Every other week or so, FOXNews.com tries to solve your most vexing technology-related problems. Send your questions to TechQuestions@foxnews.com and we'll reply to selected ones in our next installment.
Q: I just managed to accidentally delete my entire My Pictures directory. I know the operating system removes the first letter of the file names, but I was wondering if it's possible to recover the hundreds of lost pictures. I've heard varying opinions.
A: The term "deleted" is not completely accurate in a Windows environment. What happens is more along the lines of removing filenames from the table of contents and marking the space where the files reside as "available."
But the data is still there, so it's possible to recover any sort of file, pictures included. You have to act quickly, however.
The more time passes, the more likely some new file will be written in the same physical location where the deleted file resided — because Windows thinks the space is available — and then the picture is lost and unrecoverable.
There are several great tools for recovering deleted files, but the easiest to use is probably Restoration. You can find a link to the file, along with a tutorial for recovering files, on Jake Ludington's blog.
As an added bonus, Restoration is free. Free, as in "beer."
Is the Good Humor Man a Sundae Driver?
Q: I have a new Dell laptop running Vista. My problem is that the network connection (Intel PRO/Wireless) stopped working because it could not load the drivers (error code 31).
I tried downloading new drivers, but the drivers are fine. The system cannot load what I do have.
I think it's a problem in the registry, but how do I fix this? I'd rather not have to download software or take it into a shop. I'd love to be able to fix this myself and be wireless again!
A: There is not much information out there about this problem, so we'll probably have to try a few things until we find the root cause.
The first thing you should try is the tried-and-true process of removing the device and letting it reinstall itself.
Bring up the Device Manager, expand the "Network adaptors" entry, right-click on the Intel PRO wireless entry and choose "Uninstall." In theory, this should take care of any spurious registry entries.
Then reboot. The system will see the wireless network interface card as a new device and install it with the new drivers you downloaded (assuming you actually installed the new drivers after downloading them).
The final step is to go to the Network Connections window and right click on the "Wireless Network Connection" icon.
Scroll down to "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)," then right-click there and choose "Properties."
You'll want to uncheck anything to do with IPv6 or Netware. Click on "Accept."
Let us know if this solves the problem.
See Ya Later, Gladiator
Q: I bought an HP DVD record/play external drive for my HP computer. The included Nero software never did work well.
After 6 months and constant e-mails back and forth to Germany, they advised me to wipe the Nero software that came on the CD and download theirs directly.
I did, and the download (three MB through a DSL connection) took several hours. After getting it up and running, I could record DVDs for a few days — and then the software told me my "trial" period was over.
I e-mailed Nero again, and they told me that even though I supposedly had the OEM [pre-installed] software bundle, Best Buy (where I bought the drive) only paid for 30 days of DVD burning.
Best Buy denies this. But if I wanted to use Nero to burn DVDs, I would have to upgrade for about $90.
Needless to say, I refuse to do so. Are there any free programs that will burn DVD-Rs, or will I have to buy software (definitely NOT Nero)?
If it could do Lightscribe that would be helpful, too, as this is a Lightscribe-enabled drive.
A: The friendly folks over at the Lifehacker website (http://www.lifehacker.com) regularly poll their readers on various subjects. Recently they asked for "favorite replacements for paid tools" and wrote the following about the readers' favorite Nero replacement:
If you bought your computer new, there's a good chance it came bundled free with a CD or DVD recording package, like Nero. There's also a good chance that the package has its advance features disabled, or that it's designed to constantly run in the background, force a "media player" into your file associations and generally run roughshod over your system preferences. The free software package CDBurnerXP has what you want and nothing you don't to back up, rip, and burn CDs and DVDs in Windows.
CDBurnerXP can be found at http://canneverbe.com/. A short tutorial for using the product with Lightscribe can be found at http://cdburnerxp.se/help/kb:5. It involves downloading and installing the necessary drivers.
Windows XP Deathwatch, Mk. IV
Noting that "Windows XP is proving harder to kill than a Halloween vampire," the Information Week Web site announced that Microsoft has extended, until July 31, 2009, the period in which it will make XP available for PC makers' downgrade programs.
You can catch the entire article here.
Meanwhile, if your company is considering the strategy of skipping Vista entirely and going straight to Windows 7, you might want to take a look at Adrian Kingsley-Hughes' blog over at ZDNet.
Please take the time to go to the polls and vote next Tuesday. For all of you newly-minted voters, who may not know where to cast your ballots, Google has added a new map layer that shows you exactly where to go. Just enter your home address here.
Guy R. Briggs is a member of the Nerds On Site international IT service team and is based in Los Angeles.
Got questions about computers and technology? Send them to TechQuestions@foxnews.com and we'll answer selected ones in our next installment.
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