The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 069 (09/02/08)
I am incorporating an Owl Box in a barn conversion that I
am undertaking, and would like to fit a small keyhole camera to record the
activity onto my PC, without disturbing them. What software, preferably
freeware, and perhaps extra hardware, do I require to do this effectively?
Kevin Cottrell, Buckland
Many webcams come with recording utilities, so that
shouldn’t be a problem but I expect you will have problems with lighting if you
use an ordinary camera. One answer would be to use a security or door monitor
webcam or network camera, fitted with infrared illuminators. These emit
near-invisible IR light, which you can’t see but the camera is very sensitive
to and you will get a good clear image (albeit in black and white) in complete
darkness. Apparently Owls and many nocturnal creatures are relatively
insensitive to the longer wavelengths of infra-red light so it shouldn’t
If the camera doesn’t come with suitable recording software
you can try a Microsoft freebie, called Webcam Timershot, which records single
images at preset intervals, from one per second, to once every 999 days. There
are more details and a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/2jhuzt.
run a Windows 98 PC and subsequently purchased a laptop with Windows Vista Home
Premium I would like to arrange for files to be copied or transferred from the
old computer to the new machine. Is it possible and how would I go about it?
Colin Morgan, by email
It can certainly be done
and if your old PC had been a Windows XP model it would have been very simple
indeed. Vista has a facility called Easy Transfer, for copying files and
settings from one PC to another; it’s similar to the Windows XP Files and
Settings Transfer Wizard, for copying data from Windows 98 PCs. Since you have
‘skipped’ a generation things are a little more complicated. One option is to
buy an external hard drive enclosure – they cost around £15 from online sellers
– into which you fit the hard drive from your old PC. You can then plug it into
the USB socket on your new laptop and copy files and folders from one drive to
the other. If your old PC has a network connection, and you have a
broadband/Wi-Fi router you could connect your old PC to that and copy files and
folders across the network, otherwise there’s the ever-reliable Laplink PC
Mover, which works on all Windows PC – back to Windows 95, and Macs -- and it
sells online for around £40 (amazon.co.uk).
Email Problem Writ Large
I am fairly new to this computer business but even my neighbour,
who is computer literate, has failed to help me on this one. I want to print emails,
especially ones that contain important information, like flight bookings
etc. The problem is that the print in
so tiny that it is virtually unreadable. I have had to cut and paste into Word,
enlarge the size of the print and then print the page.
Dorothy Holmans, by email
On a more general note it is always useful to know which version
of Windows you are using, and a little more about the programs involved but on
the assumption that it is Windows XP and Outlook Express (or Vista and Windows
mail) then I should be able to help.
For historic reasons that are too convoluted to go into here the
print facilities in Outlook Express and Windows Mail in Vista are controlled
from Internet Explorer. The accepted method to change the size is to open IE
then go to View > Text Size and select Large or Largest. It should work
straight away, if not exit both IE and OE (or Windows Mail) and reboot the PC
for the change to take effect.
On some versions of OE you can increase the print size on a
per-message basis by going to View > Text Size on the open message window.
Some printers also have the option to enlarge the size of a printout, if so you
should find this by opening the message you want to print then go to File >
Print and select Preferences, which should open your Printer’s Properties menu.
If available it will probably be on the Layout tab, look for an Enlarge or Fit
to Page mode and see if that helps.
Getting In Shape
Following on from your recent comments about CRT and LCD
monitors, I am wondering whether my Dell PC (Aug '03 vintage) will
automatically adjust its screen area to widescreen format? Maybe a BIOS update
is required or possibly it just won’t work? I notice that an expansion slot is
available on the motherboard which will presumably accept a separate graphics
card, would this be a solution?
Peter Munson, by email
no need to fiddle with the BIOS or buy a new video card. Monitor display format is mainly determined by the resolution
setting in Windows. Yours PC is relatively new and almost certainly supports
several widescreen modes. To check open Display Properties (right click the
desktop and select Properties > Settings tab) then move the screen
Resolution slider and you will see the screen icon change size and shape.
© R. Maybury 2008 1911