The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 109 15/11/08



Snip’s a Snap

The Snipping Tool in Vista is handy, but does not have a Print instruction. Is there a quick way to print what has been ‘snipped’?

Doug Durrant, by email


Vista’s Snipping tool is an update of the clanky Windows PrtScn facility and allows you to ‘grab’ all or part of anything that’s displayed on your PC screen and send it to the Windows Clipboard. You can select an area using a resizable rectangle, or use a ‘freeform’ snipping tool, to define a shape or object.


To answer your question, the Snipping Tool doesn’t have a Print option, the idea is that once the image is in the Windows Clipboard it can be opened in any suitable program (image editor, word processor etc.) using the Paste command on the program’s Edit menu or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V. However, you can also use the Windows Print command (Ctrl + P) to print the active window.


For those unfamiliar with it you will find the Snipping Tool by going to Start > Programs > Accessories. If it is not displayed then you have to enable it by going to Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features (or Programs), select ‘Turn Windows features on or off’, tick the checkbox next to ‘Tablet PC Optional Components’ and click OK. 



Apple gets the Pip

My problem is that I receive wmv files but am unable to open them on my iMac, operating system 10.4.11 - how can I open them? I have QuickTime Player but when I select this it tells me that the item I want to open is not a movie file.

Jill Newing, by email


Macs do not come with any software that is capable of playing Windows Media Video (wmv) files, I wonder why… Anyway, it’s not a problem and you can download a free plug-in for QuickTime Player, called Flip4Mac (http://tinyurl.com/hr9on).  Another freebie solution is the multi-platform media player VLC, which you can download from http://tinyurl.com/brzgp, and there’s even a Mac version of the Windows Media Player. Version 9 runs under OSX, though it’s getting on a bit now and no longer supported by Microsoft but if you want to give it a whirl you’ll find it at: http://tinyurl.com/2nnsjk.



The Source of HP’s Assistant 

Whenever I connect to the Internet on my Windows XP Home PC it now opens a window to HPProduct Assistant telling me to put in a CD ROM for the feature I am trying to use, (which I am not!). Could you please advise me as to how to prevent this window from appearing?                                           

Patrick Macdonald, by email


This type of message appears for a variety of reasons, including when the software installed with a HP product, like a printer or scanner, is corrupt. It can also be triggered when it tries to install an update or a printer is uninstalled and bits get left behind. If you have recently uninstalled an HP device try re-installing the software, or if you know your way around Windows check to see if there are any redundant HP entries on the Startup list. Go to Run on the Start menu and by type ‘msconfig’, and select the Startup tab. If you find any HP references uncheck them and reboot. Otherwise there are a couple of HP Support articles that can help you to identify the type of error message you are seeing, and hopefully point you in the direction of a cure. They are: http://tinyurl.com/6hr9vj and http://tinyurl.com/65m3bu



Long-Lived Laser Lingers On

I have an ancient but extremely reliable HP LaserJet 4L printer and it has outlasted three PCs, four laptops, and numerous inkjet printers. Unfortunately, all of my current machines only have USB slots for printer connectivity. Is there any way I can continue to make use of ‘old faithful’ or must I resign myself to giving it a hero's funeral?

Charles Murray, by email


It’s okay, your printer can be spared the scrap heap and you have a couple of options. If you are using a desktop PC you could install a Parallel Port interface card in a spare PCI expansion slot. These cost around £10 from online sellers. The alternative is a USB to Parallel port adaptor cable and again the best deals are online; Amazon.co.uk, for example, has then in stock for £14.00. The PCI card should be the most painless method but the USB adaptors certainly work, though you may have to fiddle with the printer’s configuration settings to get all of the printer’s features working properly, especially under Vista.



Joining the Dots

I've accumulated lots of my own entries in Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect function. Can I export these and use them on another PC?

Gavin McEwan, London SW6


Yes you can and they are stored in Word configuration file called normal.dot. Providing you are moving from and to the same version of Word all you have to do is copy the normal.dot file to the correct location on the new PC and it will carry across all of your preferences, macros and user dictionary entries as well.  The only thing you have to watch for is that the locations for normal.dot are different in XP and Vista. In XP you’ll find it in: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\. In Vista it’s C:\Users\<yourname>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\.




© R. Maybury 2008 2710


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