I have a question. Volume 4 - Mark (RLBS)

In this thread you may ask any question for which you need help, advice, suggestions or whatever.

It does not need to be motoring related. In fact, in this thread it should not be.

No politics
No Speeding, speed cameras, traffic calming
No arguments or slanging matches
Nothing which I think is not following the spirit of the thread.

I will delete any of the above. If the thread becomes difficult to maintain I will simply remove it.

However, as has been said a couple of times, there is a wealth of knowledge in here, much of which is not motoring related, but most of which is useful.

This is Volume 4. Volume 3 will not be deleted.

Mark (RLBS)
Moderator at Work

I have a question. Volume 4 - HF
Hi Mark,

That was unexpected! Had just finished typing a post to MB on Volume 3, posted it and found the thread had become read-only!

And it wouldn't let me retrieve my post (probably me not following steps correctly again!)

Never mind, I'll retype it here later.
Computer updates - BrianW
I was going to pick his brains about the pros and cons of updating from OE 5.00 and IE 5.00 running on Windows 95 at work and Windows 98 at home and the easiest way to do it if that's recommended.
I've got broadband at work so downloadingfrom the net would be fairly painless, but not at home.
Computer updates - eMBe {P}
Correction : In IHAQvolume 3, I meant Windows XP service pack 1 that should be installed from freebie computer mag cover discs.

Brian W:

IE5.5 service pack 2: this is suitable for use with Windows 95 onwards. See the MS update site.
www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/default.asp This will also tell you how long a typical download will take. The download is at
and gives details of system requirements, and how to download then install.

IE6 service pack 1: this is suitable for use with Windows 98 onwards. Download it direct from
Details of system requirements etc. on there.

After installing either of these, remember to install the latest relevant critical update for your software from

HF: To clear your ?cache?, go to Tools, select the General tab, then in middle of that window, in the section headed ?Temporary Internet Files? click on ?Delete Files?.

Note to all: follow these instructions only if you are happy with - or know what - you are doing.
Computer updates - HF

so sorry to be such a pain here. Do you mean the Tools menu within IE? My IE Tools has no 'General' tab - or can I just go into one of the clean-up files on the computer, and get rid of temporary internet files that way?
Computer updates - Dynamic Dave

MB means:-

Click on Tools/Internet Options. You will be then at the page to delete any temp files, cookies, and history files.
Computer updates - HF
Good grief, Dynamic,

Was just in the middle of a post to you asking where to find said menu - and then I found it! Have deleted all temp stuff, and will now (or tomorrow, depending on whether I can face it again tonight) try downloading the thing again.

Thanks Dynamic, much appreciated :)
Computer updates - BrianW
Thanks for that.
I have the option to upgrade to Win2000 at work, everybody else has but I have critical systems running Works 2 (DOS) which meets my requirements and I am not keen about changing something which operates well. ("If it aint broke, don't fix it")
Someone else has the Win2000/Works2 combination installed so I'll probably make sure it is stable on their machine and then upgrade mine in the new year.

Fortunately I am quite happy with downloading and installing software.
Computer updates - Dynamic Dave
the pros and cons of updating from OE 5.00 and IE 5.00
running on Windows 95


IIRC, you can't run any versions higher than IE5.0 & OE5.0 on Win95. You'll need to upgrade your operating system to Win98.
Computer updates - eMBe {P}
DD - Thanks for correcting my omission of Tools/Internet-Options.
(I would also suggest to HF to first try looking at the "help" menu of IE for this kind of info.)

Re whetehr IE5.5(sp2) can run on Windows95, the MS update page says
" If you are running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT 4.0, installing Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2 upgrades your computer to 128-bit encryption. ....
System Requirements
To install Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2 and Internet Tools, your computer must meet or exceed the following system requirements
For Windows 95 or Windows 98: 16 megabytes (MB) of random access memory (RAM) minimum ..... "
Computer updates - BrianW
Point noted.
as I've said to MB, I will probably upgrade to Win 2000 on my office machine in the new year but am in "Not broke, don't fix" mode at the moment.
I have a question. Volume 4 - HF

Thanks for your links and information on the previous thread.

I'd assumed that SP1 and 2 were different versions of 5.5, had no idea I needed a separate download!

Unfortunately I don't have XP, only 98, so I'll have to stick with what I've got for the time being.

You're right that I'm registered with the DT online - I see ynamic Dave has a rival in the 'amazing memory' competition! I will definitely take a look at the articles you mention - you have quite correctly realised that 'simple terminology' is good for me!

I might have said something else when I posted this before, but without being able to see your posts whilst typing this, I can't remember what it was.

Ah well, thanks again,
I have a question. Volume 4 - Mark (RLBS)
>ynamic Dave

Or his brother, Dynamic Ave ?
I have a question. Volume 4 - HF
hahahahaha, I see my late-night-typing syndrome has started early today! ;)
I have a question. Volume 4 - Dynamic Dave
Or his brother, Dynamic Ave ?

Or my sister, Disasterous Davina!!
I have a question. Volume 4 - HF
let's hope me and the lovely Davina (is that an admission of watching BB, and all the numerous other programmes that she seems to present nowadays - and I watch them all, avidly!) never meet! Can you imagine the combination?!!!
My wonderful computer at uni runs Windows XP Pro. It was bought secondhand for £500 several months ago, including decent printer and 17" screen. Its a 2gig processor, 60gig hard disk etc etc so its quite good. I didn't consider that there's no way the copy of XP Pro would be legit at that price.
I need SP1 for Java applications and peace of mind (security fixes etc.)
Does anyone know how to get around the message telling me how bad I am for not giving £00's to Sir Bill, in order to successfully install SP1?
Dave, this query might be better dealt with on a computer forum...or a newsgroup. But there is no doubt that Microsoft are going to great lengths to prevent piracy of their products, and I have read elsewhere that although you may be able to "crack" a version of XP, there is no crack yet available that can provide you with a fully working upgradeable copy.

XP really doesn't cost a lot (Home Edition c £70, Christmas coming up...), and IIRC there is a student/education establishment deal whereby bona fide students can get hefty dscounts - have a root around on Microsoft's website
Dave .
Why not take the plunge and tell William what he can do with XP
Borrow Red Hat 7.3 or for £4.50 actually buy Mandrake 9 3cd.and your worries will all fade away.

Phil I
Dave 18,

There is a workaround to this if you search on the net. I wont tell you how to do it. It is illegal. Copied versions of xp all use the same corporate key. Microsoft know about this and this is why you are being prevented from upgrading to SP1. Ask your IT savvy friends, its not rocket science but I don't think you should be asking here either.
WINDOWS XP SERVICE PACK 1!!!! - frostbite
Dave (and anyone else maybe not aware).

Did you know that, by default, XP 'phones home' every time you connect - giving details of what files you have installed, what CDs you have copied, etc..

There is a freeware program - xpantispy - to change the settings and put a stop to this delightful activity.
Frustration! - HF
I know I said I'd go to net4nowt with anymore problems on this - but before doing so, and explaining it all over again to different people, just wondered if anyone here can help.

Have been trying to download the service pack 2 from microsoft, as mentioned in the previous thread by MB. My first few attempts got the result of 'please clear your internet explorer cache and try set-up again', or words to that effect.

Can anyone tell me what on earth that means, and how to do it?

The last few attempts it's connected me to a North America download place, no idea why, which goes nearly all the way and then just stops and starts again.

Can anyone explain, or should I take the advice and go to the net4nowt place?
Frustration! - Mark (RLBS)
Are you using Internet Explorer or Netscape or what ?
Frustration! - HF
if that was to me, Mark, I have internet explorer!
Two Things I Have Learnt about XP - THe Growler
....both of which have some relevance to prior posts:

* Last night I downloaded XP Service Pack 1 after being nagged day after day by the MS reminder to do it. Time for download, somewhere over 3 hours. Once downloaded, that's with everything on my machine, right? it took two, that's 2 hours to install itself. The SP1 says it is about 11MB, but may be less depending on what updates it finds that you may have already made. Well, folks, when I got it it told me I had 43 MB to digest!! It appears to back up the entire OS and replace a lot of it. Comfortingly it does create a restore point "in case". I Always think how cynical of MS to chuck their products as the market then let the user participate in fixing the stuff they didn't get right/overlooked! Now I have to do Virtual Machine update - that's another 5-something MB!

* re XP "phoning home" -- take a look at this link:


Trawl through the "Services" file and you'll be amazed (or I was) what there is going in on in there. However, you have a lot of control over it once you know what it's doing. Shows how you can cut out the report to Microsoft part and also rid yourself of some excess baggage in to speed up XP as well.

Two Things I Have Learnt about XP - THe Growler
Apologies for posting a dud link: s/be

Two Things I Have Learnt about XP - eMBe {P}
In the D Tel Connected (see IHAQ-volume3 for link) Bootcamp of 24 September 2002, this is what Rick Maybury said

"Top tip

A serious security flaw has been exposed in Windows XP that can cause files, folders and even the entire Windows directory to be deleted, merely by visiting a website or reading an email. Microsoft has known about the problem for several weeks but, fearful that it could be exploited, chose to keep it secret until a fix could be developed. The best solution is to download and install Windows XP Service Pack 1 from www.microsoft.com/WindowsXP/pro/

However, SP1 is huge, from 30Mb to 130Mb, which could pose a problem for users with slow dial-up internet connections. There are a couple of alternatives. Steve Gibson of Gibson Research, one of the first to identify the problem, has developed a small utility program called Xpdite, which can be downloaded from grc.com/xpdite/xpdite.htm

Alternatively, for those that know their way around Windows, the bug can be neutralised by simply renaming a Windows file, though this should not be attempted by novices."

As he said, XP-SP1 is huge, 30Mb to 130Mb. This is why I suggested you should use a freebie disc off a computer mag for the update. (It seems there must be an error on the site you visited if it claimed the download to be just 11Mb.)
Two Things I Have Learnt about XP - THe Growler
Yes, I already had the Gibson "fix" but was given to understand it was only temporary. Anyway, all done now. Like to know what the Windows file that be renamed was though....
XP/MP3 hacker critical security threat - eMBe {P}
From today's computer exchange news:


" Thursday 19th December 2002

Time to get out the puncture repair kits, Foundstone Research Labs have discovered a pair of security holes that could make a seemingly innocuous mp3 file into a open door for a hacker. The vulnerability affects Winamp 2.81 and 3.0 when used with any operating system, the second hole affects all versions Windows XP (regardless of whether you use Winamp or not).

The hole is associated with the way Windows deals with mp3 files. Normally, an mp3 file contains an ID3v2 tag, so that Windows can correctly identify the file as an mp3. Most tags are checked by your PC to ensure they are valid, but Winamp and Windows XP include flaws that mean that the tag is not checked properly. And that's when the fun starts.

By including specially tailored code in an mp3's ID3v2 tag, a hacker could cause your computer to crash, and with a bit more effort he/she could run whatever they liked on your machine. Which, as you may guess, is not a good thing.You wouldn't even have to play the mp3, just having it on your hard drive is enough.

Winamp suggest that users re-download and install whichever version of Winamp they were previously using, as all versions for download have been fixed. Microsoft has issued a patch to deal with the problem which can be found here.


Microsoft have rated the patch 'critical', meaning that all users should download it, even if they feel they are not at risk from this particular problem.

Rumours that people not applying the patch are being added Santa's list of naughty girls and boys are, however, proving unfounded. "
quick note - HF
Just a quick note to say that thanks to the contributions of Growler, MB, and others on this thread's previous incarnation, my computer is now deemed to be 'extremely secure' - so thanks to you all.

This latest problem, MB, seems to affect XP users only, if I read the link right?
quick note - eMBe {P}
HF: I see you have shortened your name - gives a much better impression than the full version (although people will tend to assume your gender incorrectly).

Re your question >> This latest problem, MB, seems to affect XP users only, if I read the link right? <<

No, you have not read it right.
It affects anyone who runs XP regardless of whether they use Winamp.
It also affects anyone who runs the Winamp versions specified (2.81 and 3.0) regardless of which operating system they use.

So if you use XP, OR if you use Winamp v2.81 or v3.0, get the patch update.
quick note - HF
Hi, MB,

Yes, I became weary of my former screen name - and I think people will realise my gender when they see the sorts of questions I ask!

Thanks for the Winamp info.
I have a question. Volume 4 - CM

If you were born after 1980, this does not apply to you.., so go away!

Kids of today are wrapped in cotton wool......... Read on.

If you lived as a child in the 60's or 70's, looking back,
it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have...
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Our cots were covered with bright colored lead-based paint.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cupboards,
when we rode our bikes we had no helmets.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride
down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the
bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we
were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all
day. No mobile phones.
We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no law
suits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame, but
us. Remember accidents?
We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and
learned to get over it.
We ate patty cakes, bread and butter, and drank cordial, but we were
never overweight...we were always outside playing.
We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one
died from this.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, video games, 65
channels on pay TV, video tape movies, surround sound, personal
mobile phones, Personal Computers, Internet chat rooms ... we had friends.
We went outside and found them. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's
home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell, or just walked in and
talked to them. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! By ourselves!

Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian - how did we do
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and ate worms, and
although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many
eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.
Footy and netball had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those
who didn't, had to learn to deal with disappointment.....
Some students weren't as smart as others so they failed a grade and
were held back to repeat the same grade. Tests were not adjusted for
any reason.
Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide
behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was
unheard of. They actually sided with the law - imagine that!
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem
solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has been an explosion
of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and
responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.
And you're one of them. Congratulations!
Please pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as
kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives....... for our own
I have a question. Volume 4 - SteveH42
Bit of a tricky one this that I hope someone can advise me on.

Last January I bought a sofa from DFS. At the time, they had on an offer or 3 years interest free credit with no payments in the first year. When I asked to take this up, I was told that repayment protection was mandatory. I was also signed up for 6 monthly payments, but was told that I would be able to change that once the free year was over and that this was being done just for the record.

I examined the offer once I'd got home, and there was no indication that repayment protection was mandatory, and on contacting DFS I was told that it was indeed optional. I further enquired about the repayment period and was told that I should have been put down for 24 months, not 6.

I asked if I could change this, and was told that I would need to take my paperwork in to the store I bought the sofa from. I did this and was told they couldn't change it. I contacted the loan company and was told that I'd entered in to a binding contract that essentially they had no intention of changing it. I contacted trading standards who didn't seem too interested, but said they'd inform the local TS of DFS for information purposes only.

So, it seems I've been signed up for 6 monthly payments rather than the 24 offered, and to paying repayment protection that I don't want. I suppose it's my fault for not questioning this more thoroughly, but is there anything I can do to get this changed? I have a witness that I was told I had to have repayment protection and that I asked for the 24 payments if that is any help, not that she will necessarily be able to remember that much after this time.

If necessary I can pay the total amount off in one lump, but it would be much better if I could pay it over the 24 months as it would free up that money for other jobs around the house.

Any suggestions?
I have a question. Volume 4 - joe
Sounds a little tricky.

I'm sure that one of your prime concerns must be to avoid getting credit blacklisted as this can be a nightmare.However, it seems that two important misrepresentations were made to you when you signed up, ie that payment protection was mandatory and that the 6 month repayment was only a formality and could be changed.

Your finance contract is not with DFS although they acted as agent when you signed up. They must be able to bring pressure to bear on the finance company however, why not pursue your complaint with someone more senior at DFS?
I have a question. Volume 4 - SteveH42
Is there any reason I should get credit blacklisted? I can easily manage the payments they have quoted, or even pay the whole lot off up-front, but if the offer is available I would like to take advantage of it, not least because it will enable me to use the money on other things.

How would I go about finding contact details for someone higher up in DFS? Their CS people say I can only get anything done via the store manager, and he says tough, can't change it.
I have a question. Volume 4 - borasport20

they should (must ?) tell you which credit reference agency they used, and you can apply to the credit reference agency under the Data protection act to see what details they hold on you (there will be a fee).

It may be that it is not you but your address that is bad risk, or a hundred other things.

hope you get it sorted

I have to grow old - but I don't have to grow up
I have a question. Volume 4 - SteveH42
I don't know if I've missed something here, or we are talking at crossed purposes. I've not been refused credit (as far as I can tell) just misled as to the terms of the offer from DFS - they signed me up for repayment protection I did not want and a repayment period other than I asked for. As far as I can tell I have no credit problems as I have successfully obtained two loans (one to repay the other) and a remortgage since.
I have a question. Volume 4 - teabelly
Try putting it all in writing to them. State what you want them to do ie change the terms to what you actually wanted rather than the terms they insisted could only be the ones and when you want it done by. Talk to trading standards again (some offices are better than others) and also talk to the finance company as they are jointly liable under the consumer credit act if you have any problems with dfs. If you go annoying them then they might put pressure on dfs to sort it out amicably.If you want to be difficult ask the manager on a busy saturday afternoon if it is normal practice for sales people to mislead customers about the credit agreements they offer. It should get a few customer's ears flapping if nothing else!

If you get credit again it is worth reading the small print on anything that you sign first or at least making written notes about what the sales person told you. If you can get the sales person to read and sign your notes then it means they cannot dispute things later (or at least makes it a lot more difficult).
I have a question. Volume 4 - joe
Sorry if i started a wild goose chase with the Credit blacklist comment. What I was driving at was that in any other form of contract, you have the ability to use "self-help" remedies, which in this case would consist of no longer paying the payment protection premium and also making payments over 24 months, regardless of what the contract says. If you try that here, they may not take you to court, but you would get credit blacklisted. You are quite right to say that you need to get express agreement first.

I assume that DFS are a limited company. If so, they will have a board of directors, including a managing director. He is your man. Find out who he is and write to him, you have then gone all the way to the top.
I had a question in volume 2 update. - Flat in Fifth
As the title says I had a queson in volume 2 see


Anyway its been a long business. Whilst Experian checks were not the total answer, the result gave enough leads to correct the info and follow up other lines of enquiry.

Suffice to say, no more hassle for me in last month, and presumably someone is now in the process of another moonlight flit.

serves em right, hur hur
I had a question in volume 2 update. - Flat in Fifth
Damn! pressed post instead of preview.

I wanted to add many thanks to all who commented so helpfully.

Please award yourselves virtual snifters.
I had a question in volume 2 update. - Dave_TD
SteveH42 -

DFS Furniture Company plc
Graham Kirkham, Executive Chairman
Jon Massey, Chief Operating Officer
Ian Bowness, Finance Director
Tel: 01302 330365


I have a question. Volume 4 - SteveH42
Can anyone offer any advice, suggestions and information of buying or renting land?

I live in an end terrace house which ajoins another terrace at an angle of something like 120 degrees. There is a passageway down the side of my house leading to a piece of waste ground between my garden and the back walls of the other terrace. I am led to believe this land actually belongs to the houses in this terrace, but for some reason the read gardens do not extend to include it. We have the right of access down the passage as this is the only way to get to the rear of the houses in the terrace. (The gardens on the other terrace are all roughly the same width, so the waste land is a sort of wedge shape)

As there is limited parking in the street I am considering either renting or buying a strip of this land adjacent to my garden and using part of it for either a garage or a yard to park the car in, and the rest to extend my garden.

Anyone done this sort of thing before? How do I go about it? How much is it likely to cost? Is renting a better option as I am unlikely to be in this house for more than 5-10 years, or would the extra land add enough value to the house to make it worthwhile?

What Laptop? - CMark {P}
I might be needing a new laptop in the next few weeks and I was wondering if anyone knew of one that would fulfil the following requirements:
1] standard PC stuff: word processing, speadsheets, email and Internet,
2] portable DVD player for kid's in-car use: large screen, viewable from wide angles, twin headphone sockets, multi-region player (or Region 2, if that's impossible), connectable to TV for occasional home use,
3] in-car navigation: for use with my Garmin GPS World MapSource CD-ROM for on- and off-road navigation (requires serial socket).

So it would need to be slightly rugged for in-car use and I would also need, I guess, to pay close attention to how it would be mounted for off-road use possibly fabricating a purpose-built mount to reduce vibration and to support the open screen.

Any ideas?

CMark (Jordan, about to evacuate due to imminent war).
What Laptop? - DavidHM
I used to be a PC World salesman and am typing this on one of their laptops.

At the moment they have a great deal - 15" screen, Celeron 2.0 GHz, 15" screen, 1 year warranty (upgradeable to 3/5 years including accidental damage, theft insurance for the first year, all parts and labour), 40 GB hard disk, 256 MB RAM, Word & WorksSuite, XP Home, for £899 including VAT. It has TV Out but only one headphone socket - I don't actually know of any with two sockets but maybe there are adaptors available. You would need to get a USB-serial (RS232) adaptor though - check to make sure that it's compatible.

The only downside is that it will be a desktop processor (so might not be that reliable) and will definitely go through batteries very quickly, although they are rechargeable. Therefore it's probably not ideal for in car use on long journeys - although, to be honest, not much is.

As for being something designed for off road use - I'm afraid that's too specialised for most people. Possibly the only option there would be to get a tablet PC, although they definitely won't have RS232 serial. However, it doesn't matter if the screen slams shut because they are all screen most of the time.

My advice to you would be to get a proper in car DVD player, which is only going to cost a few hundred quid, plus a standard laptop or tablet PC, and maybe a better navigation unit as well, such as an iPaq. I realise that it's going to come to the wrong side of £2k but I honestly can't think of anything that has the battery life and ruggedness you would need, and if it did, it would probably cost as much as three separate solutions.
What Laptop? - Dynamic Dave
I used to be a PC World salesman

Blimey DavidHM, I never in a million years would ever expect anyone to admit to that! :o)
What Laptop? - HF
Actually the words 'PC World' and 'salesman' are not are not good partners, in my recent experience.

We went to PC World a couple of weeks ago to get a PS2 (not a bad sale, for any salesperson in that area, I would have thought) - none in sight, so we asked a salesman. Answer, 'oh yeah we keep 'em upstairs (fair enough), you'll have to ask him over there'. Asked 'him over there'. Answer 'Oh yeah, we keep 'em upstairs but I don't have the keys - you'll have to ask her over there'. Finally located 'her over there', and after standing there like idiots whilst she finished off what she was doing, asked the question. Answer, 'oh yeah but they're upstairs etc etc etc'. If it had been up to me, I'd have walked out then, actually long before then. But it was the kids' money so I stayed the full course. And FINALLY got what we were after. But was left with the feeling that, although we were spending £170 in their store, and more once they'd bought games as well, the shop still felt like it was doing us a favour by actually lowering itself to serve us.
What Laptop? - HF
Quiet here tonight - are you all Scottish?
What Laptop? - SteveH42
Of course, if you'd gone in just wanting to browse you'd have been fighting the salesmen off with a stick...

I've vowed never to visit a PC World again after I was gripped by their security guard and quite pointedly told that I wasn't allowed to bring my bag in and would either have to get out or leave it behind the counter. When I did go to leave it, I was left standing for 5 minutes before anyone could be bothered to come and deal with it. What makes it worse is that there were no notices or anything saying bags weren't allowed and as this was before I got the car I had no option but to bring it in...

To answer some of the other points, you can quite cheaply buy a headphone splitter, either an adaptor or a cable so putting two pairs of headphones on will be no trouble. Most PC DVD replay is software based, and you can get a program called DVD Genie which will allow you to change the region setting to play all discs.
What Laptop? - CMark {P}
Hi DavidHM, thanks for your reply.

As regards battery life: can't these things run off a 12v DC power supply?

What Laptop? - DavidHM
Sorry if this is a long post, but...

With regard to PC World - go in there expecting them to be bad, and looking for a confrontation, and you will get one. Be polite, listen (they'll always do you a better deal if they have one, and you ask about it), do your research, and you'll have a much less stressful experience.

It's the same with car dealers; acknowledge that they have a margin to work to, that they have limited freedom to do a deal, and that if they can't do what you want it's nothing personal. You can always walk away. There are many people who expect everything apart from the PC (service, accesssories etc) to be free, and others who expect sales people to know every detail about a machine off the top of their heads, even when it's only been on display half an hour. These customers can't be won over, unfortunately.

The warranty is the big source of profit for them, but... a lot of the profit does come from the fact that they get labour cheaper than you do. If you go for a store deal (the one I suggested is web only) you might be able to get up to half the value of the warranty for free (if you include warranty in the freebies).

Say, for example, you want a laptop for £1199. The 5 year warranty on that is an extra £419. That should leave you with about £200 to play with, e.g., an all in one printer for £149 and a £65 warranty on that for 5 years. Of course, that's a bit pointless if you tend to replace your machine after 2 years.

The other thing is that sales people in PC World are very badly paid - £18k per year, even for a full timer with London weighting, is about the maximum. £13k is possible in the provinces. People expect a lot of knowledge for that money. Most are therefore only doing it on a temporary basis, to keep money coming in, or as a second job. They can also be very short staffed on a Saturday and, if there's a rush, you're going to queue. Sorry.

To answer HF's point - from selling a PS2 for £170, the salesperson will get nothing. Also, security is very tight and only a management person can carry the keys - except when they unofficially hand them to someone else. The sales person you spoke to has no way of getting the product, even if they want to. A lot of the time, a sales person will be running around getting stock for another customer and they will be at least as annoyed if someone else takes their place.

Steve - There are notices about the bag policy (at least there were in my store) but you shouldn't have been manhandled. Unfortunately, when they suspended the bag policy (after it annoyed a director) shoplifting went up by about 30% in some stores. Sales stayed the same.

Maybe I'm biased but I would use the store again, maybe because I know how to get the most out of them. I always compare prices online first though, but sometimes a ten minute journey across the river is easier than waiting for something to be delivered.
What Laptop? - SteveH42
The odd thing is, even considering the small margins PC World work on, you can still buy the stuff considerably cheaper from an independent...

It's probably 3 years since the incident I related, but I definitely remember looking on my way out and seeing there were no 'no bags' signs, and I recall checking a few weeks later when I was passing and still no signs, despite me complaining to their head office. (A complaint which seemingly got filed in the round cabinet...) I understand the need for the policy, but I'd rather have been informed of it before I was practically accused of being a shoplifter...
'Missing' CD drives - Oz
I have a wacky conundrum.
I have 2 CD drives, one being read only, the other a CD writer.
My 40 Gb hard drive is partitioned into two (Windows 98 and Windows XP), because I have an HP flat-bed scanner with no workable XP driver.
For some reason the two CD drives have 'disappeared' as far as W98 is concerned, although are 'present' and fully operational under XP.
Maybe I should re-install W98 - but how, if the W98 CD won't be found when put in the drive?
Alternatively, maybe I should re-start W98 with the CD drives electrically detached so that W98 can 'find' them again?
Anyone dealt with this kind of problem?

Oz (as was)
'Missing' CD drives - SteveH42
Easy and good practice anyway. Simply copy the contents of the Win98 CD to your hard drive under XP. You only need the setup files and the Win98 directory. You can even get rid of some of the CAB file. Having it on the HD makes it easier if you need the CD later on to install any drivers etc - you just point it at the HD copy.

As for finding them, an easy way is to restart in safe mode and see if there are any obvious problems in the Control Panel / System list. Typically you'll find it's either found them twice or found something else multiple times which is confusing it.
'Missing' CD drives - SteveH42
Right, I've mentioned this problem to a chap at work who knows a lot more than I do about the workings of Windows, and his response was worrying to say the least...

Apparently Windows XP actually reprograms your CD drives and this makes them incompatible with any other operating system, including earlier versions of Windows. I'm sure I'm not the only one to be horrified at the prospect of Microsoft messing with my hardward and rendering it useless with anything but their OS.

So, it appears the answer is that there is no way to get your drives back under 98, and even buying a new drive will not work as XP will automatically modify that as well....
'Missing' CD drives - Oz
Steve, Thanks for your efforts. Although I had thought that a partitioned drive would behave as if it were two different entities? in my case C and D.
This means I really need to use a software such as Partition Magic to remove the Windows 98 partition. Or use a separate PC for W98 and the scanner!
I probably won't be able to run my HP 3200C scanner under XP, because despite what HP say, I have never been able to get their latest offering as a driver for this combination (web site download) to work. I'll re-check.
Oz (as was)
'Missing' CD drives - SteveH42
It doesn't matter - Windows XP has actually altered the software in your CD drives so (if this information is true) they will never work on a non-XP system again.

Is there any reason you couldn't keep a small 98 partition for scanning and do your normal work under XP? Do you actually need the CD when scanning?
'Missing' CD drives - Tom Shaw

Are you sure this is true? I wasn't even aware a CD drive contained software, I assumed it was strictly a piece of hardware controlled by the software on the PC. If your workmate really is a computer expert I wouldn't argue with him, but it does sound a bit far fetched.
'Missing' CD drives - SteveH42
Not at all, Tom, the only thing that I find a bit unbelievable about it is that they went to the trouble of writing new firmware for all the available devices on the market - at least I assume this how they would have had to work it - I don't know if CDs have a 'standard' part of firmware that can be altered in a standard way, or if they would have to get the code off every drive manufacturer and alter it...

You'll find that an awful lot of devices contain software these days. With the rising complexity of systems and the high cost of implementing ASICs, it is easier for many circuits to use a microcontroller (in effect a basic computer) to operate the device. As Flash memory is now fairly cheap it has also become common to have a facility to update the software these microcontrollers run as an alternative to having to replace a ROM chip if an upgrade or bug fix is required.

I've been told there is more information about this out there on the net so I'll try and find it, for my own piece of mind as well as for your information!
'Missing' CD drives - smokie
There's NO WAY XP has altered anything in the drives to make them unusable with other operating systems. NO WAY!

CD drives contain firmware, which is often on an erasable piece of hardware within the device (an EPROM). It's called firmware because it's not just hardware and it's not just software (in layman's terms!). The firmware controls the device itself, and the interface to it.

Firmware can often be replaced in a device by a software program. For instance, DVD drives can often have their regional protection removed by replacing the firmware. Firmware causes the device to broadcast it's manufacturing information so that programs like Windows Anything can identify it when required.

Depending on the device, Windows will then assign a Driver to operate that device. There are many many drivers for all kinds of device in Windows, and each release of Windows gets better at recognising devices and providing "native" support to some degree (i.e. not having to load manufacturers driver from CD). However sometimes Windows has to assign a generic device driver which will give basic operation of the device, but not necessarily support all the features available.

(For instance, I have a HP OfficeJet 1170C which I use on a network. When I configure it for "other" computers I had to configure it as a different model, a 550C. It still prints fine but the Options panel in the print dialogue is that for 550C. Hence some capability is missing.)

Microsoft would be taking huge risks if it rewrote firmware. It is ALWAYS a risky operation, as if it goes wrong it will often render the device completely inoperable. So, one more time, there is NO WAY that the operating system has altered any software within the device.

'Missing' CD drives - SteveH42
I agree that it is certainly unlikely, but it is certainly technically possible. You could do something as simple as read in the firmware, search for the ID string and alter it so that the drive will still be recognised by XP but not by anything else.

What I am wondering is why? The only thing I can think is to stop people returning to an older version of the OS or to something like Linux.

The person who gave me this gen is usually reliable, but I can't find anything about it myself, so I agree we should regard it wish suspicion...
'Missing' CD drives - teabelly
If this is the case the M$ should be sued for damages as I don't see how they should be allowed to alter firmware without express permission and without damaging other os installations. Trouble is they have now had it written in all their licence agreements that they can install what ever they choose on your pc without you even knowing about it. That's why I use linux :-)
'Missing' CD drives - smokie

At computer start up do whatever key combination you have to do to get into the system settings, and check that both the drives are visible there. (They should be, if they are working OK in XP).

Did you re-install Windows 98 at some stage? How did you get XP and Windows 98 partitions? How do you tell the system which one to boot from?

In 98 you could try going to Control panel and use the Add New Hardware selection which will cause it to re-scan which may then find the drives. Steve is also correct, you could copy the Win98 CD onto your hard drive (under XP) but that doesn't solve the problem of having no CD drives in Win98.
'Missing' CD drives - No Do$h
On a related issue, I installed a new CD-RW on a mates pc at the weekend. I slaved it on the same IDE as the CD-reader and set the jumpers correctly. He's running W98 with a PIII 733 / 128mb. (Yeah, I know, next job is to give him a memory upgrade.)

The drive has been recognised correctly as a slave drive by the OS and will happily read disks. It point-blank refuses to recognise any blank CD-R that is placed in it (please insert disk message) and has only recognised 1 in 3 blank CD-RW. It refuses to write even on this one disk. I installed the Nero 5 software that came with it and have never had a problem with this software on my pc (2xPIII 500 AGP 512mb)using XP.

Am I looking at a faulty CD-RW, a software conflict or am I missing something here?

No Dosh - no clue either right now.
What Laptop? - HF
Steve and David, I guess you both have valid replies to my post -thank you.

The bag issue, Steve, sounds crazy to me!!

But David, we went in most courteously, I wouldn't dream of acting otherwise anywhere.

We were not treated courteously, we were made to feel that our business didn't matter - which maybe it doesn't to such a big company - and I'd certainly go elsewhere in future, given the choice.
What Laptop? - DavidHM
HF - I agree that you were treated badly. Unfortunately, the way the company is structured means that it probably wasn't the individual sales person's fault. The company doesn't particularly mind as games, though the margin is massive, don't make up a huge portion of their business. In the end, you get the feeling that, perhaps because of the money they pay, they don't attract people who are there for their careers, and therefore they don't generally have the chance to earn the company's trust.

As for margin: on big ticket items, they are fairly tight, but the £13.99 printer cable they sell you can be had for 70p online, plus a little bit of postage of course.
What Laptop? - HF
Understand what you mean, David, I kow sales staff are often treated pretty badly, which is why I always love it when one comes across as helpful and caring and actually wanting to serve you! Rare, but it's wonderful when you find one!

I don't blame the individuals, just the company, and I take all your points on board.

As for profit margins - really???!!! Must browse online more.....
What Laptop? - Alfafan {P}
Probably a very basic question. I bought a no-name laptop about 4 years ago and eventually the battery failed to hold a charge. I didn't use it as a portable, but kept it permanently plugged in on my desk. The chap I asked to look at it said that keeping it plugged in wrecked the battery.

I decided to replace the machine with a new Toshiba Satellite a couple of months ago. I was told by our IT guy at work that keeping it plugged in wasn't a problem. After all the laptops at work are plugged into the docking stations all the time.

There's nothing in the manual either way. Question is do modern batteries suffer or not? Dhiuld I only plug it in when the battery runs down or is it OK to leave it plugged in all the time?

Thanks in advance
What Laptop? - Dynamic Dave

I suspect the battery on your previous laptop was a Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cad) type. These were prone to whats called "Momory Effect" if they weren't discharged fully before recharging. The batteries on the market now, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) don't suffer the "memeory effect" and also have a higher capacity than the old Ni-Cad batteries.
What Laptop? - Dynamic Dave
The batteries on the market now, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) >> and Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)...

To finish my sentence, and can be charged at any given point, without having to fully discharge them first. However, mob phone manuals suggest not leaving them on constantly on charge for more than a few days at a time. Not sure about laptops.
What Laptop? - SteveH42
Memory might be one problem, another might be the charge algorithm. It can be difficult to detect when to go in to float charge mode and what voltage is safe to use. Some chargers go OTT and effectively bake the battery which harms it's life. Newer ones should be OK though. Do you realise BTW you can get replacement laptop batteries fairly cheaply?
What Laptop? - Mark (RLBS)
And lets be honest, a \"Momory\" effect is bad enough, but if it degenerates into a \"memeory\" effect, then anything could happen.
What Laptop? - CMark {P}
at least it wasn't a "mammary" effect!

(now, what was I doing?...)
What Laptop? - Dynamic Dave
a \"Momory\" effect is bad enough....

lol, did I really type that? It's not as if the "e" and the "o" are next to one another on the keyboard either.
What Laptop? - BrianW
Another possibility that strikes me is that if you ran it on a mains adaptor for four years and never used the batteries, these would slowly lose charge and deteriorate.

Still learning (I hope)
Epilogue - Rebecca {P}
Remember my dodgy iron?

Forgot to report that Argos took it back without a word (no box but with receipt) and gave a full refund, no questions asked.

Have since heard of others reporting similar problems with the same brand, so have decided to try another make this time.

No more excuses for me then...

My next question (satellite TV) - Rebecca {P}
Does anyone here have satellite TV and receives the 'proper' TV channels from other countries? By this I mean, say for French TV, TF1, A2, FR3, la cinq (or whatever they're called these days) NOT channels like TV5 which are included in bundles from Sky etc.

I know a few of us on here have spouses/partners from overseas, so maybe you know what you need to do this, how much, where from etc?

My particular interest is French TV. I bought a copy of 'What satellite' or whatever it was called, but I'm still none the wiser!

As ever, all help is appreciated!
My next question (laptops) - lauriew
I bought a brandnew laptop confuser at Christmas (Dell),running XP. Everything works OK, except that: If I try to connect to Web using built-in battery, it will not connect. If I switch to mains there are no probs. If I use mains, connect OK then switch to battery, screen locks up.Battery monitor shows 100% charge.
Is this a fault or wot?

My next question (laptops) - smokie
Best person to ask is Dell support if the laptop is still under warranty. Don't fiddle with anything unless they have told you to do so, as you may invalidate warranty.

Their web pages are quite good, and there is a forum where you can post questions ( delltalk.us.dell.com/supportforums). Have a browse there, but you must get free calls to their support centre for the first year, so use 'em!

There are similar problems already reported on the forum (see delltalk.us.dell.com/supportforums/board/message?b...2) but I can't see a resolution.

btw you'll need a modem to connect to the web, not a battery :-)
My next question (laptops) - lauriew
Thank you Smokie, for you reply. I will take your advice.
My next question (satellite TV) - Tom Shaw
With the older anologue systems I believe it was possible to tune into foreign stations, but with the digital receivers all you can get is what is provided in your contract package.
My next question (satellite TV) - Mark (RLBS)
ooh, ooh, I know this one !!

I had to investigate this to get Adriana spanish speaking channels.

Go to your local satellite & radio shop. Not anything like Dixons or the like.

Generally a fairly small, grubby shop at the wrong end of the shopping area.

They can supply you a motorised dish which will pick up virtually anything you need. They will also have a list of the coordinates of the various satellites and they can be programmed in. It will then select the satellites and move the dish automatically.

I\'ve got the prices somewhere, but it wasn\'t that much. Although it does tend to expnd to fit the availbe purse. The bigger problem is having somewhere to site the dish - it ain\'t all that small !

If there are encrypted channels that you wish to receive, then using an address in that country, subscribe to the relevant service and then ship the box across and plug into the satellite here.

If there is a specific satellite you wish to watch programs from, then you don\'t need a motorised dish since you can mount an ordinary one, although it is larger than a Sky dish and then follow the subscription route above. Much cheaper but a bit of a pig to aim correctly.

The dish from the home country is nto likely to work since you will probably be at least at the weakest edge of the footprint if not almost out of it and therefore require a larger dish.

Clear enough ?

If you tell me what area you are in, I may be able to let you know such a shop. By all means e-mail if you prefer.

Or ring up someone in the yellow pages who actually install satellite dishes. They may well not be able to help themselves, but they will be able to recommend a shop that can - that\'s what I did.
My next question (satellite TV) - Rebecca {P}
Thanks Mark.

So I need to find out if all the channels I want come from the same satellite - if so I can have an ordinary (but big) dish? Do you know what other kit is required?

I live in Hampshire, so not a million miles from France, but probably far enough to need the bigger dish.

A glance at neighbouring houses shows me that everyone has their satellite dishes on the same side of their house - we have a perfect empty wall on that side that is not overlooked, so I am confident we have somewhere to site it.

I called a couple of companies from the YP and both have advised different shopping lists of equipment costing the best part of £1000 - hence my confusion. I know from previous posts that you are sometimes in the Solent area, so do you know any reputable places round here?

I'm hoping to sort this out soon - would make a great birthday present for HWHE (he who has everything).
My next question (satellite TV) - Mark (RLBS)
How long do we have before his Birthday to sort it out ?

Everybody has their satellite pointing in the same direction because they are all pointing at the Astra Satellite. You may or may not need to point at Astra (probably not) and so you will not be aiming yours in the same direction - although it may not be *that* different.

1000 quid sounds like the motorised jobby.

If I were you I would contact someone in France and find out what the satellite offerings are their. Find out which Satellite it is on, e.g. Sky = Astra. If you can find out its location and footprint, I can probably do these last two for you.

Having done that, then go to an appropriate shop and explain to them that you will have a subscribed service from France to satellite x and you need a larger dish to point at it.

Shouldn't be too expensive, although a lot does depend on the footprint.

It is conceivable that the footprint is sufficiently large/strong for the french dish to work, but you'll need to work out which service you need before we can tell that.

I can perhaps find someone in Southampton, is that close enough ?
My next question (satellite TV) - Rebecca {P}
21st Feb and counting.

I will see what I can find out about the French satellite. Everyone I have spoken to so far agrees that it doesn't come from Astra, but no suggestions as to where it does come from.

Southampton is perfect if you know of someone there, that would be very helpful.

Thanks again - will switch all this to email from here.
My next question (satellite TV) - No Do$h

TV5 has recently been added to Sky Digital it that's any help.

Had a dig around on Google and found references to French channels being broadcast on Eutelsat Eurobird and Astra 1e.

No Dosh
No Dosh ** Quick, talk motoring, Mark's coming! **
The red new marker. - Dwight Van Driver
Used to be on bringing up the Forum a red new marker appeared on threads I had not seen before and after viewing the marker disappeared.

Couple of days ago I downloads Windows updates (Internet explorer package).

Since then the red new marker does not disappear after reading the thread and I can only get rid of it if using the deleter at the top of the page at the end of a session.

Any suggestions.

I dont use IE only AOL.

The red new marker. - CMark {P}
I also just did a whole lot of Windows, OE and IE upgrades and the red markers are still there as normal (and very handy they are too).
I am on OE6 and IE6 and Win98. I use IE to view the BR (so this info is probably only limited use).

The red new marker. - wemyss
DVD I have had this also. A while ago I downloaded OE6 and IE6 and I'm not sure if this started then or not.
I have wondered if this occurs when you have multiple web pages open at the same time.
However this problem dosn't appear to be constant and some days it shows all new ones and another time not.
Not much help really and reminds me of the old one about telling the Doctor your symptoms and him replying "if you find out what's causing them let me know cause I've got exactly the same".
The red new marker. - smokie
Did you answer any quesitons about how cookies should be handled, or barring your computer from using them? I believe the Read markers are managed using cookies, which are files held on your computer. Later versions of browsers give you more control over how you allow websites to manipulate these files (i.e. Allow cookies/block cookies) and if you chose an option which prohibited the HJ website from writing to your cookies then maybe it can't update to show which threads are read and which are not correctly.

Sorry it's a bit vague, but that's the gist of how it works.
The red new marker. - wemyss
I think you hit the mark there smokie as I do recall reading a lot about cookies at this time. It gave a list of options with what cookies do and which option was most likely to be safer than others to be allowed to be downloaded.
Apparently there are good cookies and unsatisfactory ones and the user makes the choice which type to accept.
Incidentally I have thousands of these some with expiry dates years ahead and occasionaly delete some of them.
Is it good policy to get rid ot them?.
The red new marker. - Phil I
>is it good policy to get rid of them.:

Most of them are harmless idiot things, some information gatherers, the useful ones are those from sites like HJ and your other Bank and Newspaper sites. If you delete those you will be in a position where you will have to log in with your details everytime you go there. So Maxim is :- Delete everything you don't recognise and set your Browser to advise Cookies coming on board - if you don't like the look of them don't accept. Most browsers have some provision for filtering so you have a large degree of control over what the information gatherers can get their sticky hands on.

Happy Motoring Phil I
The red new marker. - wemyss
Thanks Phil a thousand or two will be going tonight.
The red new marker. - Dwight Van Driver


From the above this morning I cleaned out all my cookies.
Guess what, I found that I couldn't log in to the site. Spent all afternoon re-installing Windows ME and all is nearly back to normal.

As they say if it aint broke don't fix it

The red new marker. - smokie
I'd tend to agree with DVD. Cookies store a lot of useful info about your logins, preferences and even layouts of particular websites. If you only use respectable websites then you have little to fear from them.

I have Internet Explorer set so that it prompts me whenever a site tries to load a cookie. You can select to accept that one, or all from that site, or decline. Then, if I go to a site I am unlikely to revisit, I can decline the cookies. Conversely if I know I have found a useful site, I will accept the cookie. Initially it can slow down surfing but if you tend to hang around the same sites then the problem lessens with time.

You can browse and manage cookies on your computers by going into internet tools/options/settings/view files - not all files listed are cookies, and you can see that this is one of the "hidden histories" of where you have been. There are also products to help you manage cookies, but I am not familiar with them at all.
The red new marker. - Phil I
DVD I didn't say "clean out ALL cookies" only those Alvin could not recognise.

Happy deleting Phil I

Ps Time you seriously thought about giving MS and all its atrocities the heave ho.
The red new marker. - SteveH42
Getting rid of *all* cookies cannot harm your machine - after all, they weren't there when you first installed your browser. The only thing you will lose in any personalisation information - for example, you'll need to remember your username and password the next time you log in to here to post. However, the advice to only delete what looks wrong is good as there is no need to delete things you need just for the sake of it.

As for giving MS the heave-ho, I wish it was as easy as it sounds. I'm finding an increasing number of websites have serious issues with non-IE browsers and there are even a few I have come across that embed code that intentionally triggers a glitch in Flash for Mozilla, causing a system crash... A complaint about a non-working website usually results in being told to use IE and shut up as they can't be bothered to make it work on other systems.
The red new marker. - smokie
SteveH - what interesting views you have.

If you were to get rid of things just because they were not there when you first installed your machine, then the machine wouldn't be a lot of use! That's like when I used to be in tech support, and a user reported a problem getting a program to run - "don't run the program then".

Why would you want to give MS the heave-ho? I suppose that's a fashionable thing to say, but realistically for ease-of-use and compatible operating systems and system software, MS rules the roost. How many non-techies would use Linux on their machine???

I'm dubious that any website designer would want to deliberately introduce a flaw into his site just because you were not running IE. Maybe Flash or other products have compatibility issues with some browsers, or the browsers themselves have compatability problems with the industry standards in places.

Regarding browsers that website designers "can't be bothered to make work on other systems"

Like it or not, Microsoft has, with IE, led the way. Also, usually (not always) MS products are fully compliant with industry standards. Despite this, and the widespread use of its software around the globe, MS suffers incredible criticism. Not many companies are as successful these days (and they only have around 32000 employees).

Anyway, to get to the point, website designers are not going to bother trying to cater for each and every quirky browser which someone may want to run. As in most industries, they are going to aim to satisfy 75% of the market, as to satisfy the remaining 25% would just take disproportionate amounts of resource. This becomes a very special consideration when, as in the case of this fine website, the site is making no revenue from it's operation.

The red new marker. - Mark (RLBS)
If you were to get rid of things just because they
were not there when you first installed your machine, then the
machine wouldn't be a lot of use!

No, but to be fair he was talking about cookies and I regularily delete every cookie on my laptop.
The red new marker. - teabelly
Have you tried opera? That can identify itself as most of the other browsers and fools most websites into being ok. It can use all your mozilla plug ins so flash should work too. The best thing about opera is that it is w3c standards compliant so you should complain to the web master about their lack of standards rather than compatability. There are also a few good online html checkers that would probably throw up lots of errors when their site was passed through it. If you wanted to be completely mean you could check whether engineering a mistake in an html page which would cause problems for the end users was in breach of the computer misuse act as they could lose data during a system crash.

I have stopped using M$ altogether. If the website doesn't work in any of my browsers then I don't go there! There seems to be quite a ground swell against M$ at the moment so I reckon alternatives will start to be better supported in the near future anyway.
I have a question. Volume 4 - Mark (RLBS)
Pulling the volumes together
I have a question. Volume 4 - Mark (RLBS)
pulling the volumes together

Value my car