Houston We Have a Problem... 040 23/06/07


Improved Firewall for Vista?

I have purchased a new PC running Windows Vista. I previously used the ZoneAlarm Pro firewall on my old XP computer but I understand this is not yet compatible with Vista.  I'm told I don't need any additional security programs for Vista.  What is your view?
Stuart Bolton, by email


Iím a big fan of ZoneAlarm because unlike the built-in firewall included with Windows XP, it monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic. This means that all software on your PC, legitimate, suspicious or malicious, has to first ask your permission before it can use your Internet connection.


At first glance the firewall included in Windows Vista appears to be the same as that in XP and only checks incoming connections but it is a little known fact that it also has the capability to block outgoing connections. However, Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, decided to disable this facility on consumer versions of the operating system as it was concerned that users would find it too difficult to configure. But there is a way to switch it back on again, giving you the same sort of two-way protection as ZoneAlarm and other more advanced firewalls, and that is to use a free utility called Vista Firewall Control  (http://tinyurl.com/28tgrg). Once installed every time a program requests an outgoing connection for the first time you can decide whether or not to give your permission.


This program is fairly basic but it does the job, however if you need more configuration options then take a look at the paid-for versions, or you could wait a few more weeks for the Vista version of ZoneAlarm Pro, which is now in the final stages of beta testing.




Ten Thousand Slides to Copy

I have 10,000 colour slides: is there a cheap, fast way to read slides digitally without loss of quality?   I visualise a light box with a rig to hold a digital camera and a "sliding" (can't avoid the word) framework to hold 3-5 slides for manual loading/unloading. Is such a thing available?     

Tony Beck, Portugal 


Not quite but you could use a flatbed scanner with an automatic slide feeder attachment. Canon and Epson make these and they can speedily process your images in batches of a dozen or so. The trade-off is quality, since these types of scanner are designed to handle A4 sized documents and images, nevertheless the results can be quite acceptable and a complete kit will cost you in the region of £150.


If you canít compromise on quality then you should go for a dedicated slide scanner. There are several to choose from but I would shortlist models that have built-in slide feeders or magazine holders, like the Braun Multimag Slidescan 40000 (around £730). Alternatively slide scanners like the Nikon CoolScan range can be fitted with a companion automatic slide feeder (Model No. SF 210), which holds up to 50 slides. Needless to say this option isnít cheap either and together both devices cost around £750, maybe a little less if you shop around.



Free Recovery for Deleted Images

I have accidentally deleted some photographs from the SD memory card used in my digital camera. I have purchased a file recovery system, which says it has restored the files but it will not let me open them.

David Small, by email


The first thing to do is ask for your money back, then try a free memory recovery card tool, like Digital Photo Recovery (http://tinyurl.com/65wyt).



iPod Euro Volume Limit

I suffer from bi-lateral deafness and wear a hearing aid in both ears. I have an iPod Nano, which I understand conforms to EU standards for maximum volume. My original iPod developed a fault and was exchanged but I now find that I struggle to hear the music with hearing aids out Ė even on maximum volume, where I could hear the older one quite comfortably. Iím told thereís a program that I can install to increase the volume to the original level.

David Walters, by email


There is, but first a quick disclaimer. Fiddling with your iPod will void the warranty and there is a small chance youíll muck it up completely so you try these remedies entirely at your own risk.


iPods sold in the EU have their maximum volume limited, ostensibly to prevent hearing damage to the young but as you point out it is unhelpful to people with impaired hearing, (though itís possible an excessively loud output could further damage your already limited hearing, so be careful!). It also means that tracks or Podcasts recorded at lower than normal volume settings can be difficult to hear.


Incidentally the facility to limit the volume is also now available on iPods sold outside the EU and you can download a software update from the Apple website at: http://tinyurl.com/nmvrd


There are two possible solutions. The volume levels of the tracks stored on the device can be globally increased, or the iPodís firmware can be modified to remove the limit. The only trouble is Apple regularly update player firmware, which overwrites the change and fixes for some very recent models may not be available yet.


If yours is a 5.5 generation model than you should read this article first: http://tinyurl.com/27nvbo. If you have an earlier model and an Apple Mac then try the iPod Volume booster (http://tinyurl.com/ynuzl5), and for users with Windows, Mac or Linux PCs thereís GoPod (http://gopod.free-go.net/), which purports to disable the volume limit on almost any model.





© R. Maybury 2007 2805


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