Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 085, 02/01/10


Battery Blues

I recently realised that the battery on my HP Compaq laptop was dead (I tend to use it mainly on mains power) and, as it wouldn't charge, I bought a replacement. On fitting the new battery it wouldn't fully charge. The dealer kindly replaced the battery in case it was faulty but still no success with the new one. Over a period of time the battery will charge to about 15 percent capacity but then no more. What can I do?

R S Calder, by email


The chances of two successive battery packs being faulty are very small, though not unheard of, especially if they are not genuine manufacturer’s replacements.


Nevertheless, my guess is the problem lies with the laptop’s charging circuitry or the System Management Bus (SMBus). This is the means by which ‘smart’ battery packs communicate their state of health and charge to the computer. This data is stored on a microchip inside the battery case. Hopefully your friendly dealer should be able to confirm whether or not this is the problem by testing the battery for you, or supplying you with a third battery, just in case the first two were from a bad batch. If the fault persists then I’m afraid that the laptop will have to go under the screwdriver, and be warned, it could be a costly exercise if it is out of warranty!



South Coast Slow Down

I have returned from abroad and have connected to broadband only to find that I only have 500kbs download capacity rather than the promised 2Mbps resulting in my computer operating only slightly better than dial-up. BT tells me this is the best I can expect until an upgrade is completed. The property is only 5-years old and I live in Plymouth not out in the countryside or the Scottish Highlands. Can you give any advice as to how I can improve the service? I have read about web accelerators and various programs available over the Internet.

Alan Wimbush, by email


Unfortunately there is no magic fix and you are at the mercy of BT, the equipment installed at the exchange and the quality of the line connecting it to your home. So-called accelerators sometimes had beneficial effects on dial-up connections, usually by compressing image data in requested web pages before being sent to the user, but I doubt very much that you would notice any difference, even on a sluggish broadband connection. However, BT has been known to get it wrong and it’s worth checking the potential broadband speeds with other ISPs. You’ll normally find a line speed checker on an ISP’s home page, just enter your postcode but double-check the results with them, before you sign on the dotted line.


If you really are stuck with a slow landline connection see if cable TV broadband is available in your locality (http://tinyurl.com/yckqdos), in which case speeds of up to 20Mbps are theoretically available. Otherwise you could try mobile broadband. The price is coming down all of the time and for basic web surfing and emailing it can be reasonably cost effective, however, don’t expect a big jump in speed. Some providers claim up to 7Mbps but in practice the best most users can hope for is between 1 and 2Mbs and that’s in a good signal area. In fringe areas it can be a lot lower, possibly below what you are getting now.  


Migrating from a Mac

I use a Mac at home and have an important collection of Safari bookmarks for web pages. My dilemma is that I will, in future, require those same bookmarks to apply in Internet Explorer as the schools, where I will be working use Windows PCs

David Williams, by email


It’s not a problem and all you have to do is go to the File menu in Safari on the Mac and select Export Bookmarks. This will create a standard HTML file that you can save on a memory stick, or you can email it to yourself as a file attachment. In Internet Explorer on your PC go to File > Import/Export and click OK. On the list that appears select Import Favourites, click the Browse button to locate your saved Safari bookmarks file and follow the prompts.



Hard Drive Hog

The hard drive usage on my Vista PC suddenly shot up from 50Gb to 150Gb. I couldn't find where it was being used until I did a disk defrag. It listed a 98Gb avi file apparently in the recycle bin. I have never had a file that large so I can't imagine how it got there. On opening up the Recycle Bin I found it to be empty. I can find no way of deleting this .avi file because it doesn't appear in any file or folder.

Kim Cook, by email


My guess is you clicked on a web page link and accidentally downloaded the monster .avi file without realising it. Normally you can get rid of large files like this without any problems but Vistas’ Recycle Bin does seem to have a mind of its own and more than its fair share of problems so here’s a simple procedure that will allow you to permanently empty it and reclaim the space.


Go to Start > Computer then Tools > Folder Options and select the View tab. Scroll down the list to ‘Hidden Files and Folders’, select ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders’ and uncheck ‘Hide Protected Operating System Files’ and click OK. If you now double-click the C: drive icon you should see a folder on the list called $Recycle.Bin. Right click on it, select Delete and click Confirm. A User Access Control (UAC) message will now appear with more dire warnings, click Continue then click Yes or OK on the subsequent warning screens that pop up. When all of the ‘hidden’ Recycle Bins have gone reboot the PC and the new Bin that appears should operate as normal. 



© R. Maybury 2010 3011


Search PCTopTips 



Digital Life Index

Houston 2006

Houston 2007

Houston 2008

Houston 2009

Houston 2010


Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME








 Copyright 2006-2010 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.