Ask Rick 050, 11/05/09 & Houston 128 16/05/09
Shortcut to Text Entry
When I used a BBC B computer twenty-five years ago I was able to
program the function keys 1 to 9 to be used with either shift or ctrl. I could
put into them a whole phrase or sentence so that when these were something
repetitive in a document I didn't need to type the whole thing out every time.
For instance while transcribing 17th century wills a phrase like 'this is my
last Will and Testament' could be inserted with the simple press of shift or
ctrl and the appropriate function key. I could have eighteen different choices
at a time. Can the function keys on my PC be programmed like this? I am using Word.
Elisabeth Jordan, by email
You can’t reprogram the F keys on a PC, at least not easily as
they are allocated specific functions by both Windows and the programs that you
are using. However, there is an option in Word to assign a word or phrase to a
toolbar button or keyboard shortcut. All you have to do is go to Insert >
AutoText > AutoText and select the AutoText tab. To use your example, type
in ‘this is my last Will and Testament’ into the Text Entry box and click Add.
Exit the box, right click on an empty area of the toolbar and select Customize,
then the Commands tab. In the left hand Categories list scroll down to AutoText
and in the right hand Commands pane select ‘this is my…’ You can either drag
this on to the toolbar and a button will appear, or you can create a keyboard
shortcut. To do that click the Keyboard button, select AutoText in the
Categories pane, and ‘this is my...’ in the Commands Pane, now press the two
keys that you want to use for your shortcut into the ‘Press new shortcut key box’.
Try Alt + K, this is usually assigned; if you want to use something else and it
is already being used Word will tell you and you can you can choose to reassign
it, or try something else.
Down the YouTube
I'm stumped over the
problem of downloading YouTube videos to my hard drive. The closest I've
got is using a Firefox add-on called 'Downloadhelper'. It looked quite
good, seemed to download the video but would not play it back. Do you have
Mike Faulkner, by email
There are many, many solutions
but one of the quickest and simplest is a freeware utility called called Tubemaster++. Once it’s installed on your
computer it automatically records any streamed video or audio and afterwards
you have the opportunity to save the captured videos in the file format of your
choice (AVI, MPEG, MP3, MP4, IPod, PSP and more).
We have good pay as you go broadband in Switzerland for less than
£2 per hour. However I have had no luck so far in UK. Otherwise a three-month
contract would suit my absences and be more cost effective. I do not wish to
use a mobile phone.
William D Hyde, by email
I wouldn’t dismiss mobile broadband out of hand, it is very
convenient and flexible and there are some good deals at the moment. You don’t
need a mobile phone either, just a small ‘dongle’ that plugs into a USB socket
on your laptop or PC. These are either free when you sign up for an payg
contract, or around £30 if you opt to just buy data (usually in 1Gb or 10Gb
chunks) and 1Gb, which will cost you £10 to £15, is plenty for a month’s worth
of emails and moderate web surfing.
Pay as you go broadband is available in the UK but it’s not
especially cheap and there can be fairly stiff set-up and exit fees. For a
comparison of the services on offer and the costs involved have a look at the
no-contract broadband pages on the broadbandchoices website (http://tinyurl.com/d46jc7).
I run Windows XP on my PC and recently the DVD tray opens at
various times for no apparent reason. I
presume that it is receiving a command to open but from where remains a
mystery. It can just be a single opening or a rapid open and close numerous
times. It can go through this process at any time and does not appear to be
connected with the opening of another programs.
Ron Elwood, by email
That’s really odd and I am not aware of anything that can make
this happen intermittently. You should double check that no other programs are
running when it happens by opening Task Manager (Ctrl + Alt + Delete >
Applications), if not then my guess is there’s a fault with the eject switch or
mechanism on the drive itself.
I was recently researching answering machines on the Internet and
came across a comment in a review about one not working properly in a set-up
that included a broadband connection. My problem is that messages on my BT
Freestyle answering machine are distorted. This made me wonder if there a
compatibility issue between some answering machines and broadband when they are
sharing the same phone line. My set-up has filters at each device connected to
a phone socket
John Birkett, by email
Broadband modems generate high-frequency noise on the line, but
this is removed by the ‘low-pass’ Microfilters. Even if the answering machine’s
microfilter were removed I can’t see how it would create distortion, or even
stop it working properly but I’ve learned to keep an open mind; stranger things
You should be able to find out what’s causing the problem by
carrying out a simple experiment. Use your mobile (or get a friend) to call
your number several times and leave a message. Try it with the modem on, then
off, and with a different microfilter and afterwards compare the recordings. If
the distortion remains then the problem clearly lies with the answering
machine; if it turns out to be the modem then get your ISP to exchange it, or
get a new one.
© R. Maybury 2009 2004