Houston We Have a ProblemÖ 033 08/05/07
Is iPod the only
Player in Town?
I canít find any sane,
sensible and unbiased advice about which model MP3 player to buy. Apple appears
to be the most popular but I see lots of other makes, often a lot cheaper but I
donít know the names. Are they any good or should I just be done with it and
buy an iPod?
Heather Dawson, by email
At the last count there
were more than 200 digital music players on the UK market. Appleís iPod range
is a very safe bet, they are easy to use and you are spoilt for choice when it
comes to accessories. However, you will normally get more features for your
money with the rival brands. First decide how much storage capacity you need.
As a very rough rule of thumb you can store between 150 and 200 tracks per
gigabyte, which can be in the form of solid-state flash memory or a miniature
hard disc drive.
Up to a couple of thousand
tracks your best bet is a flash-memory player, above that hard-disc models come
into play. Flash memory players go up to 8Gb or so, hard drive players are
available from 10Gb to 100Gb and capacities are increasing all of the time. As
well as being cheaper flash memory players are usually smaller, more robust and
the batteries last longer.
If you only want to listen
to music donít worry too much about the gadgets and gizmos, which for the
record these include still image display, video replay (OK for short clips but
you wouldnít want to watch a full-length movieÖ), FM tuner, text display, voice
recording and games.
See and handle as many
models as possible. Donít be taken in by flashy cosmetics; award bonus points
to players you can work out how to drive without prompting or referring to the
instructions. I suggest that you donít pay too much attention to sound quality.
This is almost entirely dependent on the supplied headphones and with few
exceptions I would chuck them away and buy a decent set of phones or ear
Most of these devices,
including iPods, are made in China and players with names you recognise are
often assembled alongside, and contain identical components (memory chips, hard
drives etc.) to models from makers you wonít have heard of, and these can sell
for a fraction of the price of their branded counterparts.
a year ago I bought an Olympus digital camera. It's always much admired
for its looks but, apart from interior shots and on the very dullest of days, I
find it absolutely useless because of reflections from the LCD monitor screen.
I being too picky in thinking that one should actually be able to see what one
is taking a photo of? Is there any way around this problem or am I just
in possession of a pig in a poke?
Kilby, by email
an example of poor design, pure and simple and Olympus isnít the only offender.
In my opinion an optical viewfinder is essential on a digital camera. LCDs are
just not bright enough to work properly in daylight, let alone bright sunlight.
Itís fairly obvious why they do it, though. A decent optical viewfinder adds
significantly to the complexity, weight and cost of a camera and I have no
doubt that designers regard them as an untidy nuisance.
is a solution, albeit a rather inelegant one and that is to fit a Screen Shade.
Keene Electronics (www.keene.co.uk)
stocks four sizes, for 1.5 to 2.5-inch displays and they attach to the back of
the camera using a Velcro Ďgasketí for easy fitting and removal.
Green But Not Envious
have an HP DeskJet printer and recently everything except Word documents are
coming out green. I have tried replacing both the black and the colour
cartridges, but with no success.
Taylor, by email
As Iím sure you know colour inkjet printers use magenta, cyan and yellow inks to reproduce the range of visible colours. Green is a mixture of cyan and yellow, which suggests that the magenta print head is blocked, though since on most HP models these are integral with the cartridge, this seems unlikely, unless you have been very unlucky and replaced it with another duff one.
Running your printerís cleaning utility might do the trick (Start > Printers and Faxes, right click, printer icon and select Properties) though in the end I suspect you'll have to have a chat with the HP Helpline. However, if it's a serious problem, such is the crazy economics of the printer business that repairs and
replacement parts often cost more than a new printer.
Changing Word Envelopes Default
I use Envelopes & Labels in Word to print the envelope for a letter, I
always alter the delivery address setting to 4cm from the left and 5cm from the
top, as I think the default setting is too far to the right. Is there a way to save this setting to avoid
having to adjust it each time?
Liz Dunkin, by email
The default settings are Ďhard codedí and cannot be
changed but I do have a workaround. Open a blank document, give it a name then
click on Envelopes and Labels. Enter the address then use Options to set the
style and layout. When you have finished click Add to Document and then Save.
This becomes your address template and the next time you need it open it first
then click Envelopes and Labels and make any changes.
© R. Maybury 2007