Ask How-To Geek: Diagnosing DSL Hang Ups, Extracting Media from PowerPoint, Restricting IE to a Single Web Page

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This week we take a look at flaky DSL connections, extracting media from PowerPoint presentations, and how to lock down IE to a single website without any additional software or network configuration hacking necessary.

Once a week we dip into our reader mailbag and help readers solve their problems, sharing the useful solutions with you in the process. Read on to see our fixes for this week’s reader dilemmas.

Diagnosing a Persistent DSL Connection Issue

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Dear How-To Geek,

I’m having problems with my broadband internet connection. When the phone rings (and I answer it), my broadband connection times out. No phone call, no problems. Phone calls, lost broadband connection? I have DSL-based broadband and a regular land line for my telephone service. Where do I start?

Sincerely,

Put Me on the No Call List Please

Dear No Call,

Check all the phone lines in your house to ensure they have a filter on them. DSL filters are analog low-pass filters designed to prevent interference between the frequencies used by your DSL service and the frequencies used by your telephone service. You should have a filter on every telephone, fax machine, and other voice-band device in your home or business (don’t forget to check often overlooked but still connected devices like your TiVo). Without the filters in place the telephones and fax machines can interfere with the lower end of the DSL frequency and cause connection issues, including the drops you’re experiencing.

If you already have filters on all the lines, call your service provider and ask if they will send a set of new ones out—you likely have a bad one somewhere in the mix. If you replace the filters and still have connectivity issues there is a chance that there is an issue with your telco provider’s filters/wiring somewhere between your home and their equipment. Things become more complicated here—if it’s an issue with the wiring in your house then you’ll likely be footing the bill to repair it, if it’s an issue with the outside wiring or their equipment they’ll take care of it.

Extracting Media Files from PowerPoint Presentations

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Dear How-To Geek,

I have a PowerPoint presentation I want to extract the media files from (such as the background music). How can I do so? There doesn’t appear to be any way to save the audio and video in the slideshow separately from the slideshow itself. Thanks!

Sincerely,

PowerPoint Jam Master

Dear Jam Master,

You’re in luck. This fix is so simple you’ll be like “No way?” and we’ll be like “Way!” (or something similarly Wayne’s Worldian in nature). If you have Office 2007 or above you can open the Powerpoint presentation, resave it as a .pptx file if it’s not already in the updated format, then rename the file with a .zip extension (such as newfile.pptx –> newfile.zip). Open the zip file and you’ll find all the media neatly organized in directories. Office files are secretly organized using a simple Zip file format! If you want to read more about this super sneaky hack that relies on the tidy organization of PowerPoint files, read more here.

Restrict Internet Explorer to One Web Site

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Dear How-To Geek,

Is it possible to limit a computer to one website? I don’t just want a home page I want to limit users to that home page (specifically, an encyclopedia the users are allowed to access). The computer in question is running Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8.

Sincerely,

One Page to Rule Them All

Dear One Page,

Internet Explorer has a built in content-management system that you can take advantage of to meet your super focused white-listing needs. First, download this file from our server, whitelist.rat (it’s a dummy rating file for Internet Explorer’s Content Advisor tool, we’ll explain more about it in a moment).

Fire up Internet Explorer. Navigate to Tools –> Internet Options – Content. Click on Enable under Content Advisor (it will prompt you to set a Supervisor Password before you continue, do so now) then click Settings. Under settings click on General and then on Ratings System…, there you’ll click on Add and then navigate to whitelist.rat file you saved earlier. When you have the whitelist added, it should appear as WhiteListOnly in your Rating Systems list. Once you confirm that it’s on the list then you can select the default ratings system ICRA3 and click Remove. Click OK to return to the Content Advisor settings menu.

Normally the Content Advisor tool calls on an remote database of web site ratings and compares them to the sites the user is trying to access. The dummy file you downloaded earlier has fake web addresses in it and points to no such database. As a result the only thing Internet Explorer will have to go off of is the white list from Content Advisor. Let’s create that white list now; in the Content Advisor Settings Menu click on the Approved Sites tab. If there are any entries under it remove them. Add in the website you want your users to access, such as http://www.wikipedia.com and click Always.

The screenshot above shows the white list in action. We visited Wikipedia then tried to navigate to Super Pete’s Porno Castle. The ol’ Porno Castle wasn’t on the white list and Internet Explorer blocks it, indicates that the site has no rating, and requests a supervisor password. Success!


Have a question you want to put before the How-To Geek staff? Shoot us an email at ask@howtogeek.com and then keep an eye out for a solution in the Ask How-To Geek column.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.