Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 322 16/08/14


XP Reprieve?

I understand that Microsoft no longer supports XP but I am still getting updates. Should I be concerned, or is Microsoft dealing with XP Pro differently?

Peter Miller, by email


There will be no more routine security updates for consumer versions of XP and that includes XP Pro. However, support will still be available to paying business users and selected organisations, like the National Health, which until recently had almost a million PCs running XP. The updates you are getting are probably virus signatures for Microsoft Security Essentials, which was also due to expire (for XP) in April but Microsoft has pledged to keep it updated until July next year. By the way, if you know your way around Windows you may be interested in a simple Registry hack that could keep your XP PC up to date, until 2019! Microsoft continues to release security updates for the embedded version of XP. This is essentially the same as the XP you are using but it is used in things like tills and point of sale (POS) equipment. Be warned that Microsoft is aware of and do not approve of the changes and could pull the plug at any time, but if you fancy giving it a whirl there are instructions on the betanews website at:



Catalogue Error

Please can you explain what the mysterious HTTP 403 error message that I keep seeing on certain websites actually means? Could there be a problem with my computer, which I recently had upgraded from Vista to Windows 8.1? I don’t remember seeing this message half as often on my old computer

Cliff Taylor, by email


Most web page error messages have little or nothing to do with your PC though it is not unknown for browser add-ons, security programs, and parental controls to cause problems. However, in the main they are coming from the website. You should be able to confirm that the problem is not at your end by checking the site on another PC or device. For the record the most common error messages are: HTTP 400 – this means you are connected to the webserver but the specific page address is incorrect; HTTP 403 – you do not have permission to view a page, or, it is an automatically generated page not correctly configured for your browser, or, the website does not have a default home page address, or, the web page does not allow directory listing; HTTP 404 – web page not found, it is either temporarily unavailable or it has been deleted; HTTP 405 – web page format not recognised: HTTP 408/9 – the server is busy or it is taking too long to display a web page; HTTP 410 – the web page no longer exists (unlike a 404 error this normally means it was a time-limited page – a coupon or special offer etc., -- and the message was put there by the publisher): HTTP 500 – a server problem prevents page from being displayed. If a web page error message only appears on your computer try another browser, briefly disable your security software and any parental controls you may have, both on your PC, and provided by your ISP. 



Weird Windows

After reading your recent advice about using Classic Shell or Start8 to make Windows 8 more like W7 I tried to download it to my Microsoft Surface tablet only to receive message: ‘This app can’t run on your PC’. Do you have any suggestions?

Derek Bennett, by email


Your Surface tablet uses a variant of Windows 8, called Windows RT. It looks and behaves like regular W8 but it is designed only to work on mobile devices that use power-efficient ARM chips. This also means that it can only run pre-installed and specially written programs and apps, available from the Windows store.



Parental Guidance

My 11-year old son has been using my laptop to view online porn, just pictures of adult ladies, he assures us. He forgot to clear the search history so his younger brother (aged 8) found out when searching for information for homework. How can I check what sites he has been looking at or has put into the search engine to make sure he is now telling the truth? We now only allow computer access under total direct supervision. Are there any filters that can protect us? Our Internet provider is Plusnet.

M D. by email


Most of the major UK ISPs have parental controls that provide basic protection though Plusnet are unusual in only offering this facility as a paid-for add-on costing £2.00 a month (free on the Unlimited and Unlimited Fibre Extra packages). Details of how to set up parental control for the four largest UK ISPs (BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin) can be found at Saferinternet:


Assuming that your son has not yet learned how to cover his tracks you can see what he has been up to by checking the cookie and history folders in your browser. In Internet Explorer go to Tools > Internet Options > General tab, under Browsing History click Settings then the > View Files button. In Firefox go to Tools > Options > Privacy tab and click ‘Remove individual Cookies’. Chrome users should click the menu icon then Settings > Show Advanced Settings and under Privacy click Content Settings then All cookies and site data. Google maintains a search history but only if you are logged in through a Google account or service, like Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Groups, Maps and so on. If so you can check it by going to Windows 7 and 8 have built in parental controls, they are limited in W7 to setting time limits and preventing access or installing games and software (see; W8 goes a little further with the addition of a web activity monitor ( There are a number of program that can be set to block access to undesirable websites, send you email alerts if the rules are broken and record keystrokes; there is a review of the best free programs on the Techradar website at:




© R. Maybury 2014 2807

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