The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 068 02/02/08


Woman’s Hour Woes

I have for many years successfully ‘downloaded’ Woman's Hour from Radio 4 each day by the simple process of setting the timer on my old Sony Hi-Fi and inserting a cassette. When I return home I hand the cassette to my wife, who plays it back in the car at her leisure.

The problem I have now is that we have bought a new car. It seems new cars no longer have cassette players (progress?) and radios with a system for directly recording onto CDs apparently don't exist. Transfer of cassette to CD, via computer, is time -consuming and requires either a separate cassette player, which I don't have, or physically moving the radio each time.
Ken Taylor, by email



I don’t think too many people will mourn the passing of the audio cassette, nasty, noisy, unreliable things, but I can see how it can be inconvenient for some users. Fortunately there are plenty of alternatives, including a daily download of the Woman’s Hour Podcast and recording the ‘Listen Again’ stream (see Boot  Camp 450: http://tinyurl.com/ya4pjp) or you can directly record the program from a radio connected to your computer (the audio recording program Free HiQ has a timer facility: http://tinyurl.com/39buka).  Whichever method you use, you’ll end up with an MP3 audio file of the program on your computer.


You can turn this into an audio CD using Windows Media Player (v10 onwards) or, my preferred option; copy it to an MP3 player. I’m not talking about a fancy iPod, almost any cheapie model will do and with prices starting at £10.00 or so it’s not going to break the bank. You are probably wondering how your wife will be able to hear the programs on the car stereo, well, again there are several possibilities. Some new cars have MP3 ‘compatible’ stereos, which basically means they have a socket you can plug the player into. Otherwise you can use a little gadget called a ‘sender’ or ‘iTrip’. They’re miniature low-power stereo FM transmitters that plug into the MP3 player’s earphone socket and all you have to do is tune the car radio into the signal. The cost of these devices has fallen dramatically in the last year (since they were legalised) and I have seen them selling online for less than £10.00.



Can’t Stop Copying

I copy photos from camera memory card onto a file in My Pictures. Later on, when I wish to burn selected photos onto a disc I hold down the Ctrl key and move the cursor onto numerous photos but the computer takes over and duplicates those photos highlighted into the file and I end up with lots of the same in that file. How do I prevent this from happening?

Brenda Linney, by email


It usually happens because you’ve momentarily released the Ctrl key or mouse button when selecting or moving files, invoking the file Copy function. When selecting large numbers of contiguous files it is often easier to click and highlight the first one, then hold down the Shift key and use the cursor down key to select files singly, or the Page Down key, to select blocks of files. Otherwise try reducing the mouse’s double-click speed from Mouse in Control Panel, and practice your mousing techniques.



Missing Tree Icon

The old grey matter has been around for 75 years and its not working too well nowadays! I believe there is a collection of alternate icons in Windows XP that lets you can change the ones on your desktop for something more appropriate. In the past I have used a Green Tree for my family history but I simply cannot find it or remember how to get into the store. Can you help please?

David N. Barker, by email


I think you are referring to XP’s hidden cache of icons, and for those who haven’t come across this before, if you want to change the icon of an item on the desktop simply right click on it, select Properties, then the Shortcut tab and click the Change Icon button to display the standard or default icons. To access the hidden alternatives click the Browse button and make your way to C:\windows\system32\Shell32.


However, I cannot see any trees in there so I suspect yours came from another program. If you can’t find one on your PC they’re easy enough to make. Go to Google Images, type in ‘tree icon’, find one that you like the look of, open the image, right click on it and select Copy. Next, open Windows Paint (Start > Programs > Accessories) go to Edit  > Paste, and the image will be displayed, now go to SaveAs on the File menu, choose a location (usually My Pictures), then give the file a name and add the extension ‘.ico’; on the Save As Type drop down menu, make sure 24-bit Bitmap is selected and click Save. You can now go back to the desktop shortcut’s Properties menu and select your newly created icon. Incidentally, this trick works with any image or graphic, so why not try a family photograph as an icon for your family tree program? 





© R. Maybury 2008 2101


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