Houston We Have a Problem... 049 25/08/07


Home Passport Photos

Is it true that you cannot send a passport picture that has been printed with an inkjet printer and that a photo printed with a colour laser would be accepted?

Lily McLoughlin


You should read a document called ‘The Standards for Passport Photos’. This is available on line from the Identity and Passport Service website at http://tinyurl.com/2mkny2. An illustrated advice leaflet is also available from Post Offices.


I suspect this story concerns the fact that laser toner pigments have better colourfast properties than some inkjet inks, which are prone to fade over time. Whilst there is no specific ban on home printed photographs, or any distinction between laser and inkjet printing technologies the guidelines are very clear and outline a number of requirements. These concern the type of paper, the clarity and sharpness of the image, the background, the subject’s pose and expression and so on. It also says that the photographs should be ‘printed professionally’ as those produced on a home printer are ‘not likely to be of an acceptable quality’.  


Kiwi Connections

My wife and I both have mobile phones registered in the UK. We are shortly to visit New Zealand and Australia. Can we use our phones to contact each other if necessary? We have been advised to purchase new SIM cards in the countries concerned but this seems a lot of bother for something that may not be used.

John M. Allistone, Poole, Dorset


Yes your mobile phones will work down under; both New Zealand and Australia use the same GSM 900 system as the UK. However, before you go check with your service provider to make sure your phone contract and settings permit ‘global roaming’. You might also like to consider ‘unlocking’ your phone so that it can be used with other service provider’s pre-paid or pay-as-you-go SIM cards, bought locally. This is definitely worth doing as it can significantly reduce the cost of both local calls and incoming and outgoing international calls made while you are there.



Adding Sound to Slideshows

I have just bought a new computer with Windows Vista preloaded. I am a keen amateur digital photographer and enjoy creating slide shows, to which I add commentary and background music. Previously I used a video recorder and TV set, for this purpose.  This method is now a bit old fashioned and I would like to move into the 21st century, using my computer to produce the same results.  I am not sure if I need additional software, besides Vista?

John Davis, by email


There is a slideshow facility within Vista but you can’t add sound, and it’s not very flexible. If you have Microsoft Office then the AV presentation programs PowerPoint has the facility to include a commentary and will do the job reasonably well. If not you could try Presenter, which is very similar to PowerPoint and part of the free OpenOffice suite (www.openoffice.org). However, I think you would be better off with one of the dedicated slideshow programs, like Ulead CD & DVD PictureShow (currently available online for less that £10). This is a purpose-designed program with lots of bells and whistles for a more professional looking production plus, of course, the option to include narration and music in your slideshow.   



Mystery Message

Why does my computer screen show the following message each time I switch on: Exception Processing Message C0000013 Parameters…’, while telling me there is no Windows disk? I run XP and re-inserting the original disc makes no difference. The message can be cancelled after two or three attempts.  What am I doing wrong?

Joan McNamara


Don’t worry, it’s not your fault, this is a fairly common problem. Unfortunately there’s no single cause but the main culprit is usually Apple iTunes and/or QuickTime. If you have either program installed on your PC try uninstalling them, then reinstall. Also implicated is Norton software, in which case the only solution seems to be to uninstall it, and a few people have reported it happening after installing a memory card reader. If you have fitted one recently try uninstalling the software that came with it, or disable a Startup component called ‘dit.exe’. (Type ‘msconfig’ in Run on the Start menu and select the Startup tab, deselect the entry and reboot).



Gambling With the Family Business

I run a family business from home and have seven workstations networked through a server. Is there anyway in which I can block access to gambling websites, particularly poker, from use on the workstations during business hours?

Alan Campbell, by email


You can do this on a site-by-site basis from within Internet Explorer (Tools > Internet Options > Content > Content Advisor) but with so many gambling sites on the net this could prove a somewhat time-consuming exercise. There are a number of programs that purport to be able to block gambling sites. I would begin with a freeware offering, called Naomi (http://www.radiance.m6.net/), which includes gambling in its list of filters, otherwise there’s a purpose-designed application, called Gamblock (http://www.gamblock.com/), which appears to offer much greater control, but at $39 per PC per year this could work out quite expensive.




© R. Maybury 2007 0608

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