Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 093, 27/02/10


Face Off

A good friend has suggested that I should go on to Facebook so we could chat on line by text. Facebook, chat rooms, blogs etc. are not my scene. I recently got an email from Facebook saying my friend was inviting me to sign up for their service.  No problems, I can ignore it but the Facebook application form had small cameo icons of 8 people ‘I might know’ that were also on Facebook so I could chat to them also.


How the heck did they pick out these people without going into my mail listing? This worries me. Only one or two of them have been included on emails sent to my friend. One of them I have had no contact with for several years and have been out of my address book for about 3 years. I am concerned that it might be too easy for third parties to access my existing and or old address book data.

Roger Savidge, by email


Facebook hasn’t been hacking into your computer but it has been poking around the address books and contact lists of other Facebook users, several of whom have your details. I suspect these unwelcome solicitations may be due to some subtle changes last year to a Facebook feature designed to attract new users. Facebook constantly analyses and maps user’s contact records, and searches, when users checked to see if people they know have a Facebook account. This data is used to generate so-called Suggestions, which result in the sign-up invitation emails sent out to people like you. It all sounds a bit creepy and there has been some privacy concerns but there doesn’t seem to be much you can do about it, other than to contact the Facebook users mentioned and ask them to remove you from their contact list. You should also draw their attention to a useful article on Facebook privacy at: http://tinyurl.com/c59bzd



Miniaturise My Movies

I have a new Casio digital camera and it also takes really good video movies. I would like to send some short clips to people by email. However, unlike jpeg files, which can be compressed and sent as attachments, there is no menu facility for .avi movie files, which are too large for email. Is there a way to compress these video files on my Windows XP computer? 

Gwen Harrison, by email


Most video files are already highly compressed and squeezing them further can result in a big drop in size and quality. If you want to give a try I suggest using Movie Maker, which is included with Windows (XP onwards). Open the video file in MM, drag it onto the Timeline and take this opportunity to chop out any rough bits, or trim the length. When you have finished select the ‘Save to my computer option’ from the Task list. After naming the file and selecting a location click Next to open the Save Movie Wizard. Here you can chose from a range of quality setting, For really big size reductions try ‘Video for Pocket PC’ but I think the best compromise between quality and size is Video for Broadband. When the movie clip has been processed and saved you can attach it to an email by right clicking on it and select Send To > Mail Recipient.



Lack of Sleep

I have Vista Home Premium on my computer and have recently discovered the Sleep mode option, but this fails to work, whether I access it via the Start button menu or the Sleep key on the keyboard .The screen goes blank but the computer only shuts down for three or four seconds before powering up again. I have changed the sleep time settings via the Control Panel but this hasn’t made any difference.

Jennifer Loftus, by email


Something is waking up the computer and it could just be a slight movement of the mouse but there are many other possibilities, such a network connection or Vista’s multimedia sharing option. You should be able to find out what it is though by going to Search on the Start menu.  Type ‘cmd’ (without the quotes) and press Return. A Command window appears and at the flashing prompt type: ‘powercfg –lastwake’ and press Return and the program or device that woke it up the last time you put it to sleep will be listed.


Stopping it happening again is another matter but if it is the mouse you can disable this function by going to Device Manager (Winkey + Break > Device Manager), right-click your Mouse entry and select Properties > Power Management and uncheck ‘Allow this device to wake computer’. If it is Multimedia Sharing – the other most common cause -- go to Start  > Control Panel > Power Options and if High Performance is checked, select Balanced > Change plan settings > Change Advanced Settings, scroll down the list to Multimedia > When Sharing Media and on the ‘Plugged In’ option’s drop-down menu select Allow the computer to sleep.



Walkman vs iTunes

My wife and I both have iPods and we keep our music on iTunes on our family PC. Recently we bought a Sony Walkman for our son but have been unable to transfer any tracks from iTunes to his Walkman because the files are all protected. Is there a way for us to do this?

Richard Pye, by email


There are several ways to do this and the tried and tested method is to remove the protection by burning an audio CD from your iTunes tracks then re-import them back into iTunes or your son’s preferred audio manager program. There are also various software applications that let you synchronise your Walkman and other media player to iTunes but they have a chequered history and they can prove troublesome with some players. Have a look at syncmyportable (http://tinyurl.com/yhl58wt); the free trial will tell you if it’s worth spending $19.50 on the full version.




© R. Maybury 2010 0102


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