The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 085 31/05/08


Sounds Peculiar

I have a Packard Bell laptop and the sound quality seems to have gone mad. There is a deep fuzzy echo whether I am trying to play a DVD or listen to BBC iPlayer. I have tried adjusting the volume controls but they all appear to be set correctly. 

Anne Keenan, by email


Would you say your PC sounds like it is in a sewer pipe, or maybe under water? If so then you’ve probably enabled one of your laptop’s many acoustic environments. Most recent Packard Bell laptops have a Realtek audio adaptor and the utility software that comes with it has the option to mangle the sound in all sorts of strange and unusual ways…


For a change you could try Padded Cell, Bathroom, Cave or Parking Lot…, or to switch it off open the Audio Manager utility by double-clicking on the speaker icon in the System Tray (next to the clock). Alternatively go to Start > Control Panel > Sounds > Playback tab then double-click the Speakers icon. Select the Enhancements tab and you can alter the effect, or turn it off by checking the box marked ‘Disable all sound effects’




Address Labels

Can you tell me if there is a simple Address Book Database program, which will let me print one selected label or multiple address labels for Christmas card labels? In addition is it possible, using Word, to retain data when printing one-off labels? It seems that once printed the data is lost.

Brian Herring, by email


Since you have Word you need look no further as it has an undocumented facility for printing multiple addresses on a single label sheet. All you have to do is open Envelopes and Labels on the Tools menu; select the Labels tab, click the Options button and choose your label sheet type, or create your own layout. When that’s done click OK then check the box marked ‘Full page of the same label’ (don’t ask, it makes no sense…). Now click the New Document button and the label sheet will be displayed (if not select Print Preview from the View menu). You can now key your addresses into the boxes, and since it a Word document you can vary font, style and size. When you are finished click print, and afterwards save it as you would a normal Word document and it will be available for printing or updating whenever you need it. 



Musical Slideshow 

I am thinking of buying some software to make audio-visual slide shows to show to friends and family and at my camera club. How can I obtain music to use in these shows without infringing copyright law?

John gates, Hillingdon


No problem, there are scores of copyright free music CDs and hundreds of on-line libraries where you can download tracks. Good places to start are royaltyfreetunes.co.uk and trackline.com.



Searching for Wines

I have kept a log of my wine cellar since I first owned a PC many years ago. I then used Microsoft Works and have seen no need to change, particularly as I want to keep all my historic data. I used to be able to search for a word in the ‘Wine’ folder, for example ‘Beef’, and it would direct me to all those wines I had drank with Beef. I recently bought a laptop with Vista, which only seems to search for files. Is there any way I can search for single words or phrases within either a specified drive or folder or file?

Gareth Boulton, by email


The Search facility in Vista is actually one of the operating system’s best features. Search boxes are all over the place, and as soon as you begin typing a search term it starts returning results. However. In its default mode it only searches for folder and file names, emails and media stored on your PC but with a little tinkering it will search for keywords and text strings inside files.


Start by typing the keyword  – in your case ‘beef’ – in Search on the Start menu and click Search Everywhere. On the window that appears you’ll notice ‘beef’ is already entered in the Search box. Click Advanced Search, on the Location drop-down menu select your hard drive, click ‘Document’ on the Show Only toolbar then the Search button and away it goes. (For a slower but more thorough search of all the files on your PC check the item ‘Include non-indexed, hidden and system files’). You can save your searches, which means you could, for example, create any number of custom Searches for ‘Fish’ and ‘Pasta’ or any other keyword, and access them quickly by double-clicking your name icon on the Start menu and going to the Searches folder



Picky Printer

How do I print off just one paragraph (or a page) of a 2, 3 or 4 page article without getting the whole lot? I have Windows Vista.

M. Levinson, by email


I presume you are using Word, in which case all you have to do is highlight the section you want to print then go to File> Print and under Page Range click Selection, then OK.





© R. Maybury 2008 1205


Search PCTopTips 



Digital Life Index

Houston 2006

Houston 2007

Houston 2008


Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME








 Copyright 2006-2008 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.