Ask Rick 190 04/02/12
For What We Are About To Receive…
My elderly mother who lives in Oxted, Surrey
needs to replace her old analogue TV, which has been used with a Sky satellite
box. She is not very technically minded am I am trying to ensure that she can
watch TV or view a DVD as simply as possible, using a single remote. After some
research, we decided on an HDTV with built-in Blu Ray player and Internet
connection for access to iPlayer etc. Oxted is in a dip and the Crystal Palace
and Reigate relay transmitters never provided a satisfactory analogue signal,
hence the Sky box. We have been led to believe that with Freeview we would be
fine. Now, however, there seems to be some debate. One website states categorically
that she will be able to receive Freeview, whilst other suggest that she won’t.
Can you advise?
David Tucker, by email
The switchover to digital TV isn’t going to
dramatically improve reception in areas that have suffered in the past from a
weak analogue signal and websites that purport to tell whether or not you can
receive Freeview should not be relied upon. Postcodes can cover quite large
areas and take no account of the effects that terrain and buildings can have on
the signal. The best thing to do is consult a local aerial installation firm,
who will have experience with conditions in the area and can carry out tests at
the property. Incidentally, one remote is not necessarily easier to use than
two, especially when it is for a high-end, multi-media, Internet connected
digital TV; it will probably be smothered in dozens of tiny, badly labelled
The Dark Art of Colour Printing
I have owned a Panasonic digital camera for
some months and have taken some good photos and when enlarged, using HP
Photosmart, they look excellent. The trouble is, that despite trying every
variation of brightness, colour etc., the printout on my old Epson Stylus
printer is always much darker than the original. Should I now invest in a new printer/scanner?
Clinton Summers, by email
Maybe, but with so many variables it’s hard to
say whether the printer, your software or even the photo paper, ink or monitor
settings are responsible for the dark prints. However, I would start to
eliminate the possibilities by switching to a brand-neutral photo-editing
program as the one you are using is optimised for HP printers. Try Picasa
(free, download link at: http://goo.gl/BRbE3),
and while you are at it experiment with a different make of photo paper. If the
prints are still dark then I suggest copying a couple of test images onto a
flash drive and pop along to your local computer store and ask nicely if you
can compare some printers and papers.
Searching for a Replacement
I am two-thirds of the way through my doctorate
studies and I use Google Desktop all the time to find quotes, files, sentences
etc when I don’t know where I have filed something. I have recently discovered
Google have discontinued this facility and not provided a substitute! I know
that Windows has a search facility but it is nowhere close to being as good as
Google Desktop. Can you recommend any other product?
Hannah French, by email
Google’s decision to drop Desktop Search
dismayed a lot of users but it was getting on a bit – it dates back to 2004 –
and was in danger of being overshadowed by improvements in the search facility
in recent versions of Windows and the move towards Cloud computing, where
documents and files are stored on the Internet, rather than on a PC’s hard
drive. There are alternatives, though, and if you are using Windows XP or Vista
try Windows Search 4.0 (http://goo.gl/zLmnL),
which is a free upgrade that works like the more advanced Search facility in
Windows 7. Paid for, and generally better specified desktop search utilities
include the venerable Copernic (http://goo.gl/MDGpL)
and the new X1 Pro (http://goo.gl/KlAuE), and
in both cases there are free trial versions so you can try before you buy.
I can watch Sky Sports programmes on my laptop
but I would like to connect it to my Samsung flat screen TV. Can you recommend
a cable that will transfer the picture and sound to the TV?
Alexandra Benson, by email
If your laptop is a fairly recent model and
your TV is an HD or HD Ready type then you should be able to use a HDMI cable,
which carries high quality picture and sound information from the PC to the TV
as digital data. Otherwise you’ll have to use a two-cable analogue connection.
For the video you will need a VGA cable that plugs into the laptop’s external
monitor socket, and the corresponding VGA input socket on the TV. Most VGA
cables are only a metre or so in length so get a longer one otherwise you’ll
have to put the laptop right next to the TV. The PC and TV manuals will tell
you how to enable the PC’s monitor output, and select the TV’s VGA input. The
audio lead is a little more complicated. The PC end will be a standard 3.5mm
stereo jack plug, which connects to the laptop’s headphone socket. The audio
input at the TV end will either be a pair of pair of phono/RCA plugs (coloured
red and black or red and white), a stereo jack, or a SCART socket, so you will
have to consult the manual or ask a friendly dealer to make sure that you get
the correct type of lead or adaptor.
I have always used Outlook Express and recently
the icons at the top of the page, for New Mail, Reply, Reply all, Delete, etc. have
all disappeared! Similar options can be
found on the File, Edit, View menus but this is nowhere near so convenient. Is
it something I have done or another one of Microsoft's irritating updates?
Either way, I would like my icons back.
Kath Lloyd, by email
Most likely a careless click, rather than any
Microsoft mischief and you have to do to get them back is to go to View >
Layout and under Basic tick the Toolbar box, click Apply then OK.
© R. Maybury 2012 1601