Ask Rick 2009 & Houston We Have a Problem 09



Ask Rick 027, 20/02/09


Webcam to DVD

I have an Acer laptop running Windows XP. Recently my son gave a concert, which was transmitted over a webcam that is left on all the time. It wasn’t a concert hall so there are no copyright issues etc. My question is, can I record his next concert on to my PC’s hard drive or burn it direct on to a DVD? I managed to record the last one, sound only, through a Heath Robinson arrangement on to an audio cassette.

Philip Bell, by email


Anything is possible but I think you would be much better off arranging to record the concert using a camcorder. The picture and sound quality will be a hundred times better than a webcam recording and if a DVD camcorder is used you can kill two birds with one stone.


Freeware webcam recording options are a bit limited but I would definitely try CamStudio ( This records any streamed video (and audio) that appears on your monitor screen as standard .avi files, so you can try some experiments with YouTube videos or a streamed webcam (try this one in Belushi’s Bar in Edinburgh, which has live sound


The quality of CamStudio is just about okay but the capture area is quite small. For improved video quality try AutoScreenRecorder Free ( Unfortunately the free version doesn’t record sound but you can do this separately using a free application like Audacity or MP3 My MP3 (, however, it will be quite difficult to accurately synchronise the sound audio and video recordings.


If you don’t want to mess around then the Pro version of AutoScreenRecorder may be your best bet as it combines decent video quality and audio recording. A single user licence costs $50, which is a tad pricey, so if anyone can suggest a cheaper alternative, or a better freeware solution please let us know by using the Comments box.


You can edit your recordings in Windows Movie Maker (included with XP and Vista) and to copy your finished recording to DVD you will need an editing and authoring program. See the various offerings from Pinnacle and Ulead, but if you want to try your hand with some free Open Source software take a look at Boot Camp 464 (



Excel Excess

I have recently installed Microsoft Excel onto my computer from MS Office. With this version I find that numbers typed into a cell are divided by 1000 when entered i.e. 123 changes to .123 when moving to the next cell I worked my way through numbers and other features to no avail

Peter E Goldsby, by email


It sounds to me as though you have accidentally enabled an Excel feature called Fixed Decimal. This automatically inserts decimal points in a specified position. All you have to do is go to the Tools menu, then Options, select the Edit tab, uncheck ‘Fixed Decimal’ and click OK.



Street Smarts

Can you please explain why, when I download Google Earth onto my laptop and desktop PCs, I get different results, even though the program specifications are exactly the same? On the desktop I get ‘Cameras’, which lets me to zoom to street level and move around in places like Paris and Sydney. This facility is missing on my laptop.
Dave Jones, by email


Providing you have Google Earth version 4.3 or later installed on the laptop then the Street View feature should be available. My guess is that it hasn’t been enabled. You will find it on the Layers menu, in the left hand pane; it’s listed under 3D buildings, make sure the box is ticked and the camera icons will appear.



GetReady Mystery Message

Whenever I log on to my computer I get an error message that says: ‘…procedure entry point apsGetReady could not be located in the link library wlanapi.dll’. I just click OK and it goes away, but I wonder if it has anything to do will the gradual slowing down of my computer?  I have removed temporary files, emptied recycle bin and defragmented, but nothing seems to make it speed up.

Catherine Barber, by email


This error message has nothing to do with the slowdown, that’s usually caused by simple clutter, too many programs and services loading at startup or not having enough RAM memory. That message box you are seeing is associated with your PC’s wireless networking facility. It seems to be quite common on Wi-Fi adaptors made by DLink and after installing XP Service Pack 3, which updates several key system files used by Windows, including wlanapi.dll. Try updating the driver, either from DLink or the wireless adaptor manufacturer’s web site.



Giddy Gadget

Included in my on-screen ‘Gadgets’ on my Vista PC I have set up a rolling view of the pictures in Windows Photo Gallery. When I click onto a picture in the sidebar to view, it opens WordPad and displays a page full of gibberish. How do I either make Word Pad compatible or ensure that these pictures open in some other window? You need to bear in mind that I am a relatively new silver surfer and hoping for an easy solution.

Jill Campbell, by email


Don’t ask me how but it appears that you, or someone else with access to your computer has somehow managed to set image files (jpegs) to open in WordPad, and as you have discovered is a very poor image viewer. Don’t worry, it’s really easy to fix, just go to Default Programs on the Start menu and click the 'Associate File Type ...' link. Scroll down to jpeg (and jpg) click Change Program and associate it with Windows Picture Gallery, or your preferred image viewer and click OK. 





© R. Maybury 2009 2701

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