Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 129, 06/11/10


Sing Something Simply

I would like to use a player or reader to both read text and listen to the music it applies to. Let me explain: I sing in two male voice choirs. Learning the songs is getting more difficult as I get older. I have and can make MP3s of the music for my part, which is second bass. I also have Word document files of the words. Somehow I would like to put these together so that I can follow the words as I listen or sing along with the music. I have an MP4 player but the screen is not really big enough. Something the size of the Kindle screen would, I think, be OK. Do you know of any way I can achieve this, or is it too much to hope for with present day equipment?

Peter Myatt, by email


Technically it is fairly straightforward and I was tempted to point you in the direction of DIY karaoke. Various software and hardware set-ups are available but they are all quite expensive and serious overkill for what you want to do. The real challenge is to do it as simply and cheaply as possible and with this method all you need is a PC with Microsoft Word and a small, free Open Source application called CamStudio (http://tinyurl.com/39oxq38). This records everything that appears on the PC screen and comes out of the speakers and saves it as a standard .avi file. So now all we have do is set up Word so that it scrolls through the lyrics at a steady speed, like an autocue, whilst playing your MP3 file, record it all with CamStudio and hey presto, instant home made Karaoke.


The little-known Word feature we’re going to use is called AutoScroll. In most versions you’ll find it by going to Tools > Customise. Select the Commands tab, scroll down the Categories list and highlight 'All Commands'. Scroll down the right hand Commands window to Auto Scroll, then click, drag and drop it onto a toolbar and a button appears. Close the Customise box and it is ready to use. I recommend a few dry runs with your lyrics document and the music playing to get the hang of adjusting scroll speed to sync with the playback. You might also want to increase font size and double or triple space the lines to improve legibility.


When you are ready open the lyrics document, cue up the MP3 track in your media player and open CamStudio. Minimise the CamStudio window, right click on its System Tray icon and select Record. Start MP3 replay and click Word’s Auto Scroll button. When playback has finished save the file and use Windows Movie Maker to tidy up the beginning. The finished .avi file will then play as-is on any PC or better still a netbook and many media players but if necessary you can use a utility called Freemake (http://tinyurl.com/3abbhf6) to convert it to a format suitable for other multimedia devices and players.



Printing Texts

Is there any way that I can print texts received (and sent) from my mobile phone?

Chris Cadman, by email


Yes, but how you do it depends on the age, make and model of the phone. The simplest solution, provided that there are not too many messages, is to Forward each text to your own email address. If your phone is a few years old it may not have this facility in which case you should still be able to forward texts to a friend or relatives phone that has email forwarding. Otherwise check your phone’s instruction manual; most mobiles made in the last ten years can be connected to a computer via a cable, infrared or Bluetooth link. The supplied software should then allow you to retrieve your messages and save or print them as required.



Avoiding A Mac Attack

I have recently bought a new Apple Mac having previously been a PC user. Should I install anti virus software because I've received conflicting advice? My local Apple retailer says there is no need whilst the Apple helpline says yes, you need protection and suggest programs available from the Apple online store. I've looked through the ones available but most have received poor reviews because they slow the computer down. Online forums seem to say there’s no need for antivirus software, where do you stand?

Andy Talkington, by email


Conventional wisdom has it that Macs are virtually bullet proof and immune to virus attacks. In fact Mac OS’s and Mac software has its fair share of security loopholes, however, the Mac PC population is tiny – compared with Windows PCs – and that means self-replicating infections will be very slow to spread and therefore of little interest and not much fun for virus and malware creators. The chances of catching one of the handful of Mac viruses in the wild is vanishingly small so I feel that heavyweight paid-for protection is unnecessary but if it makes you feel safer then you have nothing to lose with a freeware virus checker for emails and web downloads called ClamXav (http://tinyurl.com/bpjw7). Don’t get complacent, though; Mac users are still vulnerable to malware, trojans and phishing attacks, so stay alert, be careful what you download and as always never open unexpected email attachments.



Complete Misunderstanding

When entering personal information, such as my name, address etc. into a website, quite frequently the computer takes over and inserts the relevant details. A cookie I presume. My issue is that this cookie has an outdated email address and I can't fathom out how to change the default to my current one

John Hughes, by email


It has nothing to do with cookies. In Internet Explorer, which I suspect you are using, this feature is called AutoComplete. You have a number of options; the next time an incorrect entry appears in a form field, right-click on it select Delete then retype the correct entry. You can disable the facility by going to Tools > Internet Options > Content tab and under AutoComplete click Settings and there you will find a button to delete all AutoComplete entries content, so you can start afresh.



© R. Maybury 2010 1110



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