Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 120, 04/09/10


Digibox Dumped

We've used a Digifusion PVR200 Freeview digital recorder for several years and it's working fine, except that we no longer have the Electronic Programme Guide. I thought the machine had broken down until I found out that the company that provided the EPG has stopped doing so!


We can still record manually but without the facility to timeshift programs the machine has lost ninety-nine percent of it's usefulness. We may well be tempted to buy a new one, but once bitten twice shy. What guarantee do we have that the same thing won't happen again?

John Webster, by email


It’s a complicated story and it also affected a small number of Freeview boxes from Inverto, Thomson and Sony. The root of the problem was that for various reasons the contract with the company that provided the 14-day EPG wasn’t renewed. In theory the receivers should have defaulted to the standard 7-day EPG service from Freeview but it appears that these digiboxes were not compliant with that part of the digital TV specification. Fortunately the vast majority of digiboxes rely on the Freeview EPG and there is no reason to suppose this will go the same way. There doesn’t seem to be any immediate prospect of a resolution but you might like to add your name to an online petition to re-instate the service at http://tinyurl.com/37hrh2h, which currently has over 1600 signatures.


Anyone who remembers the VCR timer wars of the 1980s may feel a sense of deja vu. Numerous weird and wonderful gizmos that were supposed to make VCR programming easier came and mostly went. Some, like VideoPlus+ worked quite well, but others bombed horribly, like the infamous system that relied on newspapers and magazines printing barcodes next to TV listings. Several manufacturers dallied with Teletext timer programming, another used chips embedded in tape labels and my favourite, a voice recognition timer programming system that couldn’t handle regional accents



Office Routines

I have been using Office 2003 (and Office 97 before that) for years, with ease. I bought Office 2007 and struggled with the new toolbars so went back to 2003.  Is there any way I can configure the new version toolbars to look more like the old Outlook?

Chris Hooper, by email


You are not alone but there’s little you can do about it from the Office configuration menus. According to Microsoft locking down the user Interface reduces the number of support calls and their surveys suggest that few users change the way their programs look. You don’t have to stick with it, however, and there are a number of add-ons that will put things back to the way you like them. The best known are Addintools Classic Menu for Outlook 2007 (http://tinyurl.com/6xwd9p), which costs around £10.00 and ToolbarToggle (http://tinyurl.com/34bsqr), for £12.25. Free trial versions are available for both of them so try before you buy.



Earth Works

How I can get Google Earth to display place names? It used to work but following a virus infection and reformat, place names are either not there or letters are missing. I have explored all the check boxes, emailed Google (no reply), uninstalled and reinstalled GE, all to no avail.

Tony Hirst, by email


Here are a couple of things to try. On the sidebar, under Layers make sure that Labels is ticked, then click the arrow in front of the box and put a tick next to Populated Places. It could also be a graphics or display problem, and this chimes in with the hard drive reformat. You can check if this is the case by going to the GE Tools menu and on the 3D View tab, under Graphics mode, switch from Open GL to DirectX mode, or vice-versa, depending which one is currently selected and see if that makes a difference. If it does check that your video drivers are correct and up to date.



Clip Conversion

I have a Canon digital still camera, which outputs video clips in AVI format. My Panasonic DVD recorder has an SD memory card slot, which requires that video files be in MPEG2 format. Is it possible to convert from one format to another so I can watch my video clips on my TV?

Peter Philips, by email


Absolutely no problem, and I suggest that you download an excellent freeware utility called Xmedia Recode (http://tinyurl.com/38ytdv5). AVI to MPEG2 is just one of the scores of conversion options available, from and to most popular video formats.



Remote Possibility

I run a small business and use a program called Go To My PC to access my computer through the Internet so that I can run day-to-day operations whilst on holiday or travelling on business. As I connect to the PC remotely what happens if I have a power cut or the PC powers down for some reason? Is there some equipment or program that will re boot my PC thereby still allowing me remote access?

Richard Wain, by email


You can help avoid this sort of thing happening in the first place by using an Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS. This is a battery-powered device that connects between your PC and the mains socket. If the mains fails for any reason the UPS kicks in and maintains the supply. Depending on the specification this can be from a few minutes to hours, or even days. Basic models with the capacity to keep a typical desktop PC powered for 5 – 10 minutes, long enough for most blackouts, cost around £40. If the UPS battery runs down some models automatically wake the PC when the power come back on. Otherwise you may be able to set the PC to automatically reboot itself. Restart after Power Failure and Restore on Power Loss are features on some BIOS (Basic Input Output System) programs, and you can set the applications that you need to be running to load automatically by copying their shortcut icons into the Startup folder.



© R. Maybury 2010 0908


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