Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 108, 12/06/10


European Choice

How do I permanently get rid of the Browser Choice page, which constantly appears when I boot up my computer?

Godfrey Hall, by email


This selection page, now appearing on Windows PC screens across Europe is the result of a ruling by the European Commission. It requires Microsoft to inform users that Internet Explorer, which is installed by default, is not the only browser available. It comes to you courtesy of recent update (KB976002) and the idea is that the screen only appears once, if you have IE set as your default browser. If you are happy with it then click the IE button and it shouldn’t bother you again. Otherwise click the Close Window icon (‘X’ in the top right corner) and that should also make it go away for good.


The usual reason it keeps coming back is that you’ve clicked ‘Select Later’, so if you’ve made your choice and it still shows there may be a glitch. The simplest solution is to uninstall the update. You’ll find it by going to Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and KB976002 should be on the list, if not make sure the ‘Show Updates’ box is ticked at the top. Once you’ve found it highlight the entry and click the Remove button.



Tesco Terminator?

I took one of my CDs containing over 100 photos to a print shop in my local Tesco. I put it in the print machine but it did not seem to want to upload the images. When I returned home I found that all of the images on the disc had gone. I was under the impression that images on a CD couldn’t be erased. Is there such a thing as a program that could recover the lost pictures?

Tim Keenan, by email


It is true that data on a write-once CD-R disc is more or less permanent but it can be made unreadable by physical damage (scratches and surface marks etc) and exposure to strong sunlight, heat and humidity. Data on rewritable discs (CD+/-RW and CD-RAM) can be erased but I think it’s highly unlikely that it would happen in a supermarket photo printing machine, unless it was faulty.


Check the surface of the disc and if you see any obvious scratches, especially close to the centre where the file directories are recorded. If you find any you may be able to remove them with a disc repair or polishing kit. If the PC recognises the disc but cannot read files then it’s worth trying a utility called CD Recovery Toolbox Free, as the name implies it is free and there’s a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/5mjbzn.



Beat the Block

I have a Windows XP desktop PC with 2Gb of RAM and a miserable 80Gb hard disk, which is close to being full. I invested in a 1TB external drive and copied across all the family's music and pictures, no problem.  However, when I tried to delete them from the PC drive an error message box says ‘Cannot Delete… Access Denied. Make sure the disk is not full or write protected and not currently in use’. I have checked the file Properties and they are not protected.

Neil Bridgewater, by email


This has to be one of the most annoying error messages, ever, and it’s not as if you are trying to delete critical system files. There are several possibilities but the likeliest one is a ‘handle’ on the file or folder, meaning that Windows reckons that it is in use or being indexed by a program or service utility. The best thing to do is download and install a small freeware utility called Unlocker (http://tinyurl.com/6k3c34). This puts a new option on Windows Explorer’s context menu. Right-click on the file you want to get rid of, select Unlocker and it tells you the name of the program that’s preventing it, with the option to override the block and delete, rename or move the file.   



DVD An Endangered Species?

Last summer we managed to film a bird’s nest.  Four chicks were raised and fledged and we  recorded parts of it on a DVD. We want to ensure that we keep the film so it can still be viewed in 20 years time.


Should we copy the DVD to a few other DVDs to ensure that if one copy was not readable, we would always have a copy; if so how many should we make?  How about copying the DVD to the computer hard drive?  How can we do that?  We have tried making a copy using Windows Explorer but the copied disc will not play.

Michael Benneworth, by email


Estimates vary but it’s reasonably safe to assume that recordable DVDs, stored in ideal conditions, should last for at least 25 years, but what will you or future generations play them on 2035? It’s a real problem, just ask anyone with a collection of 3.5 or 5.25-inch floppies or Zip discs, 8-Track tapes, Laserdiscs or Video CDs, and time is fast running out for audio cassettes, Betamax, VHS, S-VHS, 8mm and Hi8 video tapes…


Making a backup of valuable or irreplaceable data, whether it’s a document, image or movie is always a good idea and multiple copies is a good start, provided at lest one of them is stored ‘off site’ as it were, just in case your house burns down.


However, you can’t copy DVDs in Windows Explorer, the files need to be processed or ‘ripped’ and to do that you need specialist software. Try DVDShrink (http://tinyurl.com/3ym76zf), it’s free and does a good job of backing up just about any type of DVD. As an added bonus it creates a copy of the recording on your PC and that can be endlessly backed up on hard drives without loss of quality and re-recorded onto the medium or format of the day, but what that will be in ten, let alone twenty five years time is anyone’s guess.


© R. Maybury 1904 1705



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