Houston We Have A Problem 064, 01/08/09
I recently bought a Compaq laptop with a good specification,
except that it didn't have a FireWire socket. I realised too late that I
couldn't connect my Canon mini-DV camcorder to the laptop. I later bought a
cable with a FireWire plug at one end and a USB plug at the other. That didn't
have any effect. There is no room in the laptop to insert a FireWire capture
card. Is there an affordable way to solve the problem?
J. Levy, by email
I’m not surprised the cable didn’t work and you are lucky that you
didn’t fry the PC or camcorder. FireWire and USB connections employ two quite
different technologies and protocols and there is no way that a simple cable
connection can convert data from one format to another. FireWire to USB
adaptors do exist but they involve microchips and software drivers. Even then a
FireWire connection will not work at its full potential, due to the way the two
systems process data (USB relies more heavily on the PC to manage the flow of
data, which can produce bottlenecks).
It doesn’t end there either. FireWire devices can be quite picky
about the type of adaptor used. The only sort I’m aware of that usually works
on a camcorder to laptop hook-up plugs into the PCMCIA/Cardbus slot; online
prices start at around £50. Anything else I would treat with caution,
especially the really cheap USB type adaptors but if anyone has had any luck
with them please let me know and I‘ll
gladly pass it on.
Digital Radio Dongle?
I see on advertisements for the Bose Wave Radio/CD, they show a
small plug-in gadget to enable DAB reception through the FM receiver. Is there
such a plug-in being manufactured so that other receiver/amplifiers can still
be used when the radio digital switch-over occurs?
Les Hargreaves, by e-mail
Stand-alone DAB tuners have been available for some time, for use
with high-end and component based audio systems and don’t forget most DAB
radios can be connected to a hi-fi system using their analogue or digital
output sockets. However, I don’t think a plug-in adaptor would be practical or
economic unless the manufacturers got together and agreed on a common standard,
and I can’t see that happening anytime soon. But I wouldn’t worry too much at
this stage. Digital radio has some enormous hurdles to overcome, in terms of
coverage, receiver design, funding and most importantly public acceptance. My
personal belief is that the switch-over target date of 2015 is hugely ambitious
and by then DAB could be sidelined by other technologies such as Internet radio
and satellite delivery systems.
Malfunctioning Mail Icon
I have just upgraded from Internet Explorer 7 to version 8 but
would like to go back to IE7 again. I realise I do not need all the extras and
I was unable to access my emails in Outlook Express from the Read Mail icon on
the toolbar - it just doesn't work anymore. It works in Mozilla Firefox,
though, and I can add an Email icon to the toolbar for quick and convenient
access. There is probably a simple solution to this problem but everything I
have tried just seems make things worse.
Anne Hudson, by email
Reverting to IE7 is easy enough, just go to Start > Control
Panel, Add/Remove Programs, scroll down the list until you find Windows Internet
Explorer 8 and click the Remove button. Before you do, though it’s worth having
another go at making that toolbar icon work. I also think that once you get to
know IE8 it you might even grow to like it. Step one, right-click the Taskbar,
select Properties > Start Menu tab > Customise and on the Email drop-down
menu at the bottom select Outlook Express then click OK. This is important and
you must do this even if Outlook Express is showing. Next, whilst logged on as
the Administrator open IE and go to Tools > Internet Options. On the
Programs tab select Outlook Express and on the Email drop down menu, click OK.
I have an Acer laptop and the hard disk is split into two
partitions of 26.5Gb labelled C: and D: It would appear that I can only use the
C: partition which is now full. How do I use the rest of the disk or can I
change the size of the C partition at the expense of the D partition?
Tony Parker, by email
The D partition contains Windows recovery files that will be
needed in the event of a serious crash. It's meant to be off limits and you
fiddle with it at your peril! If you want to chance it and alter the size of
the partitions the only safe(ish) way to do it is with a utility called
Partition Magic, but make sure that you have backed everything up beforehand!
Otherwise you can buy yourself a temporary reprieve by eliminate files and
programs to free up space, buy an external hard drive or fix the problem and
install a larger drive, though and start afresh with a new installation.
Every time I go into my Windows Internet Explorer I get a pop-up
saying ‘Do you want to allow software
such as ActiveX controls and plug-ins to run? This Pop-up does not give me the
opportunity to establish the benefits and I'm very wary of answering this with
a Yes bearing in mind the many ways computers can be infiltrated. How can I
Ray Woodcock, by email
You can make this message go away by disabling ActiveX plug-ins
and prompts and I doubt that you will notice any difference in the appearance
or functionality of web pages. Here’s how, in IE go to Tools > Internet
Options > Security tab. Click the Custom Level button and scroll down the
list to the ActiveX options and select Disable for all three entries then click
© R. Maybury 2009 1307