Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 127,23/10/10


Emotional Response

How can I turn off the very annoying coloured emoticons that keep inserting themselves in emails and Word documents whenever I type a bracket and a number and another bracket?   I have only recently changed to Windows 7 Professional, and this new feature is driving me mad!

Jill Firman, by email


They can be irritating, especially to anyone over 14 years old, however, it’s not the fault of Windows 7 but of the individual programs, and remember, any unexpected or undesired action can usually be reversed by pressing Ctrl + Z, the universal Undo command. Emoticons in Word are controlled by the AutoCorrect feature, so go to Insert > AutoText > AutoCorrect, highlight the entries you want to be rid of and click Delete. They were never a problem in Outlook Express and Windows Mail but in Windows Live Mail there’s no way of switching them off, though you can use the Ctrl + Z trick or compose your emails in Plain Text format.



Split Decision

I have a Sony Vaio PC, which has two drives. Drive C: is 27.9Gb and Drive D: is 197Gb. My problem is that the default drive is drive C, therefore all my work and my files go automatically into this drive, which now only has just over 2Gb free.  I know that I can transfer files over to drive D:, but it would be much better if Drive D were the default drive. This might be a basic question but can I do this, and what happens to Desktop folders such as Outlook Express, Google Earth, Picasa, etc

Sheila Fowler, by email


It sounds as though you have one physical hard drive, which has been split or partitioned into two virtual drives. You can fiddle around with drive letters and shifting files and folders but in my opinion the best solution would be to re-size the partitions. In other words create more space on the C drive and make it larger by shrinking the D drive. Unfortunately there’s no facility in Windows XP to do this so you will need a third party application. There are plenty to chose from, including Acronis Disk Director, Partition Magic, and Partition Manager, which cost between £20 and £40, or you could try a freeware utility, called Partition Assistant Home Edition, which does a relatively straightforward job like this just as well as its commercial counterparts. There’s a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/373kf5c.  One word of warning though, changing the size of a partition is a generally safe procedure but don’t take chances and back up any irreplaceable data first.



Bringing Order to Files

I have downloaded my photos onto 3 USB memory sticks. No problem there, but I would like the photos to be in date order. At the moment they always end up in alphabetical order. I have tried going to view and arrange icons and that works once but they go back into alphabetical order the next time I look at them. Can I get them into date order in the stick, as we like to look at them on a viewer or through our telly?

John Bush, by email


This is a very common question and the apparently arbitrary way Windows manages files frustrates a lot of users so for the benefit of newcomers and those still finding their way around a PC filing system let’s get back to basics.


The way Windows stores files and folders on a disc or USB drive has nothing to do with the name or the date it was saved but the availability of free space on the media concerned. How Windows and Windows applications displays the contents of a drive or folder is entirely up to you. Most applications use an Explorer type window for Saving and Opening files and by default this usually lists them in an alphabetical or numerical order, but you can easily change that. Have a look along the top row of columns; there you will see a set of labels or column headers. If you click on one of them it will sort the files in the column below accordingly. In other words if you click the Name label the files in that column are sorted alphabetically, one click for A-Z, click again and they are sorted Z-A. The same trick can be used on the Date, File Type or any other column header.


Now this is where it can get a bit confusing. All you are doing when you click a column header is sorting the way the list is displayed on your PC. The order files will be processed by an another device such as a DVD player, personal media player or a TV is determined by the device’s controlling software or ‘firmware’. In the case of viewing photos on a DVD player, for example, they will be shown in alphanumeric order, and there’s normally nothing you can do about it. However, you can force the device to play files in your chosen order by altering the file names before you save them to disc or a flash drive, putting an alphanumeric code in front of the existing filename like 001, 002, 003 and so on.



On The Money

I am considering getting a new computer, but one of the most important things for me is to have a personal finance package. I have previously used Quicken and later MS Money, but as I understand it neither is now available.  Is there a similar simple program on the market?

Ray Newell, by email


Although Quicken and Money have been withdrawn if you hunt around online you can still find recent copies of the programs; most versions of Quicken at least run quite happily on Vista and W7. Without knowing a lot more about your requirements it’s difficult for me to make specific requirements, especially as most of the current applications tend to be fairly specialised and quite expensive but if your finances, assets and mortgages are reasonably straightforward then a couple of free Open Source packages are worth investigating. Have a look, at Money Manager Ex (http://tinyurl.com/4pl3vt) and Gnucash (http://tinyurl.com/86yth).



Guest Services

I have a guest coming to stay with me who needs to access our wireless hub.  We cannot find our original BT booklet with our WEP key. Is there any way of extracting it from the PC or either of our laptops?

Malcolm Terry, by email


No problem, in the past I have suggested resetting the router to its factory default and creating a new encryption key but there is an even easier way. A little freeware application called WirelessKeyView displays all of the WEP/WPA keys stored on your computer. It also saves them to a text file, so you can print them out for the next time… There’s a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/3abr635




© R. Maybury 2010 2009


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