The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 105 18/10/08
Cancelling Echo on
We have a Vaio
laptop and have recently purchased a Skype headset and microphone to
enable us to talk to our son and family abroad. Our son uses an Apple
laptop with a built-in camera. We can see him but he cannot see us as our
laptop doesn’t have a camera (yet).
fine apart from an irritating echo of our own voices when we speak to
him. His voice sounds normal. Do you know how to stop this?
When we plug the
headset cables into the laptop the laptop speaker is disabled. This
obviously results in only one of us being able to communicate with our son.
Would it be possible for us to
connect a second headset?
The first thing to do is find out if the echo is at your
end, or coming from your son’s computer. The simplest way to do that is to use
Skype’s audio test utility, called ‘echo123’, (or Skype Test Call), which you
will find in your Contacts List. Double-click the entry and you’ll be asked to
make a short recording. If there’s no echo on the playback the problem is on
your Son’s computer. If the echo persists then try adjusting the microphone
input level, which you can access from Sounds in Control Panel on the Start
Otherwise there’s one last thing to check. Skype has
automatic Echo Cancellation, it is enabled by default but it is just possible
that it has been disabled. The setting is tucked away in a configuration file,
which you are not really supposed to fiddle with, but if you know your way
around your computer it’s not difficult to find.
In XP go to C:\Documents and
Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Skype\<your Skype
name>\config.xml. (In Vista it’s C:\Users\<yourname>\AppData\Skype\<your
Right-click on the file and open it in Windows Notepad.
Automatic Echo Cancellation is listed under General as ‘AEC>1</AEC>’,
the 1 indicates that it is switched on, ‘0’ means off. If you need to change
the setting don’t forget to save the file.
The extra headset problem
is easily solved using a 3.5mm stereo jack ‘splitter’ cable, which you can get
from your local branch of Maplin.
I need the keyboard
code (Alt + whatever) for the 'because' symbol. I can find the three dots
'therefore' symbol (\) but not the inverted form.
Alan Seymour, by email
The symbol (∴) is there, but you have to dig deep to find it. It is not part of the
normal ASCII character set and as far as I’m aware it only exists as a Unicode
symbol, which means it is only available in a limited number of fonts. In Word,
for example, there are a couple of methods. Methof one, select the Symbol front, press the Numlock key then hold down the Alt key and
enter the code 0092. Method two, go to Insert > Symbol, on the Font drop-down menu select
Lucinda Sans Unicode and on the Subset drodown select Mathematical Operators
and you should see it opn the fourth or fifth row. In other applications, such
as Outlook Express, Outlook, WordPad and so on, it’s a little more involved.
Position the cursor where you want the symbol to appear, select a Unicode Font
(i.e. Lucinda Sans Unicode), from the Fonts drop down menu. Next, press
Numlock, hold down the Alt Key then press the ‘+’ key and tap in the symbol’s
hexadecimal code, which is 2235.
Incidentally, in Word you
are also supposed to be able to enter Unicode symbols by entering the hex code
followed by Alt + X, though I have never managed to get it to work.
I have removed several
programs from my Vista laptop but the titles remain on the Programs and
Features list. How can I remove these references? I know I should have removed
them using Vista utility but some programs have their own removal features and
I foolishly used those instead.
Mick King, by email
It probably wouldn’t have
made any difference. Programs and Features in Vista, like Add/Remove Programs
in XP is just a repository for your program’s uninstaller utilities. Those
redundant listings are stored in the Windows Registry but apart from being a
minor annoyance they do no harm whatsoever, so you might want to leave well
alone. If not then I suggest that you install a freeware program, called Revo
which does an excellent job of getting rid of unwanted programs, and the
clutter some of them leave behind, which includes the left-overs from
previously deleted programs. Revo should also be your first port of call when a
program’s own uninstaller fails to work.
Losing the Space Race
I keep getting a
message that the C: drive is short on space despite the fact that I clean it up
daily. The free space can drop from 753Mb to 113Mb in the space of a few days.
I have run AVG and anti-malware programs, which say that all is well. However I
am still losing disc space at an unacceptable rate for no apparent reason. Any
ideas on how to correct this?
Anthony Wilkes, by
Yes, get a bigger hard
drive, or install a second slave drive... You are going to have to face up to
the fact that you have run out of space. For comfort Windows needs between 1
and 3Gb of free hard disc space for all of the behind the scenes operations,
like the virtual memory or Swapfile, file indexing and caching operations.
© R. Maybury 2008 2908