PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION

I work in the ICT support department of a school for children with special needs.

Teachers here use camcorders (both DVD and hard-disk models) to record the progress of their pupils. We would like to create individual DVDs for each student to give to their parents at the end of the year.

However, it's a very time-consuming process to deal with video in this format, and I worry that there's huge potential for data loss. Are there any ways we can transfer the footage directly to DVD, as would happen with a DVD recorder? Ideally, we need something inexpensive, fast, easy, reliable and foolproof. Mark Moseley

I find your question particularly interesting, Mark, because as well as answering PC Advisor Helproom enquiries, I run an education and technology website called EduGeek. However, I'm afraid there's no easy solution to your needs. The process involves taking footage from a DVD, editing and burning it back in a multisession format. It then needs to be finalised for use with a home DVD player.

DVD-based camcorders aren't the best recording devices for this task.

Once the image is burned to disk it needs to be extracted in its entirety to a PC for processing, editing and conversion (if required). Creating a multisession DVD and then finalising it at the end of term sounds like a long-winded way of doing things. It also puts you in the position of placing all your final files on relatively fragile media.

A better option would be to move over to some low-cost solid-state models, such as the Sanyo Xacti range. Using these, you can save the video to low-cost SD memory cards that can be plugged into a PC via a USB cable or by using a card reader. You can then take the files straight off without having to re-encode them.

One card can be used per pupil at little cost. You can then use a video-editing package (many software makers offer educational discounts) to stitch the clips together quite quickly before finally writing them to DVD.

This method offers the additional benefit of allowing you to keep the original footage separate, while the files generated are far smaller than raw footage taken off digital video cameras.

NEXT PAGE: shrinking screen

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

SHRINKING SCREEN

I've recently restored Vista Home Premium on my PC. Now I find that the desktop window no longer fills the entire display - an inch-wide black band runs top to bottom. Don Tucker

You don't tell me which monitor or graphics card you are using, John. I suspect that System Restore has rolled back the graphics drivers and, in doing so, set the resolution or refresh rate incorrectly.

To correct this, right-click your desktop, click Personalise, Display settings and check that the resolution shown is the correct one for your monitor.

If the correct screen size is being shown but the black bands are still visible, you may need to check the screen refresh rate. This isn't usually an issue for TFT screens, which are quite happy at 60Hz, but older CRT monitors generally prefer the 75Hz range.

Click Advanced Settings on the display settings applet, then click the Monitor tab. The option to change the refresh rate is displayed on this screen.

DOWNLOAD DILEMMA

I'd like to upgrade my Windows XP PC to Service Pack 3 (SP3). However, SP3 would take me days to download over my dialup connection. Is there any other way to get hold of the update? John Morrison

Microsoft will send you a disc containing SP3 for a fee of £6; contact Microsoft here. Alternatively, call the UK information service on 0870 601 0100.

If you don't want to pay for SP3, try asking a friendly neighbour with a broadband connection if they'll download it from here and burn it to disc for you.

NEXT PAGE: missing disc

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

MISSING DISC

I recently moved house and lost my Windows XP disc, although I do still have the product key. I now need to format my hard disk. Is there an inexpensive solution? Keith Grant

You've got two options here, Keith. You can either phone Microsoft UK and pay for a replacement disc or buy an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) copy from a computer fair or online source - prices range from £30 to £40. It's not as good as being able to restore everything for free, but it's far cheaper than a new copy.

SPAM STORM

Lately, upon opening Thunderbird, I've been targeted by people selling products to enlarge certain parts of my anatomy - which I've been assured isn't needed. The sender has a different address every time and, when I check the Hosts file, all seems to be in order. How can I stop this? Alwyn Andrew

Spam email is a completely different kettle of fish from spyware and pop-ups. You're not being targeted specifically, Alwyn - your email address is simply on a lot of spam lists.

However, Thunderbird comes with a basic spam filter and I'd encourage you to use it. The filter is by no means perfect, but it can be trained. Educate your spam filter using these tutorials.

NEXT PAGE: incompetent driver

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

INCOMPETENT DRIVER

My Matshita DVD-RAM UJ850s ATA device driver has stopped working on my Toshiba laptop, which runs Vista Home Basic. The drive is now out of warranty, and I've been unable to find a solution anywhere on the web. Can you help? John Payne

This problem is caused by incorrect Registry entries relating to the device. A solution can be found here, complete with illustrations.

Windows

AWKWARD UPDATE

I'm having trouble updating XP and am receiving the error message: ‘Windows was unable to install the following updates'. Nothing I do works, and the Windows Update troubleshooter tells me I haven't downloaded any updates. Christine & Jack

Windows updates failing to install is often a symptom of a corrupted temporary folder used by Windows Update. Fix this by going to Start, Run and entering net stop wuauserv. This will stop the update service.

Now click Start, Run and enter %windir%. Rename the folder that's listed as SoftwareDistribution to SDold. Click Start, Run again and enter net start wuauserv to restart the service.

You should also check that the Windows Update service is operating in the background by going to Start, Run and entering services.msc.

You should now be able to download and install the Windows update. There are plenty of other suggestions on this Microsoft forum, too.

NEXT PAGE: no deliveries today

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

NO DELIVERIES TODAY

For the past two months I've been receiving the message ‘Delivery Service Manager has stopped running and has closed' at startup on my Vista Home Premium laptop. It doesn't seem to affect the laptop's operation. David Glew

This error seems to mainly affect users who have the BBC iPlayer and either the 4oD client or Sky broadband package installed on the same machine. Sky broadband and 4oD install an application called Kontiki, which appears to be the cause of the problem in many cases.

There are many solutions available and, without further information, I can only point you towards these links and hope one of them provides you with the solution you require. Check out tinyurl.com/57njyd, tinyurl.com/6s6s8o and tinyurl.com/hx3rw.

MULTIPLE BOOTS

I've installed a second hard drive (HD1) and have cloned the original hard drive (HD0) on to HD1. The hard drives are wired and seen as ‘Primary master' and ‘Primary slave', with the hard drive jumpers set to ‘Cable select'.

HD0 has its original partitions: C, the operational drive, and D, the XP software reference copy for ‘Recovery' of HD0.

HD1 has the partitions F, which I want to make an alternative operational drive, and G, the XP software reference copy for ‘Recovery' of HD1. The system currently boots from drive C, but I want to be able to easily restart the system and boot from C or F.

The Bios doesn't mention the partitions on HD0 and HD1. Will I need to use an additional utility? I've seen OSL2000, but this seems overly complex for the simple task that I envisage. Anthony Hampson

Like many things that look simple, setting up multiboot environments by hand is surprisingly tricky. Neither is it possible to boot to a separate partition using a program that runs within the operating system (OS) - to do so you'd have to rewrite the boot.ini file (an important system file that points to which partition should be used when booting the OS) within each OS.

If you wish to meddle with the boot.ini file (not recommended for beginners), then this article should provide you with the information you require.

If you simply want to access different versions of Windows, I suggest you use Microsoft's free Virtual PC tool to set up a second version of Windows that can be accessed at the same time as the version of Windows being used on the new hard drive.

NEXT PAGE: Windows meltdown

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

WINDOWS MELTDOWN

When I start my PC, which runs Windows 2000, I get the message: ‘PDF Client either disabled or no enabled devices associated with it'. Since this message appeared, I can no longer download images from my camera.

I get the message: ‘DRM Client.dll cannot find ordinal 20'. Neither can my scanner be found. George R Hayward

Given that your problems all concern devices connected by USB, that's where we'll look first for a solution. Plug in both devices, then right-click My Computer and click Manage, Device Manager. If there are any faulty devices listed, download and install their most recent drivers. Be sure to uninstall the devices first by right-clicking them and selecting ‘Uninstall'.

If this doesn't sort out the problem, I suspect that your Windows 2000 PC probably hasn't had any maintenance performed on it for some time, and a reinstallation of the OS may be in order.

FORCED SILENCE

After uninstalling my audio card I switched on the onboard AC97 audio chip and restarted the PC. Windows found the audio and installed C-Media 3D Audio. A Windows update then showed new software for the audio - Vinyl AC'97 Codec Combo Driver (WDM) - but my system crashed after installing it. Every time I try to use audio, Windows insists on installing the driver and then crashes. I've had no option but to switch off the audio altogether. David Davies

I've also suffered the pain of Windows Update installing an ‘updated' driver, only to break whatever device it was supposed to be updating. Fear not. Simply go to the Device Manager, double-click the audio device, click the driver tab and select ‘Roll Back Driver'.

Failing this, visit the manufacturer's website and download the latest sound driver and overwrite that within Windows.

NEXT PAGE: Double trouble

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

Launching HP Image Zone produces the message ‘failed to delay load library mscorlib.dll (Win 32 error 193) this program will now terminate and not run' on the D partition of my XP Home PC. I've got the same program installed on the C partition, and this works without any problems. Jim Bennett

You're receiving this error because you are trying to run a program that's installed on your C drive from the D drive, Jim.

You can only install and run a piece of software from one location, which is why the Image Zone software works on C and not D.

To fix the error, click Start, Run and enter SFC /SCANNOW to have Windows check the registration of system files. If this doesn't work, download and run CCleaner.

Windows Vista

SABOTAGED BACKUP

A few days ago, Automatic Updates installed Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) on my PC. In doing so, it deleted all my System Restore points. The Recovery CD that was supplied with the PC is now of no use. I seem to recall a similar case when XP SP2 came out and the Recovery Console was unavailable.

What should I do? Anonymous

As you state, installing Vista SP1 cleans out all the old System Restore points. It's nothing to be alarmed about - the updated OS creates new points using the SP1 files and settings. Your recovery DVD should still work if you want to wipe and reinstall your OS, but it won't work for booting into the disc's various recovery options.

With XP you could slipstream the service pack with your old disc and update this too, but Vista makes this somewhat trickier. vLite allows you to slipstream Vista SP1 with your original disc, but you may have problems if your manufacturer has provided a recovery image rather than a genuine Windows DVD.

NEXT PAGE: Local dialect

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

LOCAL DIALECT

I use Word 2003 on my Windows XP PC to type up minutes from one of my clubs. As members increasingly upgrade to Vista, are there any compatibility issues I should watch out for? Ken Windett

It's not the OS that would cause the problem but the version of Word you're using, Ken. Word 2003 is compatible with Vista and, even if your members upgrade to Office 2007, Word documents can be saved in the .doc format (the new default is .docx) for backwards compatibility.

If you wish to keep everyone on the same office suite, you could all download the free OpenOffice suite.

WON'T PRINT

I recently upgraded my PC to Vista (32bit) but am unable to find new drivers for my Olivetti Anyway photo printer. Can you help? Jason Griffiths

The necessary drivers can be obtained from tinyurl.com/6bqx7z. The Vista drivers are towards the bottom of the list.

NEXT PAGE: Internet - forget me not

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

Internet

FORGET ME NOT

When I fill in my login details using Internet Explorer (IE), a window often pops up to ask if Windows should remember my details. I click Yes, but it's forgotten the next time I visit the website. Geoff Spurr

The AutoComplete feature on IE has never been very good. Assuming you're using IE 7.0, you first need to check that AutoComplete is turned on under Tools, Options, Content, AutoComplete, Settings.

If it is, try deleting your cached AutoComplete forms by going to Tools, Internet Options, General, Browsing history, Delete, Forms. Choose Yes when prompted.

This should wipe any corrupt entries and allow you to start again. If you rely on AutoComplete I suggest you give Firefox 3.0 a try - it has always had a superior AutoComplete type feature.

SIGHTSEEING CANCELLED

When I try to use ‘virtual tours', my browser crashes. This happens whether I'm using IE or Firefox, and even on websites I've used before. Installing XP SP3 hasn't helped. Keith Norton

I assume you mean you're having trouble with interactive web content, Keith. Ensure you have the latest versions of Adobe Flash and the Shockwave Player installed. Both are available from adobe.com. You should also download the latest Java package from java.com, and QuickTime from quicktime.com.

NEXT PAGE: iPlayer later

PC Advisor tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums. For more free IT support, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

iPLAYER LATER

I tried to download and save a programme to watch later using iPlayer, but got the message: ‘Unable to connect to server'. iPlayer only supports Vista and XP, but I'm running XP Media Center - this shouldn't be a problem, surely? Peter Colledge

Media Center Edition is just plain old XP with the Media Center application bolted on. There are plenty of avenues you can pursue related to the error message you've reported, including the iPlayer troubleshooting site.

PRIVATE PICTURE

I don't have a problem receiving pictures within emails or as email attachments. When I forward the emails on, however, the recipients often complain that they can't open them - the image simply displays as a box with a red cross in it. I get the same problem with the images in emails once they've entered my Sent items folder, although they still open from the original message in my inbox. Merv Rogers

Let's start by ensuring that the option to send pictures using Outlook Express hasn't been disabled. Load Outlook, then click Tools, Options, click the Send tab under the Mail Sending Format header and ensure that the hypertext markup language (HTML) button is highlighted as your mail sending format. Now click ‘HTML settings' and check ‘Send Picture with Mail' is ticked.

Other things to look for are whether you've been sent a link shortcut instead of an image. A red box will appear in an email if the image isn't available at the website that is (or was) hosting it.

It's possible that your client (or that of your recipient) doesn't support HTML. If it was an HTML message, you'll be unable to view images that are present in the HTML code. The images will only display if you're online, because the pictures are downloaded from the web as you read the message.
And if the picture is from a website that's blocked by your firewall (assuming you have one), it won't display in the email.

If all these suggestions fail, you could try reinstalling Outlook by reinstalling IE 6.0 (If you've got IE 7.0 then you may experience problems, because Outlook Express wasn't bundled with it). This contains the latest build of Outlook Express.