Houston We Have a Problem... 048 18/08/07


Compulsory TV?

We have not had a TV since we were married 11 years ago. Now, however, we have small children and would like them to watch the occasional DVD. At the moment the only option is on our PC, which is upstairs in the study. We would like to be able to watch DVDs in our living room downstairs on a reasonable-sized screen. Can we do this without buying a TV or another PC? I would like to buy a large monitor, a DVD player, and the right kind of connections. When I have asked at a couple of retailers they have looked at me strangely and told me just to buy a TV. Do I have to?

Hilary Jennings, by email


No, of course you don’t but when all said and done it would be the easiest and cheapest option, even taking into account the fact that you will have to buy a DVD player and a TV licence. Otherwise the main difficulties are finding a PC monitor that is large enough for family viewing, or a video display that doesn’t have a built-in TV tuner, and running a video cable from your PC to the display in the living room


Large PC and video monitors tend to be designed for specialised applications (commercial display, studio use, surveillance etc.) and they can be rather expensive – up to two or three times the cost of a TV with the same sized screen. The alternative is a video projector, very few models have built-in tuners so they do not require a TV licence and they give you a very large image for the money. The downside is you will have to project the image on a screen or blank wall, and they work best in subdued lighting or a darkened room. Video and VGA cables can be run over several tens of metres but if you can’t relocate the PC it will probably be easier to use a ‘wireless AV sender’ to transmit the picture and sound signals to your display device.



Sites And Sensibility…

I wondered if you can advise me about registering a website? I want to set up one in appreciation of an author and use her name in the domain name. She is alive but writes under a pen name. Do I need to notify her or her publisher or can I just go ahead and register the name then wait to see what happens? Will there be any legal difficulties; I don't intend anything defamatory to appear on the site.

Alicia Denny, by email


Providing the name you choose hasn’t already been registered – and we’ll come to that in a moment – and it doesn’t infringe any existing trademarks you can normally register any domain name you like. However, I think it would be polite to ask the author, in case she has plans to set up a site or her own, or has strong objections to your plans.


To find out if a domain name is available simply visit one of the dozens of domain registration websites sites (lowcostnames.co.uk is a good place to start) and type in the name you want to use. It will tell you straight away if it, or any of the many ‘top-level domain’ variants are available (.com, .uk., .net, .tv etc.), you can then buy it straight away or shop around for registration and hosting deals. 



Correcting Word Mistakes

Over the years I have added many words to the Word Spellchecker, but have also hit the wrong button and added some mistakes. Is there any way of deleting them?

Peter Kettle


There is and all of your additions are stored in a plain text file called the Custom Dictionary. This can be opened and edited in Word like any other document. In Windows XP you will normally find it in: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof. In Windows Vista the file location is: C:\Users\<yourname>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Proof



Mystery Icon Revealed

Many websites have an identifying icon that appears on Internet Explorer when the website is downloaded (the Telegraph's for example is the standard stylised 'T' logo). I'd like to be able to produce an icon for my own website but can't find out how to do it. Google searches have all failed because I can't actually think what the official term is for such icons. Can you help me please?

David Sullivan, by email


They're called 'Favicons' and by convention they are 16 x 16 pixel bitmap files. They can be created manually using almost any image editing program, however, there's a really easy way to design one using the free on-line Favicon editor, which you will find at: http://tinyurl.com/2cbq4p. Once you have designed your Favicon all you have to do is call it ‘favicon.ico’ and upload it into the root directory of your website.



Bid for Speed

I keep losing out on ebay auctions because I cannot ‘refresh’ my bidding page quickly enough to see the progress. Can you help?

Anna Hudson, by email


If your browser is otherwise working normally on other web sites then I suspect that you simply have a slow Internet connection. If you are still using a dial-up connection then you should upgrade to broadband – these days with so many deals on offer it may even be cheaper than dial-up -- otherwise you will just have to place your highest bid well before the auction ends, or do what a growing number of ebayers seem to be doing these days and use a 'sniping' tool, which automatically places your bid seconds before the auction ends.




© R. Maybury 2007 0608


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