Ask Rick 185 31/12/11
I get my Freeview signal from the Sudbury
transmitter. A retune was required a couple of weeks ago and since then I have
lost ITV 4, Film 4 and Yesterday. I have retuned daily but there’s no sign of
the missing channels, any idea what is wrong?
John Chambers, by email
As part of the switchover to digital TV,
changes at the Sudbury transmitter resulted in some multiplexes (‘muxs’ or
groups of channels) being broadcast at very low power levels and this includes
the mux with your lost channels. You may be able to get them back by upgrading
or realigning your aerial but the process isn’t due to be completed until mid
2012. There may be more changes in the pipeline so it might be a good idea to
wait until they’ve finished tinkering. See the UKFree website (http://goo.gl/9bdAk) for the latest information.
I haven’t used ebay for some time but now I
understand that there are programs that place bids at the last moment. Do you
have any recommendations?
Thomas Naylor, by email
It is called ‘sniping’ and a website or program
automatically submits your bid in the last few seconds of an auction. The
obvious advantages are that you don’t have be at your PC to place a bid, and
you stand a better chance of avoiding a last minute bidding war and bumping up
the price. Although it isn’t strictly against ebay rules it is considered
slightly bad form and there is no guarantee that you will win. Others bidders
may be using sniping tools and it won’t help if there are proxy bids higher
than your snipe bid. Sniping programs have to be running on your PC when the
auction is due to end, and if you have a slow or unreliable connection your bid
may not be registered in time. Some sniping programs and services are free
whilst others charge a subscription or bidding fee. However, the most serious
concern is that the online services require your ebay username and password to
submit bids on your behalf, and there’s no easy way to tell which of them are
trustworthy. The safest option is a proxy bid – simply enter the highest amount
you are prepared to pay, plus 99 pence, to see off any even money bidders –
placed in the last few hours of an auction. Proxy bids are private so rival
bidders won’t know how high it is, until they beat it. The fact that they are
being constantly outbid by your proxy is often enough to put them off
increasing their bid.
I am preparing a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate
a talk on my work as a puppy walker for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I would like
to include some camcorder footage but I cannot find a way of transferring AVCHD
files into PowerPoint.
Brian Holloway, by email
Basically you can’t, PowerPoint only supports
.wmv, avi, asf, .mpeg1/2 and .mov video formats. You’ll have to convert your
AVCHD clips into one of those first, and for the record .mpeg and .wmv usually
give the best results. You should be able to do it with a freeware converter,
like Format Factory (http://goo.gl/k3i3),
Prism Video Converter (http://goo.gl/hkgU) or
Super (http://goo.gl/YU5L). However, there are
several variants of AVCHD and some converters have trouble processing some
files so try them all. Otherwise use one of the commercial programs, such as
iOrgSoft Converter (http://goo.gl/GVJNA) or
MTS/M2RS Converter (http://goo.gl/rMVz8), but
download the free trial version first, to make sure it works, before you part
with any money.
My sister in law recently received an email,
supposedly from her brother, which she passed onto her brothers and sisters. Briefly it stated that he and his family
were in Madrid, had just been mugged, credit cards, cash, etc. had been taken.
The hotel would not let them leave to catch their flight, in a few hours time,
and he needed 2272 Euros to pay the bill. It was so obviously a scam, spelling,
grammar, and style gave it away. My question is how did the scammers get hold
of my sister in law’s email address and what is the best way to safeguard
against future scams such as this.
David Waller, by email
This one has been doing the rounds for a while
and one of the easiest ways for the villains to get hold of email addresses,
user names and their location is from unsecured PCs in Internet cafes. If your
brother in law used one while he was in Madrid, to download his email using a
webmail service like Gmail or Yahoo, he may have been observed when he logged
on or he didn’t clear the browser’s cache/history when he finished. Either way
all you can do is warn family and friends against this sort of trickery, and
never, ever send money abroad without contacting the person concerned. If
there’s any doubt a call to the hotel where they are known to be staying (don’t
use phone numbers in the suspect email), should settle the matter.
Messenger for Mac
I currently use Windows Vista on a laptop and
have Live Messenger web cam conversations with my family in France who use
similar hard and software. If I switch to an Apple Mac will I still be able to
do the same thing?
Rob Bradley, by email
Yes you will and Messenger for Mac 8 is
included in all editions of Office for Mac 2011 or you can download it as a
stand-alone program from Microsoft at: http://goo.gl/8UjL.
My five-year-old laptop was working well until
the clock stopped showing the correct time and the boot up screen started
displaying "CMOS checksum
bad". If I enter the current time
and date in the setup program and resume boot up all is well. Believing the
problem was due to the clock backup battery I had the local expert replace it
with a new one, but it has not cured the fault.
Malcolm Johns, by email
It is possible that the replacement battery was
a dud or fitted incorrectly so ask your expert to check it. Otherwise the Real
Time Clock (RTC) module on the motherboard may have failed. It’s not repairable
and a replacement will probably cost more than the machine is worth.
© R. Maybury 2011 0512