Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 094, 06/03/10


Banishing Blur

I have transferred the contents of a number of old VHS tapes containing family footage, to DVD-R disks using my HDD DVD recorder. However, the original footage suffers from a number of defects, including grain, blur and flicker. Naturally, this transfers to the DVD copy.  Would it be better to use my computer to make the DVD and could this improve the quality of my recordings?

Stuart S. by email


The problem is that you can't put back what is not there and most of the problems you mention are due to inherent deficiencies in the analogue VHS recording system. That said, almost all DVD Editing and Authoring packages – even the basic ones aimed at beginners -- let you tweak your recordings with options to reduce noise, increase sharpness and so on. There is usually a trade off and too much processing can make a recording look unnatural but it’s worth experimenting and you can always chop out the really iffy bits using the editing function.



Antisocial Networking

I have just bought a laptop running on Windows 7 as a backup for my PC running on Vista.

I'm sure I should be able to exchange files between the two of them using my Belkin Wireless Router but I seem to be getting nowhere. Windows Help screens about setting up a network seem very confusing.

Bert Seabrook, by email


Believe it or not networking has actually been getting easier with each new release of Windows but there’s still plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong. There are far too many to list here but there is an easy to follow article on networking Windows 7, Vista and XP PCs at http://tinyurl.com/yf232ag, and a network connection troubleshooter on the Microsoft web site at: http://tinyurl.com/y94ugcz



America On Line

I am trying to find out if it is possible to access US TV via the Internet from the UK?  The sites are there to enable people to see past episodes but they do not allow people outside the US to watch them. Is there a means of doing this?

Conrad Hobbs, by email


This is the flip-side of the problem we looked at a few months ago, where ex-pats and tourists find that they cannot access programs on the BBC iPlayer and other UK based web TV, when abroad. The basic problem is that these services – the legitimate ones at least -- only have the rights to stream TV programs and movies in their own regions so they have to restrict access from other areas.


It is possible to use proxy servers to fool some web TV services into believing you are in the same country, but these companies know all the tricks and usually block access fairly quickly. Nevertheless, a freeware program that hides your IP address does seem to have slipped through the net and at the time of writing were still able to connect to the most popular US web TV service, Hulu.com. Incidentally, Hulu are hoping to broaden its service to include UK users and this was expected to happen late last year. It has been delayed but an announcement is expected soon.  


Signing Off in Windows 7

I have had to get a new computer, which has Windows 7 and it is something of a new learning experience. I used to have a signature, which I used on some emails, but I can't find how to set one up. Can you offer any advice?  

Audrey Town,  West Yorks,


As always it is useful to know which email program you are using, more so with Windows 7 as it doesn't come with one as standard. If you are using the recommended Windows Live Mail, the signature setup is roughly the same as Outlook Express and Windows Mail. You will find it by going to Tools > Options and click the Signature tab. Click the New button, enter the text, email address or web links that you want to appear at the bottom of your emails into the Edit Signature box then click Set As Default or the Advanced button, if you have multiple accounts and want to set up separate signatures for each account. 



Eye-Catching Icons

I do a lot of printing and I usually use the Print command icon on the standard toolbar of MS Word. However I often mistake it for the nearby email command that looks very similar. Is there any way of making the print icon red by using the colour command on the formatting bar?

Franco Cavallini, by email


You can change the colour of the printer icon – more on that in a moment -- but there are other things you can do to prevent mistakes and make it easier to spot. For example, you could move the email icon out of the way, or replace the print icon with something more eye-catching. To do any of those things you first have to first right-click onto an empty part of the toolbar and select Customize. You will now find that if you click on a toolbar icon it will be surrounded by a black square; once highlighted in this way it can be dragged and dropped into a new position on the toolbar, so why not move it to the end of the row?


There are two ways to change the Print icon. The first lets you swap it for something more noticeable. To do that put the toolbar into Customize mode once again, right-click on the Print icon and on the menu that appears select Change Button Image and choose something from the selection shown; how about the yellow Smiley Face? To completely redesign the existing icon select Edit Button Image from the right-click menu to open the Icon Editor. Click on a colour (red) then click on each pixel in turn to make the change. Better still, start from scratch and create your own unique icon. Don’t worry if you mess it up, the original icon can be restored at any time from the Customize dialogue box; just drag it from the Commands box and drop it on to the toolbar.



© R. Maybury 2010 0102


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