Houston We Have a Problem… 029 07/04/07


Out Of Office Automated Reply

In my office I use Microsoft Outlook, which has an ‘Out of Office’ reply facility. At home I use Outlook Express, does it have a similar feature?

Pam Palmer, by email


Yes, but there are a couple of provisos. Firstly your PC has to be left running and connected to the Internet. It’s not a problem if you are going to be away from your desk for a few hours but it’s probably not a good idea if you are going to be away for more than a day or so. Secondly your automated replies will be received by spammers and people who you may not want to know that you are away from home


If you are happy with that then begin by creating your automated reply message. Click on New Mail, type in the text of your message, something like  'Sorry I'm away from my desk until …'. Next go to the File menu then Save As, give your reply message a name and save it in a location of your choosing. Now go to Tools > Message Rules > Mail and click the New button. In the first box select 'For All Messages', in the second box choose 'Reply With Message' and in the third box click on the underlined Message and direct it to your reply email. Click OK and it's done.



Down in the Mouth

I work in a small private dental practice and we need a camera to take pictures of our patient’s mouths. Kodak makes a specialist range of equipment but it is very expensive and we only need to use it about three times a week.  We recently trialled a Fujipix digital camera with a macro mode but for some reason it doesn’t take good close-up pictures of teeth. Can you suggest anything?

Ginny Rankin, Babbacombe Dental Surgery


This is a little out of my jurisdiction and I welcome alternative suggestions from experts but I suspect that you were on the right lines with a camera that has a decent macro facility. However, my guess the main problem is lighting, in which case a gadget called an LED ‘Ring Light’ (http://www.srelectronics.com/), might help. This fits around the lens barrel and provides a bright close-quarters light suitable for use in a confined space.



Capture Still Images 

I mistakenly took several shots in movie mode on my new digital still camera.  Is there any way I can retrieve the opening frames and save them as still images?

Colin Swain, Reigate


Yes but the quality won’t be as good as a normal digital still due to the lower resolution and motion blur. Open Windows Movie Maker (Start > Programs > Accessories), which bundled with XP. Import your movie file then use the Play/Pause button in the Preview windows to find the frame you want to capture and click the Camera icon. This saves the chosen frame as a JPEG image. Older versions of Windows Media Player (prior to version 11) also have a still capture facility (keyboard shortcut Ctrl + I). 




Time For A Change

The time and date on my PC is wrong every day. I can reset it but it will be incorrect the next time I switch it on. Do you have any advice?

Brian J S Gunn, Orsto


The battery that keeps your PC’s internal clock ticking when it is switched off has expired. They normally last three or four years, sometimes longer, but when flat the clock becomes erratic or reverts to a date like January 1st 2000. You may also see a ‘Bad Checksum’ message on the screen immediately after switch on. The small button cell battery fits in a holder on the motherboard, though on some older models it can be soldered in place. These batteries are inexpensive, typically £2 or £3 and replacement should be fairly straightforward but access to the battery holder may be blocked by the power supply module or a forest of cables so if you are not comfortable about poking around inside your machine leave it to the experts.




Return to Vendor

We recently bought an Advent laptop but when we attempted to connect it up to the printer we found one was already listed, which we had not installed. The supplier was unable to offer an explanation because the computer was sold to us as brand new. Have you any ideas as to how this situation could arise? Also we are unable to put the laptop on standby mode even though we have attempted to restore the computer to a pre-purchase date.

Nic Taylor, by email  


It seems clear that the PC has been previously used. This suggests that the vendor is not being completely honest with you, or has made a genuine mistake and this machine was a demo model or a customer return that found its way back into new stock. The standby problem may be due to a fault – it may even be the reason it was returned – but even if it’s not you have been sold a second-hand PC and you should ask for your money back, a brand new replacement or a very generous discount.




© R. Maybury 2007 1203


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