Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 106, 29/05/10


The BBC Thinks I’m Abroad…

I live in Hampshire and have a reliable broadband connection with Demon Internet.  When I try to access video and audio clips on the BBC website, I get a message that it is only available for UK users.  I guess my settings are wrong somewhere in the depths of my computer but I have not been able to find where.

Andrew Jackson, by email


The BBC iPlayer and its various on-line streaming services determine your location by your IP (Internet Protocol) address, which is assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The first thing to do is find out where your IP address says you are by visiting http://tinyurl.com/jawc9. It’s usually accurate to within a few miles; if it shows that you are outside the UK there may be glitch with your router. Try rebooting it by switching it off, wait a minute then switch it back on again. This also forces the ISP to issue a new IP address. If that doesn’t work then it is almost certainly an ISP issue, so contact the help or support people.


For what it is worth this mostly affects ISPs based outside of the UK or with a strong multinational presence. It may just be due to server maintenance in which case it’s normally resolved fairly quickly.



Worry Lines

I have an annoying fault on my Acer Laptop, using Windows Vista Home Premium. After running for a short time I get hundreds of horizontal lines and three vertical lines, which completely obscure the screen. Then, after a few minutes it appears to be back to normal but it can occur again intermittently. I am at a loss what to do.

John Hetherington, by email


I strongly suspect a hardware fault, possibly with the laptop’s video adaptor or the flexible ribbon cable that links the motherboard with the display panel. If it is the latter and it occurs when you move the lid or gently tap the case then it should be fairly easy to fix. If it is the video adaptor then it will be a lot more expensive, possibly more than the machine is worth as it involves fitting a new motherboard. Either way it’s a job for an engineer. 



Amazon Crash

On my Dell PC, in Internet Explorer 8, an annoying window appears, which asks me to ‘open res;//ieframe.dll’. Whatever I click on, Yes, No, or the red Close icon, it refuses to go away unless I navigate away from the site. It mostly happens when I'm on Amazon, but has appeared on other sites. Can you tell me how to stop it from appearing?

Andy Westwood, by email


This is fairly common and usually happens after upgrading from IE7 to IE8. Uprated security features in IE8 appear to have a problem with some sites, possibly due to configuration settings imported from the previous Internet Explorer installation. The quick and simple cure is to open IE then go to Tools > Internet Options > Security tab. Click ‘Reset all zones to default level’ then OK, close the dialogue boxes, exit IE, open it and try Amazon again. 



Pointer in the Right Direction

You recently gave helpful advice about inserting horizontal lines across a page. Is there also a way to obtain horizontal arrows?

Liz Stewart, by email


In most applications you can insert right and left facing arrows using the code Alt + 26 and Alt + 27 (→ and ← ). Just remember to press the NumLock key first and use the numeric keypad to enter the numbers.



Licence to Print Money

My present printer is very expensive to run. I would like to buy a reasonably priced 3-in-one inkjet that is economical on ink cartridges. I have not been able to find any websites that compare the cost of printers and takes into account running costs based on the price and capacity of cartridges. Do you know of one or can you recommend a printer?

Tim Bazeley, by email


Sadly no on both counts. Comparing printers make herding cats look easy. Hardware and ink cartridge prices vary enormously and fluctuate wildly. The steady stream of new and updated models means comparisons are quickly out of date and manufacturers keep coming up with ways of preventing owners from using cheaper compatible cartridges or refilling empty ones.


Printer pricing appears to defy good sense and many 3-in-one machines actually cost less than a set of replacement ink cartridges. At the risk of annoying printer manufacturers my advice is to avoid newly launched machines as it can take several months for compatible cartridge suppliers to catch up with them. Personally I favour models where the printer ‘head’ is built into the cartridge, so if it gets blocked (through lack of use, misuse, cheap refill ink and so on), it can be quickly and easily replaced. The cost of repairing fixed head printers will make your eyes water…



Dash the Cache

A few weeks ago in reply to a question about using Internet PCs in libraries, your final advice was ‘whatever browser you use, clear the cache memory when you have finished your session’. What is cache memory and how does one clear it?

John Congram, by email


It’s the place where a browser stores lists of previously visited web sites, images, passwords, cookies and so on. In Internet Explorer the options to control the size of the cache memory, how long it stores data and to clear it can be found by going to Tools > Internet Options General tab. Under Browsing History click the Settings button. There’s a similar set of options in Firefox; go to Tools > Options > Privacy tab.


You should also be aware that your Windows PC stores details of the web sites you have visited, quite probably since the day you first switched it on. This is kept in hidden and protected files called index.dat. If you want to know more see the Boot Camp articles on Privacy and Paranoia at: http://tinyurl.com/36nfv6s




© R. Maybury 1904 0405


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.