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Monday, 17 December 2012

How to add an Internet Explorer icon to the Desktop

1. Right click in a blank space on the desktop. From the menu that appears, point to New, then click on Shortcut.

2. In the new window that appears, type in "%programfiles%\internet explorer\iexplore.exe" (including the quotes) then click on Next.

3. On the next screen, delete the text in the Type a name for this shortcut box and replace it with Internet Explorer, then click on Finish.

4. The Internet Explorer icon should now be back on the desktop. It can be moved by clicking and dragging with the left mouse button.

How to use System Restore (Windows Vista)

1. Click on the Start circle in the bottom left corner of the screen. From the menu that appears, click on All Programs. Click on Accessories, then click on System Tools. Finally, click on System Restore. If a warning message appears, click on Continue.

2. Click on the Next button to begin the process.

3. Click on a date and time to restore the computer back to, then click Next. I would recommend clicking on a date at least a day before the problem started. If no such date is listed, look for a Show more restore points tick box in the lower left corner of the window.

4. Click on Finish to complete the wizard and begin the restoration process. The computer will shut down, restore the computer to its condition on the date chosen, then restart.

How to Check and Repair a Hard Drive (Windows Vista)

1. Click on the Start circle in the bottom left corner of the screen. From the menu that appears, click on Computer.

2. Right click on the icon for the C: drive (often called Local Disk C:). From the menu that appears, left click on Properties.

3. Click on the Tools tab at the top of the window that appears, then click on Check Now. Click on Continue if a warning message appears.

4. Tick the boxes marked Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors, then click on Start.

5. In the message window that appears, click on Schedule disk check.

6. Restart the computer by clicking on the Start circle in the bottom left corner of the screen, pointing to the arrow on the bottom right corner of the menu that appears, then clicking Restart.
The computer will turn off and on again. As part of the startup process, the hard drive will be checked.

  • This process can take several hours to complete, and the computer cannot be used during the check.
  • The check should complete five stages. If it only completes three, or finishes very quickly, it has not run properly. Repeat the steps above, as sometimes it can take a few attempts before it starts a full scan.
  • If the process appears to hang for more than three hours, there could be a major fault with the hard drive or other system component. In this case it is recommended that the computer be turned off manually by pressing and holding the power button for ten seconds and then be checked by a technician.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

How to fix Product Information Not Valid error on HP G62-A19SA

I recently replaced the motherboard on an HP G62-A19SA laptop (part number 597674-001). Whilst the new motherboard worked correctly, every time the machine was started an error would appear during POST, and it could not be removed by clearing the CMOS or updating the BIOS. The error stated:

System Board OOA Product Information Not Valid
Product Name
Serial number
Product Number
For help go to

There is a very useful thread about the problem here:

After a lot of trial and error, I was able to resolve the problem and get rid of the message with the following process:

PART 1: Create a bootable USB memory stick.

  1. Download rufus_v1.2.0.exe from
  2. Insert a USB memory stick (make sure it does not contain required data as it will be cleared) and run the rufus_v1.2.0.exe program.
  3. Make sure the correct memory stick is selected under the Device heading
  4. Make sure Quick Format and Create a bootable disk using: are ticked and select MS-DOS from the drop down menu to the right.
  5. Click on Start, acknowledge the warning and click on OK.
  6. Close Rufus by clicking the cross in the top right corner of the window.
Rufus was very useful for creating a bootable memory stick

PART 2: Download and extract the utility for reprogramming the system information in HP laptops.
  1. Download the file HPDU.rar. There are probably various sources for this online but one that I found worked is: Updated link
  2. Extract the file using WinRar. If this software is not yet installed it can be downloaded from To extract the file, right click on HPDU.rar and then click on Extract to HPDU\.
  3. Double click on the HPDU folder and if necessary double click on it again. A list of files and folders should appear.
Files extracted from the RAR file

PART 3: Edit a batch file (this was necessary for the G62-A19SA laptop I was working with)

It seems that HP laptops (or at least the motherboards that are installed in) are made by different companies such as Quanta, Compal and Foxconn. These core manufacturers each require a different tool to update the system information that is necessary to get rid of the error. The file NbDmiFit.bat that is supposed to be run to start the process contains a typing error that prevents it running on a Foxconn based machine. As the G62-A19SA is Foxconn based, I had to manually edit this file to make it work:
  1. Right click on NbDmiFit.bat and from the menu that appears, click on Edit.
  2. Alter the line: Set     Foxconn_Uti_Name=HPBFO230.exe so that it reads Set     Foxconn_Uti_Name=HPBFO300.exe
  3. Save and exit the file.
Editing the batch file

PART 4: Copy the files to the memory stick
  1. Use the CTRL + A key combination to highlight all the files in the HPDU folder.
  2. Right click on any of the files, point to Send To and click on the icon for the memory stick (in my case this was drive G).
  3. Remove the memory stick and shut down the HP laptop if it is currently running.

PART 5: Update the information on the laptop and clear the error.
  1. Remove the battery from the laptop and record all the information to be found. This includes all product names, numbers and other codes. These will be required when updating the information using the utility on the memory stick.
  2. Reinsert the battery and insert the memory stick into the laptop before switching it on.
  3. A black DOS screen should appear. If Windows starts the load as normal, the boot order needs to be changed to allow the laptop to start from the memory stick. There is information on how to do this here:
  4. Once at the DOS prompt, type in nbdmifit.bat and press enter.
  5. Fill in all the information as prompted. If you are missing anything, check the very helpful post by kicker22004 on the HP forum link above (message 11).
After saving and rebooting, the error should now be cleared.

How to play Around the World in 40 Screens on Windows XP

I was recently asked by a friend how he could play the game Around the World in 40 screens on his five year old Windows XP laptop. My initial reaction was that this was not possible, since the game was originally only released for the BBC Micro and never ported to the PC.

After some googling, the situation changed. It seemed that with the right software and a copy of the code transcribed from the original BBC 5.25" floppy disk, there was a chance that the game could be played on a much newer machine.

The first thing needed was an 'emulator'. This is a special program that makes a modern PC look and feel like a completely different system. In this case I needed to find a program that could emulate the Acorn BBC Micro, a machine still common in schools until the mid '90s.

After a quick search, I found a program that did exactly this. It is called 'BeebEm' and is freely downloadable from

BeebEm is easy to install and has an intuitive interface. On starting the main screen is transformed into a very convincing impression of a BBC Model B, complete with initializing 'beep'!

The virtual command line works just like the real one, so it really is like sitting in front of a BBC computer. In fact, the emulator even incorporates recordings of a working floppy drive that are played whenever a disk access command is used. The program initially launches within a window but can be made to fill the screen with the ALT + ENTER key combination.

BeebEm in its default state
With BeebEm installed and functioning, it was time to find a game to use it with. I found there are many websites offering game downloads in the form of 'ROMs'. a ROM is file containing a complete replica of an original disk or tape that can be used in conjunction with the emulator. I am not sure what the legal position of ROMs are, but it would make sense that you should only download what you have a license to use.

It wasn't long before I found the website Emuparise - which offered a ROM of Around the World in 40 Screens available to be downloaded. This arrived as an .ssd file and could be loaded into BeebEm by using the 'Load Disk 0' option on the 'File' menu. Once the disk was loaded, the game could be played by issuing the command: *RUN REPTONF

Whilst this made the game function, the following problems remained:

  • The character in the game could be made to move left and right by pressing the Z and X keys but the correct combination to move up and down was not known.
  • Loading the game was cumbersome requiring many clicks.
  • The game did not fill the screen.
The first point was the most serious as it made the game unplayable. Fortunately, BeemEm includes the ability to map keys found on a BBC keyboard to the equivalent on a PC keyboard. The default setting is Logical Keyboard Mapping which does a good job of organising most of the keys correctly, but in this case I had to select Default Keyboard Mapping from the Options menu. Once this was set the character could be moved up and down by using the ' and / keys. It probably would have been better if the arrow keys had controlled the character instead, and I found this was possible with the following steps:
  1. Click Options, then click Define User Key Mapping.
  2. Click on the :* key, then press the up arrow key twice.
  3. Click on the /? key, then press the down arrow key twice.
  4. Click on the Z key, then press the left arrow key twice.
  5. Click on the X key, then press the right arrow twice.
  6. Click on OK.
  7. Click on Options, then click User Defined Mapping.
  8. Click on Options, then click Save User Key Mapping. This will bring up a familiar Save As box where the custom key mapping file can be saved. I chose to save it into the same folder as the .ssd game ROM.
Defining the keys in BeebEm

With the arrow keys now working, it was time to tackle the second problem and make the game easier to load, ideally from a double click of an icon on the desktop.

I found a really useful function in BeebEm called Save State. This allows an .uef file to be created that will reload the memory of the emulated BBC computer and allow it to carry on from an exact point. Combined with the command line options explained in the help file, I was able to able to create a desktop shortcut that loaded BeebEm and the game with the saved keyboard mapping with the following steps:
  1. Load the game ROM file by using the Load Disc 0 command on the File menu.
  2. Click Options, then click Logical Keyboard Mapping.
  3. Type *RUN REPTONF to start the game.
  4. Once game loading screen appears, reinstate the keyboard mappings saved earlier by clicking Options, then clicking Load User Key Mappings, then pointing to the mappings file saved earlier and clicking Open.
  5. Click on Options, then click User Defined Mapping to activate the saved keyboard mappings.
  6. Click on File, then click Save State. Locate the folder where the game ROM is stored, type in a suitable name in the File name box, then click on Save.
  7. Click the cross in the top right corner to close BeebEm.
  8. Right click on the BeebEm icon on the desktop and from the menu that appears, click on Properties.
  9. Click on the Shortcut tab, click just after the closing quotation mark, add a space and type in -FullScreen path to saved state. In my case the correct string was: -FullScreen C:\BBC\State.uef
  10. Click on OK, then rename the shortcut by right clicking on it and clicking Rename, typing in a suitable name for the game then clicking OK.
My Around the World in 40 Screens shortcut

When double clicked, the icon should now launch straight into a full screen version of the game, complete with the correct keyboard mappings. To exit, press the ALT + ENTER key combination to exit from full screen mode and then click the cross in the top right corner.

The game from a double click of an icon