The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 092 19/07/08


Unwanted Cat Scan

My Tonkinese kitten walked over the keyboard of my PC, treading on a number of keys that caused the display to turn sideways. No one, including my IT engineer seems to have a clue how to rectify the problem.

Jeremy Jacobs, by email


It sounds as though your moggy is a lot smarter than that engineer… Screen Rotate is a very well known facility on PCs using ATI and NVidia video adaptors. To restore the display back to its normal landscape mode simply do what the cat did and press Ctrl + Alt + left or right cursor, and it will turn in 90 degree increments. If that doesn’t do the trick look in Display Properties (right click desktop) for a display rotation option.



Send By Hand

When I right click one of my music files a small window opens with several options, one of which is ‘Send To’. I click on this and another window opens telling me where I can send the file to. My question is, can I add folders to this list, if so how?

Dave Fowler, by email


The Send To option in XP and Vista is really useful and yes, you can customise the list. SendTo is actually an ordinary Windows folder containing shortcuts to the various destinations. In XP you will find it in C:\Documents and settings\ <yourname>. For some reason it’s been buried away in Vista, in <yourname>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo. To add a new folder location all you have to do is locate it in Windows Explorer, right click on it and select SendTo > Create Shortcut, then drag the shortcut into the SendTo folder. 



Strings Attached

Can I connect my guitar to my PC or laptop so that I can make recordings?

Marie Rose, by email


You can experiment by connecting your guitar to the computer’s microphone input (you will need a standard jack to 3.5mm jack adaptor or cable) but there’s likely to be an impedance mis-match, which means there could be some distortion. Specialist USB guitar adaptors with recording software, like StealthPlug (http://tinyurl.com/y9xfjs) are available, but the simplest and cheapest option is to connect the headphone output from your amplifier to the PC’s line input. As for recording, our old friend Audacity (http://tinyurl.com/2m8jcr) is your best bet and it will allow you to do all sorts of clever things, like lay down multiple tracks, add effects and edit your recordings




Raw Deal

I have a 8Gb pen drive, which is used to backup Word documents, photos and video clips. It worked fine for 5 months then suddenly on opening a picture only half the image showed. A message appeared saying that no preview was available and no files could be opened. I removed the drive correctly and reinserted it but this time the PC wouldn’t recognise it. I have tried it on another PC and laptop with the same result.  

Joe Grun, by email


Of course the drive could be faulty and in most cases that would be an end of it, as far as any data it contains is concerned, but more often than not all that’s happened is the drive’s filing system or partition information has become corrupt and it has reverted to a ‘Raw’ file system. In this state the drive isn’t recognised by Windows so data cannot be read or written to it. If you don’t mind losing the data on the drive then you might be able to re-partition it from Disk Management (type diskmgmt.msc in Run on XP’s Start menu, or Search in Vista). If the drive shows up, try formatting it by right-clicking on the icon.


Otherwise if you want to try and repair the drive and recover data the free demo version of Data Recovery Wizard (http://tinyurl.com/5vyj7t) will tell you if there are any readable files on the drive. If so it may be possible to recover them with the paid-for version of the program, which costs around £30. For more advanced users there’s an excellent Open Source recovery program called TestDisk (http://tinyurl.com/5u8jm8), which comes with a utility specifically designed for use on image files stored USB drive and memory card media, called Photorec.



Screensaver Grey Area

When I right click the desktop on my XP computer and select Properties the Screensaver tab has disappeared. How do I get it back?

Patricia Hartley, by email


A hidden administration feature called Policies can make the screensaver tab vanish but it’s not the sort of thing I would expect to happen on a home computer. If you don’t mind a challenge then you should be able to restore it by editing the Registry. It’s not difficult but I strongly recommend that you set a new Restore Point before you begin (Start > Accessories > System Tools). Once that is done go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘regedit’. This opens the Registry Editor; now navigate your way to:





You should see a key in the right hand pane called: 'NoDispScrSavPag', right click on it, select Modify and change the Data Value to 0, click OK, exit Regedit and reboot and the tab should reappear.





© R. Maybury 2008 3006


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