Are CRTs Still Better than LCDs?
Hi Rick, I have bought a new PC and plan on doing a lot of
work with digital photographs. A few years ago, I heard that CRTs were better than LCDs for
working with images (due to better colour range, resolution etc). Is that still
true now or are LCDs as good as CRTs?
A. It’s difficult to say, there are lot of parameters you
can scientifically measure but in the end image quality is subjective. LCD
screens have improved in leaps and bounds in the past five years and personally
I would find it very difficult to go back to a CRT display.
Apart from the obvious benefits of taking up less room, using less power
and not attracting the dust, for me one of the biggest benefits is the complete
lack of flicker. Even when CRTs are set to the highest refresh rates I am still
aware of it and I suspect it was responsible for some quite severe headaches,
which stopped the moment I switched to an LCD display.
I am also aware of line
‘whistle’, generated by a CRT monitor’s high voltage and scanning components,
even though at my great age I’m not supposed to be able to hear it. I’m sure
that in lab tests high-end CRT monitors can still do better than CRTs on colour
purity and fidelity, and they have the edge with contrast ratio but these
differences are now quite small, and I doubt very much they make any difference
in the real world.
LCDs can only get better and cheaper and with more PCs
having digital monitor connections there’s no longer any need to convert the digital
signals coming out of a PC into an analogue form, which does introduce noise
and degrade picture quality but in the end only you can decide. So pop down to
your local PC vendor and let your own eyes make the decision, and I wouldn’t
mind betting that LCD comes out on top.
Free Firewall Suggestions
Hi Rick, could you recommend a good free firewall
please? I am an OAP using internet banking. I have Norton AntiVirus
software but not a firewall (except Windows).
A. You are spoilt for choice and programs like Kerio
Personal Firewall, Comodo
Outpost all come highly recommended but in my opinion the best all-rounder
It’s one of the oldest and still one of the most effective and easy to
configure firewalls, and you can’t argue with the price…
Picasa 2 Duplicating Pictures
Rick Hi, I have Picasa 2 on my laptop, which stores
identical folders of the pictures I’ve taken over last few years. If I delete a
picture from one file it automatically deletes itself from the other. Is there
any way I can clear the My Pictures files without removing them from Picasa?
A. At first glance Picasa’s file management system does seem
a bit odd but it is one of the program’s key features and the idea is that it
leaves your original image files intact. In other words you can use the tools
to make changes to an image, but this won’t affect the original.
versions this was actually a bit of a nuisance as there was no easy way to
export an edited image from Picasa but this has since been fixed. Unless you
are desperately short of hard disc space I would leave Picasa to get on with
it. If you want to delete Picasa’s picture files your originals will be okay but
if you do it the other way around -- delete images in your My Picture folder -
then obviously they will also disappear from Picasa’s library.
Lost Connection on an IBM Laptop
Hi Rick, I have two desktop computers, one on XP Pro &
the other on XP Home, connected together on Broadband. Both are working fine.
In addition I have an IBM 360E laptop, which has a serial port that I use with
VAG-COM, which is some diagnostic software I can use with the Engine Management
System on my VW. Serial Ports on
laptops are now like hens teeth.
When I got the laptop about 4 years ago the dial up
connection worked fine. I have tried on a number of occasions to connect to my
Broadband but without success. In the
process I have lost the dial up connection to IE & OE.
OE and IE both open when clicked and the dial up connection
box comes up but neither of them will connect. I would really like to connect to
my Broadband ISP. What do I need in term of a card to plug into the laptop?
Have you any ideas where the problem might lie in relation to the dial up
A. Since you have two PCs sharing a broadband connection I
presume you have set up a simple network, in which case you can connect the
laptop to it using a cable to your router or you could set up a wireless
connection, though the latter would involve buying a Wi-Fi router (costing
around £40 - £50), and an adaptor (PC Card or USB adaptor -- both around £20 -
It’s difficult to say at this distance what’s wrong with your dial-up
connection but rather than mess around trying to repair it I would start over.
Delete all of your existing Dial Up Connections from My Computer then uninstall
the modem from Device Manager, and do the same with any modem utilities that
appear in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel. When you reboot you should be
asked to reload the modem driver from the utility disc that came with your PC
and you can then set up a fresh dial up connection.
Uninstalling Unstable Updates
Hi Rick, every time I boot up the computer I get a message
telling me there are updates ready for my computer (from Microsoft?). When I
try to download or install them I eventually get a message telling me the
installation failed only to go through the whole process next time I boot up. It
seems to originate from a small, yellow shield in the task bar. The downloads
are KB920103/KB920907 and KB921566. I have tried Search to find and delete them,
but with no success.
A. Microsoft updates, if they’ve installed, or partially
installed on your PC can normally be found in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel.
They’re towards the bottom of the main programs list (not Windows
Components), and you remove them like any other piece of software, by
highlighting the entry, and clicking Remove. However, not all updates can be
uninstalled. The three you are having problems with are all for MS Office 2003
and Office components and they should be uninstallable but if the worst comes
to the worst and they start to cause you real problems then I would backup all
of your data, reinstall Office and start over.
Right Click Too Quick…
When I right click
anywhere on the all programs list the right click menu disappears so fast that
I cannot see anything on the menu. I was trying at the time to use 'Sort
By Name'. Can you help please?
A. Right-clicking into a blank area of the All Programs list doesn’t
bring up any ‘context menus, but it does make the parts of the list blink,
which may be what you are mistaking for a menu. To get to the Sort by Name
option you have to right-click on an actual item, it doesn’t matter which one.
Trouble With Dell
Drifting Mouse Pointer
Rick, I have a Dell
Inspiron 4000 running Windows ME. I work with the integrated touchpad. For some time now I have had a problem with
a wandering cursor. When I boot up, quite
often the cursor will make random uncontrollable movements across the screen,
sometimes just zooming off to the top right hand corner of the screen and
staying there. At other times it will
just freeze in the middle of the screen and refuse to move, and on other
occasions when I use the touchpad it will just make jerky movements, usually in
the opposite direction to where I have tried to move it. This is extremely irritating, not just because I can't work, but I also
cannot shut down correctly. At other
times it works perfectly.
I have anti virus
and anti spyware software running.
Recently I deactivated the little tracker button in the centre of the
keypad, which seemed to help a little, but I have never been able to find
anyone who can explain why this is happening and how to cure it.
A. So-called ‘Dell
Mouse drift’ is a known problem, as a Google search will reveal. There seems to
be several caused but in your case I suspect it’s due to wear or a fault in the
tracker button or joystick. Disabling it usually fixes the problems but I have
seen reports that installing a new driver for the touchpad, or replacing it
with one from Synaptics,
can also help. For further reading I suggest gimbo.com
and Rick Strahl’s Weblog
Hi Rick, I have used a disk cleanup program and then
performed a Defrag, however at the end of the Defrag, the computer states that
3.38mb of data cannot be deleted. These files are shown as red fragmented files
on the Defrag scan bar. I have tried navigating to them via Explorer and
deleting manually, but an error message states the two files are in use by
another piece of software.
The files are
ntuser and ntuser.dat. I believe that are corrupted files from Nero - the
burning software. I have ensured that Nero was closed at all times. Please can
you advise how I can remove these files as they are taking up valuable space on
my limited hard drive?
A. I think it very unwise to
use disc ‘cleaner’ programs unless you know them to be reliable, and I would
never do so without making a backup of essential files and the Registry first.
This concern is illustrated by the two files that your program has flagged up
as needing to be deleted.
They are both essential Registry files that store
user profiles and settings and on no account should they be deleted or your system
will almost certainly be trashed or inaccessible. I think the only way out of
this problem is to uninstall the cleaner software and use System Restore to
return your PC to a date before you used it. With luck you’ll be back to
normal. If you are running short of hard disc space manually delete unwanted
programs using Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, but it’s going to keep on happening
so I would think about installing a second ‘slave hard drive. If your PC is
slowing down then take a look at Boot Camp 355 XP
Rick, do you have
any suggestions for software for archiving printed documents? I'd like to scan seldom used printed
documents (without OCR - just imaging) and save them with some tags or keywords
- so I can throw out the paper copies.
I'm thinking about old bank statements, receipts, letters etc.
A. Almost any
database program can be used to organise your archives and if you have
Microsoft Office then you need look no further than Access. However, since you
are dealing with images why not use a picture viewer program? I’m thinking in
particular of Picasa,
which has excellent search facilities, and of course you’ll be able to categorise
and view your scans with minimal effort.
Explorer Freezes Windows
Rick, can you
please? When I return to Desktop after surfing the net, but still remain
connected to the net, often my PC freezes and I am unable to move the cursor. I
am using Windows 98SE and Internet Explorer 6. I access the Internet using a
Dial up Modem. My Firewall is Agnitum Outpost Firewall Pro and my antivirus is
When I first boot
up I have no problem surfing the net, however, whenever I close down open web
pages, it often does not respond (or occasionally takes a few minutes). Often
everything freezes I have to press the reset button. When rebooted I can then
always connect to the Internet and continue surfing.
A. You’ve got
plenty to choose from with this one but the top suspect is a malware program or
service running in the background that objects to the connection being closed,
so begin by carrying out a full malware scan using cleaner tools like AdAware
and Spybot S&D. IE could be faulty so try a Repair, install, from
Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, and if that doesn’t work, or is
unavailable uninstall then reinstall the latest version. Finally, it’s possible
that buggy software has damaged Winsock, which is a program that handles
communications between the Windows and applications on your PC that use the
Internet. A freeware tool called LSP-Fix should put it back on track.
Dear Rick, I have a Canon N670U scanner and also a lot
of 6" x 4" photos to scan. Is it possible to scan (and save) 2 or
3 photos at a time? I have XP Home, Elements 3, and Photoshop CS2.
A. It certainly is
and you can capture as many images as you can squeeze onto your scanner’s glass
platen, but they will be combined into one image. Whilst it is a simple matter
to separate them out again using your picture editing program’s Selection Tool
and the copy/paste functions, the quality of each image will be reduced,
possibly quite significantly, depending on the resolution setting of the
scanner, and here comes the inevitable Catch 22 Situation. If you increase the
resolution of the scan, to minimise the quality losses the time it takes to
scan and process the image will also increase, so by the time you add on the
time it will take to split the images in your photo editing program, it would
probably be just as quick to scan the photographs one at a time.
Why can’t I see
GIFs on my PC?
Ahoy there Rick, I
have XP home, and my gif files seem to have stopped working. No one locally knows why. I need them to
show animated knot tying for demonstration purposes. I know they still work on the web site as others confirm they do
PCs, but not on
mine! Any ideas?
A. And a yo-ho-ho and splice the mainbrace to you.. GIF or Graphic
Interchange Format image files are not native to Windows, in fact it’s a
comparatively ancient lossless compressed file format originally developed by
CompuServe back in 1987.
Nevertheless, Gifs can be viewed by a number of programs, including
Windows Paint but my guess is there’s a problem with ‘file association’, which
is the way Windows knows which programs to use to open a particular type of
file. To fix the problem open Windows Explorer and go to Tools > Folder
Options and select the File Types tab. Scroll down the list and click to
highlight ‘GIF’ then click the Change button and you will be shown a list of
programs that you can use to view your Gifs, the default is usually Microsoft
Photo Editor but you can use Paint or any other image editing program you have
on your PC.
ViewCam to a Laptop
Hi Rick, I have a
Sharp VL-E30 ViewCam and I want to transfer the contents of the tapes to DVD.
However. I cannot find anybody that has the necessary cable for a direct
connection to my laptop. Any suggestions?
A. I had to dig deep into my
archives to find this machine, back to the mid 1990s in fact, so I have to say
that I’m impressed that you have one and that it is still in working order.
Anyway, being a ‘high-band’ analogue machine means that it has two video
outputs: normal composite video, and S-Video or ‘Y/C’. Neither is particularly
unusual and phono-to-phone cables for composite video and 5-pin mini-DIN leads
are still very widely available.
What you probably won’t find is a
corresponding socket on your laptop. That’s because the analogue video
signal(s) from your camcorder have to be converted into a digital format,
before they can be downloaded onto your PC. Your best bet would be to use a
device like the Terratec
Grabster, which costs around £50 and plugs into your PC’s USB socket. It
comes with some simple recording, editing and DVD authoring software so it’s
virtually ready to use straight out of the box.
Setting up a Family
Dear Rick, we would
appreciate you advice on the following: The family is spread around the
world. The idea is that we agree
certain time of the day and I "broadcast live" to the family the
latest news and gossip of the family in this part of the world. Also we would like to be able to have
questions/answers. Which would be the
best webcam system, and not too expensive?
A. You are spoilt
for choice, and I don’t think you will have to spend a penny as there are
several freeware video conferencing programs available. However, I would begin
with Skype, and although it
doesn’t support multi-way video conferencing, it can be done using an add-on
called Festoon. The advantage
of Skype is that you can use it to call up the members of your family, so
there’s no need to worry about them being on line at a particular time. It is a
cross-platform system, so it doesn’t matter if some of your relatives are using
Mac or Linux PCs, and it works.
Other possibilities include SplitCamera, a purpose designed freeware
video conferencing application, and iVisit, which is a
paid for program, but this should ensure that you get help and support, if you
run into difficulties.
Repairing A Cracked
Hi Rick, I have a
problem with the Windows XP Home installation CD for my laptop. Whilst trying
to carry out a Repair Install I inadvertently shut the drawer without checking
the disc was properly inserted. I pressed too hard and it cracked the edge of
the disc and now it refuses to work. The trouble is the company that made the
laptop is no longer in business and Microsoft it will not replace the disc
because it is an OEM copy. The crack is only about half a centimetre long, is
there any hope?
A. There’s always hope but a
cracked CD can be a tricky customer and it may well be that the cure is more
expensive than a replacement Windows CD. The first thing I would try is a
program called Badcopy Pro. It
can repair damaged files on CD (and other media) but there’s a lot of ifs and
buts, so I recommend trying the free demo first. This will tell you if it can
recover any files. If so you can pay the licence fee ($40) and it will carry
out the repair by copying the files to your PC’s hard drive and you can use the
files to create a slipstreamed installation disc (see Boot Camps 428
There’s a money-back guarantee if it doesn’t work, so in theory you have
nothing to loose. There are a number of companies who can repair damaged CDs
but the charges are likely to be quite a bit more than the cost of a new copy
of Windows, so I think that in the end you will probably have to cough up, and
take as a lesson to handle your discs carefully.
Syncing Folders and
Dear Rick, my PC
and Laptop are networked and I have folders and emails (OE6) on each machine
and I would like to be able to synchronise them on a regular basis. I have
SyncToy but I have no idea if it would work by using this software. Or would
you suggest tackling this task in some other way?
A. Synching your
emails should be easy, simply set up the same accounts on both PCs and in each
Accounts Properties, on the Advanced tab, check the option to ‘Leave a copy of message on server’. Emails
will accumulate in your server’s inbox but you can periodically cull them using
a browser mail client like mail2web.
the rest of your folder syncing needs I suggest using the good old Windows
Briefcase. This little-used facility will do everything that you want, and with
a bit of fiddling around, could even be persuaded to handle your email
synchronisation. Basically you would have to set up OE Store Folders on both
PCs and place them inside the Briefcase. You’ll find more about the Briefcase
and Windows other syncing utility, Offline Files, in Boot Camps 378 and 379 .
way, great name Ergin, and I'm ashamed to say that I suspected it was an anagram so I ran
your name through an on-line
solver but the best it could come up with was Cure Legging and Runic Egg
blocked by Zone Alarm
Rick, over the last few days I have been getting
Zone Alarm pop-ups telling me that jview is trying to contact the
Internet. I'm not computer literate and a search for an explanation of
jview that I can actually understand has been fruitless. I should be
grateful for your advice about allowing or denying access to jview.
A. I’ve not had much luck with it either. The ‘jview
filename is used by a variety of applications, plug-ins and services and I’ve
found a fair number of references to it but none of them are very helpful so
the first thing I would do is block it, and if your PC or any of the programs
you use regularly doesn’t complain then you obviously don’t need it.
Make sure your PC’s security is fully up to date. A ‘jview Profiler’
vulnerability was addressed by Security
Bulletin MS05-037 last year and this includes updates for Internet Explorer
v5 and v6, which you may not have. I would run a full virus and malware scans
Defender and Spybot,
This or X-Ray PC,
for good measure.
Rogue Program Trying to Install at Startup
Hi Rick, my computer has developed an annoying little
foible. Every time I boot, Windows tries to install a program called
PhotoGallery. It then stops with a message that it needs to access the source
CD, which I do not have. I have used a sledgehammer to stop this happening- a
bit of an inelegant solution - in that I have disabled Windows Installer in the
Services section of msconfig. Is there a better way of sorting out this
problem? Thanks for your articles and site - invaluable.
A. You were in the right area with the Windows Configuration
Utility (msconfig) and I suspect you’ll find the rogue installer lurking on the
Startup list (click the Startup tab).
Unfortunately I can’t be more specific as I have found at least half a
dozen programs and plug-ins called PhotoGallery but if you uncheck any likely
looking items, and they turn out to be innocent, you can always re-check them
after a reboot. Better while you are on the Startup list take the opportunity
to clear out the clutter, I’m willing to bet that at least three quarters of
the entries you’ll find there are just wasting your PC’s resources, and maybe
even spying on you. You find a very comprehensive list of Startup entries, what
they do, and whether or not you need them on the Sysinfo website.
Thumbnails, but no Images
Rick, an oddity
seems to be occurring with my pictures.
I have downloaded photos from
my camera and when viewing them in Windows Explorer you can see the
thumbnails. However, if I try and open up the picture into any program
(have tried Windows Picture Viewer, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop Elements as
well as Paint) it says it cannot open the picture or that there is no picture
there to view. Is there any way
I can copy the thumbnail image so that at least I have something? I wondered if you have any ideas, as they
are some rather special pictures that I thought I had safely copied!
A. I think the first thing to do if check whether or not you
have actually downloaded images from the camera and the easy way to tell is to
look at the size of the file. A JPEG image should be somewhere between 0.5 and
2.5Mb (500kb - 2500kb), depending on the camera, picture quality and so on.
Thumbnails are generally only a few tens of bytes in size, so if Windows
Explorer isn’t showing full size image files (in the Details View) then you
need to go back and run through the procedure and or software you use to
transfer images from the camera. If the picture files have been copied across
to your hard drive and they cannot be opened in any of your picture viewer
programs then they may be corrupt, which could mean that there is something
wrong with your camera. If the files are damaged try a program called Zero Assumption
Recovery, the free demo will tell you if it’s possible to extract anything
viewable from the files.
If the image files are corrupt and the only thing you have
left is the thumbnails all you can really do is make a screen grab of the
folder (make sure the Explorer title bar is illuminated and press the PrtScn
key) now past the resulting Bitmap image in PaintShop Pro and use the selection
tools to copy and paste images one at a time, so they can be viewed using the
magnifier however, once you go past x2 or x3 magnification the quality will be
very poor indeed.
Recover Data from
Hi Rick, my PC has
packed up with probable diagnosis of motherboard failure. The hard disk is
fine and I have connected it as slave to another PC. How can I recover my
email and address book and contacts, which are in Outlook?
A. If it is just a motherboard failure then you should be
able to connect up your drive to its replacement and reboot into your old
system, even if it’s a different make or model of motherboard. You will have to
install drivers for the new mobo, and Windows (if you are using XP) will need
to be reactivated but you should be back up and running again within the hour.
Outlook data is actually very easy to move form one PC or
drive to another. Email messages, your address book and settings are all stored
in a ‘pst’ folder, which you will normally find in: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Local Settings\Application
Data\Microsoft\Outlook. Simply use Outlook’s Import command on the File menu to
copy the data into your new system.
Sent To, Send Picture Via Email Missing
Hi Rick, the "Send To" option used to offer a very
useful option to reduce the file size of the picture being sent, but it has now
stopped giving me this option - it just adds the attachment to an email at any
size!. I have tried all ways to find how to restore this option but cannot! Can
A. This handy little facility was removed by a recent security patch, or
perhaps you did it manually and forgot about it. Either way following the discovery
of the so-called Windows Meta File (WMF) Exploit, one of the suggested remedies
was to switch off of disable the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, and the
picture re-sizing component you see when you click Send To Email Recipient was
part of it. Provided your PC’s security patches are kept up to date there
should be any problem switching it back on again, and to do that go to Run on
the Start menu and type REGSVR32 SHIMGVW.DLL then click OK.