Category Archives: Articles

Virtual Memory

This week I think I will once again take the time to answer a question from one of my readers:

“We read your columns in the Herald Express and wonder if you can help. We have a Packard Bell PC which we’ve had for about 2½ years and recently when shutting down the PC we keep getting the message ‘virtual memory low - Microsoft increasing’ which frequently disrupting us when just working on the machine normally.The PC has also been noticeably slower of late.

When working properly, our PC is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, some of whom are on the far side of the world and we would certainly miss it.

John & Kate Clayden, Torquay”

Before we begin troubleshooting your problem I think it would be beneficial to explain to all my readers exactly what virtual memory is as the term should Read the rest

Readers Questions Part 16

This week I think I will once again take the time to answer a few readers’ questions:

I have tried to download the FREE things your article specified as they sounded good.

Not free - they want $19.99 for the pop up blocker alone????

Have removed all from computer now, but thought you aught to know, as what you stated was wrong

John, via e-mail

I thought I’d publish this letter exactly as it was received in order to illustrate some of the tactful, well constructed and grammatically correct e-mails that I receive from time to time.Sarcasm aside, I’m assuming this reader is talking about the free Firefox browser I recommended a few weeks back as a viable alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Contrary to what John states above this browser is indeed completely free of charge and available from www.firefox.com so I would suggest that he has a piece Read the rest

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Part 3

A question I recently received from one of my readers has prompted me to recap on the advantages of upgrading your Windows XP system to Service Pack 2.

Hello Chris,

Although I live in Leicestershire, I read the Herald Express on the Internet daily and enjoy your weekly column.I wonder if I could ask your advice as I haven’t yet upgraded to Windows XP SP2 after hearing dire warnings about it completely jiggering computers and in particular laptops.Should I leave it well alone or be brave?

Dave Kitto, via e-mail

Before we start I should explain to those who haven’t been listening over the previous months that Service Pack 2 is a huge collection of bug fixes for the Windows XP Operating System which aims to increase stability, security and in some cases speed.These are all features I will elaborate on shortly.

In an attempt to discover more about these Read the rest

Windows XP Powertoys

Years ago I used remember downloading a suite of programs designed to allow Windows users to add functionality to their Operating System as well as alter more advanced settings not readily available so whilst searching for something to write about today I thought I’d check that these products were still available free of charge from the Microsoft website.Fortunately the group of products known as ‘Windows Powertoys’ are not only still available but they have also recently been updated and so it seemed obvious that I should mention their existence in this article.

All these products designed for Windows XP were created after the Operating System had actually been released and can be downloaded from the rather uncatchy website address https://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx

Below I have listed what I believe to be the most useful PowerToys available along with a brief description of the functionality they will add to your Windows XP machine Read the rest

MSN Search

As those of you who read my columns regularly will testify, I am a great supporter of the underdog.There’s nothing I like more than when a company comes out of no where and provides real competition against one that has been established for a long period of time and is considered to have a monopoly in their particular market.

There is one primary reason for this way of thinking which is that it almost always benefits the consumer.Companies like AMD who produce processors and were once relatively small are now seriously competing against Intel which is resulting in technologies being continuously pushed forward and prices lowered as the two companies battle it out for market share.Had Intel retained its monopoly I’m sure that PC’s would not be at the level of speed and affordability they are today and the fact that AMD managed to eat into this market on what Read the rest

Firefox

It never ceases to amaze me how a company such as Microsoft can spend millions of man hours and dollars developing a program and then from seemingly out of the blue appears a free alternative on a shoestring budget and beats them hands down.Recently this has happened with the release of FireFox 1.0 which is an alternative for Internet Explorer; a program Microsoft once relentlessly improved but now seems to have lost any interest in developing any further.

Slipping in at only 4.7mg (compared with around 80mg for Internet Explorer) the Mozilla developed Firefox browser offers several important advantages over its Microsoft counterpart which I’ll detail below so you can decide for yourself whether it would be worthwhile downloading to improve your Internet browsing experience.

Tabbed Browsing:

This allows you to have only one browser window open which then has all the pages you are currently viewing available to switch Read the rest

Download.com

One site that I have always believed to be under appreciated is www.download.com which hosts many thousands of programs which are either completely free of charge or free to try for a certain period.Many of the programs online are extremely useful and can be downloaded without having to subscribe or to give any personal information whatsoever.

Obviously such a service is extremely useful but I believe it is under appreciated because the site is often used as a mirror for other websites with little credit given if they don’t want to users downloading files directly from their own servers.Let’s assume I am talking about the program Spybot on my Internet site and I want to give my readers the chance of downloading the program so that they can try it themselves then I have two options.I could either host the file on my own website or link straight to the Read the rest

Microsoft Anti-Spyware

As the resolve of Microsoft strengthens against the constant band of people taking advantage of security vulnerabilities in their most popular Operating System, we see an interesting new piece of software available to download from the Microsoft website designed to tackle Spyware.

Spyware is the collective name for an almost always unwanted program that either installs itself automatically when you visit a suspect website or along with a legitimate free program as a way of financing its development.Spyware can compromise your computer in a variety of ways including collecting sensitive information from your Internet sessions, exposing you to unwanted adverts, changing your home page settings or even your Internet settings in general which is severe cases can lead to your computer dialling a premium rate number when you connect to the Internet.

Still in beta (un-finished) version, Microsoft AntiSpyware is designed to prevent such programs from compromising your computer. Of Read the rest

Charity collection & fraudulent websites

Since the devastating tsunami that hit Asia there has been fantastic resolve to get the counties affected back on their feet again.At the time of writing the British public have managed to raise a fantastic £100 million to put towards the International fund with many people choosing to make donations over the Internet by choosing the webpage of an involved charity and making a payment using a credit or debit card.

Most notably is the website www.dec.org.uk which is an organisation which co-ordinates the UK’s National appeal whenever there is a disaster overseas - By heading to this site you can choose to make a donation of any value in order to help those in need.Although the website is very poorly designed and isn’t doing a particularly good job of handling the large amount of traffic that has been thrown at it in recent weeks I still appreciate the important Read the rest

Annoyances.org

I get a large number of questions from people asking for technical support concerning potentially easy to solve problems.Such issues can usually be solved simply by typing the problem into Google as you will often find that a user has most likely had a similar problem at some point in time and posted a solution to it on one of the many relevant websites and forums.

One site that I’ve recently discovered that provides a solution large number of common questions users have regarding their Windows installations is www.annoyances.org.The site is divided into a number of different sections including ‘Using Windows’, ‘Customising’,‘Annoyances’, ‘Reducing Clutter’, ‘Performance’, ‘Troubleshooting’, ‘Applications’ and ‘Humour’ which have all been written by the website authors.

There is also an extremely comprehensive forums section that consists of questions and answers maintained by visitors to the site and this can be searched by keyword or by the genre Read the rest

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