Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A corrupt user profile in Windows 7: Here's how I fixed that.

How to Fix the Error: "Your user profile was not loaded correctly! You have been logged on with a temporary profile." in Vista and Windows 7


After you log on to a Windows Vista or Windows 7-based system, you may notice that a temporary profile has been loaded instead of the ‘expected’ profile that corresponds to the current user. Therefore, any changes that you make to the current desktop are lost after you log off the system. Additionally, the notification area may display the following error message:

“Your user profile was not loaded correctly! You have been logged on with a temporary profile. Changes you make to this profile will be lost when you log off. Please see the event log for details or contact your administrator.”

Finally, the following event is logged in the Application log:

Log Name: Application
Source: Microsoft-Windows-User Profiles Service
Date: Date
Event ID: 1511
Task Category: None
Level: Warning
Keywords: Classic
User: User
Computer: Computer
Description: Windows cannot find the local profile and is logging you on with a temporary profile. Changes you make to this profile will be lost when you log off.


This problem occurs if the current user's profile cannot be located or is unreadable. The causes of that may be because the profile was accidentally deleted from the system or has become corrupt. In my case I found that there was evidence of a virus infection on the system which may have been at the root of this.


Important This section contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to backup and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows.

To resolve this problem, follow these steps:

  1. Log on to the system using an account which has administrative privileges and is other than the user account that is experiencing the problem.
  2. Create a backup of all data in the current user's profile folder if the profile folder still exists. For this step I used the Windows Easy Transfer app which worked a treat in my case. When the backup’s been completed go ahead and delete the profile folder. By default, the profile resides in the following location:
  3. %SystemDrive%\Users\UserName
  4. Click Start, type regedit in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  5. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type your password, or click Continue.
  6. Locate the following registry subkey:
  7. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  8. Under the ProfileList subkey, delete the subkey that is named SID.bak.
  9. Note SID is a placeholder for the security identifier (SID) of the user account that is experiencing the problem. The SID.bak subkey should contain a ProfileImagePath registry entry that points to the original profile folder of the user account that is experiencing the problem.
  10. Exit Registry Editor.
  11. Log off the system.
  12. Log on to the system again.
  13. After you log on to the system, the profile folder is re-created and is, therefore, empty.
  14. Restore from the backup that was created in step 2 to recover the user data.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

So pleased to have found the cure to my PCs sound problem

OK. So I've had a problem with poor sound quality on my PC for a couple of weeks now and had been searching for the cure without success. Until today, that is.

The problem - the audio had a kind of stuttering quality to it - was associated with any audio playback happening but just affecting the audio stream coming through my Chrome browser. Youtube and BBC iPlayer were both affected and, I'm guessing, all other similar sources had I been bothered to test further. I also knew the problem was restricted to Chrome because I'd watched the same videos through Internet Explorer and discovered that the audio played back via IE was just fine.

I'd found through my searching that there appeared to be many others affected by problems with the Adobe Flash plugin and so had already tried several suggested solutions including going into the Flash Player Settings Manager (accessed via the Control Panel) and deleting the browser data and settings. Next I uninstalled Flash via Add/Remove programs. I then updated to the latest release (11.5.502.110) but still no solution found.

I then discovered that Chrome has another separate set of plugins which are accessed by entering the following address from within Chrome itself: chrome://plugins/  Navigating to that page will bring up a list of all currently installed plugins with one or more Flash Player plugins among those listed. I found that my browser had a couple of different versions of Flash plugin including the latest (as above) so I simply disabled the older ( Flash plugin.

It was that final step of disabling the older Flash plugin that delivered the needed break Hurrah!

Be aware, also, that if you disable the only installed Flash plugin you'll be prompted to install a Flash plugin the next time you access media which depends on the plugin. Should be no biggy, though :)

I sincerely hope this solution helps someone else out there struggling with this same problem.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Get Rid Of Those Annoying Browser Toolbars With Toolbar Cleaner for Windows

It's unfortunate but understandable that freeware software tends to want to install a 'life-improving' toolbar. Toolbars are, at best, very annoying. They also have a tendency to infringe on your browser's viewing area, slow down your PC and your web browsing. However the freeware applications that the toolbars come with can be very useful and the developer of the freeware is able to earn some income via the toolbar he or she is helping to distribute. Also the installation of the toolbar is nearly always an optional step even if it's not always very obvious how to opt out.

Thankfully there's now a way of quickly cleaning your system of all those pesky toolbars using the Toolbar Cleaner program.

Toolbar Cleaner is a really useful little program that goes beyond the basics of clearing your browser of bulky, and often advert infested toolbars. Toolbar Cleaner allows you to remove toolbars from both Firefox and Internet Explorer. It also supports managing extensions for Google Chrome, where some toolbars may lie. Other browsers are not included as they are rarely victim of forced BHOs and other hijacks.

As with other freeware programs Toolbar Cleaner will give you the option to install a 'helpful' program named Anti-Phishing Domain Advisor. It will also ask to change your home page to My Start. My advice here: deselect or untick both.
The interface is simple, effective, and the following two screens is all there is to the interface. You’ll see a full list of toolbars for IE and Firefox, and then add-ons and extensions for both (as well as Chrome).

Here you can see me selecting the two Complitly entries for removal. To remove them simply check the box beside the entries you want to get rid of. From there, click the Remove Selected  oolbar(s)/BHO(s) button. It could take a minute to complete its task but really is as simple as that. Oh and you’ll need to be sure your browser is not actively running while you perform the operation.

Make sure you also check the Windows Startup tab just to the right of the Browsers tab as its another opportunity to find and remove BHOs and other toolbars or browser attachments.

The Options button offers features like removing confirmation messages or the information popup. If you run across an entry in the list that you’re unsure of, do a Google search to find out more about it.

Toolbar Cleaner will work on Windows 8 Pro, Windows 7, Windows Vista and XP. Download Toolbar Cleaner from here.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What's it like to be a Google employee based at the HQ in California?

It's estimated that Google uses over one million servers in data centres around the world, and process over one billion search requests and about twenty-four petabytes of user-generated data every day. 

Google was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 4, 1998 and has grown exponentially ever since. The company's mission statement from the outset was "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" and the company's unofficial slogan is "Don't be evil". In 2006, the company moved to its current headquarters aka "the Googleplex" in Mountain View, California.

Aside from the many employees the Google HQ building also hosts a massive roof-mounted array of solar panels.

Today, Google employs 53,546 people around the world, receiving a CV (resume) every 25 seconds from eager job-seekers, hiring an average of nine new employees a day.

A full-size replica of Virgin Atlantic's Spaceship One (space tourist vehicle) hangs in the reception area.

To work off the pounds, and the stress Google has its own state-of-the-art gym offering weight-training and a host of exercise machines, rowing machines, lockers and shower rooms, and two swim-in-place wave pools.

Other staff perks include free haircuts, dry cleaning and laundry, child care, car services, chiropractors and five onsite doctors available for employee check-ups; all free of charge.

Perhaps the most unusual bonus of all: employees can bring their dogs to work with them and keep the four-legged canine in their offices.

We already know that working for Google has many advantages, but, believe me, this giant of a search engine takes the welfare of its employees very seriously as shown by this decompression (stress) capsule that is impermeable to sound and light

A slide allows quick access from different floors. There are also “poles” available. They' re similar to the ones used in fire stations.


Employees can eat all they want for free from a vast choice of food and drink, whipped up by in-house chefs.

A typical Google lunch

The cookie selection is amazing

Each employee has the latest IT equipment including at least two large screens. 

Large white boards are available just about everywhere because 'ideas don't always come when seated in the office'says one of Google's managers.

Pool tables, video games, etc. are available in many areas.

On each floor there are private areas where employees attend to personal affairs.

Having trouble with your computer? No problem! Bring it to this area where drinks are available while it's being fixed.

Professional massage therapists are available.

View relaxing aquariums on massage chairs that you control.

There are many books in this library; even some about programming.

It seems amazing. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I’m thinking of putting a tablet on my Christmas wish list but am unsure what to go for. What should I consider?

A short while ago, tablet computers were chunky and clunky, devices that only geeks could get on with.
Apple’s first iPad, when introduced in April 2010, revolutionised the tablet market by demonstrating that what people really wanted was a sleek, thin and light device with useful battery life.  More importantly, users showed they were willing to sacrifice power and flexibility to get what the iPad had to offer.

A couple of years on and, in many cases, the competition has released many good alternative products which means there’s now a credible choice of tablets from a range of manufacturers. No longer can Apple just assume that the iPad will be every tablet buyers number 1 choice.

I’ll now attempt to categorise the multitude of tablets into logical groups:

Apple iPad – the original 10-inch tablet, which is now on its fourth generation with more than 100 million of them sold in less than three years. Staggering number!

Premium Android tablets – devices like the Google Nexus 10 and Samsung Galaxy Tab offer a very similar experience to the iPad for a very similar price.

Microsoft Surface – Microsoft are late entrants to the tablet party, but they’ve arrived with a product that could upset the market.  However, the first-generation models come with some compromises: The Surface has a cut-down version of Windows (Windows RT) that doesn’t run existing Windows desktop software, and a thin veneer of touch-enabled apps that vanish to reveal old Windows controls that are not very easy to control via a touch screen.  Windows 8 as a tablet operating system is work-in-progress, perhaps, but, in my opinion, needs to mature. The Surface Pro model does, at least, support the full range of Windows desktop apps.

Mini tablets – Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire are the pack leaders in the 8-inch-and-under market, but are facing fresh competition from Apple’s newly released iPad Mini.

Budget tablets – Google’s Android operating system, being free and open, has allowed hundreds of small vendors to develop and release their own tablets. These tablets are typically sold for under £100, appear to offer good value but with limited support and poor quality control they are a relatively high risk option unlikely to withstand much use and abuse.

The right option for you will depend on your budget and the intended use of the tablet.  Here are my top recommendations based on intended usage:

As a laptop alternative

If you’re looking for a tablet to use at home instead of a laptop, or if you need a device that lets you stay productive on the road, then the 9.7-inch iPad is probably the best choice.

The iPad’s excellent build quality combined with a vast selection of apps positions the iPad still quite a way ahead of the competition.

But which model to go for?  The third-generation iPad – confusingly named the “new iPad” – has been discontinued, leaving a choice between the older iPad 2 and the brand new fourth-generation model.

Size, weight and performance is very similar between the two models, so the choice is most likely going to be down to the screen. The iPad 2 has a pretty standard computer display while the fourth-gen model has an ultra-sharp screen, aka Retina, that packs in four times as many pixels.

If you have good eyesight, the difference is stunning – on the Retina display text and pictures that appear sharper and brighter than on a printed page – but those whose vision isn’t so sharp may not appreciate the higher definition in the retina display, so it’s worth testing both models in person before finalising your choice.

The entry-level storage on the iPad is 16GB which is enough for thousands of books, a couple of hundred audio albums or around six feature-length movies.  If you need more storage then the fourth-gen model is your only choice. And unfortunately the associated jump in price from iPad2 16Gb WiFi to iPad Retina 32Gb WiFi  is currently £150.

It’s an extra £100 to buy the cellular connectivity, either 3G or 4G depending on the model.  Making use of this mobile connectivity requires a suitable SIM card and contract (from around £7.50 per month).

Very occasional mobile users would be better served with the cheaper Wi-Fi only model.  These can be wirelessly ‘tethered’ to both iPhone and Android handset for mobile access, usually for around £2 per day but this is only paid on the days that you use it.

As a pocketable entertainment device

If you’re looking for a tablet for reading, watching video/movies or playing games and place a higher priority on portability then the new 7-inch tablets are likely to be more appealing.

There are loads of tablets available for sale starting at around £59.99. Personally, I wouldn't recommend any of the little known brands in this price range. Cheaper models tend to be low spec, unresponsive, don’t receive the latest software updates and, crucially, are often unable to access the content in the app marketplaces that transform a basic tablet into a useful device.

Instead, consider the Google Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD, both of which have entry level models with an almost identical specification priced at £159.
In fact the choice between these two is most likely going to come down to content.  If you’re already familiar with and like Amazon’s Kindle books, MP3 downloads or Amazon Prime then the Fire HD makes a lot of sense. If not, the slightly more flexible Nexus 7 will probably appeal more.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Got broadband connection problems?

If so here's something that'll hopefully help isolate the source of the issue.

It's worth starting the troubleshooting process with a restart of the router. So if you haven't already done that recently, do that now. Restarting the router is most easily achieved by disconnecting the router's power supply momentarily before reconnecting. Or if easier switch the router off at the wall socket. Then allow a couple of minutes before testing whether you're able to get to a web site. e.g. Google. If still not connecting read on.

I'd expect you to be able to find relevant, useful information in your router's log. To get to the router's log follow the instructions that came with the router which will show how to gain access to the router's administration console. As a general guide the administration console is typically accessed by typing the ip address of the router into the web address box in your web browser. You may, however, have a desktop shortcut or some other program to gain access.

As can be seen from the following screenshot the log lists the date and time of each connection attempt to your broadband service provider. If there are entries in the log which show multiple failed connection attempts in a short space of time it's normally an indication of a problem establishing a connection to your service provider.

Every router has a connection status display that lists information such as uptime – both for the ADSL connection and the router. Errors here are likely to be further indication that a connection to the broadband service is failing and, perhaps, why that is.

Most routers will provide some useful feedback on the quality of the signal on your phone line, too. Two parameters shown in the following screenshot are important: the amount of signal lost (line attenuation) and how ‘loud’ the signal is compared to background noise.

Line attenuation should ideally be low (60dB is on the poor side; 20dB is good), while the signal-to-noise ratio (labelled as Noise Margin in the above table) should be high (20dB is good; 6dB is on the poor side). A low SNR ratio makes it difficult for the router to sync with the DSLAM card at the telephone exchange. That said the figures for line attenuation and noise margin in this screen are on the poor side but my connection speed comes in at over 3Mbps which is perfectly useable and the connection is reliable.

Since the ADSL connection speed is adaptive, you can’t be sure what connection speed you’ve actually got and it does vary from one day to the next in my experience. However it's possible to see the connection speed from within your router's admin console, as above. Alternatively there are many broadband speed test sites, but we recommend the one offered by BT. To try it, head to using the broadband line you want to test, enter your phone number and click on Go.

In my case I click on the up to 24Mbps option which matches the broadband service I subscribe to. The tests are then run and results page displays automatically. Mine came up with the following:

As can be seen the real world speed of my connection is nowhere near the advertised speed of 8Mbps :o(

As an additional test I can open up a command prompt window (see following screen for guidance on how to do that) and use the ping utility to measure the response time I'm getting from my PC to any given web site I visit. 

The following example shows me issuing a ping command using the Google web site as the target.

The response time to a ping command is measured in milliseconds and in this example is perfectly acceptable. If I were seeing responses which say Request timed out it would be indicative of a problem. If the Request timed out response is received from multiple web sites it's most likely a problem that exists somewhere between your service provider and your own PC rather than beyond. The tracert command will provide some more granular detail to the journey the ping requests are taking from your PC to the Google site and can help pin the performance issue down to a specific leg of the journey.

The first leg of the journey is to the destination which is to my own router/gateway and took just 2 milliseconds which is about as fast as it can get. The other legs of the journey are outside of my router and across the internet. 

In summary I hope this article has provided some help in terms of providing places to go in search of clues which, hopefully, will help clarify why your internet connection isn't good and enable you to have a more informed conversation with the technical support folks at your service provider.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Boiler Room Scams - what are they and how to avoid them

The connection between this post and the main theme of my blog is a bit tenuous. But I wanted to post this because I was talking with a friend last night who'd recently experienced this type of scam which arrived in the form of an unsolicited phone call. So I thought I'd just post this to inform and, perhaps, serve as a reminder to us all to be vigilant. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.

What is a Boiler Room?

Boiler Rooms are businesses that use high-pressure sales techniques to sell "sure thing" investments with the promise of massive returns. In fact, what they're selling is worthless stock in often unquoted companies that are either overvalued, or that simply don't exist at all.

How they work

Boiler Room operatives generally cold-call their targets, using phone numbers from publicly-available shareholder lists. Because it's against the law for brokers to cold-call in the UK, they tend to be based abroad (often Spain, Switzerland, or the US) where they're beyond the jurisdiction of the Financial Services Authority (FSA). They can approach anyone, anywhere. 

Boiler Room techniques

A Boiler Room can look and sound legitimate. They may mention companies you've heard of, give themselves a UK address or phone number, and possibly even have a professional-looking website. They're notoriously persistent, and can hound a victim for months in the hope of a sale, catching out even seasoned investors. According to the FSA, Boiler Room Scam victims lose on average £20,000. The bottom line is that if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.

The advice is simple. If you think you're being targeted by a Boiler Room, the FSA's advice is not to worry about being polite - just hang up. You should then call the FSA contact centre on 0845 606 1234 with as much detail as you can remember. You'll find more information about Boiler Rooms on the FSA website 

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Hello, My name's Keith and I'm the proprietor of Windsor Geek.

I've lived in Windsor since 1999 and enjoy very much being a part of the local community.

I've been actively working with and solving problems with computers, networks, software and associated technology for over 20 years and so have been around long enough to remember things like the Sinclair ZX81, Spectrum, Commodore 64, dial-up modems, dot matrix printers, 5 and a quarter inch floppy discs, etc. 

I'm mostly involved in the support, maintenance and administration of Windows based computers and laptops but also have good skills in UNIX, Linux and other operating systems.

Inherent in any piece of work I undertake is the desire to deliver quality customer care while making the experience as slick and painless as possible. I receive great satisfaction from helping my clients who are typically from within the communites of Windsor and its neighbouring villages.

Got a few minutes to spare? Please take a look at my flickr photostream. Most of the shots have been taken locally.

If you're not already a client of mine I hope I get the opportunity to meet you soon.