Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 104, 15/05/10


Satnav, A Lost Cause?

I have downloaded an update for my new Garmin satnav. Afterwards I tried to extract the file to put it on the satnav but after reaching 80% the progress window disappeared and no further prompts appeared. I also tried a file opening program, which I had to pay for, but all it does is tell me to buy other program to repair the file. How can download the update straight to my satnav?

Paul Thompson, by email


You really should read the manual! In order to install an update on your satnav you must use the purpose designed WebUpdater program. Trying to fix the problem with snake oil and ‘scamware’ utilities that you have found on the web is just asking for trouble. They never work, you run a risk of making matters worse and there’s a very real danger of infecting your PC with viruses and trojans.


WebUpdater automatically checks the Garmin server for updates, downloads them to your computer and installs them on the device. It may have been supplied with your satnav but if you don’t have it (or a copy of the manual) you can download them free from the Garmin website at  http://tinyurl.com/y3jrgdg



Colour Supplement

Is it possible to alter the yellow colour of the folder symbol in Windows Explorer (or even have an alternative icon) so that when I have folders within folders I can distinguish the folder level that I’m using?

John Naden, by email


No problem and all you need is a simple little freeware utility called Rainbow Folders (http://tinyurl.com/58nf86). This lets you change the colour of as many folders and sub-folders as you like and you can choose from the entire Windows colour palette. As an added bonus you can assign each folder a ‘Tool Tip’, which is a little information box that appears when you hover your mouse over the folder. It could say something useful like ‘Delete me at you peril!  Incidentally, the list of operating systems on the download website is out of date and it works fine with both Vista and Windows 7.



Video Home Truths

I have been researching so-called 'grabbers' to transfer VHS tapes to my PC with the intention of minor editing before creating DVDs. I have not found one that does not have so many damning comments by purchasers that buying seems a big risk.  Can you recommend one?

R. M. Stephens, by email


Sorry, but since you haven’t told me anything about your computer I cannot name names. However, I can tell you that most of the problems with video to PC transfers, editing and DVD authoring are down to the user’s PC simply not being up to the job. To be fair that’s partly due to the often wildly optimistic ‘Minimum System Requirements’ claimed by manufacturers of these products. Only fast and well-equipped XP computers can handle this sort of demanding application so ideally your starting point should be a reasonably speedy Vista or Window 7 machine.


It should exceed all of the program’s requirements for processor speed, RAM and free hard disc space by a comfortable margin. I also strongly recommend installing a slave hard disc drive, or an external drive specifically for storing the large video files that the transfer and authoring processes will involve. This can help to reduce the data bottlenecks that can slow things down and spoil the finished recording if you use your system drive to simultaneously run Windows and your video programs as well as processing your video files.



Bold Statements

Online banks and other similar institutions understandably encourage customers to change to having paperless statements.  I like to annotate my statements but it seems to defeat the object of the exercise to print them out to do this.  I would like to find a program into which one could download the statement to be managed, but so far I have been unsuccessful.  Do you have any suggestions?

Anthony Burnham, by email


I'm not aware of anything, probably because there's no agreed standard for this type of document or web page. You could try directly copying and pasting the statement data fields or table into a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, but some online statements contain a lot of background formatting and HTML code and you may just end up with a nasty mess. As a last resort why not take a screengrab of your statement to create a bitmap or jpeg image? You can then use the text or freehand drawing tools in Windows Paint or your preferred image-editing program to make your annotations.



Foiling Interference

Since I have had a plasma screen VDU on my PC, I notice severe interference on nearby FM radio receivers, even through a block and plastered wall. Wrapping tin foil around the aerial doesn't make much difference.

Dermod Malley, by email


Radio frequency interference or RFI is a common problem with many electronic devices; TVs and monitors are prime offenders as they contain circuitry that generate a lot of high frequencies. Unfortunately there is no simple one-stop solution. Moving the radio further away from the monitor is the obvious answer and changing your radio might help. There can be quite significant differences in interference rejection between different makes and models; DAB radios can also be less prone to this type of RFI. Interference often travels along mains wring, so try a plug or strip adaptor with a built in RFI filter, or switch to a battery powered or wind-up radio.


You could try attaching a sheet of tin foil to the wall immediately behind the monitor. This will create a ‘screen’ that may reduce the level of interference reaching radios on the other side. It should be even more effective if you can earth it, by attaching one end of a short wire to the foil and the other end to a radiator or gas or water pipe. By the way, wrapping aerials in tin foil is really not a good idea, for so many reasons…



© R. Maybury 1904 2010


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