Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 107, 05/06/10


iPhone to Inkjet

My wife would like to send and receive occasional e-mails and buy things online but without the hassles of a computer. I suggested she get an iPhone, but can she print out e-mails, maps and airline tickets on our home printer without having to use her old computer?

Quentin Hartley, by email


Yes you can print from an iPhone and there are a number of techniques  (http://tinyurl.com/yhefpl7) and several apps (http://tinyurl.com/397frzh) but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Some of the software is a bit buggy and can be difficult to use. Also, no matter what the ads imply, web surfing and emailing from a mobile device is never going to be as easy as a proper PC. I can understand your wife’s frustration with PCs, especially if she has been grappling with a clunky old machine, so she may be pleasantly surprised how much things have improved. Windows 7, and of course Macs are quite civilised and easy to use these days. If portability is a factor then there’s plenty of attractively priced notebooks and netbooks to choose from. 



Startup Errors Revisited

Every time I open my Elonex Web Book I get an error message that reads ‘hpqthb08.exe application error… the application failed to initialise properly’.

Eric Mitchell, by email


Startup error messages like this one are almost always due to a corrupt or missing program set to launch automatically at boot up. In this case it is a ‘helper’ program for HP’s Image Zone software, but the fix is the same for most startup messages, so for those who may have missed our previous forays into this murky corner of Windows here it is again.


Go to Run on the Start menu (in XP) or Search (Vista and Windows 7) and type ‘msconfig’ (without the quotes). This opens the Windows Configuration utility; select the Startup tab and search through the list for the offending program or filename. Uncheck it, click OK and reboot. You may see a message box after the restart, warning that you have changed the way Windows Starts, if so just tick the box that says ‘do not show this message again’.



Big Screen Skype

I recently purchased a 37-inch LCDTV and I want to use it for Skype video calls with my family in the USA. They use a large flat screen TV connected to a computer behind the TV, while I use my desktop PC and monitor. Do I need to buy another computer as my Vista PC r is in another room? Otherwise could I connect the TV to my existing computer by mains wiring or wireless and how would I connect the webcam?  One last question, does the price of webcams have any bearing on the quality of the image?

Brian Orton, by email 


There are all sorts of ways of connecting a PC to a remote TV but for an application like this, where you need to be able to operate the PC and see and be in front of the screen and web cam then answer is to keep it simple. Buy a budget laptop, notebook or netbook and connect it to your TV; if you haven’t already got a wireless router for your broadband connection, you’ll need one of those as well, otherwise you’ll have to connect the laptop to the modem or router by LAN cable.


These days most portable PCs come with a built in webcam, and it’s worth giving it a test run but I think you will end up disabling it and using an external webcam as it will be easier to position it above or below the TV screen. In addition they have larger image sensors and lenses so they tend to perform better in low light conditions and whilst there is a correlation between price and image quality, in this instance it is doubtful that you’ll notice much difference. Any reasonably well-specified mid-market model should do a good job but be aware that displaying a Skype video screen on a big TV will magnify the defects and the results may be disappointing.


By the way, Skype is trialling a HD (720p) video call system and the initial results look quite promising but you will need a fast broadband connection with at least 1Mb/s upload and download speeds and an HD webcam. More details from http://tinyurl.com/3x3wao8



Subtitle Deeds

With the introduction of HD on Freeview do you know whether subtitles will be made available to help the hard of hearing?

John Matthews, by email


Freeview’s new HD service is using exactly the same subtitling system as the existing standard definition broadcasts, so in theory it will be the same but it’s very early says so don’t be too surprised if there’s the odd hiccup.  



Memory Mobility

For lightness and robustness I want to buy an HD Camcorder that uses SDHC memory cards.  I intend to use it for a 4-week holiday that includes videoing a wedding. As this will be the only time I expect to use the camcorder for such a long continuous period, I want to avoid the need to buy lots of memory cards, or take a laptop. Is there any way of periodically transferring or backing up the content of a memory card, without using a computer?

John Allan, by email


Yes and there are a number of devices available, known variously as digital wallets, photo banks, multimedia storage and backup drives. Basically they are multi-gigabyte portable hard drives fitted with a memory card reader, a small LCD screen and running a simple operating system to manage file copying and transfer; prices start at around £50 from suppliers like Amazon. Many of them are battery powered, even so, on a 4–week trip you’ll still have to take a charger or adaptor with you, at which point your travel payload probably isn’t going to be much less than a lightweight netbook.


Another option to consider, if you can access the web through a friend or relative’s PC or get to an Internet café, is upload the recordings to an online storage website, or your own personal web space.



© R. Maybury 1904 1005


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