Ask Rick 2008



Ask Rick 001 17/11/08


WordPad Workaround

I have a brand new Vista laptop and I’m having trouble with the WordPad word processor program. It is set to 10 point Arial but I prefer 12pt Times New Roman. I am unable to find how to change it so that it opens with my chosen font settings.

Andrew Schofield, by email


WordPad looks a bit like Microsoft Word but it’s a freebie and about as basic as a word processor can get. You can’t change the default font, though there is a simple workaround. Open a new document, set your preferences and type a few words, i.e. ‘12pt TNR’ and this ensures WordPad retains the new font setting. Go to Save As on the file menu, call the file ‘template.wri’ and click OK. Locate your template.wri file in Windows Explorer, right click on it, select Properties and check the ‘Read Only’ box. Finally right-click on your template file icon and select Send To > Desktop (create shortcut).


Click on the Template.wri desktop icon to launch WordPad and it opens a new document with 12pt Times New Roman as the default. Delete the 12pt TNR text and use it as a normal blank document. The Read Only file attribute prevents you from altering your template by forcing you to rename the document when you want to save it.


WordPad is fine for composing simple documents but if you want something a little more sophisticated I suggest AbiWord or; they are both freeware and compatible with Microsoft Word. You’ll find links to the downloads at:



Superior Screensaver

In Windows Vista I can show my photos as a screensaver but unlike my old PC, which used Windows XP, it doesn’t show the file and folder name on the screen as each image rolls over. The options in Control Panel or Screen Saver do not appear to allow this listing.

David Hopkins, by email


This feature isn’t available in the Vista Photo Gallery screensaver but there is nothing to stop you using the My Pictures Slideshow screensaver from XP on your Vista PC. Simply copy a file called 'ssmypics.scr' from C:\windows\system32 in XP and paste it into the same location on your Vista machine and My Pictures Slideshow will appears on the Screen Saver drop down menu.



Message Muddle

My desktop PC is in an upstairs room and I have installed a wireless modem router so that we can use a laptop downstairs. I have set up Outlook Express on the laptop using the same account details as my PC in the expectation that I could read the same emails which arrive on the PC. I can't. Am I expecting the impossible or is there something that an IT incompetent like me can do?

John Lunn, by email


The problem is both PCs are set by default to download messages from your mail server. You can set one or both PCs to leave a copy of your emails on the server so they will be accessible to both machines. However, you must also tell OE on one of the PCs to delete them after a certain amount of time otherwise they will accumulate and clog up the system. The option to leave messages on the server and periodically delete them can be found by going to Tools > Accounts, select your account, click Properties then select the Advanced tab



High Tech Holiday Album

When on holiday I would like to backup each day’s digital photos but I do not want to lug a laptop around with me. I have seen gadgets that appear to be capable of storing films, music, and photos. Would I be able to transfer photos to such a device from an SD card plugged into a USB 2.0 card reader?


I have read that photos stored on a CD may only have a life of 5 years. Is there is a case for retaining a good quality 35mm camera for special family occasions such as weddings?

David Buck, by email



A number of portable storage devices, MP3 and media players have SD card slots so there’s no need to complicate matters with a USB card reader but I still think a PC is your best bet. Why not have a look at one of the new breed of mini notebooks (netbooks). Models like the Asus Eee and Acer Aspire One are not much larger than a paperback, they have SD card slots, and cost under £200. You'll be able to view, edit and archive your photos, email them or upload them to online storage or sharing sites via the built-in wireless adaptor or a mobile broadband dongle.


If stored properly the data on a CD or DVD should last for at least 25 years and probably a lot longer, so I wouldn't worry too much on that score. Having lost or ruined numerous 35mm films over the years at the hands of careless processors and postal services, and my own incompetence, I really think film has had its day. With digital photography you can see straight away if you got the shot, and if necessary retake it, while the subject is still available, moreover if you make backups on physical and web-based media the chances of ever loosing them are greatly reduced.




© R. Maybury 2008 0311


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