Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 100, 17/04/10


The Range in Spain….

I am living in Spain for a short while and rely on my laptop for Internet communication. The apartment block has a Wi-Fi connection and I have been using it very successfully. However, I have just had to move apartments, one floor up from the previous one, and I am finding the connection weak and intermittent. I have tried sitting at the bottom of the stairs and there the connection is rated Good. I’ve spoken to the apartment Manager and his laptop had no trouble at all. Is there anything I can do to improve my reception?

Chris Dursley, by email


On most laptops the Wi-Fi adaptor module is built into the machine and there's not much you can do about its sensitivity, or lack of it. One solution is to dispense with its services, switch it off and use a USB Wi-Fi dongle instead. They are not expensive, prices start at around £10 - 15, however, in your case it’s worth spending a little more on one that claims to work well in low signal areas or has the facility to use an external antenna.



Title Deeds

I've used the Microsoft picture Azure of a coral island and seascape for my desktop background. I've changed all my Icons into fishes and seagulls and it looks great, except that the Icon titles spoil the effect. There should be a way of hiding the titles until the cursor is passed over each Icon. Can you help?

Gerald Diss, by email


Here’s a simple trick to make desktop icon title text disappear. Press Numlock, right-click on an icon, select Rename, hold down the Alt key and tap in 255 on the numeric keypad (Alt 255 is a non-printing character code). The text vanishes but the shortcut details, which includes the program’s name and location, still shows when you hover the mouse over it.



Documentary Drama

I have Windows XP, Microsoft Word and a multifunction printer. I am able to scan documents into an email, however, I cannot find out how to open the scanned document in my word processor and then be able to alter it.

Dennis Turner, by email


That’s because when you scan a document you are effectively taking a photograph of it and the resultant file is a bitmap or jpeg image. If you want to edit the document it has to be electronically read and converted into text. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds and most scanners come with an Optical Character Recognition or OCR program; check your scanner’s installation or utilities disc. In case you’ve lost the disc you should be able to download the scanner’s software suite from the manufacturer’s website. Otherwise you can use a freeware program, like TopOCR (http://tinyurl.com/olhl5). Incidentally, OCR programs work best with crisp, clean and contrasty printed text; otherwise you’ll probably have to do a fair amount of cleaning up and correcting.



Outlook Express Open Sesame

As this is an oft-repeated action, I should like to use a macro to enter my Outlook Express mailbox on the screen. This can be done in word processing packages, but can it be done from within Internet Explorer or Firefox?

Christopher K. Stannett, by email


There is a Read Mail button on the IE toolbar and this opens your default email program’s Inbox but the easiest way to have this functionality always available, whatever program you are using, is to create a Windows key (or Winkey) shortcut. 


To do that you‘ll need a little freeware program called WinKey (link to download at: http://tinyurl.com/ylz96b9). The program has been discontinued but it works fine in XP and Vista. All you have to do is tell it where to find your email program  (in XP the path or ‘command’ for Outlook Express is C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe), chose your WinKey shortcut and it’s ready to use.



Printing Puzzle

After upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 I am having problems with Picasa. My printer is a HP OfficeJet All-In-One and each time I try and print a photo using Picasa a message says that Picasa has encountered a problem with Microsoft XPS Document Writer. Microsoft and HP tell me they do not have a fix for this error, which I find unacceptable.

John Pickford, by email


I don’t think it’s an error as such but I am surprised that both MS and HP didn’t offer you a solution. Basically your PC is set to send printer data to a document file, rather than your actual printer. You should be able to put this right by going to Printers in Control Panel on the Start menu, make sure your HP printer is listed and set as the default. If not reinstall it using the correct Windows 7 driver. Also, when you want to print an image in Picasa go to Print on the File menu, and check that your HP Printer is showing next to the Printer button, if not click the button and select it from the list



Double Trouble with WordPad

I have Windows Vista, and use WordPad. I have to write an essay with double spacing between the lines. Is there any way I can get WordPad to do this? It would have been so easy on my old typewriter. I have tried the Help facilities but to no avail. 

Sylvia Moorman, by email


WordPad is not a proper word processor and there’s no excuse for using it, as there are several excellent word processing programs available, such as AbiWord and OpenOffice Writer, that won’t cost you a bean (download links at: http://tinyurl.com/28hx9k). And what’s more they’re compatible with Microsoft Word. But to answer your question, there is no automatic double-space function in WordPad but there is a workaround. Simply highlight the block of text you want to double-space and press Ctrl + 2; Ctrl + 1 returns it to single line spacing.



© R. Maybury 2203 2010

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