Ask Rick 2009 & Houston We Have a Problem 09



Ask Rick 038, 30/03/09, Houston 122, 04/04/09


Wireless Woes

I have recently installed wireless CCTV cameras. They operate on the same frequency as my wireless Internet and when I switch on the cameras they knock out my Internet connection.  It's one or the other! I have changed my router's channel number several times but the problem remains. Is there any hope?

Terry Braverman, by email


Pollution on the 2.4 - 2.5GHz frequency band used by 802.11g/b Wi-Fi is a huge problem and it's getting worse as adjacent home networks and access points overlap, not to mention interference from the growing number of wireless keyboards and mice, security cameras, audio-video senders, door chimes, Bluetooth devices, and the list goes on. If, as it seems, you have more than one wireless camera then you have a real problem. You might just get away with one camera but the signals from these devices - especially the cheaper ones -- can be quite strong and may even leak across several channels, blotting out your Wi-Fi.


It may help to upgrade your router, more upmarket models tend to be better at rejecting interference on adjacent channels, though you should also get a matching wireless adaptor, from the same manufacturer, to get the full benefit.  Otherwise you could try switching to the new 802.11n system, which is much better at dealing with interference and also has the option to work on the largely vacant 5GHz band. The only problem is the specifications have yet to finalised and there is no guarantee that the 'Draft-N' products now on sale will be compatible with future networks. 



DAB to mp3

Is it possible to convert an mp2 recording made on a DAB radio to mp3 format so that I can listen to it on my media player and computer?

Jim Leek, by email


It certainly is you can either use Audacity (, the free audio editor or if you fancy trying something new, have a look at Free Audio Editor (, which has many of Audacity's most useful features, but is a little easier to use. In both cases simply open the MP2 file and use Export or SaveAs on the File menu to save your mp2 file in mp3 format.



Synchronise Outlook Express

I use a PC tower for most of my correspondence, a laptop occasionally.  As a result I have two sets of emails in the Inbox and Sent Items folders on the two machines. Is it possible to merge the two sets of files?  I use Outlook Express 6.

Paul Hornsby, by email


Yes it is, and as a one-off exercise it's not too difficult but keeping them synchronised thereafter is a little more complicated. Basically you copy the message Store Folder on your laptop PC onto a USB pen drive. Plug the drive into your desktop PC and use Outlook Express's Import function (on the File menu) to download the messages from the Store Folder on the USB drive into the desktop PC's Store Folder. The desktop PC's Store Folder is now fully merged, so copy that to the USB drive, delete the contents of the laptop's message folders and repeat the process, importing the contents of the merged Store folder on the USB drive


It's a bit of a palaver because Outlook Express buries the Store Folder several layers deep in the XP User directory so to speed things up I suggest moving the Store Folders into the 'Root' directories of the C: drives on both machines. To do that open Windows Explorer or My Computer, highlight the C: drive icon and go to File > New > New Folder and rename it something like 'Oestore'. In Outlook Express go to Tools > Options, select the Maintenance tab. Click the Store Folder button then Change, Locate your new Oestore folder and click OK. This also makes it a lot easier to keep the store folders synchronised, either by using the Windows 'Briefcase' (see this archived Boot Camp article or one of the many freeware file synchronising utilities. Be warned, however, this works best when the file structure of both message folders is the same and if you have any message 'Rules' make sure they're the same for both machines.



Travellers Checks

I am going to USA for a month and plan to take my 5-year old laptop. Will the AC power supply that came with the machine be suitable for use in USA or do I need to obtain a new one.

America. Alayne Treacher, by email


You should be okay. For at least the past ten years virtually all mains adaptors and chargers have been designed to work on a 100 to 240 volt 50/60Hz supply, but check the label, just in case. Also, don't forget that you will need an American 2 pin to UK 3 pin mains plug adaptor. 



Exporting Thunderbird

I have a large number of emails with attachments on in Mozilla Thunderbird that I need to keep indefinitely. How can I save or transfer them to an external hard drive?  I cannot seem to find where they are stored on my hard drive.

Marty Cohen, by email


In many ways Thunderbird is superior to Outlook Express but exporting messages is not one of its strong points. On the plus side emails are stored in plain text format so they can be opened and edited read in any word processor or a text editor, such as Windows Notepad. However, they're not that easy to get at, you'll find the location by going to Tools > Account Settings and the path is displayed in the Message Storage box. It's not very convenient, either, especially if there's more than a few hundred messages in your Inbox, if so I would move the ones you want to keep into a new folder to make them easier to handle.


Better still, install a free Thunderbird add-on called Attachment Extractor, which you can download from: This makes it a lot easier to export both messages and attachments together, though you need to go into Attachment Extractor's Options menu and on the General tab tick 'Make a new name for the attachment...'. and under External Actions tick 'Save message txt to file...'.



 © R. Maybury 2009 0903

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