You can loosen security on PC, but be careful

Ask Jim

Plugged In

April 26, 2007|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

When I go to my bank's live chat or a weekly group chat, I can't participate. I am running Windows XP and have Internet Explorer 7 installed, and I get a message in the yellow bar at the top of the session that IE has stopped the installation of the ActiveX control, and that I need to click for options. When I click on an option I tell it to install, another box pops up and says that it has blocked the installation because it's an unknown publisher. I can't figure out how to tell it that I still want it to continue to do the install. There are several sites I'm unable to participate in because I can't get this resolved.

- Linda Weittenhiller,

Of all the places where one should not play fast and loose by triggering outsiders' ActiveX programs to run on one's hard drive, it's on the Web site where one does banking. Nevertheless, you need to loosen up your computer's security tools to let that bank chat group work on your computer. But, first I'd fire off a note to the bank management urging them to get with the program and obtain the proper license the site seems to lack.

Meanwhile, open Internet Explorer 7 and click on Tools in the command list at the top. Scroll down to Internet Options and give it a click. In the menu box, select the Security tab. There you will see a display of your machine's security settings, with a slider bar to raise and lower them as desired. You need to click on the button called Custom Level next to that slider.

This brings up a box filled with check-marked options. Scroll through them and you will find several that can be changed to let these ActiveX routines run unfettered even though they are not properly registered. Remove the check from Disable under the tool to run ActiveX, even though unsigned, and the warnings will cease, thus letting you log on to the chat group.

I'd recommend that after you finish each chat session, you go back and restore the Disable setting for the tool.

The only thing that was really worth saving when my home PC died last week, along with everything on it, was the music that was on iTunes for my iPod. My niece and nephew said that I had to leave the dinosaur computer and buy an iMac, which I did and which I love so far after four days. The only problem I have is, how can I transfer my music from the iPod onto my Mac? When I plug my iPod in, it wants me to sync it and erase all that is on it, which I do not want to do.

- John Blachaniec,

There is the Apple way to fix this vexing problem, and then there is the easier way. I'm sorry to say, however, that both fixes are complicated and might not salvage everything. On the upside, I can show you how to save your unprotected music files, but it might be tough to restore protected stuff you bought through the iTunes online music store.

The reason that I made the crack about the Apple way versus the easier way is because of Apple's convoluted suggestions for saving one's music from the jaws of death known as iTunes' digital rights management.

The whole business model behind the iPod and Apple's iTunes music store is to stop people from doing what you want to do, which is to take an iPod filled with music and then move it onto a friend's hard drive. To block such swaps, the iTunes software "synchronizes" between player and computer by writing over the files in an iPod whenever it is connected. If you plug a filled iPod into a computer with no music, the iPod will be erased. As we will see, some exceptions are possible.

Start at this Web address, artnum300173, to explore Apple's fix, although I fear it might not meet all of your needs. In essence, it is possible to set things up so that the iPod acts as a portable hard drive inside iTunes, instead of as a connected music player that must be synced.

This requires one to change the settings on the PC version of iTunes to allow transfer and also to deauthorize that computer for the music. You then change the settings in the Mac iTunes and reauthorize the music as you import it onto the Mac. If you can get that old PC to run iTunes one last time, this probably will work.

The second fix is to try software such as iPodCopy ($19.99) from Wide Angle software (www.wideangle This software is designed to use the iPod as though it were a hard drive and then to let the user restore stuff onto a new computer running iTunes in such a way as to properly restore file locations, album art, playlists, etc. In essence, iPodCopy automatically handles most of the steps that Apple explains how to do manually on its own Web site.

It remains dicey whether any of this will get back music you bought directly from Apple, but at the least you will be able to save any unprotected files you might have accumulated by ripping CDs, downloading MP3s and such.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. Write him at

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