The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 083 17/05/08



A Cute Little Tip

I’ve found a quick way of putting an acute accent over the letter ‘e’.  I type ‘café’ then delete the letters caf and insert ‘ros’ to make rosé, or whatever!

Libby Armitage, by email


Ingenious and I haven’t seen that one before, but I think I'll stick to the quick and easy Word shortcut of Ctrl + ' (apostrophe), then the letter. Unfortunately this doesn’t work in Outlook Express or Windows Mail, but there is another equally simple shortcut; press and hold Ctrl + Alt then the letter key. For more Word accents see here:  http://tinyurl.com/2d9tgt



Washing Windows

In a recent answer to a query regarding slow start up etc., you advised clearing out the clutter. This may be a rather basic question, but I would appreciate some basic guidance on removing superfluous files to free up disc space. I am running Windows XP.

David Foster, by email


Clutter is anything you no longer need or use. You can uninstall redundant software from Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel (Programs and Features in Vista), data files and downloads.


I suggest that you only remove one thing at a time and reboot your PC to make sure there are no error messages. Windows has a built-in utility to take care of its own detritus, in both XP and Vista go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup, and follow the prompts.


However, deleting files is just a temporary fix if you are seriously short of drive space. A second drive or a bigger main drive is the only practical solution and with HDD prices at an all time low there’s no need to scramble around.


Old PALs Act

I recently sent a DVD+RW disc containing a TV gardening programme, featuring my daughter, to my cousin in America but she is unable to watch it on her DVD player. In the past we have sent her VHS tapes and she has had them transferred to another tape, due to differences in electricity. Is there a way that a DVD can be amended to suit American electricity?

Sandra Barnes, by email


It’s not American electricity that causing the problems but an incompatibility between the colour TV systems used in the UK and US.  On this side of the pond we use 625-line PAL (Phase Alternate Line) whilst they use 525-line NTSC (National Television Standards Committee, or Never Twice the same Colour – old TV engineer joke…). 


If you create the disc on a PC you can usually choose between PAL and NTSC formatting but that option is extremely rare on stand-alone DVD recorders. Several UK companies provide a ‘transcoding service for recordings, though they usually refuse to handle copyright material. You cousin may be able to get the disc converted by a local company. Otherwise they can watch it on a multi-system DVD player or a PC, using suitable player software.



MonaRona Pest

My husband's computer has been infected with something called 'Mona Rona'.  The AVG did not detect it and various spy checker programs he has run have come back negative.  The virus (or whatever it is) manifests itself by a frequent annoying high-pitched squeak and a message to support Human Rights and Tibet. Have you come across this problem before?  In what way does it compromise the security of his computer and what can he do, apart from re-installing Windows?

Renate Page, by email


MonaRonaDona, to give it its full name is not a virus as such but a piece of ‘malware’ that messes around with Internet Explorer, hijacking the home page, generating pop-ups that threaten to erase files and it tries to scare you into paying for a useless antivirus program called Unigray. It’s a crude scam, more of a pest than a threat and it won’t affect your files but you should get rid of it and there’s a free removal tool at: http://tinyurl.com/2xdp6p




Share Scandal

I have a dial-up Internet connection and intend to upgrade to broadband. However, my neighbour, who is only 50 metres away, is having wireless broadband installed. With his permission, would I be able to use his connection? If so what extra kit would I need?

Peter Cannon, by email


Signal strength is likely to be a problem but in theory all you need is an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi adaptor for your PC; prices for USB ‘dongles’ start at around £15. However, I strongly urge you not to do it! It’s a contravention of your neighbour’s ISP license agreement but more importantly, there are some very serious security and privacy implications. Files on your PC may be visible on your neighbour’s computer, and vice-versa, and in an extreme case it could make you vulnerable to accusations of fraudulent or illegal use of the connection. What, for example, would happen if it was found that the connection was being used to download pirated material, child pornography or used to send spam messages, and your neighbour blamed it on you?





© R. Maybury 2008 2804


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