The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem,  057 20/10/07


Positive Identification

At our Local History Society we hold a large collection of digital photographs taken by members of local community organisations. I would like to be able to identify the individual members on the photos by displaying the relevant name on command. Is there a technique or piece if software available to achieve this?

John Turner, by email   


This option is available in Windows and you may have noticed that an information box or ‘Folder Tip’ appears when you hover the mouse pointer over a file icon. You can change or add to what is in the box simply by right-clicking on the file and selecting Properties from the drop-down menu. On the General tab make sure that ‘Read Only’ is unchecked, then select the Summary tab and fill out the blank Title, Subject and Comments boxes as necessary.


When Windows Explorer is in the Details view you can display various other pieces of information that may be embedded in a photograph, such as when it was taken, the model of camera and so on. To do that right-click on the column header bar in the right hand pane and select the items you wish to be shown from the drop-down menu.



Spirited Away

People swear they have sent me emails but I cannot find them in any of my email folders. Are there digital djinns out there stopping around one in three of my messages from getting through?

Grant Cumming, by email


Comparatively few emails just vanish into the ether, most ‘lost’ emails are zapped by over-zealous ISPs who identify them as Spam or delete them because they contain viruses or malware. This can happen if the message originates from an ISP or ‘domain’ that your ISP considers is responsible for sending large volumes of Spam messages. Alternatively the messages may contain keywords or phrases that are commonly used by spammers. If you know the senders are all using the same ISP(s) contact your ISP’s support, who should be able to tell you why those emails are being blocked.  


Debug Madness

My Windows XP computer has developed a consistent and irritating fault when I access the Internet. The following error message appears on almost every web page: ‘A runtime Error has occurred. Do you wish to Debug’. If I click OK and ask it to go ahead and debug, it doesn't get much further. Please help as it is driving me mad!

Catherine Bull, Leicester


This sometimes happens after you install Microsoft Office -- don’t ask me why -- but don’t worry, it’s easy enough to sort out. Open Internet Explorer and go to Tools > Internet Options and select the Advanced tab. Scroll down the list to ‘Browsing’ and check the items ‘Disable Script Debugging (Internet Explorer)’ and ‘Disable Script Debugging (other)’ then uncheck ‘Display notification about every script error’, which should be next on the list. Click OK and that should be the last you’ll see of it.



Wide of the Mark

I treated myself to a new computer recently, equipped with Vista Home Premium and it seemed to make sense to go for a widescreen monitor. However, this stretches my photographs when I wish to view them. Is there a simple way I can alter the aspect ratio of my monitor to 4:3 when viewing my photos, so that they do not appear distorted?

Mick Thurman, by email


You shouldn’t have to fiddle with the screen settings; it sounds to me as though your PC’s video resolution needs adjusting. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and select Personalise > Display Settings (Properties > Settings in XP) then using the ‘Resolution’ slider change it to one of the following: 2560 x 1600, 1920 x 1200, 1680 x 1050, 1440 x 900, 1280 x 800, 1024 x 640 or 800 x 500. Not all of those options will be available and on 17 and 19-inch displays the usual setting is 1280 x 800 or 1440 x 900. Incidentally, the screen icon on the Display Settings dialogue box changes shape to show if it is a widescreen or 4:3 setting. Click OK and if for some reason the picture disappears do not panic, do nothing and it reverts to its former setting after 15 seconds. If you are happy with the new setting click OK and exit the dialogue boxes.



Quality Savings

I understand that photos in JPEG format lose a little definition each time they are saved but does this loss only apply if they are further edited before each save? Does Copy and Paste also have this effect?

Brian Jenner, Royston


It depends, some image editing programs compress a JPEG file each time it is saved, others are smart enough to only do it when you close the file or change the name. You should be able to tell which type you are using by opening and saving an image a few times, making a note of the file size each time. This doesn’t happen when you Copy and Paste images as you are moving, rather than saving the file. 




© R. Maybury 2007 2409



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