The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 076 29/03/08
In the past I have used office computers, which told me when my
email messages had been received and opened by the recipient. I am, regrettably,
computer illiterate and can not find a way of doing this on my home PC.
Sheila Fisher-Jones, by email
This is relatively easy to achieve on an office network but when
sending emails over the Internet you run into a number of problems. In Outlook
Express, Windows Mail and other popular email programs you can enable a feature called Receipt Request (in OE go
to Tools > Options > Receipts),. However, this depends on the recipient's
email program being configured to accept and respond, but in OE this is usually
switched off by default.
There are also number of
third-party programs that can tell you when an email was received and read, and
even if it was forwarded to someone else but I and a lot of other people regard
this practice as intrusive and the methods used to track emails in this way are
tantamount to spiking an email with spyware. For that reason many owners set
their PCs to reject the monitoring data these emails contain using programs
like Email Tracking Blocker (http://tinyurl.com/23pzat),
which is free, though sadly no longer supported.
CRT vs LCD
I had been intending to replace my CRT television with an LCD
TV. After visiting a few shops I was
underwhelmed by the picture quality. They all had poor detail and none were as
good as the lone CRT TV in one shop.
Is there a CRT TV that is capable of high definition? If not I shall stick to CRT. Are LCD TVs a confidence trick on those who
prefer style to quality?
Derek Ransome, by email
Samsung briefly marked an HD-capable CRT model but as far as I am
aware the only high definition CRT displays available now are specialised
studio monitors. I am regularly appalled at the way TVs are displayed in shops.
The lighting is often far too strong, pictures are frequently set to the wrong
aspect ratio and I have seen many instances where the TV signal looks as though
it’s coming from a bent coat hanger.
I think you may have been a bit unlucky in your survey of LCD TVs;
some of them are very good indeed. In practice the differences between LCD and
CRT displays are now relatively small, especially when viewing high and normal
definition DVDs and broadcast TV at normal viewing distances and under typical
room lighting conditions. Incidentally, have you looked at any Plasma TVs? The
very best ones come close to the performance of CRTs.
The hard drive in my Son’s laptop no longer functions. With help
from Google we searched for companies capable of recovering the precious photo
files of my granddaughter from day one to 3 years of age. The drive was sent to
one of them, who said they could not recover the data (there was no charge),
but they could send the drive to a specialised outfit, which works for the MoD.
However, the cost would probably be upwards of £1000, with or without recovery.
I find these prices inappropriate, to say the least. What should my son pay to
recover his precious photographs?
Peter Crossley, Kiel Germany
I am sorry to say that your son has learned the hard way why it is
so important to backup irreplaceable files, particularly when they only exist
in one place. These days, with so many simple and inexpensive backup options
available there really is no excuse.
Data recovery firms work mainly for companies rather than
individuals and the prices they charge tend to reflect the value of the data
they aim to recover and to be fair retrieving data from a badly damaged drive
can be a time consuming process, requiring specialist knowledge and skills.
Your son should continue to shop around ‘no data no fee’ companies
but there can never be any guarantee of success and a cheapo back street
recovery job may well result in any retrievable data on the drive being lost
forever. But in the end only he can decide how much those photographs are
Can you explain why my wireless broadband has a ‘very good’ signal
one minute and a few seconds later shows a ‘low’ reading, but nothing has
changed in the meantime. Can this be
Nigel May, by email
Despite the high signal reading this may be a sign that your PC or
laptop is close to the edge of your wireless system’s range. Wi-Fi signals
operate at microwave frequencies and are affected all kinds of things. You, for
example, being mainly composed of water, readily absorb these signals whilst
metal surfaces like radiators and filing cabinets block and reflect them. Small
movements by you or someone else in the room can drastically affect the signal
reading, and moving the PC just a few inches can have a similar effect. If your
Wi-FI router has a ‘rubber duck’ type antenna try replacing it with a more
efficient external antenna, and experiment with its position and orientation.
© R. Maybury 2008 1003