Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 182 03/12/11


Remote Possibilities

We have a Brennan JB7 hard drive music store and player and have just paired it up with a Revo DAB radio receiver. Now while they both work fine, the problem is that the remotes interfere with the other device.  Switching on the DAB radio with its remote triggers the JB7 into playing random CD tracks, and so on.  Any suggestions gratefully received!

Andrew Grant, by email


With the proliferation of infrared (IR) remote controlled gadgetry interference is a growing problem. In theory it shouldn’t happen and the two most common protocols (RC-5 and NEC) are designed to prevent inter-brand interactions but clearly it doesn’t always work. Unfortunately it’s not usually possible to change the control codes used by the various products but there are a couple of workarounds. Physically separate the two devices so that beams from the two handsets have to point in different directions. Taping small pieces of card to the IR receptor windows can help shield against infrared ‘bounce’ from walls and ceilings. Replacing one or both handsets with a programmable or Universal remote sometimes works. I’m not sure why but it’s possible that they reproduce the coded IR signals more precisely than supplied handsets or the beams are more tightly focussed. 



Cache 22

I used the free web space provided by my previous ISP to set up a site for my history group. When I terminated my subscription I forgot to delete the site beforehand, and, naively, thought the site would be deleted. I now cannot get rid of the site since I no longer have access, and despite many emails, my previous ISP says they cannot help. It’s an irritation since this old site is still picked up by Google, and I would dearly like to be rid of it.         

Bryan Buckby


The original site is almost certainly no more but it lives on in Internet repositories or caches. Not surprisingly Google’s is the biggest and it stores copies of every web page its automated ‘crawlers’ visit as it indexes the Internet. Eventually it should disappear but you may be able to persuade them to speed up the process by going to: http://goo.gl/bmGdC. However, it could take a while. There are other search engine caches and major web archives like Wayback Machine (http://goo.gl/xB4t -- see FAQs for details of how to remove a site), which currently stores more than 150 billion web pages, dating back to 1996.




Broken Browsers?

My daughter is home from uni and having problems with her Vista laptop. It was working perfectly last week at her student digs; now, Internet Explorer opens but won’t display web pages and Firefox crashes as soon as it starts. It connects to the Internet on my home wireless network and she can send and receive email and Skype works perfectly. I’ve tried changing Internet Explorer’s settings but without success. Any ideas?

Christine Richards, by email


Browser glitches are almost always caused by flaky toolbars, add-ons or plug-ins, though it’s unusual for Firefox and IE to be affected at the same time. However, I would start by resetting IE to its defaults, and this should undo any configuration changes you may have made. Open IE and go to Tools > Internet Options > Advanced and click the Reset button at the bottom and close IE. Next, launch IE in its Safe mode to disable the add-ons and plug-ins. Go to Search (or Run on Windows XP) on the Start menu and type ‘iexplore –extoff’ (without the quotes) and press Enter. Call up a web page to see if has started working again, if so click the bar at the top of the page that asks if you want to manage your add-ons. Select Manage Add-Ons, then Toolbars and Extensions and disable everything you don’t want or are not sure about. Exit IE and restart normally. Use a similar procedure for Firefox. Go to Run or Search and type ‘firefox –safe-mode’. If Firefox opens an option box will appear and you can uncheck each item in turn before closing to see if it restarts normally. 



Free Health Check

I have been using a program called Spyware Doctor, suggested by you a while ago.  Recently I tried to install it on a friend's laptop. It would scan for free, but you have to pay for it to fix the problems that it finds. Is there any free stuff available, or is it worth spending money to be safe?

Maggie Evans, by email


Spyware Doctor Starter Edition was included as a freebie on the now discontinued Google Pack software suite launched in 2005, but give-way programs have a habit of becoming paid-for applications if they prove successful. Fortunately there are still plenty of freeware malware scanners around and one of the best is Malwarebytes (http://goo.gl/5LBFH), though I wouldn’t hang about, as this seems to be heading in the same direction as Spyware Doctor; the Free version is on the Products drop-down menu. I am also happy to recommend the Microsoft Safety Scanner (http://goo.gl/FkTxm). It is free and works well but expires after 10 days, though you can reload it at any time. For long-term protection try Microsoft Security Essentials (http://goo.gl/jq1CV), this is a very well regarded anti-virus, malware and spyware package, and yes, it’s still completely free.



Drive Destruction

We own an old Acer 9000 notepad with a 60Gb hard drive that contains a significant amount of personal data, including an encrypted safe containing most of our current passwords, usernames etc. The motherboard has failed and can’t be economically repaired. Can you suggest a way in which I can wipe the drive prior to disposal?

N Churchill, by email


Waving one of those small but incredibly powerful Neodymium rare earth magnets over the drive for a few minutes should do the trick (from around £5.00 on ebay). If you want to make absolutely sure the data is destroyed the only other way -- apart from a session with a hammer and chisel -- is to sanitise it with a data destruction program. Try Active Kill Disk, it’s free and there’s a link to the download at: http://goo.gl/hf4my. To use it you’ll have to remove the drive and pop it into a suitable laptop drive caddy (around £10 online), connect it to the USB socket on another PC and run the program.



© R. Maybury 2011 1411


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