The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 081 03/05/08


Caption Competition

My wife and I have just returned from a long cruise holiday with a mass of photographs. Could you please suggest a relatively simple program that would allow me to write small captions at the base of each photograph?

Morris Walker, by email


Basically there are two ways to caption a digital photo. You can permanently etch words into the image, or add hidden text to the picture file and this can be made to appear on your PC screen on demand. Windows Paint and just about any photo-editing program lets you superimpose text on an picture but I really do not recommend it, except maybe on photos copied to CD or DVD as you are stuck with it, and part of the picture is obscured.


Picture files already contain a fair amount of hidden data about when they were shot and the camera they were taken on, there’s also provision for adding user data, which can include things like a title, subject, comments and so on, but you’ll only see it by opening the picture’s ‘Properties’ or using an EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) viewer in some photo manager programs. To add to or edit this data in Windows XP right click on the file in Windows Explorer or My Computer, select Properties then the Summary tab. It’s basically the same in Windows Vista but this time select the Details tab and you can edit the Title, Subject, Rating, Tags and Comment fields under Description.


However, a much more convenient solution is to use our old friend Picasa (http://picasa.google.com/. This program is completely free and amongst many other things it also helps you to display and manage your image files, correct imperfections, create slideshows and picture discs. It’s also very easy to use and when displaying a photo in Picasa simply type your caption into the space below the picture, where it says ‘Make a caption’. The icon at the left side of the box toggles the caption on and off.



A Touch Too Much

I have just replaced my old Dell laptop (running Windows XP) with a new machine using Vista. The touch pad is so sensitive that even a butterfly with sore feet landing on it can take me all over the shop. Is there any way of calming it down before it drives me potty!

John Morgan, Whitley Bay


Most though not all laptops have a touch pad sensitivity control. If so you will normally find it in Control Panel on the Start menu, select the Mouse icon and look for a touch pad or Device Settings tab. Select it and you should see a Settings button leading to a Sensitivity menu or control slider. On some models the touch pad may have its icon in Control Panel, or on the All Programs list, see the owner’s manual for details.


If you can’t find any touch pad adjustments then you could try de-sensitising it by covering it with a suitably shaped piece of sticky-back plastic, or a sheet of screen protector material, the sort used to prevent scratches on mobile phone and personal stereo displays.



Sent Packing

On my Windows XP computer, when I click the Sent Items folder in Outlook Express I see a list of more than 1,000 emails. Is there any way I can get rid of them and clear them from my computer?

Bill Whitley, by email


Yes and no…  Select one of the emails in your Sent Items folder then press Ctrl + A  (select ‘All’) and they are all highlighted. Right-click on the highlighted area select Delete and they are shunted into the Deleted Items folder, but they can still be read.


To clear them right click on the Deleted Items folder icon and select 'Empty Deleted Items Folder’, and that should be the end of it, except that they are still there, and can be recovered with specialist software. Eventually they will disappear when your mail folders are ‘compacted’. You will be invited to this after OE has been opened 100 times or you can do it manually at any time by going to File > Folder > Compact All Folders.




The Wrong Message

I have recently signed-up to BT Broadband and following the set-up Yahoo Messenger starts up whenever I turn on the computer. I don’t want it, how do I stop it?

Tim Heath


If you are not using Yahoo Messenger then uninstalling from Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel it will do the trick. Otherwise, you have to start Yahoo Messenger, sign in with your ID then go to Messenger on the menu bar and click Preferences. At the top of the dialogue box that appears deselect the item ‘Automatically start Yahoo Messenger’ and click OK. It’s a bit of a nuisance and like a bad penny it can sometimes return. If you can’t bear to be without it, but do not want it to start with Windows then I also recommend disabling it’s ‘Service’ component. Type ‘msconfig’ in Run on the Start menu and on the Services tab deselect Yahoo Messenger, click OK and reboot.





© R. Maybury 2008 1404


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