Houston We Have a Problem 09



Houston We Have A Problem 082, 05/12/09


Freeview HD Coming Soon?

One of the reasons given for the recent re-tuning of Freeview channels was to pave the way for the transmission of HD programmes. If I purchased a 1080p HDTV equipped with a Freeview tuner today, would I be able to receive HD programmes when they are eventually transmitted?

Rob Barlow, by email


Almost certainly not. Test transmissions are now underway in a couple of TV regions but the national rollout of the four proposed Freeview HD channels will take place between late 2010 and 2012. In order to receive them you will a special Freeview HD set-top box or TV with a built in tuner. Several receivers purport to have this capability but being an early adopter with any new technology or format can be a very risky business. It’s possible that some current Freeview HDTVs can be upgraded or retrofitted but it’s far more likely that manufacturers will concentrate their efforts on introducing new HD models.



PowerPoint Protection

The purchase of a digital projector and laptop computer has opened up many new possibilities for the lectures and presentations at our retired peoples’ learning group. Our own members and visitors bring their PowerPoint files and slides on CDs, DVDs and USB sticks.


We cannot access the Internet at the rented meeting rooms we use and so this prevents us from downloading security updates or maintaining virus control software. We are concerned that there may be a transfer of a virus or other threats through this arrangement or, with the risk of many users, unauthorised use of the computer. Can you advise on how we protect ourselves from any possible risk?

John Hart


Most security applications operate all of the time and are independent of the Internet; they only require an occasional connection to download new ‘signature’ files. Provided you can access the Internet and update your software once or twice a week you should be covered against all but the most recent threats, which you are very unlikely to encounter on PowerPoint files and recordable media, unless of course a technically savvy member of group has a grudge…


On a more serious note, there are a couple of steps you can take to ensure that no harm comes to your laptop. The first method is to install a ‘Virtual PC’. Essentially this is a piece of software that creates PC within a PC. If the virtual PC is infected or suffers a fatal crash the ‘real’ PC and operating in which it is running will be unaffected. The new Windows 7 operating system has a Virtual PC built in but if you are running XP or Vista you can try it for yourself with a free download from Microsoft called Virtual PC 2007 (http://tinyurl.com/yeul4gq).


Method two is to install a copy of the Linux operating system on your laptop so you have a choice of operating systems at boot up. Most versions of Linux come with OpenOffice.Org, a suite of programs similar to Microsoft Office. This includes an AV presentation program that’s compatible with PowerPoint, and like Linux it is virtually immune to viruses and malware infections. There is a simple to follow tutorial on dual-booting Linux and Windows in Boot Camp 446 (http://tinyurl.com/cguygj)



Postcode Lottery

I have Freesat TV using a Humax receiver. If I tell the set up my postcode is RG26 I get ITV 1 Central Southern and London channels. If I tell the set up my postcode is PH1 I get ITV 1 Scottish Television and London channels. How do I get Central Southern and STV together, without London ITV? Is there a magic postcode?

Keith Anderson, Tadley


Not as far as I’m aware but as you have discovered you can switch regions by changing the postcode. This is a useful fix for Freesat viewers in some remote parts of the UK and overseas who cannot receive broadcasts due to the receiver’s software not recognising their location. There’s a handy list of postcodes that you can use to fool the receiver into thinking it’s in a particular region on the Satellites.co.uk website at: http://tinyurl.com/yakt4xk



Collectable Manuals?

I have a variety of Microsoft manuals, and one for an IBM PS/1 PC; all dating from January 1993, when I had my first PC. They cover Windows (v.3.1), MS Word, Office, Word for Windows, Excel and other related items. They take up a lot of shelf space and are very heavy; are they likely to be of any use or interest to anyone, or do I put them in the re-cycling bin?

Peter Rust


I have a very similar collection and judging by what I see on many charity shop bookshelves we are not alone. Maybe they’ll become sought after collector’s items in 50 years but at the moment they have little or no value. They were printed in vast numbers and to be honest there’s very little demand for outdated computer manuals, moreover most, if not all of them, are available in online archives.



Netbook Workarounds

I am thinking about buying a small netbook or notebook PC, which I will use mainly for my genealogy studies. Can you tell me how to get my family tree program on to a notebook PC without a disc drive (I have the original CDs)?

P A Townsend, by email


In most cases you can copy the entire contents of an installation disc to a blank USB stick. When you plug it into the PC the program setup usually starts automatically and it installs in exactly the same way as a CD. Occasionally this doesn’t work, in which case you will have to open the disc in Windows Explorer and double-click on the Setup icon to manually start it. A small number of installation discs cannot be copied to a USB drive but again it’s not a problem. The solution is to use an external CD/DVD drive, which are widely available for £30 or so. It plugs into one of the PC’s USB ports and once the computer has recognised it you can use it in exactly the same way as an internal drive.




© R. Maybury 2009 0911


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