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Questions tackled:

Possible virus

A Windows 7 laptop recently had a load of popups come up claiming that it was infected with a virus, while browsing the internet. Some of these windows were closed with the "x" button, which did not help matters. Then, Ctrl-Alt-Del stopped bringing up the task manager, but brought up another scary message instead. On (forcefully) powering down and up again, the system seems fine. Kaspersky antivirus was installed and up to date (updated an hour before the incident), and shows no problems after a full scan of the system. Is the computer infected, and what should our subsequent actions be? --Admiral
Popups while browsing the internet may make lots of claims about the state of the host Windows box, but those claims are basically never accurate. They were probably attempting to get the user to download some malware. The *only* popups claiming viruses that you should actually believe are from an authorised virus scanner (Kaspersky in this case), or perhaps an email program which you've instructed to download an attachment. Similarly, the X button failing to close a browser popup just indicates a website that's trying to do evil things, not a virus on the local host.
The problem with Ctrl-Alt-Del is the only somewhat concerning part of this account, but I'd guess it might have just been running slowly, or a performance problem with the host PC. If the Kaspersky scan didn't find anything, I'd say no, it's not infected and no further actions are required. If further reassurance and peace of mind are desired, it might make sense to download and run Spybot Search & Destroy. --AlexChurchill
Thanks. --Admiral

Failure to detect inactivity

I used to run MSN Messenger and have it configured to set status to "Away" after 10 minutes of inactivity. This never actually worked, and I thought it was a bug in MSN. But now I think it's a more general problem, because the same thing happens with Skype status, and also my screensaver hardly ever kicks in. So I think the computer's somehow failing to notice when there's no activity. (I don't think it's just that the cats keep walking on the keyboard; Alex doesn't have the same problem.) --Rachael

Flaky wireless network card

We have an NTL cable modem connected to a wireless access point, which Alex's and my computers connect to. About once a day, I lose my connection. It's not the modem or access point, because Alex's connection is unaffected; I think it's my computer or my wireless network card. When the connection goes, I can right-click the wireless network connection in the systray and do "Repair", which is supposed to disable and re-enable the card and re-connect. This occasionally works, but more often it hangs at the "Disabling..." stage, won't let me cancel or close that dialog box, and I have to reboot the machine, at which point it behaves correctly again. --Rachael
Update: I think this might be a problem with my computer's USB ports (the network card is an external USB one). I've since seen other USB problems, mostly intermittent. --Rachae?

Selling computer

I'm planning on selling my old computer case and possibly some other bits on eBay. I have already removed the following:

Therefore, the case currently is and contains:

All pieces in (TTBOMK) working order.

How much of this should I list as a single item? Would you expect someone who was looking for a case to be put off by it having a lot of extra stuff? Would you expect someone who was looking for more than a case to be put off by it not having some other stuff?

This question is still extant, as we never got around to selling it... --ChrisHowlett

PSU and POST worries

My computer died last night, the power supply going out with a bang (and an impressive blue spark, plus a little smoke). I had a spare to hand, due to the broken computer Chel got given by a lady at work. I plugged in the large and small motherboard connectors, power to master and slave CD/DVD drives, and as best I could power to master hard-drive (the case is somewhat cramped).

I had standby power, so tried the power button. Northbridge and CPU fans started spinning - so far so good. Three things didn't work, and two of them worry me. The non-worrying was that the case fan didn't spin. This is expected as it wasn't plugged in anywhere (motherboard expects a small three-pin connector; fan takes a PSU-style plug; old PSU had one marked "fan only"; spare didn't, so I didn't like to risk it).

More worrying were the PSU fan not spinning (so I'm thinking it's probably dead and I should get a new PSU); and a complete absence of POST beeps. My usual power-on noise sequence is <low buzz> <low buzz> <POST beep> <CD etc. spin-up> - I'm just getting the first low buzz at the moment (and obviously no progress in boot-up).

Now, I'm really hoping that the motherboard isn't completely dead - especially as I could really do with fixing this ASAP for Chel's schoolwork; is there some minimum amount of stuff that needs to be connected before POST will happen? For instance, if I've not connected master HDD properly, would that stop POST?

Power, a motherboard and a CPU is all you need for POST. - MoonShadow
Damn. I thought that might be the case. I was slightly surprised that it's evidently got enough integrity to fire up the appropriate set of fans and whatever makes the low buzz, but not enough to give me a diagnostic POST. I'll have a check of Abit's tech-support. --CH
Does [this] look reasonable? I figure I want to order a new PSU anyway, and hope it works. If not, I'll try stuff like resetting CMOS. --CH
May as well get the new PSU, but it might be a good idea to test the old PSU on another machine if you can. It could be that the motherboard is damaged. I have certainly had problems which were the motherboard but seemed like the PSU and vice-versa. --Admiral
He's tried in two machines now. - MoonShadow

Missing RAM

I have just added 1gb (2x 512mb) of RAM to a laptop running XP SP2, however only half of the RAM is showing up in both the BIOS and Windows. When I remove one of the sticks, only half of that RAM shows up. Does this sound like a BIOS update problem to anyone else? --Tsunami
What does memtest say?  The most likely cause is that you've been ripped off and the RAM is only half the size it claims to be.  --Vitenka
Memtest said exactly the same, so I have arranged the return of the offending items as they are not compatable with the laptop. They are sending a different make of the same type of RAM in the hope that it is compatable. Apparently laptops are very finniky about their RAM... --Tsunami

Missing scripting host

(Now fixed but noted here in case anyone else hits the same thing since it was one of the more frustrating Windows glitches I've hit)

All scripting appears to be missing under various Windows applications.  Symptoms include:

Likely cause, the windows scripting host and/or the javascript (for Windows) scripting host have been un-registered.  For Kazuhiko, it is likely this occurred when the corporate version of McAfee? was uninstalled from his machine although he does not know this for certain.  Re-installing McAfee? did not correct this issue.

To fix:

This appears to have fixed the problem.
It should be noticed that unregistering these is the microsoft recommended hotfix for half a dozen serious security flaws, and just about every other security flaw that will be found in future.  So that's probably why they were turned off (and why they should probably stay off...) --Vitenka
But OTOH, given that they prevent access to Windows Update, this is going to have significant security implications also, surely? --AC
Windows Update could still be used through the little shield icon in the status bar, depending on how much you trust that, just not through IE.  Not being able to navigate the visual studio help files or, as I later discovered, be able to create new projects or items within visual studio pretty much forced the issue though. --K

macloud's MP3 player

Basically, when I plug in my mp3 player, I get the sound acknowledging it's been recognised by the system, yet it never appears on the "my computer" menu. I've checked the connector and it's working fine - I've even tested the player on another pc and it works fine. When I checked device manager it just shows a question mark and the words "this device cannot start (code 10)"

Where am I going wrong? - macloud
You're using Windows(?|.) --Admiral

What version of Windows? What kind of MP3 player? Can you get any other USB devices to work with your machine? - MoonShadow
Has it worked before on your computer, or are you trying to get it to work for the first time? --Admiral
Ultimately, you probably need to (re-)install the driver, get a new driver, or get the MP3 player fixed. --M-A
One thing windows can be flaky about is the same device in different USB ports.  Try it in a different port.  If you haven't disconnected the device properly, then 'fake' devices can end up filling the ports - these don't show up in normal mode.  A boot to safe mode will let you delete these fake devices.  Windows will, usefully, sometimes silently fail if it's trying to keep track of too many devices.  --Vitenka
Ah, that's handy to know. At present our USB seems a little flaky - you can't reliably use the printer and wireless card simultaneously, f'rinstance, and "shutdown" becomes "reboot" if I leave the wireless connected. Might check. I take it you mean in Device Manager in safe mode? --CH
That's happened to me. For a while after I got it, my tablet was only pressure sensitive when plugged into my laptop's right USB socket. Now it's fine in both, although I have no idea what changed ^^;; - SunKitten
The simple explanation is "Windows is strange."  The technical one is that windows treats each device/port combination as a unique dveice (which is kinda sensible, otherwise it would go mad if you connected two of the same thing) - but it doesn't usually get it right, leading to it saying "Aha!  An entirely new device on port 2!  Installing drivers - it's a thingy.  Thingy drivers, install yourself!  You're already installed?  Great!  Nothing to do.  Now device - talk to me.  Talk to me... come on.  nope?  Ok, it must be dead."  It also seems to do slightly different things depending upon whether the device is connected during power-up and when you connetc it at run time.  And don't get me started on what happens if you connect it, cancel the install and then reconnect it...  --Vitenka (and that latter is easy to do by jiggling it while trying to connect it...)

External Hard-drive recommendations

My dad is thinking of buying an external (USB) hard-drive (not flash memory), but is wondering what makes are decent. I couldn't think off the top of my head. Any recommendations? --CH
LaCie? drives are very good, in my experience. I've had an 80Gb Firewire one for a couple of years now, and several friends have them. They do USB too - SunKitten
IME Firewire is faster than USB. eSATA is even better. USB is the most likely to be present though. I assume you're thinking of 3.5"? There is 2.5" at a premium (but it will be much smaller and not require a separate power supply). I hear good things about Lacie as SK says. You might want to consider buying an empty external case and putting your own hard drive in it. That's what I've done with an [Icy Box]. --RobHu
I should clarify. My dad is pretty tech-savvy, but doesn't like excess complications, or much hardware work beyond "plug it in". I suspect speed is not a sufficient issue to go for FireWire? (I can't even remember what that is, properly), but worth considering. An external case is Right Out. But the manufacturer's name is helpful, thanks - I'll pass that on. --CH
LaCie? are plug in and go; self contained little units. They stack attractively too (we have a LaCie? DVD burner) ;) - SunKitten
Yeah, expecting a bunch of CompScis? to answer the question you asked was a bit unrealistic. I've got a 160Gb Western Digital drive which behaves itself and requires no maintenance beyond ignoring the preinstalled backup software... --SF

Mapped drives on startup

I have a home directory on \\somefileserver\home\rachael. I also have a mapped drive H: which I didn't set up; it was there already. Sometimes, when I start the machine, H: is mapped to \\somefileserve\home\rachael, but other times I start up and H: is mapped to \\somefileserver\home. Why does this happen, and how can I make it map to the same location every time? (I know how to map a drive and make it re-connect on startup next time, but I don't know how to change the settings/location of an already-mapped drive.)
It's quite awkward because I have lots of file shortcuts which are relative to H:, and so half the time they look in the wrong place and can't find the files.

There's multiple ways of arranging for a directory to be mapped to a drive on startup; it can be a local registry setting (e.g. set through the menus in Explorer), a command in a local batch file executed on startup, or a command executed from a list sitting on a company server somewhere managed by your network administrator. I would guess that two of these are racing. To confirm this theory, check the event viewer logs (control panel.. administrative tools.. computer management.. event viewer; there's three sets of logs) - every boot, one mapping succeeds and one fails, and the failing one will probably log an error event of some sort. There should be enough info for you to work out what is racing with what; if the incorrect mapping is local, use regedit to get rid of it - otherwise, you'll have to talk to your sysadmin or change all your paths in your shortcuts. - MoonShadow


Since the addition of a cat, we rather feel Wireless ADSL is safer than trailing a phone lead up the stairs. Any suggestions for good router/modems and network cards? We're reasonably budget-tight, but I don't mind paying a bit more for a bit of quality. F'rinstance, is [this] any good? --ChrisHowlett
I have a Netgear router at home that I have no problems with, but their wireless kit is awful. The access point I have at home, and the access points we have at work crash weekly, and have to be switched off and on to get back-up. Nobody knows why. Their tech support is almost ntl quality. The whole lot is gradually being ripped out and replaced with 3com. Unless anybody has had bad experience with 3com wireless kit (I know there wired ethernet stuff is pretty decent, but have never heavily used any of their wireless offerings), then I'd recommend [this], which is 9 more, but comes with a free wireless network card. --qqzm
Ah, that looks plausible. 9 extra for a network "card" works out about even, really. Thanks - I'll seriously consider getting that! --CH

Have you already got an ethernet/ADSL router but need wireless too? If so I would recommend getting the [WRT54-GL]. I've got one, and it provides good signal quality, and runs Linux, so you can ssh into it, reflash it, and play NetHack on it should you so wish. --RobHu
No, our current access is ADSL-to-USB, so that wouldn't work. --CH

Autodialling on Startup

My, I'm using this a lot these days. My ADSL modem treats the connection as a dial-up to "0,38" (as Emperor says, "that's mildly on crack"). Does anyone know of a way I can get the connection to "dial" whenever I start Windows? --CH
I don't know of a direct way - although there probably is one buried deep in the Windows GUI somewhere; however, IIRC you can configure the default connection to autodial whenever something tries to get on the net, so if you then slap a batch file that pings google.com into your startup folder that ought to do the trick. - MoonShadow

Circumventing Enforced Desktop Settings

My Dad's just emailed to say that the hospital (his workplace) IT department are coming round forcing everyone's computer to have the Healthcare Trust Logo as desktop background and screensaver, and also the Trust page as InternetExplorer's homepage, and then removing normal user rights to change these. This is causing some ill-feeling... Does anyone know of a way to circumvent the restrictions? OS is WindowsXP? with SP 2. --CH
Setting up a shortcut with a URL as the shortcut will open the default browser with that URL, thus circumventing going to the default home page. --Angoel
You could also circumvent the homepage problem by installing FireFox, if he has enough rights to do so. If they've just prevented changing the desktop and screensaver by removing access to the desktop control panel applet, you can change your background by opening a picture in IE (or by browsing to a webpage with it on), then right-click on the picture and select "set as background". AFAIK there's no similar way to change the screensaver, unless the screensaver comes with some sort of install programme that will set it for you. Of course, all of this begs two questions: should we be helping you get your Dad into trouble, and why is he that bothered? --qqzm
He's the boss of the Biochem lab, which is not exactly public-visible. I can see no reason why they should be enforcing this sort of thing except on public-facing jobs; I guess he's bothered because, well, it's nicer to have a picture of his MG as desktop rather than the hospital's logo. I've passed your thoughts on, though. Thanks! --CH

Our work screensaver is fixed.  One guy found out which one is was fixed to and then replaced that file with the scr file he wanted.  That seemed to work for him --K

Can't play DVDs

(ChrisHowlett) I can't play DVDs any more, under either WMP or WinDVD?. This problem has troubled me for a while, but sometimes sorts itself out. I'm also sure I'd asked about it on ToothyWiki before...

Basically, WMP plays the DVD, but illegibly. It looks all blocky, rather as if the whole DVD had been blurred for police protection. WinDVD?, however, doesn't even manage that - on inserting the disc, autoplay boots WinDVD?, but WinDVD? does not start playing the DVD. Manually clicking the play button doesn't help either, and on occasion the play button turns ghosted.

Any ides?

Complete guess: Your codecs have been corrupted or overwritten by some other software you installed recently.  Uninstall and reinstalled WinDVD?? --K
Have done so, to no avail. --CH
Have you installed software claiming to be able to break region protection on DVDs, by any chance? Some of it has that effect.. - MoonShadow
Not as far as I know. And I definitely have my regions set up correctly on both the drive and WinDVD?. --CH
Oh, and I have to ask - you've tried a couple of different DVDs, right? - MoonShadow
At least 2. --CH
''Does the audio skip too, or is it just blurry video? - MoonShadow'
Audio's fine. I've also just tried updating the firmware, and that didn't help either. --CH

Possibly relatedly, I also can't play .wmv files in either WMP or, I believe, Real - those are curiously red-and-green. --CH

Windows XP decided it didn't need Ethernet drivers

I turned on my computer this morning and did a bit of web-browsing. I then turned it off, but while it was shutting down I remembered that I needed to send an email. So (working on vague recollection that it stopped shutdown) I held down the Escape key. Since that didn't work, I restarted the computer when it turned off.

This time, I didn't have internet connectivity. Nor could I ping my router. Device Manager showed no Ethernet Cards, but did list a "PCI Simple Communications Controller" (or similar) as inactive; properties on it said that its drivers were not installed. I tried rebooting, and reinstalling the Motherboard chipset drivers (which include the Ethernet adapter drivers), but to no avail. Any thoughts? --CH
When you insert the ethernet cable, do the scoket lights flash ? --Garbled
I haven't checked (the card is facing the wall - but I will check), but the router's light indicating connectivity on one of its ports is on - and that light is off whenever the computer's mains power is off. --CH
Sounds like you need to force DM to look for correct drivers for the inactive device again. You do this by uninstalling whatever drivers it thinks it's using for the inactive device right now (from the appropriate tab in its properties window), then telling DM to scan for hardware changes, possibly with a reboot in between. I may be wrong. - MoonShadow
Windows currently thinks it has no drivers for the device, so there should be nothing to uninstall (although I will check). I've already asked DM to find drivers for the inactive device specifically, but it can't find any that it likes, either generic WinXP ones, or off the Motherboard CD. --CH

Ok, scrap the majority of the above diagnostics - the PCI Simple Comms Controller is a modem I forgot I had plugged in. The reason I was confused was because DM denied all knowledge of the ethernet adapter - it didn't appear at all.

I have managed to get DM to recognise its existence, by using the "Add Hardware" wizard, and explicitly selecting "Other device->Network adapter". I'm provided with two driver choices - one is Microsoft's Loopback driver, the other is the correct NVidia driver. The Loopback driver works correctly (ie, ie get a LAN connection active in Network Properties), but because it's the Loopback driver I don't get any useful connectivity. The NVidia driver causes the device to be failed in DM with the error "The device could not start (code 10)".

Interestingly, using the NVidia driver causes the device to show up as "NVidia nforce ethernet...(blah)... #2" - I can't find #1 to see if I can do anything with it.

After trying new drivers (to no avail), I decided I'd need to buy a new network card. Nipped out last night and picked one up, brought it home and discovered the power of jealousy. Not only would my computer refuse to let the new card work (no light when plugging the cable in, Windows didn't recognise the new hardware); it decided to give me back the one on the motherboard! So all's happy. More plausibly, I suspect I have a slightly dodgy connection between the MoBo? ethernet adapter and the MoBo? itself and turning the computer on its side to fit the new card jiggled it back into place.

TFT Monitor oddly coloured

My TFT monitor has started being an odd colour from time to time. It flickers into a darkish shade, slightly red, and then flicker back a bit later. At the moment, the top section of the screen is like that and doesn't want to do back, even with application of a sharp but gentle lateral force (i.e, whacking it). It's only 5 years old - surely it can't be dying yet? --CH
Five years is probably old enough for a TFT to be dying, yes. Or so my device materials/polymer physics lecturers tell me, anyway. --SF

Slow Explorer

On Rachael's work computer (XP SP2), Windows Explorer is unfeasibly slow for many operations. If you delete a file by clicking on the red X or pressing the delete key, you can go away and check your email before the confirmation dialog pops up. Similarly, right-clicking a file to bring up the context menu takes ages, and so does double-clicking even a small text file to open it in an editor (dragging it onto the editor works fine though).
I'm up to date with Windows Updates, and Symantec doesn't reckon there are any viruses.
Anyone seen this before and/or know how to fix it?

  1. Run scandisk - if the disk is damaged it can be VERY slow to do anything.
  2. Sorry - all I can say is sympathy, I've seen it happen to colleague laptop too and there seems to be no explanation or fix - the machine just gets inexplicably slow.  Maybe it's time to do the reinstallation dance?  --Vitenka
Does this persist even if you reboot? Something on my system leaks memory (it's probably FireFox), and after a week or so it's crushingly slow. If I reboot, it's all fine again. --CH
I've seen extreme slowness be a symptom in machines using NTFS partitions on dying hard drives. Google up some SMART? monitoring software and see if it logs anything. - MoonShadow

The context menu often slows down the more extensions you have. If it was just the context menu slowing down, I might be inclined to scan the relevant registry entries and get rid of most of them. However, it sounds like this is wider-spread than that. Do you have a reasonable amount of memory? I'd expect XP SP2 to require more memory than XP pre-SPs... --AC

Rebooting doesn't make any difference; also I frequently restart FireFox because of the leak, and I don't think I'm running anything else that's leaking. I have 1 gig of memory, of which I'm using about half. Scandisk (after I found where they'd hidden it in XP, with Google's help) finished and exited silently, which I assume means it didn't find anything important? The rest of the system isn't slow - just Explorer, and just a subset of the functionality in Explorer. I'm now investigating a SMART? monitoring tool... --Rachael
The GUI scandisk utility isn't particularly thorough in XP. Issue a chkdsk c: /r at a command prompt, tell it to schedule the check for when you next boot the machine, then reboot (preferably just before you head home, because it'll take several hours). Also, how full is your recycle bin? Also, have you tried defragmenting your drive? - MoonShadow
When I had that, it was because I had loads of files in my Recycle Bin.  Have a clear out of it. --M-A
I am. It's been emptying ever since MoonShadow mentioned it a couple of hours ago, and might finish by hometime ^^;;; Am quite embarrassed to have let it get that full. To be fair, the person who had this computer before me must have never bothered emptying it either. NoteToSelf?: ShiftDelete? is my friend. --Rachael Update: The bin's emptied, I've rebooted the box, and it's still happening, so I think the three-hour bin-emptying marathon was just another symptom of the same problem. Will now work through the other suggestions (defrag, chkdsk, etc). --Rachael

Access DDL

(PeterTaylor) Microsoft Access (prob. 2003, running under XP). There are many sites on the web which talk about Access DDL, which seems similar to SQL. However, I've yet to find one which says how to import an Access DDL table definition into Access. The Access help file doesn't know anything about DDL. Does anyone here?

Printer prints blank page on computer boot

When I first turn on my (printer && computer), the printer appears to receive data, and then sucks a sheet of paper in, spits it out halfway with nothing on, and then sits there with its "no paper or paper jam" light-button on. Pressing the button, waiting about 10-15 minutes or actually printing something causes the paper to be fully ejected, still blank. This happens for the first instance of (Printer on) && (Computer on) in any given session of (Computer on) - ie, once I've started the computer booting, I can turn the printer off and on again without it doing this again. However, if the printer was off when the computer booted, it will do this when I turn the printer on. I wouldn't be too bothered, but it also prompts cleaning of the print heads, and thus uses ink. Any idea why it's doing this? --ChrisHowlett
USB or parallel port printer? - MoonShadow
Parallel. I think it has USB support, but I don't own an appropriate spare cable. --CH
Any further thoughts? --CH
I found a spare USB cable, and now it all works fine! --CH

Serial Port Always in Use

AlexChurchill: TodayIAmMostly wondering what application has my serial port in use from as soon as I start Windows, even in Safe Mode. There were absolutely no applications running and precious few processes, according to Task Manager. Anyone know a way to find out what program has a lock on a Windows serial port?

BurnIt?!  Humm.  I used to have tools to do this, but Google seems useless.  Have you had a modem installed at any point?  I'm pretty sure windows tries to connect to stuff on bootup, and if you have ever had a modem on a com port it'll try to dial with it.  --Vitenka
Nope, work machine so no modem. This is the machine which has ActiveSync? installed on it but that was one of the first things I disabled and it made not a jot of difference. I found nothing helpful on Google or even in ProcessExplorer?, although I'm far from expert in that latter. --AC
Are the ports enabled in the bios?  Your app may not be querying what ports exist (I know most just let you try COM1-4) and giving the same error message regardless?  --Vitenka
Have tried with both BIOS "automatic" setting and BIOS specifying IRQ etc. No joy. --AC
What version of Windows? If it's NT-based, have you looked at the list of active services (control panel.. administrative tools.. services)? - MoonShadow

You could try a 2-step approach - use PortMon? (Google-able) to find out what your serial ports are called, on the Capture->Ports menu (e.g. mine are Serial0, then SsPort0?-3), then search for those strings in ProcessExplorer?.  With HyperTerminal? open here on port 8 (SsPort1?), ProcessExplorer? shows that HyperTerminal? has the Handle \Device\SsPort1 open. --M-A
Brilliant! I'd tried ProcessExplorer? already, but didn't know what to search for. "Serial0" was the magic string. Turns out that of all things, it was the WinXP OnScreenKeyboard (!!) Thank you so much! --AlexChurchill
<beams> I try to be useful... :)

Missing View Source

Sometime in the last week or so my 'View Source' option in IE stopped working completely.  The option is there in the 'View' menu and in the right-click menu but both just change the mouse pointer to busy for a couple of seconds and then don't do anything.

I've just tried the [source tree] plug in that Moonshadow linked to and that works as expected right up to the actual view source function where it does exactly the same thing.

Does anyone have any ideas?  I have a nasty feeling I'm going to have to install my machine from scratch just to get it back :( --K

Ah, this one is pretty simple.  Something has messed up your notepad or wordpad dependency.  Go into options and find what program it is trying to boot (in the 'programs' tab) and make sure that it is pointing to something nice and simple.  You may also need to check file options for html 'edit' command right click menu.  Generally this goes wrong when you have set IE to point at an MDI editor which already has a window open.  IE is dumb, and opens a new window anyway, and the program in question freaks.  Results range from it taking ages to open, only opening when you close the old window, never opening and crashing your currently running editor.  Best to just point it at the crappy version of notepad that shipped with windows.  --Vitenka
Nope.  The HTML editor option under the programs tab is set to notepad.  If I save the web page locally and right-click/'edit' it pops up in notepad normally.  (and yes, I agree, using notepad to view source is a Very Good Idea (TM)) --K
That is very odd, then.  The symptom is one I have seen, but the cause is not the same.  Oh well.  Uh, why are you using IE at all?  --Vitenka
I would guess that the registry is a good place to look - HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT and IE's own keys inside HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. Not sure what you're looking for, though. - MoonShadow
No, even simpler - your temporary internet files have reached some limit. Clear it down and it'll work - Jay
Brilliant.  Now working, thanks! --K
Aah, really? That makes sense now. "View Source" hasn't worked on my machine for ages, but it does now, and I did recently clear out my temporary internet files folder. Another thing that that fixes is windows help files. If help files have links to things like style sheets or javascript documents, and your temporary internet files folder is full, those links can break. We've recently added this to the FAQ at work. --M-A
Breaks a whole bunch of things actually - the ability to save images off a webpage in a format other than bmp is another one. That really confuses people. There's a jpeg on a page, they right click and do save image and it saves as a bmp. Annoying. - Jay
Mmh - redirects can also cause that.  Clicking the URL and hitting enter (causing IE to do a refresh without really doing a refresh) fixes that.  Not applicable to images embedded in a site, obviously.  --Vitenka

Multiple Zip Extraction

For some bizarre reason, the person who was nice enough to scanlate Angel's Sanctuary decided it would be fun to zip many zip files in a directory structure into a zip file.  Some of these zip files I believe contain a single directory, most do not.

I believe that the file names would not conflict if dumped into a single directory (despite following thirty-odd different nomenclatures).

I'm under WinXP and I have cygwin available if that would help (although any instructions involving the use of cygwin will have to be extremely detailed).  My first thought was to do a search on the entire directory for *.jpg (which returns roughly 3700 items) and then move/copy them from the search results list.  Unfortunately this only seems to work if I move/copy one file at a time :(

Is there an easy solution, or am I stuck extracting/organising manually?

In a cygwin bash prompt (*not* dos, the syntax would be different) type:
  for i in *.zip; do unzip $i; done
..which will uncompress all the zip files in the current directory into the current directory. Is this what you were after?
I needed to put quotes around the $i since there were spaces in the file name but other than that it worked find, thanks. --K

Hmm.  My understanding is that the zips contain zips, which may contain zips, etc.  I EditConflict'ed this solution:
Pretty much any archiving utility I've used on Win32 has the option to install itself into your Windows shell context menus.  (See winzip, winace, winrar, powerarchiver, and at least another couple... all of which have freely-usable shareware demos.)  With any of them installed, the steps would consist of:
Will that work?  Have I understood your question correctly? --AlexChurchill

Close enough.  WinXP's default zip handler unfortunately raises a dialog box on the 'extract' command so much clicking ensued but other than that I have now got a directory structure containing jpg files rather than a directory/zip structure.  Thanks --K

My next question will involve finding easy(ish) ways of renaming them into something sensible which I'm guessing from the Renaming in DOS discussion is far easier under linux/cygwin than windows but I'll need them all out of the zip files first... --Kazuhiko

What is "something sensible"? [Perl] is your friend.. - MoonShadow
No, Perl is your friend.  I've barely been introduced... :) --K  (thanks for the link, I'll read through it later)
OK, I'm obviously dense as I have no idea how to make this work.  I don't even know how to execute a perl script.  Sorry but could you give me some pointers?  I basically want to do a simple pattern match/replace on file names (to keep the chapter and page numbers but re-write the rest). --Kazuhiko

RegExp/FileRename - does that help? - MoonShadow


At various times, including the discussion of the Wiki mechanism, people have mentioned a 'diff' program which compares (presumably) text files and shows changes.  Does a windows equivalent exist?  Can it compare directories of files or does it need to do each individually? --Kazuhiko
Try [WinMerge]. It compares text files and shows you the changes, as you say, and also lets you transfer each change "left" or "right", depending on which file you prefer.  It also does a directory at a time (even recursive, to do subdirectories), and has various filters so that you just see what you need. --M-A
FWIW, MoonShadow tends to use whatever comes with the development kit or source repository software he's using at the time. Visual Studio, for instance, comes with something called WinDiff?, which can compare files and (recursively) directories. NT-based windows systems come with something called "FC" which will do line-by-line compares and can be scripted (type help fc at the cmd (not command.com) shell prompt)
There's also [KDiff3], which can do 3 files at a time, but looks like it might be fiddly to install on Windows. WinDiff? has some good features, like being able to tell if you've moved a chunk of text, rather than just marking it as deleted in one place and new in the other place, but it doesn't allow you to transfer changes between files. --M-A
Cool.  Thank you all.  I think I'll start with WinDiff?, but look at the others later if I have a chance/need.  Incidentally, while trying to find out why I didn't have WinDiff? on my machine I found [Keith Devens' site] which looks pretty impressive for programming tools, etc. including a wiki, blog and interesting discussion of why the [two don't mix]. --Kazuhiko
Random thought: PhoenixFeathersComments <-- blog, PhoenixFeathers namespace <--- wiki. - MoonShadow

Addition: Tortoise (a frontend for svn or git or various other revision control systems) comes with a fairly decent diff tool.  --Vitenka

Win XP Compaq

Alex's wrestling with a dead HD on a new Compaq PC (along with associated discussion on IDE cables, XP recovery CDs, and HD device drivers) folded to Revision 60 and prior. Conclusions:

Apache Modules

Vitenka Can I ask an apache module question?  I've got most of it working, but for some really stupid reason, the releases of apache win32 binaries (yes, even the full ones rather than the patches) come with .so modules, rather than .dll's  Since patching broke mod_gzip, and deflate is a part of the default install, I thought I'd use that.  But I can't find a win32 compiled version of it anywhere - and don't seem to be able to compile the sources from scratch either.  (Instructions assume you will be crosscompiling from linux gcc, or at least have a fgull cygwin - neither of which is the case for me)

MoonShadow wishes he could help, but has never used Apache under win32. Anyone else?

Thanks.  I'll (Vitenka) just ask another quick question.  Is AVG virus scanner actually any good?  Being free is kinda a plus, not trying to install a firewall even though I asked the damn thing twice not to trash all over my existing semi-trusted firewall thank you very much norton is another major plus... But I have no idea if it's actually any good at catching virii.  Anyone?


Does anyone know the correct way to configure win servers (mainly 2k, a couple of NT) in a multi-homed environment (i.e. one network card on lan, one on external (actually the DMZ of a firewall)).  I know (am moderately sure) I have the IP settings correct but the Windows naming things seem to be conflicting with something and sometimes reporting duplicate names on the network and not behaving properly on the network (mistyped as netwok...  interesting concept).  I think it has something to do with WINS but I really don't know beyond that. - Kazuhiko

MoonShadow knows very little about win2k/nt networking. However, he has encountered the "duplicate name on the network" error message in cases where the root cause was completely unintuitive things - missing name entries, lack of naming service, etc.; it seems to be something of a catch-all, like "general protection fault".
Agree with that.  The windows naming service drops down to really stupid defaults (like assigning random 192.168 addresses and testing to see if it can get one that doesn't clash) whenever anything goes wrong.  This means you end up seeing the attempt at establishing itself properly, then the default attempt.  As to fixing it?  No clue - but you proabbly shouldn't ever have it announcing itself on an external network anyway.  --Vitenka

The IP addresses themselves are fine (I can access the websites through the IP, and usually go in to shared Windows folders through the (internal) IP, but using the computer name seems to cause issues.  To the best of my knowledge, the machines are declaring nothing but an IP to the outside world (I disabled all services but TCP/IP on the external card).  Thanks - Kazuhiko
W2k SP2 boxen seem to suffer from the fault of not deregistering properly from WINS (sp3 helps a bit), but most of the problems I have had have been due to people creating erroneous lmhosts entries -- Garbled

Java VM

I've installed XP service pack 1 on my machine, which supposedly contains the java VM. Indeed, java pages no longer ask to install the Java VM, so that bit obviously works. However, the java itself doesn't. Anyone got any ideas? I can probably supply more information if you ask questions, I don't really know what'd be relevant and what wouldn't. - ChrisHowlett, who notes that it's not too tragic, as he could just install the Sun VM instead.
Installing the sun Vm is probably the thing to do, yes.  The MS one just registers itself with msjava.dll  Maybe IE needs its settings changed?  (Or if you had a previous sun vm then that may still be the default)  --Vitenka
We've had some problems with the JIT compiler - try --nojit. -- Senji

Concatenate in DOS

Given a number of files, is there a DOS command (or other method) to combine them into one file? - Kazuhiko

 COPY file1 + file2 output

If the files are binary,
 COPY /B file1 + file2 output

If there're more than two files,
 COPY /B file1 + file2 + file3 + ... + filen output

Renaming in DOS

Was quite chuffed, after 1-2 hours of playing, to create a DOS batch file working which will rename every file in the current directory to (its current name with spaces deleted).  --AlexChurchill

Hm. Easiest with a separate batch file to do the space stripping, I'd imagine. Pass it the name as a parameter then use shift in a loop to combine the bits that aren't whitespace. Is that the way you did it?Stripping other characters would be much harder with DOS's shell builtins, since there's no string functions other than concatenation and an equality test; but perhaps you're actually using an NT derivative when you say you're using DOS? - MoonShadow
Yeah, you're right with that last. I cheated and used the Win2k/XP DOS "Command Extensions".  That lets you delay variable-name expansion by using !a! instead of %a%, and lets you do substring replacement on expanded variables using %a:str1=str2%.  This works if str2 is the empty string.  Combining these lets me call
 ren "!a!" !a: =!
inside a FOR loop on the output of a dir command.  But Command Extensions could be viewed as cheating.  Although given that they're significantly less fully-featured than Linux it was still quite a challenge, and being familiar with Win2k/XP DOS scripts is actually relevant in my job.

It takes the place of my two-line no-brainer Linux version, in being runnable with a single click on Windows.  (Cygwin scripts don't appear to be runnable from batch files.  Although if anyone knows a way to run a Cygwin? command in one click from a Quick Launch bar or equivalent, please let me know!)  --AlexChurchill

Don't have the shortcut run the script. Have it run a shell (bash?), and give the shell the script name as a parameter. Remember the shell will interpret its parameters as Cygwin? paths, not as Windows paths. It works here.. - MoonShadow
D'oh.  Of course.  I'll try that.  --AC

XCopy in DOS

Do we have a DOS based (must be able to run during autoexec.bat) xcopy type thing with a 'no to all' option?  Alternately, something that can take two lists of files and generate a list of the diff then copy only those?  --Vitenka

Recovering Outlook Emails

I've subsumed Rachel's hard-disk into my computer, and wish to retrieve the emails and address book that she had in Microsoft Outlook. However, her Windows install is suffering from cyclical reboots, so I can't load the Outlook up in order to export the emails. Does anyone know a way of retrieving data from a completely-intact Outlook install that can't be run? --CH
[This] might be of some use. Also out2unix, which is googleable. - MoonShadow
Will have a try at pmseu, although I suspect it requires me to know where the emails are stored. Which I don't. out2unix doesn't seem to Google anything useful, just a collection of dead links or open-source pages with no files. Am I missing something? --CH
Ah, sorry - looks like the functionality has been absorbed into libpst since my time. You can download a Windows binary from, e.g., [here]. - MoonShadow
Cheers, will try libpst. I can't get pmseu to work, though; it just gives an "Could not set InfoStores collection" error, and doesn't find any personal folders. --CH
I think, possibly, that I'm being misunderstood as to what my situation is. I don't have a .pst for these emails and folders, as I was unable to run Export from Outlook (possibly I do have one - for all I know, Outlook might create one somewhere by default, without having to explicitly export - but if there is, I don't know where it is). I need something to extract emails from Outlook without a .pst to work from. --CH
I believe Outlook does indeed use .pst files as a matter of course. They may live in %USERPROFILE%, but I'm not sure. --AC
drive:\documents and settings\user\local settings\application data\microsoft\outlook. HTH, HAND. - MoonShadow
Many thanks - I'll have a look for that, probably over the weekend. --CH

Obstreperous WLAN

Anyone got any suggestions as to why after working fine for a few months, my wireless LAN connection is now sulking horribly?  It connects to the network, signal strength and quality are good, and it will send packets to the router, but it seems not to receive any unicast bytes are frames (management and multicast it is receiving).  Seems not to be a hardware problem with the card since I swapped over the identical card which was in the machine I'm now typing from and this machine kept working and the other kept not working.  Good signal quality suggests it's not interference; it still wouldn't connect when I temporarily disabled the network security so it's not a WEP issue.  Any ideas? --MJ
More things I've tried that haven't helped - changing PCI slot, reinstalling drivers. --MJ
It sounds like a higher level problem, actually.  Has it changes its IP address?  Does that clash with something else on the (possibly wired) network?  DHCP dead?  Some other device squatting on your IP?  --Vitenka  (Oh!  I also had a huge stupid problem with windows not recognising that it had a route through that adapter)
Rule the router out as the source of the problem, if you can - try a different router. Also see if you can get a different machine onto the network. The thing to do after that is to use packet sniffers, both on the wired and the wireless side, to try to get a better picture of what's going on. For instance, I had a situation some while ago where a machine regularly stopped receiving traffic because another on the network had been assigned the same IP address and the routers in between would switch to routing traffic there instead every so often; what was going on was instantly obvious from examining a sniffer trace. - MoonShadow
I don't own another router, sadly.  Am using fixed IPs internally.  Network is just two computers, both wireless-connected, and the router.  Have checked that I haven't done anything stupid with those IPs.  Will see if switching on DCHP gets me anywhere... --MJ.
Sigh, no.  Automatically assigned IP is as dead as manually...
Actually, what is a packet sniffer and where do I get one from? --MJ
Well, you can buy dedicated ones - but the easiest thing to do is get a unix box on the network and run 'ethereal' or tcpdump or similar with the network card set in 'promiscuous' mode.  --Vitenka
On a WindowsBox, MoonShadow has been known to use the rather excellent [Analyzer].
JOOI, if MoonShadow had a free choice, would he use Analyzer or Ethereal on his WindowsBox? --CH
Ethereal. Didn't work last time MoonShadow tried it on a WindowsBox, though, and it was quicker to Google up Analyzer than to work out why. - MoonShadow
I would have suggested something like re-installing drivers. Actually I had a problem with my 3com card when I tried using the 3com software supplied with it. It JustWorks? with Windows though. Did you do anything driver-related that might have caused the problem, e.g. installed any WindowsUpdates? or ServicePacks?? --B

retitle windows

This was asked for ages ago, and I forgot to put mine (Vitenkas) up.  From the command line run "retitle src dest" and it will find windows named 'src' and change their name to dest.  Case sensitive, and still has loads of pointless template code in there, but it works:

The important code is included from winuser.h and calls EnumWindows? which calls my callback on every window, that just does GetWindowText? and SetWindowText?.

See also LinuxBox/TechSupport.
(The ultimate fix to all windows problems ;)  --Vitenka

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