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JULY 06

28/07/06

Editing Everio Files using Pinnacle 10

Hi Rick. I currently operate with Windows XP and use Pinnacle Studio plus 10 for video capturing and editing. However, I've just acquired a JVC GZ-MG77 hard disk camcorder and to my horror discovered it has no DV in/out capability.  Instead it writes media files via a USB cable for editing via PowerDirector Express NE (which is greatly inferior to Studio).

 

Is there any way I can manipulate the PowerDirect files so that they can be edited by Studio. I've tried 'til I'm blue in the face, but have got nowhere.  Can you please help?

Mike Cocks.

 

A. The MG77 and all of JVC’s Everio range of hard disc camcorders record MPEG2 files but it’s a tweaked proprietary format with the extension .mod and it’s true that not all video editing packages can read the files. However, it didn’t take Pinnacle long to crack the problem and from version 10.1 onwards Studio 10 has the capability to import .mod files. The solution is to upgrade your software using the latest patch (10.5.2) from Pinnacle, which includes .mod compatibility and a number of other enhancements and fixes.  

 

27/07/06

Memory Flush Button

Hi, Rick, despite all the knocks that Bill Gates gets, office and home life has changed immeasurably and we should be grateful for the genius of him and his team that has pretty much standardised the way we do things.

 

At least one thing puzzles me to this day, though. When new software is installed - or a program behaves unexpectedly, why do we have to go through the rigmarole of re-booting? Wouldn't it be nice if there were a special key or bespoke button, which simply flushed out the sticky memory chip and enabled one quickly to continue working?

 

Shall I just dream on - or was Bill working on this idea before he announced his withdrawal from the helm of Microsoft?

Hugh Sawyer

 

A. I’m with you Hugh and I won’t hear a word against Bill, though for a slightly different set of reasons. The PC has indeed changed all of our lives, and mostly for the better, moreover sorting out computer and Windows problems has kept me in gainful employment for more than 20 years…

 

Your ‘memory flush’ button idea is a good one and I for one would be first in the queue, however, similar ideas have been tried, and there are a number of utilities on the market that purport to do something similar but none of the ones I have tried worked very well. The trouble is PC programs do not work in isolation, they share system processes and resources with Windows and other applications so when one piece of software fails more often than not it leads to a cascade effect that brings down the whole system, and the only solution is to reboot.

 

26/07/06

Problem Copying Files to Memory Stick

Hi Rick, what am I doing wrong? I’m not having any luck transferring work onto a memory stick. I highlight files to be copied, press Ctrl + C to copy then Ctrl + V to paste the file but nothing appears on the Memory Stick. I would be most grateful for any advice.

Jean Groves

 

A. By the sound of it you are doing everything by the book but there are a couple of things to check. The first and most obvious one is that the Memory Stick isn’t in protected mode. Flip the stick over and make sure the little switch, just below the row of contacts, isn’t in the ‘Lock’ position. If the stick is unlocked the next thing to do is make sure it has been properly formatted, so right-click on the Memory Stick’s ‘Removable Disk’ icon in Windows Explorer and select Format, and this will confirm the device’s capacity and carry out a standard format, which prepares it for storing files. Incidentally, be warned that any files on the stick will be erased. If the format is successful try copying files again. If Windows cannot ‘see’ the disc, or reports any sort of problem then it is likely that either the card reader or the stick is faulty.

 

25/07/06

Outlook Express Keeps Changing Setting to 127.0.0.1

Hi Rick, a friend of mine who lives in Spain is having trouble with her Outlook Express server settings. Every time the email account is used, messages can be sent but not received. This is apparently because the incoming mail server keeps defaulting to "127.0.0.1" instead of "pop3.telefonica.net".  If the server entry in Tools, Accounts, is changed to the correct pop3 entry, messages can then be received.

 

Next time the account is opened the server has returned to 127.0.0.1 and must be changed again before messages can be received. This is a very tedious procedure and is driving her mad. Is there any way of getting the server to stay at its correct entry?

Norman Bennett

 

A. Bear with me for a moment if you're not into technical stuff but it's worth know that 127.0.0.1 is a PC's internal 'address' or 'Localhost Loopback'. Put simply, rather than sending incoming emails straight to Outlook Express, they're being diverted somewhere else and nine times out of ten it's an email scanner attached to a virus checker or an anti-spam filter. The solution is to go into the antivirus or anti-spam program's setup menu and disable the email scanner utility, then go to the program manufacturer's website and see if there's a fix or configuration setting that will stop it happening.

 

24/07/06

Creating New Desktop Image

Rick - I have several high quality pictures saved as Microsoft Office Document Image files. I want to use one of them as my desktop picture.  It of course cannot be done under the "My Pictures" Picture Tasks.  Or can it?  I have saved it also as a TIFF File but again "tasks" does not allow it.  Any suggestion?

Paul Wrightt

 

A. Windows 9x (95, 98, SE & ME) can only use image files in the bitmap (*.bmp) format for desktop ‘wallpaper’ and background but from Windows XP onwards you can use GIFs and JPEGs as well. In order to use your images you will need to convert them to 8bmp, *.jpg or *.gif format and the easiest way to do that is with an image editing program, such as PaintShop Pro, Photoshop Elements etc, by opening the image and using the SaveAs function to change the file format. There are also freeware options if you have got an image editing program on your PC and one of the best is Irfanview, which can display and convert just about any type of image file. Once you have prepared your image go to Display Properties (right-click desktop and select Properties) , select the Desktop tab then use the Browse button to locate your image file and click OK.

 

21/07/06

Updating a Windows 98 PC

Rick, I have 2 PCs - an old 700 MHz running Windows 98SE and a newer 2.6 GHz running Windows XP Home. With the stopping of security updates for 98SE and the soon to be released Vista, would the Microsoft licence allow me to purchase Vista for my new PC and move the XP Home to my older PC? 

John Urry

 

A. This is not a licensing issue and you can install Microsoft Windows on any PC you like, providing of course it meets the minimum technical specification. However, I have to warn you that running XP on a 700MHz machine is not a good idea. It should run but it will be painfully slow, probably even slower than your old Windows 98 installation.

 

Just because Microsoft has withdrawn paid-for support and security updates for Windows 98 doesn’t mean it will stop working, or you should stop using it. Provided you have a good firewall and anti-virus software the threat from new viruses and exploits is now very low, as the virus writer’s attention has turned to XP and Vista.

 

20/07/06

Malevolent Mouse

Sir, my cursor keeps dancing around on the screen, you go to point at an item and the cursor has gone elsewhere, very awkward when playing a game. I have uninstalled the driver and reinstalled with no change. Any idea what I can try to stop it?

Brian

 

A. It’s been a while since anyone has called me Sir, I could get to like it… Anyway, mouse drivers rarely cause problems and in the olden days -- three or four years ago -- I would have been on fairly safe ground to suggest that you turn the mouse upside down, twist the release cap so you can take out the ball then clean the gunk off the rollers inside with a toothpick.

 

Nowadays most mice are optical or cordless or both and that’s a whole new ball game so the first things I would check are the battery -- if it has one -- and the mouse mat. Some optical mice hate shiny or patterned surfaces. Next, if the mouse is wired to the PC make sure the cable isn’t running close to a strong source of interference, low voltage desk lights are can be a real nuisance. If it’s a cordless mouse the erratic behaviour is probably due to interference from other nearby cordless or wireless devices. There are so many of them these days, if you are living in a terraced house or flat it could even be coming from next door’s wireless mouse or keyboard. There’s no easy solution, all you can do is check around for other devices and try moving them away from the immediate vicinity. Finally, if all else fails, buy a new mouse, preferably one with a wire, they’re much less trouble…

 

19/07/06

Java Not Working In Firefox

Hi Rick, I recently installed Firefox and am very happy with it, but I am unable to get anything requiring "Java" to work correctly. Internet Explorer works OK.. Is there a simple solution?

Geoff Smith

 

A. Basically there are four possibilities: Java is not installed, it’s installed but it is not enabled, it’s installed but it is not working or it is being blocked by your Firewall.

 

Java is installed in Firefox by default but it may be switched off so check that first by going to Tools > Options > Content and make sure that ‘Enable Java’ is ticked. If not check the box and restart Firefox. If it is checked then try re-installing it and you’ll find the instructions in this Mozillazine Knowledgebase article.  Finally, switch off your Firewall and see if that makes a difference, if so check the configuration to make sure it’s not on the list of blocked applications.

 

18/07/06

Quicken 98 Registration Code

Hi Rick, I’m hoping for some help on how to install Quicken on to my home computer.  I have a Windows XP at home and I have taken a Quicken Deluxe V5 CD so I can have all the company accounts on my home computer, however after I installed, I used it about 10 times and then it came up with wanting a software registration number before I can continue to use.  I have found a Quicken 98 version (on ebay!) but after contacting the seller he said he had also found out that after installing, it can be used 24 times and then wants a software registration number.  I am stuck as to what to do, I desperately need this quicken for my work. Any ideas?

Tara Jones

 

A. Quicken 98 does bluster about the lack of a registration code but there’s a little-known workaround. When it closes down for the last time re-open the program, click Close again, then re-open, and you may have to do this several times, after which it will open and run normally another 24 times and you can keep on doing this indefinitely.

 

17/07/06

Baffling Hard Drive Specs

I would like some help in upgrading my computer. I'm running Windows ME at the moment and have just bought the upgrade to XP as Microsoft and ZoneAlarm no longer support ME. As I only have a small hard drive (my computer is a 5 year old Mesh with a 1Ghz CPU) I would like to buy a larger one but the spec. is baffling me. I don't want to order a drive that is not compatible with my Asus motherboard. My present drive is a Maxtor 30GB ATA-100 EIDE. Your advice would be most welcome.

Geoff Lawn.

 

A. I agree hard drive specs can appear confusing but it’s really not as bad as it looks. There are basically two ‘internal’ hard drive ‘standards’ in common use. They are SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) and ATA/IDE, (Advanced Technology Attachment/Integrated Drive Electronics). SCSI is an old standard, it’s still in use but very rarely used on PCs these days, which means most PCs, including yours -- as you can see from the model designation -- uses an ATA/IDE type drive.

 

There have been numerous improvements and enhancements to the ATA/IDE standard but for the most part these are concerned with the way data is moved into and out of the drive and doesn’t affect connectivity so new drives are compatible with older motherboards, and vice-versa, though for maximum performance the capabilities of the motherboard should match those of the drive.

 

In your case you are looking for an IDE/EIDE (Enhanced IDE) drive and any other enhancements (Ultra ATA, UDMA ultra Direct Memory Access, faster spin speeds -- 7200rpm is the current average etc.), are just icing on the cake, though as I said the performance gains are likely to be small and only achievable on a carefully matched motherboard.

 

I would opt for a drive with at least 180Gb capacity, more if you can afford it or plan to use a lot of space hungry applications, like video editing and so on. By the way some older  motherboards have HDD size limitations but these can be overcome using third-party utilities.

 

The only thing to watch out for is that a growing number of new drives use the increasingly popular SATA (Serial ATA) connection system but they’re clearly labelled as such and easy to differentiate as the standard IDE interface has a 40-pin connector whereas the SATA data connector is much smaller with only 7 pins. SATA drives also have different power connectors (15-pin, compared with the 4-pin connector used on ATA/IDE drives.

 

One final point, whilst XP will run with an 1GHz processor I fear it will be at a fairly leisurely pace, and you will also need at least 512Mb and preferably 1Gb of RAM for comfort. I’m wondering if it’s not time to think about a replacement, getting your current PC up to spec will probably cost you as much as a new one and there are some incredible deals on offer at the moment.

 

14/07/06

Not Enough Room For Emails

Rick, can you help with a problem that is driving me nuts. I am getting incoming mail not being delivered because I am being told that I have insufficient space. When I delete items in my inbox, outbox, sent items etc it makes no difference to the size of the relevant .dbx files. If I look at these files in C:\OEStore they remain the same size although the "date modified" records the altered time correctly. I think I must be missing something simple but at the moment I can't for the life of me figure out what it is.

Peter Boden. 

 

A. Whilst there is a theoretical limit to the number of emails the OE inbox can hold (around 10,000) I suspect that you are nowhere near that and the warning message you are seeing is actually coming from your ISP. If I’m right then it’s your mailbox on the server PC that’s overflowing, probably because OE is leaving a copy of your messages on the server computer. You can check if this is the case by going to Tools > Accounts, click on your email account then the Properties button and select the Advanced tab and under Delivery make sure that ‘Leave a copy of messages on server’ is unchecked (unless this is something you want to happen).

 

You can delete the messages on the server by checking the ‘Leave a copy’ option again and checking the box ‘Remove from server after…’ and set the ‘Days’ to 0 and click OK. Don’t forget to uncheck ‘Lave a copy…’ when you’ve finished. Alternatively you can get into your mail server using a webmail service like www.mail2web.com and this will allow you to see what’s stored on the server, before you delete it.

 

13/07/06

Cassette to PC

Hi Rick - I check out your site most days. I have a lot of music cassettes.  Is there a nice and easy way of getting them on to my external Lacie 250 GB hard drive please?  I have a half decent mains cassette tape player.

John S.

 

A. Always happy to help a regular and yes, you can copy your cassettes, reel to reel tapes, LPs, 45s even old 78s to your PC, and then on to your external drive. In fact if it has an audio output you can capture it. There’s lots of different ways to do it but for my money you can’t beat a program called Audacity, and talking of money, it’s free. Have a look at Boot Camp 276, which deals with the connection side of things, and Boot Camp 362, which focuses on Audacity.

 

12/07/06

Cannot Get Rid of Task Manager

Hi Rick, I have been visiting your site for some time and would like to ask for your help with my problem.  When a program sticks and the only thing to do is Control-Alt-Delete the box comes up with no blue bar along the top.  I can End Task but am then left with the Task Manager box and no way of closing it and have to shutdown and reboot.  Can you help me with this? 
Pat Day

 

A. No problem, and my guess is you have enabled an obscure feature in Task Manager called ‘Tiny Footprint Mode’. Basically it makes the menu bar and tabs disappear, for no good reason that I can see but once engaged it makes it difficult, if not impossible to close. Fortunately there’s an easy way to get everything back, simply double click the mouse in the empty space next to the End Task button and everything should be back to normal. It’s a toggle action so double click again and the menus vanish again.

 

11/07/06

Transferring StarWriter Discs to a PC

Hi Rick, I have a number of StarWriter discs I wish to transfer to my PC. I have tried doing it via the floppy drive but the result is always a load of gobbledegook.  Any Ideas?

Alec Smith.

 

A. The Canon StarWriter all-in-one word processor/printer was quite popular in the late 80s and early 90s and a lot more convenient than the PCs and laptops of the day. Unfortunately it used a proprietary filing system and discs cannot be read, at least not directly, by a PC. If you still have a working StarWriter or can track one down (they turn up on ebay from time to time) then you can try loading and then resaving the documents on a PC formatted disc as plain text files. Failing that a file conversion utility called WinConv should do the trick. This handles a wide range of old and obsolete file formats, including those used by Canon’s Starwriters. However, this is commercial software and it will cost you around £40. A free trial version with limited functionality is available but this should tell you if it’s worth shelling out for the full version. 

 

10/07/06

Embedding Fonts in Word Documents

Hi Rick, how can I embed "O Type" and "True Type" (Multinational, Wingdings) fonts in MS Word 2002 documents so that they will be read properly on any PC even, if these fonts are not installed?

Charles Carlino

 

A. It can be done, however there are a couple of ifs and buts. Firstly you can only embed TrueType fonts in Word documents, and second the font designer must have made the font ‘embeddable’.

 

There’s one other point to bear in mind and that is when you embed a font you increase the file size, and this can be quite significant if, for example you want to send it by email. On the second point, as to whether or not a font is embeddable I suggest downloading a Microsoft Shell Extension called Font Properties. It gives you lots of additional info about a font, including its embedding features, if you right click on a font file icon in Windows Explorer (C:\WINDOWS\Fonts) and select Properties (click the Features tab).

 

Now back to Word, and to embed a font in a document go to Tools > Options and click the Save tab. Check the item ‘Embed TrueType Fonts; you can save a little file space by checking the item ‘Embed characters in use only’, click OK and save your document as normal.

 

07/07/06

Folder Views Won't Stick

Hi Rick, I use Paint Shop Pro7 in a PC and a laptop, both running Windows XP (SP2). With the laptop, when opening an image file folder the view menu always opens to 'Thumbnails' and defaults to this every time it is used. I cannot find a way of getting it to stay on "list", which is what I prefer. With the PC, if 'List' view is selected, it is stays there as default. The same software was installed on each computer, so why they behave differently remains a mystery to me.

Norman Bennett

 

A. I'm sure you've tried this but just in case the proper way to make an Explorer 'View' stick is to choose the view then go to View > Folder Options > View tab and click 'Like Current Folder' then click OK.

 

In case that doesn't work then the next place to look is the Registry, where there is a setting that limits the number of changes you can make to Windows folder settings, which by default is set to 400. Don't worry, you don't have to go into the Registry to fix this problem, all you need to do is install one of my favourite utilities, called Tweak UI For XP. Install the program then on the left hand directory tree go to Explorer > Customisations and change the value to 500 or 1000 and see if that does the trick.

 

06/07/06

DOES ANYONE STILL MAKE TAPE RECORDERS?

Hi Rick, I need help!  My father and his parents communicated via mini reel-to-reels for close to 20 years before switching to cassette tapes.  I have around 100 tapes containing valuable family history but am hitting a brick wall.  I have 2 players:  Craig 212 and a Sharp RD-305.  The Sharp plays but when I string up a tape it  comes across at the wrong speed....talking vvveerrry slowly.  The black wheel on the Craig seems to be stuck and won't move.

 

I am transferring the cassettes to my PC to make into CDs for the family.  I am a little pressed for time because my uncle has been diagnosed with Type 4 cancer and I'd like to surprise him with this...only thing that I can do to feel like I am helping him out. Does anybody make brand spanking new mini reel-to-reels?  What are your suggestions?

Jenny Lanning-Rush

 

A. A small handful of specialist reel-to-reel tape recorders are still being made and needless to say they are eye-wateringly expensive. The alternative is to buy a second-hand 70’s or 80’s machine from ebay. The best ones were built like brick outhouses and still have plenty of life left in them. There are plenty to choose from, including many superb models that can outperform many of today’s hi-fi components. Brands like Akai, Revox, Sony and Teac are worth looking out for and shortlist machines that have been refurbished or come with a guarantee. You should be able to pick up something fairly decent for between £100 and £150.

 

As for the speed problem, my guess is the tapes were recorded on small rim-drive machines, where the reels, but not the tape runs at a constant speed. They play back okay on the machine they were recorded on but if played on a ‘capstan drive’ recorder there will be a very noticeable change in pitch as the tape moves from one reel to the other. You should be able to fiddle the speed and cancel out the worst errors using your computer’s recording software but it’s quite a job.

 

05/07/06

Matching Printer And Monitor Colours

Dear Rick, I am now the proud owner of a Canon IXUS 750 digital camera. I also have Paint Shop Pro X on Windows XP and use an Epson Stylus R220 printer. After spending quite a lot of time beautifying my pictures (?) I find there is a considerable difference between the colours on the screen and the colours printed on the paper. In this case more yellow and brighter. Please can you advise me? Is there a method of balancing the colours between the screen and printer?

Ben Lyon

 

A. The basic problem is that your monitor builds an image with light using the three primary colours (red green and blue) whilst your printer creates images using coloured inks, (‘CYMK’ - Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and blacK, sometimes more), and your eyes are the only common point of reference, however, they react differently to your monitor and to printed material. To being you should have a look at this free Monitor Calibration Wizard, which will ensure that your monitor is set up correctly. For more information there’s a useful primer on this thorny subject on the Signindustry website. It’s a bit high-end and technical in places but it neatly outlines the problem and discusses the various techniques involved n colour matching.

 

04/07/06

CLEARING A PC FOR SALE

Hi Rick, I am sure you have written about clearing an old computer before passing it on to charity etc but can you give a link so I can read how to take off all my data and clear the heard drive of my personal stuff?

Carol Williams

 

A. We have covered this topic once or twice in the past and to save you looking here’s the gist of the advice I usually give. First the legal bit and the small print in the Windows End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) and most other major software applications basically says you don’t own them but are merely allowed to use them, so if you want to stay on the right side of the law you should erase the drive on any PC you are selling or otherwise disposing of. Apparently it is possible to transfer a Microsoft licence to another user but I suspect it’s more trouble than its worth. Anyway, the simplest way to ‘erase’ a hard drive is to reformat it, using an old Windows 98 rescue floppy. This will boot the PC to DOS and at the flashing prompt type ‘format :c’. Theoretically it is possible to recover data from a formatted disc so if you want to do a really thorough job, with no possibility of any data being found then use a freeware utility like Active KillDisk, which both erases and overwrites data on the drive, excluding any possibility of recovery. The paid for ‘Pro’ version goes one step further and wipes disc to comply with US military standards.

 

03/07/06

CAN’T SHARE BROADBAND CONNECTION

Hi, Rick, well my problem started when I changed from regular DSL broadband to cable broadband. When I had gotten the darn thing I couldn't seem to get my wireless Netgear Router to work with it and now that I have guess what? Only one computer can use the connection at a time. I tried wireless and hard connection neither does the trick. I can basically only use one laptop. I've spoken to the ISP and although they reassure me that it's possible to get my kit to work, their solution is that I call a specialist division for home networking at £1 a minute on the phone. I can't find any real help on the web at all so this is one of my last attempts before I reconsider my cable broadband.
Abdi Egeh

 

A. Your ISP is right and it should be possible to share your connection on two or more PCs through your Netgear router, so if it was working before must have changed.  I suggest that you go back to square one and set up your network again, but start with WEP encryption switched off. Use the Network Connection Wizard in Control Panel and follow the prompts to the letter. If you run into problems try running The Dude on the PC(s) that is able to connect to the net. This little freeware utility will map out the network connections and hopefully help you to pinpoint the problem.

 

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