Houston We Have A Problem 133, 04/12/10
Shut Down Nuisance
I am trying to find out what is causing a
recent problem when I shut down my XP computer. Now a box appears which says
‘End Program - Explorer Exe'. If I press OK, the computer closes then down, but
if I don’t another box appears, which gives me further options to shut down the
computer. Do you have any ideas what this is and how I can stop it?
Tim Myerson, by email
This is often due to a program or background
service not doing as it is told when you issue the shut down command. You may
be able to find out what it is by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del when the message
appears and see if there are any applications or processes still running.
Re-installing the offending program may help. If you can’t see anything obvious
try this Registry hack from Kellys-Korner (http://goo.gl/qXMwp),
which automatically ends running tasks at shut down. Otherwise, if there are
multiple users on your PC install this Microsoft utility, which ensures that
all user sessions are properly terminated (http://goo.gl/BWjMS).
Better For Business?
My home PC’s usually come from high street
stores and reliability is generally not that good. Every three years or so we
suffer from a hard drive failure and end up changing the computer. My work
laptop, and the machines used by the business seem to be bulletproof and hard
drive failures are virtually unheard of. I am thinking of giving the consumer
market a miss this time and purchasing a business grade PC. I realise they cost
more, but they appear to be better quality and last longer. Is this a good idea
in your view, are there any pitfalls and will there be fewer time wasting software
Ray Collington, by email
I suspect that you have either been very
unlucky, or badly advised. These days hard drive failures are comparatively
rare and the same types are used in both consumer and what you describe as
business models. The only real difference is that your work PCs are probably
better maintained. Could it be that whoever fixes your home PCs is taking the
easy way out and telling you that the dive has failed?
I am a music teacher in a junior school and
have to write simple arrangements for the choir and band. Do you know of a free
downloadable program that would enable me to convert MP3 or wma files to MIDI
so I can use them in my music notation-writing program?
Rosemarie Butson, by email
It sounds reasonably straightforward but it is
actually quite a tall order so it’s worth explaining the considerable
differences between MP3 and MIDI.
MP3 (and wav, wma and so on) are digital file
compression formats that are used to store or transport music and sounds. MIDI
or Musical Instrument Digital Interface is a set of instructions and protocols
that tells electronic instruments and computers how to play musical sounds and
communicate with one another.
The basic problem is that most music is
polyphonic, in other words it’s made up of several instruments plus percussion
and possibly vocals as well. This has to be untangled to produce a clean MIDI
file or musical notation, and that can be very difficult, even for a skilled
musician. I am not aware of any freeware converter programs – if anyone knows
of one please let me know and I’ll pass it on. However, there are several
commercial converters, and trial versions are available so you can try before
you buy. Intelliscore (http://goo.gl/LsptB),
TS Audio WAV MP3 to MIDI Converter (http://goo.gl/7mXxz)
and WIDI Recognition System (http://goo.gl/nS6BF)
are worth road testing but they work all best with simple instrumental tracks,
so don’t expect miracles.
Scale of Destruction
My BT Broadband router was recently upgraded.
It didn't register with me at the time but our five-year old electronic
bathroom scales stopped working at the same time. I bought a replacement set
which worked once then crashed. The supplier took them back and I bought
another set, which immediately crashed as well. The instructions for the scales
advise …’avoid environmental interference such as vibration, electrical current
and magnetic fields…’. Could the new
router be responsible? I have tried
using the scales with the router switched off but it didn't make any
John Ling, by email
It is highly improbable and much more likely
due to a dodgy batch of scales. Wireless routers have a radio frequency (RF)
output of just a few milliwatts. That’s nowhere near enough to damage
electronic circuitry, even if you plonked the router on top of the scales. To
put that in context, the RF output of a mobile phone is between 20 and 50 times
greater and I seriously doubt that even that would be enough to zap microchips.
I have recently acquired an Apple iPhone 4.
Whilst I have iTunes and QuickTime on my Windows XP desktop PC, I am
experiencing problems installing it on a Windows Vista laptop. The message
'Apple Application Support was not found' keeps appearing with a request to
uninstall and re-install iTunes software. I have repeatedly done this but no
success. Any ideas?
Nigel Peardon, by email
Apple Application Support is needed by iTunes
and QuickTime and to communicate with your iPhone. It is part of the iTunes
download and supposed to install automatically but it doesn’t always go to
plan, so try this. Download and install an archiving and decompression utility
called WinRAR (http://goo.gl/PQHT, this is a
fully functional trial version). Next, download iTunes and save it to a folder
on your hard drive. Right-click on the iTunesetup.exe file and select Open With
> WinRAR Archiver. This opens up the download file and inside you’ll see a
file called AppleApplicationSupport.msi. Double click on it and in the window
that opens select Repair. Hopefully this will fix the problem and you should
now be able to install iTunes normally by double-clicking on the downloaded
© R. Maybury 2010 2211