Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 201 21/04/12


Leading Question

I have purchased a HDMI connecting lead for under £5.00 and this works very well on my laptop, DVD player and my HDTV. What are the advantages of the dearer ones, some of which cost £20.00 or more?

Doug Pope, by email


Hi-Fi enthusiasts often spend hundreds of pounds on interconnecting cables and when it comes to transporting analogue audio signals the electrical characteristics of the cable and the connectors can affect sound quality but the digital data passing through HDMI cables is far more robust. It does make sense to pay a little extra for features like gold plating on contacts as it is an excellent electrical conductor and resistant to corrosion. Good quality cable is less prone to generating noise or impeding the smooth passage of digital data. More expensive cables also tend to be better made and therefore more reliable, they usually look nicer too, but it is a case of diminishing returns and spending much more than £20.00, say, on cables between 1 and 5 metres long is unlikely to produce any noticeable difference in picture or sound quality. It’s a slightly different story for cables 10 metres or more in length, especially when linking a high-end HDTV with a Blu Ray player, and there is a valid argument for splashing out on more exotic Category II cables, which minimise the effects of longer cable runs.



Monitor Message

Whilst working, quite happily, on my XP machine, the screen goes black and the message ‘No signal’ appears. There doesn't seem to be, to me, any regularity about its appearance nor does it appear to be connected with a particular job. Any thoughts?

Jack White, by email


That message is almost certainly coming from the monitor rather than your computer, indicating that the video signal from your PC has been interrupted. It may be something as simple as an intermittent connection, so try reseating both ends of the cable connecting the PC and the monitor, and if that make no difference, replace the cable. If it is still happening then there may be a problem with the monitor, or your PC’s video adaptor. The former you can check by trying another monitor; if it’s the latter then the video card may have worked loose, but if you’re not comfortable poking around inside your computer then it is a job for an expert.



The Ins and Outs of VHS to DVD

I have been trying to transfer old videotapes of holidays and family events to computer and DVD using EzCap. My problem is that my video player only has in and out SCART sockets and the red and white phono sockets for audio output. Whatever I try I can only get sound not picture. I have an SCART adapter with red, white and yellow phono sockets, but when I use that I get nothing at all. Any ideas?

Les Sharp, by email


Your SCART to phono adaptor is wired for audio and video (AV) input. You need an adaptor that is switchable between AV input and output, or a SCART to phono lead with both input and output connections (this will have 6 phono plugs) or an output-only type SCART lead.



Split Decision

I have an Acer computer, running Windows Vista, which I bought because it had a large 1Tb drive. The C: drive is 457Gb in size and I only have 103Gb of free space left as I store a lot of photographs. The D: drive is 457Gb, and has 457Gb of free space.  Can you please tell me how I can store files on the D: drive, and why was the hard drive split into two?

Margaret Whittaker, by email


Splitting or partitioning a hard drive creates what is effectively a second disc drive, which may be used for backups, and the files needed to restore your computer, should you ever need to re-install Windows following a catastrophic failure. It also saves the manufacturer from having to supply you with installation discs, which are easily lost or damaged, re-sold, or used to produce pirate copies of Windows. 


Windows Vista and W7 have a built in facility to re-size disc partitions. This lets you shrink the D: drive and expanding the C: drive to give you more room to store your files. It’s a fairly straightforward procedure. Go to Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management. Right click on the partition that you want to make smaller and select Shrink Volume. To be on the safe side I wouldn’t increase the size of the C: drive by more than 250Gb, in case your PC needs more space in the future for backups. There is a simple to follow tutorial on the How To Geek website at On earlier versions of Windows you have to use a third party resizing tool. I suggest a freeware program called Easus Partition Master; you'll find a link to the download at:



Capital Offence

Is there a way of overcoming the feature in Word in Microsoft Office 2010 which, when typing, produces an upper case letter to the first word when dropping down a line, and for which a lower case character has been typed?

Bob Thomas, by email


Needless to say Word is just trying to be helpful and assumes that when you press Return you are starting a new sentence. You have two options. You can reverse the change, (or any other unexpected action in Word and most Windows programs) using the undo function, Ctrl + Z. For a more permanent solution you can switch this feature off by going to the Office button, click Word Options > Proofing > Autocorrect Options > and uncheck ‘Capitalize first letter of sentences’. In earlier versions of Words go to Insert > AutoText > AutoText > Autocorrect tab and deselect the Capitalize option. 




© R. Maybury 2012 0204

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