Houston We Have A Problem 061, 11/07/09
I am going deaf and have difficulty in hearing my mobile phone,
especially when receiving text messages. Do you know of any make or model of
phone that has a loud ring both for receiving calls and for texts? It would
also be helpful if it had large display, as my eyesight is not so good when I
haven’t my specs with me, and I would prefer one with big buttons as I have
large stubby fingers.
Derek Godson, by email
That’s quite a shopping list but I think that one way or another
most of your needs can be accommodated. However, before you rush out and buy a
new phone there may be options on your existing mobile that could make it a lot
easier to use. If your hearing impairment only affects a particular band of
frequencies then changing the ringtone to one that you can hear more clearly
should certainly help. Virtually all mobile phones these days have a vibration
mode so make sure that’s enabled for incoming calls and texts.
Otherwise I suggest that you have a look at the ‘Guide to
accessible mobile phones’ on the RNIB website (http://tinyurl.com/596vf6). This includes
details of a number of models with large or high contrast displays and
If you prefer to stay with mainstream designs then the Apple
iPhone is worth investigating. In addition to the screen zoom feature, which
can help to make text more legible, the latest 3G models features high contrast
display setting and voice control. There is also a small but growing number of
third-party ‘apps’ (applications) and accessories than can assist the hard of
hearing and visually impaired. These include rather neat ‘tactile’ silicon
slip-case from Yanko Design (http://tinyurl.com/6fh3cz)
with raised ‘buttons’; there’s also a large button touch screen display app
called Special Phone (http://tinyurl.com/mnpdjk).
There’s clearly a lot of potential for this model when it comes to developing
accessibility features and you may be interested to read blind photographer Tim
O’Brian’s tips and thoughts on the matter at http://tinyurl.com/dmqk92
I am operating a Dell Studio 540 PC with Vista Home Premium. In
Windows Mail a lot of incoming messages have a yellow band at the top stating
‘Windows Mail removed access to the following unsafe attachments in your mail’.
Is it possible disable this?
Eric Castle, Felixstowe,
This is almost identical to the sometimes-perplexing security
feature in Outlook Express. It tries to protect your PC by preventing
attachments from opening, in case they contain viruses or malicious software.
Providing you have a full set of security measures (anti virus and malware
protection, two-way firewall and so on), they are kept pp to date and you only
open attachments from trusted sources then you can safely switch this feature
off by going to Tools > Options, select the Security tab and deselect ‘Do
not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus’,
Editing DVD Movies
I have a DVD camcorder, which records on to small DVD discs. I
have six such discs that I wish to edit into a movie, but Windows Movie Maker
will, not accept files with names like VTS_01_1.VOB. Can you please suggest an alternative program? Failing that, is there any way in which I
can change the format on the discs? I
am running Windows XP.
John A. Cadman, via email
The ‘vob’ filenames indicate that the discs have been closed or
finalised in the standard DVD format so they can be viewed on any DVD player.
For future reference it may be possible to edit the movies in the camcorder or
on a PC using software that came with your machine, but once the disc has been
finalised for viewing the files can no longer be altered.
You have a number of options. A quick and simple trick that
sometimes works is to rename the .vob file with an .mpeg extension, and the
file may play in Windows Movie Maker, but it’s a bit hit and miss. A better
solution is to use a commercial video editing program, from the likes of
Pinnacle and Ulead, which can ‘rip’ and edit non-copyright DVDs. Alternatively,
you could try converting the .vob files to the Windows standard .avi format
using a free utility like avi.NET (http://tinyurl.com/24p29v)
and you should then be able to edit the recordings in Movie Maker, however, be
warned the resultant files can be enormous, so make sure you have plenty of
free space on your hard disc drive.
Putting the Squeeze on Files
I have downloaded a number of driver files from a website that are
needed to install the Vista operating system on my PC. Two of them are in the
RAR format. Could you please explain
how to decrypt and set them up for installing?
Dan Hughes, by email
RAR or Roshal ARchive (named after the Russian software engineer
who developed it) is used to compress, rather than encrypt data, to make it
easier and quicker to send files over the Internet. It’s similar to the more
common ‘zip’ compression system, which can be processed by Windows, but you
will need to download a decompression utility to extract the files. There are
plenty to choose from but the most popular is WinRAR (http://tinyurl.com/116e). It’s a commercial
program but the free trial version is fully functional, so if you find it
useful and plan to continue using it you should pay the license fee.
Once the program has downloaded click the Add button to locate the
files then click the Extract button to expand the files in a folder of your
choice. Once that’s done all you have to do is do is double-click the extracted
Setup or Install file to start the installation.
© R. Maybury 2009 2906