[AI] Q AND A

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Mon May 3 05:55:43 EDT 2010


ENDLESS UPGRADES

Q For several months now my Windows XP PC has been insisting at shutdown
that it
has one upgrade to install.  This takes nearly four minutes.  I've spent
hours
on the phone with Microsoft, but the situation continues.  I think I may
have a
corrupt installation file or upgrade instruction.  Peter Joiner

It does indeed sound as though you have a corrupt installation file, Peter.
You'll need to remove all the old Windows Update files from your hard drive
- with the exception of the corrupt file, these are already installed and no
longer needed - and then download the updates again.  You should note that
your computer will download only the missing updates, and not those that
have
already been applied.

Right-click My Computer, select Manage and expand the Services and
Applications
option.  Choose Services, right-click Automatic Updates and click Stop.

Navigate to your Windows folder (usually C:/Windows) and delete the
'SoftwareDistribution' folder located there.  Reboot your machine, then run
Windows Update to download and install any new or missing updates.

This should fix the problem.  If the issue recurs, deselect the problematic
file
in Windows Update to prevent your computer from attempting to install it.

MEDIA STUDIES

Q My Archos Gmini 400 portable media player isn't recognised by Windows
Media
Player (WMP) 11.0.  Do I need to revert to WMP 10.0 to sync files or is
there a
workaround?  Michael Jones

The Archos documentation specifies support for WMP 9.0 and I can find no
information as to the Gmini's use with versions beyond this.  As the device
was released in 2005, it's possible that Archos can't guarantee its
reliability with newer versions of WMP.

It's worth checking that you have the latest firmware installed (download
the
latest version from tinyurl.com/lwyyfd).  However, since this was also
released
in 2005, this may not prove to be an effective solution to your problem.

Another alternative is to switch from WMP to iTunes.  The Gmini has an
iTunes
plug-in stored on its internal drive at data/ iTunes plug-in, where it's
stored in a .SIT compressed file.  Expand the file to reveal a Jpeg image
that
shows you where to place the plug-in for your player.

BANK HOLD-UP

Q I am unable to enter my ID and password in order to access Lloyds TSB
internet
banking on my Vista PC, although I have no such problem on my XP netbook.
All
tech support could suggest was to tweak a few security settings.  I have
tried
to persuade the staff at my local branch to ask their IT people to
'interrogate' my PC remotely but they refused.  Robin Adams

I'm not surprised your bank is unwilling to diagnose your PC remotely,
Robin.
It's beyond its remit.  I suspect your login issues are due to corrupt or
incorrectly cached files from the Lloyds TSB site.  Clean out these files
using
CCleaner ( ccleaner.com).

Launch the program and select the Cleaner tab.  Now click Run Cleaner.  Note
that your web browser must be closed when you do this.  Also check that
there's nothing in the Recycle Bin you don't want to lose.

Close CCleaner, relaunch your web browser and try to log into internet
banking
again.  If you still can't log in, download and install the latest version
of
Java.  You should also ensure Internet Explorer is fully up to date and that
you're using the latest version.  Run Windows Update and install any patches
and updates that appear.

If you still have no joy at login, try a different web browser, such as
Mozilla
Firefox ( mozilla.com/firefox) or Google Chrome ( google.com/chrome).
Either of
the two browsers will use its own system to render the pages and negate any
Internet Explorer problems.

GLOOMY OUTLOOK

Q Outlook Express regularly attempts to compact my mail to save space.  The
process results in the loss of stored messages, so I cancel it.  The last
time
it ran I wan't given this option and all my emails from the past four months
have disappeared.  David Madgen

Don't panic, David.  Outlook Express backs up your folders before compacting
them (in the Recycle Bin, admittedly).

Look in Tools, Options, Maintenance, Store Folder for the location of your
Store
Folder.  Close Outlook Express, go to your Recycle Bin and locate and
restore
the most recent Sent Items.bak file that you find there.  This will put your
mail back in the Store folder, but still as a BAK file.

Browse to this folder in Windows Explorer.  You may need to enable the
display
Hidden and System files to see the file.  If so, go to Tools, Folder
Options,
View and deselect the option to Hide extensions of known file types.  You
should
now see two files: Sent Items.dbx and Sent Items.bak.

Rename the Sent Items.DBX to Sentold.  dbx and then rename Sent Items.Bak to
Sent Items.DBX.  When you open Outlook Express, your Sent Items should be
restored.

Repeat these steps for each Outlook Express folder you find in the Recycle
Bin.

SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOUR

Q When browsing the internet I often receive the error message: 'Your query
looks similar to a request from a computer infected by viruses or spyware
applications'.  Full-system security scans reveal nothing.  Brian Hall

There are a number of possible causes, Brian.  Browser toolbars sending
suspicious traffic are a common cause.  Try disabling any toolbars and
add-ons
you're using.

Corrupt cookies or internet cache data held by your browser can also cause
suspicion.  Download and run CCleaner ( ccleaner.com) with your browser
closed
to delete all your old web content.

ISP problems could also be at fault.  Contact your ISP's help desk to see if
they can help or know of any recent issues.

Inadequate security software may not be protecting your PC properly.  Both
Kaspersky and Norton offer 30-day free trials of their security suites.
Uninstall your current software before installing either suite from
tinyurl.com/n8qa6t and tinyurl.com/l5cajw respectively.

Finally, try replacing Internet Explorer with Firefox ( mozilla.com/firefox)
or
Google's Chrome ( google.com/chrome).  These browsers should be free of any
malicious interference.

If none of these solutions fixes your problem, you will need to back up your
PC
and restore it from the recovery disc.

RADIO GA-GA

Q I often get a radio station breaking into my PC, even while disconnected
from
the web.  There are no 'aerials' such as microphones that could be picking
up this signal.  I've used Spybot and other malware detectors and they
report
nothing unusual.  Keith Mason

This may be caused by your home's electrical circuitry picking up the signal
(often high-bandwidth radio).  As a test, leave your speakers turned on but
disconnect them from the PC.  If you can still hear the radio signal then
this
is the problem.

To rid yourself of this annoyance, try using a mains RFI filter.  These are
generally used by hi-fi/cinema fans to remove any interference from the
mains
supply.  Maplin sells them for ukp39 ( tinyurl.com/m2dmv9).

You can also try an uninterruptable power supply (UPS).  This will provide
you
with a 'clean' source of filtered power and will also give you backup power
in the event of a power cut and prevent power surges from damaging your
equipment.  Home UPS devices can be bought for around ukp30 from online
retailers.

A cheaper option would be to buy a new set of speakers, although getting a
set
with suitable power-filtering hardware onboard could prove rather costly.

ARCHIVE ACCESS

Q I would like to archive my emails using Outlook Express.  In the past I've
backed up the Store folder to an external hard drive, but would now prefer
to
create a proper archive system.  What do you suggest?  Ian Rutter

Try the free Outlook Express backup program that's cleverly named Outlook
Express Backup.  It can be downloaded from genie-soft.com and provides a
friendly interface that makes it straightforward to select items and folders
in
Outlook Express for backups and automates the task.

USER NOT FOUND

Q I transferred files from the C drive to the D drive on my Vista Home
Premium
PC.  Windows Explorer now references them at the top of its folders pane,
but
not in the detailed hierarchy for the D drive.  Explorer is also missing my
user
AppData and the program data on either drive.  I can access any user files I
know are located on the D drive, but not all programs seem to be able to
drill
down into D.  How can I make folders on my D drive visible and searchable?
Peter Smith

You can move only certain files from your profile to another drive, Peter.
These are Pictures, Documents, Desktop, Videos, Saved Games, Searches,
Favorites
and Contacts.  Check which folders can be relocated by right-clicking the
folders in your user area and clicking Properties.  If there's a tab marked
Location, you can move and remap the folder to a different site.

The AppData (hidden) folder is known as a 'special' folder and can't be
moved.  There are unsupported ways of doing it, but we don't recommend any
because of the damage this may cause.

The screenshot you provided ( left) shows that your 'Pete' user area has
been moved to the desktop folder, which still appears to be on the C drive.
The
Public user folder has also been moved to the D drive.

You need to do some reorganisation.  First, return the Public user area to
its
original location.  Unless it contains large amounts of recorded TV
programmes
(this is where Vista stores them), this folder should take up relatively
little
space.  If needs be, you can remap your recorded TV folder within Media
Centre.

In the D:/Users folder, create a new folder called 'Pete'.  Click on your
profile, either on the desktop or via the Start menu, and enter your user
area.
Right-click the folder to be moved and select Properties, Location.

Click Move and select the folder you wish to move it into - in this case
D:/Users/Pete.

Repeat these steps for all the folders you want to place on another drive.
I
suggest you keep it to the ones where you store the largest amount of data,
such
as documents, photos, movies and so on.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Q I always rename digital photos stored on my PC in an attempt to keep them
organised and so I can see what they depict at a glance.  However, when I
display them at full-screen the filename isn't visible.  Is it possible to
show the filename minus the format extension on the picture as a caption?
I'd
like to do this as a batch process rather than having to do each photo.  D
Davies

You can do this by using free image editor Irfanview ( irfanview.com).
Launch
the application and go to File, Slideshow.

Tick the 'Show text' box in the Options box, then delete all the current
text strings and enter '$N' in there.  Add your files and click Play
Slideshow.  Your photos will now display their filename.

MISSING UPDATES

Q My XP machine is set to receive Automatic Updates, but the only ones I get
are
for Windows Defender.  Belarc Advisor often reports that critical updates
are
missing, but the Microsoft Update site doesn't highlight them.  I have to
search for the relevant KnowledgeBase numbers and manually install the
updates.
James Munroe

I tried to replicate your setup to see whether I got the same issue.  Once
I'd
run Windows Update and installed all the available updates, Belarc didn't
report any as outstanding.  This leads me to conclude that there may be an
issue
with the way Windows has been applying updates on your machine.

Flush out your updates cache just
in case there are any corrupt updates preventing you from updating
correctly.

Next, uninstall and then reinstall Belarc from Add/Remove Programs.  This
will
allow it to build a correct overview of your system once you've cleaned out
the old update folders (the updates will still be in place).

If you still have problems downloading and installing updates, you may have
to
back up and then reinstall your system using the recovery disc.

As of April, Windows XP entered its 'extended support' phase, meaning
Microsoft will be addressing only critical bugs and will no longer be
writing
any new updates or functionality into XP.  The number of patches and
downloads
XP users are likely to receive in the future will get fewer and fewer.

SEEING DOUBLE

Q How can I attach my monitor to a second PC so that it can be used by
either
machine?  Ian Robinson

You need to buy a keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) switch.  This will allow both
PCs
to use the same peripherals.  You can buy them online for about ukp16.  Be
sure
to choose one with the correct connectors for your keyboard and mouse.

BURNING DESIRE

Q I recently bought an eMachines PC with Vista Home Basic Edition
preinstalled.
The PC came with two blank DVDs which I'm supposed to 'burn' as
restoration backups in case I have problems.  But I haven't got a utility to
do this.  Any advice?  Lupupa Chilanga

You don't require DVD-burning software to create the recovery discs, Lupupa.
Vista has a built-in capability to create a restore disc.  The restore disc
isn't used to back up your personal data such as photos, but to create a
bootable disc with which to run system diagnostics and repair functions.

Go to Start, All Programs, Maintenance, Vista Recovery Disc Creator.  Insert
the
DVD and follow the instructions.  If you can't see the Vista Recovery Disc
program listed here then you'll need to click Start, My Computer,
double-click
drive C and choose Windows, System 32.  Look for an application called
Recdisk.exe.  Double-click this to start Vista's recovery-disc wizard.

If you still require dedicated some disc-burning software, try CDBurnerXP
(free
from cdburnerxp.se).  This will burn CDs, DVDs and even Blu-ray discs.

UPPITY UBUNTU

Q I downloaded Ubuntu upgrade packages to my laptop.  It tells me that the
changes have been applied, but when I try to play a DVD it says there are no
plug-ins, even though I know they are on the system.  Mandy Faulkner

Ubuntu won't natively play encrypted DVDs such as shop-bought movies.
You'll need to install a third-party DVD decoder.

Information concerning the legalities of DVD playback software for Linux can
be
found at tinyurl.com/3dehur.  A workaround is available at
tinyurl.com/333hop.

CRACK THE CODEC

Q I recently restored my XP Media Centre PC to its factory settings.
Everything
works fine except for the Media Centre TV, which freezes when I load it.  I
can
clear this using Task Manager but an error message says there's a codec
problem.  Arthur Robinson

Fixing the codec problem itself is quite easy, but you'll first need to
ensure
your TV tuner and graphics-card drivers are up to date by grabbing updates
from
their individual manufacturer's websites.  Now simply install a codec pack.
These contain almost every media codec your PC will ever need in one
easy-to-install package.  A good example is the XP Codec Pack (
xpcodecpack.com).

ODD ERRORS

Q My XP Pro laptop produces the following error message: 'Rundll Error on
loading C:/Program~/ MyWeb~1/1.bin/M3plugin.dll.  The specific module could
not
be found'.  What does it mean, and is it malicious?  I use ASC Professional
and AVG 8.0 to protect my PC.  Val Riddle

This error is caused by a browser add-on called MyWeb Search.  It's a
well-known menace and we often have requests for help in getting rid of this
nuisance.

It's likely that MyWeb Search ended up on your laptop as a result of you
installing the Fun Web Products suite.  It's the browser toolbar element of
this package and provides search results from Google, Yahoo, MSN and other
online networks.  However, it tracks your web activity, tries to change your
home page and encourages you to download and install extra elements.  The
Fun
Web Products suite often comes preinstalled on new PCs, too.

Go to Start, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and uninstall MyWeb Search.
Also remove the following programs if they appear in the list: Smiley
Central,
Webfetti, Cursor Mania, My Mail Stationary, My Mail Signature, My Mail
Stamps,
FunBuddyIcons, PopSwatter and Popular Screensavers.

If you can't find an entry for MyWeb Search, disable it by going to Start,
Run
and entering 'MSCONFIG'.  Now select the Startup tab and deselect anything
that has 'MYWEBS~1' in the command column.  Click Apply, Close and reboot
the machine when invited to.  This should prevent the error message from
appearing.

On another note, you mention two separate types of internet security
software.
While it's fine to run a separate firewall, antivirus application and
spyware
sniffer, it's not a good idea to have two antivirus programs running at the
same time.  In many cases, they will conflict with one another, with one
flagging up the other as malware and trying to prevent it running.

However, you may have difficulty uninstalling one security program, as it
believes malware is trying to prevent it doing its job.  In this case you'll
need to reboot your PC and launch into Safe Mode and then uninstall the
program
you don't want.

A lot of convincingly named software installs malware while supposedly
scanning
your PC for rogue files.  To be on the safe side, install trusted apps from
our
cover disc and from reputable download sites.

FREEZE FRAME

Q I recently installed Ultimate Defrag and some other software utilities on
my
Windows XP machine.  Now when I click on My Computer or the screensaver
comes
on, the PC freezes.  Bringing up the Task Manager shows nothing is running.
Peter Maragh

It's quite difficult to diagnose the culprit of your problem without knowing
exactly what the other software utilities were, Peter.

The best advice I can give is to uninstall everything you've recently
installed and reboot the machine.  If the problem recurs, use System Restore
to
roll your PC back to a time before the damage was caused.  Go to Start,
Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore.  For the future, note
that
it's a good idea to create a Restore point before adding any software.






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