Houston We Have a Problem… 018 13/01/07


Vinyl to PC

I recently purchased a Steepletone 3-speed record player to use as an input into a PC to convert old records to CD's. I tried plugging it into the PC but no luck. Any suggestions?

Ray Kitt, by email


Unlike hi-fi amplifiers PCs do not have the necessary ‘phono’ inputs needed to process and amplify the extremely weak signal coming from the turntable’s pick-up cartridge. You have two choices. If you have a hi-fi amplifier with phono inputs connect the record player to them then run a cable from the amp’s ‘line output’ or headphone socket to the PC’s ‘line input’ socket. Alternatively you can use a gadget called a Phono Pre-amplifier, which connects between the turntable and the PC. These can be purchased from companies like Maplin Electronics for around £25.


However, if you want to go on to record your albums, remove the hiss and clicks and copy them to disc or a personal music player then you should take a look at our series of Boot Camp articles (Vinyl and Tape to CD and MP3), which explains the whole process in detail.



Back Up Blues

I normally back up the data on my external hard drives every couple of months. Now, one of my hard drives has failed and I want to recover the data including that not previously saved. My data was encrypted and saved on a 120Gb 2.5inch USB hard drive. Most of the companies I have found on the Internet are quoting hundreds of pounds to recover the lost data and I think that most extortionate. I believe that a cost of around one hundred pounds plus the price of a new disk to contain the recovered data is more reasonable.
Do you know of any companies that are sensibly priced? I would be prepared to send my drive overseas rather than fork out a lot of money to these opportunist bandits!
Mike Hyde, by email


I think you are being unfair; these companies are the computer equivalent of plumbers and locksmiths. They provide a service to get you out of trouble, but you always have choices -- more on that in a moment. However, in the end it all depends on the value you put on your data. A few hundred pounds would be insignificant if the data involved were a company’s financial records, for example. Similarly if the drive contained the only copies of your digital photographs or home movies, how much would you be prepared to pay to get them back? The prices you’ve been quoted sound like flat rates and take no account of the amount of work and effort involved, which could be anything from a few hours to a several weeks. 


There is always the DIY option and there are plenty of ‘Recovery’ tools on the market that might help. However, in the same way that you trying to fix a burst water pipe can make things even worse, so using one of these programs could result in the destruction of all of the data on the drive. As for sending the drive abroad to save money, it seems to me that you are only increasing the risk of losing everything!



Hidden Recipients

Is there any way that, when sending copies of the same email to a number of different addresses, that you can ‘hide’ the various email addresses which the copies are being sent to?


Recently I have been in contact with an American friend, who has included me on a circulation of photos of her new grandson. All the other addresses, to which the email has been sent, appear in full on the ‘Cc’ list. Since then, I have been receiving 10 to 12 spam emails per day, all seeming to originate in the US.

Ken Allcroft. By email


I am constantly amazed by the number of mass-emails and press releases I receive from companies with their client lists in the Cc box, and these are coming from organisations who you would have thought should know better. These lists are a godsend for spammers but it is so easy to avoid. In Outlook Express (and most other email programs) use the Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc) facility. Simply address the email to yourself and put all of the other recipient’s addresses into the Bcc box. Incidentally if Bcc isn’t displayed beneath the Cc box in an OE New Message window go to the View menu and click ‘All Headers’.



Inactive Activation

I deleted my old Windows 98 to install Windows XP, not realising that you need an Internet connection to Activate the XP system. As I do not use the Internet (and have no connection) I cannot Activate. How do I delete the XP system and reinstall Windows 98?
David Hope, by email


There’s no need to uninstall Windows XP. Click the Activate Now message when you see it, or go to Start > All Programs > System Tools > Activate Windows and follow the prompts. There’s an option to activate XP by phone and this only takes about five minutes. Call the Freephone number that is displayed and enter the set of numbers that appears on your PC screen on the phone keypad. The automated service responds with a sequence of numbers, which you enter on your computer keyboard. If the activation fails you can speak to a real person, who will talk you through the procedure.





© R. Maybury 2006 2612


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