Houston We Have a Problem… 030 14/04/07


Belt and Braces

Although I have broadband, I only connect to the Internet only when I am actually using it. I do this in the belief that in some way, it is an additional protection against hackers.  Am I wasting my time?

Reg Beard, Horsham


The web can be a treacherous place but you can also be over cautious. Providing your PC is protected by a regularly updated antivirus program and a Firewall then it is virtually impossible for a hacker to gain access to your files. The Firewall included with Windows XP is a good place to start, though it only guards against an external attack. For more in-depth protection you need one that stops any malicious software on your PC hijacking your Internet connection. Most commercial firewalls and even free ones like Zone Alarm (http://tinyurl.com/2fqoyk) will stop this happening.


If you are concerned about your PC’s defences then I suggest that you visit the Gibson Research website (www.grc.com) and carry out a ‘Shields Up’ test. This attempts to 'hack' into your PC (it is perfectly safe) and tells you exactly what, if any, steps you need to take to protect your computer.




Inserting Copyright Symbol in Photographs

Sometimes we need to email photographs and examples of artwork to friends and clients. Is there some way of overlaying the image with a copyright symbol or some additional text, which will prevent recipients from copying or misusing the pictures?
Sophie Price, by email


Most picture editing programs have a facility to insert text into an image but if you haven’t got one then please try PhotoFiltre (http://tinyurl.com/yuxms7). It is complete free, the many advanced features give a lot of commercial programs a good run for their money and it is very easy to use. 


To insert a copyright symbol using PhotoFiltre all you have to do is open the image, click on the Insert Text icon (‘T’) select the font, font size and colour then in the text input box type: (c) yourname 2007 or your preferred notice. If you want to be really clever, hold down the Alt key and on the numeric keyboard tap in 0169 and the ‘©’ symbol appears automatically. (Incidentally this works on any application with text entry).




Free Office Software

I’ve just upgraded from a PC running Windows 95 to a laptop with Windows Vista Premium.  I have a copy of MS Office designed for Windows 95, which served me quite well.  However, I would like an up-to-date copy of Office and was hoping to be able to upgrade to a newer version, but no one seems interested.  Do you think I should just forget it and pay for a completely new application?

Pauline Hart, by email


Unfortunately you need a copy of Office 97, 2000 or XP or Works 6.0 or higher to be eligible for the slightly cheaper Upgrade version of Microsoft Office. However, before you splash out I think you should be a little adventurous and try a completely free or ‘Open Source’ office suite called OpenOffice.Org (http://tinyurl.com/28hx9k).


There’s no catch, it includes a fully featured word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing applications, a database program and a mathematical equation editor. Many users maintain that it is every bit as good as MS Office, and what’s more it is completely compatible with it, so there’s no need to worry about exchanging documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. with other users. There’s no steep learning curve to contend with either and most of the programs look like and work in a very similar way to their Microsoft counterparts. You have nothing to lose and if you don’t get on with you can still contribute to Bill’s retirement fund…




Hard Drive Hijack?

When using my Windows disc defragmenter why does it show that I have only 69.80Gb hard disc space when according to the manufacturer (a very well known company) it should have a 80Gb drive. Have I been conned?

Darren Madigan


No, the missing 10Gb or so is there but it is in the form of a second partition. Essentially the drive has been divided into two parts. Windows plus all of your programs and data lives on the 70Gb C: drive and the remaining 10GB, assigned drive letter D: is used for Windows recovery files, which will be needed if you have to reinstall Windows. It also helps to keep prices down because manufacturers can get away with not supplying a Windows installation CD.




Missing Attachments

We can no longer receive email attachments. The paper clip symbol has gone and there’s just a small red box with an ‘X’ inside. Clicking on it has no effect;  could my anti virus program be responsible?

Myles Cowie, Aberdeenshire


A. That little red box is called a placeholder and the chances are Outlook Express or Windows Mail’s security settings have been altered. This usually happens after installing a Microsoft security update or Service Pack, though other programs can also change it. To get things back to normal open Outlook Express/Windows Mail, go to Tools > Options > Security, uncheck the item 'Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened...' and click OK.



© R. Maybury 2007 1603


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