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.

It’s Not a Bug, It’s an Undocumented Program Feature!

Q: I have a system running Windows Vista 64 Bit.

Every time I switch users, the network adapter stops responding and I have to go into device manager, disable them and enable the network adapter to get it to work.

Any idea why?

A: Sounds like a driver issue to me. The first thing you should do is make sure that you have the latest driver for your NIC card (or wireless adapter) from the manufacturer’s Web site.

If that fails to correct the issue, one of the forums at TechRepulic.com suggests that this behavior is actually a security feature – which can be corrected with a simple registry modification.

Yes, I understand that some people think “simple” and “registry modification” do not belong in the same sentence.

Be that as it may, open the Registry Editor, and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon. Look for an entry there named “KeepRasConnections.” Create a new Chain Value for it and set its value to 1.

As always, make sure that you back up your registry before you modify it.

I Want to Watch Hannity on my PC!

Q: I have a Comcast HD-DVR and a Gateway LX6810-01 computer. My LCD TV has only 1 HDMI port (which is being used by the PC). I would like to know what would be the best way to get the data (shows/movies) from the hard-drive on the HD-DVR to my PC?

The PC does have an RCA port, but I believe that this might only allow a 1:1 converting ratio (meaning it would have to be in real time). The HD-DVR does have a USB port, but I believe that it is inactive (useless to me!). I am tired of running out of space on my DVR and would like to store some shows/movies on my PC hard-drive or external 2 TB hard-drive. Please let me know what would be the best (and hopefully fastest) way of doing this.

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A: There are two methods of accomplishing this. You can either capture the live video being sent from the DVR (as it plays), or transfer the file from the hard drive of the DVR to the hard drive of the PC (after it’s finished recording).

The latter is the method preferred by TiVo, but it requires that the TiVo be one of the systems on the local area network (LAN). It uses a compatible wireless network adapter – which is what the USB port is for – to make the LAN connection. It also requires special software available from TiVo. It makes it the transfer of programs from TiVo to PC as simple as transferring files from one network-connected PC to another. Very large files. A one-hour program, in standard definition, takes up about 2Gbytes.

Unfortunately, Comcast does not have a similar feature.

Capturing live video is problematic, as it requires additional hardware. The VGA and HDMI outputs on the back of your system are more about displaying the PC desktop on a monitor or projector. The composite connection on the front of your PC might work, with the appropriate capture software, but you won’t get the picture quality you’re expecting.

I’ve had pretty good luck with solutions from Hauppauge (www.Hauppauge.com.) Their HD PVR product takes HD video from your set top box on component cables (red, green and blue RCA jacks) and feeds it to your PC via a USB port.

It includes the video capture software you’ll need and a remote control; lists for around $250.

Don’t Want a Relapse of Empty Nest

Q: My daughter is headed back for her sophomore year at college. Her freshman year she called home a grand total of ... what, three times? I’m not looking forward to a relapse of empty-nest syndrome again.

What can I do this year to make sure I can stay in touch better?

A: While it may not seem like as good a solution as the old-fashioned person-to-person telephone call, I would learn to communicate more like she does – and use the tech tools she’s already using. She is probably online all the time and, even more than that, checking the web from her smartphone.

A quick “I love u” sent as a text message to her cell phone, or as an instant message while she’s online, lets her know you’re thinking about her without making it seem (to her peers) like you’re checking up on her. If she knows you can communicate that way, it won’t be long before she will be sending her own cyber-bons mots – and what parent wouldn’t like the occasional “thinking of you” or “I miss you” from their child?

Most instant messaging programs have a feature where they can indicate when they’re studying or otherwise unavailable.

Another solution would be VoIP call, complete with video. Skype is famous for this, and I’ve used it on several occasions, with good results, to communicate with my son and his wife in New York. You will need a Web cam if your system is not already so equipped.

You may want to consider signing up for a free Google account. In addition to regular e-mail, they have a video chat client (like Skype,) a program called Picasa (for sharing family photos and video updates), a calendar function (for letting them know about family events or visits to her), and you can even help her proofread her papers from afar with Google Docs, if you are so inclined.

One account does it all.


Regarding my response about upgrading from Windows 7 Release Candidate to Windows 7, Lewis in Alabama writes:

I believe there is one simple and perfectly legal option you missed in your explanation. This person legally owns a copy of Vista and the unlock key is on the “Genuine Windows” sticker affixed to the side of the laptop. When you purchase a copy of Windows, what you are actually buying is the right to use a copy of it on one machine and this is done with the key. The simple, legal and free way for him to accomplish the goal is 1) Purchase the upgrade Windows 7 disc 2) Borrow a Vista disc from a friend and use the legally purchased key from his sticker to install Vista 3) Perform the Windows 7 upgrade. It won’t really matter if all of the drivers are not there, Windows 7 comes with enough drivers to get the machine running and get the network adapter working. From that point it will download and install the proper drivers from the Windows Update website.

Certainly that was the definitive way to do it with earlier versions of Windows. If the installer didn’t find a valid copy installed on the hard drive, it would prompt for the installation CD. Sadly, too many people found that they could stiff Microsoft for the difference between full retail and upgrade prices by “borrowing” the installation CD from a “friend.”

That’s why Vista looks for a qualifying version of Windows already installed before they will permit the upgrade. From the Microsoft website:

“Effective June 1, 2010, Windows 7 RC will expire.

“To continue using your computer, you should prepare to install the retail release version of Windows 7 or install an earlier version of Windows before the June 1, 2010 expiration date. You will be unable to upgrade from Windows 7 RC to the retail release version of Windows 7.”

Got questions about computers and technology? Sent them to TechQuestions@foxnews.com and we’ll answer selected ones in our next installment

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