OVER 2 YOU, 164 (20/01/04)
am now retired, in my early seventies, and this year, to further my knowledge
of computers, I intend to build a PC from scratch, which I understand is
reasonably easy to do these days. I would like to construct a multi-purpose
machine with the capability to record television programmes, play music and
possibly edit my video movies and copy them onto DVD, as well as all the other
usual functions (word processing, Internet, email etc.). Assuming that such a
project is feasible, has anyone any advice on how to proceed, which components
to use, or perhaps, point me in the direction of some plans, books or any
websites that might help?
John Taylor, via email
I have just completed such
a project. Maplin (www.maplin.co.uk)
are a good source of build-your-own books and components. I purchased a bundled
motherboard, CPU, memory and cooler. I have used a mid-range 128Mb graphics
card (Nvidia GeForce FX5200) and two hard disc drives. The second HDD is 180Gb,
needed for video recording at approx 4Gb per hour. I have used a Creative
Extigy external USB sound centre and, most importantly, a Nebula Electronics
DigiTV card. This provides very high quality terrestrial digital TV, radio and
Teletext with Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) for easy timer recording.
This setup works exceptionally well for all aspects of audio and video
work. For video editing I use Pinnacle Studio 8, which is simple
to operate. I am now experimenting with various software to enable
recorded video to be burnt to DVD.
September 2003 issue of Linux magazine had an article on building a fanless
digital video recorder. The article is available as a free download from:
Dr Peter Buxton, via email
really recommend an American site: http://www.pcmech.com/byopc/index.htm
for all you need to know, from choosing and buying components, up to the first
boots. A book including all the instructions is also available for $15.
Computer World (November 2003 issue) had a long article explaining all he
needs. In addition on the cover disc was a pdf file showing exactly how to
build a PC. I built my own PC following the advice and would add that he should
take into account the cost of the operating system (i.e. Windows), which can
easily wipe out any savings he may make. He should also start off with a clean
hard drive and not try to transfer one from another PC unless he formats it
A. C. Gales, via email
My daughter is doing a
degree on Logistics and Transport at Molde University, Norway. She is doing her
thesis on Congestion and Road Charging, but is having difficulty obtaining
useful data. Does anyone know of any web sites or other sources with this kind
John Gibson, via email
John Gibson's daughter will
find plenty of information on road congestion and charging on Transport for
London's website: www.tfl.gov.uk/streets.
TfL's report on the impacts of the first six months of the Central London
Congestion Charge should be of particular interest. Information for other
cities - and for concepts such as Travel Demand Management – is generally
no more than a Google search or two away.
Mike Keegan, Transport for London, via email
There is a superb website
that allows to search for any document issued by government – www.info4local.gov.uk. Search for the document
“Transport Trends” published by the DfT on 18th December 2003 and
you’ll find just about anything you needed to know about congestion, travel
If John Gibson's daughter
(Over2you, Jan 6th) cares either to e-mail me (email@example.com), I
may be able to help. I am responsible for the Highways Agency's database of
automatic traffic counts that we collect from about 1500 sites on the motorway
and trunk road network.
Vanessa Kovacevic, Senior Technical Adviser, Bedford.
involved in a golf society that runs a knockout competition involving upwards
of 180 participants. I am looking for a database application that can handle
the random draw for the competition as well as participants’ historical
performances and statistics, so I can build league tables based on different
criteria, e.g. number of entries, matches played, number of wins, biggest wins,
Further to previous
answers, Andrew could also try an online scoring system found provided by a
company called Albatross. This is designed for clubs and individuals
providing league tables with a click of a button, as well as detailed
analytics, round draws and historical performances. The website will be
up and ready from 1st March 2004. Any queries do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more
Mike Mills, via email
Having slightly high blood
pressure I regularly check my own blood pressure using an Omron monitor. To
minimise "White Coat Syndrome" I take five readings, getting a
Systolic and Diastolic reading each time. I then enter these readings on an
Excel spreadsheet. I disregard the highest and lowest readings, average the
other three and enter this value in the last two columns of the spreadsheet.
This is all done manually and I am hoping that someone could provide me with a
formula so that the final figures are generated automatically.
Mostyn Wheeler, via email
May I suggest to Mr Wheeler
that, whilst checking his blood pressure regularly may well be a good thing,
taking repeated readings is certainly not. It is a well-known fact that
frequently measuring BP, unless there is a gap of at least 5 minutes between
readings, will give inaccurate results as the blood vessels have not had time
to return to their normal state after being compressed by the monitor cuff.
Taking one reading at three different intervals during the day would give a
rather more accurate indication of the status of his blood pressure. This is
almost the first thing all nursing and medical staff are taught about blood
P. Saunders, via email
FREE HIT COUNTER
Can anyone recommend a free
web page 'hit' counter that does not involve banners, pop-up boxes or other
advertising matter. If it is resettable then so much the better.
Dudley Wheeler, via email
I have been using www.sitemeter.com on our Parish Web Site for the last 9
months and been really pleased with it.
Pat Williams, via email
I own a web site on which I
provide a free Hit Count service with no aggro. The site is: http://www.sst-ltd.co.uk The service can be
found in the 'Technical Stuff' folder
Peter Byers, via email
CAN YOU HELP?
My wife is a school nurse, and healthy eating is a regular
topic of interest. I used to have an old DOS program,
from around 1990, called Dietplan. This was a database
of foods, meals and ingredients, together with their calorific
values, fat, carbohydrate and sugar contents etc.
Ingredients could be combined to make meals, and the
totals for that meal could be printed and also stored in
the database as a new entry. New ingredients could be
added using the information on their packets. I've
looked everywhere for a Windows equivalent – can
Mal Denny, via email
Does anyone know where I
can download the type of rainfall radar images that the Met Office uses on TV?
They seem to offer them only to commercial clients.
David Burnell, via email