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Q: I have some video files in VOB format, and they play fine on my computer. The problem is when I burn them to DVDs I’m not able to get them to play in a DVD player. What format do DVD players support and how do I go about converting my VOB files? — John Kenner

A: It’s difficult to keep head above water when diving into the alphabet soup of video file formats. But I’ll take a stab at it.

All DVD players support the MPEG-2 video format. And your VOB file is actually a type of MPEG-2 that has some extra data. The trick is that if you save that VOB file to a DVD as a data file, the DVD player isn’t going to recognize it. So you need to burn it to the DVD as a video file.

Q: I want to edit out about 5 seconds of a 14-minute VOB video file. How do I convert the VOB video file to a file format that I can edit in Microsoft Movie Maker?

— John Tate

A: Actually, you can edit VOB files directly in Microsoft Movie Maker. But when you’re ready to burn to a DVD, keep in mind the answer to the question above yours.

Q: About two months ago, and for the fourth time in 15 months, Comcast/Xfinity has deleted huge chunks of our email from the inbox. Since the last time I received a response from Comcast via email, I have done two things they suggested I do. I have changed my password and opened another Comcast email account. But again, this presupposes that I am the one responsible for the deleted emails.

Are you aware of why or how big chunks of email can be deleted in this manner without our consent?

— Ron Bowman, Burien

A: I have not heard of any problems with Comcast’s storage of emails, and my checking around has failed to turn up other users having this problem.

The reason Comcast suggested that you open a new account and change your password is that they suspect your account may have been hacked. That would be my suspicion, too.

My advice would be to change your password frequently — and keep an eye on deletions.

Q: I have an error message when opening PDF files. The error message says, “Adobe Reader could not open ‘pdf.docx’ because it is either not a supported file type or because the file was damaged,” etc.

This just started when I purchased a new desktop. I save my work information in PDF form using the Word to Email PDF attachment. Is the extension “docx” for a Word file? Is this fixable, or did I lose part of my work files that are PDFs?

— Chris Lodahl

A: Yes, docx is the extension for Microsoft Word files. So it’s no surprise that you’re getting that message when trying to open the files with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Since you’ve got a file that has two extensions as its name, my guess is that a naming mistake was made.

First, I’d try loading that file into Word and seeing if it is really a Word file. If you think it’s really a PDF file, it’s possible that it was just the extension that was somehow changed. Try simply changing the file extension to PDF using Windows Explorer and see what happens. I very much doubt that you have actually lost data.

Q: In a recent column (Q&A, Sept. 7), a reader said he was having problems viewing videos on Internet Explorer 10, and you noted that Flash sometimes doesn’t work on IE10.

I have found that when the ActiveX Filtering is on (the blue circle with the line through it in the upper-left corner), Flash doesn’t work. Simply turn off the filtering and Flash works fine. At least it does on mine.

— Joe Langjahr

A: You are absolutely right. That is something I should have also suggested for the reader to try. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to or, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at