Ask Rick 010, 19/12/08
My Windows Vista laptop links to the Internet through my
husband’s wireless router. The Internet doesn't connect automatically and I
have to go through a tortuous process of trying to get on line using Windows
‘repair’ (which doesn't always work). I get there eventually but the original
message is always that there is an ‘IP Address Conflict on my computer. It
drives me nuts every morning; how do I solve this once and for all?
Alice Summers, by email
Every computer on a network is assigned a unique Internet
Protocol (IP) address so data from the Internet and other computers on the
network is sent to the right place by the router. IP addresses can be fixed but
on most home networks they’re set ‘dynamically’, by the router, which allocates
them when a PC is switched on. This is called DHCP or Dynamic Host
Configuration Protocol and IP conflicts occur when a PC tries to use an address
that has been assigned to another computer or wi-fi device. This can happen
when a PC comes out of Standby or Hibernation mode, and the address it was
previously using has been reallocated, or, more usually, the DHCP server in the
router just gets in a muddle.
The quick solution is to go to Run or Search on the Start
menu, type ‘cmd’ (without the quotes). In the Command window that appears type
‘ipconfig /release’, press Return and this deletes the currently assigned IP
address, Next type ‘ipconfig /renew’, the router assigns a new address and you
should be back in business. To stop it happening again try rebooting the whole
system. Switch everything off (all PCs, the router and any other wi-fi devices)
then begin a staged reboot, starting with the router, followed by the PCs and
any other wireless devices.
Instead of making notes I often take a picture with a small
pocket camera. However jpeg images of
text and line drawings on white paper appear to have a light grey
background. How can the text be
isolated and 'lifted' off the page? Due
to random lighting the grey cast is seldom uniform over the picture.
A search on the web suggests this is a white balance issue.
My camera has automatic white balance but I understand that it may be possible
to correct it using Adobe Photoshop. Even if it can do the job, it is quite a
costly solution. Is there any other method?
Jim I, Hastings
It sounds more like a basic lighting problem to me and the
answer is to take more time with your photographs. Increase the scene lighting
or mount the camera on a tripod or stand and using the low light/night shooting
mode would almost certainly help. Upgrading to a more advanced model, with
better low light performance and more exposure options is also worth
If you want to keep your camera and can’t do anything about
the lighting then there’s still a lot you can do to improve the image on your
PC, though there’s no need to go to the expense of PhotoShop. I suggest our old
friend PhotoFiltre (http://tinyurl.com/yuxms7).
This is an advanced freeware image editing program, and it is easily capable of
doing a relatively simple job like this. Try adjusting the Gamma Correction and
Contrast settings, with a little trial and error you should be able to bleach
out the background and bring up the text. You can also use the ‘sharpen’
control to make the text more readable, both for you and an OCR (Optical
Character Recognition) application, which turns clearly defined words in an
image into a text file. OCR programs are supplied free with most flatbed
scanners, or try a freeware utility like TopOcr (http://tinyurl.com/28hx9k).
Wandering Web Site
My web hosting service has just announced that it will be
shutting up shop next spring.
What will happen to my web site? Will it simply disappear or can I
ask another provider to look after it? I want to hang on to the domain
name and I don’t want to have to start again from scratch.
Cliff Billington, by email
You are free to move your domain to another hosting service
at any time. Most web hosts try to make it easy as possible and do all the
behind the scenes administration for you so there may be a modest setup cost,
in addition to the normal hosting fees. The actual move can take from a few
hours to several days and you will have to upload your entire site to the new
host’s server but apart from a brief interruption your visitors shouldn’t
notice any difference. Shop around, there are scores of web hosting services
offering some very competitive deals at the moment, however, I would keep
things simple and stick with a well-established UK based company.
Shut Down Annoyance
When I shut down my computer a box appears on the screen
saying: ‘End Program - sprtcmd.exe - this program is not responding…’ I always
select End Now. I have no idea what
this program is and I am worried that it might be something nasty on my
computer. What do you suggest?
Vanessa Drew, via email
It’s not a threat, Sprtcmd.exe is part of a Dell Support
utility program and it’s a real nuisance, judging by the number of emails I get
mentioning this problem, which seems to have got worse since the release of XP
Service Pack 3. You don’t need the Dell program so get rid of it, but first you
have to shut it down. Press Ctrl + Alt
+ Delete. Select the Processes tab (In Vista select Task Manager first), find
‘sprtcmd’ on the list, select it and click End Process. Now go to Start >
Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs (Programs and Features in Vista), locate
Dell Support Centre and click Remove.
© R. Maybury 2008 0112