Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 131, 20/11/10


Mail a Movie

I am unable to send clips of my home movies, taken on my Sanyo digital cameras and lasting around 1 to 3 minutes, without my message being received broken down into up to 60 parts. I use Outlook Express and have no difficulty in receiving movie clips. When sending stills I am offered the facility, to reduce the size of the file, but this opportunity is not offered for MPEG-4 files. Is there a way of converting movie files to an acceptable size for forwarding?

Peter Hulme, Bolton


Windows Movie Maker, which is included in all versions of Windows since XP has a handy feature for creating compact, email-able video clips. Unfortunately WMM doesn’t recognise MPEG4 videos but there are a couple of workarounds. You can either switch to Windows Live Movie Maker (Vista and W7 only, see http://goo.gl/XLtg), which can be persuaded to support MPEG4, though you will need to install extra codecs, and it is a bit of a palaver. I think it’s quicker and easier to convert your movie clips to .avi format, which WMM does support, and to do that all you need is a little freeware utility called MP4Cam2AVI (http://goo.gl/XJOA. Once converted open the movie in WMM, create your clips and click ‘Send in email’ under Finish Movie in the Movie Tasks pane and you’ll be offered a variety of compression settings suitable for emailing.



Key Change

I am not technically minded but I enjoy using my computer for accounts, letter writing and so on. For some years I have used XP but have recently, on the advice of my son, changed to Word 2007. I have struggled to get use to its mysteries but somehow have managed to cope with most of my needs. In the days of XP I frequently used keyboard shortcuts, which printed my name and automatically dated my letters. I have tried to get this feature on Word 2007 but without success, can you assist?

John O'Connor, by email


It sounds like you (or your son) set up a number of AutoText entries and assigned them to keyboard shortcuts, though date insert (Alt + Shift + D) is a standard Word function; there’s a complete list at: http://goo.gl/zMAo. In earlier versions of Word (2000 – 2003) all you had to do was highlight the words that you want to appear and click Insert > AutoText > AutoText > Add. To assign a shortcut go to Tools > Customize, click the Keyboard button, select AutoText in the Categories pane and your text in the AutoText window and enter a memorable key combination in the Shortcut box, Word will tell you if it assigned to another function. In Word 2007 onwards AutoText is replaced by Building Blocks and whilst it’s a lot more sophisticated, in my opinion it’s not so easy to use for simple jobs like this. If you want to have a go there’s a fairly simple to follow tutorial at: http://goo.gl/zldk, and this also shows you how to assign Building Blocks to keyboard shortcuts.



Protection Racket

After replacing nearly all of my VHS tapes, I have only two remaining. They both have copy protection facilities on them. Having checked with the holders of the copyright licences (who have indicated that as the VHS material is so old, they have no plans to produce DVD versions), I have been given written permission by them to produce one copy of each for my own personal, private use. My problem is that I do not know how or where to get them copied. Have you any suggestions please?

John Cooper, by email


The most popular VHS copy protection system was MacroVision. This worked on a number of levels using embedded spoiler signals that exploit weaknesses in the recording systems on analogue VCRs. TVs ignore the spoiler signals but when a tape is re-recorded it upsets the VCRs automatic gain control (AGC), resulting in variations in brightness and picture instability. In the olden days you used to be able to buy under the counter widgets called ‘enhancers’ and ‘correctors’ that stripped out MacroVision protection. As far as I am aware they are no longer available but they are largely redundant nowadays. You may be able to make a clean recording on your PC and burn that to DVD. All you need is an AV input module and some DVD burning software. This will convert the analogue video from the VCR into digital data; the cheaper and often unbranded unbranded AV input modules usually come with recording programs that neutralise the MacroVision signals. Incidentally there were a number of variants on the MacroVision process, some of them quite aggressive, but there was usually a workaround. One of the simplest involves cleaning up the video signal by passing it through a TV with a video output and connecting that to a recording device.




Live but not Kicking…

I've just bought my wife a fancy new computer to make things easier and quicker using Windows 7. However we can't send e-mails from her BT Internet address using Windows Live Mail as I get the message ‘The server does not support a SSL connection’. Does this mean the BT servers can't cope or is there a fix?

Richard Walker, by email


SSL or Secure Socket Layer cryptography is used to protect your messages as they travel around the Internet but BT’s servers support all common email protocols so the problem is almost certainly at your end. Half the time it’s caused by security software on your PC checking outgoing mail; the other half is usually due to incorrect configuration settings in your mail program. Eliminate the former by uninstalling or temporarily disabling your security software. If your messages are still being blocked open Windows Live Mail and go to Tools > Accounts, double click on your account and select the Advanced tab. Make sure both boxes marked ‘This server requires a secure connection (SSL) boxes are unticked and try again. Still no luck? Try changing the Outgoing Mail (SMTP) port setting from 25 to 465 or 587. The Incoming Mail (POP3) port you can leave as is.




© R. Maybury 2010 1810


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