Houston We Have
a Problem… 006 14/10/06
Kitchen to Spanish Patios
I have a
picture of my two granddaughters standing side-by-side dressed in Spanish gypsy
costumes but with an English Ikea-style kitchen as a background! Is it possible
to ‘lift’ the image of the two girls and superimpose it on a more suitable
background such as a picture of a Spanish patio?
It certainly is and you will need a decent photo-editing program; I suggest a
novice-friendly application like PaintShop Pro, Adobe PhotoShop Elements or
Ulead PhotoImpact. Some of these programs have automated ‘wizards’ for
extracting people or objects from pictures but the results can be variable and
it’s often easier to do it manually.
Basically all you have to do is use a selection ‘tool’ to define the
edges of the subjects then copy and paste the selection into your second
picture. The two images are blended by ‘feathering’, ‘cloning’ or ‘airbrushing’
the edges. Adjusting the brightness and contrast levels will help to match the
None of these techniques are difficult to master but to do a really
convincing job takes practice and fair amount of patience. One final tip, never
work on your original images, then it won’t matter if make a mistake or need to
use them again.
Security On The Move
I wish to use a
laptop with a wireless connection to access the Internet in hotels,
airports, etc. How can I secure my data and VOIP telephone conversations from
Tony Collins, by
Your VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) Internet phone calls should be
encrypted -- check with your provider -- if so they will be reasonably private
but your PC and the data it contains is definitely at risk when you log onto a
wireless ‘hotspot’. Normally you have to switch off your Wi-Fi connection’s
encryption system, which could leave it wide open so here are a few tips that
should keep you out of trouble. Switch off File Sharing on your PC before you
set out and if you have to temporarily disable your antivirus and firewall
software in order to log on make sure you switch them on again once the
connection is up and running. Monitor the data flowing in and out of your PC
through the connection or networking utility and be sure to keep your wits
about you and be aware of anyone close by acting suspiciously. Protect your PC
by keeping it in your possession at all times, enable the BIOS password and
encrypt any private, personal or sensitive data stored on the hard drive.
analogue video in Windows Movie Maker from my Sony Hi8 camcorder, using a
standard audio and video cables plugged into the capture card, I get a
picture but no sound. Why is my PC not picking up the audio as well? I've
checked the connections and options in the video capture wizard but cannot work
out what is going wrong.
A. First check that your camcorder is
actually recording sound, and playing it back by connecting it directly to your
TV, preferably using the same leads that you use with your PC setup. If that’s
okay then the fault must lie with the capture card, its driver software or
Windows Movie Maker. The latter probably all right since it is recording video
but it wouldn’t hurt to uninstall it and download the latest version from Microsoft.
When you make your recording check that the audio level slider is set to the
left (Audio from Video). If it still
doesn’t work remove the capture card and uninstall any programs that came with
it. Check the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s any updated software,
reinstall the card, reload the software and try again. If the soundtrack is
still mute then the chances are the capture card is faulty.
Lack of Support Forces Upgrade
I am running Windows ME. Microsoft Update informs me that
since July Windows 95, 98 and ME are no longer supported. It would seem that I
can download XP SP2 for free. I have had Windows ME since March 2001 and
it has given me no problems. I would be grateful for any comments.
Alwyn Williams, by email
A. Sadly Microsoft is not that generous and I am afraid that you have
misunderstood the offer on the Windows 98 update page (it is badly worded).
This is for Windows XP Service Pack 2, which is a free upgrade for Windows XP.
Microsoft has withdrawn support for Windows ME doesn’t mean your computer will
suddenly stop working and nowadays it’s much less of a target for virus writers
and hackers. Provided you have a firewall and keep your anti-virus software
updated it should soldier on until your hardware expires, and there’s plenty of
help and support for ME users on the web if you do run into trouble.
In any case I don’t
think upgrading to XP would be a good idea, your PC may well be too slow or
underpowered, and operating system upgrades rarely go smoothly, unless you wipe
your hard drive and start over.
Your PC is getting
on a bit, though -- 5 years is quite a good age -- so make sure your backups are up to date, and it wouldn’t hurt
to start thinking about its eventual replacement.
© R. Maybury