The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 082 10/05/08


On the Cards

Some months ago you extolled the virtues of Picasa for managing photos on a PC. I followed your tip and downloaded the program, which is everything you said it was. However I have a problem to which I cannot find the solution.


The program that came with my Olympus camera allows me to print a photograph on the bottom half of an A4 sheet, and then, by folding that sheet in half, I get an A5 greetings card. Picasa does not seem to have this facility of printing only one photo in a specific place - or am I missing something?

Ralph Stone, by email


Picasa has a very good assortment of printing facilities but you are right, thereís no greeting cards option. However, there is a simple workaround. All you have to do is create a Ďblankí white image, select the two prints per page option, put your chosen image in one half and the blank image in the other. You can do a similar trick with a two-fold card, with your image in one corner, and blanks in the other three.



XP Slowdown

I have a fairly modern PC using Windows XP with a 1.5GHz processor and 256Mb of RAM. Recently I have noticed a considerable slowing up of the processors ability to do things, like booting up, opening files, Word, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, closing down, etc. Can you give me some ideas on how I can speed things up?

Charles Barnard, Ipswich.


I am surprised that you even noticed itÖ XP really struggles to get going on only 256Mb of RAM. You will get an immediate performance boost by increasing your PCs to memory to at least 1Gb, 2Gb if your motherboard can accommodate it and with memory prices so low at the moment thereís really no excuse to hobble your system.


However, the usual cause of a progressive slowdown is clutter and redundant start-up items. The quick and simple cure is to backup all of your data, wipe the drive and start again, otherwise treat your machine to a thorough Spring Clean by following the XP tuning tips in the archived Daily Telegraph Boot Camp articles 355 Ė 357, which you find at: http://tinyurl.com/cczzr.



Obsolete Bargain?

I am thinking of buying a Toshiba Satellite P200 laptop. Can you tell me what the implications might be as this model has an HD-DVD drive, which has been dropped by Toshiba. Will this mean the DVD player on said laptop has become obsolete?

Barbara Knowlton, by email


Although the HD-DVD format has been effectively abandoned, unless you were thinking of buying this laptop on the strength of its abilities to replay high definition movies, I donít think it will be a problem. The drive is backwards compatible with ordinary audio and data CDs, data DVDs and standard definition video DVDs and its CDs and DVD burning capabilities are unaffected, as are the rest of its PC functions. In fact, thank to the formatís recent demise there may well be some bargains to be had.



Online Waste

Is it necessary to leave my broadband modem switched on? The installer said that I should, but aren't we all supposed to be saving energy?

Maureen Smith, by email


Modems and routers consume very little power, but I take your point, and if we all switched our modems off at night then the energy savings across the country could be quite significant. A simple plug-in timer is all you need, just set it to switch the power off when you have finished using the modem for the day. Whilst it is true that the lives of some electronic components can be shortened by repeatedly switching them on and off, itís unlikely to have any effect on the normal working life of a device like a broadband modem, which will usually be replaced or upgraded every 3 Ė 5 years. Youíll probably only save between £5 and £10 a year on your electricity bill, but there are other potential benefits. Every time your broadband modem connects to your ISP your PC is assigned a new IP Address, this enhances your online privacy and makes it harder for anyone to hack into your files.  



Usted Entiende Gisting?

I have recently acquired a computer running Vista Home Premium. Can you recommend a program for translating languages, for example English in to Spanish, and Spanish to English?

Michael J. Ackerman, by email


This is not an area Iím especially familiar with and if more knowledgeable readers have any suggestions Iíll be happy to pass them on. However, for small quick and simple translation jobs I recommend the Babelfish (http://babelfish.altavista.com/) online translation service. It is free, fast, can process web pages and blocks of text up to 150 words at a time and currently works in over a dozen languages. Machine translation system like this use a technique known as Ďgistingí, which means itís not grammatically perfect, but itís usually good enough to convey meaning.




© R. Maybury 2008 2104


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