Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 089, 30/01/10


Vinyl to CD

I have been given an ION USB Turntable with EZ Vinyl Converter Software, which, if I have read the manual correctly, will convert my LP's into MP3 Format; unfortunately I don't have an MP3 Player. Is there any way which I can transfer the LP's to a CD so that I can play them on the CD player in my car?

Mike Radburn


There are several ways to do this including using EZ Vinyl Converter’s facility to compile tracks in iTunes format then use the feature in iTunes to burn an audio CD. However, this method involves compressing the audio files so quality will suffer. If you want to ensure the best possible quality I suggest that you use a freeware audio recording program called Audacity (http://tinyurl.com/5cck9x), which incidentally, is supplied with several USB turntables. This records directly from your turntable creating CD quality WAV or AIFF files. Audacity can also split the recording into tracks using the ‘silence finder’ option that locates the gaps between tracks, and t it has a number of filters that can remove hiss and crackle. Once that’s done you can use Windows Media Player to burn the tracks to an audio CD.



Capital Gains

Is it possible to convert an article written in capital letters into lower case when using Microsoft Word? I have tried as many ways as possible to do this but to no avail. My wife says that I should have got it right in the first place.

Dave Stevenson, by email


Your wife is a wise woman but you should be able to put the article back to some semblance of normality using Word’s capitalization feature. All you have to do is highlight the text (Ctrl + A will do the job quickly for you) then press shift + F3, which toggles between all uppercase, all lowercase and lowercase with leading capitals.



High Anxiety

I have a Sony Cyber-Shot digital camera, which uses a lithium-ion NP-BG1 battery. The charger supplied by Sony is fitted only with mains supply connection. I am travelling to Nepal next year for a three-week trip to Everest Base Camp. Access to mains supply in order to recharge my camera battery will be, to say the least, severely limited. Are you able to suggest any solution?

Michael Hobby, by email


I would forget any elaborate plans you might have to use the mains charger and switch to a travel charger, designed specifically for this battery pack. These require a 12-volt DC supply, which should be easier to arrange, using a backpack solar panel or hand or wind generator. Whoever is organising the trip should be able to advise you on the availability and practicalities of carrying this sort of equipment with you. Travel chargers for this particular battery pack sell online for around £15.00. However, since you can’t rely on any power source in such a remote and hostile location I would invest heavily in spare batteries and keep them about your person (in their storage boxes), to help minimise the reduction in performance due to the somewhat nippy conditions. 



Blind Date

I have a Samsung L201 camera, which has the facility to include the date/time on photos; this can be turned on or off - no problem with it.

The problem is I want to retain the date/time inclusion on the camera but want to be able to print some photos without it. It would be critical on a traffic accident photo but a nuisance on some family photos. Is there any way my computer software can simply delete it from any photo on which I don't want it to appear before I print it?

Peter Sharp, by email


The date and time a photograph is taken automatically recorded by the camera – along with various other items of information – in an embedded ‘EXIF’ data file. EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data is invisible but it’s part and parcel of the picture and travels with it, when it is copied to a PC or edited. In other words it’s always there and can be revealed by picture editing software or by simply ‘hovering’ the mouse pointer over the image file icon in Windows Explorer, or right clicking the file icon and selecting Properties.


I can’t think of many occasions when you need to use the option to permanently ‘burn’ the time and date into the picture. I also doubt that you would have the presence of mind to remember to enable it following an accident; in any case it would have little or no evidential value as photographs can be so easily manipulated, so leave it switched off and use the EXIF data to find out when a picture was taken. If, for some reason you actually want the EXIF date and time info – and text, filename or any other EXIF data -- to appear in a photograph then you can use an excellent free image editing program called Irfanview (http://tinyurl.com/5l8uh9). All you have to do is define a text box with the left mouse button then go to Edit > Insert Text and enter ‘$T’ into the text box.



Where’s my Tellyputer?

Is it possible yet to buy a combined computer and TV with a large screen size to allow utilization of all the multimedia on the Internet? It seems such an obvious product that would sell in huge numbers but every time we ask we are told the only solution is to wire up a separate computer. Is there some reason that stops the delivery to market of this type of product?

John Sealey, by email


Integrated multimedia PC-TVs have been around for some time and screen sizes have been getting steadily larger but the real problem concerns the broadcasters and media companies. Until now they’ve all been going their own separate ways, resulting in a nasty tangle of formats, standards and subscription systems. This makes it almost impossible for TV and PC manufacturers to develop user-friendly, mass-market products that anyone can use, so you are most likely to find them in specialist computers stores, rather than in the high-street TV. One thing is certain though, it is going to happen, precisely when no one can say but developments like the BBC’s Project Canvas (http://tinyurl.com/yerprza) should mean that it will be sooner, rather than later.



© R. Maybury 2010 0401


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