid-off job. If this isn’t something you feel comfortable doing, ask an expert. The first thing to do is remove and reseat the power and data cables connecting the drive to the motherboard and power supply module. If it’s still not working then the drive will have to be removed and if you want to extract a disc stuck inside the drive then the only option is to open it up. You might be lucky and the jam is a one-off but if it happens again it will have to be replaced.


Enlarging Emails

I am an old age pensioner with glaucoma and the beginning of cataracts. The first probably won’t get any worse and the second can be treated. I can read normal script and I still drive, but sometimes when I receive an email, it runs of the screen and when I want to print it out I get a very small print and need an electron microscope in order to read it.

Harald Wright, by email


There are a number of things you can do to make emails easier to read on screen and print, so let’s start with the monitor display. You can change the size of incoming emails on a per-message basis by going to the View menu on the message window and select Text Size > Large (or Largest). If the email contains any HTML coding, images, emoticons and so on this won’t work, so you need to go the OE main page and select Tools > Options > Read and check the item ‘Read all messages in plain text’. To make the size change, on screen and when printed go back to the Read tab on the Options page, click the Fonts button at the bottom and on the Font size drop-down menu select Larger or Largest and click OK. If you only want to increase the size of printed emails open Internet Explorer and go to View > Text Size and select Large or Largest (this will also increase size of text in web pages). Alternatively you can use the Windows Screen Magnifier. In XP go to Start > Programs > Accessories > Accessibility.



Two for One Windows 7 Upgrade?

I have a Dell desktop running on XP and a Toshiba laptop with Vista. I've bought a large capacity external HDD to facilitate upgrading the operating systems and to solve my storage requirements in the future. If I buy one copy of Windows 7 will I be able to install it on both computers and be able to download updates for both? Is the cost of Windows 7 likely to come down after the launch?

David Paul, by email


Like Vista and XP before it you can only install a licensed copy of Windows 7 on one machine at a time, and Microsoft will know if you try and beat the system, as each installation has to be ‘activated’ online. You won't be able to download updates and you may even end up with one or both machines being deactivated.


The retail price of Windows usually doesn’t change very much though it’s worth shopping around for special offers, however, the Vista to Win7 upgrade and full install versions are a little cheaper than previous versions of Windows. By the way, there’s no easy way to upgrade from XP to Win7. Laplink claims its PC Mover Upgrade Assistant  (http://tinyurl.com/y8j4ben) can do it but OS upgrades rarely go smoothly and you risk carrying across problems, malware and viruses from the old system, and never try it without making a full backup first. One last thought; if you purchased your Vista laptop after June 26th this year you may qualify for a free Windows 7 upgrade; there’s more details on the Microsoft Upgrade Option website at: http://tinyurl.com/ktd67r.



Loosing Your Cool

Last Christmas I bought a new HP laptop. I have been very pleased with it and have no complaints about its performance. However it often gets very hot, too hot in fact for it to sit on my lap without a cushion underneath it. At this time the fan seems to get noisier as if it is working hard to keep the unit cool. Then it will shut down completely as if the power supply has been switched off. I do use it a lot plugged into the electric supply rather than running it on the battery. Does this have any effect on the heat of the unit? Is this normal or do you think I need to get it checked?

Anne Thomas, by email


In spite of the name most laptops get uncomfortably hot when sitting on your lap, and it doesn’t matter if they’re running on mains or battery power. That’s because cooling air is drawn in or exhausted through vents on the sides or base of the machine and these will be blocked by your clothes or the cushion you’ve been resting it on. You can avoid this happening by using the machine on a flat surface or a table, which allows cooling air to circulate. If you must use it on your lap rest it on a tray, a flat piece of wood or a specially designed cooling stand or pad. While you are at it give the vents and slots a few good blasts from an air duster (basically a can of compressed gas) to blow out the dust, hairs and fibres that accumulate in and around the fan and ventilation slots.



© R. Maybury 2009 2809


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