Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 158 18/06/11


Withdrawal Symptoms

I am the owner of an Amstrad E-m@iler telephone and I have learned that BSKYB has decided to withdraw the service. Is there anyone else with a similar system or do I have to get a computer? I don’t really want one, as I only need to be able to send and receive emails?

Tom Anderson, by email


I know a lot of users have been disappointed by the news but it really was a horrible system and well past its sell by date. It was expensive too, charging users 12p to send and receive emails. There were numerous imitations and the tiny keyboard was a nightmare to use. To be fair, back in 2000 when it first appeared, it was an attractive alternative to the computers of the day, but things have moved on. Nowadays you have a huge choice of simple to use devices, from inexpensive laptops and netbooks to tablet computers and smart phones. Broadband isn’t expensive either, in fact it’s free to BSKYB subscribers and there are plenty of low-use tariffs costing from under £6.00 a month, which might even be less than you were paying to use your e-m@iler. Learning to use a netbook or tablet computer is a lot easier than you think, and nowhere near as difficult as the em@iler, which I recall had many idiosyncrasies.



Making Tracks

Over the years I have accumulated a number of live music concerts recorded on DVD.  Is it possible to transfer the audio soundtracks on to CD, in order that I might play them on an ordinary CD player?

Roger Bailey, by email


It certainly can be done but as I am sure you are aware there may be copyright issues. Assuming this isn’t a problem then a small freeware utility called Free DVD MP3 Ripper (http://goo.gl/hq2MU) is the place to start. This extracts the soundtrack and saves it as an mp3 file on your PC, which you can use to create an audio CD with Windows Media Player.



Random Thoughts

In previous versions of Word, by typing =rand(4), then Enter I was able to get 4 paragraphs of ‘the quick brown fox...’.  I have now upgraded to Windows 7, with Word 2010 and I am unable to make this work. Have you any suggestions?

John Woodward, by email


Word’s random text generator is a handy tool for creating dummy text, for planning documents and layouts. Changes were made in W2007, but it still works, using the same command. Instead of the ‘quick brown fox’ you now get an extract from Word Help. This better reflects real-world copy and as before the number inside the bracket determines how many paragraphs it creates. There’s also an extra feature, if you type =lorem() you get paragraphs of the classic ‘lorem ipsum dolor sit amet’ nonsense Latin filler text.



Semidetached Attachments

Quite suddenly I seem to be unable to save attachments sent to me by email. If I right-click on the file tab in Windows Mail the drop down menu shows 'Save Attachments' but is shaded and no amount of pointing the mouse or clicking works!

Jeremy Bartley, by email


How it happened I cannot say, but I do know that frantic mousing and clicking rarely works, and sometimes gets you into even more trouble… You should be able to fix it by going to Tools > Options, select the Security tab and uncheck ‘Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus’.



Safety Word

In order to remember access codes and passwords for on line purchasing and banking etc., I have created a Word document crib sheet. Is it possible to secure this page from being read, in case the computer is stolen?

Peter Knight, by email


Word 2000 has a rather weak password protection facility on the Save/SaveAs dialogue box, just go to Tools > General Options. From Word 2003 onwards this was replaced by a much stronger password protected encryption option. If you want a boots and braces approach then you could encrypt your encrypted crib sheet using an excellent little freeware application called Encrypt On Click (http://goo.gl/ZyK2h). This should keep it reasonably safe but you might like to try a purpose-designed password protection program called KeePass Password Safe (http://goo.gl/oILn).  It’s free Open Source software, easy to use and very secure with 256-bit encryption.



Pass It On

Over the past four years I have been Secretary of a specialist gardening society. Most of my correspondence has been via email, using Windows Mail and I have created separate folders for each year. I will be relinquishing this position shortly and would like to transfer this information to my successor. Could you tell me how to do this?

Marcia Paine, by email


Providing your successor is also using Windows Mail or Live Mail it’s not a problem and you can use the email program’s Export facility. First open Windows Explorer and create a new folder in My Documents or some other location where you can find it (right-click > New > Folder and give it a name).  Open Windows Mail and go to File > Export > Messages; select Microsoft Windows Mail and click Next. Browse to your newly created folder, click Next and on the dialogue box that appears click ‘Selected Folders’. Highlight the folders that you want to Export (hold down the Shift key if there is more than one), click Next and it’s done You can now copy the folder to a blank CD or USB flash drive in Windows Explorer, along with copies of any other material you want to pass on. Your successor can use the Import function on their copy of Windows Mail (also on the File menu) to copy the messages to their PC. For some obscure reason this occasionally doesn’t work, if so copy the exported messages folder from the CD or flash drive to the hard drive on the PC the messages are to be stored and try again.    




© R. Maybury 2011 3005

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