Houston We Have a Problem 09



Houston We Have A Problem 081, 28/11/09


Recording Freesat

I recently had a Freesat box installed, as we will be shortly be going digital. After setting it up the engineer stated that I could not record programmes on to a VCR. Is this correct and if not, how do I do it?

Frank Clayton, by email


It sounds like a bad case of lazyitis and the engineer probably thought that if he had said yes -- the correct answer -- he would have to set it up for you. Virtually all digiboxes (terrestrial and satellite) have an auxiliary analogue audio and video (AV) output socket, which can be connected to the AV input on your VCR so you can record whatever channel is being received. You need a connecting lead and this is where it sometimes gets a little bit complicated.


Most models have two SCART sockets, in which case all you need is a two-way or type ‘U’ SCART-to-SCART lead, and if your TV is also connected to the digibox by SCART cable playback on the VCR should be automatically routed to the TV. Some models use phono sockets, so you will need phono to SCART lead to record from the digibox, and probably a SCART-to-SCART lead to connect the VCR to the TV for replay. Either way it’s not complicated and your friendly local TV dealer should be able to work out the exact combination of leads that you need if you give them the make and model numbers of your TV, VCR and digibox.


Archiving Emails

Could you tell me if it is possible to save old emails outside Outlook Express? Would it then be possible to restore them in OE at a later date?

Christine Angus, by email


Yes and yes… Outlook Express and Windows Mail both have an Export facility but there’s a much easier method for archiving old messages and that’s to copy the entire message ‘Store Folder’ to another drive. If you need to restore it, you can use the Import facility on the program’s File menu.


The only minor problem is the Store Folders in both programs is buried deep in the filing system but there is an easy way to find them, and move it to a more accessible location. In OE and WM go to Tools > Options and click the Maintenance tab (for Windows Mail go to Tools > Options > Advanced > Maintenance) then click the Store Folder button. This shows the current location of your message store folder; if you want to relocate it click the Change button and specify the new location. I suggest creating a new folder in the root of the C: drive, called ‘mailstore’ or something you will remember, click OK and you’ll be asked to close the program. When it restarts the transfer takes place.


Making Short Work of Instruction Manuals

I have just bought a program that includes a 278-page instruction manual in PDF format. There are numerous coloured illustrations and ‘How to’ screen shots; it is the sort of reading that should be done curled up in an armchair preferably accompanied by a suitable liquid refreshment! I normally do the bulk of my printing using a mono laser, and a small inkjet when the output requires a bit of colour. To print this PDF file would probably ruin the inkjet and cost a small fortune in cartridges. I am 77 and scrolling back and forth to get the view I want is very tiring and a strain on the eyes. How can I get a hard copy to read at my leisure away from the PC?  Are there any commercial firms that specialise in this type of work?

Allan McRae, by email


Almost any high street print shop will oblige, or your local branch of Staples but I fear that it might cost you more than a set of ink cartridges. However, these manuals are often filled with a lot of irrelevant guff so I would skim through the instructions on your screen first. Make a note of the pages and chapters that look important or are likely to need referencing and you may find that the page count can be reduced by 50 percent or more, making it a much more manageable job on your own printer. 


Finicky Firefox

Each morning I start up my computer and then open Firefox. If I keep Firefox open it will run all day without any problem but if I close it for any reason I can't then reopen Firefox unless I close down my computer and reboot and start again from scratch. What am I doing wrong, why does this happen?  

David Moynihan, by email


There are a number of possibilities and if you are using Firefox 3.0 then it could quite normal and due to the program’s intentionally slow shutdown, which can take anything up to a minute to close all of its various processes. If you try to restart Firefox while any part of it is still running you get an error massage that says ‘Firefox is running but not responding… close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system.


Firefox can also ‘hang’ or freeze when you close it down and this can be due to unstable extensions, so try disabling them one a at time from Tools > Add-ons and see if that makes a difference. Disagreements with other programs can also cause this to happen. There’s a known bug in older versions of Zone Alarm and the fix is to update to the latest version of the program, or switch to another firewall. If you are using Norton 360 or Norton Internet Security try disabling the Phishing Protection feature. Finally, there’s a problem with Comodo Internet Security and if you have recently upgraded the program go to Windows Control Panel and uninstall the Safe Surf component, which is now redundant as this function is integrated into the latest version of the program.



© R. Maybury 2009 0211


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