The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 091 12/07/08
POST Traumatic Drop
I have an
eighteen-month old laptop, which I may have dropped once. Anyway sometimes when
I turn it on, it goes beep - long beep – short beep and shows a black screen.
If I turn off, cut the power and turn it back on it eventually comes back to
life. It is getting worse and I now need to do this 15 or 18 times. I have
tried the Repair and Start Normally options but the problem persists. Any
advice would be appreciated.
Hayes, by email
Apologies in advance for
the acronyms but the beeps sound very much like POST (power on self test) error
codes. POST is a series of checks carried out by the BIOS (Basic Input Output
System), which is a diagnostic and configuration program that runs immediately
after you press the PC’s On button. These tests are only concerned with your
computer’s hardware at switch-on, before Windows loads, which is why the Repair
options at Windows start-up are no help.
The meaning of the POST
codes vary according to who made the computer and BIOS program and it could be
something really simple and easy to fix; the fact that Windows eventually
starts is quite encouraging. There are some common POST error codes for popular
BIOS’s on Computerhope.com (http://tinyurl.com/tc5y), though I couldn’t
see yours mentioned so you really need to consult your PC or BIOS
manufacturer’s customer support.
What is my PC Doing?
My PC spends an awful
lot of its time chuntering away whether I am working on it or not. Is this
normal? I have no idea what it might be doing and equally no idea how to
Pat Hunt, by
An occasional flicker
from the disk activity light is normal (except when downloading, saving or
opening files etc.,) but if it’s winking away all of the time then something
may be wrong. One possibility is a malware or Spambot infection and your PC is
busy uploading data from your PC or sending out spam messages. However, if you
have a regularly updated antivirus program and a firewall and your security
measures are up to date this is fairly unlikely. See what happens when you
unplug your modem or Internet connection. If it stops then further
investigation is needed.
memory or RAM is another common cause of constant disk activity. Basically your
computer is struggling to handle all the data generated by your programs and is
having to shuffle it back and forth between the hard disc drive and RAM. If
your PC has less than 1Gb of RAM then upgrading to 2Gb (or 4Gb in the case of
Vista) usually does the trick.
Out With the Old
Please can you tell me
how to archive my old E-mails, so that I can recall them if necessary to read
again or forward etc. My computer is getting slow now and I feel it must
be due to the 800 odd e-mails I have stored in folders in Outlook Express. I am
using Windows XP professional.
G .E. Gale, by email
Outlook Express can get a
bit sluggish at round the 10,000 message mark but even then it has no impact on
Windows performance so it seems that you have other issues, but more on that in
a moment. To answer your original question, the simplest way to backup your
emails is to copy the Message Store Folder to an external medium, such as a CD,
DVD, pen drive or hard drive. E-mails in the Store Folder are encrypted but you
can easily ‘Import’ messages back into Outlook Express and read or reply to
them at any time. There is a simple to follow guide in Microsoft Knowledgebase
article 270670 (just type ‘ms kb 270670’ in Google Search)
As far as the reduction
in performance is concerned, try some of the steps outlined in Boot Camp
articles 355 – 357 (XP Tuning Tips) which you will find in the Daily Telegraph
Digital Life Archive (http://tinyurl.com/cczzr)
No Defense for
Why do I have to
suffer American English (spelling etc), and not 'English' English in Windows
Vista Mail? I think I have exhausted all methods of trying to sort this problem
and of course have checked all the settings accordingly.
Rex Leyland, by mail
This has been a
long-standing gripe for many Vista users on this side of the Pond and it
doesn’t appear that Microsoft is going to do anything about it, any time soon.
Unlike Outlook Express, which checks spelling using the dictionary in Word or
Office, Windows Mail in Vista has its own dictionary, which uses American
English, and as far as I am aware there is no way to change it.
There are a number of
workarounds, though, and the simplest one is to retrain the spellchecker.
Whenever it stumbles across an ‘English’ spelling, ‘colour’ for example, just
press the Add button and it won’t trouble you again. Otherwise all you can do
is switch to another email client. Windows Live Mail (free from Microsoft at: http://tinyurl.com/2k3jpk) has a UK
dictionary option, as does Mozilla Thunderbird, (also free, from: http://tinyurl.com/3buruj), which is the
companion email client for the excellent Firefox browser
© R. Maybury 2008 2306