Houston We Have a Problem 09



Houston We Have A Problem 072, 26/09/09


Split Screen Solutions

During my research I photograph old hand-written documents at places such as the National Archives and bring the JPEG images home to download onto my desktop computer. I need to transcribe parts of these documents into my research files in Word for Windows. I can view the images in PhotoShop but I know of no way to split my screen between those two programs. What I do is print the documents out on my A3 printer but this is time-consuming and wasteful as they are numerous. I could view the images on my laptop and type into my desktop but this is cumbersome. Is there any way round this by which I could view the JPEG images and my Word documents at the same time? The laptop uses Windows Vista and the desktop Windows XP.

Paul Latcham, by email


You can have two or more programs open side by side on the screen at the same time. Simply open the two programs then carefully place your cursor on the right hand edge of the open program until it turns into a double headed arrow, click and hold the left mouse button then drag the side of the window towards the left side, to the middle of the screen and it reveals the second program window. Click into that and drag the left side of that screen to the halfway point. Now you can fine-tune the two windows to suit your way of working.


However, the best solution is set up a dual monitor display so each program has its own screen. It’s not difficult to set up (see this Boot Camp article http://tinyurl.com/nvk4t8), but it does involve fitting an extra display card (or a dual-output card) but the larger display area and flexibility it brings to this and many other applications is well worth the effort and expense. 



Size Matters

I often receive and unknowingly send, pictures that are so big that only a small portion shows on the screen. How can I stop this?

Peter Sale, by email


This causes a lot of confusion, especially for newcomers to computing but it helps if you stop thinking of pictures displayed on your PC as fixed or physical entities. Software on your computer determines how large or as small they appear on the screen, so let’s start with pictures in the bodies of received emails. These are displayed by the email program’s default JPEG viewer, which isn’t smart enough to ‘resize’ the image to fit the screen, so it looks massive and you just see a part of it. However, if you double-click on the picture attachment icon it will be opened in the slightly more intelligent Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (XP) or Windows Photo Gallery (Vista) and these will automatically size the picture to fit the screen. Normally, if you want to keep a copy of the picture on your PC you should extract it from the email by right-clicking on the attachment icon, select SaveAs and save it in a folder on your computer (usually My Pictures or Photos). 


By the way, if you’ve got a lot of pictures on your PC I suggest that you download and install a really easy to use picture viewer, manager and editing program called Picasa (It’s free and you‘ll find a link at: http://tinyurl.com/6xst6).


When it comes to sending pictures as email attachments it is customary, and polite to ‘compress’ the image, to reduce the amount of data the picture file contains, to make it quicker to send, and receive. To do that right-click on the image file on your PC and select Send To > Mail Recipient and Windows will offer to reduce the size of the file and attach it to a blank email message and this also gives you the option to choose the size of the image (click ‘Show more options in XP).



Mangled Media 

I have a problem with one of my USB sticks. When it was in one of the ports on the PC, it was hit and got "bent" and I can no longer read the data on it. When I insert it into any USB port on my PC, Vista says it cannot recognise the device.  Do you know of any way I can recover the data that is stored on the device?

Peter Mulvenna, by email


Providing the USB stick is still in one piece the data stored in the flash memory chip should still be there but recovering it may be difficult. If the metal part of the USB plug has been bent and it won’t fit properly in the socket then it may be possible to straighten it out using long nosed pliers but on no account try re-inserting it into the ports on your PC as a deformed plug could easily damage them. Use an external port or hub; they are cheap enough not to matter too much if you have an accident (basic 4-port hubs regularly appear in my local ‘pound shop’). If that doesn’t work then it should be possible for a moderately competent engineer to wire a new USB plug or lead to the circuit board. However, it’s a really fiddly job and could prove expensive so you will have to balance this against the value of the data it contains and the possibility that it may be damaged beyond repair.



Conference in the Hall

I have one telephone in the hall and another in my study. I recently changed the cordless phone in my study for a BT Freestyle 710, which is much better for the hard of hearing. With the old phone I could answer a call on the hall phone put it aside and  take the call in my study. Anyone else on picking it up could listen to the conversation on the hall phone as well. Since renewing the phone in the study this became impossible and it just makes awful noises. I have tried the BT Helpline without any success whatsoever and they appear to completely fail even to understand the problem

Geoffrey Harris, Bognor Regis , West Sussex


I can see how your request might be confusing as a lot of people prefer that their phone conversations cannot be overheard. Of course there are occasions when you want to share a call, in which case the solution to both of your problems is to replace the handset in the hall with another matching DECT handset. You will then be able to 'transfer' calls to the handset in your study from the hall phone, and this particular model has a 3-way ‘conference’ capability so that someone on the other handset can join in the conversation. 



© R. Maybury 2009 2408


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