Computer Guide

Cannot view Media Player movies
by George Skarbek - 6th June 2006

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Q: I often receive emails containing attachments. When trying to open them I receive this message: "Windows Media Player cannot play this file, it may not support this file type or may not support the codec that was used to compress this file." I have asked the various senders to provide this information but none have been able to. Any suggestions?

A: The most likely explanation is that your computer is missing some codec. A codec is a piece of software used to code and decode images and sound. It is short for COmpressor/DECompressor. The resultant AVI file will work on the original computer but may not work on others that do not have the decoding software installed. The main problem is to find what software you need. It may be DivX as this is quite commonly used. Downloading the latest version of Media Player, free from the Microsoft site, may fix the problem. If not then there are many websites with free codecs. See:  or  as well as

Q. My son is going overseas and wants to store digital photos - he won't have computer access. He was going to buy a 1 GB memory stick ($150). Then I thought of portable hard drives. I was told by a major camera store that he could get a 20 GB one for about $300. My local camera store said that these HDs are the cheap end of the market, not good value. Price and availability is now important.

A. Firstly, $150 for a 1 GB USB drive is very high. I assume that you are referring to an external USB drive and not camera memory. I do not think that he did much shopping around. They can be bought for well under $100. See: shopbot. for a large selection of such drives. Camera memory cards are often even cheaper.

I have not used the low-cost hard drives but several friends have them and they have not reported any problems. However, when I go overseas I take my 1 GB USB drive because it is smaller, lighter, and most importantly more robust as it has no moving parts and is therefore more reliable and easier to carry around. He should be able to transfer the data at most internet cafes. A 1 GB drive can hold a lot of photos or a great deal of data and if your son takes many photos then for a low cost they can be burned onto a CD at most digital photo processing shops, the CD can be tested in the shop and mailed home, and the camera's memory card freed up for reuse.

Q. I am operating Outlook Express and find that when I want to delete an attachment from an email, right-clicking on the attachment does not give me the option of deleting the attachment. Is there a setting I need to change?

A. I am not aware if this can be done from Outlook Express itself. There are several commercial programs that claim to do this. However, I have not tested this as I use Eudora as my main mail reader. See:  or  for such programs.

Eudora automatically stores mail in one folder and the attachments in another, making deleting either the attachment or the message quite simple and does not require additional software.

Q. In the past week I have been receiving pop-ups on various websites and getting the message: "Internet Explorer script error. Do you want to continue running scripts on this page? Yes/No?" Please advise what to do.

A. The answer is No, you don't. It usually means that there is a problem on the site that you are visiting and IE cannot handle it. There is nothing you can do, the webmaster of that site should fix the error.


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