Ask Rick 198 31/03/12
Smart but not Flashy
I recently purchased a smart TV, which allows
connection to the Internet. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to download Adobe
Flash Player to enable me to use the iPlayer. The TV manufacturer’s support
informs me that the set does not support Flash. I wonder if there is some way
around this omission?
Robert Holme, by email
It’s an old, old story and you are paying the
price of being an early adopter. Internet or web TV is still at an early stage
of development and everyone is getting very excited. The various hardware
manufacturers and content providers are all trying to steal a march on their
rivals and products and services are being rushed into the market. The trouble
is hardly anyone is talking so we’ve got the all too familiar mish-mash of
competing and incompatible standards and protocols and confusion over licensing
agreements. There will be much dithering, false starts and blind alleys but
eventually one or possibly two systems will prevail, at which point it should
be safe for the rest of us to dive in. Early problems like the lack of Flash
support, which is affecting a number of smart TV manufacturers, may be resolved
through firmware upgrades, but on past experience by the time a product has
left the factory the company has moved on and is working on models a generation
or two down the line, leaving those eager to explore new technologies high and
Are You Receiving Me?
I recently sent an email to a Police officer and
I need to know if it was received. I have asked for confirmation but they are
not forthcoming. Is there any way that I can prove that this email was
John Davis, by email
No, at least not retrospectively. Many email
client programs have a receipt confirmation facility that requests a message
from the recipient’s email program when an email is delivered. However, this
only works if both programs support the feature and it is switched on, which in
a lot of cases it won’t be as many consider this to be an invasion of privacy
or a discourtesy. As a matter of interest there are a number of third-party
email tracking systems that work covertly by embedding hidden code in email
messages. This instructs the recipient’s PC to send a receipt message when the
email is opened but these too can be blocked by security software, firewalls,
email programs set to only receive messages in plain text and programs like
E-Mail Tacking Blocker (free from http://goo.gl/Y8LPj).
However, in the end even if you had been sent a receipt confirmation there is
still no way of knowing if the email was opened or read by the intended
recipient, or that it wasn’t automatically deleted or flagged as spam.
I have a Compaq mini laptop and wish to connect
it to an external monitor. The problem is I cannot find a VGA port. There is a
long flat connector, marked with a small monitor Icon, but it does not appear
to be an HDMI socket. Do you know what it is?
Roger Bettinson, by email
This is the VGA output you are looking for, but
Hewlett Packard, who make Compaq laptops, have used a proprietary socket
design. You need an HP Mini VGA cable, part number FY828AA and normally I would
suggest that you get one from HP directly but it is quoting a price of £49.00
and they do not appear to have any in stock at the moment. Unfortunately
they’re not much cheaper elsewhere; ebay and Google products list a number of
suppliers and prices start at around £40.00.
We have a Samsung Notebook with Windows 7
Starter Edition. On our last trip we were unable to use Skype video calling,
although we could receive images normally. There was a message from Skype
saying, in effect, it was unable to send video as the camera was in use by another
application. We were unable to find any other program open, but running
Cyberlink YouCam showed it to be working.
Steve Long, by email
Other applications operating in the background
may be preventing the camera from working with Skype so make sure that there
are no instances of Windows and Yahoo Messengers, Google Chat etc., running in
Task Manager (Ctrl + Alt + Delete), and if they are, close them down. Once that
is done open Skype and go to Tools > Options > Video Settings and check
to see if a live image from your webcam is being displayed. If not follow these
steps, and check Skype’s Video Settings after each one. Uninstall and
re-install the latest version of Skype. Update your web cam driver from Device
Manager (Winkey + Break). Check that DirectX is working properly by typing
‘dxdiag’ in Search on the Start menu. Even if no errors are reported update to
the latest version of DirtectX at: http://goo.gl/hVDxc.
Finally, if all else fails, download and install a free utility called SplitCam
(http://goo.gl/etQ7Y), which has a feature
that forces a webcam to be shared by several applications at the same time.
Is there a simple free program that can produce
traced line drawings from a photo? I am using Windows 7.
John Lamb, by email
Indeed there is and this is just one of the
many features available in Photofiltre (http://goo.gl/hkkFX), one of my
favourite freeware image editing programs. Open the picture in Photofiltre and
go to Filter > Edges > Black Pencil. You can then print and save the
modified image file, but don’t forget to give it a new name, to preserve the
Cracking the Code in Windows
How can I read QR codes using a webcam on my
Bernard Powell, by email
Those boxy QR or Quick Response barcodes are
everywhere and usually contain web links for smartphone users but there are a
number of scanner programs for Windows. Try QuickMark for PC (http://goo.gl/16MkG), it’s free and very easy to
use, and as an added bonus you can use it to generate your own QR and Quick
Codes from phone numbers, web, email and SMS addresses. V-Cards and text.
© R. Maybury 2012 0503