Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 088, 23/01/10


Stream Gems

I recently upgraded my home computer and bought a laptop. I now access the net through a mobile phone dongle with a monthly download allowance of 1.5Gb.


The sales assistant who sold me the laptop told me that if I watch a TV programme or a video on the net I wouldn’t be downloading, I would be ‘streaming’. The assistant at the mobile phone shop said the opposite and that by watching one programme a day I would quickly exceed my limit. Who is right?

Bill Johnson, by email


The first sales assistant is either an idiot or has shares in a mobile phone company. For any given video or TV programme the same amount of data passes through your dongle whether it is streamed or downloaded. The only difference is that you watch a streamed video in real time, as it comes down the pipe whereas with downloading you save the whole program to your hard drive and watch it later.


Bright Eyes

My eyes are becoming increasingly bothered by the bright background whiteness to text, especially when emailing or using Word. Is there any means by which I can subdue the background? I am using Windows XP.
Pamela Dormer, Devon


Assuming that reducing the screen brightness doesn’t help there is a way to globally reduce the whiteness of the text input boxes used by most Windows applications. Right click on an empty part of the desktop, select Properties then the Appearance tab and click the Advanced button. (In Vista and Windows 7 select Personalize > Windows Colour and Appearance > Open Classic Appearance Properties… and click the Advanced button). 


Next, click in the ‘Window Text’ box. Under ‘Item’ click the drop-down menu arrow next to ‘Color 1’ then the ‘Other’ button. Move the slider to the right of the colour palette down a little – try a Luminance (Lum) value of 200 – 230 -- and this adds a touch of grey to the white screen. Keep clicking OK to close the boxes and see how this looks in Word and OE. If it is still too bright, or too dark go back and try a different Lum value.


Re-routing Routers

I have just bought a TD-Link wireless router for my home but the walls are thick and coverage is poor. A friend has given me a new Netgear router and I have found that if I use both routers simultaneously they cancel each other out. My question is, can I link the two routers wirelessly? The TP-Link router is the main router connected to the phone line and the Netgear will just have its power supply on to collect and retransmit the TP-Link signal. If you could point me in the right direction I will be most grateful.

Mike Williams, by email


It is possible to configure some routers to work as ‘repeaters’ or range extenders but it involves a fair amount of tinkering with the second routers configuration menu. If you want to have a stab at it there are some reasonably easy to follow generic instructions at: http://tinyurl.com/yehqy78


If the signal strength is borderline where you want to use your PC or laptop then you might find that fitting an external antenna to the router helps, especially if it is a high performance type and you should find that the higher up it is. Otherwise a purpose-designed repeater should do the trick and they’re not terribly expensive. A quick trawl of online suppliers revealed several models selling for less than £30.00.


On The Right Track

Quite a lot of trains now have free wi-fi but I am worried about using a portable on a train, as they tend to rock and judder quite a lot. Are portables designed to absorb these movements, or is it possible I could damage the hard disk if the computer is switched on?

Jeremy Clynes, by email


These days hard drives are pretty rugged and designed to withstand a fair amount of shock and vibration so I wouldn’t expect the relatively minor rumbles and bumps of a rail journey to cause any problems. On the other hand if said laptop were switched on and fell off your lap, or a table onto a hard surface, then it might well come to grief, though some models have built-in accelerometers that can detect a fall and automatically ‘park’ the heads to stop them damaging the discs or platters. Even if the drive survives, a drop of more than a 20 – 30 centimetres will probably result in a cracked screen or damage other components inside the machine. If you are seriously clumsy, very unlucky or regularly travel on a particularly bumpy railway lines then get a netbook or laptop that uses a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a normal hard drive. If you are still worried then consider a ‘ruggedised’ PC that’s designed to withstand extreme physical punishment.


Complete Nonsense

I use Microsoft Office Outlook for my emails. When friends change their email addresses, I religiously delete the old one from the address book and then insert the new one. However, when I send an email to one of those people the blue prompt comes up underneath. It still has the two email addresses on it, the new one and the ‘deleted’ one. How can I get the deleted ones off the prompt?

Godfrey Rydon, by email


This is the handiwork of Outlook’s AutoComplete feature and in theory all you have to do is right-click on the errant address when it appears and select Delete and this should remove it from the stored list. However, this doesn’t always work, in which case you can disable the email address AutoComplete by going to Tools > Options > Preferences > Email Options and uncheck ‘Suggest names when completing To, CC, and Bcc fields’. If all else fails you can reset (delete) the AutoComplete cache in Outlook, there’s a detailed guide in Microsoft Knowledgebase Article 287623 at: http://tinyurl.com/ya84qur



© R. Maybury 2010 2812


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