Houston We Have a Problem 115, 31/07/10
Recently the BBC iPlayer on my PC displayed a notice telling
me to install Adobe Flash. I installed the download exactly as instructed but
it still will not work.
Richard Burwood, by email
It sounds as though the Flash player update didn’t
install properly so the first thing I would do is uninstall it and try again.
However, it’s important to remove it completely and the best way to do that is
to use the custom uninstaller utility, which you can download from: http://tinyurl.com/c3e657. When you
download and re-install Flash do not click the Open option, instead Save it to
a folder on your PC and when the download has completed double-click on the
file to start the installation. If you are still having problems then try
uninstalling and reinstalling the iPlayer. Again it is important to perform a
clean installation by removing all traces of the old program first. The built-in
installer only does half a job so as usual my advice is to use a freeware
program called Revo Uninstaller (http://tinyurl.com/56uydj),
which ferrets out all of the bits that get left behind.
High Times for iPlayer
I work as a painter
and decorator and like to listen to music and radio programmes on my iPhone
But going up and down ladders
and moving around means I'm constantly catching the headphone cable. Is there any way I could carry on listening
to my iPhone radio via wireless headphones? I also need to be able pick up
phone calls without touching the phone; otherwise it gets covered in paint.
Jeff Lyons, by email
Help is at hand in
the shape of iPhone/iPod Touch software update 3.0, which includes support for
Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, or A2DP devices. This Bluetooth based
technology streams stereo audio from the iPhone to a compatible A2DP headset,
hi-fi, speakers or car radio. In the case of A2DP headsets and headphones designed
for iPhones there is a facility to interrupt playback and take an incoming
Printing Double with Word
I use PagePlus for producing books and find its ability to
print two identical A5 pages on an A4 sheet very useful. as I can print two
copies of the book in one pass. Can Microsoft Word be configured to act
Bernard Cooper, by email
In most versions of
Word all you have to do is go to Print on the File menu. Under Zoom select 2
pages per sheet and in the Page Range box select Pages or Print Current and
enter 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, and so on.
I have had three laptops and it has been impossible to use
any of them outside because of sunlight rendering the screen unviewable. Still
I see adverts for laptops depicting laughing men and women using their PCs
outdoors, which is irritating to say the least. Are e-book readers any better?
Alan Stockwell, by email
Clearly you shouldn’t believe everything you see in
adverts… My personal bugbear is the
next to useless LCD screens on most digital cameras. It is fair to say that
some LCDs are better than others in bright daylight but the basic problem is
that LCDs have to be lit from behind. Unless the backlight is brighter than the
incident light you won’t see anything. Non-reflective coatings and brighter
backlights can help but they reduce battery life and may cause eyestrain.
Better screens are in the pipeline and organic light emitting diode (OLED)
displays, now being used on the latest smartphones, show promise but it will
take a while for the cost to come down.
Many e-book readers use e-ink or e-paper displays. These are
thin flexible films coated with millions of microscopic capsules filled with
black and white particles, suspended in a clear liquid. White particles are
negatively charged, they float at the top of the capsules, and the display
appears white, but when a positive charge is applied to a capsule, or group of
capsules the black and white particles switch places and that part of the
display turns black. The effect is a lot like a sheet of printed paper, and
since the display reflects ambient light there’s no need for a backlight. It
doesn’t need to be constantly refreshed so it is very stable, and they consume
little power. The downside is that current e-ink displays are slow to change
and of no use on laptops – you wouldn’t be able to see a moving mouse pointer
for example – and although colour e-ink has been developed it suffers from the
same slow refresh problem.
Our tennis centre uses a laptop, to arrange matches, events
etc., and it is connected to a large flat screen television for public display.
However, the computer can be easily nudged, causing it to disconnect itself
from the TV. The connector plug has screws, but the computer does not, which
seems odd. The only way we can keep the plug in is to hold it in place with
insulating tape stuck, which is far from unsatisfactory.
Steve Hitch, by email
Nowadays the external monitor or VGA sockets on laptops
rarely have plug anchor threads, either to save space or as a cost saving
measure. These sockets also tend to be designed for occasional use so they are
not especially robust. You could try a new high quality connecting cable but I
suspect it will only be a temporary solution. Some laptops can be used with an
external port replicator or docking station, and the connectors are usually
more durable but unfortunately this doesn’t apply to your model. Eventually the
laptop’s VGA socket will fail and it will probably cost more to repair than the
machine is worth. Why not replace the laptop with a desktop PC? By the sound of
it, it doesn’t have to be anything special; maybe a member has a redundant
computer they can loan or donate? If you must use a laptop don’t forget to
shortlist models with VGA plug anchors, docking station or port replicator
Maybury 2010 0507