Ask Rick 150 23/04/11
I have no wish to send text messages, the main
reason being that it is time consuming in the extreme. A survey amongst friends
and family confirms that I am not alone. However many people I know would like
to be able to text if only it was easier. When can we expect a phone with voice
recognition that converts speech into text messages?
John Michels, by email
I agree that unless you have the digital
dexterity of a teenager, sending text messages on an ordinary mobile phone
keypad is a real chore. However, virtually all smart phones have fold out, flip
open or on-screen QWERTY keyboards, which are a lot easier to use.
Needless to say there have been numerous
attempts at speech-to-text and there are several apps for the iPhone and
Android smart phones, but be warned that voice recognition remains an imprecise
science. If you have a strong accent, speak faster than you think, or use it in
a noisy environment then you will probably end up spending more time correcting
the mistakes than it would take keying in the message, even on a numeric
I use Google Chrome as my search engine and in
recent days, when it starts, a message flashes on the screen stating: ‘Your profile
could not be opened correctly…check that the profile exists and that you have
permission to read and write its contents’. Should I be worried? Is there a
straightforward way of getting rid of this for good?
Doreen Edwards, by email
No need for concern. It’s a bug, usually caused
by a corrupt file in one of Chrome’s internal databases. It’s the sort of thing
the program should be able sort out on its own and hopefully there’s a fix in
the pipeline, but it’s easy enough to sort out if you don’t mind a bit of
fiddling around. Exit Chrome, open Windows Explorer and if you are using
Windows XP, navigate your way to C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\ Local
Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data, delete the ‘web data’ file
and restart Chrome. In Vista and Windows 7 the procedure is basically the same
but this time the web data file can be found by going to
C:\users\<yourname>\ AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default.
Plug for Wi-Fi Alternative
In recent weeks your column has given useful
information about Wi-Fi links but I understand there’s now a system that uses
the electrical power circuit as a mean of connection. Has this technology any
disadvantages and is it a safe and reliable alternative?
Len Ruff, by email
The idea of using household mains wiring as a
means of distributing data and control signals for home appliances has been
around for a very long time but it has been dogged by unreliability and
interference problems, but mostly by a lack of standardisation. Homeplug, which
is the system you are referring to, is addressing the latter problem through an
alliance of manufacturers and interested parties who have agreed on a common
standard, so it’s off to a promising start. Generally speaking in homes where
Wi-Fi connectivity is poor, and provided the mains wiring is reasonably
straightforward and in good condition, it works well. However, there are
compatibility issues with some ISPs and routers so check the FAQs page before
you buy at: http://goo.gl/mDCGW. There can
also be connection problems in outbuildings and garages etc, which often
operate on separate circuits. Also bear in mind that PCs and laptops have to be
within easy reach of a mains socket, and the device in question needs an
Ethernet socket, though you can get a Homeplug wireless access point module for
mobile phones tablet PCs etc. Safety isn’t in question, though like any
electronic device plugged into the mains or a phone line, Homeplug adaptors and
whatever they are connected to, are prone to damage from power line surges,
spikes and nearby lightning strikes.
I have managed to view BBC iPlayer on my PC, no
mean achievement for me, I can tell you. Would you please tell how to put the
appropriate Icon on my desktop, if it is possible, as I would like to watch
some more programmes. As it stands I have to go via Google to get there. I may
want to do the same with ITV etc.
Kelvin Osborne, by email
To put a shortcut icon to the iPlayer main page
on your desktop in Internet Explorer simply right-click on the page, select
Create Shortcut and click Yes. In Firefox drag and drop the Favicon (the small
icon in front of the web address on the Navigation toolbar) onto your desktop.
You can do the same thing with the ITV Player, 4OD and C5 websites.
If you want to download BBC programmes onto
your PC and watch them at your convenience for up to 30 days you need to
install the iPlayer Desktop software. All you have to do is click the download
symbol (downward pointing arrow) next to your chosen programme. You will then
be asked if you want to install iPlayer Desktop and any other necessary files;
click Yes and make sure the ‘display desktop shortcut’ option is ticked, follow
the prompts and as soon as it has finished your chosen program begins
I have netbook PC with a maximum screen
resolution of 1024 x 600. I would like to install Google Earth but it will not
work, as it requires a display of 1024 X 768. Are there any fixes that can be
applied to get it to run?
Geoffrey Grimwood, by email
Here are a couple of things to try. Resetting
your display resolution to 800 x 600 and reinstall Google Earth. It will
display a warning but if you click OK to ignore the installation should proceed
normally. Google Earth will bleed off the edges of the screen but you can move
the window to keep the parts you want to use in view. If scroll and zoom
functions are jerky try switching to 16-bit ‘Hi Colour’ in your video adaptor’s
settings menu, and in Google Earth, go to Tools > Options 3D View, under
Graphics Mode, switch to DirectX.
© R. Maybury 2011 2103