Houston We Have Problem 116, 07/08/10
Shoot the Messenger
Can you tell me how I can delete Windows Live Messenger,
which pops up as soon as I switch on my laptop? It can be irritating?
Maureen Hembley, by email
In the past few weeks I have noticed a steady increase
in the number of readers asking to be rid of this nuisance. My usual response
was to run through a lengthy set of procedures for removing this program, which
vary according to the version of Windows and Messenger involved. Now there’s a
better way, a simple little utility that works on all editions of Windows, from
XP onwards, and all variants (so far) of Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger and
Live Messenger. It’s called ZapMessenger, it’s free and you’ll find a link to
the download at: http://tinyurl.com/37eyze9
If you are a Windows 7 user and you don’t mind getting your
hands dirty you can manually uninstall WLM by going to Start > Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features > Windows Live Essentials. Click Change/Remove and on
the list of ‘Essentials’ that appears, select Messenger, click OK to exit and
restart your computer.
I have a 1Gb SD camera memory card full of a memorable
holiday photos. To my horror, when I removed the card from the camera part of
the case broke off and the lock is gone, but the gold connectors look intact.
All attempts to recover the images using the camera and its software have
failed. I was told that professional recovery might cost upwards of £300 with
no guarantees. Do I have any other options for restoring the images?
Bob Rickard, by email
It sounds as though the memory card’s write-protect switch
has broken off, which shouldn’t be a problem as all this does is stop files on
the card from being erased or overwritten, but they can still be read and
copied. I would try using an external card reader, which connects to your PC by
a USB cable. They are not expensive, my local branches of Poundland and 99p
Stores stock perfectly service ‘multi-format’ models. With the card in the
reader and connected to the PC it will show up as a removable disc in Windows
Explorer. Your picture files will be stored in one or more sub-folders on the
card, from where they can be copied to a folder on your hard drive.
Incidentally, I have managed to fix broken SD memory card
locks with a tiny blob of fast setting epoxy resin in the ‘lock’ position. Once
set it can be carved into the shape of the missing switch with a sharp craft
knife, however I don’t recommend this technique to novices and you try it
entirely at your own risk.
Last year I was fortunate enough to have the chance to fly a
Spitfire. A cockpit DVD recording was made of the flight, and I am anxious to
print off a freeze frame taken during the sortie. However, when I play the DVD,
pause the recording and use the Prt Scn function to capture the frame I wish to
print, I end up with nothing.
Brian Vaughton, by email
Although Prt Scn and other screengrab utilities are supposed
to capture whatever is on the screen, they do not work on DVDs. That’s because
the video screen is a separate image or overlay, created by the PC’s video
adaptor so it’s not part of the normal Windows display. If you know your way
around your PC’s settings you can try disabling graphics acceleration but it
doesn’t always work and in the end the simplest solution is to use a DVD player
with a screengrab facility. For that you need look no further than our old
friend VLC Media Player. It’s free and you’ll find a link to the download at: http://tinyurl.com/nvqmm9
Sky is the Limit
I have a number of VHS tapes that I would like to copy onto
my Sky+ HD Box. Is this possible? If so how do I connect to I my VHS video
recorder to the Sky+ box and the TV?
Jack Harris, by email
The short answer is you can’t. Sky+ boxes, both standard and
HD, have no external audio or video inputs so they can only record from their
internal tuners. If the aim is to preserve your recordings you can transfer
them directly to disc using a DVD recorder but there is a better way. If you
have a PC with a DVD writer all you need is an AV adaptor module to connect
your PC to the camcorder and some editing and authoring software to cut out the
wonky bits and add some transitions and titles. Together these items will cost
you around £50. If you are looking for an even simpler solution try Roxio’s VHS
to DVD (http://tinyurl.com/yen4ckg).
This is a complete hardware and software package, costing under £40 and it
includes everything you need – apart from a PC -- to produce a very decent
Shortcut to Shortcuts
I frequently send and receive emails from France and
Germany. Recently I bought a laptop with Windows 7 and find that I cannot
produce accents as I could on my desktop using, for example, ALT + 130 on the
numeric keypad to produce é. There is no numeric keypad on a laptop! I even
bought a plug-in numeric keypad, but still no joy. At the moment, I have to
type emails for abroad in Word and then copy and paste the result but it is
laborious inserting symbols. Please help.
John Trevor, by email
I’m willing to bet your laptop does have a numeric keypad.
Check the printing on the U, I, O, J,
K, L and M keycaps. You’ll see the numbers 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3 etc, usually in
blue. This is your laptop’s numeric keypad, which is usually enabled by holding
down the FN key and pressing NumLk on the top row. Your accent shortcuts should
now work, and if you want some more handy symbols and accents go to: http://tinyurl.com/39v932
Maybury 2010 1207