Ask Rick 146 26/03/11a
Shifting the Blockage
Twice in the last month we have been sent very
large e-mails, probably containing photos, which we have not been able to
download on our dial-up system. They both blocked the system, not letting us
view any of the other messages. Our ISP dealt with the first one by deleting
the lot and our local PC wizard downloaded the second one. As we use the
Internet very little, and really only for e-mails, we are reluctant to pay for broadband,
especially as we hear that its pretty slow here. Do you have any suggestions as
to how, should this happen again, we can by-pass troublesome emails one and
read any others there might be?
Jean Myers, by email
You can preview the contents of your inbox
using a free webmail service like Mail2web (www.mail2web.com).
Just enter your email address and email password and it shows you all of the
messages awaiting download on your ISP’s mailserver. It also tells you who they
are from, whether or not they contain attachments and you can delete the ones
that you don’t want the next time you access your email.
By the way, it’s worth reassessing the
broadband situation every so often. Connection speeds are improving all of the
time, and prices are coming down, especially if you are a light user; you may
well find it’s now cheaper than your current dial-up service.
Is there a simple way of attaching a text
string, such as my email address, to a particular keyboard key such that it can
be used in any program?
Dave Thomas, by email
There is and I suggest a neat little freeware
utility called SuperKeys (http://goo.gl/d0qSs).
It’s really easy to use, but do read the quick start tutorial. Don’t forget, if
you find it useful and want to continue using it the author would really
appreciate a small donation.
I want to copy part of a picture to another
place inside the same picture. Can you recommend a piece of software that would
allow me to do this?
Peter Essex, by email
This is a fairly straightforward job and the
sort of thing that most picture editing applications can do but to keep things
simple I’ll run through the steps using a freeware program called PhotoFiltre (http://goo.gl/YG9NY). Open the image in
PhotoFiltre, from the toolbar on the right select the Lasso tool and carefully
outline the object that you want to copy. This takes a steady hand, especially
if it’s a fiddly shape but you will find it easier if you magnify that part of
image using the Zoom tool. Once that’s done press Ctrl + C to copy your
selection to the clipboard. Next, press Ctrl + V, the selection is pasted into
the image and you can move it to its new location with the mouse. This next
part is important; save the edited image giving it a new name so that the
original is preserved. You can now get to work on the new picture and blend the
copied selection into the picture using the Clone Stamp tool. This works like
an airbrush, ‘spraying' parts of the adjacent background – selected by pressing
the Ctrl key -- to help soften the edges. Experiment with the Opacity and
Radius settings and with a little practice it’s possible to get near
Lost in Translation
Recently, a facility in my browser has
disappeared. It automatically translated English words into Spanish when I
hovered the cursor over them. As I am learning Spanish I found this feature
extremely useful. My problem is that I
don't know how it was first activated, it seemed to have just appeared one day,
nor can I work out how to get it back.
Peter Sykes, by email
This is an option in the Google Toolbar, so you
have either uninstalled it, or switched it off. If the Toolbar is still there
(if not reinstall it from http://goo.gl/BggE)
click the spanner icon and on the Tools tab select the Translate checkbox then
click Edit to select the language, in your case Spanish.
I do quite a bit of video editing, but I am thinking
of buying a new camcorder, as my trusty Sony mini DV machine seems to be
getting heavier as I get older. I have a problem though, in that all the new
camcorders seem to only have facilities for editing videos if you use their own
dedicated software. I have always used Windows MovieMaker and downloaded my
videos to my PC by connecting to the IEEE 1394 FireWire socket, but none of the
new cameras seem to support this method. Can I still download to my PC and use
MovieMaker, without having to use the manufacturer’s software? Reviews suggest
that these programs can be temperamental. Are there any camcorders still being
made that have a FireWire connection?
Don Cook, by email
The camcorder market has changed dramatically
in just the past two or three years, with a shift away from tape – now
virtually obsolete on consumer models – and mini DVD, to solid state recording
media. FireWire was just the easiest way of connecting a tape or disc based
digital camcorder to a computer but now, with most camcorders using removable
memory cards (mostly SD/MMC type) there’s no need for it any more. Simply plug
the memory card into your PC’s card slot – if it has one – or a USB card reader
if it doesn’t, and copy the files to your hard drive.
In most cases you can continue to use
MovieMaker to edit your videos, though older versions can only read .wmv, .avi
and some variants of mpeg video, so it’s a good idea to switch to Windows Live
Movie Maker (http://goo.gl/a8RO). This covers
a lot more ground, including the increasingly popular mpeg4 format. Otherwise
you can convert most camcorder and digicam video files to .wmv, .avi or mpeg2
using a freeware utility like Format Factory (http://goo.gl/oXLL).
© R. Maybury 2011 2102