The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 061 17/11/07


Two Way Firefox Favourites

I mostly use Mozilla Firefox for browsing the Internet and therefore save all my Favourites there. However, a few sites that I use only work properly with Internet Explorer. Is there a way to save my Favourites within both browsers at the same time, or maybe a way to transfer my Mozilla bookmarks to IE on a regular basis?

Diane Chalmers, by email


All possible but far too complicated for a Saturday morning, here’s a much easier solution. Download and install a Firefox ‘extension’ called IE View (http://tinyurl.com/2x9jgm). The next time you visit a website that won’t display properly in Firefox just go to the Tools menu and select ‘Always view this page in IE’; Internet Explorer will open and display the page, and do it automatically thereafter.




Turning on a Sixpence

I have some old financial records in pounds, shillings and pence, which I would like to convert, for comparison purposes, into their metric equivalents without a complicated calculation for each item.   Is there a program that would enable me to do this?

Peter Stanbridge, by email


You can do this quite easily in Excel by downloading a free worksheet called Currency Conversion (http://tinyurl.com/2js7d4). This not only converts ‘old’ money to pounds and pence, but it works the other way (£p to £sd) and well, it will even convert Guineas to both £sd and £p, should you feel the urge, or own a racehorse…




What’s the Buzz?

A strange buzzing type noise appears to come from my desktop PC. The noise lasts for less than a second and occurs almost everyday and sometimes twice a day. The timing is irregular and happens at any time. I have TalkTalk broadband and Norton Internet Security. Can you enlighten me please?

T. Gomes, by email


Difficult to say, but if it’s not a trapped bee then this sort of intermittent sound, especially when there are no other obvious symptoms, can be a sign that the bearings in a cooling fan are about to fail. If so they will become more frequent, at which point it is wise to take action as an overheating CPU or power supply can result in expensive damage. You should be able to tell if it is mechanical in nature, or coming from Windows or a running program simply by muting the speakers.




Deletion Dilemma

I have a large number of duplicated photographs in my Recycle Bin, which I would like to delete, but there are other items in the bin that I wish to keep for the moment. I cannot simply empty the Recycle Bin and it would take me a very long time to delete the photographs individually. Is there any way I can decide which ones I want to delete without affecting the others?

Pat Hollands, by email


The Recycle Bin is pretty flexible and lets you selectively Delete or Restore items. All you have to do is highlight the ones you want to put back, or permanently get rid of. If there’s a lot group them together by clicking on a column header (and these tricks work in all ‘Explorer’ type windows). For example, if they all have similar file names click the Name header and they’ll be grouped alphabetically. Another way is to group them by file extension; if they are all JPEGs click the Type header, or if they were all taken at or around the same time use the Date Modified header.


To select multiple files hold down the Ctrl key and either click them individually or to speed things up, hold down the Shift key and use the up/down cursor keys to select the files in batches. If there are a very large number of files to highlight, hold down Shift and press Page up/down. Once that’s done right click on the highlighted files and select Delete or Restore from the drop-down menu, then OK.




A Sense of Duty

With the weak dollar it may be attractive to purchase a laptop in the US rather than the UK. I am after an XP machine rather than Vista. Leaving aside Customs duty and VAT are there any technical issues likely to prove a problem if I bring the machine back to the UK?

John Laidler, Kingsbridge


Vista laptops are few and far between on both sides of the pond but in any case my advice would be don’t bother. You can’t leave Duty and VAT out of the equation, not with well specified laptops selling on this side of the pond for less than £300. If you do decide to go ahead then you will have trouble with the US keyboard layout, and not just with the absence of a £ sign. The @ symbol and double quotes will be transposed, though you can ‘remap’ the keys using a free utility, like KeyTweak (http://tinyurl.com/3u25s), or if it’s a popular model available in the UK, purchase a replacement keyboard.


If it has a built-in Wi-Fi adaptor it might even be illegal to use it here due to differences between the US and EU standards for wireless power emissions. If it goes wrong the warranty might not be honoured by the manufacturer’s UK division – assuming it has one. If the model isn’t sold in the UK you may have problems obtaining things like a spare or replacement battery. It’s just not worth the effort and I doubt very much you will save any money.




© R. Maybury 2007 0511


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