Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 251 06/04/13


Getting My Backup

Why is it that when one backs up using the Backup and Install facility in Windows 7 onto a portable drive I cannot open the transferred files and look at my data and pictures to confirm all is well?

James Gibson, by email


Windows compresses and encrypts backup data, to save space and protect your files. You can check to make sure files have been saved through the Backup utility. Go to Start > Control Panel > System and Maintenance, and click Backup and Restore. Click Restore my files then Restore all users files; if asked enter your administrator password, click Browse for files and you will be able to see your files. You won’t be able to open them, though, but the file size is shown, which is a good indication that they are intact.



Juicing the Raspberry Pi

Prompted by glowing reports I decided to see what all the fuss was about and bought a Raspberry Pi mini computer. I managed to get it running by plugging it into the HDMI socket on my living room TV, but I cannot work out how to connect it to my spare computer monitor, which only has a VGA type socket. I like what I have seen so far and want to learn more but it would be much easier if I didn’t have to tie up the family TV every time I wanted to use it. Can it be modified to work with an ordinary PC monitor?

Nick Harris, by email


The decision not to have a VGA output on the Raspberry Pi is one of the reasons it is only a little larger than a credit card and costs less than £30, but this is not a problem. All you need is an inexpensive (around £10 - £15 online) HDMI to VGA adaptor, which connects between the Raspberry and the TV. Some work straight out of the box but on others you may need to modify a file called config.text, which is on the SD card that contains the Pi’s operating system. It is easiest to do this on a PC using a memory card reader; open config.txt with Notepad or WordPad and ‘uncomment’ or remove the hash (#) symbol on the lines ‘hdmi_force_hotplug=1’ and ‘hdmi_drive=2. This enables the adaptor and VGA output mode and sets the screen resolution to 640 x 480. You will probably want to increase resolution to 1024 x 768, say, if so uncomment the lines ‘hdmi_group=1’ and ‘hdmi_mode= 4’, then change the group setting to 2 and the mode  to 16, save the file and pop the card back into the Pi. It is a brilliant learning tool and to get the most from it I suggest that you work your way through one of the many online tutorials and learn how to write simple programs. From there you can progress to creating your own software, and even use the Pi to control other devices with plug-in modules.


Turn Back Time

I have just returned from a holiday and was disappointed to find that the timestamp mode on my camera was activated. This has affected some of my most precious pictures. As a last resort I know I can crop them, but the time and date is not at the bottom and to crop sufficiently I will lose 15-20% of the photo. I have read that there are programs that can remove timestamps; do you have any recommendations?

Gillian Hanna, by email


The simplest method is to use the ‘clone’ tool in an image-editing program. The idea is that you fill in or paint over the timestamp with matching parts of the surrounding image. A freeware program called Photofiltre ( does an excellent job. Click on the clone tool icon, it looks like a small rubber stamp, and move the cursor to an area next to the time stamp with the same texture, colour or detail and press the Ctrl key then move the cursor to the time stamp, click the right mouse button and ‘brush’ over the stamp. Experiment with the size and opacity settings of the clone tool; you will make mistakes but you can always undo the last action with the shortcut Ctrl + Z. With practice and patience you should be able to make near invisible corrections to your photos. One last tip; you may find it easier to make precise changes when you magnify the part of the image you are working on (spin the wheel on your mouse) and use a small clone brush, just a few pixels wide.


CD Protection Racket

I recently bought a Teac CD recorder in order to transfer a number of old cassette tapes. I visited two well-known stores to ask for advice as to the best blank CDs and both suggested that I purchase CD-R types, which I did. The first recording failed and then I realised that none of the blanks had the word 'Digital Audio’ printed on them. I went back to the store to return the discs and asked for Digital Audio blanks but the staff were baffled by my request and suggested I try CD-RW or CD-R discs with a lower recording capacity. I declined and ordered some Digital Audio blank CDs from the Internet, and this time they worked. Why should this be and what is the difference between he two types of discs?

Hugh Foster, by email


Generally speaking you can use any type of recordable CD in a PC but some CD recorders, like yours, have an anti-piracy feature called Serial Copy Management System (SCMS) and only work with blank discs labelled Digital Audio, These have an SCMS ‘flag’ in the sub code, which is the part of the disc that the recorders reads when it is first loaded. The idea is that you can make a single digital copy from a CD on a SCMS protected disc, but you won’t be able to make any subsequent copies from it. Its impact on piracy has been minimal and you would be well advised to stock up on Digital Audio discs while you can as they are becoming harder to find.



© R. Maybury 2013 1803

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