Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 143, 05/03/11


Multiple Choices

I should like to scan a multi-page document and then attach it to an email as a single attachment instead of multiple separate images. Can you please suggest a way of doing this?

Euan Campbell, by email


If it is a cleanly printed text document use your scanner’s OCR (optical character recognition) option to generate text files from the scans then edit and combine them into a single document. If the scans are images then you can either insert them into a Word document or combine them into a single image using an editing application like PhotoFiltre (free, download link at: http://goo.gl/OWLsn). All you have to do is open the first image then go to Image > Canvas Size, increase the depth (or width) of the canvas (blank area surrounding the image) so that it is large enough to accommodate the other image, which you copy and paste into the blank space and save it as a single image.



Watch Your Step

I tripped over the open DVD tray on my combination VCR/DVD/HDD recorder, so the DVD section is now inoperable. If I replace the recorder with a new model is there any way I can retrieve the material on the hard drive?

John Hawthornthwaite, by email


It may be possible but I suspect it could be tricky if the recorder uses a proprietary encoding scheme. I think you would be better off replacing the damaged DVD drive. It’s not a difficult or expensive job as these drives are normally standard off-the-shelf PCs components costing between £25 and £40.



Awkward Amazon?

Each time I try to sign in or proceed to checkout in my Amazon account I get a message page from Internet Explorer saying  ‘There is a problem with this website's security certificate’. I have used Amazon for several years. My laptop is about 5 years old and I use dial up. I can't imagine Amazon have a problem so it must be my computer.

John Griffin, by email


More often than not this is due to the date or time on your PC being wrong. Given the age of your machine it is possible that the backup battery that powers the on-board clock needs replacing, so check that first. Otherwise there may be a glitch with the old certificate, in which case go to the page which prompts the message, click Certificate Error on the address bar and select View Certificates. Click Install Certificates then Next and select Place Certificates in following Store. Click Browse, select Trusted Root Certificate Authorities then OK. If you are prompted to install certificates click OK



Mobile Storage

For the past nine years I have used a PDA to keep names and addresses, appointments and store a number of smallish Excel databases. It is now getting on a bit and can’t be synchronised with Windows 7. I don’t have a mobile phone but friends have suggested that I should get one and put the info into that. The Blackberry appears to fit the bill but it has a rather small screen. The others all seem to hold photos and music, but none claim to be able to hold other types of data. The local branch of a well-known phone shop has been of little help, simply saying that I probably would need an ‘app’. I don’t want Internet, just a means of storing information and maybe make an occasional phone call.

Brian J. Edwards, by email


If all you need is a portable device for storing data then why not just buy a flash drive? Otherwise a cheap PAYG phone should do everything that you need. You need a fairly recent model that has a USB connection, or a memory card, so that pictures or music files can be moved to and from a PC. You can use this facility – so called user memory – to store your data files, like a flash drive. It sounds as though the assistant in the phone shop was trying to sell you up to a smart phone, and it’s true that apps that can open Excel files are available for the most popular types (Blackberry, Android and iPhone and it’s built into Windows Phone 7), but unless you are going to make use of the facilities on these devices it would probably be a waste of money.   



Diary to Disc

I want to copy my grandfather's diaries (from the early 20th century) on to discs to distribute to the family, but can't find any suitable software. Ideally, when played a menu appears showing years subdivided into months, which the viewer can select as required. Then when each page appears on the screen the viewer must be able to turn the pages, as required, and be able to return to the menu at any time.   

Stan Fray, Malvern


There are several different ways you could go, for example, a PowerPoint presentation, an e-book or a pdf, all of which would be readable on a PC or devices like the Kindle or iPad but I think the simplest solution would be to create a DVD slideshow. This would allow you to reach the widest audience as it’ll be viewable on any DVD player and TV, as well as most PCs. It’s easy to set up a menu and incorporate page forward and backward buttons. However, whatever method you choose your first task is to scan the diary. Any flatbed scanner will do, and this will convert the pages of the diary into a set of high quality bitmap or jpeg images. Once that done you can set about assembling the images and authoring the DVD. For this you will need some specialised software, if you want to keep costs down, to practically zero, I suggest two freeware programs called DVD Slideshow GUI and DVD Author for GUI. There’s a short tutorial and links to the programs in Boot Camps 504 to 508 (http://goo.gl/18HLd). Otherwise have a look at one of the many commercial programs available, such as Corel Digital Studio or PhotoStory on CD & DVD (both around £40)




© R. Maybury 2011 3101


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