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01 Mar 2010

Locked taskbar For some reason the taskbar at the bottom of the screen has become locked in place and refuses all attempts to scroll it down or to the side. It covers some parts of games that I need to see. I am running XP on a five-year-old Compaq desktop.

If your XP taskbar becomes locked for some reason, you can unlock it by right-clicking the Start button, choose Properties, select the Taskbar tab and uncheck the Lock the Taskbar option. Click Apply or OK and you should be able to move or hide your taskbar again. IE by default I have Vista and IE8. When I was asked which program I wanted to open on an email attachment, I said IE. Then I ticked to use this to open all such attachments. Now most of my program icons have changed to the IE symbol and I cannot open them through shortcuts, but have to find the original file.

The email attachment was probably a shortcut or link file. By selecting to open all such files in future with IE, any existing shortcut file on your system will have the IE icon attached and IE will attempt to open this shortcut, probably unsuccessfully. Why MS introduced this dangerous capability in Vista we will never know. To fix the problem, visit this page: tinyurl.com/lnkfileassoc

Thunderbird PPS I am getting many more attachments in my email inbox asking me what Thunderbird email client should do with it. They are mainly PPS files in ‘notepad’ format.

It looks like the PPS filetype – PowerPoint Slideshow – has been associated with notepad sometime in the past. You can set the PPS filetype to associate with Powerpoint or Powerpoint Viewer from Windows Explorer>Tools menu>Folder options>File type tab. Select the PPS extension, and choose to appropriate program from the list. Thunderbird will let you do this on the fly – when it asks you what to do with the attachment, select Open With and choose the correct program, then check the checkbox that says ‘do this automatically for files like this from now on’.

PDF search result Can you please tell me why one of my PDF files shows up when I do a Google search for my site instead of the main home page?

It’s probably because the PDF file on your site is more popular – has been clicked on from Google more often – than your main page. Your main page is probably listed in the Google search results further down.

Xtra mail diversion Recently, all by itself, my Xtra mail also diverts to my Hotmail address. How can I stop this?

If you are a Mail Plus subscriber, you can turn on and off the redirection of Xtra mail to another email address using the check box labeled Forwarding and clicking Save.  If not, contact the Xtra helpdesk.

Safe removal When I want to remove my Seagate 320 external disk drive I can do so using the safely remove hardware icon on my taskbar, but when I want to remove my Nokia 5800Xpressmusic smartphone, the ‘safely remove hardware’ icon has done the disappearing trick. Try as I might, I cannot find it. My OS is Vista Home Premium on an HP DV3000 (3110TX) laptop. Could you help please, as I do not want the data stored on my phone corrupted or lost forever.

It looks like the USB drivers installed are not fully compatible with your Nokia. See if a driver update resolves the issue. As your HP laptop includes Bluetooth, you could use that to connect to your Nokia, though it’s a bit slower than USB.

Upgrading Outlook I’m running XT Home on my PC. I use Explorer 6 and Outlook Express 6, but  I wish to upgrade to Explorer 8. Presumably I will need to upgrade Outlook Express or go to Outlook. Any suggestions about what email program I should use?

You can keep using Outlook Express 6 when you upgrade to Explorer 8. When Microsoft released IE7 they did not update OE, but rather introduced Windows Mail. WM is similar to OE, but with some improvements to searching and filtering. If you’re a heavy email user with multiple email accounts, you may want to have a look at Windows Live Mail. Partial photos When I send a photo via email, only part of it is received at the other end. Why is this happening?

Check the file size of the photo you are trying to send. Many mail systems limit the size of attachments. When a file transfer is aborted due to exceeding the size limits, some mail systems will deliver partial files to the recipient.

IncrediMail not working I have IncrediMail installed with XP but can’t open sites from any emails. I have re-installed the program, but they still will not open. It just highlights the site with the site address, which comes up for a few seconds, then nothing.

This happens when your computer doesn’t know what to do with the links you click on, or is trying but getting blocked. Open up your Web browser and make sure that it is the default browser. For IE, go to Tools>Internet Options>Programs tab. Tick the box that says “Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser”. Click OK and close IE, then re-open it. Try holding down the shift key when clicking a link from IncrediMail. Some versions of IM let you allow or disallow clicking links in email. You may also have an anti-virus, firewall or mail scanner program installed that is blocking these links.

MacBooks, passwords & deletions I have a MacBook that’s 10 years old. I’ve deleted everything on it. Is it possible to fix it? Could I install Ubuntu or Xbuntu on that laptop? I’ve forgotten many passwords such as my Hotmail account. Is there a program that finds all passwords that go through our access point? And is there a program that deletes deleted stuff such as the stuff that Recuva finds? The earliest MacBooks that I can locate date from only five years ago. Your machine might not be a MacBook or may be younger than you think. Ubuntu can be installed on MacBooks. Instructions for several versions and hardware types are available from this page: tinyurl.com/ypkekx If there was a program to recover all passwords going through an access point, every hacker would be using it. There are ways to recover passwords from a data stream, but every application hides passwords differently. All Web sites that require passwords will have some mechanism to either remind you what the password was, email it to you or change it once you prove your identity. To permanently delete files, you need to overwrite the physical area of the disk that used to be allocated to the file. Here is a page that covers secure deletion of data: tinyurl.com/6bh3v7 Email error Sometimes I can’t send/receive (broadband) and get this error message: Outlook Express error No. 0x800CCC90. I have rung my ISP and they said it was a problem with Outlook Express itself. I have now also set up Outlook to see if that worked any better, but it is just the same, except the error message No. is 0x800CCC67. I can connect to Internet Explorer every time. Your help would really be appreciated.

These errors indicate a problem with your email client talking to your ISP’s email servers. The area of difficulty is the authentication phase, or ‘logging on’. Some anti-virus and email scanning programs can cause this sort of problem, so try disabling them next time to see this error. As your problem is intermittent it is unlikely to be with OE itself, especially as the same error is affecting Outlook. Your ISP needs to work with you to resolve this issue. You should be able to access your mail using your ISP’s Webmail facility, as this will likely use a different authentication mechanism.

Slow laptop How do i speed up my computer? I have Windows XP and an NEC Versa laptop with 40GB memory. It is slow and freezes up a lot. NEC has been using the Versa name for its laptops for 10 years. It would really be handy to know exactly which model you have. With a 40GB hard disk drive, I guess yours probably fits into the Pentium 4 category, at 1.6 to 2.2 GHz speed, though it could well be a P3 at 800MHz or as fast as a P4 at 3.2GHz. The faster of these should be satisfactory for XP, but most of these models came out with only 256 to 512MB RAM standard. This is on the low side for XP. These models were upgradeable to either 1 or 2GB RAM, but by now the memory upgrades may be difficult to locate or very expensive. You can make the most of what you’ve got without spending any money on it, by wiping it clean and freshly installing the operating system that you have. Then only install the applications that you require. Back up your data first!

Data monitor Do you know of an application which monitors downloads and uploads as they are happening? At home we have two teenage boys who chew up our data cap PDQ, and we only find out when the ISP throttles back our broadband. It would be a big help if there was something like a bar chart or pie graph that displayed usage and could be reset each month.

There are many applications that monitor your data transfer rates in real-time, but not that many that will track the accumulated data transfers until you reset the counter. I use BitMeter (tinyurl.com/bitmeter2), which can export hourly or daily traffic statistics to a spreadsheet so you can draw your own graphs. BitMeter can also be set to alert you when a certain amount of traffic has been sent/received, so it may suit your requirements. I find it a bit fiddly to set up, but once done it seems to perform well. Broadband Usage Meter (tinyurl.com/usagemeter1) is another one that might give you the data in the format you desire. The free trial version stops after counting 400MB but if it looks like the tool for you, it’s only $US10 for a licence.