[AI] Your questions answered

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Thu Aug 19 06:04:18 EDT 2010


Expert computing advice

Chris Byers tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums

TIME CAPSULE

Q My wife and I want to leave our grandson a record of photos, videos and
family-tree data.  Given the rate of change for all things digital, what
media
and file format should we use to futureproof it as much as possible?

Pete

DVD is a good medium for storing data, readable by computers of all stripes
and
likely to be in use for many years to come.  While PC vendors may start to
replace DVD drives with Blu-ray Disc and other types of optical disc drives,
backwards-compatibility will enable DVDs to be read by the new drive.  The
DVD-burning utility on your PC will be able to create such a disc.

If you want to give your grandson more than photos and documents to look at,
assemble your media and add narration and/ or music using Windows Live Movie
Maker ( download.live.com/moviemaker).  Save the presentation in AVI format,
then burn it to disc.  AVI files can be converted and transferred to new
media
as needed.

Microsoft Photo Story is another option, offering a simple way to create
striking slideshows with music (tinyurl.com/48jvat).

Store your original files on a removable drive, separating them from your
finished multimedia presentation.

TOOL TIME

Q Please advise me how to remove the Security Tool virus from my Dell
laptop.

Dan Dickens

The first step is to right-click the Taskbar and choose 'Start Task
Manager'.  Look for a process called [random numbers].exe on the Processes
tab, then right-click it and choose 'End Process'.

Remove any Security Tool files found at C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\
Application Datarandom numbers] and C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\
Application Datarandom numbers]\ [random numbers].exe.

You should also delete any Security Tool keys stored in the Registry.  Go to
Start, Run, type regedit and press Enter.  Delete the following keys:
Hkey_Current_User\ Software\Security Tool and Hkey_Local_
Machine\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Uninstall\Security Tool.

Next, remove the Startup entry.  Go to Start, Run, type msconfig and press
Enter.  Check the Startup tab for [random numbers].exe and deselect any you
find.

Reboot your PC and update your security settings.  If you don't have an
up-to-date antivirus subscription, download Microsoft Security Essentials (
tinyurl.com/yewgwqn).  Once installation is complete, check for updates and
run
a full system scan.

DISC BURNING IN WINDOWS 2000

Q Since I reinstalled Windows 2000, my CD and DVD drives have become
read-only,
refusing to write to blank media.  I've tried using Geniesoft and Paragon
disc-burning software to no avail.

Anthony Isaacs

It may be that your CD-burning software isn't Windows 2000-compatible,
Anthony.  Mainstream support for Windows 2000 ended some time ago; extended
support (urgent security fixes) will be discontinued this July.  Software
companies usually discontinue compatible products once mainstream support
ends.

Two free applications you could try that do still support Windows 2000 are
CDBurnerXP ( cdburnerxp.se) and Deepburner Free ( tinyurl.com/3l3hv).

If neither cures your problem, check for firmware updates at your CD and DVD
drive manufacturers' websites.

Also ensure all updates are applied in Windows Update - particularly to the
.Net framework.  Windows 2000 predates service packs, so you'll need to
manually download updates from update.microsoft.com.

INCOMPLETE AV INSTALLATIONS

Q I bought a new PC and upgraded its operating system (OS) to Windows 7.
I'm
keen to continue using the McAfee antivirus software that was preinstalled,
but
its update download process stalls at 53 percent.  Tech support has
suggested
uninstalling and then reinstalling McAfee, but this hasn't fixed the
problem.
I use a dialup connection to access the internet, but never had this problem
with my old Windows XP PC, which ran Kaspersky.

John Abbott

I suspect the problem lies with the fact that you're using a slow connection
to download updates: some ISPs terminate web access after a set time or
download
size.

Launch Internet Explorer and click on the Tools menu.  Choose Internet
Options,
Connections, Settings, Advanced and look for an Internet Time Out option;
set
this to Never to prevent your download from stalling prematurely.

If you still have problems downloading updates for McAfee, and assuming
you've
already confirmed whether your ISP is restricting your downloads, consider
instead using Microsoft's free Security Essentials antivirus software, for
which the updates will be smaller ( tinyurl.com/yewgwqn).  You'll need to
uninstall McAfee first.

SCANNING IN WINDOWS 7

Q I'd like to use my seven-year-old Canon CanoScan D1250U2 scanner with my
new
PC, but its driver isn't compatible with Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.  I
can't find any new drivers for this model on Canon's website.  The scanner
works perfectly with my old machine, so I'd rather not replace it unless I
have to.

Derfel Lester

Although your scanner still works, it's getting rather long in the tooth in
technology terms.  It's not surprising that Canon hasn't written a new
driver for it, although you may find a Vista one will do the trick.  Head to
tinyurl.com/yckylv3 and select 'Windows Vista' and 'English' when asked
which version you'd like to download.

If this driver doesn't work then you'll need to replace the scanner.  Prices
start at around ukp40 online, but check for compatibility before you buy;
Windows 7 is still relatively new and suppliers may continue to hold older
stocks.

WINDOW IS SLOW TO START

Q I installed Windows 7 just eight weeks ago, but I'm already frustrated
with
its 50-second bootup and 82-second shutdown times.  How can I improve these
speeds?  My two hard drives have a combined capacity of 1.5 terabytes (TB).

Derek

Windows 7 seems quicker to boot than its predecessors; in fact, it just gets
you
to the desktop quicker.  The OS is still loading for some time after this,
depending on the software and hardware you've installed.

When you shut down your PC, Windows has to write many things that it's
holding
in RAM and on the page file (virtual memory) to the hard drive.  Depending
on
the state of your drive, this could take a while.

Adding more RAM is a good way to speed things up.  If you're using the 32bit
version of Windows 7 it'll accept only 3GB; the 64bit OS will run happily
with
4GB or more.

Check your PC or motherboard manual for the correct type of RAM to use and
instructions on how to replace or add to it.  A 1GB DDR2 800MHz module costs
around ukp22, and a 2GB module around ukp32.

Since you have two drives, another option is to move the page file to the
other
drive.  This will improve Windows performance, as your main drive will no
longer
need to simultaneously write to the page file and read and write to the
Windows
files at startup and shutdown.

Go to Start, right-click Computer and choose Properties, Advanced System
Settings, Advanced, Performance, Settings, Advanced, Virtual Memory, Change.
Deselect 'Automatically manage paging file size for all drives'.  Select
your second drive (usually D) and click 'System managed size', Set.  Next,
select your main drive (usually C) and click 'No paging file', Set, Ok.

The same effect can be achieved on computers with a single hard drive by
creating a separate partition.

PASSWORD DRAWS A BLANK

Q After installing Windows XP Service Pack 3 on my PC, I'm unable to switch
between user accounts without restarting the machine.  The login window
appears,
but there's no text cursor with which to enter the password.

Roger Shiong

A quick way to get around this is to use the onscreen keyboard; press Ctrl,
U at
the login screen to bring it up.  You may also find that pressing Ctrl, Alt,
Del
will reveal the cursor.

For a long-term fix, go to Start, Run, type regsvr32 shgina.dll and press
Enter.

MISSING DESKTOP

Q I'm unable to access the main user account on my Vista Home Basic PC.
Windows displays the message 'Cannot load profile'.

Charlie D

I suspect your user profile is corrupt, Charlie.  You should be able to
create a
new profile and copy over documents and settings, but you should ensure the
hard
drive has no errors on it first.

Start up the computer and log into the temporary profile that's offered.  Go
to Start, Computer and right-click your C drive.  Click Properties, Tools,
Error-checking and choose Check now.  Ensure both boxes are ticked.

Go to Start, 'Schedule disk check'.  Reboot the PC when prompted.  If your
profile still refuses to load, continue to the next step.

Boot up the PC in Safe mode (press F8 during startup and select Safe mode).
Now
go to Start, Control Panel, Folder Options, View and tick the 'Show hidden
files, folders and drives' option.

Look in C:\Users for a folder labelled with the name of your old user
account.
Copy this to a safe location, such as C:\UserBackup.  Note that the C:\Users
folder will be named C:\Documents and Settings in Windows XP.

Go to Start, Control Panel, User Accounts and create a new user account with
Administrator rights.  Reboot the PC and log in as the new user.

Go back to User Accounts and select 'Manage another account'.  Choose the
old account and click 'Delete the account'.

Look in C:\UserBackup for the contents of your old profile and copy them
over to
the new one - with the exception of NTUser.Dat, NTUser.Dat.Log and
NTUser.Ini.

You may have to set up your email accounts again, and import existing mail
from
its original location.  In Outlook, this is: C:\Users\Len\Local
Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\outlook.pst.

In Outlook Express: C:\Usersusername]\ Local Settings\Application
Data\Identities\ {[identity ID]}\Microsoft\Outlook Express.

In Windows Mail: C:\Usersusername]\ AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail.

In Thunderbird: C:\User\Application Data\
Thunderbird\Profiles\XXXXXX.default\Mail.

INNOCUOUS QUERY

Q I have a problem with Errorfix, a malicious program that was attached to a
perfectly respectable download.  BullGuard eradicated one virus and later
scans
have given the all-clear.  However, when I try to install programs such as
Adobe
Flash, I get a warning that there's either a malicious add-on or a
malfunction, and in order to protect the PC the program has been closed.
Rich

It's possible the virus affected some system or Internet Explorer files and
these were altered when BullGuard removed the infection.  To get things back
on
track, download Internet Explorer 8.0 (IE 8.0) from microsoft.com/ie8.

Before installing IE 8.0 you should uninstall the old version and reboot the
machine.  In Windows XP, go to Start, Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs,
find Windows Internet Explorer in the list and choose Remove.  In Vista and
Windows 7, go to Start, Control Panel, Programs and Features.  Choose 'Turn
Windows Features on or off', deselect 'Internet Explorer 8.0' and click
Yes.

MANGLED TEXT

Q During the upgrade process from XP to Windows 7 Professional, I have
somehow
altered my preferences to save Word documents in Notepad format rather than
.docx.  Documents now open in Notepad automatically and display computer
programming language.  Despite backing up my PC before I upgraded, a
scheduled
backup has since written over this.  Rick Conway

Don't worry, you shouldn't need to reinstall Microsoft Office to get your
file-saving preferences back, Rick.  All the formatting information and
hidden
data in your Word documents is being exposed by Notepad and displayed as
ASCII
or Unicode.

You should be able to right-click on a Word file, choose 'Opens with' and,
under Choose Program, select Microsoft Word.

Tick 'Always use the selected program to open this kind of file'.

EMAIL FORMAT FRUSTRATION

Q When I try to send an email I get the error: 'Message not sent.  Please
check all email addresses.  Looks like one of them may not be formatted
correctly'.  I can send an answer by pressing reply, but not otherwise.  I
have already checked that all the addresses in my contacts list are correct.

J Knox

It's hard to diagnose the exact cause without knowing which email client
you're using.  However, it's possible that some email addresses have had
their fields filled in incorrectly.  Some programs are stricter about
formatting
than others - Outlook prefers semi-colons between addresses, for instance,
while Thunderbird insists on commas.

Some users have reported similar problems in Windows Mail, resulting from a
corrupt contacts store.  If you're using this free program, try switching to
its successor, Windows Live Mail ( download.live.com).

LAPTOP UPGRADE

Q I'd like to upgrade my HP laptop's 2.1GHz Intel T8100 dual-core processor
so I can use it for games such as Grand Theft Auto IV.  Is this feasible,
and
what are the possible pitfalls?

Tim Burns-Thomson

It is possible to upgrade the CPU on some laptops, but you'll need to hunt
down a specific mobile processor for it.  Laptops are far more picky than
desktop PCs about such upgrades.  It's a fiddly process, and depends on a
couple of factors: whether the CPU is fixed to the chipset with adhesive or
had
the pin welded to the socket, and whether it's accessible and can therefore
be
removed and replaced.

Laptops are created on jigs (special frames) that ensure all parts fit
snugly
and correctly each time one is created.  Manually opening up a laptop and
doing
anything more technical than swapping hard drives or adding more RAM isn't
the
easiest of processes and will almost certainly invalidate your warranty.  If
you're dead set on the upgrade, however, see whether HP will perform it for
you.  Alternatively, seek out a qualified professional to do so for you.

It's also worth joining the HDX owners' forum at tinyurl.com/bgkyl7 and
asking its members for some advice.

Your best bet is to fit the maximum amount of RAM (8GB) and the largest,
fastest
hard drive you can afford before risking taking apart a laptop any further.
These can be done quickly and affordably with minimal risk to your system.

For step-by-step instructions on upgrading your laptop's hard drive and
memory, plus other components, visit tinyurl.com/ycgbboz.


Technical telepathy: 09969636745
Saints are not always saints; sinners are not always sinners.







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