The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 066 19/01/08


Controlling Pictures In Word

I am trying to write a newsletter in Word and to insert pictures (from My Pictures) into the text.  I can move the pictures by right clicking, copying them and then reducing them to size but what I can't get right is being able to write text alongside a picture that I only want to take up a small part of the width of a page.

Caroline Waldman, Fordingbridge UK


A. Although Word has some useful page layout functions it’s not a desktop publishing program, which is what you should really be using for things like newsletters. Nevertheless it can be done, and the easiest way to run text alongside or around an image is to use the Text Wrapping facility, which you will find on the Picture toolbar. (If it is not displayed right-click on the main toolbar and select it form the list.  Alternatively you can control the relative positions of images and text by creating Text Boxes; you will find this option on the Drawing menu. You can also make more precise adjustments to the positions of objects on the page by right clicking on the image, select Format Image, then the Layout tab and click the Advanced button.



Amazon Give-Away

I have ordered a number of items from Amazon and now, whenever I visit the website, I see there is a page called 'Jan's Store' which records everything I have bought, plus suggestions of what I might like to buy. Is there any way I can empty this page?  I don't like the idea of my records being in the public arena and would prefer to hang on to my privacy where possible.

Mrs Jan Free-Gore, by email


A. Most of the information displayed is only visible to you on your PC, and people who know you and your email address but it’s easy enough to switch it all off. Whilst logged on to Amazon click the ‘Your Account’ button and under Account Settings you will find the options to edit and delete the various items.



Annoying Accent

Thank you for recommending the free Avast! (http://tinyurl.com/27txx2) anti-virus program, but is there a way of disabling the rather irritating American voice and pop-up things, which you have to click on before they disappear? It makes me jump out of my skin, apart from the annoying interruption.

Barbara O'Brien, by email


A. No problem. To silence those announcements right click on the Avast! Icon in the System Tray (next to the clock), select Program Settings, then Sounds and uncheck the item ’Disable Avast! Sounds’. The on-screen pop-ups are also easy to suppress; this time go to the Conformations menu and uncheck the items you don’t want to be reminded of. However, be careful what you switch off, some of them, like the virus signature update notice are worth having, if only to let you know that the program is still working and protecting your PC.



The Long and Short of It

I thought an external USB hard drive would be the answer to my backup problems. I can save oddments to it without any problems but if I try to move a large section of My Documents it halts with messages such as ‘File name to long’ and it will not identify the cause or continue. Is there a special method or technique I should use?

Len Roberts, by email


A. Windows has a 259-character limit on filenames, and that includes all of the characters in the ‘path’ (i.e. the location of the file: C:\Documents and Settings\user\My Documents… etc.). However, unlike CD burner programs, which warn you if a filename exceeds the limit, Windows just throws a wobbly and refuses to continue.


The simplest thing to do is search through the folders looking for an obviously over-long filename or path, and rename or move the offending file. Otherwise break the backup job down into smaller chunks. Save a couple of folders at a time, until you find the one containing the file that is causing the problem. For what it is worth MP3 files and Word documents can take on huge filenames (from the track title or the first few sentences) when they are saved, especially if you don’t check the file name box first.



Optimum Memory for XP

I have a Dell XPS 1330 and don’t use it for anything other than email and office uses. It currently is running Windows Vista and Office 2007 and has two clips of ‘fast’ 500Gb memory; it was sold as a games machine. I find 1Gb of memory very constraining in running Vista and Office. Can I fit larger but lower spec memory (and much cheaper) without degrading anything other than the gaming ability?

Bob Neilans, by email


A. Windows Vista works best on PCs with a processor speed of 2.5GHz, or faster, and at least 2Gb of RAM. Increasing the RAM capacity to 4Gb and beyond can also yield some performance gains, though exactly how much depends on the design of the motherboard and the other components in your system. Adding another gigabyte of RAM should help and speed is largely irrelevant on the sort of applications you are running, so by all means use the cheaper chips but if you shop around I think that will find that the price variation, isn’t that great. Who know, one day you may want to use it for more demanding graphics applications, so why skimp?




© R. Maybury 2008 0701


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