FAQS! FACTS! FAX! 487 (15/11/05)
I assume it's been asked before but I can't
find the answer. Can you use a digital camera or a camcorder as a webcam and If
Mike Crummy, via email
Actually I donít recall this question but the
answer is simple enough and thatís yes, probablyÖ The facility has to be
built-in and many budget and mid-range digital still cameras have it and it
should be clearly marked on the box or sales literature. These cameras usually
come with web cam software but they should also work with standard applications
like Windows NetMeeting and MSN Messenger etc. All you need to do is load the
driver software that comes with the camera then connect it to the PC using the
supplied USB transfer lead.
Video cameras are slightly different. Some
models can be set to output a live video feed and this can be connected to a PC
using video or TV adaptor card or module. However, there are a couple of
drawbacks to this method, including the fact that adaptor cards and modules
cost more than a cheap webcam. The other more significant problem is that most
camcorders will Ďtime-outí and automatically shut down after a few minutes if
they are not either recording or playing back. (Leaving the tape hatch open can
fool some models but this is not a good idea a dust and dirt could get into the
deck mechanism). On balance I think your best bet would be to seek out a
digital still camera with a webcam facility or get a proper webcam.
What is the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R
discs, and which discs should I use?
Artur Hecht, via email
This stems from a brief format tussle in the
early days of DVD between two powerful groups of manufacturers. It has never
been full resolved but the good news is that from a practical standpoint there
are no significant differences between the two types of disc. They both record
and playback computer and video data and the end result is the same, namely a
disc that should play back on most recent PC drives and DVD players. Older
single format DVD writers and recorders and some current models will obviously
only work with one or the other type of recordable (or re-recordable) disc but
again this is becoming less of a problem as more manufacturers use multi-format
systems. Some discs may not play on older drives and players but neither format
has an advantage over the other in this respect as compatibility issues affect
both formats more or less equally. Both types of disc use organic dyes to
record data and blanks cost about the same. The technical differences, such as
they are, mostly relate to the way data is organised and the speed at which it
can be recorded but these are of little importance to most users so if you are
buying equipment donít let it worry you.
I have had to reformat one of my drives as my
computer crashed and would not boot to that drive even in Safe Mode. I have
formatted the drive but when I try to load Windows XP Home it says I have an
invalid product key. It loaded fine when I first installed it and I have the
Microsoft Authenticity Certificate with the holograms. I bought it from a
reputable dealer and it was in the original packaging. Unfortunately the dealer
is no longer trading. What do you think has happened and is there anything I
can do about it? I have been on the Microsoft site and it shows some serial
numbers, which are apparently dodgy but mine are nothing like those.
Sue Hamilton, via email
Thatís a bit of a mystery. The usual reason for
the invalid product key message would is that the disc and product key do not
match. Since you cannot get past this stage it is unlikely that either are in
any way dubious because the validity check doesnít take place until Windows has
loaded and you are asked to ĎActivateí the installation. That leaves two possibilities.
Somehow or other you have mixed up the key with another copy of XP, or thereís
a problem with the disc. If you are certain that the disc and key belong
together -- and thereís no way to tell just by looking at them -- then I
suggest that you contact Microsoft Customer Support (http://support.microsoft.com/gp/assistsupport)
and ask for a replacement disc, not forgetting to mention that the dealer who
sold it to you is no longer in business.
I have just bought a Dell Dimension 3000, 512MB
memory (2x256), 160GB hard drive. I had installed on my previous computer
(windows 98) a HP ScanJet 4300C.
I installed this on the new computer using a
downloaded program from HP, and after rebooting the computer says that it has
recognised and installed the scanner. When I tried to open the HP PrecisionScan
on my program list it comes up with a window saying 'Sorry, scanner could not
be initialized. (Scanner not found)' Have you any ideas on what the problem is?
Pauline Baume, via email
There appears to be an extraordinary number of
things that could cause this to happen, everything from Windows Service Pack 2
to interactions with Firewall and anti-virus software. The place to begin is
the HP troubleshooting guide on its website here.
Several other websites I have looked at whilst researching this problem
mentioned a patch from HP
that apparently can fix the problem on some scanners but I have been unable to
track down a version for your model. If the HP site doesnít help have a look at
the following forums for some more suggestions:
I would also try and see if you can access the
scanner using a third party image editing program, like PaintShop Pro, which
has itís own built-in TWAIN
and scanner drivers.
© R. Maybury 2005, 0811