Houston We Have a Problem… 015 16/12/06


Projecting the Right Image

I own a digital projector and use it with my laptop to give presentations. I'm almost at the point of giving up because of my inability to get a decent image from the projector on the screen. How do I match the laptop's output to that of the projector so what I see on one screen appears on the other? Is there an order in which I change brightness or contrast?

Dennis Coote, by email


Projectors can be tricky customers and it is important to bear in mind their many limitations, compared with other types of display device. Also, unless it is a fixed installation you are always going to have to contend with variables that you have little or no control over, such as ambient lighting conditions, screen distance and position and so on.


There’s not much you can do about the image coming out of your laptop, except to make sure that the display matches the projector’s ‘native’ resolution.


When making adjustments to the projector it is important to wait for at least ten minutes after switching it on, to allow the temperature of the lamp and other key components to stabilise. If you don’t you can easily end up chasing your tail, trying to compensate for changes in brightness and colour temperature that occur during the warm-up phase. You should also check the ‘age’ of your projector lamp; as they reach the end of their working lives the light output and colour characteristics can start to change.


The best way to set up a projector is to use specialised test patterns. Professional calibrated pattern generators are very expensive but you can get good results using test patterns recorded on DVD or created using PC software. The DVD of the Disney Pixar movie ‘The Incredibles’ includes a set of test patterns called the THX Optimizer for adjusting brightness and contrast. For a more comprehensive set of patterns have a look at the DVD Video CD Reference Suite from IT Works (http://www.itworks.com/products/DVDref-suite.htm). 




Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

I have just bought a new computer and I would like to have two separate partitions on the HDD, one for Windows 98 and all my old software, and another for Windows XP or Vista. I seem to remember reading somewhere that this can be difficult.  Can you advise please?
Peter Caspar, by email


Partitioning, or splitting a hard disc drive into two or more ‘virtual’ drives is best carried out before any operating systems (OS) are installed. This is especially true of a dual boot (or multi-boot) setup, but in any case the oldest version of Windows (i.e. Windows 98) should always be installed first. You will also have to use the FAT32 filing system for the Windows 98 partition, and NTFS for XP and Vista.


It can be done retrospectively on a drive that already has an operating system installed using specialist utilities like Partition Magic but I advise against it. It’s far better to wipe the drive and start from scratch by creating partitions using the utility on the Windows XP installation disc. 




Printing from Web Pages

I am trying to print off one specific item from a web page, or even one single page of a website, but I end up with all of the pages. If I try to highlight the bit I want everything is highlighted so everything is printed. How can I get it to restrict the printing to what I need and thus save time, paper and ink?

Ken Roberts, by email


Internet Explorer can print individual ‘frames’ on a web page and this option is normally selected by default (File > Print > Options tab), however, not all web sites use frames, so it’s largely academic. You should be able to select any part of a web page using your mouse but it needs a steady hand. I find it easiest to click the mouse at the end or bottom right hand corner of the part I want to highlight then click, hold and slowly drag the mouse pointer to the start of the section. Incidentally, if you are finding it difficult to control the mouse precisely try reducing its sensitivity by going to Start > Control Panel > Mouse and select the Pointer Options tab.


Once you have highlighted the part you want to print right click on it and select Copy (or press Ctrl + C). Now open a blank Word document, right click to create an insertion point then select Paste (or press Ctrl + V) and print the document as normal. If you want to capture an image from a web page just right-click on it, select Save Picture As navigate to the folder where you want it to be stored and click Save. 



Emailing Video Clips

I have some video Clips from my Nikon Coolpix camera that I want to e-mail to a friend but so far I have failed to find a means of doing this successfully. Am I doing something wrong or is it just not possible to do it? Just clicking on them and then e-mail doesn't work - and yes, I'm not terribly computer literate I'm afraid!
Elizabeth Fenley, by email


Video clips have to be sent as ‘attachments’ to your emails. Compose your email then click on the Attachment icon on the message box toolbar. In the dialogue box that opens locate your video clip file, select it, click the Attach button then Send the message as normal.




© R. Maybury 2006 0412


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