Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have a Problem 126 16/10/10


Analyse That!

There used to be a useful program by the name of Aida 32 that would analyse your PC and give you details of the hardware present. It also allowed you to run some simple test routines to check performance of the machine. The author stopped development some years ago. Is there anything similar available?

R Golder, Menai Bridge


There is and if you just want to know about your system hardware and benchmark its performance, which can help you prevent or troubleshoot future problems, then try a freeware utility called HWiNFO32. If you are a real Windows obsessive then I also suggest a free utility called Glint. This displays a set of bargraphs showing up to 200 real-time indicators of your PC’s performance and system activity. You will find links to both programs at: http://tinyurl.com/2v7edl6


Now for a few timely words of warning. Beware of programs that purport to diagnose and fix PC problems. If life were really that simple I and a great many IT engineers would be out of a job. The fact is the vast majority of the problems Windows, and to a lesser extent Mac computers suffer from are software related. It is nigh on impossible to design diagnostic and troubleshooting software that can cope with users who do not read instruction manuals and the almost infinite combinations of programs that we load on our PCs.


A lot of the magic cure programs are simply scams; they either flag up non-existent faults or then ask for money in order to fix them or they are ineffective and liable to do more harm than good. Worse still are the companies that cold-call computer users and offer to fix problems remotely, by taking over your PC and downloading software. Needless to say they are also to be avoided.



Canadian Challenge

We often record TV programmes of local interest on our DVD recorder. Is there any way that our relatives in Canada can play these discs?  We thought that they could get an in-car DVD player here and take it back with them, or even a cheap laptop, but is there an easier way?  Would it be possible to buy an external CD/DVD drive here and then plug into their PC in Canada?

Brian Costelloe, by email


The basic problem is that here in the UK we use the 625-line PAL colour TV system whilst in the US and Canada they use the incompatible 525-line NTSC system. Discs made in this country won’t normally work on US or Canadian DVD players and TVs, unless they are multi-standard types. They are not that unusual these days so it’s worth asking them, or just send them a test disc and see if they can play it.


As your DVDs are home made they do not contain any Regional Coding (this stops commercial recordings being played outside the country or region in which they were sold or licensed). This means there is a very good chance that your relatives can watch your discs on a PC since player software isn’t bothered by differing TV standards. Yes, you can get an external DVD drive that plugs into one of the computer’s USB ports, but rather than buy one here they can probably get one cheaper locally. If they have a fairly recent flat screen TV this should have a VGA input and they can connect it to the PC’s monitor output. If that’s not practical then a laptop (with a DVD drive) will work just as well; most models have external VGA monitor and video output sockets so one way or another they can be connected to a TV. In order to hear the DVD’s soundtrack the computer’s audio output needs to be connected to a hi-fi system’s auxiliary input or a set of amplified PC speakers. 



Outlook Uncertain

Further to your recent item on previewing the contents of suspicious emails without actually opening them, I have Windows Vista and MS Outlook 2003.  I cannot find a Message Source button.  Where should I look please? 

John Stanley


Despite the similarity in the names Outlook and Outlook Express are completely different programs and in Outlook there’s no facility to view the message source and header together. You can see the header, which shows where and when the email originated by right clicking on the message in the Inbox and select Options. The Source or full content of an email can be displayed if you right-click on the open message window and select View Source


If you know your way around the Windows Registry there is hack that lets you view both the header and source together on emails sent over the Internet, (but not on messages sent via Exchange Server), and it only works on messages received after the modification. If you are interested you’ll find details on the Outlook Tips website at: http://tinyurl.com/347opxv


Missing Folders

I have quite happily used Outlook Express for some years for my email as I can store emails in the folders displayed on the left hand pane and retrieve past ones easily. However, last week, for no reason, two of my most important work folders disappeared from the pane and I can't find them! I definitely didn't delete them in error. The same thing happened once before two years ago. I urgently need the emails for my work. How do I get them back again?

David Gutmann, by email


I suspect they have just been moved or 'nested' in another folder by an accidental click and movement of your mouse or touchpad. It’s easily done and can happen on any Explorer type directory tree. In this case look for a little arrow on the left of one of the entries on the Local Folders list in the left pane. If you see one click on it to expand the tree and you should find your missing folders. To get them back just left-click and hold on the first one, drag it to the top of the tree and drop (release the mouse button) on Local Folders. Repeat as necessary for any other footloose folders.



Split Word

I use Microsoft Word and for some reason it is now starting with a split screen, showing a small version of my documents in a column to the left of the main screen. I hate this; I have to click on the Window menu and ‘Remove Split’ each time I open a document. Can you tell me; is it possible to permanently remove this split?

Paula Weideger, by email


Usually all you have to do is go to the View menu and click Thumbnails but if that doesn’t work then the Thumbnail View may have been saved in your normal.dot document template. If so go to Tools > Options > View and at the top, under Show uncheck  ‘Startup Task Pane’ and click OK. Finally, hold down the Shift key, click the File menu and select Save All. If you are asked if you want to save the blank document click Cancel and then Yes when asked if you want to save the normal.dot document template.



© R. Maybury 2010 2009


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