Houston We Have A Problem 066, 15/08/09
My Bose Wave radio/CD has
developed a fault with the CD player in that, half way through a CD, it starts
to stutter, as if the CD is scratched. This happens with every CD, all of which
play flawlessly in other CD players. I am guessing but it seems to me that
the laser reaches half way along its track and starts to stick.
Opting for a repair by Bose is prohibitively expensive. Could I repair it
Michael Brook, by email
I suspect your
diagnosis is correct and the laser pick up is not tracking correctly
but it's not the sort of job that you can tackle yourself as it
requires specialist tools and skills. If that is the problem then it shouldn’t
be a difficult (for an engineer) or expensive job, though, so it’s worth taking
it to a couple of local repair shops for a quote.
Using Windows XP (SP3)
is it possible to save the location of icons on the desktop? After installing
new software and restarting the PC, quite often the icons all bunch up on the
left hand side and in alphabetical order on the desktop and I have to drag each
icon back to my preferred layout. I have tried a program called Virtual Desktop
Manager PowerToy but this doesn't seem to help.
There are a lot of
desktop and icon manager programs on the market but one of the simplest, and
cheapest (it’s actually free) is Desktop Restore (http://tinyurl.com/4xovmw). It’s a Shell
Extension, which means there’s no program to run, simply right-click on the
Desktop and select Save from the menu that appears.
Using Windows XP, I
have a wireless broadband router, which works, well in the house. Is it
possible to somehow boost the signal so that I can use broadband in my hut, out
in the garden, where the present wireless signal doesn't reach?
Terry Lee, by email
There are all
sorts of fancy (and expensive) wireless boosters and repeaters on the
market but in many cases if your PC is only just outside of your router’s
coverage area you can achieve a very significant increase in range with
an extension antenna. This plugs into the aerial socket on the back of
your router and should be mounted as high as possible, on a wall
or if possible, in an upstairs room or loft.
build your own high-efficiency parabolic reflector. It’s really easy,
costs next to nothing and could double your present range. All you have to do
is go to the Freeantennas.com website (http://tinyurl.com/2lflc)
download, print and cut out the template for the Ez-!2 antenna, cover it in
baking foil, fold it into shape and attach it to the aerial on your router.
Queasy Does It
My wife suffers from Ménière's disease and finds that continuous movement makes her
feel very ill. Many web pages have adverts, which are continuously moving which
she finds very distressing. Is there any way to stop the adverts being updated
to stop the movement or, better still, remove the advert completely? Her laptop
uses Internet Explorer with Windows XP.
Geoffrey Ash, by email
You can disable animated
graphics in most web pages by going to the Tools menu then Internet Options and
select the Advanced tab. Scroll down the list and in the Multimedia section
uncheck ‘Play animation in web pages’.
Click OK and restart Internet Explorer.
You might want to
consider switching to Firefox as you can download a free advert-blocking
‘add-on’ called Adblock (http://tinyurl.com/2cd87q).
If you want to disable animations in Firefox you have to fiddle with the
configuration settings, don’t worry, it’s very straightforward. In the address
box type ‘about:config’ (without the quotes), and hit Return. Click the ‘I’ll
be careful…’ warning button and in the Filter box type ‘animation’ and click
Show All button. In the box below double-click on image.animation_mode and in
the box that appears type ’none’ and click OK.
Free Electricity for
My two sons constantly
leave their laptops on running all through the night and often for 24 hours a
day, together with several lights, electric shower switch etc; despite me
telling them to close down and switch off when they have finished. They are
convinced that leaving a laptop running costs nothing, could you possibly let
me know the approximate electricity running costs, to settle the problem once
and for all? I may be wrong but I suspect that fairly considerable costs may
actually be incurred over the course of a whole year.
Philip Pinkham, by email
Making a fair few
assumptions about the price of electricity and the power consumption and
efficiency of a typical laptop power supply/charger, basic back of a bus-ticket
calculations suggest that it costs between 0.75 and 1.5 pence an hour to run a
typical laptop, depending on whether or not it is charging the battery. I’ll
leave you to work out the annual cost...
At the upper end of the
scale that’s a little less than a 60-watt light bulb but if you really want to
find out what it’s costing then I suggest that you buy a Electricity Usage
meter. Once programmed with your electricity tariff it will show you, and your
sons exactly much each appliance is costing to run. Maplin stocks an easy to
use model for just £9.99 (http://tinyurl.com/mdesft),
and by the sound of it, if it has the desired effect, you could recoup the cost
Email to DVD Slideshow
I have a lot of
emails with photos and graphics as attachments. Is it possible to
transfer these to a DVD? I am a silver surfer and would like to show these
e-mails, on a projector, to members of a club that I belong to.
Peter Wilson, by
Yes you can, but first you have to save a copy of the attached
images into a folder on your PC. To do that just right-click on the attachment
icons in the email and select SaveAs and select the folder where you want to
keep them. Once that’s done you may be able to sidestep the need to create a
DVD by connecting your PC or laptop directly to the projector. These days most
models have a VGA connector, which plugs into your PC’s monitor output socket.
If that’s not possible then you can copy the image files (in jpeg
format) to a blank DVD, however this only works if the DVD player concerned has
as ‘jpeg replay’ facility. If not, or you are you are unsure then you will have
to create a proper DVD and there are plenty of commercial applications that can
do this for you. Amazon has a wide selection and prices start at under £10 (http://tinyurl.com/naf6gj). There’s also a cost-free DIY method using
freeware applications, see Boot Camps 504 to 508 (http://tinyurl.com/a8svro) for a simple to
I have been using Adobe PhotoShop
for many years. The software came as part of a package when I bought a new PC
and because it was on a separate disc I have been able to install it on
successive machines until my present one that operates with Vista. Is there a
free equivalent program available?
Richard Coulson, by email
Older versions of PhotoShop either won’t run on Vista, or
require extensive patching in order to do so, so I can understand why you are
looking for an alternative. It would have been useful to know a little more
about what you use it for as there may be other applications that will suit
your needs, but there is at least one free Open Source application that comes
close to PhotoShop, and that’s The Gimp. However, it can be quite hard going,
especially for novices and those accustomed to PhotoShop, so I suggest the more
approachable variant, called GimPhoto, which has much tidier menus and a more
intuitive layout. You will find a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/m4kw7o
© R. Maybury 2009 2007