Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 246 02/03/13


Update Misery

I was recently given a new Toshiba Satellite Pro laptop running Windows 7, which I have upgraded with Windows 8, purchased from the Microsoft website. Recently when it is trying to update itself it fails because of error 80073718. I have tried Googling this but I do not understand the suggested remedies. Will Microsoft sort it out and issue an update or do I need to do something?

Jonathan Batt, by email


Windows Update problems are depressingly common and there is a multitude of reasons as to why they fail but most common issues can be fixed using a free tool from Microsoft called CheckSUR (System Update Readiness). It was originally developed for Windows Vista and is included as standard with Window 8. Instructions showing how use it, plus links to downloads for the Vista and W7 versions are in Microsoft Knowledgebase article 947821, which you will find at:



Inaudible Audiobooks

Having recently purchased a Nexus 7 tablet I am concerned to find that I cannot read Overdrive WMA audio files. Part of the reason for purchasing this tablet was to download audio books from my local public library and most of them seem to be in this format. The tablet is fine for all other purposes but this problem limits its desirability. Google advised downloading file conversion software, which I have done. However I cannot find out how to make it work. Is there a workaround?

John Dawes, by email


This is a bit of a tangle and centres on the fact that .wma is a Windows format and not native to the Android operating system, which your Nexus 7 uses. A free Android app called Overdrive Console (also available for Blackberry, Kindle, iPhone/Pad/Touch and Windows Phone 7), plays audiobooks in .mp3 format, but won’t have anything to do with .wma files. There are several Android media players that support .wma, like Poweramp (£2.69 from Google Play) but there is another problem. Most .wma formatted e-books and audiobooks carry Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, which prevents unauthorised copying and helps reduce piracy. DRM can be removed but it is a legal grey area. One possible workaround is a Windows utility that exploits what appears to be a loophole by playing a protected file in analogue form and simultaneously digitising and re-recording it as a DRM free copy; you can find more information at:



Pesky Protection

I bought an iPad last year and installed iTunes on my Windows XP desktop PC to enable me to sync music between the two. At first this was successful but for the past couple of months my PC has refused to open iTunes citing a DEP problem. I have followed the recommendations in Windows Help but no matter what I do iTunes will not open. I have removed and reinstalled iTunes without success.

Mike Wadsworth, by email


DEP or Data Execution Prevention is a Windows safety feature that pops up when it suspects that a program could do something that might harm the system. Older versions of iTunes have been known to trigger DEP alerts but this was supposed to have been fixed and if you’ve installed the latest iTunes it is unlikely to be the cause. Another possibility is Apple QuickTime, and again there can be conflicts with DEP so uninstall it and download the most recent version. If it still happens then it is probably a false alarm and one of those hugely irritating glitches that you can waste a great deal of time on, and may never resolve. If so the simplest thing to do is disable DEP, but only for iTunes. Open System Properties, either by pressing Winkey + Break, or right-click My Computer on the Start menu and select Properties. Go to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button under Performance then the Data Execution Tab. Select ‘Turn on DEP for All programs except those I select’, click the Add button and Browse to iTunes.exe which you will find in C: /Program Files/iTunes. Click OK to exit the dialogue boxes and retry iTunes



For Your Eyes Only

Whenever I have an engineer in to service my computer I am always nervous about them being able to access my personal files. I would like to protect such files with a password but I have searched my Windows XP and Word manuals without being able to find any method of doing this.

Maurice Lewis, by email


On most versions of Word you can easily protect a document by going to SaveAs on the File menu or Office button and on the Tools drop-down menu select General Options, where you can set a password. It is relatively easy to crack but it should be enough to deter the average snooper. Encryption is a more secure solution and works with any type of file. If you are using XP Pro you can encrypt a folder or its contents in Windows Explorer. Right click on the folder you want to protect, on the General tab click the Advanced button and select ‘Encrypt Contents to Secure Data’, click OK, then OK and a Confirm Attributes dialogue appears, inviting you to create a password. If you are using a non-Pro version of XP then there are plenty of third-party encryption programs to choose from. However, unless you are engaged in criminal activities or storing state secrets on your computer then a freeware utility called EncryptOnCLick ( should be sufficient to protect your files from all but the most determined and well equipped spooks, spies and nosey engineers.



Psion of the Times

I have a Psion 5, which needs repairing. The screen cable has to be replaced at a cost of £100, so I was wondering if the money would be better used towards a more up to date product?

Gordon Robinson, by email


Spending that amount on your old Psion would be a complete waste of money. Decent second hand models sell on ebay for less than £50, some of them boxed and in as-new condition. However, I do think that it is time to move on. These old devices are now well past their use by date and increasingly likely to fail. A smartphone or small tablet computer would be the logical successor and you are spoilt for choice; the real problem is deciding which one best suits your needs…




© R. Maybury 2013 1102


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