Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 145 19/03/11


Kindle Espana?

I recently tried to purchase an Amazon Kindle as a gift for a friend who lives in Spain. According to Amazon UK it’s not possible to send a Kindle to a European address unless it’s purchased via their US website. Will a Kindle purchased in Britain and used in Spain work via any wi-fi hotspot, in Britain, Spain or other European countries? If so, what’s the reason for Amazon’s ruling?

Marie Fields, by email


Amazon simply says this policy is the ‘most seamless’ way for them to get Kindles to an international market, and you can be sure that if there was a more efficient way for it to put them into the hands of paying customers they would do it. In practice it doesn’t matter because Kindles bought from the UK or from Amazon.com can download books anywhere in the world using wi-fi. The dearer 3G model can also download books using mobile phone networks in more than 100 countries, and there are no contracts or charges to worry about, Book prices are roughly the same whichever site you download from. There may be copyright or DRM issues with some book titles in some countries and in the early days there were suggestions that web browsing on the Kindle using the 3G connection could be limited or non-existent in some countries but for the most part Kindle is the traveller’s friend. Nevertheless, if you are visiting out of the way places with limited or non-existent wi-fi and 3G then it’s wise to load up with books before you go. 


Switchover Solution

We are due to switch over to digital TV in April and currently we use a Panasonic DVD recorder to record programmes. Presumably this has an analogue tuner so will not work after April. Would a Freeview box plugged in to the SCART socket solve our problems and enable us to continue to record in the usual manner?

Phil Shread, by email


Yes, but you will also need a second Freeview box for your television if you want to be able to record one programme whilst watching another. However, even though Freeview boxes are now quite cheap you might be better off replacing the DVD recorder with a Freeview digital recorder or PVR, unless you have a specific requirement for recording or archiving programmes on DVD. Incidentally, make sure it’s a twin-tuner model as these let you watch and record separate channels.


Mongolian Mystery

I live in Spain and four months ago went on the Trans-Mongolian Express. The operators sent me a commercial DVD of the journey, and it plays normally on my DVD Player and computer. Friends asked for copies, so I made four, using good quality DVD-RW blank discs. They were sent to the UK and France in hard cases and packed in Jiffy bags. On arrival none of them would play, either on computers or DVD players. There appears to be a problem somewhere between here and the other countries.  Could mail X-Ray scanners wipe a disc clean?

Brian Haywood, by email


Commercial DVDs are encrypted so you can’t simply copy the data from the DVD to a blank disc. Recordings have to be ‘ripped’ using specialist software like DVD Shrink (freeware, link at: http://goo.gl/rqY9D). If the copies were made in this way then usually the only things that will render a home made DVD unplayable in a fairly short amount of time are UV light – strong sunlight for example – and high temperatures, which breaks down the organic dyes used on the recording layer. They are unaffected by brief exposure to X-Ray and other forms of ionising radiation. There should be no issues with Regional Coding on the DVDs since Spain, France and the UK are all in Region 2, so it’s a bit of a mystery. All you can do is ask for them to be sent back and see if they still play on your equipment. If they do then it points to a problem with the recipient's players and PCs.



Windows Blues

I have a Windows PC; when I go to My Documents, My Music, or My Pictures some of the file names and picture names are in blue and some in black. This does not seem to affect folder names and does not seem to make any difference to the opening or use of the files concerned but I would like to know what causes it and whether I should take any action to remove it?

Peter Northway, by email


Windows uses a simple colour code to indicate file status. Black is normal, blue is for compressed files and green coloured files are encrypted. File compression is used to save space and it’s possible you have enabled this facility or used a third-party file compression or cleanup utility. It shouldn’t be a problem, though compressed files can take a little longer to open. If you want to change files or folders back to normal open Windows Explorer or My Computer, right-click on the folder containing the files, select Properties then the Advanced button and deselect ‘Compress contents…’.



Perfect Preview

Years ago, I used WordPerfect (I think), which allowed you to scroll down your saved correspondence files, and, as you put the cursor on a file, an excerpt was shown in a box on the right of the screen. This made deleting of unwanted files very easy, as you did not have to wait for the whole file to load up on the screen, as I find necessary with Word. Is it possible to do this with Word? 

David Pullman, by email


Word has it as well, go to File > Open (Office button > Open in Word 2007 onwards), click the drop-down menu arrow next to the View icon and select Preview. The dialogue box changes to a vertical split screen and a mini version of the selected document appears in the right hand pane.




© R. Maybury 2011 1402


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