The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 073 08/03/08


BlackBerry Give-Away

Is there any way to turn off the irritating ‘Sent from my BlackBerry’, message appended to emails sent from the device, which irritates me even more as a sender than as a recipient?  For one thing, it alerts people that I am away from my desk…

Alison Bell, by email


No problem, but it’s quite well hidden Go to Start > Programs > Desktop Manager, select Redirector Settings then the General tab and either delete the text in ‘Auto signature’, box, or change it to something else. An alternative method to just switch it off is to go to: InBox->Options->Email Settings->Use Auto Signature->No



Taken to Task

The Task Manager function on my Windows XP computer has been haywire for several weeks now. On pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete the application screen comes up with the top part missing. So, there is no taskbar across the top. Can you help?

Tony Braddock, Stourbridge


It sounds as though you have enabled Task Manager’s ‘Tiny Footprint’ mode, an obscure and as far as I can see pointless feature that makes the menu bar and tabs disappear. To get them back just double-click the empty space next to the End Task button.



PC Running Costs

Having committed myself to saving energy I have been trying to find out just how much a typical PC costs to run.  Also, how much less does it use on stand-by and is it be better to turn it off if it is not likely to be needed for a couple of hours? There must be millions of computers in offices and schools just quietly buzzing away just in case someone wants to use one and I never see any reference to this as a wasteful use of energy though there are plenty of references to the bad habits of leaving a TV on standby and surely this must use less than a PC?  

Nigel Smith


The trouble is there’s no such thing as a typical PC, or PC user for that matter. However, we can make some fairly broad generalisations about the cost of electricity and the design of desktop PCs and take as an example a home machine with 3.5GHz CPU, 120Gb HDD, 1GB RAM, standard graphics, normal browser and office software etc., connected to a 17-inch LCD monitor. We’ll further assume it is used for an average of 8 hours a day, and switched off at night, in which case the annual running costs are likely to be in the region of  £80 to £100, which may not be as bad as you thought?


Windows has various power saving schemes that can be set in Control Panel > Power Options to power down the machine and monitor when it is not being used for any length of time. The most efficient of these is Sleep mode in Vista, which reduces power consumption to just a few milliwatts, which translates to running costs of a few pence per year. Hibernate and Standby in XP use a little more power and if left running in this state would add around  £5 - £10 a year, say, to your electricity bill. Yes, it all adds up so using a power saving scheme appropriate to your way of working is a very good idea.



Invisible Icons

My wife has been given an Acer laptop with Windows Vista installed.  The icons at the bottom of the screen are so small it is almost impossible to identify them.  Is there some way they can be enlarged?

Tony Coles, by email


If you are referring to the Quick Launch icons on the Taskbar then all you have to do is right-click an empty area next to the icons and select View then Large Icons. If View doesn’t appear on the same menu uncheck ‘Lock The Taskbar’ and try again.



Tiny Text

When I open a web page the text is so small sometimes that I can't read it and I can find no way to enlarge it. 

Janet Parker, by email


On most browsers, including Internet Explorer and Firefox, the trick is to hold down the Ctrl key and spin the scroll wheel on your mouse. This engages the zoom mode, making the text larger or smaller. If you haven’t got a wheel mouse the­­­­­­­­ keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + + or Ctrl + -. Otherwise in IE and Firefox go to View > Text Size.



Background on Wallpaper

I have recently graduated from Windows XP to Windows Vista. The desktop pictures provided on XP meant a lot to me and I cannot find a way of transferring them to my new computer. Is it possible, or must I get used to life without them?

Gill Stuart, by email


The standard Windows XP background pictures are stored in C:\WINDOWS\Web\Wallpaper, as JPEG files. There’s nothing to stop you copying them to a folder on your new PC using a pen drive or CD, or, at a pinch, email them to yourself, and used in preference to the Vista offerings simply by right-clicking on the one you want to use and select Set as Desktop Background. Otherwise right click on an empty area of the desktop and select Personalize > Desktop Background and use the Browse button to navigate to the folder containing the copied images.





© R. Maybury 2008 1602

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