Houston We Have a Problem 11



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 keypad.



Chrome Cleaner

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.



Easier iPlayer

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 downloading.  


Earthy Advice

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


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