Houston We Have a Problem 035 22/05/07


Motoring with a Monitor

I am considering replacing my 17-inch CRT monitor with a flat-screen LCD model. However, we are caravanners and I have noticed that you can now buy LCD TVs with a PC input. I would appreciate your view on whether they are any good, or is it better to keep the two things entirely separate?

John Daughney, Stockport


Normally I am a firm believer in the old adage about Jacks-of-all-trades, but in this instance one box is all you need. In fact why not go the whole hog and get one with a built-in DVD player as well? 


There are a few differences between the LCD panels used in PC monitors and TVs. To begin with most LCD TVs have widescreen displays, which is not a problem for you, or Windows, but the maximum resolution on some of the cheaper models is lower than an equivalent sized PC monitor. These are usually limited to 1024 x 768 pixels, and again its not a problem. If your PC is set up for the commonly used 1280 x 1024 resolution it should automatically reconfigure itself. The display wont be quite as crisp and icons and program menus will look a little larger than usual, but for everyday use word processing, email, web browsing and so on -- its hardly noticeable.


When auditioning models keep an eye out for bleed through. I have seen this on a couple of bargain basement models, where ghostly images of TV broadcasts can be seen on a PC display, and vice-versa, when watching TV. 



Upgrading to Vista from ME

Could you please let me know how difficult it is to upgrade from Windows Millennium Edition to Vista?

Hilary Hook, by email 


My advice is dont try it. Windows upgrades rarely go smoothly and it is almost always quicker and easier to start over, with a clean, freshly formatted hard drive. However, it is even more difficult with Vista, which is much more demanding in terms of computer hardware and I think it highly unlikely that your present PC will be a suitable candidate. But why bother if it does everything that you want? When eventually you replace it - - and that will probably be sooner rather than later if your PC is more than five years old Vista will be installed on the new machine.



Typing with a French Accent

I occasionally want to send emails in French. Can you tell me how to access French accents on my Windows XP computer?

Pauline Bolton, by email


French, and indeed accents for a variety of western European languages are accessible in any Windows application, including Outlook Express, using some simple keyboard shortcuts. All you have to do is hold down the Alt key and enter a three or four digit code, however, you must use the numeric keypad (remember to press the NumLock key first), rather than the numbers along the top of the keyboard.


Alt + 133 = , 131= , 135 = 130 = , 138 = . 136 = , 137 = , 140 = , 139 = , 147 = , 151 = , 150 = , 183 = , 182 = , 128 = , 212 = , 144 = , 210 =  , 211 = , 215 = , 216 = , 226 = , 235 = , 234 = . For French quotation marks and use Alt + 174 and 175, for the and ligatures use 145 & 145 (upper and lower case) and 0156 and 0140.



All the Right MOVs

Your recent item on capturing single frames from a digital camera movie using Windows Movie Maker seemed to be the answer that I had been looking for, but unfortunately the movies taken with my Nikon Coolpix camera have file type .mov, which is not supported by Movie Maker. Is there any way of changing the file type to .avi?
Andrew Murray, by email


The .mov file format belongs to Apples QuickTime player, which explains why its not supported by the Microsoft. File conversion is an option but this normally involves some loss of quality and a fair amount of messing around. There is an easier method, though, and thats to use an excellent freeware image viewer called Irfanview (http://tinyurl.com/yuxms7). This program can display and play just about any type of still or video image file.


In order to play .mov files Irfanview needs an extra piece of software so after downloading and installing the program click on the Plugins link and install that as well. When thats done play your movie and use the slider bar to locate the part of the recording you want to capture. Click the pause button then use the forward and reverse step buttons to find the specific frame. Click Copy, the image is displayed in a separate window and you can Save the still in any one of 20 different formats. 


R. Maybury 2007 1704


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