Computer Active Magazine - March 2006 Issue by docstocfun

VIEWS: 321 PAGES: 91

More Info
									                                              ± MAKE a newsletter in PagePlus      ± TRANSFER video to an iPod
WORKSHOPS ±
15 STEP-BY-STEP PAGES
                                              ± INSTALL an enhanced calculator
                                              ± SET UP a free video chat session
                                                                                   ± PLUS top Hints &Tips


 £1.40                                                                                       ST SELLING
                                                                                      UK’S BETER MAGAZINE Issue 210
                                                                                      COMPU



                     .uk
         teractive.co
www.compu 2006
        CH
2nd to 15th MAR



INSTANT
EXPERT!
         U E
 HOW TOin Sxcel
          E
formulas DE EASY
EXCEL MA                                                                                         8th
                                                                                               BIRTHDAY
                                                                                                   ISSUE!




INSIDE!...
How to... PC
±
 Save money on
       purchases by going
       to a computer fair
Make music on
your computer                                                                       NEW!
±    Compose and record your
     own tunes with free software                            WIN!
                                                                                   A real rival
                                                                                   to the iPod
                                                                                   ±SONY WALKMAN
              The latest...                                     One of two
                                                                 PCs from
              Anti-spyware software,                              Shuttle
              digital camera, office suite,                     worth over
              notebook computer,                                                               A complete
                                                                                               home photo

A
PUBLICATION
              GPS device for hikers,
              external storage device
              and much, much more!            £2,400                                         studio for £270
                                                                                             ±KODAK EASYSHARE
                                      SALE SALE
 SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE Offer ends 29th March 2006 SALE SA




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SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SAL



                                                                             Ex !
 SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SA
SALSALSAL SAL SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SA
SALE SALE SAL SALESALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE S



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SALE SALE SALE SALESALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE



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SASALE SALE SALE SALE SALESALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SA
SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALESALE SALE SALE SALE SALE
SASALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALESALE SALE SALE SA
SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALES
   Dell recommends
   Windows® XP Professional.

   Dell pushes savings to the max                                                                                                           MASS
   We’ve gone to extremes in our March Sale to give you even more value with massive savings
   on many systems. Because we only deal direct, we don’t have expensive store overheads
                                                                                                                                            SAVIN IVE
   or inventory which means we can offer high quality, reliable computers for an amazing price.
   Remember the world’s number one PC company* doesn’t sell in shops so call or go online.
   But hurry, these extreme deals won’t last long!
   *IDC 2005 Q3 Vendor Ranking
                                                                                                                                                 GS
        Dell™ Dimension™ 3100
        • Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 521 with HT
         Technology (2.80GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
        • Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005
        • 512MB DDR2 RAM
        • 80GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
        • 15" Flat Panel Monitor
        • Integrated Intel® Graphic Media Accelerator 900
        • 16x DVD+/-RW3
        • 1 Year Collect and Return Service
        • Internal Analogue TV Tuner and Remote
                                                                                                                              15"
                                                                                                                          Flat Panel
                  WAS                                 SALE
            £549
          Incl. VAT, Shipping &
                 Handling
                                   SAVE
                                    £50          £499
                                                  Incl. Vat, Shipping
                                                     and Handling
         E-VALUE Code: PPUK5-D03316
        Further enhancements
        • 3 Year Basic Services Package £98 incl. VAT
        • Microsoft® Office Small
          Business Edition 20032       £212 incl. VAT
        • Dell Stereo Speakers2         £12 incl. VAT

                                This PC with its 15" flat
      WHY BUY                   panel monitor balances
                                excellent performance with
      exceptional affordability to give you a terrific system
      for your daily tasks.                                                                  Buy Now Pay September 2007* Call for Details!


       ACCESSORIES2
        Dell™ Photo All-in-One Printer 964                                   Axim™ X51v-624 MHz with WiFi and Bluetooth®               Dell 1907FP Monitor
        Enjoy printing, scanning, standalone faxing and copying plus         Intel® XScale® 624MHz Processor. With Windows®            Display Size: 19", Response Time: 8ms, Brightness:
        photo features with the Dell Photo All-in-One Printer 964.                                                                     300cd/m² Contrast: 500:, Viewing Angle: 130               NEW
                                                                             Mobile® 5.0. Brilliant 3.7" VGA screen.                   (vertical) / 140 (horizontal) Native Resolution: 1280 x
        WAS                       NOW                                        256MB ROM Integrated WiFi® and Bluetooth®.        20%     1024, Ports: Digital, Analog, 4 x USB (2.0),
                                                                  20%                                                          Off
                                                                                                                                       Kensington® Security port.
                                                                       Off

        £129 £103
        Incl. Vat                 Incl. Vat
                                                                             WAS

                                                                             £316 £253
                                                                                                  NOW

                                                                                                                                       £328                     Incl. Vat,
                                                                             Incl. Vat           Incl. Vat
 LE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE


                                                                                                                                                                                  SA
LE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE
ALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE


                                                                                                                                                                                    LE
ALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE
SALE SALE SALE SALESALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE
E SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE
                              up
                                  SALE SALE SALE SALE
ALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALEto
  SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALESALE £SALE SALE
                                     15           SALE
                                       0
ALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALESALE SALE SALE
                                         O                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ff
                                      17"                                                                                                                    14.1"
                                                                                                                                                         Widescreen
                                      Flat Panel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          17"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Widescreen




         Dell™ Dimension™ 5150                                                                                                Dell™ Inspiron™ 630                                                                                                  Dell™ Inspiron™ 9400
         • Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 630 with HT Technology                                                                 • Intel® Centrino® Mobile Technology with Intel®                                                                    • Intel® Centrino® Mobile Technology with Intel®
           (3GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)                                                                                     Pentium® M Processor 740 (1.73GHz, 2MB L2 Cache,                                                                    Core™ Duo Processor T2300 (1.66GHz, 2MB L2
         • Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005                                                                        533MHz FSB)                                                                                                         Cache, 667MHz FSB)
         • 512MB DDR2 RAM                                                                                                     • Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition                                                                                  • Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition
         • 160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)                                                                             • 512MB 533MHz DDR SDRAM                                                                                            • 1024MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
         • 17" Flat Panel Monitor                                                                                             • 40GB Hard Drive                                                                                                   • 80GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
         • 128MB PCI Express™ ATi® Radeon™ X300                                                                               • 14.1" Wide XGA screen                                                                                             • 17" UltraSharp™ WUXGA display with TrueLife™
           HyperMemory™                                                                                                       • Intel® GMA 900 shared graphics memory up to 128MB                                                                 • Intel® GMA 950 shared graphics memory up to 128MB
         • Integrated Sound Blaster® Audigy® ADVANCED HD                                                                      • Internal 8X DVD+/-RW Drive3                                                                                       • Internal 8X DVD+/-RW Drive3
         • 16x DVD+/-RW Drive3                                                                                                • 56K Data Fax Modem with Superfast up to 8 Meg                                                                     • 56K Data Fax Modem with Superfast up to 8 Meg
         • 56K Data Fax Modem with Superfast up to 8 Meg                                                                        Wanadoo Broadband from £14.99 a month1                                                                            • Wanadoo Broadband from £14.99 a month1
           Wanadoo Broadband from £14.99 a month1                                                                             • Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200 802.11b/g MiniPCI                                                                        • Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200 802.11b/g MiniPCI
         • Internal Analogue TV Tuner and Remote                                                                                 wireless LAN                                                                                                       wireless LAN cardIncl. VAT, Shipping & Handling

                   WAS                                              SALE                                                                WAS                                              SALE                                                               WAS                                               SALE
             £719
             Incl. VAT, Shipping
                 & Handling
                                        SAVE
                                         £70                 £649
                                                             Incl. VAT, Shipping &
                                                                                     Handling
                                                                                                                                  £699
                                                                                                                                  Incl. VAT, Shipping
                                                                                                                                      & Handling
                                                                                                                                                             SAVE
                                                                                                                                                             £120                 £579
                                                                                                                                                                                 Incl. VAT, Shipping &
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Handling
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     £1179
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Incl. VAT, Shipping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          & Handling
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  SAVE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  £150                £1029
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Incl. VAT, Shipping &
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Handling

         E-VALUE Code: PPUK5-D03516                                                                                            E-VALUE Code: PPUK5-N03635                                                                                          E-VALUE Code: PPUK5-N03946
         Further enhancements                                                                                                 Further enhancements                                                                                                 Further enhancements
         • 3 Year Basic Services Package £141 incl. VAT                                                                       • 3 Year Basic Services Package £153 incl. VAT                                                                      • 3 Year Basic Services Package                           £199 incl. VAT
         • Microsoft® Office Basic Edition 20032 £106 incl. VAT                                                                                                                                                                                   • Microsoft® Office Small
                                                                                                                              • Microsoft® Office Basic Edition 20032 £106 incl. VAT                                                                Business Edition 20032                                  £212 incl. VAT
         • 5.1 5650 Speakers with subwoofer2 £59 incl. VAT                                                                    • Upgrade to 60GB Hard Drive2            £41 incl. VAT                                                              • Deluxe Leather Carry case2                               £47 incl. VAT



                                    For crazy prices on great systems click www.dell.co.uk/deals
                                    Home PCs 0870 353 3163 Business PCs 0870 353 3164
                                     Call between 8am and 8pm weekdays, 10am to 4pm Saturday.




                                                                                  Re-inventing Value.

   Offer due to end 29th March 2006. Subject to availability, prices and specifications are correct at date of publication and may change without notice. Terms and Conditions of Sales, Service and Finance apply and are available on request or at www.dell.co.uk shipping charge is £60 incl. VAT per system (unless
   otherwise stated). Additional charges may apply for credit/ debit card holders. Consumers are entitled to cancel orders within 7 working days beginning the day after the date of delivery; Dell collection charge £60 incl. VAT. Systems promoted above were advertised at the “was” price/specification (excluding
   promoted items) listed above on dell.co.uk for a minimum of 28 days ending on 1/3/2006. Since then they may have been subjected to other price and/or specification altering promotions. One GB = 1 billion bytes; actual capacity varies with preloaded material and operating environment and will be less. Dell Dimension
   desktops and Inspiron notebooks include Microsoft Works 7.0 as standard unless otherwise specified. Promotional Offers apply to maximum order size of 5 systems. 1Home Phone line needed excludes cable and Kingston Communications. 12 month contract. Subject to survey and availability (certain areas only). We
   will provide the fastest speed available for your line up to 8 Meg. 2Delivery charges range from £3.53 inc VAT to £15.28 inc VAT per item purchased without a system. 3Discs burned with DVD+RW or DVD+/-RW drives may not be compatible with certain existing drives.
   ©2006 Dell Products. Dell, the Dell logo, Dimension, UltraSharp, Axim and Inspiron are registered trademarks or trademarks of Dell Inc. Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Inside, the Intel Inside logo, Pentium, Pentium Inside, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Intel Core, Core Inside, Intel Xeon, Intel Centrino and the Intel Centrino Logo
   are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Microsoft, MS and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Dell disclaims proprietary interest in the trademarks or trade names of other entities used to refer to them or their
   products. Dell Products, c/o P.O. Box 69, Milbanke House, Western Road, Bracknell, Berks RG12 1RD.
   *Finance from Dell Financial Services (CIT Group (UK) Limited). UK consumers aged 18 to 70 years only, subject to status. Prices shown may vary without notice. Terms and conditions and written quotations available upon request. Credit scoring used. Pay deposit and then pay nothing for up to 12 months. Administration
   fee payable in the event of settlement of loan before the repayment period begins. APR* 29.5%
                                                0




Simple Clear Ad
               vice                                         Contents             2 - 15 March 2006
          Approved by                                                             ISSUE 210
          the Plain English
          Campaign                                    P25                   6 News
                                                                                 All the latest stories from the world
                                                                                 of computing

               FROM                                                         14 Consumeractive!
               THE                                                               We fight for your consumer rights
               EDITOR
             It wasn’t long ago that                                             Re-active
              the old, tried and true                                       70   Reader offer Avoid getting cables tangled
              floppy disk reigned                                                up with the Road Warrior Kit special offer
              supreme. It was                                               72   Reader offer Save on Saitek speakers
 portable, durable and could hold                                           73   Competition We have two Shuttle PCs and
 a reasonable amount of data. But                                                flat screens to be won
 by all accounts it’s fair to say that                                      74   No problem Having difficulty with your
 the floppy is dead, so long live                                                PC or software? We can help you
                                                                P24
 the CD- and DVD-ROM!                                                       80   Letters Have your say
 Many of you may object to that
 statement, as I’m sure there’s                                                  Regulars
 loads of readers still using                                               64   Digital home The latest speaker systems
 floppies, but if you want                                                  71   Net chart Top websites and downloads
 reliability and, more importantly,                                         82   Best buys The best hardware and
 storage the CD- and DVD-ROM is                                                  software products as recommended by us
 where it’s at. In this issue                                               90   Next issue Look ahead to next fortnight
 we tell you all you need to
 know on how to make use of                         REVIEWED THIS ISSUE
 the CD or DVD writer in your
 PC, and how it can be a lifesaver
 for saving large files, photos,
 movies and more.
                                                    Hot New Products
                                                     Digital camera              Canon Digital IXUS 750                  24
                          Dylan Armbrust             Digital camera              Kodak EasyShare Z740 & Printer Dock 3   25
                                                     Route planning              Magellan eXplorist 210                  25
                                                     Digital media player        Sony Walkman NW-A1000                   26
                                                     Digital media player        Acer MG3001-p                           27
                                                     Office software             Star Office 8                           28
 Products just for you
                                                     Notebook computer           Evesham Voyager C540                    29
 Check out the new Computeractive Direct
 website.With amazing deals on a wide range          Removable storage           LaCie Brick                             30
 of products,from software to digital cameras        TV tuner card               Gigabyte Digital Hybrid TV Card         30
 to Computeractive CD-ROMs and booklets.Its
 easy-to-use features and great deals means          Mobile phone                T-Mobile Sidekick II                    30
 there’s no need to go anywhere else.
 Visit www.computeractive-direct.co.uk now.
                                                     Music software              Guitar Tracks Pro                       30
                                                     Security software           Webroot SpySweeper 4.5                  31
 FOR DETAILS of subscriptions,back issues,
                                                     Peripheral                  Jabra BT500                             31
 email addresses,our technical helpline or           Peripheral                  Gear4 PocketPower                       31
 how to contact us for any other reason,
 read the box on the next issue page –               Webcam                      Logitech QuickCam Fusion                31
 facing the inside back cover.



4   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                           Features
                         32 Time to celebreight
                           Your favourite computer
                           magazine has just turned
                           eight. We give you a
                           glimpse of the year ahead
                                  and ask for your
                                    help with our
                                    reader survey
                                 34 Fair trade
                           Computer fairs are known for being great
                           places to pick up bargains, but is this
                           really true? We investigate
                         56 Excel made easy
                           Excel is a hugely powerful program, and
                           using functions makes the most of this
                           application. We show you how to do it
                         60 Compose yourself
                           The modern PC has made it possible to
                                                                          COVER STORY- p16
                           bring digital music to the masses. Take
                           your first steps with our guide
                                                                         Burn, baby, burn
                                                                         Creating CDs and DVDs is easy in itself but
                                                                         can be complicated by the many disc formats
                                                                         out there.We clear up the confusion



WIN!
Compact and stylish
Shuttle PCs worth over
                                                                      Workshops
£2,400!                                                                        15 EASY TO USE
                                                                               STEP-BY-STEP
-page 73                                                                       PAGES - p39
                                                                             ± Use a free desktop publishing
                                                                             tool to create a publication
           P66              On Test                                       40 Use DTP tips learned so far to develop a
                                                                             newsletter with pictures and text
                         66 CD-ROMs
                           We cast our eye over a selection of               ± Conduct video chats with
                           classic board and strategy games that             MSN Messenger
                           have made their way to the PC                  44 Chat to friends online and see their faces too
                                                                             using a webcam and instant-messaging software
                         68 Games                                            ± Convert video files for use on
                           Our latest selections                             portable media players
                           for PC players                                 47 How to copy your videos onto an iPod or
                                                                             PlayStation portable
                                                                             ± Upgrade to Microsoft
                                                                             Calculator Plus
                                                                          51 Upgrade the Windows calculator with this
                                                                             advanced free replacement from Microsoft

                 P68
                                                                             ± Hints and tips
                                                                          54 Desktop alerts with Outlook 2003,position
                                                                             retention in Excel,add text information to image
                                                                             files and more

                                                                      2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk        5
    News                                             All the latest computing, internet and product stories


 < Software >

Software fakes dupe ‘millions’
Microsoft launches a three-year drive to cut down on software piracy
A MILLION new PCs in the UK
each year are sold with
counterfeit or pirated Microsoft
                                                                                                                                Is yours a fake?
products, the software giant                                                                                                    The Windows Genuine Advantage
company has claimed.                                                                                                            (WGA) online software-validation
   Microsoft said that two-thirds of                                                                                            programme launched in August last
the estimated 1.5 million PCs built                                                                                             year will validate genuine Microsoft
and sold by local retailers do not                                                                                              software.Windows 2000 and XP
have genuine licensed copies of                                                                                                 Professional,Home and Tablet
Microsoft software. This includes                                                                                               editions are all affected by the WGA
Windows XP and other Microsoft                                                                                                  scheme.On the first visit to an
applications such as Office.                                                                                                    update site,a user is prompted to
   Consumer who buy fake                                                                                                        download an ActiveX control to
software cannot benefit from                                                                                                    determine whether they have a
support, and may lose the use of                                                                                                genuine Windows product.The PC
the software altogether. Microsoft                                                                                              then stores a special download key
is increasingly verifying the                                                                                                   for future verification.Not all but
authenticity of XP installations                                                                                                some customers who have
online when consumers                                                                                                           unknowingly acquired counterfeit
download updates to software.                                                                                                   software may be eligible to receive
   The company added that some                                                                                                  a genuine copy free of charge,or at
retailers knowingly sell fake                                                                                                   least obtain a discounted copy.
software or practise hard disk                                                                                                  www.computeractive.co.uk/ 2150727
loading – where fake copies, or
more copies of the software than
are allowed, are loaded onto hard          retailers as they don’t have the          programme. This comprises                which are considered piracy
disks. But Microsoft believes a            same trusted sources that large           teams of investigators who will          hotspots. Microsoft will also
significant number of retailers            retailers use,” said Alistair Baker,      check software licences at               continue to monitor eBay and
had been victims of the                    managing director of Microsoft UK.        businesses around the UK.                other online auction sites.
counterfeiters themselves.                   To help these traders and to              These investigators will visit           The company said it recognised
   “It is a huge problem for small         stop the rogue retailers, some of         over 800 UK companies that are           the difficulty consumers have in
                                           which Microsoft has already               suspected of piracy as well as           recognising counterfeit software
IN BRIEF...                                closed down, the company will             swooping on towns such as                so has set up a website to show
                                           step up its Feet on the Street            Middlesbrough and Glasgow,               how to spot a fake. I
Reader survey
As a valued reader,we’d like to
ask for your help in shaping the    < Privacy >
future of Computeractive.The
content of the magazine and its
website is designed to meet the
needs of readers,so to help us
                                   Google search facility gives rise to privacy concerns
keep on hitting the target,we      The Electronic Frontier              But to do this, people have   happened in                        paedophiles online.
want you to tell us how you use    Foundation (EFF),a US digital     to let Google transfer the       the US.The                             Google refused,
technology.Every reader who        rights campaign group,            files to its own servers,        Department                               however, and
completes the online               has warned people not             where they are stored for up     of Justice                                continues to fight a
questionnaire will be entered      to download the latest            to 30 days.                      (DoJ) asked                               legal challenge from
into a draw to win a power         version of Google’s Desktop          “We think this will be a      search                                   the department.
Media Center PC and a digital      search software because of        very useful tool, but you will   engines for                                Although the search
quality slimline display from      privacy concerns.                 have to give up some of your     copies of all                         engine said it plans to
Mesh Computers worth £700.            The group said the             privacy,”said Marissa Meyer,     search terms used                encrypt all data transferred
The information you provide will   problem had arisen because        Google’s vice president of       during a two-                    from users’hard drives and
be used to help the editorial      of the version’s ‘Search Across   search products.                 month period                      restrict access, the EFF said
team choose subjects for           Computers’feature.This               The EFF is concerned that     and the web                        it was shocking that
features,Workshops,news,           enables users to search for       it will make consumers’          addresses these                     Google expected its users
reviews and other parts of the     content created on their PCs,     personal data more               searches                            to trust it with the content
magazine and website.              such as Word documents,           vulnerable, especially to        identified.                          of their personal
www.computeractive.co.uk/          PDFs,spreadsheets and other       requests for access from            The DoJ claimed the data     computers.
readersurvey                       text-based documents on           governments.                     would help it devise a law to   www.computeractive.co.uk/
                                   other computers.                     This has already              protect children from           2150540


6   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                                                                                                      < Spyware>
                                                                                                                                                       Anti-spyware
                                                                                                                                                       name change
                                                                                                                                                       Microsoft has changed
 IN BRIEF...                          < Online fraud >                                                                                                 the name of its
                                                                                                                                                       anti-spyware application


                                      Thieves target onlineID
                                                                                                                                                       to Microsoft Defender.
                                                                                                                                                          The name change will
                                                                                                                                                       be of particular interest to
                                                                                                                                                       Computeractive readers
                                      CONSUMERS ARE unaware that the                                                                                   attempting to follow the
                                      internet, rather than a dustbin, is the                                                                          Workshop in issue 209.At
                                      place criminals are most likely to delve                                                                         the time of publication,
                                      into to steal personal details.                                                                                  the software was called
                                         This was the finding of an internet                                                                           Microsoft Anti-Spyware.
Worm-ridden                           security report produced by BT in                                                                                Microsoft failed to alert us
Apples                                conjunction with organisations such as                                                                           of the change.
The first two worms targeting         the Metropolitan Police, Yahoo and the                                                                              This is the second trial
Apple’s Mac OSX operating             Government’s Get Safe Online campaign.                                                                           version of the program,
system were identified at the            Consumer awareness of how                                                                                     which attempts to block
end of last month.The OSX/            criminals can rifle through their                                                                                spyware and remove ones
Leap-A worm,spread via instant        rubbish to carry out ID theft has                                                                                that have slipped through.
messaging systems,was                 achieved quite a high profile; much of                                                                              Microsoft said Defender
followed by the OSX/Inqtana-A         which has been generated by television                                                                           v2 has fewer glitches than
worm,which exploits a flaw in         campaigns and advertising.                                                                                       the first versions and
Bluetooth.Although both                  But stealing identities offline is often a                                                                    improved capabilities to
threats were classified as low risk   piecemeal affair, as thieves gather small                                                                        detect and remove
and patches have been released,       pieces of information from paper trails to                                                                       spyware,plus an interface
Mac users have been warned to         gradually build a profile. While people                threats but explains ways in which                        that is easier to use.
be vigilant.                          have taken this threat on board – the                  consumers can protect themselves.                            Anti-spyware updates
www.sophos.com                        result being a boom in the sale of paper                  The report also contains a list of where               can be obtained through
                                      and card shredders – of 1,000 people                   people can go to for help, advice and to                  Microsoft’s automatic
You decide                            surveyed, two-thirds thought that online               report cyber-crimes.                                      service.Users can be
The deadline for our Digital          fraud would not happen to them. Over 40                   The list includes the Get Safe online                  alerted or have updates
Photographer of theYear               per cent said that they were not aware                 website, Card Watch, the UK banking                       automatically installed.
competition has now passed,           whether they had been victims of online                industry body that works with the police,                 www.microsoft.com/athome/
and the editorial team is wading      fraud or not.                                          retails and organisations, CIFAS, a UK                    security/spyware/software/
through thousands of entries.As          With warnings from the Home Office                  fraud-prevention service, Millersmiles,                   about/faq.mspx
promised,we’re going to ask our       last month that online identity theft is               the internet’s biggest archive of spoof
readers to help choose one of the     costing the UK economy £1.7bn                          email and phishing scams, and the
prize winners.We’ve selected 10       annually, the report not only gives an                 Metropolitan Police Fraud Alert. I
entries and placed them in a          overview of new and emerging online                    www.computeractive.co.uk/2150336
gallery on our website.View all
10 and then vote for your
favourite.The entrant with the
most votes wins a Lexmark              < Software >                                                                                                            Techno babble
                                                                                                                                                               demystified...
P4350 inkjet printer.You have
until 3 March to vote.
                                      Microsoft takes Office back to school
www.computeractive.co.uk/
photochallenge
                                      MICROSOFT IS to make the                                                   will be priced at $149 (£85) in
                                                                                                                                                      ±   Blog A frequently-
                                                                                                                                                          updated website that can
                                                                                                                                                          act as an online diary.


                                                                                                                                                      ±
Yahoo turns                           Student edition of its new                                                 the US.While there are no                Phishing Hoax emails
service around                        Office software available to                                               details about UK pricing yet,            that try to trick users into
Yahoo UK has launched a public        all users.                                                                 the cost is expected to be               revealing personal details.
trial of an application that is          The current Student                                                     similar to the US.
similar to the Microsoft Live
service.Yahoo! 360° will enable
users to share information and
                                      edition of Office,which costs
                                      £115,is only available to
                                      students,teachers and the
                                                                                                                    Windows Live,also
                                                                                                                 expected to be launched this
                                                                                                                 year,is a customisable home
                                                                                                                                                      ±   Search engine A
                                                                                                                                                          website that lets you
                                                                                                                                                          search for other sites..


                                                                                                                                                      ±
stay connected with people            families of students.                                                      page,to which users can add
                                                                                                                                                          Server A PC on a
without having to switch                 Any consumer,however,                                                   their information sources,               network that manages
between applications.It               will be able to buy the new                                                access Hotmail and perform               shared resources.
includes tools for blogging           Home and Student version of                                                local information searches.
and sharing photos,integrating
services such as Yahoo! Photos,
Yahoo! Messenger andYahoo!
                                      Microsoft Office 2007.
                                          The Student and Home
                                      package will include new
                                                                      HThe old Office has restricted licences
                                                                                                                    Support for Live Mail,
                                                                                                                 Microsoft’s upcoming
                                                                                                                 replacement for Hotmail,is
                                                                                                                                                      ±   Spyware Software
                                                                                                                                                          installed to monitor a
                                                                                                                                                          computer’s use.


                                                                                                                                                      ±
Music.The application will also       versions of Word,Excel and      2007.Instead,it will include               already included.
                                                                                                                                                          Worm A program that
be part of the BTYahoo! online        PowerPoint.                     OneNote,a note-taking and                     Live is still in testing but is
                                                                                                                                                          transmits and copies itself
service and integrated into BT’s         However,Outlook,the          research-gathering program.                open to new users,and new                over a computer network.
broadband telephony service,          popular email,calendar and        Office 2007 is scheduled                 features will be added as
Communicator.                         contacts program,will not be    for release by the end of this             they become available.
http://uk.360.yahoo.com               bundled with the basic          year,and Microsoft said the                www.computeractive.co.uk/             For more on Jargon Buster visit:
                                                                                                                                                      www.computeractive.co.uk
                                      version of Microsoft Office     Home and Student edition                   2150697

                                                                                                                2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                7
  News
IN BRIEF...                           < Fraud >                                                                                          < Software >

                                     New guide to spot scams                                                                            Upload photos
                                                                                                                                        on the go
                                     THE OFFICE of Fair                                                     awareness of scams. It      A free application that allows
                                     Trading (OFT) has                                                      also includes a quiz to     users to transfer photos from
ID card delay                        published a guide to                                                   test consumers’ ability     camera phones to the web
The first UK identity cards will     help people avoid                                                      to spot a scam.             has been launched by ShoZu.
not be introduced until 2008 at      scams, which are                                                         Surprisingly, the            The software,about 1Mb in
the earliest,and cost and            costing UK consumers                                                   OFT’s research              size,is downloaded to a
privacy issues remain                £1 billion every year.                                                 revealed that while all     mobile phone and lets users
contentious.A database to hold         The OFT said nearly                                                  age groups are              upload photos and videos to
people’s details will have to be     half of the UK                                                         vulnerable, it isn’t the    sharing sites such as Flickr,
created and biometric and card       population over the                                                    elderly and socially        Webshots and TextAmerica.
readers put in police stations,at    age of 15 had been                                                     disadvantaged who              Email invitations to look at
border controls,doctors’             targeted by a scam.                                                    are most at risk.           photos can be sent to friends
surgeries,banks and post             Nearly one in 10 had                                                     It found instead that     and family via the website
offices.The ID card bill is          parted with money.                                                     the highest proportion      where the photos are hosted.
expected to receive Royal Assent       The guide, entitled                                                  of people targeted by          Although the software is
this month and the first of the      Scambuster: your                                                       mass-market scams in        free,users will have to pay
cost reports could be published      guide to beating the                                                   the past two to three       their network providers for
in September.Commenting on           scammers, gives                                                        years (more than half)      the cost of the data transfer,
privacy issues,civil rights group    information about                                                      are aged between 45         which can range from £2 to
Liberty raised concerns that the     common scams, such as            still using traditional           and 54 years old.               £3 per megabyte.
level of detail included in the      pyramid schemes, as well         methods such as                     The OFT said the                 ShoZu has also linked up
database on the register would       as growing problems, such        newspaper ads and the             results ran counter to its      with Warner Brothers Music
increase rapidly.                    as scammers using dating         phone. Consumers are              expectations. The               to offer a video blog of the
www.homeoffice.gov.uk                websites to con people out       given advice on how to            watchdog had previously         launch of Australian band The
                                     of money.                        protect themselves, both          thought the main focus          Veronicas debut album,The
A ton for NTL                          It also explains the           from being targeted and           for scammers would be           Secret Life Of The Veronicas.
Cable company NTL will begin         marketing methods used           from falling victim.              those with less up-to-date      The blog can be downloaded
testing a 100Mbit/s broadband        by scammers. While                 The guide forms part of         information about scams,        from TextAmerica.
service in selected homes in         scams are increasingly           the consumer watchdog’s           such as the elderly. I          www.shozu.com
Ashford in Kent this month.          internet-based, the guide        month-long campaign               www.computeractive.co.uk/
Calling it a bandwidth-on-           points out fraudsters are        (see issue 209) to raise          2150461
demand service,the user will be
able to access high speeds when
needed,such as to download            < Broadband >
movies.NTL recently staged a                                                                                                                      Techno babble
demonstration of high-
definition TV streams that still
left bandwidth spare for other
                                     Faster, cheaper broadband on the horizon                                                                     demystified...

internet uses.However,NTL said
the service was some time away
from consumer launch.The
                                     INTERNET SERVICE
                                     providers (ISPs) plan to
                                     tempt UK consumers with
                                                                         A basic Starter pack,also
                                                                      capped at 2Gb,without
                                                                      wireless networking
                                                                                                                                        ±   ADSL2+ A newer,faster
                                                                                                                                            version of the high-speed
                                                                                                                                            internet technology.


                                                                                                                                        ±
company said it would also test      new high-speed services.         or phone calls,will                                                   Broadband Refers to
the file-sharing technology             Freedom2surf will offer       cost £15.                                                             high-speed internet
BitTorrent to evaluate its           broadband connections for           Be,which uses                                                      connections,such as ADSL.
usefulness in delivering legal       just £13 per month for speeds    ADSL2+ technology
video downloads.
www.ntl.com
                                     of up to 8Mbit/s.However,
                                     the service has a 512Mb
                                     usage cap,making it most
                                                                      to offer a top speed
                                                                      of 24Mbit/s,is to
                                                                      begin to install
                                                                                                                                        ±   ISP A company that
                                                                                                                                            provides you with an
                                                                                                                                            internet connection.


                                                                                                                                        ±
Skype pals                           suitable for those who use the   equipment
                                                                                                                                            Blog A frequently
Networking website Bebo has          connection for email and         in BT                                                                 updated website that can
added integration with Skype         light web surfing.Activation     exchanges                                                             act as an online diary.
for its users.The Bebo member        will cost an additional £50.     outside of                                service costing £24.
profile now includes a Skype
username section so users can
use Skype to see when people
                                        Wanadoo is offering a
                                     three-in-one package,
                                     with broadband at up to
                                                                      London for the
                                                                      first time.
                                                                         Although all 60 of its
                                                                                                             There is a telephone
                                                                                                        number checker on Be’s
                                                                                                        website (see the site listed
                                                                                                                                        ±   High-definition Refers
                                                                                                                                            to high-resolution,
                                                                                                                                            widescreenTV broadcasts.


                                                                                                                                        ±
are online.Bebo is designed to       8Mbit/s speed,wireless           current exchanges are in          below for more details) so
                                                                                                                                            Mbit/s Megabits per
help students at schools and         internet and internet voice      London,the company said           consumers can find out if
                                                                                                                                            second.A measure of data
colleges to stay in touch.There is   calls.The Plus service,which     it will expand the service to     their area is covered by the        transfer speed.
no cost to use the service.          is capped at 2Gb,will cost       Birmingham and Manchester.        service,or will be covered in
www.bebo.com                         £18 per month,while the             Be’s prices start at £14 per   the future.
                                     Max package,which is             month for a capped 24Mbit/s       www.computeractive.co.uk/          For more on Jargon Buster visit:
                                                                                                                                          www.computeractive.co.uk
                                     uncapped,will cost £28.          service,with the uncapped         2150683


8   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
MESH recommends Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional

MESH Offer of the Month
                                                                                                                                                                                              AMD and Microsoft strongly recommend that users continue to use third party anti-virus software as part of their security strategy.




               E-Direct e1010-05§

               Matrix Inspire
               The ultimate best buy TFT flat panel PC offer

               AMD Athlon™ 64 CPU 3200+ with HyperTransport™ Tech
               Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition
               ASUS A8N-VM Nforce 410 PCI-X Mainboard
               512MB DDR 400 Memory (2x256MB)
               160GB Serial ATA hard drive with 8MB buffer
               128MB NVIDIA 6100 Graphics Accelerator (SMA*)
               19” DVI Flat Panel TFT Display
               Sony Multi-Format Dual Layer 16x DVD Writer**
               5.1 channel surround sound audio (on-board)
               Logitech Desktop Keyboard and Optical Mouse
               Classic Warranty 1 - 3 Years Free Parts & Labour



                £499                     INC. VAT                 £424.68 EX. VAT
                 For full details see Matrix features below



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Buy Now,
The UK’s Most Attractive PC Deals                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pay 9
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                see terms†
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Months Later

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     PCs for illustration purposes only.




           E-Direct e1020-05                                                                                                          E-Direct e1030-05                                                                                                          E-Direct e1050-05
           Matrix Premier                                                                                                             Matrix2 Prestige                                                                                                           Matrix2 Eclipse
           Great value home/office multi-media system                                                                                 Power PC with Dual Core CPU & 512MB graphics                                                                               Ideal for demanding gaming & video applications
           AMD Athlon™ 64 CPU 3500+ with HyperTransport™ Tech                                                                         AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core CPU 3800+ HyperTransport™                                                                      AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core CPU 4400+ HyperTransport™
           Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition                                                                                           Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005                                                                              Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005
           ASUS A8N-VM Nforce 410 PCI-X Mainboard                                                                                     ASUS A8N-E NVIDIA Nforce 4 PCI-X Mainboard                                                                                 ASUS A8N-E NVIDIA Nforce 4 PCI-X Mainboard
           1GB DDR 400 Memory (2x512MB)                                                                                               1GB DDR 400 Memory (2x512MB)                                                                                               1GB DDR 400 Memory (2x512MB)
           200GB Serial ATA hard drive with 8MB buffer                                                                                250GB Serial ATA hard drive with 8MB buffer                                                                                300GB Serial ATA hard drive with 8MB buffer
           512MB NVIDIA GeForce 7300GS PCI-X, DVI & TV Out (256MB SMA*)                                                               512MB ATI X1300 Pro PCI Express with DVI & TV Out                                                                          256MB GDDR3 NVIDIA 7800GT PCI Express - DVI & TV Out
           19” Viewsonic VA912 Flat Panel TFT Multi Media Display                                                                     19” Viewsonic VA912 Flat Panel TFT Multi Media Display                                                                     19” Viewsonic VX924 Flat Panel TFT Display (3ms response)
           Sony Multi-Format Dual Layer 16x DVD Writer**                                                                              Sony Multi-Format Dual Layer 16x DVD Writer**                                                                              Sony Multi-Format Dual Layer 16x DVD Writer**
           5.1 channel surround sound audio (on-board)                                                                                7.1 channel surround sound audio (on-board)                                                                                Creative Labs Soundblaster Audigy 4 ZS
           Built-in Stereo Speakers                                                                                                   Built-in Stereo Speakers                                                                                                   Creative Labs T6060 5.1 Speakers + Subwoofer (as pictured)
           Logitech Desktop Keyboard and Optical Mouse                                                                                Logitech Desktop Keyboard & Optical Mouse                                                                                  OR T3300 2.1 Speakers + Subwoofer
           Classic Warranty 1 - 3 Years Free Parts & Labour                                                                           6x USB 2.0, 10/100/1000 Network connection                                                                                 Logitech Desktop Cordless Keyboard & Optical Mouse
                                                                                                                                      Classic Warranty 1 - 3 Years Free Parts & Labour                                                                           Advantage Warranty 3 - 2 Yrs On-site + 1Yr B-to-B

           £649                     INC. VAT                 £552.34 EX. VAT                                                         £799                     INC. VAT                 £680 EX. VAT                                                              £1249                         INC. VAT            £1062.98 EX. VAT
           Popular Upgrades                                                      EX. VAT       INC. VAT                               Popular Upgrades                                                          EX. VAT INC. VAT                                  Popular Upgrades                                                        EX. VAT INC. VAT
           Upgrade from 3500+ to X2 3800+ CPU                                    £75           £88.13                                 Upgrade from 3800+ to X2 4200+ CPU                                        £45         £52.88                                Upgrade from 4400+ to X2 4600+ CPU                                      £75        £88.13
           Upgrade from 1GB to 2GB Memory                                        £75           £88.13                                 Upgrade from 1GB to 2GB Memory                                            £75         £88.13                                Upgrade from 1GB to 2GB Memory                                          £75        £88.13
           Upgrade from 200GB to 300GB Hard Drive                                £30           £35.25                                 Upgrade from 250GB to 400GB Hard Drive                                    £80         £94.00                                Upgrade from 300GB to 500GB Hard Drive                                  £115       £135.13
           Logitech Cordless Keyboard & Mouse                                    £10           £11.75                                 Upgrade to 19” Viewsonic VA1912W Widescreen                               £35         £41.13                                256MB GDDR3 NVIDIA 7800GTX                                              £95        £111.63


  Matrix Features (unless otherwise stated) • Inspire - Mini Black case with 250W PSU & 4x USB 2.0, 10/100 Network Connection, Premier - Black & Silver Mini Tower case with 550W PSU & 4x USB 2.0, 10/100 Network Connection • MatrixX2 - 6x
  USB 2.0 (support max 10x USB) • Black & Silver Midi Tower Case with 550W PSU • 10/100/1000 Network Connection • Floppy Drive & modem are optional • FREE Software: Microsoft Works 8.5 +60 Day Microsoft Office Trial, eTrust Antivirus
  v.7 - 90 day Trial, CyberLink PowerDVD, Power2Go, PowerProducer3, PowerDirector3, PowerBackup, MediaShowSE, PowerCinema4 (OEM product)

  call or go on-line for more                                                                                                                             Buy Now, Pay 9 Months Later see terms†
  08700 46 47 47                                                                                                                meshcomputers.com
  Please Read: Sales subject to terms & conditions (copy available on request). Pictures shown for illustration purposes only - colours may vary. Operating System supplied is an OEM product - Full version. VM/Micro Case’s purchased with internal Card Reader benefit from only 4 free USB 2.0 ports. *SMA (Shared Memory Architecture) allows for memory to be taken
  from RAM to supplement the graphics card requirements. **Sony Multi-burner R/W all standard formats Except DVD-RAM. All PCs carry a 3 Year Parts & Labour Warranty & includes 24x7 on-line support, system restore facility, national rate hardware support and premium rate software support - see terms. All monitors come with 3 years manufacturers swap-out
  warranty. All peripherals are supplied with manufacturers full warranty. Base unit Pick up & collection is available from MESH at £41 inc. VAT. Matrix Inspire, Premier & Prestige carry a back-to-base component only. Eclipse PC carries an On-site element - UK Mainland only. For full terms please call or go on-line. Warranty upgrades & extensions are available and
  full terms are provided separately. Non-BT customers please check that the modem will work on your line before ordering. Prices quoted for calls to MESH are based on a BT landline - other carriers may charge you more. Our minimum standard PC delivery charge is £45.83 inc (UK Mainland Only). Please call for a written quotation. ©2004 Advanced Micro Devices,
  Inc. All rights reserved. AMD, the AMD Arrow logo, AMD Athlon, and combinations thereof, are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. All trademarks are acknowledged. E&OE. †Finance £699 Payment Example - 9 MONTHS BNPL - Available to
  UK Residents aged 18 or over subject to status. No deposit. Either pay £699 within 9 months of the date of purchase, total amount repayable £699, pay no interest. Or 39 monthly payments of £31.97 commencing 9 months after purchase date. Total amount payable £1246.83. Interest calculated from date of agreement. Typical 29.8% APR. Credit subject to
  status to UK residents aged 18 years or over. Credit arranged by Creditenabler Limited, 400 Metroplex, Salford, Manchester, M50 2UE. Credit provided by Clydesdale Financial Services. Registered in England No. 02901725.Prices correct at time of going to press (15/2/06). Business hours Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Goods provided by
  MESH Computers, Unit 1 Oxgate Centre, Oxgate Lane, London, NW2 7JA.
  News
IN BRIEF...                            < TV licences >                                                                                                         < Media
                                                                                                                                                               player >
Mini LCD TV
Evesham has entered the
portableTV market with the 8in
T807 LCD set.
                                      TV licence fines go mobile                                                                                             Songbird takes
                                                                                                                                                             flight
Offering a                            A STERN warning from               live, even taking into                   This will be some source                   US company Pioneers
110-degree                            the TV licensing authority         account any delays in                    of relief for students who                 of the Inevitable has
viewing angle,                        has taken some of the              broadcasting with mobile                 use a mobile phone                         released a trial
it comes with                         shine off the prospect of          devices, you need a TV                   (powered by its own                        version of its
an analogue                           watching television via            licence,” he told                        internal batteries) to                     Songbird
TV tuner and a                        mobile phone.                      Computeractive.                          watch live TV, as they will                media player.
socket for connecting DVD                TV Licensing, the body             However, those who                    be covered by their                           The aim is to
players or games consoles.            charged with collecting the        already have a licence                   parents’ licence.                          give consumers an
Compatible with PAL,NTSC and          television licence fee, has        need not worry, as a TV                    The TV Licensing                         alternative to iTunes
Secam signals,it will also pick up    warned users of these              licence covers any                       representative did not say                 and Windows Media Player.
TV signals in many European           gadgets to ensure they             number of mobile gadgets                 how it intended to track                      The project is labelled the
countries.As well as the usual        have a TV licence, saying          or gizmos capable of                     down those not covered by                  ‘Firefox of MP3’, in a reference
mains plug,it also comes with a       the alternative was a fine of      broadcasting live                        such an exception. I                       to the success of the Mozilla
12V adapter.It costs £100.            up to £1,000.                      programmes.                              www.computeractive.co.uk/                  Foundation’s open source
www.lowestonweb.com                      Mobile operators are                                                     2150221                                    web browser.
                                      already running trials of                                                                                                 The current version of
News video                            live television streamed to                                                                                            Songbird is designed for
Video news reports are now            mobile devices, and many                                                                                               testing purposes only,so isn’t
available through a new service       people are looking forward                                                                                             yet a viable alternative to
launched by ITN.The site uses         to watching live World Cup                                                                                             current music players.
the Blinkx search engine to           football via 3G phones.                                                                                                   Songbird supports all
match news stories to a subject          A representative for TV                                                                                             popular music formats,but
request.ITN expects to add up to      Licensing said it made no                                                                                              the trial version cannot play
80 clips a week.The videos are        difference if a person was                                                                                             songs with DRM protection,
also available from the Blinkx        watching live broadcasts                                                                                               such as music purchased
website.The service is free but       on a television, or if the                                                                                             from Yahoo Music or Napster.
includes advertising content.         programme was being                                                                                                       While this issue will be
www.itn.co.uk                         streamed to a PC or                                                                                                    resolved in the future,there
 www.blinkx.tv                        portable gadget.                                                                                                       are no plans to enable
                                         “If a programme is                                                                                                  Songbird to to support music
                                      meant to be broadcast as                                                                                               from the iTunes music store.
                                                                                                                                                             www.songbirdnest.com

                                      < Website>
                                      BBC Two website gets fired into a multimedia future
           Techno babble              THE BBCTwo website                 programme and watch
           demystified...             will begin showing The             candidates’auditions.
                                      Apprentice online as part of its   There will also be a link to

 ±
                                      TV Plus trials.                    the programme’s website,
     3G A type of mobile                 The broadcaster’s website       as well as a blog from one
     phone that allows fast
                                      has been redesigned to             of the previous series’
     data transfer.
                                      accommodate content,               contestants.

 ±   Broadband Refers to
     high-speed internet
     connections,such as ADSL.
                                      which the BBC hopes will
                                      help audiences better
                                      engage with programmes
                                                                            The celebrity stock
                                                                         market game Celebaq will
                                                                         list all the candidates.The


 ±
                                      and enhance the viewing            BBC site will also have
     DRM A file attached to a         experience.                        additional streamed video
     digital music file to               As well as the chance to        content taken from the full
     prevent illegal copying.
                                      watch episodes of The              range of the channel’s

 ±   Open source Software
     that is developed,released
     to and can be modified by
                                      Apprentice that have already
                                      been screened for the
                                      duration of the series,there
                                                                         schedule,including a
                                                                         regularly updated mix of
                                                                         clips,sequences and
     the public,free of charge.       will be clips from                 specially edited short-
                                                                                                      H Visitors to the BBC2 website will be able to watch Alan Sugar firing away on TheApprentice
 ±
                                      forthcoming episodes and           form videos.There will be
     Streamed When data               the opportunity to view            links to other content on
     flows to a device as needed.     highlights,including the           the BBC and across the web.       mobile phones,programme                          interactive Parenting Video
                                      infamous Alan Sugar firings.          The TV Plus trials run         premieres on broadband a                         on Demand.
   For more on Jargon Buster visit:      Viewers can rate their          alongside other BBC pilots,       week ahead of their TV                           www.computeractive.co.uk/
  www.computeractive.co.uk
                                      enjoyment of the                   including preview clips on        transmission and the                             2149955


10       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
where fantasy meets reality




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                                                                                                                                     < Mapping >


 IN BRIEF...                          < Energy costs >
New Fujifilm
offerings (PIC)
Fujifilm has launched two new
cameras.The entry-level FinePix
                                     £740m wasted on power                                                                           Postcards
                                                                                                                                     from heaven
A600 Zoom 6.3 megapixel              ELECTRICAL GADGETS                                             (most light bulbs use
camera has a 3x optical zoom,        and gizmos left on                                                between 40 and 60 watts       Aficionados of virtual earth
2.4in monitor and an automatic       standby or being                                                     an hour).                  simulation software
setting.It is available from May     charged                                                                   However, some         Google Earth can now
for £180.The FinePix F650 Zoom       unnecessarily waste                                                     manufacturers have      produce personalised
has 6 megapixels plus a 5x           approximately                                                            been producing         aerial postcards of a street
optical zoom lens and a 3in          £740m of energy in                                                        more energy-          or neighbourhood.
screen.It is priced at £249 and is   the UK each year.                                                          saving devices.         If users save the image
also available from May.                This startling                                                          LCD monitors, for    as a JPEG,it can be
www.fujifilm.co.uk                   statistic from the                                                        example, use less     cropped and printed out.
                                     Energy Saving                                                            energy than CRT        Alternatively people can
Viiv mini PC                         Trust (EST) has                                                         monitors. Notebooks     use an online photo
from Shuttle                         come at a time when                                                    use less electricity     processing service such as
Shuttle has added aViiv mini PC      the UK is facing rising                                             than desktops, while        Fotoinsight.co.uk.
to its PC line-up.At just over 5cm   energy prices and                                                inkjet printers use less          Another convenient way
high,the XPC Mini X100 Media         concerns about                                                than laser printers.              to extract image data from
Center features an Intel Core        environmental issues                                       As a result, the pressure is         Google Earth is using one
Duo processor,wireless LAN,          are growing.                                     now on consumer electronics                    of the many free online
an ATI X1600 graphics card and          Although the EST figures may not              manufacturers to make energy-saving            screenshot applications.
a 250Gb hard drive.It has a          appear that shocking, averaging out at           devices and appliances.                        There are limitations to the
4-in-1 memory card                   £13 per household annually, they are               The EST is endorsing appliances              use of data,but Google
reader and five USB 2 ports.         likely to rise as consumer use                   that use less or equal to 1.5 watts            Earth states the images
No information on price or           of electronic and electrical devices             of energy on standby, and less or              can be used as long as
release date was available at        is increasing.                                   equal to 250 watts in operation. A list of     they are not sold on
the time of going to press.             Overall, the environmental costs are          accredited products, such as the recently      and its copyright is
www.shuttle.com                      greater, as these devices along with             released Sharp P70 LCD TV, can be              observed.
                                     other home appliances mean the average           found on the EST website.                      http://earth.google.com
                                     UK household now produces more CO2                 Those who are interested can check           www.fotoinsight.co.uk
                                     annually than the average car.                   how much juice their PC uses online at
                                        An average PC or monitor will                 distortionwave. I

                                                                                                                                               Jargon
                                     consume about 200 watts an hour                  www.computeractive.co.uk /2150648


                                                                       < Training >                                                            Buster
Bag that bargain                                                                                                                              Techno babble
A tool for comparing eBay
auction prices against
                                        Unlike so-called‘sniping’
                                     tools,which attempt to
                                                                     Training company facelift                                                demystified...

other online shops has
been released by British
company,Buyertools.
                                     better other users’eBay
                                     efforts by automatically
                                     placing bids at the last
                                                                     COMPUTER TRAINING
                                                                     organisation Hairnet has
                                                                     been reborn as Digital Unite.
                                                                                                     said its mission now has four
                                                                                                         parts.It will bring media
                                                                                                             literacy,including
                                                                                                                                     ±   CRT Cathode Ray Tube.
                                                                                                                                         The glass tube-based
                                                                                                                                         technology that produces
   The company’s                     minute,Pricepirates does           The organisation has                     electronic and          images in most TV sets and
Pricepirates software,which          not allow users to bid          offered jargon-free training                 digital                computer monitors.


                                                                                                                                     ±
can be downloaded free,              directly.Viewing and            to older people for 10 years,                communications,        JPEG JPEG images are
has tabs for eBay,online             bidding on goods is done        and even though it has given                 to those who           compressed,which makes
shops and Amazon                     with the user’s standard web    itself a new name,its service              might not                them ideal for web pages.
Marketplace,allowing users           browser by clicking on a link   won’t change.                          otherwise find access
to search for keywords in
any of the three categories.
                                     in the program.
                                     www.pricepirates.com
                                                                        Digital Unite said that
                                                                     changing its name
                                                                     was part of its
                                                                                                        easy;helping other
                                                                                                     organisations to encourage
                                                                                                         media literacy;developing
                                                                                                                                     ±   LAN Describes two or
                                                                                                                                         more computers
                                                                                                                                         connected,either
                                                                     celebrations of                     a network of expert             physically or wirelessly.


                                                                                                                                     ±
                                                                     10 years of                        trainers,and sharing             LCD Technology used to
                                                                     work,and that                      Digital Unite’s own skills       create low-power,slim
                                                                     the new                           through promotion and             display panels.
                                                                     name and                         publications.
                                                                     look sums
                                                                     them up.
                                                                        Training will
                                                                                                        The training organisation
                                                                                                     said this would mean
                                                                                                     continued help for those
                                                                                                                                     ±   Memory card Small
                                                                                                                                         card that can store many
                                                                                                                                         megabytes of data or
                                                                     continue to be                  who haven’t had the                 documents.
                                                                     available to organisations,     opportunity to learn about
                                                                     communities and                 computers and the internet.      For more on Jargon Buster visit:
                                                                                                                                     www.computeractive.co.uk
                                                                     individuals,but Digital Unite   www.hairnet.org

                                                                                                 2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                      13
  Consumeractive!
                                            GetSome
                                            Answers!
                                            Consumeractive sticks up for your rights.
                                            If there’s an issue you want investigated,get in touch

          PROBLEM                                  PROBLEM
          Short-changed
           I placed an order for a
           camcorder with Comet
                                                   Total silence from One TV
on December 2005. I liked the
model, but what clinched the deal                     I need to get hold of     of complaints from consumers             It proved difficult getting
for me was the fact Comet was                         a TV shopping             about the teleshopping channel.       through by phone but we tracked
giving away a free MP3 player on                      channel company              It said all the complaints had     down a number and email for
all camcorder purchases.                              called One TV which       been resolved but that further        Graham Avery, the chairman of
   After I placed my order I                          trades on digital         checks were currently underway        One TV. We explained that the
received confirmation from              channels 670 and 699 on Sky TV.         to ensure no underlying               difficulty in getting a response
Comet of the camcorder model               I ordered a device called an         problems remain.                      from his company was a cause
plus the free MP3 player and was        Elliptical Strider in                                                                       for concern for
given a reference number and a          December but it has                                                                          customers.
Parcel Force tracking number. But       never been delivered.                                                                          Mr Avery was
when the goods didn’t arrive               I have tried several                                                                     apologetic and
when stated, I called Comet. I was      different ways of getting                                                                   explained what had
given a different order date. When      a response from them in                                                                    happened. He said his
the goods finally arrived, I found I    that time – by letter,                                                                     mangement team had
had been charged £20 for the            email, and the                                                                             failed to ensure the
allegedly free MP3 player.              webmail on the                                                                             company was running
   When I queried this with             company’s website, as                                                                     smoothly and fulfilling
Comet they said they couldn’t           well as by fax.                                                                           orders so about three
find my original order.                    I have made about 10                                                                   weeks ago he had
               Kit Shorten, Gormersal   attempts so far, all                                                                      sacked some of the
                                        without receiving any                                                                     directors.
              Mr Shorten is a           kind of response in return.                                                                   He informed us he
              smart cookie – he         This is making me                                                                         had now taken over the
              saved all the             nervous and a report I found                                                               day-to-day running of
              correspondence,           on the internet on a site called           The notice Mr                                  the company and
              including the original    Ofex that said the company had          Hollands found sounds alarming              would ensure everyone got
order and email confirmations from      a “temporary suspension” that           but it is unlikely much should be     either their goods or a refund.
Comet, which he faxed to us to          started on 26 January this year.        read into this. Ofex, or              At the moment, therefore, the
back up his story. It was crystal       But the company is still trading.       PlusMarkets as it is now called, is   new customer call centre is
clear – the deal he entered into                      Sid Hollands, via email   a stock exchange. From what we        frantically trying to fulfill this
with Comet was for a free Proline                                               gather, this only means the           backlog of orders.
MP3 player to go with his JVC           One TV is currently being               company has temporarily                  We gave Mr Holland’s details to
camcorder. He also faxed us the         investigated by the Advertising         suspended trading over this stock     Mr Avery and he said that he
invoice he finally received when the    Standards Authority (ASA) after         exchange – not actually ceasing to    would deal with this matter
goods were delivered which              the watchdog received a number          trade as a company.                   personally. I
showed he had been charged £20
for the free gift.
  We contacted Comet and
explained Mr Shorten had been
short-changed. We faxed over all
                                        Broadcasting licensing rules
the paperwork to Comet and asked        IT IS A CONDITION of a broadcaster’s    to resolve any problems               channels you can fill in an online
them to refund Mr Shorten the           licence that they abide by the          concerning undelivered items          complaint form at www.asab.org.
money he had been charged for the       rules, and that includes making         or refunds.                           uk/asa/how_to_complain/
MP3 player. Comet has now done          sure that there is sufficient stock       If you have difficulty getting      complaints_form.Alternatively, call
this and added an extra £5 for any      available for advertised products.      goods or a refund for items bought    the ASA on 020 7492 2222 or
phone calls. The company                   The ASA will work with One TV        through television shopping           textphone 020 7242 8159. I
explained that the promotion had


14    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                                                                                                                                                  10 Tips for
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Buying Safely
                                                                                                                                                                                                   1 Get written quotes from shops
                                                                                                                                                                                                      specifying components used,or
actually ended before Mr Shorten                              nobody pays this so nobody                                    the repairers said: “The repair of                                        print off and keep spec sheets
                                                                                                                                                                                                      from websites.
placed his original order.                                    gets a refund,” said the ABTA                                 your television has resulted in the
   However, Comet admitted its                                representative. The only                                      loss of tuning data.”                                                  2 Use a credit card if possible for
                                                                                                                                                                                                      purchases of £100 or more;you
mistake in not removing the                                   exceptions, said ABTA, are for full-                            Samsung refuse to do any-                                               could get compensation from the
promotion from its website. Since                             price business tickets or full-price                          thing about it because the TV                                             card company if a supplier goes
the company had accepted the order                            first-class tickets. However, the                             was then out of guarantee.                                                out of business.
from him and taken his money, it                              Opodo sales assistant was wrong                                    Andrew Wetherill, Bradfordon Avon                                 3 Keep good records,storing
was liable to fulfil this order.                              in saying Mr Khan could not have a                                                                                                      receipts,correspondence in one
   The moral of this story is keep                            refund of the taxes he paid because                                              We are not quite                                       place.Keep copies of emails in a
                                                                                                                                                                                                      dedicated folder.
hold of all paperwork to back up                              these are refundable.                                                            sure what Mr
any claims you may have. I                                       However, ABTA warned us that                                                  Wetherill means                                     4 In England and Wales,the onus is
                                                                                                                                                                                                      on retailers to prove that faults
                                                              some airlines or travel agencies                                                 when he says the                                       found within six months or
               PROBLEM                                        can have a nasty little surprise in                                              sound is being                                         purchases are not inherent.
               Flight of fancy                                store at times: hefty administration                          clipped. If this problem was caused                                    5 Goods ordered online,by phone
            In January this year an                           charges that can wipe out any                                 by the repairers, however, the fact                                       or by post can be returned
            old friend of mine from                           refund in this area.                                          that the warranty has ended is                                            under the Distance Selling
India had been visiting family in                                When we called Opodo the                                   neither here nor there.                                                   Regulations without
                                                                                                                                                                                                      explanation with a reasonable
Dubai, where he suffered a heart                              company said Mr Khan should not                                  We asked Mr Wetherill if he had                                        time – this is widely accepted as
attack. I wanted to fly out to see                            have been told he couldn’t have a                             tried fine tuning the TV, and he told                                     being seven days.
him so I picked up a reasonable                               refund for the flight tax. It was very                        us he had but nothing had worked.                                      6 Open and inspect all goods as
deal flying BA from online travel                             apologetic and said it would be                                  We then contacted Samsung                                              soon as possible after delivery and
agency, Opodo.                                                investigating the matter. It said if                          and asked the company to look into                                        make sure they work.
   The day after booking this                                 someone has a paper ticket they                               this matter. We pointed out that                                       7 Companies are not obliged to
ticket, I found out that my friend                            need to return this to Opodo for the                          under the Sale of Goods Act,                                              repair or replace goods
was going to be flown back to                                 taxes refund but with e-tickets,                              providing a consumer has reported                                         damaged by accident or misuse,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      unless it is caused in transit by a
India to continue treatment                                   customers should call it directly                             a fault during the warranty period,                                       delivery service.
there. I cancelled the flight less                            and it would explain how they                                 even if it hasn’t been dealt with by                                   8 Companies cannot charge for a
than 24 hours after it was                                    could get their refund.                                       the time the warranty ends, they are                                      service that isn't being delivered,
booked but when I called Opodo                                   We asked Opodo about the                                   still covered.                                                            but never stop a direct debit while
about a refund, I was told I                                  hidden admin fee that ABTA                                       Likewise if a fault or damage                                          under contract.
couldn’t have one.                                            told us about and the company                                 occurred during a repair and the                                       9 Consumers should not suffer
   Then I called BA and was told                              said it generally only charged                                fault was immediately reported, it is                                     financial loss for repairs that are
                                                                                                                                                                                                      not their fault,so claim back
the taxes at the very least ought to                          £10. It has called Mr Khan to ensure                          still considered the responsibility of                                    carriage charges.
be repaid but no further refund                               he gets his refund, and waived the                            the retailer or manufacturer to fix.
                                                                                                                                                                                                   10 If a dispute arises,take advice
was possible as the ticket was a                              admin fee in his case. I                                         Samsung is looking into this                                           from Consumer Direct at
promotion. When I called Opodo                                                                                              case and we will update you on                                            www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.
again I was still told no refund                                             PROBLEM                                        the outcome. I
whatsoever.                                                                  Tuneless TV
                         Alan Kendall, London                           We bought a rather

               Opodo is right; as a
               rule of thumb, no
                                                                        expensive Samsung 15”
                                                              LCD television, which recently
                                                              had to be repaired under
                                                                                                                                          Got a Gripe?
               airline will give
               refunds for tickets
               unless the flight is
                                                              warranty. A little black speck had
                                                              appeared which was neither
                                                              external nor a dead pixel. It was
                                                                                                                                             Need some
cancelled. ABTA, the UK travel
association told us the reason for
this policy – which is adhered to by
                                                              eventually repaired and returned
                                                              by their approved repairer.
                                                                 However, when it came back it
                                                                                                                                            free advice?
the airline industry globally – is                            had a different problem – we now                                                   CONTACT US VIA EMAIL:
because people rarely pay the full                            can’t tune in the sound properly. It
                                                                                                                                            consumeractive@computeractive.co.uk
                                                                                                                                   or at: Consumeractive, Computeractive, VNU Business
price for a ticket.                                           sounds as if some of the                                            Publications Ltd, 32-34 Broadwick St, London W1A 2HG,
  “A full price ticket, say to Paris,                         frequencies are being clipped.                                        Please include both your phone number and address.
would cost around £600, but                                   The ‘test and repair sheet’ from                                          Unfortunately, we can’t reply to all your letters.


 Mail-Order Protection
  Anna Lagerkvist,our Customer Services Co-ordinator,is        and subsequently goes into receivership,liquidation          The following limitations apply:                               from the same supplier.
  here to help you if things go wrong or if you have a         and/or bankruptcy,you may be protected under our             1) Computeractive’s liability under the Buyer’s Charter will   3)The Buyer’s Charter will not safeguard any
  complaint about advertisements that have appeared in         Buyer’s Charter,provided that you have:                      not exceed £2,000 in respect of any claim submitted by         commercially orientated outlet regardless,neither will it
  Computeractive.Write to her directly with details of the     1) Not received the goods for which you have paid,or have    any one private individual reader,or more than £100,000        cover goods purchased outside Great Britain or any goods
  complaint and she will contact you:                          had your money returned.                                     in respect of claims in any one calendar year.Any              that are obtained for resale.
  Anna Lagerkvist,VNU House,32-34 Broadwick Street,            2) Followed all our guidelines when placing your order.      additional payments are at the sole discretion of the
  London,W1A 2HG or telephone 020 7316 9852.                   3) Retained the magazine’s original advertisement,           publisher.                                                     Readers are reminded that the Mail-Order Protection
                                                               together with comprehensive proof of payment.                2)The Buyer’s Charter only applies to goods advertised in      Scheme was solely implemented to provide protection to the
  The Buyer’s Charter                                          4) Submitted a detailed claim,in writing,to the magazine’s   this magazine.It does not cover goods depicted in              private individual when goods are ordered‘off the page’and
  When you purchase goods as a private individual from an      customer services manager,not earlier than 28 days and       classified advertisements,inserts,catalogues or any other      paid for by post.It was not designed for,nor will it offer any
  advertisement appearing in this magazine,you pay in          not later than three months from the official on-sale date   sales material obtained from any relevant advertiser,or        protection,where goods are purchased via the internet.
  advance of delivery.If that supplier then ceases to trade    of the issue from which the goods were ordered.              products that have not been advertised,even if they are        Full terms and conditions are available on request.



                                                                                                                                               2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                                          15
Cover Story CD and DVD burning special


Cover story

Burn, baby, burn
Fancy creating CDs or DVDs,but confused by the countless formats and jargon? We clear
up the optical disc confusions and show you how to burn successfully



                              I
                                     f the waves of hype rolling in from all directions          Taking regular backups of important files and folders
                                     are to be believed, computer users the length               may be dull but it is essential; and the large amount of
                                     and breadth of the land are busy saving –                   storage afforded by recordable DVD technology, for
                                     commonly referred to as burning – home videos               example, can speed up the chore.
                                     and photos onto optical discs (CDs and DVDs)                  That’s the good news. The bad news is that the
                              in order to share the results with family and friends.             number of optical disc formats now in existence is
                                Unfortunately for many people, the real experience               overwhelming – and there are even more on the way.
                              can be far removed from the digital-age puff. Thanks
                              to a crowd of competing disc and drive standards,                  Disc differences
                              muddled by a mass of arcane abbreviations and                          So, where to start? Well, a good idea is to concentrate
                              specifications, it can often be difficult even to know                 on the two optical disc formats mentioned earlier;
                              where to start, let alone reach the goal of producing a                namely CD and DVD. Most people are familiar with
                              disc that can be used.                                                 this pair, and it is from these two formats that most of
                                Over the next few pages, we’ll do                                                         the optical disc market blossoms.
                              our best to banish such                                                                       Broadly speaking, CDs are
                              befuddlement so that you can tell                                                           associated with music and audio,
                              your DVD-Rs from your elbow.                                                                while DVDs tend to be considered as
                                                                                                                          video-bearing discs. These links are
                              Disc content                                                                                historical rather than indicative of
                              First, allow us to explain what is                                                          any major technical differences, as
                              meant by optical disc. Put simply,                                                          both types of disc store information
                              these are discs on which content is                                                         in the same way. A CD is just as
                              both stored and retrieved using the                                                         capable of storing video data as a
                              properties of light.                                                                        DVD, though the storage capacity of
                                More specifically, a focused laser                                                        the former is considerably lower
                              beam is used either to etch small                                                           than that of the latter.
                              pits onto the disc’s surface (when                                                            Time was when CDs and DVDs
                                                                       H DVD+RW is a common format for rewritable DVDs
                              writing, or ‘burning’ data), or to                                                       served simply as containers for
                              detect those same microscopic depressions when                         commercial products, like music albums and movies;
                              reading information back. The most recognisable                        or, in relation to computing; software. The CD
                              optical discs in existence today are CDs and DVDs,                     came first, with DVDs arriving a few years
                              though the term can be used to describe any disc dealt                 later. Typically, a CD can hold around
                              with in this manner.                                                   700Mb of data, which is plenty enough
                                There’s many a compelling reason for the computer                    for a music album, or a software
                                   user to both understand and take advantage of                     application. But video information,
                                   optical discs and the drives used to create and                   such as a home video, requires
                                   play them. As mentioned in the introduction,                      much more storage. The DVDs
                                   proponents of optical-disc technologies – that’s                  of movies available in shops
                                   the drive manufacturers, and the companies that                   use a format that effectively
                                   sell the discs – have focused their marketing on                  doubles the amount of the
                                   promoting the ability to share treasured family                   disc, of which more shortly.
                                                     photographs and home videos.                        DVDs are the same
                                                        This is indeed a persuasive sell,            physical dimensions as
                                                     with a single DVD able to hold                  CDs – with a diameter of
                                                     several hours’ worth of video, or               12cm – but the pits
                                                     thousands of digital snapshots.                 representing the data
                                                     For the music addict, meanwhile,                are packed much more
                                                     the ability to burn CDs means                   tightly together onto the
                                                     freedom from the mixes released                 disc’s surface, which
H The DVD-RAM format is                              by record companies – just create               means more information
expensive but it’s possible
to write and erase data                              your own compilations.                          can be stored. How much
                                                        Nor should we overlook the                   more we’ll discuss a little
                                                     benefits that writable optical                  later, because optical disc
                                                     discs have brought to more                      capacity is a world of confusion
                                                     mundane areas of computing.                     all its own.


16       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                              Illustration: Ian Naylor




2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk   17
Cover Story Getand DVD burning special camera
            CD the most from your digital

                                          Stupefying suffixes                                                                                However, thanks to a number of
                                          Things might have stayed this simple, if                                                           competing recordable DVD
                                          only the arrival of CD- and DVD-burner                                                             formats, there’s plenty of added
                                          drives for public use hadn’t happened.                                                             complication. We could spend the
           Techno babble                  Actually, in terms of CD recording,                                                                next 50 pages detailing every last
           demystified...                 things are pretty simple. As we’ll see,                                                            format variation but we suspect
                                          it’s recordable DVD technology that                                                                your life is too short – ours certainly

 ±    Byte A unit of computer             causes the most confusion.                                                                         is. So we’ll keep this concise.
      storage that can hold a                Either way, format suffixes are all-              H Discs with this logo can be burned once        The current core ‘standards’ for
      single character.1,024              important, serving as they do to                                                                   recordable DVDs are DVD-RW,
      bytes make a kilobyte,or            distinguish one type of disc or drive                                                              DVD+RW and DVD-RAM. Back in
      1Kb.                                technology from another. A CD is a CD                                                              the mists of time, the would-be


 ±
                                          and a DVD is a DVD, but when talking                                                               disc burner would have to pick a
      Gb Gigabyte.A measure               specifically about discs bearing                                                                   format and hope for the best, but
      of storage capacity.Equal           computer software, the accurate                                                                    nowadays most new drives support
      to 1,024 megabytes (Mb).
                                          terminology is CD-ROM and DVD-                                                                     all these standards (and a fair few

 ±    Hard disk A high-
      capacity disk drive that
      stores programs and files.
                                          ROM. The ‘ROM’ part stands for read-
                                          only memory, which simply means that
                                          data on the disc can be read back (by a
                                                                                               H The RW means ‘rewritable’
                                                                                                                                             others besides).
                                                                                                                                                Such multi-talented drives will be
                                                                                                                                             labelled DVD followed by a plus


 ±
                                          suitable drive), but not overwritten.                                                              symbol above a minus symbol, or
      Mb Megabyte.A                          The first consumer CD drives                                                                    the friendlier multidrive (or
      measure of storage                  capable of writing data to discs were                                                              sometimes super multidrive).
      capacity.Equal to 1,024
                                          suffixed with the letter ‘R’, to signify                                                              In terms of operation, DVD-RW
      kilobytes (Kb).
                                          their recording credentials. So, CD-R                                                              (the ‘minus’ standard) and DVD+RW

 ±    USB 2 A newer,
      backwardly compatible
      successor to USB – a
                                          drives can record data onto CD-R
                                          discs, but discs cannot subsequently
                                          be erased or rewritten. CD-R drives will             H DVD-RAM discs are also rewritable and
                                                                                                                                             (‘plus’) are essentially identical, and
                                                                                                                                             mimic CD-recording technology.
                                                                                                                                             Data is written to discs serially,
      standard for easy                   also happily read CD-ROM discs, or                   are often used in digital video recorders     meaning the disc is either burned in
      connection of peripherals           play audio CDs.                                                                                    one go or more data may be added
      to your PC.                            Later drives introduced the ability to                                                          later, until the disc is full. The disc
                                          both write and rewrite data, meaning                                                               can be erased (or formatted) and
   For more on Jargon Buster visit:       compatible discs are reusable. The                                                                 used again, but it’s not possible to
  www.computeractive.co.uk
                                          suffix applied to such drives and discs                                                            free up space by deleting files.
                                          is ‘RW’ (ie, CD-RW), meaning                                                                          The DVD-RAM format, on the
                                          rewritable. Again, CD-RW drives can                                                                other hand, works more like a hard
                                          read earlier formats.                                                                              disk: information can be written to
                                                                                                                                             or removed from the disc at will.
                                          The DVD debacle                                      H This symbol often appears next to the       This type of memory is known as
                                                                                               DVD logo on rewritable discs
P Digital video recorders like the Bush   To a certain extent, DVD-burner                                                                    ‘random access’, hence DVD-RAM –
DVRHS02 record to DVD-RAM discs           drives follow the same convention.                                                                 Random-Access Memory.
                                                                                                                                                You’ll also notice that the world of
                                                                                                                          optical discs and drives is littered with numbers
                                                                                                                          alongside a cross symbol (‘4x’, ‘8x’, ‘16x’ and so on).
                                                                                                                          Considering the significance of these figures for too
                                                                                                                          long could induce madness, so we’ll limit our
                                                                                                                          guidance to saying that they refer to the speed at
                                                                                                                          which a drive can burn a disc.
                                                                                                                             A drive that declares it is able to burn DVD+Rs at
                                                                                                                          4x, say, will do the job four times faster than the first
                                                                                                                          DVD+R drives. But how long that job actually takes
                                                                                                                          depends on the amount of data being burned – it
                                                                                                                          could be seconds, minutes or even up to an hour.

                                                                                                                  Flexible friends
Old-age discs                                                                                                     But does any of this really matter if all you want to do
                                                                                                                  is burn a video for granny to view in her DVD player?
INTHE EARLY days of the compact disc,the format        the reflective,data-storing part of the disc.              No! Just use a DVD+R disc, as these are the most
was marketed as being indestructible and ever-         Whether or not this may fade over time is subject          broadly compatible in the wider world of domestic
lasting.However,the passage of time showed             to plenty of lively debate.Some people argue that          DVD players. DVD+R (and +RW) discs also tend to be
such claims to be nonsense,as a simple scratch on      brand-name discs are simply more reliable than             the cheapest, simply by dint of their popularity.
a disc’s surface could cause the music or data it      cheaper,bulk-bought stacks of media.                          For backing up data, any one of the recordable DVD
contained to become unreadable.To this                    Many scientific studies are underway into the           formats will work just fine. Record-once discs (‘R’
extent,not much has changed:scratch a DVD              durability of discs.A completed study by the US            suffix) are extremely cheap (a stack of 100 DVD+Rs
and any information it contains will likely be         National Institute of Standards andTechnology              costs around £20), although ‘RW’ discs may prove
rendered unreadable.                                   suggests that dye quality may be an important              more economical if you simply want to back up the
   But could a DVD succumb to old age in much          factor affecting disc reliability.However,it goes on       latest versions of the same few files and folders on a
the same way as photographic prints fade with          to conclude that CD-R and DVD-R media can be               regular basis. Prices vary, but we found 10 Philips
time?Well,optical discs also contain a dye layer to    expected to reliably store data for ‘several tens of       DVD-RW discs for £4.45. Five Verbatim DVD-RWs
vary the amount of laser light allowed through to      years’. Read the full report at www.nist.gov.              cost £4.40. DVD-RAM media tends to be a little more


18       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
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                                                                                          Cover Story CD and DVD burning special

expensive (about £5 for 10 discs) but the flexibility of
hard-disk-like operations may prove tempting.
  Finally on DVD formats, the most recent advance is
‘double-layer’, which splits the surface of the disc into
two using some nifty laser physics; in essence the
process nearly doubles the capacity of discs to a
maximum of 8.5Gb. For now, it only applies to the write-
once ‘-R’ and ‘+R’ formats, and compatible discs and
drives are labelled as double-layer, dual layer or DL.

Drive ahead
Fortunately, these days virtually all computers bought
new include a drive that is able to both read and write
(or burn) both CD and DVD media. However, as
discussed, the capabilities can vary. If your computer
is more than a year or two old, for example, its DVD-
writer drive may not be up to the job of burning
double-layer discs. Older still, and it may not have a
DVD-burner at all.
   Either way, rectifying the situation is both easy
and cheap. New DVD writers that are able to read
and write to all current disc formats cost little more
than £30 for an internal model, with external models
priced around the £50 mark. Fitting an internal
model isn’t difficult (see the Workshop published in                                   H Roxio’s disc-burning application enables you too turn digital photos into a DVD slideshow
issue 130 for detailed instructions), although
adding an external model is more convenient –                                             What to do next depends on myriad factors. Do you
typically just a case of stringing a USB 2 cable                                       want to make a video DVD, or just burn some data to
between drive and PC.                                                                  disc as a backup? Perhaps you wish to erase some files
                                                                                                             and folders previously stored on a
Soft options                                                                                                          DVD-RAM disc? Maybe
Remarkably, Windows XP lacks an                                                                                       you simply want to make
ability to burn DVDs, though it                                                                                       an audio CD? Or turn a
can write data to CDs. For                                                                                            collection of digital photos
this reason, most DVD                                                                                                into a DVD slideshow?
drives are supplied                                                                                                   Clearly, we don’t have
with basic burning                                                                                                nearly enough space left to
software. However,                                                                                              consider all the possibilities, so
if you want to                                                                                                just know that good software
dabble with more                                                                                            really makes child’s play of burning
advanced features,                                                                                       any type of disc. In our screenshots,
such as the ability to H An external DVD                                                               for instance, the user is using the Nero
create DVDs with       writer is an easy way to upgrade                                              application to create a data DVD; but they
fancy menus seen                                                                                   could just as easily have chosen the option
on Hollywood movie discs, then you’ll need to invest in                                       to make a video DVD, and from thereon, the
a commercial disc-burning application.                                                 software would guide you through.
   The two main players in this area are Roxio’s Easy                                     Nero, in common with Easy Media Creator and
Media Creator 8 (£60) and Nero from German firm                                        freebie Deep Burner, offers dozens of different ways to
Ahead (£60). For a free alternative, we’d suggest                                      burn discs. Most of the time, the process is no more                                   H Roxio’s Easy Media Creator is one of
Deep Burner.                                                                           difficult than dragging and dropping the relevant files                                several programs for recording CDs and DVDs




                                                                                        Blu-sky thinking
                                                                                        DIDWE MENTION that the optical disc market is a
                                                                                        confusing mess?Well,it’s about to get messier.In
                                                                                        an apparent attempt to replace disorder with
                                                                                        chaos,two groups of conglomerates have created
                                                                                        a pair of wholly incompatible optical disc formats,                  Competing with Blu-ray is the HD-DVD format,
                                                                                        each pitched as the‘next generation’replacement                   designed by Toshiba and NEC.The most capacious
                                                                                        for DVDs.                                                         HD-DVDs will hold 30Gb.While Blu-ray’s higher
                                                                                           The first is Blu-ray.This format is primarily the              capacity might appear to mark it out as the
                                                                                        work of Sony,but it has support from many big-                    obvious successor to DVDs,with firms like Sanyo,
                                                                                        name consumer electronics companies,including                     Hitachi,Intel and Microsoft backing HD-DVD,
                                                                                        Sharp,Philips,Panasonic,Samsung,Dell and                          there’s really no guessing what will happen.
                                                                                        Apple.Blu-ray discs will store up to 50Gb of data,                   The only advice we can offer is to stand back
                                                                                        and both drives and media (ie,the discs) are                      and watch the fight.Buy early and you may need
H Disc-burning software is no problem to install and has easy-to-follow instructions    trickling onto the market now.                                    to buy again.

                                                                                                                          2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                           21
Cover Story Getand DVD burning special camera
            CD the most from your digital




HThere are several options with Nero           or media into the application window before clicking                                If you didn’t take in that last paragraph, it’s worth a
software,from making a video DVD to
creating a slideshow                           the ‘Burn’ button. Then, it’s a case of sitting back and                         second read, because this is the most frustrating
                                               waiting while the task is carried out.                                           problem you’re like to encounter when burning discs.
                                                                                                                                Well, that and the fact that sometimes a disc-burning
                                               Burning issues                                                                   session will fail for no discernible reason, so you’re
                                               However, as reliable as disc-burning tends to be these                           left with a poorly-functioning shaving mirror.
                                               days, it’s not always plain sailing. One problem that                               Should this happen, there’s really not a lot to be
                                               may flummox you early on is capacity discrepancies.                              done. Writing data to discs is a precision process: the
                                               For example, a DVD+R disc labelled as being 4.7Gb                                drive’s laser must etch hundreds of thousands of pits
                                               won’t, in fact, hold 4.7Gb of data. In our screenshot,                           each second, and the smooth flow of data from the
                                               the red part of the capacity gauge in Nero serves as a                           computer to the drive is crucial.
                                               warning that the 4.51Gb of data the user is trying to                               Modern drives have built-in hardware protection to
                                               copy onto a 4.7Gb disc won’t fit.                                                guard against such interruptions (known as buffer
                                                 The reason is found in the way the media-storage                               under-runs, because data stored in a memory buffer
                                               industry calculates capacity. Unfortunately, it’s hard                           literally runs out) but hiccups can still occur – it’s just
                                               to avoid getting a little technical here. A ‘real’ gigabyte                      the nature of the beast. It’s sensible, then, to close all
                                               (Gb), as measured by every binary computer in the                                non-essential applications before committing to the
                                               world, is 1,073,741,824 bytes of data. We will be                                burn process. The fewer things the PC has to concern
                                               covering this in detail in the next issue, 211.                                  itself with, the better the chances of successful burning.
                                                 However, most drive and disc manufacturers work
                                               an inflationary deception here by treating gigabytes                             Time to eject
                                               as around one billion (1,000,000,000) bytes, so a DVD                            The optical disc market is both convoluted and
                                               labelled as 4.7Gb stores 4,700,000,000 bytes. But                                confusing, but hopefully we’ve demonstrated that it
                                               when the computer does its binary maths, using the                               needn’t be impenetrable. The main thing to keep in
                                               real gigabyte figure, the actual capacity of the disc                            mind is that most current DVD-burner drives are
                                               turns out to be 4.37Gb (4,700,000,000 divided by                                 capable of reading from and, more importantly,
                                               1,073,741,824). The same is true of higher-capacity                              writing to any current optical disc format, as well as
H Nero 7 contains all the tools                measurements, too, so a double-layer disc labelled as                            older ones like CD – so don’t spend too long worrying
required to create and edit discs              8.5Gb will in fact only hold 7.9Gb. Phew!                                        which is ‘right’ and which is ‘wrong’.
                                                                                                                                   Indeed, once you settle on a method of disc creation
                                                                                                                                that works for you, all thoughts of formats will
                                                                                                                                evaporate: most new optical drives for computers can
                                                                                                                                cope with a wide variety of disc types so, between PCs
                                                                                                                                at least, compatibility isn’t the problem it once was.
                                                                                                                                   Even when creating discs for others to view – the
                                                                                                                                aforesaid home movie for grandma, say – there’s little
                                                                                                                                reason for concern. Older domestic DVD players may
                                                                                                                                baulk if fed a DVD-RAM disc or ‘RW’ disc but as DVD
                                                                                                                                videos are better on ‘R’ discs anyway, this isn’t an issue.
                                                                                                                                   There’s never been a better time to see what optical
                                                                                                                                drives have to offer. If your PC doesn’t already have
                                                                                                                                one, treat it to a multi-format drive, put compatibility
                                                                                                                                issues to the back of your mind, and get burning.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Scott Colvey



                                                                                                                                  i
                                                                                                                                             For more information on the topics,projects
                                                                                                                                            and companies mentioned in this article,go to
                                                                                                                                            www.computeractive.co.uk/2150621
H Be aware of binary maths when burning to DVD:the red line shows that not all of the 4.51Gb of data will fit on a 4.7Gb disc


22        www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                                                              Feature Reader survey



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Help to shape the future of
Computeractive by taking
part in our online survey




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H Tell us which sections of Computeractive you enjoy the most                                                                                      A PC!


B
            irthdays are often a time for looking
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            we’re looking forwards. As a
            valued reader, we’d like to ask
            for your help in shaping the future
of Computeractive.
  We take great pride in designing the content
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your attitudes to the various sections of the                   most demanding of tasks,such as 3D games
magazine, as well as the products you use
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and online services you are interested in. It
                                                                   The internal digitalTV tuner and remote
should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.
                                                                control will enable you to watch or recordTV from
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such all your answers and personal information will             Freeview channels.All this can be experienced
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purposes of this research or specific follow-up                 which has a DVI socket for true
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                                                                                            2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                       23
Hot New Products±
                                                             Reviewed in this issue...                                                           Our Star
                                                             Digital camera                Canon Digital IXUS 750                       24
                                                             Digital camera
                                                             Route planning
                                                                                           Kodak EasyShare Z740 & Printer Dock 3
                                                                                           Magellan eXplorist 210
                                                                                                                                        25
                                                                                                                                        25
                                                                                                                                                 Ratings
                                                             Digital media player          Sony Walkman NW-A1000                        26         With every product we
Stamp of approval                                            Digital media player          Acer MG3001-p                                27         review,we tell it like it
The Computeractive Buy It! stamp of approval is a sure       Office software               Star Office 8                                28         is and give it Computer
sign of quality and value for money.Only products that       Notebook computer             Evesham Voyager C540                         29         Active’s authoritative star
exceed our editorial team’s high expectations are                                                                                                  rating. Here’s what those
awarded this mark.Every product we see is scrutinised,       Removable storage             LaCie Brick                                  30
tested and put through its paces.So if you see our Buy It!   TV tuner card                 Gigabyte Digital Hybrid TV Card              30
                                                                                                                                                   stars mean:
stamp,you know that we were impressed with the               Mobile phone                  T-Mobile Sidekick II                         30         Excellent #####
product and we think you will be too.The Try It! stamp is
our equivalent for anything free of charge.Please note       Music software                Guitar Tracks Pro                            30         Worth it ####
these reviews grade products,not customer service.           Security software             Webroot SpySweeper 4.5                       31         OK by us ###
Buy                                                          Peripheral                    Jabra BT500                                  31         Poor ##
The prices we print are suggested retail prices. For the     Peripheral                    Gear4 PocketPower                            31         Awful #
latest, lowest prices on a wide range of products, go to:
www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices                        Webcam                        Logitech QuickCam Fusion                     31




 DIGITAL CAMERA >> £420

Canon Digital IXUS 750
Canon’s top-of-the-range,credit card-sized compact is a reliable performer with bags of style
                anon’s IXUS range is as much about              needed to determine focus and exposure.In



C               eye-catching good looks as it is about addition,there is hardly any wait between
                great performance.Luckily,this latest
                flagship model,
                the 7-megapixel
IXUS 750,manages to score
highly in both categories.
   With a brushed metallic sheen
                                                      We say...
                                                                taking one image and the camera being ready
                                                                                      to capture the next.
                                                                                         Despite the larger
                                                                                      screen,which can be used
                                                                                      both for composing and
                                                                                      reviewing photos,Canon
that feels pleasingly soft to the       GOOD POINTS High resolution;3x                has squeezed in a small
touch,this sturdily built pocket        optical zoom;fast,reliable operation          optical viewfinder above it
camera is available in two              BAD POINTS Some blurring in low               to give the option of
colours:satin beige or silver grey.     light conditions                              conserving the life of the
   Despite the sleek styling and                                                      lithium ion battery.
                                        Marries futuristic looks to a performance
premium price tag,this is still                                                          In truth,this probably
                                        that’s simply out of this world
very much a point-and-shoot                                                           won’t be needed,with a
camera.But there are neat little
extras such as the ability to shoot
                                                      Overall    #####                single battery charge lasting
                                                                                      a week of periodic use.
slow-motion video clips,or small        Contact Canon 0870 514 3723                      Included in the box is a
movies at an impressive 30              Info www.canon.co.uk                          32Mb SD memory card
                                        Retail Price £420
frames per second,with sound.           Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices
                                                                                      that will store 12 full quality
   Still photos can also be edited                                                    shots,so budget for
on the camera itself;alter the                                                        additional memory too.
colour balance or swap blocks of colour using the                   As for the photos themselves,in our tests they
My Colours option,operated directly from the 2.5in              displayed plenty of detail for the most part,with
screen’s menu.It’s a neat trick,but,unless you are an a pleasingly natural rendition of colours,skin
interior or fashion designer,probably one that won’t tones in particular.However,the occasional shot
be used often.                                                  suffered from camera shake – image blur – when
   Manual modes also allow the adjustment of                    shooting in low light conditions without flash.
exposure,white balance – to avoid tungsten lighting                 This was partly down to the smooth surface of
and giving a warm orange cast,for example –                     the camera making it difficult to hold rock-
shutter speed,plus offer the ability to shoot in black steady during the slower shutter speed needed
and white or sepia as well as colour.There’s also a 3x to capture sufficient light under such conditions.
optical zoom.                                                   Opt for flash and there’s no problem.
   Thanks to internal technology normally found in                  Although the 7-megapixel IXUS 750 is dearer than
more professional cameras,the IXUS 750 is lightning some 8-megapixel rivals,numbers aren’t everything,
fast in operation.It powers up in the blink of an eye,          and – providing you can afford it – this is a near-
with little or no delay between pressing the shutter            perfect pocket camera.                                        ALSO CONSIDER...
button and the camera taking the shot,which is                                                                 Gavin Stoker   SONY CYBERSHOT DSC-N1. £380. With eight megapixels
                                                                                                                              and a 3in touch screen,it’s out to dazzle. #### Issue 209


24        www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
 DIGITAL CAMERA >> £270                                                                                   ROUTE PLANNING >> £154
Kodak EasyShare       Magellan eXplorist 210
Z740 & Printer Dock 3 The world in the palm of your hand?
A camera and printer for the less than the                                                                            atellite navigation devices              www.gagb.org.uk or our Workshop in
price of most rival cameras
               igital photography has given
                                                                                                         S            come in all shapes and sizes,
                                                                                                                      with the most popular
                                                                                                                      variety being in-car systems
                                                                                                         that can be mounted on a dashboard or
                                                                                                                                                               issue 192),you’ll be pleased to hear
                                                                                                                                                               that the eXplorist 210 comes with
                                                                                                                                                               software that allows you to download
                                                                                                                                                               geocache points of interest from the


D              the average happy snapper
               complete hands-on control
               over how their images
look,without the need for trays of
smelly chemicals or an evening
                                                                                                         windscreen and
                                                                                                         used as a route-
                                                                                                         finding aid while
                                                                                                         on the roads.
                                                                                                             With its
                                                                                                                                     We say...
                                                                                                                                      GOOD POINTS Cheap;easy to use;
                                                                                                                                                                                       internet,upload
                                                                                                                                                                                       them to the
                                                                                                                                                                                       handheld unit and
                                                                                                                                                                                       get hunting.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Apart from this,
course in developing at the                                                                              shock-resistant,                                                              there are few
                                                                                                                                      geocaching features
local college.                                                                                           waterproof body                                                               extra features.
    Now anyone can invest in an                                                                          and AA battery-              BAD POINTS Monochrome screen;                    Although the
                                                                                                                                      little room for expansion;can’t plan
inkjet printer or,better still,a dye-                                                                    powered                                                                       eXplorist 210 is a
                                                                                                                                      routes via postcodes or addresses
sublimation printer like this one                                                                        operation,                                                                    relatively low-cost
(with no messy ink cartridges                                                                            Magellan’s latest            An attractively priced GPS device but            GPS system, it’s
to contend with) and,                                                                                    GPS unit is a                geared only towards outdoor activities           also relatively
quickly generate photo-                                                       H The camera sits on the   handheld device                                                               limited in terms of
quality prints.                                                                     dock back-to-front   primarily aimed             Overall                  ###                      its practical
    And with prices falling                                                                              more at hikers,                                                               application, unless
                                                                                                                                      Contact Magellan 00800 6243 5526
and competition particularly fierce,it’s                                As the name suggests,            ramblers and                 Info www.magellangps.com
                                                                                                                                                                                       you need to
now possible to buy a decent combined                 Kodak has kept its package very simple             outdoors types,              Retail Price £154                                pinpoint your
printer and digital camera package for                to operate.The camera,powered by two               rather than those            Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices        location in the
little upwards of £150.That’s a perfect               AA batteries,sits back-to-front on the             who prefer the                                                                middle of a hike.
deal for anyone looking to swap from film             printer so its 1.8in screen faces the user.        relative comforts                                                                  Jonathan Parkyn
to digital for the first time.                           The operator then uses the camera to            of an automobile.There’s no bracket
    Whereas most cameras bundled with                 select a particular image for printing –           for attaching it to a bike,which seems
printers are of the                                                          again a one-touch           a shame.
cheap,point-and-                                                             process.                        If you’re used to the in-car variety,
shoot variety,Kodak
has gone
                            We say...                                           About the size of
                                                                             half a loaf of bread,
                                                                                                         then the eXplorist might seem a little
                                                                                                         disappointing.It doesn’t have a colour
one better here              GOOD POINTS Great value for                     the Printer Dock is         screen,for a start.Its monochrome LCD
by offering its              money;10x optical zoom;sharp and                quiet in operation.         can be illuminated by a reddish
5-megapixel,                 colourful prints                                The image is laid           backlight,but obviously it can be a little
10x optical                  BAD POINTS Cheaper packages                     onto the supplied           hard to work with black and white maps.
zoom EasyShare               available if you don’t need the 10x             6 x 4in glossy paper            Unlike most other GPS systems,there
Z740,which in spite          zoom;camera is a bit bulky                      by a process of heat        are no voice commands either,though
of its plastic build                                                         transfer,which              spoken directions are less relevant for
actually looks and           A very versatile camera and capable printer     embeds layers of            users who are travelling on foot.
feels like a serious         add up to fuss-free high-quality prints         colour before                   The software the eXplorist runs
contender.
    An array of
                             Overall                #####                    adding a protective
                                                                             scratch- and water-
                                                                                                         was fairly fast and easy to use,with a
                                                                                                         simple menu and control system
manual features and          Contact Kodak 01442 261122                      resistant top layer.        based around a five-way joystick
18 automatic scene           Info www.kodak.com/go/easyshare                 The process took 90         and a group of rubber buttons.
modes cater for              Retail Price £270                               seconds per print,              The buttons themselves don’t
                             Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices
various conditions,                                                          reasonable for this         share the screen’s backlight,which
plus the camera can                                                          type of device.             makes the device tricky to use in
take small video clips.                                  Buying the 160-sheet paper and                  dark conditions.Route planning is
                                                      colour cartridge pack (£40) gets prints            based on points of interest rather
                                                      down to 25p each,which isn’t bad.                  than postcodes and addresses,
                                                         What you’re left with is a pleasingly           which can be a bit limiting.
                                                       borderless and waterproof print,with                  The eXplorist comes with some
                                                       colours brightly rendered with healthily          European base maps pre-installed
                                                        warm flesh tones,making this package             but they’re not particularly detailed.
                                                        ideally suited to those who take a lot of        More detailed maps can be purchased
                                                        people snapshots.                                and installed via a PC and USB link,
                                                                                       Gavin Stoker      although only 22Mb of internal memory
                                                                                                         is available and there’s no memory
                                                      ALSO CONSIDER...                                   card slot for further expansion.                      ALSO CONSIDER...
                                                      EPSON PICTUREMATE 100. £99. No                         If you’re a fan of geocaching – a                 NAVMAN ICN 320. £199. Great value for
                                                     camera included,but great,cheap prints.             relatively new pastime that’s a kind of               money,if a little slow to operate.
                                                     ##### Issue 202                                     GPS take on the treasure hunt (see                    ##### Issue 204

                                                                                                                      2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                   25
Hot New Products ±
                                                 DIGITAL MEDIA PLAYER >> £159


           Techno babble
           demystified...
                                                Sony Walkman
±   Bluetooth A technology that
    allows devices to communicate with
    each other wirelessly.
                                                NW-A1000
                                                A new look for an old friend as the
±   Composite video A type of
    video signal in which the red,green
                                                Walkman hits the 21st century
                                                                    ention portable music players today and



                                                M
    and blue signals are mixed together.
                                                                    many will instantly reply ‘iPod’. Ironically,

±   Discoverable A mode where
    Bluetooth devices can be‘seen’by
    other devices.
                                                                    the same people would probably have
                                                                    pointed at you and laughed if,a few short
                                                                    years ago,you’d suggested that Apple

±   DVI A video connection that                 would eventually become the biggest name in portable
    provides a purely digital connection        music.And who could blame them? Back then,Sony’s
    between a PC and monitor.                   ‘Walkman’was the byword for music on the go.
                                                   Well,after the wilderness years,the Walkman is back.

±   Firmware Basic software
    permanently stored on a device and
    which controls its operation.
                                                The NW-A1000 is the company’s first real contender in an
                                                iPod-dominated world.
                                                   The first thing you’ll notice is that Sony’s creative team

±   Gb A measurement of storage                 has been working overtime to come up with a design cool
    capacity – usually for hard disks.          enough to challenge the current market leader.
                                                   Available in a range of different colours,the Walkman

±   GHz A thousand megahertz – a
    measure of PC processor speed.
                                                has pleasantly rounded edges and looks like a little blob
                                                of liquid metal.Many people who see it make the mistake

±
                                                of thinking there’s no screen.It’s there,but the clever
    GPS Network of satellites orbiting
    the earth,and used to pinpoint an           design keeps it hidden until you actually need it to
    exact position on the planet.               display something.
                                                   The screen is fairly low-resolution and monochrome

±   Hackers People who break into
    other people’s PCs to steal sensitive
    information.
                                                rather than colour but,since it’s not intended for photos or
                                                video,this isn’t much of a problem.
                                                   The unit sits snugly into the palm of your hand and is

±
                                                ever-so-slightly heavier than you might expect.This is
    Hard disk A high-capacity disk
    drive fitted in most all PCs and used
                                                because the new Walkman contains a hard disk instead
    to store both applications and files.       of flash memory,which is more commonly found in
                                                smaller players.

±   HD High-Definition.Devices
    bearing the HD-Ready logo will be
    able to display HD television signals
                                                   The version we tested had a 6Gb
                                                hard disk – enough for about 4,000
                                                songs – although a larger 20Gb version              We say...
    when they are introduced.                   (NW-A3000,£199) is also available.               GOOD POINTS Great design;easy

±   Instant messaging Real-time                    Transferring songs is done via a USB          to use;long battery life;excellent
    text-based communication over the           cable and using the media player                 sound quality
    internet.                                   software provided.Sony’s music                   BAD POINTS No colour screen;no                HSony strolls into the 21st century with the
                                                application does many of the things                                                            digital Walkman

±
                                                                                                 photo capabilites;not compatible
    Mb A measurement of storage                 iTunes can,such as copy and save CDs,            with AAC or copy-protected formats            (with an additional firmware
    capacity,usually for memory.                create playlists and provide access to                                                         upgrade),but not AAC or copy-

±
                                                Sony’s own online music store.Like its           Just as cool as an iPod Nano but cheaper      protected formats downloaded from
    Megapixel A measure of the level
                                                predecessors,the supplied media                  and smaller. Can’t display photos though      iTunes or Napster .
    of detail recorded by digital cameras.
                                                software is still clunky to use.But while                                                          Perhaps the best thing about the
                                                                                                    Overall
±   Memory card Small cards that                iTunes may be easier to operate,the                                       #####                new Sony Walkman is just how great it
    can store many megabytes of data.           Sony software is simpler to use than             Contact Sony 020 7365 2947                    actually sounds. Music is rich, warm

±
                                                Windows Media Player.                            Info www.sony.co.uk                           and realistic sounding, particularly
    Network A way of connecting
                                                   Battery life is pretty good,with              Retail Price £159                             when it has been encoded using
    several devices so that they can                                                             Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices
                                                around 20 hours of play on a full                                                              Sony’s ATRAC3plus format. On top of
    share data.
                                                charge.This puts most iPods to shame                                                           that, you can find the 6Gb NW-A1000

±   Operating system Crucial
    software that controls how
    hardware and software interact.
                                                and is definitely a strong selling point for the NW-A1000.
                                                Plus,this device is easy to control,with a simple Home
                                                menu screen to scroll through,along with a play/pause
                                                                                                                          in the shops for at least £10 less than the 4Gb iPod nano,
                                                                                                                          all of which makes it a very tempting alternative to the
                                                                                                                          Apple equivalent.
                                                button,four-way directional pad and Options,Back,                                                                                 Jonathan Parkyn
                       ...Continues onpage 28   Volume and Hold controls all integrated discretely into
                                                the design.                                                               ALSO CONSIDER...
     For more on Jargon Buster visit:              The NW-A1000 is compatible with several different                      IPOD NANO. £179 (4Gb). A work of undeniable beauty but
www.computeractive.co.uk                        digital music formats,including MP3,ATRAC3 and WMA                        expensive compared with other players. #### Issue 200


26       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
 DIGITAL MEDIA PLAYER >> £160
Acer MG3001-p
Watch and listen to digital media from
your computer in the front room
            he Acer MG3001-p is a media     RThe MG3001-p is


T           streaming device that plays
            music,video and pictures on a
            television and stereo using a
home network.
   Software,which has to be installed
                                            reasonably priced but can
                                            be difficult to set up




                                              We say...
                                                                                           providing the supplied
                                                                                           software is installed on each computer
to the computer first,controls what                                                        you wish to stream from.                 to access anything from
media is available to the device.                                                             We had difficulties connecting the    the player,the host computer has
                                               GOOD POINTS Lots of connections;
Although attempts are made to                                                              MG3001-p to our test computer but        to be switched on.
                                               wide range of media formats
find and add digital media                     supported                                   after restarting both devices,there         A USB port on the front can also be
automatically,we occasionally had to                                                       were no further problems.                used to view media from digital
                                               BAD POINTS Bad photo
point it towards folders manually.             reproduction;can be tricky to set up;
                                                                                           Unfortunately,the MF3001-p doesn’t       cameras,USB keys and USB hard disks.
   The device can connect to a television      no DRM-music support                        support WPA network security;only           At £160 it is a cheaper alternative to
using component,RGB, SCART,                                                                the older WEP standard.However,any       buying a Media Center Edition
S-Video and Composite outputs.                 Good value for sharing media from a         form of security is better than none.    computer.However,it’s not that easy
Those connecting via component will be         computer but could be easier to use            The general quality of video and      to use,and if you run into networking
able to output high-definition pictures                                                    audio was good but the Acer cannot       problems,they’re not that easy to fix.
and connection to a stereo is via phono        Overall ##                                  play music bought from websites such                                      Tim Smith
or digital.                                                                                as iTunes and Napster,which is daft.
                                               Contact Acer 0870 853 1005
   It will connect to both wired and           Info www.acer.co.uk                         However,our digital photos appeared      ALSO CONSIDER...
wireless networks and all the                  Retail Price £160                           to lack definition,even when using an    BUFFALO LINKTHEATRE. £300. More
complicated network set-up                     Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices   HD-Ready display.It will play back       expensive but includes a DVD player.
procedures are done automatically,                                                         most common digital media files,but      ### Issue 191




                                                                                                      2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                       27
Hot New Products ±

            Techno babble
            demystified...
Continuedfrompage 26...

±   PCI A high-performance expansion
    slot for desktop PCs,allowing simple
    installation of PCI components.


±   Pixel Short for picture element –
    the smallest part of a digital image.


±   Processor The chip that is the
    ‘brain’of the computer.


±   Resolution The amount of detail
    shown in a digital image.


±   Rootkit Software that hides
    malicious software that bypasses
    traditional anti-virus protection.


±   S-Video A higher-quality video
    connection that carries brightness
    and colour information separately.


±   SCART A standardised 21-pin
    connector for two-way traffic of
    video and audio signals.
                                             OFFICE SOFTWARE >> £60
±   Server A computer on a network
    that stores shared information.


±   Smartphone Generic term for a
    combined handheld computer and
    mobile phone.                           StarOffice 8
±   Spyware Software installed
    surreptitiously to monitor and
    report back on a PC’s use.
                                            A cheap but compatible alternative to Microsoft Office
                                                           un Microsystems’StarOffice is a cheaper                  must be installed.In short,if you use macros frequently,

±
±
    Stream When data flows to your
    PC as needed.

    USB 2 Faster but backwardly-
    compatible successor to USB – a
    standard for easy connection of
    peripherals to a PC.
                                            S              alternative to Microsoft’s popular office suite
                                                           that contains just as many
                                                           applications.Inside the
                                                           box are five CDs,although
                                            this is not as exciting as it sounds.One is
                                            for installing onto a Windows PC,three
                                            are program files for other operating
                                                                                              We say...
                                                                                                                    Microsoft Office is a better choice.




                                                                                           GOOD POINTS Compatible with
                                                                                                                                             Calc is similar to Excel but there are
                                                                                                                                         some important differences in the way
                                                                                                                                         that its formulas are written.It’s
                                                                                                                                         therefore a good idea to work though
                                                                                                                                         the wizards before creating any.
                                                                                                                                             Another facility of the suite is a new

±
                                                                                           Microsoft Office;clip art and templates
    VGA Video Graphics Array.A very         systems,and the last contains FireFox          included                                      menu that enables users to create a
    basic standard for graphics output.     and Thunderbird;both freely available                                                        StarOffice document at any time from
                                                                                           BAD POINTS Can’t convert Office
                                            on the internet.                                                                             any application.

±
                                                                                           macros;doesn’t offer much more than
    Webcam A video camera                      The suite has five applications;word        OpenOffice;no calendar or task tools              StarOffice Base is the database
    designed to connect to your PC.         processing,spreadsheets,                                                                     software and like Microsoft’s Access,

±
                                            presentations,databases and graphic            A good suite of office software but hard to   Base is hard to get started with.
    WEP Wireless Encryption Protocol.
                                            design.All are compatible with                 justify the cost over the free OpenOffice     However,there are some useful sample
    A way to encrypt wireless data to
                                            Microsoft Office and there is a file                                                         tools to make it more user-friendly.
    prevent unauthorised interception.
                                            converter to bring in non-StarOffice               Overall              ##                       Given that StarOffice is very similar to

±   Wizard An automated‘assistant’
    that guides you through a
    potentially complex process.
                                            documents,either from previous
                                            versions or from Microsoft Office.
                                               The word processor will check
                                                                                           Contact Sun 0800 731 0658
                                                                                           Info www.sun.co.uk
                                                                                           Retail Price £60
                                                                                                                                         OpenOffice (free from
                                                                                                                                         www.openoffice.org),it doesn’t offer that
                                                                                                                                         much more for the £60 price tag.There’s

±
                                            spelling but not grammar.A UK                  Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices     a collection of 700 clipart images but
    WMA Windows Media Audio.A
                                            thesaurus is also at hand,unlike                                                             it’s feasible to buy more clip art
    compressed digital music format
    developed by Microsoft.                 OpenOffice,which is a free office suite                                                      separately for less money.
                                            but only includes a US version.Inserting clip art into                      On the plus side,StarOffice is supported by Sun

±   WPA Short for Wi-Fi Protected
    Access.A more secure form of
    wireless protection than WEP.
                                            documents was easy – a preview pane appears at the top
                                            of the window so typing isn’t disrupted.
                                               Sun claims that StarOffice can also convert Microsoft
                                                                                                                    Microsystems,so if you need help,there’s online support.
                                                                                                                                                                             Tim Smith

                                            Office macros,but we were not able to do this as they                   ALSO CONSIDER...
      For more on Jargon Buster visit:      were automatically disabled in the converted document.                  OPENOFFICE. A free suite of alternative software to Microsoft Office
  www.computeractive.co.uk                  StarOffice can create its own macros but a Java download                and StarOffice. ##### Issue 202


28        www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
   NOTEBOOK COMPUTER >> £949
 Evesham Voyager C540
 A new speedy notebook with a brand-new processor from Intel
               ore Duo is the                                                                                                                           At 2.7kg,theVoyager C540 is also fairly


 C             latest buzzword
               in computing.It
               refers to Intel’s
 new mobile processor and
 claims to boost notebook speeds
                                                                                                                                                     portable and looks good too,with curved
                                                                                                                                                     edges and a solid frame.
                                                                                                                                                        Although it uses Windows Media Center
                                                                                                                                                     Edition (MCE) 2005 as its operating
                                                                                                                                                     system,there’s noTV tuner,so this will
                                                                                                                                                                                                         We say...
                                                                                                                                                                                                         GOOD POINTS Dual-core
                                                                                                                                                                                                         processor;lightweight;Media Center
 while improving battery life.                                                                                                                       have to be purchased separately.The                 Edition 2005
    Because it uses two cores on a                                                                                                                   80Gb hard disk isn’t that impressive for
                                                                                                                                                                                                         BAD POINTS Small hard disk;no
 processor instead of one,it can                                                                                                                     an MCE computer either but there’s a slim
                                                                                                                                                                                                         TV tuner
 theoretically process twice the                                                                                                                             double-layer,dual-format DVD
 amount of information,which will                                                                                                                                         writer to copy large           Evesham’s Core Duo notebook shows that
 speed things up quite significantly.                                                                                                                                             files.                 processor technology is moving on
 The Core Duo processor also uses                                                                                                                                                     The
 less voltage,which should mean a longer                                                                                                                                    keyboard is                  Overall ####
 battery life.                                                                                                                                             comfortable to use and there’s a
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Contact Evesham 0870 160 9500
    Evesham’s Voyager C540 is the first                                                                                                              decent amount of ports and sockets –                Info www.evesham.com
 notebook we’ve seen that uses a Core Duo                                  activities like image and video editing.It                                including four USB.There’s no DVI for               Retail Price £949
 processor.It uses an Intel Pentium MT2400                                 also backed up Intel’s claims of extended                                 hooking up to a digital display but there           Buy www.evesham.com
 processor,which runs at 1.83GHz and has                                   battery life for such a powerful notebook                                 are VGA and S-Video sockets.The 15.4in
 512Mb of memory.Our tests found it to be                                  by lasting two hours and 20 minutes in our                                X-Bright widescreen display is suitable for
 very quick indeed and comparable with                                     tests.This is especially impressive as it also                            portable devices,though.
 single-core processors that run in excess of                              uses a fast and power-hungry graphics                                        Overall,it’s good value for a notebook,        ALSO CONSIDER...
 2.13GHz.                                                                  card – nVidia’s new 128Mb 7300 – which                                    and its performance justifies Intel’s new         AVERATEC 1050. £999. Nowhere near as
    It proved very capable in office and                                   played the most polygon-hungry 3D                                         foray into mobile computing.                      fast as the Evesham but highly portable.
 Windows tasks,as well as more strenuous                                   games at respectable detail settings.                                                                         Luke Peters   #### Issue 206




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Hot New Products ±
 REMOVABLE                                     TV TUNER CARD >> £58
 STORAGE >> £129
                                              Gigabyte Digital Hybrid TV Card
                                              With aTV tuner card you can let your computer provide the entertainment
                                              The Gigabyte Digital Theater Hybrid             channel from being changed during
                                              TV Card is all that is needed to receive        a recording.These recordings can
                                              digital and analogue television and             then be copied to CD or DVD.
                                              FM radio on a computer.                            Photos can be played back in
                                                  It’s supplied with CyberLink Power          slideshows and accompanied by a
                                              Cinema,which will convert an                    soundtrack of your choice.
                                              ordinary computer into a home                      For those who want to turn a
                                              entertainment system.Small aerials              computer into a
                                              for TV and radio are included but the           home
                                              best reception will be gained with a            entertainment
                                              rooftop aerial.                                 centre without
                                                  It’s a PCI card so you’ll need a spare      having to pay
                                              socket inside the PC.Installation was           for a brand
                                              a straightforward operation and a               new MCE
                                              helpful manual is supplied,                     computer,this
LaCie Brick                                   explaining how to install it and what           is a good option.
                                              all the sockets are for.                                               Tim Smith
Brighten up an office with                        An infrared remote is included
these stackable hard disks                    from which you can control
                                                                                               We say...
                                              playback. It’s well designed,
         lthough it’s not mentioned on        although some of the most-used

A
                                                                                               An excellent combination of a TV card and
         the device or anywhere on the        buttons could be bigger.                         good-quality software
         packaging,the name of a                  PowerCinema is easy to use and               Overall ####
certain Danish brick toy company              not unlike Microsoft’s Media Center
                                                                                               Contact Fastek UK 0845 260 8998
springs to mind on first sight of this        Edition (MCE).Live television can be             Info www.fastekcomputers.co.uk
portable hard disk.                           recorded or paused and the software              Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices
   The absence of any branding along          is intelligent enough to prevent the
these lines is presumably because
this hasn’t been officially sanctioned,
and LaCie candidly only says that the
case is designed to remind people              MOBILE PHONE >> £50                                                      MUSIC SOFTWARE >> £50
of their childhood.The practical
benefit to users is that the disks are
stackable.
                                              T-Mobile Sidekick II                                                     Guitar Tracks Pro
   Inside the case is a standard 250Gb        The Sidekick II is                                                       Recording an instrument directly to
hard disk,which is connected to the           designed to make it                                                      a computer opens up many creative
computer using a USB 2 connection.            simple to send and                                                       possibilities and Guitar Tracks Pro is
   This version and the 160Gb edition,        receive email using a                                                    particularly good in this respect.It
which costs £99,are fan-free,while the        mobile phone                                                             has a variety of guitar effects and
larger versions – capacities go up to a       subscription.                                                            can use special audio files to create
whopping 500Gb,at a cost of £259 –               The Sidekick                                                          backing tracks.
have internal fans to cool the disk.          has a camera that                                                           The guitar effects make this
   The disk itself is a fast model,which      offers just 640 x                                                        software very versatile.Instead of
means that data transfer speeds are           480 pixel images,                                                        recording the guitar sound with
excellent,taking around 50 seconds to         which is a                                                               effects,the guitar is recorded into
copy 1Gb of test data.                        disappointment.                                                          the computer and the effects
   Apart from the design,there is             There are some nifty touches,though – the screen lifts out               applied afterwards.
nothing particularly spectacular about        and swivels to reveal a backlit keyboard,and the Web‘n’                     This means they are not permanent and can be changed or
this disk.But it is a reliable,solid          Walk package offers free voice calls and 40Mb of internet                removed.It has the usual guitar effects as well a program for
performer,and considering it is               browsing.                                                                simulating a guitar amp complete with distortion.
available in several colours,it might            ‘Push’email,which sends a copy of an email to your                       There are 32 tracks that can each have recordings with their
just liven up a dull desk.                    mobile phone or handheld PC,is available,as is AOL Instant               own volume,pan and effects settings.The intensity of these
                        Anthony Dhanendran    Messenger.Contacts,photos and to-do lists are                            can be changed throughout songs.Drum and bass parts can
                                              automatically backed-up on T-Mobile’s servers.However,it                 be added using audio loops.
                                                                                           doesn’t offer                                                                  There is a good
 We say...                                      We say...                                  Bluetooth,                    We say...                                     manual supplied –
 A good amount of storage in an interesting     An interesting device, but the design does infrared or USB               An excellent and versatile recording tool for although some
 and novel package                              feel a little dated                        connections.                  guitarists                                    tutorial videos
 Overall ####                                   Overall ###                                    Although clever,          Overall ####                                  would make a big
                                                                                           it’s not as                                                                 difference.The set-
 Contact Lacie 020 7872 8000                    ContactT-Mobile 0845 412 2401                                            Contact Et Cetera 0870 873 8731
 Info www.lacie.co.uk                           Info www.t-mobile.co.uk                    impressive as it              Info www.etcetera.co.uk                       up wizard is also a
 Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices      Buy www.t-mobile.co.uk                     could have been.              Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices     useful tool.
                                                                                                      Will Stapley                                                                 Tim Smith


30       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
 SECURITY SOFTWARE >> £25                                                                                                                        WEBCAM >> £80
Webroot SpySweeper 4.5                                                                                                                          Logitech
Protect your PC with an all-in-one spyware catcher                                                                                              QuickCam
The biggest change in the latest               other programs to potentially                    the question as ever is:why should              Fusion
version of SpySweeper is that it now           damage the computer.                             you pay for this program when the
picks up so-called rootkits.                     The recent fuss over them,and                  free programs Spybot and Ad-Aware
                                                                                                                                                A flexible webcam that’s
   These aggressive programs can               Sony’s use of rootkits on music CDs              (both of which can be downloaded                not too steady on its feet
hide themselves deep in the innards            (as we have covered at length in our             from www.computeractive.co.uk)
of Windows,and allow hackers or                news section) has led Webroot to                 will do a similar job?                                   ogitech’s latest webcam
                                                   make removing them a priority.
                                                      Otherwise the program is
                                                   much the same as the last
                                                                                                   The answer to this is that while
                                                                                                many of us find the free programs
                                                                                                sufficient,each program will only
                                                                                                                                                L        features a flexible collar that
                                                                                                                                                         can be bent into
                                                                                                                                                shape to provide
                                                   edition,with a single screen                 pick up some of the threats.While               stability as the
                                                   control panel that covers the                free programs are enough for some,              webcam balances
                                                   blocking,finding and removal of              those dealing with heavily or                   on top of a
                                                   any threats.                                 consistently-infected computers                 display.
                                                      The detection aspect is good,             may find that SpySweeper,                           It took some
                                                   because the software is able to              combined with the two free                      fiddling to get
                                                   pick up traces of most current               programs,can provide a pretty                   it steady on a
                                                   spyware circulating,as well as               good defence.                                   standard
                                                   tracking cookies – the files                                      Anthony Dhanendran         desktop
                                                   placed on computers by                                                                       monitor but it
                                                   websites to track users.Despite               We say...                                      wasn’t entirely
                                                   its best efforts,though,as with               Very good spyware detection but best used in   convincing
                                                   many spyware detectors,some                   concert with other programs                    when tried on a
                                                   pieces of spyware proved harder               Overall ####                                   number of
                                                   to shift than others and were still                                                          notebook PC
                                                                                                 ContactWebroot 0845 838 1130
                                                   there even after the program                  Info www.webroot.com/uk                        screens.
                                                   claimed they had gone.                        Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices          The device can also be positioned
                                                 With spyware-detecting software,                                                               on a desk and pointed up,which is
                                                                                                                                                more stable but may provide a rather
                                                                                                                                                unflattering view of the subject.
                                                                                                                                                    Image quality from the camera was
 PERIPHERAL >> £80                                                     PERIPHERAL >> £20                                                        excellent,as the price would suggest,
                                                                                                                                                with the built-in microphone picking
Jabra BT500                                                           Gear4 PocketPower                                                         up sound clearly for voice messaging.
                                                                                                                                                    The supplied software contains
The Jabra BT500 is a versatile                                        With all of the USB devices available to                                  plenty of useful and fun features.It’s
Bluetooth headset that can be                                         us when on the move,the one thing often                                   possible to create picture and video
used with a mobile phone or a                                         missing is a stable power                                                 emails,although the software
computer.It is light and comfortable                                  connection.                                                               crashed when trying to compress our
and has an impressive battery life – Jabra                                It’s no good having an                                                simple five-second clip.The still
claims that a fully-charged battery                                   iPod stacked with music                                                   images,however,are of poor quality
will last for eight hours of talk time and 240                        if it’s going to run out of                                               when compared with even a basic
hours of standby.                                                     power half way through                                                    digital camera.
   Connecting the headset to a mobile phone or                        a journey.                                                                    Amusingly,the camera can use
computer is very easy,with a button dedicated to                          The PocketPower,in theory,can                                         face-tracking technology to create
putting the device in discoverable mode.                              supply power to any device that                                           avatars – animated characters such as
The connect button doubles as the power                               charges over a USB connection.The device takes four                       a dinosaur that replicates your facial
switch and is well placed for easy access.                            AAA batteries and then converts that power to supply it                   expressions and head movements.It’s
   The headset produced good-quality                                  through the supplied USB cable.                                           fairly basic,but entertaining.
audio and it was easy to hear the person on the other end                 Rechargeable batteries are supplied but it’s possible to                  Not many people would consider
of the line.It can also be used as a computer headset,either          slot in four standard cells.The rechargeable batteries can                paying this much for a webcam,but
for all sounds on the computer or just for instant                    be refreshed by plugging the PocketPower into a PC’s                      those who can justify such an amount
messaging programs.The quality was good but not as                    powered USB socket – a full charge took a shade under                     will get a good tool for instant
good as from a pair of headphones.                                    three hours.                                                              messaging.
   A useful touch is the ability to charge the BT500 from a               The PocketPower worked well with our test iPod – but we                                                 Paul Allen
                                              USB port.               had to use the iPod’s
  We say...                                   Although not the        own charging cable.It We say...                                            We say...
  Comfortable and with good battery life, the cheapest                wouldn’t charge the A great boon for iPod users, but others might          A good webcam and software package best
  BT500 is everything a headset should be     Bluetooth               Orange SPV                  need to first check for compatibility          suited to those with standalone monitors
  Overall ####                                headset,it is one of    smartphone we               Overall ####                                   Overall ###
                                              the most versatile      tried,but it did work
  Contact Jabra 0800 032 7026                                                                     Contact Gear4,no UK number                     Contact Logitech 01753 870900
  Info www.jabra.com                          and has excellent       with a LaCie external Info www.gear4.com                                   Info www.logitech.co.uk
  Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices   battery life.           hard disk.                  Buy www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices      Buy www.logitech.co.uk
                                                          Tim Smith       Anthony Dhanendran

                                                                                                             2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                               31
Feature Computeractive’s birthday




 Time to
celebreight
Eight years of experience has led us to the
belief that you should never sit still.Here’s to
another eight years of trouble-free computing



                                     T
                                                he best ideas are often the simplest ones;
                                                that’s a principle we have held in high
                                                regard since the day, eight years ago,
                                                that the very first issue of
                                                Computeractive flew off the presses.
                                       While our look has changed since then, the
                                     idea that technology is something that
                                     everyone should be able to benefit from has
                                     remained at the core of everything we do.
                                       We’re still the only magazine that writes
                                     about technology using language that won’t
                                     have you scratching your head. Sadly, the
                                                             electronics industry at
P From day one we placed the focus                            large has failed to spot
firmly on issues relevant to the                               that the only title to
average PC user                                                 wear the badge of
                                                                plain English is also the
                                                                 best-selling computing
                                                                 magazine in the UK.
                                                                     Not that we’d worry too
                                                                  much about being out of a
                                                                   job if the boffins started
                                                                    writing manuals that
                                                                     everyone could
                                                                      understand.
                                                                        Either way, with so
                                                                       many potential uses for
                                                                       computers and
                                                                        applications, and with
                                                                        computing technology
                                                                         spreading to other
                                                                          devices around the
                                                                           house, there’s plenty
                                                                           for us to chew over
                                                                            for many years to
                                                                             come.

                                                                            The road
                                                                            forward
                                                                             The past year
                                                                             has seen one
                                                                significant new sphere
                                                  emerge – that of the digital home, where
                                     computing technology combines with other devices to
                                     offer enhanced home entertainment and automation of
                                     household tasks. With the concept still in its early
                                     days, in April of last year we introduced a section
                                     dedicated to demystifying this technology.
                                       It’s a theme that will continue to develop throughout
                                     the magazine and online pages of Computeractive,              H Our website brings all the best aspects of our magazine to the internet


32       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                              i
R We’ve changed our look over the years,and                                           For more information on the topics,projects
extended our reach with the launch of Active Home
                                                                                     and companies mentioned in this article,go to
                                                                                     www.computeractive.co.uk/2150230
and a key date to pencil in your
diary this year is 1 December.
   This is widely tipped as the                                               move to the new operating system. Windows XP
launch date for Windows Vista, the                                            will continue to be the mainstream operating
successor to Windows XP. We say                                                system for some time, so the bulk of our
pencil it in, as Microsoft has already                                          coverage will continue to focus on the most
postponed the emergence of its new                                               widespread Windows version available.
baby at least twice. Vista promises to
“bring clarity to your world, so you can                                           Online and onwards
more safely and easily accomplish                                                  With more focus on the internet, the
everyday tasks”, according to Microsoft,                                             Computeractive website is in line for a
and we will be casting a critical eye over                                            major redevelopment, making it easy to
the new operating system when it arrives.                                              find information. We’ll have the very
   So far, few people have shown much                                                    latest reviews online, and features in the
enthusiasm for the logistics of a cluttered                                               magazine will include a box directing
living room that provides access to digital                                                   you to information and links, so that
photographs, video from hard disk through a                                                          we can rid articles of untidy
TV screen, or music streamed from digital music                                                      and barely comprehensible
applications via wireless networks to speakers.                                                     website addresses.
   PC cases built with all the charm of a 1960s                                                       It also means we can include
high-rise haven’t helped. But all that is changing                                                 further reference material for
now that home entertainment PCs are virtually                                                     readers interested in a given
indistinguishable from a DVD player or Freeview                                                  subject to pursue in their own
receiver. With the latest PCs also containing tools                                             time. We’ll keep you up to date
that provide the benefits of receiving and recording                                           with changes as they happen, so
digital television, the digital home is developing at                                         why not register for the free
a rapid pace, especially with wireless networks                                               Computeractive newsletter? See the
becoming easier to set up and manage.                                                        box below for the website address
   Vista’s aim is to further simplify the digital                                           where you can sign up.
home so that the PC is integrated with the TV                                                 By the time you read this article,
and hi-fi. There’s a new interface too, with a                                             we’ll have finished off the final crumbs
range of Desktop gadgets that provide access                                              from our birthday cake, and will be
to online services such as email, weather                                                looking forward to writing more material
reports and news. Anyone who’s seen the                                                 for the pages of the magazine and
Widgets on an Apple Mac, or Yahoo’s                                                    website. We read every email sent to us,
recently-launched Widgets for PC, will                                                so if you have any suggestions or
already be familiar with the idea.                                                   comments, please send them to the address
   As with all major software launches,                                             below. We look forward to another exciting
however, Vista will have its share of teething                                     year of home computing.
problems. But we will be on hand to guide those who                                 letters@computeractive.co.uk



How you can get involved
and win a £700 PC
WITH EIGHTYEARS under our belts,perhaps we could be forgiven for
thinking that we’d got the content of the magazine spot on.We’re not
foolish,though,and recognise that Computeractive has to evolve as
fast as the technology that fills its pages.
   To that end,we’d like to ask for your help.The features,
reviews,news andWorkshops that make up our magazine
are designed for the home user,so we need to know as
much as you can tell us about your attitudes to technology.
We’ve placed a short survey on our website at the address
below.Everyone who completes the survey in full will be
entered into a draw to win a £700 Media Center PC from
Mesh Computers.
   It won’t be the last time we’ll ask for your input into the
future of the magazine this year,so look out for more
invitations to have your say.


  Tell us your views:                   www.computeractive.co.uk/readersurvey
                                                                       2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk            33
Feature Bargain deals




Fair trade
                                                                                               Getting started
                                                                                               When you get to a fair, you’ll be struck by the sheer
                                                                                               volume of computer-related gear on offer. Stall after
                                                                                               stall is piled high with items ranging from humble
                                                                                               mousemats, to software, USB-powered torches, and
                                                                                               even notebook PCs and TFT monitors. To spot a
                                                                                               bargain among all these products, it’s worth knowing
Can you always be guaranteed unbeatable bargains                                               the going rate of the items you want to buy. If you don’t
                                                                                               have the time to do some research before you leave
at computer fairs? Computeractive investigates                                                 home, then pick up a copy of Computeractive on the
                                                                                               way and use it as a price guide.
                                                                                                 Once you’ve paid the entrance fee (usually between




                                  C
                                                omputer fairs have a reputation for being      £1 and £3), don’t rush to buy at the first place you
                                                a place where, in return for investing time    come across. You’ll find that although many of the
                                                and shoe leather, you can pick up bargain      stalls sell the same goods, they won’t necessarily
                                                technical goodies. But is this reputation      come with the same price tag. Investing a bit of time
                                                strictly true? After all, once you’ve          to explore a fair when you arrive will, quite literally,
                                  stepped over the threshold of a fair, it’s all too easy to   pay off later when you’ll know which stalls have the
                                  let yourself and your wallet get carried away by the         best bargains.
                                  atmosphere, rather than take the time to see if you can        It’s also worth having a word with the stall traders at
                                  buy cheaper elsewhere. Even if computer fairs can            this point about their stock and, if you need it, to get
                                  save you a few quid, is it worth the effort of spending      some advice on what to buy. Being able to talk face-to-
                                  half a day traipsing around stalls? To find out, we          face with a trader makes a nice change from shopping
                                  decided to put computer fairs to the test.                   online, where it usually takes someone a day or so to
                                                                                               respond to emailed queries.
                                  The mission                                                    However, it’s worth having some general knowledge
                                  We set ourselves the task of visiting various computer       about what you want to buy before you start asking for
                                  fairs to buy the bits and bobs needed to turn a PC into      advice, as we found that some stall holders seemed
                                  a personal video recorder (PVR), capable of receiving        confused about the type of products we would need.
                                  and recording TV programmes. So we were looking              But with a bit of prompting, most were able to steer us
                                  for a TV tuner card that would allow our computer to
                                  receive a TV signal and, if the card didn’t already
                                  come with it, some software to schedule recording. We
                                  also wanted a bigger hard disk to store our recorded
                                  programmes, and an external multi-format DVD
                                  rewriter to save our favourite shows onto DVD discs.
                                     This shopping list doesn’t seem too hard a test until
                                  you consider our budget – a not exactly wallet-bulging
                                  £100. On the high street it would cost about £170 to
                                  buy all of these goods, so we had our work cut out.
                                     Before we could start shopping, we had to find out
                                  where and when our nearest computer fairs were
                                  being held. And this is where the internet came in
                                  handy. Typing the phrase ‘computer fair’ into a good
                                  search engine, such as Google, sorted us out (see our
                                  links page at www.computeractive.co.uk/2150482).
                                  It was time to strap on some comfy shoes, raid the
H Many computer fairs,such as     Computeractive piggy bank and head off to see what
Bracknell,have big-name traders   bargains were to be had.                                     H The range of products at fairs can be daunting,so do some research before you go


34       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                                                                                Illustration: Ian Jackson
in the right direction. In general, quieter stalls or                   British Computer Fairs, prices are usually competitive.
those run by more than one person were pretty                             “Many traders also have high-street shops but sell
helpful, as busier stalls usually had less time to spare                their products for less at the fairs due to their
for a chat. We also discovered that other fair-goers                    competitive nature,” says Whiteman. “The unique
were willing to offer advice.                                           format of the computer fair means that traders have
                                                                        very low overheads and high output; this helps make
What’s there?                                                           the price of goods far cheaper than that of the high
Unlike a shop or online store, traders at fairs don’t                   street.” This was backed up by our own experience –
always stock the most up-to-date products,                              at one fair we spotted a PlayStation Portable on sale
particularly when it comes to software. For example,                    for £155, considerably less than high-street store
Adobe Paint Shop Pro X (issue 206, page 16), at £60,                    Argos, which had it advertised on its website for £180
is the most recent version of the popular image-                        when we checked.
editing program.
   One of the fairs we went to only had the older                       Price is right
Adobe Paint Shop Pro 8 on sale, although at £30 it                      But even though prices at fairs can be low, we found
was half the price of the latest release. And as you can                that stall holders weren’t always as concerned about
see from the products we ended up buying (see box,                      our budget as we were. For instance, even after we
below), the brands that are on display aren’t always                    explained that we had a limited amount of money,
ones that you’ll be familiar with.                                      every trader we spoke to still recommended buying a
   In contrast to the average car boot sale, the stall                  digital TV tuner card – even though the analogue ones
holders at a computer fair are usually official traders                 they were selling worked out at about £25 cheaper. It
who also run computer shops. When we asked John                         was only after we asked whether an analogue card was
Calder, from mail order firm Not Just Ink, why he                       available that we were shown what was in stock. So if
traded at computer fairs, he told us: “It’s simply the                  you’re on a strict budget, it’s worth doing some
volume of traffic coming through.” A high number of                     homework on the sort of products you want to buy.
prospective buyers means traders can afford to keep                       Also bear in mind that
their prices low.                                                       stall holders are
   And overall, we did notice that prices seemed                        usually open to
cheaper than those we were used to on the high                          offers – all but one
street. According to Chris Whiteman, the organiser of



Mission accomplished
IT TOOK TIME,effort and,even if       match these prices,and we’d get
we do say so ourselves,some           short shrift if we attempted to
pretty nifty haggling skills,but we   haggle.But what we would
did it.For the sum total of £100,     find in a more typical store
Computeractive is now the proud       would be (Maxtor
owner of a BTC USB2.0 external        aside) better-
DVD +- R/RWWriter (£45),a             known brands,the
Maxtor 80Gb hard disk (£32),a         ability to pay with a
Mercury AnalogueTVTuner Card          credit card and goods
that comes with software,an FM        that don’t come
radio tuner and a remote control      complete with the odd tea
(£23).If we tried to buy the          stain.But overall we were
equivalent items online or at a       extremely pleased with the
shop,we doubt they’d be able to       purchases we made.

                                                                                               2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                   35
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                                                                                                                                       Feature Bargain deals

                                                                                   This means that goods must be fit for purpose, be
                                                                               as described, and if something goes wrong within the
                                                                               first six months from purchase, the onus is on the
                                                                               trader to prove that the fault wasn’t there when you
                                                                               bought it.                                                                                       Techno babble
                                                                                   If worried that once they’ve taken your money,                                               demystified...
                                                                               you’ll never see a trader again, British Computer


                                                                                                                                                                      ±
                                                                               Fairs’ Chris Whiteman assured us that he double-
                                                                               checks the details of every trader who registers at his                                     Hard disk A high-
                                                                               fairs and that, as the fairs’ organiser, his company                                        capacity disk drive fitted
                                                                                                                                                                           in most PCs to store
                                                                               will act as a mediator if there is a problem.
                                                                                                                                                                           applications and files.
                                                                                                                            “I look into all
                                                                                                                         complaints and make
                                                                                                                         sure the shoppers are
                                                                                                                         treated fairly. The
                                                                                                                                                                      ±    PVR Personal video
                                                                                                                                                                           recorder.Stores recorded
                                                                                                                                                                           TV footage on hard disk,
                                                                                                                         core of our traders are                           rather than a tape or DVD.


                                                                                                                                                                      ±
were willing to haggle with                                                                                              regular, and so
us. If you want to have a go                                                                                             understand the                                    Search engine A site
                                                                                                                                                                           on the net that indexes
at haggling yourself, we                                                                                                 importance of a good
                                                                                                                                                                           the names and addresses
found that being patient,                                                                                                reputation.”                                      of other sites.
polite and persistent                                                                                                       The traders we
produced the best results,
and if you can buy multiple
goods from one stall then
                                                                                                                         bought from had full
                                                                                                                         contact details on
                                                                                                                         their receipts. If the
                                                                                                                                                                      ±    TV tuner An expansion
                                                                                                                                                                           card or external box,that
                                                                                                                                                                           receives TV signals and
you can wangle more                                                                                                      stall doesn’t do this,                            allows aTV picture to be
money off.                                                                                                               then make sure the                                displayed on your
  You should also be                                                                                                     trader gives you a                                computer screen.


                                                                                                                                                                      ±
prepared to pay using cold,                                                                                              business card.                                    USB Universal Serial Bus.
hard cash. Some stalls,                                                                                                     As you can see from                            A standard that allows
usually those selling more                                                                                               the box on page 35,                               quick and easy
expensive items like            H Prices are fiercely competitive at computer fairs so it’s worth taking time to explore we did complete our                               connection of peripherals
notebooks PCs, will have                                                                                                 mission – something                               to your PC.
signs saying that they accept credit or debit cards.                           we probably couldn’t have done if we shopped online
However, we were met with incredulous looks when                               or on the high street.                                                                   For more on Jargon Buster visit:
we asked if we could pay for our bargains by card. If                              Knowing that your rights are the same as in a shop                                  www.computeractive.co.uk
you don’t feel comfortable carrying a wad of notes                             also means that buying at a computer fair is a lot safer
around, strike a deal first, and then ask the stall                            than at an online auction, where the consumer has
holder to put your items to one side while you go and                          fewer rights if something does go wrong. And unlike
visit a cash point.                                                            shopping in an average high-street store, computer
                                                                               fairs can be fun. If you are into technology, it’s
Your rights                                                                    enjoyable to chat with fellow shoppers who share the
Unfortunately, paying with cash means that you lose                            same interests.
out on additional buyer protection; if you can, use                                So does this mean that computer fairs are worth the
your credit card to pay for purchases over £100; then                          effort? Well, if you’re after the most recent technology,
the credit card company is jointly liable if something                         then you may be disappointed. But if you’re not that
goes wrong. But if you do pay with cash, it’s                                  bothered about brands or having the latest versions of
reassuring to know that your consumer rights when                              products and want to save money, then computer fairs
buying at a computer fair are exactly the same as                              are for you.
when you buy from a shop.                                                                                                             Claire Marshall



Location, location, location
NEED TO KNOW where                 and Milton Keynes                  • Northern Computer
and when your nearest              • British Computer Fairs;          Markets; northern England
computer fairs are being           London and southern                • Compute UK; East Anglia
held? Check out the                England                            • Crystal Palace Computer
following websites for             • Computer Fairs                   Fair; south London
more information:                  Information; England,Wales         • Excel Promotions;
• Advance Computer Fairs;          and Scotland                       north-east England
northern England                   • Computer Fairs Ltd;              • Abacus Computer Fairs;
• All Formats Computer             north-west England                 England and Wales
Fairs; Bristol,Oxford              and Lancashire                     • Nitex; Midlands and
                                                                      northern England


i
            For more information on the topics,projects and           • Prestige Events; England
           companies mentioned in this article,go to                  • Excalibur Computer Fairs;
           www.computeractive.co.uk/2150482                           Midlands
                                                                      • Wizard Fairs; north London        H The internet is a good place to start if looking for a computer fair near you

                                                                                                             2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                           37
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                ISSUE 210              Workshops
                                                                      In this                                          PULL
                                                                      Issue...                                         OUT&
                                                                                                                       KEEP
                                                                      Use PagePlus to create
                                                                      a publication
                                                                      Use DTP tips learned so far to develop a
                                                                      newsletter with pictures and text p40±
                                                                      Conduct video chats
                                                                      with MSN Messenger
                                                                      Chat to friends online and see their faces
                                                                      too using a webcam and instant-
                                                                      messaging software p44±
                                                                      Convert video files for
                                                                      use on portable players
      Techno babble demystified...                                    How to copy your videos onto an iPod or
                                                                      PlayStation portable p47±
±   Broadband Refers to
    high-bandwidth internet
    connections,such as ADSL.
                                    ±   MP3 A standard for
                                        compressing digital audio.
                                        Sound quality is close to
                                                                      Upgrade to Microsoft
                                                                      Calculator Plus
±
                                        that of CD audio but
    Desktop What you see                requires only a fraction of
    after starting up a                 the storage space.            Upgrade the Windows calculator with
    computer.Displays your
                                                                      this advanced free replacement from
    Taskbar and a selection of
    icons such as My Computer
    and Recycle Bin.
                                    ±   Pixel Short for picture
                                        element,which is the
                                        smallest part of a digital
                                                                      Microsoft p51±
                                                                      Hints and tips
±
                                        image.
    Dialogue box A small
    window that pops up to
    display or request
    information.
                                    ±   Point size The
                                        measurement used to
                                        describe the size of text.
                                                                      Desktop alerts with Outlook 2003,position
                                                                      retention in Excel,add text information to
                                                                      image files and more p54±
±   Driver Software needed
    to allow Windows to
    communicate with a
                                    ±   Resolution The amount
                                        of detail shown in an
                                        image,whether on screen
    peripheral.                         or printed.
                                                                        LEVEL 1 2 3
±   Font A set of letters,
    numbers and symbols in a        ±   Toolbar A strip of icons
                                        that runs across the top of
    particular style.Popular            most applications.
                                                                      What the
                                    ±
    fonts are Arial andTimes
                                        Web browser A
    New Roman.
                                        software program              WORKSHOP
±   Hard disk A high-
    capacity disk drive used to
                                        developed for navigating
                                        the internet.                 LEVELS mean...
                                    ±
    store applications and files.
    Capacity is measured in             Webcam A video                LEVEL 1 Suitable for the most anxious
    gigabytes.                          camera designed to            novice, Level 1 deals with simple tasks that
                                        connect to your PC.           every computer user can try.

±   Instant messaging
    Real-time text-based
    communication over a            ±   Wizard An automated
                                        online‘assistant’designed
                                                                      LEVEL 2 More involved, but simple
                                                                      enough for all to complete, Level 2 may
    network,using a program             to guide you,step-by-step,    introduce you to new features in applications.
    such as AOL Instant                 through a potentially
    Messenger.                          complex process.              LEVEL 3 Will bolster your existing
                                                                      knowledge and help you to see how much
                  For more on Jargon Buster visit:                    your computer can do. Clear but demanding.
              www.computeractive.co.uk

                                                                                         2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk   39
LEVEL 1 2 3                                     CREATE A DTP NEWSLETTER

                 Use PagePlus to create a
                                                              publication
                                                              Use DTP tricks learned so far to develop a newsletter
                                                              from scratch,combining pictures and text
                                                              In the last three issues,we’ve explored     devoted to good design,but for small
                                                              how to import text into a desktop           projects we think it’s safe to rely on your
                                                              publishing document,flow the words          instincts.However,don’t be afraid to
                                                              into frames and add images.In this final    borrow ideas from books and
                                                              part of our guide to DTP with PagePlus      magazines.Remember,there are also
                                                              you’ll build a multi-page newsletter and    hundreds of templates for PagePlus and
                                                              create its cover page.We’ve made all the    they,along with the application,can be
                                                              decisions about fonts and layouts,but       downloaded free of charge from
                                                              feel free to experiment.There are books     www.computeractive.co.uk/pageplus.




STEP 1...
THE FRAMEWORK FOR OUR publication is the template called
                                                                             STEP 2...
                                                                             THE NEWSLETTER TEMPLATE HAS guidelines set up for three
‘Newsmaster’, which was generated in part one of this series                 columns and five rows.We’ll place the masthead (that’s the
(published in issue 207).To load it,start PagePlus and on the opening        publication title) across the top row.This can be created in any
screen click Open previously saved work.The template should be               graphics program and inserted as a picture,but in this case we’ll create
displayed in the Open Saved Work dialogue box,in which case you              one on the fly using the tools in PagePlus.To make a start,click on the
can select it and click Finish.If you don’t see the Newsletter template      Artistic Text Tool in the left-hand toolbar and click anywhere on the
(perhaps because you’ve reinstalled PagePlus) click the Browse button        newsletter.Use the formatting toolbar to select the Forte font at
to find it on the hard disk and then click Open. ±                           48-point size and then type the words ‘Local News’. ±




40   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                          Workshops ±



                                                                          STEP 5...
                                                                          USE THE STANDARD FRAME tool or the left-hand toolbar to drag out


STEP 3...
                                                                          a frame that is one column wide.Type in the words ‘Issue number 1’,
                                                                          then select the text and format it to be Arial size 12 and bold.You
                                                                          might wish to assign it the same font colour as used for the Local News
                                                                          text.When done,drag the text box into position on the masthead and
DRAG THE LOCAL NEWS text box to the top left-hand corner of the           adjust its size as necessary.Repeat this procedure for the right-hand
guides,and then drag the bottom right-hand corner of the text box to      side of the masthead.The text is ‘Spring 2006’, which should be
stretch the text until it reaches the right-hand side of the guides.To    right-justified (click the right-justify button on the PagePlus
change the colour of the text,click the Attributes tab in the Studio      formatting toolbar). ±
pane on the right of the screen.Click Color at the top of the pane,and
then select a colour from the samples beneath. ±




                                                                          STEP 6...
STEP 4...
TO CREATE A BACKGROUND for the masthead,click the Quick
                                                                          USE THE STANDARD FRAME TOOL to create a text box for the main
                                                                          headline on the second row.Set the font to Arial size 36 in bold,and
                                                                          then type the words of the headline into the box.Size the text frame
                                                                          so that it is just big enough to contain the text.Click on a blank part of
Rectangle tool in the left-hand toolbar and drag out a rectangle that     the newsletter to deselect the headline.Click on the left-hand ruler to
covers the entire top row of the newsletter.Click in the Studio pane to   place a non-printing horizontal red guideline on the page.Drag this
select a colour for the rectangle.We chose green and set the              guide into alignment with the headline frame. This will help to line up
Shade/Tint slider bar at the bottom of the Studio pane to‘+75%’. The      other text and picture frames on the page ±
coloured rectangle now obscures the‘Local News’title,so click on the
Arrange menu and select Send to Back.This turns the rectangle into a
backdrop for the text. ±

                                                                                                                 NEXTSTEP
                                                                                                                       turn over...
                                                                                                                                                   ±
                                                                                    2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                    41
 CREATE A DTP NEWSLETTER
Use PagePlus to create a publication




 STEP 7...
 A PHOTOGRAPH TO ACCOMPANY the main story is to be placed in
                                                                             STEP 9...
                                                                             CLICK ON THE FIRST frame,and then on the plus sign beneath it.
 the third column.Any picture in landscape orientation will do.To place      When the cursor changes into a jug full of letters,click to‘pour’these
 it,click the Insert menu and then select Picture.Click From File.Locate     into the second frame.Create a third frame beneath the picture in
 the picture on the hard disk and click Open.Drag the picture into           column three and repeat the previous procedure to fill it with
 position with its top edge level with the red guideline placed in the       overflow text.If the text in column three does not align with the text in
 previous step.The image should be exactly the same width as the             the other two columns,adjust the distance between the top of the
 third column,and don’t worry if this means it has to extend                 text frame and the picture until correct alignment is achieved. ±
 downwards into the next row. ±




 STEP 8...                                                                   STEP 10...
                                                                             FOLLOWING THE SAME PROCEDURES as in steps six to nine,create a
 USING THE RED GUIDELINE to help positioning,draw a new text                 second story,with a picture in the bottom half of the page.The font for
 frame in the first column,extending it fully into row three.With the        the secondary headline is Arial size 24 point,bold.Separate frames are
 frame selected,paste around 250 words of sample text into it (or open       created for the two text columns.To create a dividing rule between the
 the Insert menu and click Text File to load some saved text from disk).     main and secondary story,click the line tool in the left-hand toolbox
 The plus (‘+’) sign at the bottom of the frame indicates that it contains   and drag out a horizontal divider by holding down the Shift key to
 overflow text that has yet to be placed,so create a second identical        keep the line straight.Use the Studio pane to set the line width to 5
 frame for this text in column two. ±                                        points and its colour to green. ±




42    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                           Workshops ±




STEP 11...
TO INSERT A SHAPED panel in the bottom-right-hand corner of the
                                                                           STEP 13...
                                                                           CREATE A TEXT FRAME ON top of the arrow.This will contain a list of
page,click the chevron on the right of the Quick Rectangle tool.This       contents.Completing this list would normally be one of the final
opens up a toolbox to show 24 different shapes.Click the large             stages of publication design,but we’ve inserted dummy text to show
upwards-pointing arrow on the top line,and then click to place the         how it works.The font is Times New Roman size 10,bold.The numbers
arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the page.Click the Rotate         are separated from the text by hitting the Tab key.If the arrow isn’t big
tool on the left-hand toolbar and then grab one of the corners of the      enough to contain the required number of lines you can make its tail
arrow and rotate it until it is pointing to the edge of the page. ±        broader by adjusting the node slider on the left of its frame. ±




STEP 12...
IF YOU HAVE PROBLEMS getting the arrow perfectly horizontal,hold
                                                                           STEP 14...
down the Shift key to constrain it.Click the Pointer tool to disable the   TO CREATE ADDITIONAL PAGES for the newsletter,open the Insert
Rotate feature,and then drag the corner handles of the arrow to resize     menu and click Page.In the Page Manager dialogue box choose the
it to fit the available space.Use the Fill feature in the Studio pane to   number of pages you require (we added three to make a four-page
assign a colour to the arrow.We used a green/yellow linear fill.Create a   publication).Move from page to page using the Page Up and Page
green vertical divider,2 points wide,between the arrow and the             Down keys,or by using the Pages tab in the Studio pane.Finally,
second story.To position it you will need to temporarily disable           overflow text from the stories on the front page can be placed on later
snapping (on the Arrange menu). ±                                          pages,but don’t forget to add‘Continued on’and‘Continued from’
                                                                           messages to guide the reader. ENDS




                                                                                    2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                   43
LEVEL 1 2 3                                    TALK TO FRIENDS ONLINE

  Conduct video chats with MSN
                                                             Messenger
                                                             Chat to friends online and see their faces,too,using a
                                                             webcam and instant-messaging software
                                                             The spread of broadband internet         would be nice to see the person you’re
                                                             connections means that more              talking to. Webcams can now be
                                                             computer users have become used to       bought for under £30,and once
                                                             the idea of staying online for long      configured,it is possible to conduct
                                                             periods.This has led to instant-         instant-messaging conversations,
                                                             messaging (IM) tools such as MSN         which include live video of participants.
                                                             Messenger becoming more popular.         With microphones,audio conversations
                                                             While text-based online chatting has     can take place,effectively allowing for
                                                             obvious appeal,there are times when it   free telephone calls over the internet.




STEP 1...
THE FIRST THING THAT needs to be done is to install the webcam.
Most of them will come with software drivers supplied on a CD,but
can also be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.Start the
installation program and run through the process.Once installation is
                                                                           STEP 2...
                                                                           IT IS POSSIBLE TO use a webcam and microphone with most instant-
complete,it’s worth spending a few moments ensuring that the               messaging tools,such as AIM and Yahoo Instant Messenger,and the
camera works correctly using the supplied software before                  process is very similar for each program.For this Workshop,we’re
attempting to use it with an instant-messaging program. ±                  going to focus on MSN Messenger (which can be downloaded from
                                                                           www.computeractive.co.uk/2129058).To begin,it is necessary to
                                                                           configure both microphone and webcam before they can be used
                                                                           with the instant-messaging application.In MSN Messenger,click Tools
                                                                           and point to Audio and Video Setup before clicking the Next button.
                                                                           This launches a wizard to simplify the set-up process. ±




44   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                         Workshops ±



                                                                         STEP 5...
                                                                         DON’T WORRY IF THE image isn’t perfect to start with as this can be
                                                                         adjusted by clicking the Options button.The eight sliders that appear


STEP 3...
                                                                         on the Properties dialogue can be used to improve various aspects of
                                                                         the camera’s output.Each of the controls should be fairly self-
                                                                         explanatory,but try moving each of them in turn to see what effect it
                                                                         has on the preview window.It is possible to revert to the original
START BY ADJUSTING THE output of the speakers or headphones to           settings at any time by clicking the Default button.Click OK to finish
the correct volume level.Click the Play Sound button and use the         the tune-up process and then Finish. ±
slider control to the right to set the level before clicking Next.The
microphone is configured in very much the same way – speak into it
while keeping an eye on the volume indicator to the right of the
screen,lowering the volume level if necessary.If no sound is detected,
ensure that the microphone has not been muted using Windows’
volume control. ±




                                                                         STEP 6...
                                                                         IN MSN MESSENGER,MANY of the same video adjustments can also
                                                                         be accessed by clicking Tools followed by Webcam Settings.The
                                                                         Camera Settings dialogue that appears features a larger preview
                                                                         screen which can make it easier to make fine adjustments,although
                                                                         by default there are a fewer control on view.To access the full range,


STEP 4...
                                                                         click the Advanced button.The Camera Settings screen also includes
                                                                         the option to flip the screen to display a mirror image – this setting
                                                                         does not affect what other people see.Click Close when finished. ±

CLICK NEXT TO MOVE to MSN Messenger’s Webcam Setup screen.If
the computer has more than one video-capture device attached –
such as a TV card – make sure that the webcam is selected from the
drop-down list.The preview window at the bottom-left of the
dialogue box gives an idea of how the webcam will appear to others.


                                                                                                                                                  ±
Adjust the position of the camera to produce the best picture,if
necessary use its focus-control ring to sharpen a blurred image. ±
                                                                                                              NEXTSTEP
                                                                                                                    turn over...
                                                                                  2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                45
 TALK TO FRIENDS ONLINE
Conduct online video chats with MSN messenger




 STEP 7...                                                                STEP 9...
                                                                          IF BOTH PEOPLE INVOLVED in an MSN Messenger conversation
 TO CONDUCT A WEBCAM conversation,start by instigating an                 have webcams,either one can start a video conversation.In this mode,
 ordinary text conversation with a contact first.Beneath the display      footage from both webcams is broadcast simultaneously.Click the
 pictures to the right of the screen there are small webcam icons – one   Video toolbar button and the other person will need to accept the
 below the contact’s picture and one below your own (if both parties      invitation.In Video Conversation mode,audio is automatically
 have webcams installed and switched on).To send live webcam              transmitted as well,and the volume can be controlled using the sliders
 footage,click the icon beneath your picture and select Send My           to the right of the video window.For a richer experience,click the
 Webcam.This will send an invitation to the person you’re speaking to,    Switch To Full-Screen View button. ±
 which they must accept in order to view your webcam.Footage from
 the webcam then replaces the display picture. ±




 STEP 8...
 IF THE PERSON YOU are talking to has a webcam,regardless of
                                                                          STEP 10...
 whether or not there is one attached to your computer,it’s possible to   AUDIO CONVERSATIONS CAN BE conducted with or without a
 request to view their footage.Click the webcam icon beneath their        webcam attached to a computer – all that’s needed is a microphone
 display picture and select View My Contact’s Webcam.Again,this           and speakers.During a standard IM text chat,click the Voice toolbar
 invitation must be accepted before any footage is sent.When viewing      button to send an invitation to the contact you’re talking to.Once
 webcams,it is possible to stop the broadcast of footage by simply        accepted,simply talk into the microphone and your contact will hear
 clicking the webcam icon once again.Adjust the size of the camera        you through their speakers.Again,you can use the slider to the right to
 window by clicking the arrow to the right and making a selection from    control speaker volume,while clicking the microphone button
 the Size menu. ±                                                         temporarily mutes the microphone. ENDS



46    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                          Workshops ±
LEVEL 1 2 3                                      VIDEO IN YOUR POCKET

                                                Convert video for portable
                                                             players
                                                             Here’s how to copy your home movies and other
                                                             videos onto an iPod or PlayStation Portable.
                                                             More and more pocket-sized gadgets,          format for storing video.It’s called
                                                             like the latest iPod and PlayStation         MPEG4 or MP4 and it’s the video
                                                             Portable,are doubling up as great little     equivalent of the MP3 format for digital
                                                             video players.Indeed,even mobile             music files.Many portable video players
                                                             phones are getting in on the act.If          can only handle video if stored in this
                                                             you’ve got such a device,it’s possible to    particular format.So here’s a quick
                                                             put home movies and video clips onto         guide on how to convert existing video
                                                             it in just a matter of minutes – but you     files into MP4 so you can carry them
                                                             need to be familiar with a special file      around on the latest video gadgets.




STEP 1...
THE FIRST STEP IS to gather up all the video clips that you want to
                                                                            STEP 2...
                                                                            THE WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER does have an option built into it that
use.We put together a short skateboarding movie:it’s a full-screen          can be used to transfer video clips onto a variety of portable devices.
video with a resolution of 720x528 pixels,and it’s been saved in the        Just click the‘Copy To CD or Device’button on the left-hand edge of
standard .WMV (Windows Media Video) format.Playing this movie on            the Windows Media Player window to open up the special Copy
a PC is no problem,as Microsoft includes its Windows Media Player for       window.Unfortunately,there’s a problem here.Although this will
free with each copy of Windows.However,it is a problem for portable         allow us to physically transfer the file onto say,an iPod,that particular
devices such as an iPod or PlayStation Portable (PSP). ±                    device can’t actually play .WMV files – and neither can the PlayStation
                                                                            Portable (PSP) for that matter. ±




                                                                                                                  NEXTSTEP
                                                                                                                         turn over...
                                                                                                                                                    ±
                                                                                      2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                  47
 VIDEO IN YOUR POCKET
Convert video files for use on portable players




 STEP 3...
 THE IPOD AND PSP can only play a specific type of video file known
                                                                              STEP 5...
                                                                              PRESSING THE‘CONVERT DVD’button provides an option for
 as MPEG4,indicated by the .MP4 extension after the file name.There           converting DVD discs into MPEG4 format.Of course,commercial DVDs
 are several programs that can do the conversion,although they all            are copy-protected,so trying to convert Batman Begins or the latest
 cost about £15-£20.Unfortunately,there currently aren’t any good             Harry Potter for your iPod will simply display a warning message.
 freeware programs that we’d recommend.Right now,our favourite                However,many people will also have their own home-made DVDs
 application for this purpose is Intervideo’s iVideoToGo (£20),which is       containing home movies and other video projects,so this option
 available in two versions – one for the iPod and one for the PSP.There’s     comes in handy for converting non-commercial DVD discs. ±
 also a trial version available from www.intervideo.com,which runs for
 two weeks so you can try it out before buying. ±




 STEP 4...
 THIS IS THE IPOD version of iVideoToGo.The PSP version is virtually
                                                                              STEP 6...
                                                                              FOR NOW,LET’S STICK with a standard .WMV file – we’re using our
 identical but as that device’s screen is larger than the iPod,the software   ‘SkatePark.wmv’clip.Press the Convert File button to view the options
 adjusts the video image to the relevant size.The image size produced         for converting individual files.Note the three little numbered buttons,
 by the iPod version may also be suitable for smaller devices such as         which indicate that conversion is a simple three-step process.Step
 mobile phones (you’ll need to check the technical details for your           one is to import the video file(s),either by dragging and dropping
 particular model).To begin with,look at the two large buttons at the         straight from the Desktop or using the Import button (the little film-
 top of the program window,marked‘Convert DVD’and‘Convert File’. ±            strip icon at the top-right corner of the Source window).Step two is
                                                                              simply to specify the target destination where you want to save the
                                                                              converted file (set by default to the My Videos folder). ±



48    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                           Workshops ±




STEP 7...
THE THIRD STAGE IS to start the conversion process,turning the
                                                                           STEP 9...
                                                                           TO GET A BETTER idea of how the conversion process works,hit the
WMV file into an MP4 file.But before doing that,take a quick look at       Properties button (the little hammer) to the right of the Copy menu.
the Preview window in the left-hand corner of the screen.This              The MP4 Properties dialogue displays a drop-down menu containing
provides playback controls for checking the audio and video in each        several profiles.These profiles are groups of predefined settings that
clip before starting the conversion.There are also two small trim          control the conversion process and determine how the final
handles – the triangular markers below the preview display.These can       converted video image will look on an iPod or PSP.By default,the
be used to perform simple editing by cutting off the beginning or end      program uses Profile 4,so we’ll look at the settings in that profile. ±
of the video file. ±




STEP 8...
NOW LET’S START CONVERTING the WMV file into MPEG4 format.
                                                                           STEP 10...
                                                                           THERE’S A LOT OF technical information here,but the main detail to
The simplest option is to hit the large red Convert button in the right-   look at is resolution.The resolution – image size – used in Profile 4 is
hand corner and leave the program to perform the conversion                set to 320x176.That’s smaller than the iPod’s 320x240 screen size,so
automatically.However,it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the       we’ll want to change that.All the other details relate to the image
options that are available here.The Copy As menu has two main              quality of the converted video file.Fortunately,it’s not necessary to
options.As well as MP4 there’s also H.264.This is a higher-quality         understand all those details – just remember that the MP4 option in
version of MP4,but it takes twice as long to perform the conversion,so     the Copy As menu provides


                                                                                                                                                      ±
let’s stick with basic MP4 for now. ±                                      standard quality,while the H.264
                                                                           option provides best quality. ±
                                                                                                                 NEXTSTEP
                                                                                                                       turn over...
                                                                                    2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                  49
 VIDEO IN YOUR POCKET
Convert video for use on portable players




                                                                            STEP 13...
 STEP 11...
 LOOKING THROUGH THE VARIOUS profiles shows us that Profile 1
                                                                            NOW OPEN THE ITUNES program supplied with the iPod.As well as
                                                                            playing MP3 music files,iTunes can also be used to organise and play
                                                                            MP4 video files – regardless of whether those files will eventually be
 sets the image resolution to 320x240,which is right for the iPod’s         played on an iPod,PSP or other portable device.Just select the Video
 screen.The iPod screen has the same 4:3 ratio (that’s the width to         option in the left-hand column and then drag and drop the video file
 height proportions) as an ordinary TV set,but the iVideoToGo offers        into the iTunes window,where it will be displayed with any other
 other resolutions in case you want to display video or DVD content on      video files that are stored in iTunes. ±
 a 16:9 widescreen format.These other resolution options will retain
 the widescreen proportions,displaying the video as ‘letterboxed’. ±

                                                                            STEP 14...
                                                                            ALL YOU NEED TO do now is
                                                                            plug the iPod into a USB port
                                                                            on your PC and use iTunes to
                                                                            transfer the file onto the iPod
                                                                            (or other portable device).
                                                                            The process is the same if
                                                                            you’re using the PSP version
                                                                            of iVideoToGo, and you can
                                                                            still download iTunes (free
                                                                            from www.apple.com) and
                                                                            use it to organise video files
                                                                            for the PSP as well.The
                                                                            techniques shown here will
                                                                            work for any handheld or
                                                                            portable device that can play
                                                                            MP4 video files. ENDS




 STEP 12...
 THE NEWLY-CONVERTED MPEG4 file is automatically placed in the
 My Video folder (inside the main My Documents folder),as that’s the
 target folder specified in step six.As you can see,it’s clearly suffixed
 with MPG4 to differentiate it from other video files that may be stored
 in the folder.The file has been renamed‘Movie_0’, so you may want to
 right-click on it and select the Rename option to call it something like
 ‘SkatePark.mp4’. ±



50    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                         Workshops ±
LEVEL 1 2 3                                      CONVERT UNITS EASILY

 Upgrade to Microsoft
                                       Calculator Plus      Install the free Microsoft Windows Calculator Plus to
                                                            handle a number of unit conversions
                                                            One of the many little tools included        toWindows Calculator Plus.This is an
                                                            withWindows is Calculator.It’s small,        application that Microsoft makes
                                                            simple and does the job.However,when         available free of charge to anyone with
                                                            it comes to unit conversions – say,          Windows XP.It includes conversion tools
                                                            translating yards into metres,or euros       along with the usual mathematical
                                                            into pounds sterling –Windows                operators.In this Workshop,we’ll show
                                                            Calculator leaves users at a loss.If you’d   you how to download and install the
                                                            like to be able to perform such              application and demonstrate its various
                                                            conversions,then we’d advise upgrading       conversion facilities.




                                                                           STEP 2...
                                                                           IF MICROSOFT DETECTS ALL
STEP 1...
BEGIN BY LAUNCHING THE web browser and directing it to
                                                                           to be in order,then the
                                                                           download page will be
                                                                           displayed – click the Download button to proceed.When the File
www.computeractive.co.uk/2141176.When the page appears,click               Download dialogue box appears,choose either to save the file to the
the Free download link and the web browser window will be                  computer’s hard disk or open as soon as the download is finished.As
redirected to the appropriate download page on Microsoft’s home            the file represents a very small download,we’d advise clicking Open to
page.To proceed,Microsoft requires downloaders to have their PC’s          speed things along.If you want to download the file,click on Save and
                                          copy of Windows XP               then double-click on the download file to begin the installation. ±
                                          validated as genuine.This
                                          is a simple as clicking the
                                          Continue button and
                                          waiting for a couple of
                                          seconds. ±




                                                                                                                NEXTSTEP
                                                                                                                      turn over...
                                                                                                                                                ±
                                                                                     2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk               51
 CONVERT UNITS EASILY
Upgrade to Microsoft Calculator Plus




                                                                             STEP 5...
                                                                             FROM HERE,OPERATION IS pretty straightforward.Begin by
 STEP 3...
 THE MICROSOFT CALCULATOR PLUS installation wizard will now
                                                                             selecting a conversion type from the Category drop-down menu,then
                                                                             select the unit types using the Convert-from and Convert-to drop-
                                                                             down menus (for example,yards to metres).Now enter a figure into
 appear – click Next to begin. On the next page, click‘I Agree’to                                                               the Calculator Plus
 signify your acceptance of Microsoft’s licence agreement and then                                                              readout (either by
                                        click Next once more. On the                                                            clicking the
                                        following screen you can                                                                number icons or
                                        change the installation folder                                                          tapping the
                                        if desired (click Browse), but if                                                       figures on the
                                        not, click Next and the                                                                 computer’s
                                        installation will proceed. On                                                           keyboard) before
                                        the final screen, click Close.To                                                        clicking the
                                        launch the program, click                                                               Convert button. ±
                                        Start, point to All Programs
                                        followed by Microsoft
                                        Calculator Plus and then click
                                        Microsoft Calculator Plus. ±




                                                                             STEP 6...
                                                                             UNFORTUNATELY,CALCULATOR PLUS DOES have one rather
 STEP 4...
 IF YOU REGULARLY USE the standard Windows Calculator,the first
                                                                             frustrating point – it’s currency-conversion tool is flawed.It’s easy
                                                                             enough to import up-to-date exchange rates (use the Import ECB
                                                                             Exchange Rates option from the Edit menu),but the drop-down unit
 thing you’ll notice about Calculator Plus is the radically different look   menus do not reflect the gamut of available currencies.Remember,
 and feel.If you don’t like this,it’s easy to change back to the classic     this is a free product and,as such,Microsoft offers no technical
 design – just select Classic View from the View menu.Here,you can           support.Evidently,nor does it care much about fixing this particular
 also switch between Standard and Scientific layouts,depending on            problem.If you want reliable currency conversions,we’d recommend a
 your needs.However,for this Workshop we’re interested in the unit-          visit to www.xe.com,then select the Currency Converter. ENDS
 conversion facilities,so select Conversion from the View menu. ±




52    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
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HINTS AND TIPS                                                                                                                    INTERNET EXPLORER
Spend less than a minute on each of these simple pointers
and make your PC easier to use...                                                                                                  Explorer
                                                                                                                                   restorer
 MICROSOFT EXCEL                                                                                                                   Sometimes when surfing the
                                                                                                                                   web,pop-up windows used by
                                                                                                                                   some websites will reset the

Excellent reminder
    n an Excel workbook that has a
                                                                                                                                   default Internet Explorer
                                                                                                                                   window size to annoyingly small
                                                                                                                                   dimensions.This means the
                                                                                                                                   window must be dragged out to

I   number of worksheets,and even
    in a single sheet with hundreds
of rows or columns,it can be
                                                                                                                                   a sensible size each time you
                                                                                                                                   open a new instance of Internet
                                                                                                                                   Explorer.This is easily rectified.
                                                                                                                                   First,open up a single Internet
difficult to remember where you
left off when the worksheet was last                                                                                               Explorer window and drag it out
worked on.Fortunately,Excel                                                                                                        to the preferred size,using the
always stores the identity of the                                                                                                  usual method of left-clicking the
‘active’sheet and the position of the                                                                                              bottom-right corner of the
cursor whenever a file is saved,so                                                                                                 window before dragging
that it is possible to get Excel to do                                                                                             outwards.Now,select File
the remembering for you.All that                                                                                                   followed by Close (do not close
you need to do is,before closing                                                                                                   the window by clicking the‘X’in
down any worksheet,position the                                                                                                    the top-right of the window,as
                                                                                                                                   this will not save the new default
cursor in the cell where you’ll want
                                                                                                                                   size setting).Now open another
to resume data entry when the
                                                                                                                                   Internet Explorer window and
sheet is reopened.Then make a                                                                                                      you should find that it opens at
final save.                                                                                                                        the preferred size.
                                         H Before closing a worksheet,position the cursor where you want to resume working                       PhillipDavies,viaemail

 MICROSOFT OFFICE 2003                                         PHOTO-EDITING
                                                                                                                                  HELP FELLOW
                                                             What’s in store?                                                     READERS
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Staying alert                                                                                                                     (mark envelopes ‘Hints andTips’).By
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When a new email arrives,Outlook 2003 displays an                                                                                 agreeing to have it published by VNU
alert detailing the sender and message title.By                                                                                   Business Publications.
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long,and the transparency effect can make text
hard to read.To adjust this,click the Tools menu,
select Options and then click Email Options on the                                                                           Next Issue...
Preferences tab.Now click Advanced E-mail Options
followed by Desktop Alert Settings.Move the top                                                                              ± Surf the web anonymously
slider to the right to increase display times,and                                                                            ± Find the right memory for your PC
move the bottom slider all the way to the left to                                                                            ± Try Internet Explorer 7
reduce or remove the transparency effect.
                                                                                                                             ± Manage smart playlists in iTunes
                                                                                                                             ± Hints & Tips


54   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
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                                                                                      Norton Internet Security are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation.
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Occasional vegetarian.
Nurturing preschool teacher.
Spontaneous traveller.

Merciless eradicator of spyware.




Introducing Norton Internet Security 2006 with antispyware.




                   With relentless computer protection, you’re free to be yourself.
Feature Excel functions




           Form and
              function
Functions are at the core of most of Excel’s practical value.We look at the most common
functions and show you how to make use of them in a practical sense



                                    M
                                                                icrosoft Excel is ideal for organising     Starting out with Excel
                                                                large amounts of data, and has done        Visually, the Excel window can seem complicated at
                                                                for mathematics what Word has done         first glance, but many options that are probably
                                                                for word processing. Excel has taken       familiar from using Word are in the same place in the
                                                                the toil out of tedious tasks like         menu bar, such as Open and Print in the File menu.
                                              organising bank statements, phone bills or producing            Beneath the menu titles you’ll see one or more
                                              expenditure reports.                                         toolbars containing buttons for commonly used tools
                                                 The likes of Vodafone and First Direct let customers      in Excel. The number of toolbars, and the tools they
                                              download bills and statements through Excel, and the         contain, can be customised. Below the toolbars is the
                                              program makes short work of sorting all kinds of             formula bar, where formulas and functions can be
                                              information. But unless you’re an experienced Excel          entered to perform specific tasks in Excel cells.
                                              wizard, knowing how to actually do it can be daunting.          The best way to start working with
                                                 With a program as complex as Excel, simply                functions is to launch the Insert
                                              identifying where these functions are found is hard          Function wizard by clicking on
                                              enough. In this feature, however, we’ll look at how to       the ‘fx’ button next to the
                                              cover the basics in Excel and a whole lot more.              formula bar (see
                                                 In Excel, the simplest way to perform calculations        below, left). This
                                              on information in cells is using functions. Simply put,      brings up a
                                              these are commands for working with information,             window for
                                              generally in the form of a formula.                          searching for
                                                 Over the pages to come, we will explain how to use        functions using
                                              10 of the most common functions and show how they            plain English.
                                              can transform spreadsheets. A sample Excel                   Simply type in a description of what you want to do,
                                              workbook with examples of all of them can be found at        and Excel will recommend a function. You can also
                                              www.computeractive.co.uk/2149846.                            read a brief summary of each function by clicking on it.
                                                 There are several ways of working with information           The main window of Excel is taken up by the
                                              in a spreadsheet. Macros let you automate tasks you          worksheet. The cells in worksheets are arranged in
                                              perform often. In Excel, this involves recording the         rows identified by numbers, and columns identified
                                              steps that make up the task, so that in future they can      by letters. Any file in Excel is known as a workbook,
                                              be performed using just a single command.                    and is made up of several worksheets which are
                                                 It’s also possible to write macros using Visual Basic     tabbed along the bottom-left of the screen.
                                              for Applications, a Microsoft language that allows you          By default, Excel creates all workbooks with three
                                              to control one program, such as Outlook, from another,       sheets – Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3, which is useful
                                              such as Excel. But this can be complicated, even for         for organising information. For example, a home
                                                                     experienced Excel users.              finance workbook could have one sheet for the
                                                                       The biggest advantage of using      current account, one for the savings account and a
                                                                     functions over macros is that the     third showing totals calculated from the other two.
                                                                     former updates the results as            Functions can use information in different ways.
                                                                     information information next to the   The information can either be specified in the same
                                                                     spreadsheet changes, but macros       cell as the function, or the function can draw on the
                                                                     must be run again for changes to      contents of other cells. When using the latter option,
                                                                     take effect. The other important      you can either specify each cell individually with a
                                                                     advantage is that macros can          comma in between (for example A1,A2,A3) or choose
                                                                     potentially pose a security risk;     a range of cells, entering the first and last separated by
                                                                     should you send a spreadsheet that    a comma, such as A1:B2 to specify A1, A2, B1 and B2.
                                                                     includes macros to other people,         When writing a function, cells can easily be selected
                                                                     they may have set Excel to block      by clicking on them, or clicking and dragging to select a
H The fx button launches the Insert Function wizard                  macros as a security precaution.      range. When doing this for cells on another worksheet,


56      www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                                                                      Illustration: Ian Naylor
                                                                                                                                                  Golf
                                                                                                                                                  scores
                                                                                                                                                  ANOTHER PRACTICAL
                                                                                                                                                  EXAMPLE of using functions
                                                                                                                                                  in a worksheet is the golf
                                                                                                                                                  scoring card based on the
                                                                                                                                                  Stableford scoring system.
                                                                                                                                                  We described how the card
                                                                                                                                                  works in aWorkshop in Issue
                                                                                                                                                  191.You can download the
                                                                                                                                                  finished spreadsheet from
                                                                                                                                                  www.computeractive.co.uk/
                                                                                                                                                  2012231.
                                                                                                                                                     The spreadsheet modifies
                                                                                                                                                  the par for each hole
                                                                                                                                                  depending on the player’s
                                                                                                                                                  handicap by using functions
                                                                                                                                                  to divide the handicap and
                                                                                                                                                  assign the points to holes.
                                                                                                                                                  This is done with the INT
                                                                                                                                                  function in cell G4.This gives
                                                                                                                                                  a whole number result to a
                                                                                                                                                  division sum,the opposite to
                                                                                                                                                  the MOD function that is
                                                                                                                                                  also used in cell I4.
                                                                                                                                                     The formulas for modified
                                                                                                                                                  par and score use the IF
                                                                                                                                                  function to decide what the
                                                                                                                                                  cell contents should be.
                                                                                                                                                  A hole done in par gets 2
                                                                                                                                                  points,with an extra point
                                                                                                                                                  scored for each stroke under
                                                                                                                                                  par.A hole taken with too
                                                                                                                                                  many stokes scores 0.The IF
                                                                                                                                                  function makes sure the
                                                                                                                                                  score is not negative even
                                                                                                                                                  on the worst of holes.
                                                                                                                                                     The $ signs are absolute
                                                                                                                                                  references,which ensure
                                                                                                                                                  that the references to the
                                                                                                                                                  Global modifier and
click on the relevant worksheet tab, then on the cell or        To edit a function, move                                                          Handicap modifier do
cells to select, then return to the original worksheet.       the cursor over the cell, click,                                                    not change when the
   A range of cells can also be given a name for use in       then press F2. Any cell references                                                  Modified Par formula is
functions. To do this, click and drag over a range of         are written in colour with a colour border                                          copied for all holes.
cells and type the desired name in the formula bar.           around it to help show how a function works.
The range name must not have any spaces but can                 Some functions use comparisons with other cells,
contain both upper- and lower-case text.                      such as equals (=), less than (<), greater than (>), less
   Before we start typing in formulas, an important note:     than or equal to (<=) and greater than or equal to (>=).
Excel formulas must be input precisely. A stray                 It is possible to see the contents of all functions by
character or space, and the formula won’t work. To            holding down Ctrl and pressing the ` key.
separate formula text from the rest of the words in this
feature, we have enclosed them in single ‘quotes’ – do        SUM
not include the quote marks when entering formulas.           The SUM function is used to add up the numbers in
   With experience, the Insert Function wizard can be         cells or in a function itself. Up to 30 cell references or
sidestepped and instructions typed straight in. To do         numbers can be used, separated by commas.
this, click in the text box in the formula bar, type in ‘=’     To add the contents of cells A1 and A2 together, for
followed by the name of the function and place the cells      example, type ‘=SUM(A1,A2)’.
to be used in the function in brackets. In Excel, each cell     SUM can only add figures that Excel recognises as
reference or range of cells is called an argument.            numbers; if a cell has been formatted as text by
   The same effect can be achieved by typing the              preceding the number with inverted commas, the
formula straight into the cell in question. Unless typing,    contents of that cell will be ignored. Also be careful if
though, the cell only shows the results of a formula,         you have used True or False formatting because they                                H Use the SUM function to get a total
with the formula itself only visible in the formula bar.      will be used as 1 and 0 respectively in any calculation.                           for a range of cells


                                                                                       2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                            57
Feature Excel functions

                                              SUMIF                                                                               counted and won’t affect the result. Cells containing a
                                              The SUMIF function takes SUM one step further by                                    zero will affect the results, however.
                                              only adding together the contents of cells within a
                                              range that meet certain criteria. This function could                               COUNT
                                              be used in a budgeting spreadsheet, to work out how                                 The COUNT function displays the number of cells in
                                                                     much each person had spent during a                          the given range that contain a number. To display the
                                                                     month, for example.                                          number of cells containing a number in the range B3,
                                                                        There are three elements of this                          B4, B5 and B6, enter the function ‘=COUNT(B3:B6)’.
                                                                     function. The first is the range of cells                        There are several related functions, such as
                                                                     to look in, the second is the criteria to                    COUNTIF for selecting the condition for counting
                                                                     look for in this range and the third is the                  cells, COUNTA for counting cells with numbers or
                                                                     numbers to be added should the criteria                      text and COUNTBLANK for counting blank cells.
                                                                     be met. If the third argument is
                                                                     the same as the first, there is no
                                                                     need to repeat it.
                                                                        The criteria can be a figure
                                                                     and can be defined using the
                                                                     equals, greater than or less
                                                                     than signs ( =, >, < ), or by
                                                                     specifying text.
                                                                        In our example shown on the
                                                                     left, to add up numbers bigger
H SUMIF allows totals to be worked out based on specific criteria than 20 in the range B5 to B10,
                                                                     type ‘=SUMIF(B5:B10, “>20”)’.
                                                 =SUMIF is the function, B5:B10 describes
                                              which cells the function applies to, and >20                        H The COUNT function allows you to find out how many cells meet a certain criteria
                                              tells the function to work only on numbers in
                                              those cells that are greater than 20.                                               MOD
                                                 To add the contents of a range B5:B10 based on the                               The MOD function gives the remainder from a
                                              contents of the range C5:C10, use the following                                     division calculation. Dividing two numbers in Excel
                                              function: ‘=SUMIF(C5:C10,“Tim”,B5:B10)’. This                                       will give a figure with a fraction, or nothing at all if the
                                              formula looks for the text Tim in the cell C5. When it                              two numbers are formatted with no decimal places.
                                              finds it, the contents of B5 is added to the total. This                            You may remember that in the days before calculators
                                              is repeated for each row.                                                           the result for the sum 5 divided by 2 was 2 remainder 1.
                                                                                                                                  The MOD function gives the remainder figure. This
                                              AVERAGE                                                                             same sum would be written in Excel as ‘=MOD(5,2)’.
                                              The AVERAGE function displays the average of the                                    The first figure is the number and the second the
                                              cells given as an argument. This function displays the                              number to divide it by. The cell will display 1.
                                              average calculated by adding up all of the numbers
                                                                                 and then dividing by how
                                                                                 many numbers there are. So
                                                                                 the average of 5, 10 and 15 is
                                                                                 30/3, or 10.
                                                                                    There are separate
                                                                                 functions called MEDIAN and
                                                                                 MODE for working out these
                                                                                 kind of averages.
                                                                                    To work out the average for
                                                                                 the cells B3, B4, B5 and                         H Find out the remainder from a division formula using the MOD function
                                                                                 B6, enter the function
                                                                                 ‘=AVERAGE(B3:B6)’.                               IF
                                                                                    If there are empty cells in                   Logical functions, of which IF is one, allow decisions
H There are three ways of working out the average of a range of figures          the range, they are not                          to be made about cell contents based on the result of a
                                                                                                                                  True or False argument. Using the IF function, the first
                                                                                                                                  part of the formula makes a decision as to whether
                                                                                                                                  something is true or false, for example B5=10. If the
Conditional formatting                                                                                                            figure in B5 does equal 10 it is considered True and
                                                                                                                                  the function performs one action; otherwise it is
CONDITIONAL FORMATTING IS a very useful way text boxes will appear to the right depending on                                      considered false and it does something else. Other
to draw attention to cells by changing their                       the criteria.                                                  functions such as AND and OR are used to make a
appearance depending on their contents.You can                        Click on the Format button and change the                   decision based on more than one criteria.
use this to show whether a bank account was                        formatting to make the cell more visible and then                  We have already looked at some functions that use
overdrawn or in credit by changing the colour.                     click on OK.Up to three different criteria can be              decisions in this way, such as SUMIF The                .
    To add Conditional Formatting to a range of                    added to a cell by clicking on the Add button.                 disadvantage with SUMIF is that there is no alternative
cells,select them,click on Format and then on                         To remove conditional formatting,select the                 action for when the criteria are not met. Using the IF
Conditional Formatting.Select the criteria for the cell or cells,click on the Format menu and then on                             function alone gives much greater control.
formatting in the window that appears.Leave the Conditional Formatting.Click on the Delete                                            The simplest way of using IF is to give a judgement
first option as CellValue Is and then select one of                button and select which conditions to remove,                  on a cell. For example, a spreadsheet with school
the options in the next window.Either one or two followed by OK.                                                                  grades can automatically decide if a student has


58       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
H Using IF allows you to set separate results based on a True or False argument      H To display a verdict that relies on more than one condition being met,use the AND function

passed or failed if the pass mark is 51. Enter the                                the IF function. For example, to produce a function
function ‘=IF(B5>=51,“Pass”,“Fail”), where B5 is the                              that displays Good if both cells B4 and B5 contain A
cell with the score. The first argument is the decision,                          and Bad if either or both does not, type
in this case whether B5 is greater than or equal to 51.                           ‘=IF(AND(B4=“A”,B5=“A”),“Good”,“Bad”)’.
The second argument is the value for the cell if this is
true, and the third is the value if it is false.                                  OR
  For more complicated grading, it is possible to use                             The OR function is very similar to the AND function
the IF function again to further separate cells. Up to                            but it shows True if any of the arguments are true,
seven IF functions can be used in a single formula,                               rather than all of them. To change the AND example
                                          ,
and is called nesting. When using IF be careful to get                            to show Good if either B4 or B5 show A, rather than
the brackets in the right place – it is often a good idea                         both, enter ‘=IF(OR(B4=“A”,B5=“A”),“Good”,“Bad”)’.
to write a complicated function like this down on
paper first.
  To give a practical example, if a score greater than
80 gets an A, 70-79 a B, 40 to 69 a C and anything
less than 40 is a fail, use the following function:
‘=IF(B5>80,“A”,IF(B5>70,“B”,IF(B5>40,“C”,“Fail”)))’.
  The function looks at the contents of cell B5. If it is
greater than 80 it displays an A; if it is less, it goes to
the next IF function. If it is greater than 70 it displays
                            .
a B or goes to the final IF If the figure is greater than
40 it displays a C, otherwise it displays Fail.

MAX                                                                               H OR allows a result to be displayed if any of a number of criteria are met
The MAX function displays the largest number in a
range of cells. This is particularly useful when                                  NOT
analysing bank statements as it is easy to see the                                The NOT function reverses the True or False result
biggest payment or income. To display the largest                                 from an AND or an OR function. To reverse the
figure in the cells B3, B4, B5 and B6, enter the                                  function that returned True if cells B3 and B4 both
following: ‘=MAX(B3:B6)’.                                                         contained 10, enter ‘=NOT(AND(B3=10,B4=10))’. Note
                                                                                  the two brackets at the end of the formula.




                                                                                  H Reverse the results of a True or False argument with the NOT function

                                                                                  Excellent results
                                                                                  Excel contains a huge number of functions that can
H Find the highest number from a range of cells using the MAX function            make difficult calculations very simple, and ensure
                                                                                  that important cells are updated automatically. In this
AND                                                                               feature we have explained some of the more simple
The AND function analyses between two and 30                                      and useful functions.
arguments and, if they are all true, it gives a True                                 Excel offers well-written help for functions, so there
value, otherwise it displays False. A function that                               is no reason to be afraid to try and experiment. It can
says True if cells B3 and B4 both equal 10 would read                             only be worthwhile, and should save lots of time
‘=AND(B3=10,B4=10)’.                                                              when making home budgets or other projects.
  This function is most useful when combined with                                                                                                           Tim Smith

                                                                                                                      2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                    59
Feature Create digital music




      Compose
         yourself                                                            You don’t need a recording studio
                                                                             to make music at home.With
                                                                             some free software and a little
                                                                             imagination,you and your PC can
                                                                             make beautiful music together



                                                                             A
                                                                                           t one time or another, most of us have
                                                                                           entertained dreams of recording a hit
                                                                                           single or being a famous musician. For
                                                                                           most of us, a plain lack of talent means it
                                                                                           will always remain just that – a dream.
                                                                                But does it have to be that way? We’ve all heard of
                                                                             pop stars recording hit singles from their bedroom, and
                                                                             with the power and flexibility that today’s PCs bring to
                                                                             our lives, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss
                                                                                         the notion.
                                                                                                In fact, making music these days
                                                                                               doesn’t require the ability to play an
                                                                                               instrument at all. Make no mistake – no
                                                                                              computer can replicate the sound of an
                                                                                             orchestra in full swing, just as a graphics
                                                                                        program can’t paint a Van Gogh masterpiece.
                                                                                 But that doesn’t mean you can’t create some truly
                                                                             original and impressive music, and over the next few
                                                                             pages we’re going to help you take the first few steps.
                                                                                All you need is a PC and an internet connection
                                                                             – the software we’ll use to explore the basics can be
                                                                             downloaded for nothing. No experience or musical
                                                                             ability is needed – only a desire to learn something new.

                                                                             The inside track
                                                                             Over the years, digital technology has played an
                                                                             increasing role in the creation and recording of music.
                                                                             Without doubt, the keyboard has played the greatest
                                                                             role in this transition (and when we mention keyboard,
                                                                             we mean the musical variety).
                                                                                The keyboard became the natural ally of the
                                                                             synthesizer, putting a wide range of artificial
                                                                             instrument sounds at a musician’s fingertips. Then the
                                                                             arrival of MIDI (for more on musical jargon, see the box
                                                                             on page 61) heralded the age of all sorts of digital
                                                                             devices, from mixers and samplers to effects
                                                                             processors and equalisers.
                                                                                The introduction of powerful and affordable PCs has
                                                                             caused digital music to take a new turn to bring music-
                                                                             making within the reach of anyone with a home PC and
                                                                             a little imagination. Now, a single program can do the
                                                                             job of thousands of pounds’ worth of sophisticated kit.
                                                                                To explore the basics of digital music creation, we’ll
                                                  Illustration: Miles Cole




                                                                             be using a program called Anvil Studio that allows you
                                                                             to create and save original music using nothing more
                                                                             than a PC. Such programs, called ‘sequencers’, range
                                                                             from the free software we’ll be using here to powerful
                                                                             audio suites costing hundreds of pounds.


60   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                                                                             When the download
                                                                                                                          dialogue box appears, click
                                                                                                                          on Save and choose a
                                                                                                                          location to save the file to.
                                                                                                                          The file is 3.4Mb in size, so
                                                                                                                                                                     Techno babble
                                                                                                                          even over a dial-up internet               demystified...
                                                                                                                          connection it will only take
                                                                                                                          about 12 minutes.
                                                                                                                             Click on the downloaded
                                                                                                                          file to install it (it should be
                                                                                                                          named ‘mstudioZ.exe’) and
                                                                                                                                                             ±   Dialogue box A small
                                                                                                                                                                 window that pops up to
                                                                                                                                                                 display or request
                                                                                                                          follow the prompts. Open               information.


                                                                                                                                                             ±
                                                                                                                          the program and you’ll
                                                                                                                          notice an overview of its              Dial-up A component of
                                                                                                                          features in the main window            Windows that allows PCs
                                                                                                                                                                 to connect to the internet
                                                                                                                          – this remains available at
                                                                                                                                                                 using a modem and a
                                                                                                                          all times.
                                                                                                                                                                 telephone line.
                                                                                                                             At the top of the program
                                                                                                                          the time display shows
                                                                                                                          where exactly you are in a
                                                                                                                          song at any given time. Also
                                                                                                                                                             ±   Mb A measurement of
                                                                                                                                                                 storage capacity,usually
                                                                                                                                                                 for computer memory.
                                                                                                                          notice the set of buttons              1Mb is equal to 1,024Kb
                                                                                                                          near the top of the screen             (kilobytes).


                                                                                                                                                             ±
                                                                                                                          that resemble those found
                                                                                                                                                                 MP3 A standard for
H Programs such as Anvil Studio let you create and save original music using nothing more than a PC                       on a CD player. These are              compressing digital audio.
                                                                                                                          the main controls for                  The sound quality of an
   Whatever the price, the concepts used are largely the                                    recording and playback, so get used to their location.               MP3 file is close to that of
same. A finished song is composed of several tracks –                                          Now let’s start exploring the functions of Anvil                  CD audio but requires only
generally speaking, one for each instrument. These                                          Studio. Click on the File menu and select Open Song –                a fraction of the storage
tracks can be recorded using a real instrument (such as                                     four demo songs should immediately be visible in the                 space.
a guitar) connected to the PC, or a synthesized                                             dialogue box. Select Air and click on Open.
instrument sound found on the PC itself, played most                                           Focus on the window below the toolbars showing a               For more on Jargon Buster visit:
                                                                                                                                                             www.computeractive.co.uk
commonly on a keyboard (for more on keyboards that                                          range of information listed in columns. This is the
connect to the PC, see the box on 63).                                                      mixer, and displays information on all the tracks that
   It’s important to understand that in this context, the                                   make up any project. The mixer is crucial for overall
keyboard is not being used as a musical instrument as                                       control of the song and how the tracks combine.
such. It is simply being used to play a succession of                                          You will notice that the mixer now shows three
notes that are recorded as a track, which can then be                                       tracks, labelled Violin 1, String Section 1 and Cello.
edited and played back using any instrument, or                                             The third column shows what type of track each is. In
‘voice’, the PC has access to.                                                              this case, all three are labelled Instrument. However,
   The magic of sequencing software is that even when                                       click on the word
these tracks have been put in place, they can be altered                                    Instrument in any track and
in almost every way imaginable. Even a free program                                         three other options appear.
like Anvil Studio allows you to change each track’s                                         The first – Rhythm – is
volume and key and add, delete or change individual                                         specifically for the recording
notes. On a global level, the song can be sped up or                                        of a drum track, while the
slowed down, the bass and treble altered, and the                                           last two options come into
results saved so they can be shared with other people.                                      play for tracks recorded from
                                                                                            an external source other
Get into the mix                                                                            than a keyboard.
Now it’s time to take our first practical steps. Direct                                        Moving on, clicking in the
your web browser to www.computeractive.co.uk/                                               next column allows the
2150551. Click on the link to download Anvil Studio                                         tracks to be played together,
and follow the instructions to download the software                                        muted or as a solo. To the
for the first time.                                                                         right of this is the source of
                                                                                                                                                             H You can change volume and beats
                                                                                                                                                             per minute even when tracks have
                                                                                                                                                             been put in place
Musical jargon for your ears
The world of digital music is littered with         can play repeatedly without stopping,and            • Polyphony:the number of notes a
jargon.Here are some commonly used terms:           remain in time with the song.                       sound card can produce at the
• Bounce:the process of converting all the          • MIDI:Musical instrument digital interface –       same time.
audio tracks,effects and data that make up a        a standard that allows musical instruments          • Quantize:an editing function
song into a single track to be exported.            to communicate digitally.                           that forces out-of-time notes to move
• Latency:the time delay when using a               • Pan:where a sound is situated,from left to        into time.
keyboard between hitting a key and hearing          right,in a stereo environment.                      • Transpose:to change the key of a piece
a sound through the speakers.                       • Patch:another name for an instrument,             of music,from a couple of notes to a whole
• Loop:a pre-recorded sound sample that             or voice.                                           track or song.

                                                                                                                 2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                             61
Feature Create digital music

                                    the sound, in this case General
                                    MIDI. We’ll explain more about
                                    this later.
                                       In between these two is the
                                    channel. Each track needs to be
        Techno babble               set to a separate channel, and
        demystified...              every mixer has a limit to how
                                    many it can work with at any

±   Sound card An                   one time – 16 in Anvil Studio’s
    expansion card that lets a      case, which is more than you’re
    PC create sounds – game         ever likely to need.
    sound effects,music,and            Further to the right you’ll see
    so on.Almost all PCs have       sliders to control the track
    a sound card as standard        volume and pan, and at the end
    but more powerful sound         a graphical display of the notes
    cards can be bought and         making up each track.
    fitted.                            Let’s make some simple

±
                                    changes to the song to hear
    Toolbar A strip of icons
                                    their effects. Above the volume
    that runs across the top of
    most Windows                    slider column you’ll see the
    applications.Used to            tempo value, expressed in
    provide quick access to         beats per minute. Change the
    certain important               value from 40 to 60, say, and
    features.                       play the song back. It will now H Notes can be added,moved,deleted or made louder or softer by using the piano roll


±
                                    sound considerably faster.
    USB Universal Serial            Return it to 40 and make some adjustments to the                      simple web search. Many are free, but higher-quality
    Bus.A standard that             volume and pan sliders in the mixer, and listen to the                soundfonts inevitably have to be paid for.
    allows quick and easy           effects. It may be an idea to save the project with a
    connection of peripherals       different name to avoid changing the original. Click on               Noteworthy features
    to your PC.It lets you
                                    File, then Save Song As, choose a new name and click                  We’ve shown how values in and around the mixer can
    connect devices with
                                    on Save.                                                              be changed to alter the building blocks that make up
    your PC switched on.
                                       Now what about the instruments themselves? Focus                   any song, but what about those blocks themselves?

±   WAV file Also known as
    a Wave file and saved
    with a.WAV extension.An
                                    on the Instruments column in the mixer and click on
                                    one of the names listed. A window will pop up
                                    displaying a choice of instruments, known as a bank.
                                                                                                             Under the On column in the mixer, click twice in the
                                                                                                          third row so that the Cello track is set to solo. Now click
                                                                                                          on the View menu and select Piano Roll Editor. This
    audio file,used for             Experiment with changing each track’s instrument and                  grid looks like a cardboard roll of music for a pianola
    recording music and             playing back the results.                                             laid on its side, and is where the individual building
    other sounds to disk.              The 128 instruments that make up this bank are a                   blocks of each track are displayed. The piano down the
    Because they are                generic set loaded on every PC’s sound card known as                  left of the screen determines the note, while time is
    uncompressed,WAV files          a General MIDI sound bank. The fact that only these                   shown from left to right. Each pale blue block in the
    can be very large.              default sounds are used is the main contributor to the                grid is an actual note; the longer the block is, the

±   Web browser A
    software program
    developed for navigating
                                    lack of real sound quality when listening to the song.
                                       Along with changing the other values we’ve looked
                                    at, the potential for drastically altering the character of
                                                                                                          longer the duration of the note.
                                                                                                             Using the piano roll, notes can be added, moved,
                                                                                                          deleted, or made louder or softer. Working in the piano
    the internet.                   any piece of music should already be apparent. To take                roll can be tricky, so let’s focus on a single note to see
                                    your interest further, though, you’ll quickly want to                 how it’s done. Make sure the song is rewound to the
 For more on Jargon Buster visit:   start using better, more diverse sounds.                              beginning, and a long single note should be visible in
www.computeractive.co.uk
                                       These come in several formats, depending on the                    the piano roll.
                                    software being used. Possibly the most common are                        Hover the mouse over this note, and you’ll notice the
                                    the appropriately named SoundFonts, designed for use                  pointer changes shape depending on which part of the
                                    with Sound Blaster sound cards. These are widely                      note it is over. Clicking anywhere on the first third of
                                    available on the internet and can be found using a                    the note allows the whole note to be moved forward
                                                                                                          and backward in time (from left to right on the screen).
                                                                                                          Clicking on the middle third lets you move the note up
                                                                                                          and down the scale, and the final third is for changing
                                                                                                          the length of the note.
                                                                                                             Adding a new note is as simple as clicking in the
                                                                                                          piano roll and using the controls explained above to
                                                                                                          place it. To remove a note, right-click on it and select
                                                                                                          Remove Note. Also in the right-click menu, the
                                                                                                          Properties option lets you change the volume of each
                                                                                                          note, through a range of 0 to 127. Clicking and dragging
                                                                                                          on the top bar of the piano roll allows whole sections of
                                                                                                          a track to be selected for cutting, copying or pasting.
                                                                                                             We’ve now shown how an existing piece of music
                                                                                                          can be manipulated to bear virtually no resemblance to
                                                                                                          its original self. Adding new tracks is just as simple.
                                                                                                          Click on the Create menu, select Track, Instrument
                                    HThe mixer is crucial for overall control of the song                 Track, then set the desired values in the mixer.


62     www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
    i
                  For more information on the topics,projects
                 and companies mentioned in this article,go to
                 www.computeractive.co.uk/2150551

   From here, it’s up to you. You could cut and paste
notes from elsewhere in the song, or physically place
them using the mouse. The simplest option is to use a
keyboard to record the track. We cover the basics of
setting up a keyboard in the box below.
   There are many other features with this free
application that we don’t have space to cover here, but
here are a couple of points to consider. Changing
things like the tempo or track volume applies these
changes throughout the duration of the song, but using
the Record button allows changes to be made
progressively, such as fading a track’s volume in or out
while the song is playing.
   To record a drum track, select the Rhythm option
under Type in the mixer, then go to the piano roll
editor. Instead of the piano playing notes, each ‘key’
now represents a percussion sound. Otherwise the                          H The 128 instruments in the sound bank are a generic set loaded on every PC’s sound card
track is set up in the same way.
   When a project is finished, you’ll probably want to                       Generally speaking, though, a good next step is
save it in a format that can be used elsewhere. The                       Cakewalk Music Creator 2, which we gave a Buy It
options to save songs in the free version of Anvil                        award to in issue 201. This is a similar program to
Studio are highly limited. However, with the full                         Anvil Studio, but far more powerful. More expensive,
version, which costs $19 (about £12), and with most                       but probably the best known of this type of software, is
other similar software, songs can be saved in a variety                   Cubase. It is hugely versatile, and will keep you busy
of formats, such as WAV or MP3.                                           just getting to grips with its myriad features.
   With what we’ve covered here, you should now have                         Most sequencing programs can create tracks from
a basic idea of how easy it is to create and manipulate                   any kind of music file, from WAV to MP3, so another
digital music on every level. Should you wish to take                     idea is to use sound libraries, such as Magix’ Sound
your interest further, however, there are literally                       Essentials. This approach lets you incorporate sound
hundreds of programs to help you do just about                            files into your projects, which can then be edited,
anything imaginable.                                                      layered or manipulated to achieve all kinds of
                                                                          interesting results.
                                                                             We’ll be looking at a variety of music software in our
                                                                          CD-ROMs section in the next issue.

                                                                          Sound advice
                                                                          The ground we’ve covered here truly represents the tip
                                                                          of a musical iceberg. For as many features covered or
                                                                          ideas suggested, there are literally hundreds we’ve had
                                                                          to ignore for space reasons.
                                                                            The truth is that modern computers and software put
                                                                          a world of musical possibility at your fingertips. We’ve
                                                                          shone some light on perhaps the first couple of steps
                                                                          anyone should take, but whichever path you                                             P MIDI Controller keyboards come in
                                                                          end up choosing, making music is so                                                         keyboards come in all shapes and
                                                                          rewarding and enjoyable, you’ll                                                                 sizes,like this M-Audio Ozone
                                                                          never look back.
H Adding new notes to your track is a simple process on the piano roll                           MartinJames



Keyboards
We’ve gone out of our way here to show you that
music can be made using nothing more than a PC.
If you intend to pursue this hobby,a separate keyboard
is all but essential.
    Most half-decent musical keyboards released in the
past decade or two support MIDI.While it’s rare for a PC’s
sound card to have MIDI inputs,you can purchase a cable
that connects your keyboard’s MIDI connections to a PC’s
joystick port.                                               their own,or speakers,but connect directly to the PC using
    Better still,you can buy keyboards designed specifically USB.They don’t have to be full-size keyboards either.
for use with a PC.Generally,they don’t have any voices of    Models are available with as few as 25 keys.

                                                                                                            2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                          63
Digital home Speakers




                                Speaker’s
                                  corner          Having an expensive hi-fi is no good without
                                                  decent speakers.We look at the various options


                                                                                                        Q The B&W MT-20 is a good
                                                                                                        sub and satellite combination




                                                                 U
                                                                               nless you’ve struck it rich, you’ve
                                                                               probably got a limited budget for putting
                                                                               together a hi-fi system. Either way, it’s
                                                                               common to spend most of the money on
                                                                               fancy components, and then try to save
                                                                 money on speakers. This a false economy; speakers are
                                                                 the part of the set-up that actually deliver the sound to
                                                                 your ears, and as such are worthy of a little investment.

                                                                 Speak up
                                                                 The basics of speaker technology haven’t changed
                                                                 much over the years. Most speakers contain two or
                                                                 three drivers, along with a crossover circuit. The drivers
                                                                 are the actual speaker cones that produce the music
                                                                 while the crossover circuit splits the audio into different
                                                                 frequency bands and sends those frequencies to the
                                                                 speaker driver that’s best suited to reproducing them.
                                                                 So high frequency sounds, such as cymbals, get sent to
                                                                 the tweeter driver and lower sounds, such as bass, get
                                                                 sent to the main speaker driver.
                                                                    Speakers are often referred to as being two-way,
                                                                 three-way or even four-way. This naming scheme
                                                                 simply tells you how many individual drivers are
                                                                 contained within the speaker. For example, a two-way
                                                                 speaker will house a tweeter for high-frequency
                                                                 sounds and a larger speaker driver for bass and mid-
                                                                 frequency sounds. A three-way speaker, on the other
                                                                 hand, will generally have a tweeter, a mid-range driver
                                                                 and a woofer unit for bass frequencies.

                                                                 Sounds good
                                                                 Although the basic elements of a speaker haven’t
                                                                 changed that much since its invention, other elements


64   www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
have. The technology, design and manufacturing                       more specialist brands like Focal. The Aegis Evo 1
process has been substantially refined over the years.               from specialists Acoustic Energy is a good example of
The result is that today’s speakers produce livelier                 an affordable, but impressive set of bookshelf
and more dynamic sound, with greater sonic detail.                   speakers. They cost around £180 for a pair.
  It also means louder volumes can be achieved with
smaller speakers. It’s hardly surprising, then, that                 Sub standard
there’s a heap of different speakers to choose from                  Lately, systems combining smaller satellite speakers
including floor-standing models, bookshelf speakers                  and a larger subwoofer are proving popular. The
and combination systems, which match smaller                         satellites are small so are easily scattered around a
satellite speakers with a large subwoofer for extra bass.            room, but their size also means they don’t produce as
  So what makes one speaker sound                                                    much bass as bookshelf or floor-
better than another? Well, the                                                       standing models. That’s where the
quality of the speaker drivers for one,                                              subwoofer comes in, however. This
but manufacturers also concentrate                                                   arrangement is common among
on the design of the cabinet that the                                                surround-sound systems.
speaker is housed in. After all,                                                       In the past, surround-sound set-ups
speakers are all about moving air to                                                 were frowned upon for listening to
spread the sound around a room.                                                      music as they didn’t produce a good
How that air is channelled out of the                                                reflection of stereo sound. But new
front and rear of the speaker is key to                                              high-definition audio formats such as
sound quality. To this end, we’re                                                    DVD-Audio and SACD, which offer
starting to see some companies                                                       surround-sound versions of popular
experiment with more rounded                                                         albums, mean many audiophiles are
speaker cabinets using space-age                                                     upgrading their stereo systems to be
composites such as carbon fibre.                                                     surround-sound compatible.
                                                                                       There are now many great-sounding
Get up, stand up                                                                     satellite and sub packages around. One
The ultimate choice for really great                                                 of the best is the MT-20 from Bowers
hi-fi sound is generally considered to                                               and Wilkinson. It’s not cheap at £980,
be a pair of floor-standing speakers.                                                but sounds wonderfully spacious and
As the name suggests, these are tall                                                 produces great bass from the sub.
units that are placed on the floor.
The large cabinets mean they can
                                                H Floor-standing
                                                                                     Sounding off
easily house two, three or even              speakers like the Kef                   The difference between a good speaker
more speaker drivers. This means          iQ9s are the best option                   set-up and a stunning one is quite
they can produce sound over a wide                                   subtle, but if you like to hone in on small sonic details
range of frequencies so you get everything from bone-                on your favourite albums then you’ll find the journey to
crunching bass to airy mid-range and crisp high                      a good set-up a rewarding one. Remember, though, it
frequencies. They also have plenty of volume so                      doesn’t end there; cabling is another important factor
they’re great for filling large rooms with exceptionally             to be considered. See last issue for a full run down.
clear audio.                                                                                                           Niall Magennis
   However, their size means they’re only really
suitable for big rooms and they tend to be more
expensive than other types of speakers. In fact,
audiophiles will pay many thousands of pounds for
floor-standing speakers. But not all floor-standing
                                                                     New speaker technologies
speakers are priced at such extreme levels. The iQ9s                 OVERTHEYEARS there have          companies,but
from Kef, for example, have a clean and powerful                     been numerous attempts to        because flat panels
sound, yet are comparatively affordable at £800.                     improve on the traditional       struggle to produce
                                                                     speaker cone.Electrostatic       deep bass sounds,
Book ’em                                                             speakers were developed in the   the speakers
The second and most popular type of speaker is the
                                                                     1950s,but they never caught on   generally need to be
bookshelf model. These use smaller cabinets and so
                                                                     because they suffered from a     twinned with a
are much easier to place in a room. They’re generally
                                                                     number of problems,including     subwoofer.
two-way speakers with a main driver covering bass
                                                                     poor bass response.More             Other companies have kept       that produces surround sound
and mid-range tones matched with a tweeter that takes
                                                                     recently a US company called     the traditional cone speaker,but   from a single speaker cabinet.
care of higher frequencies. They can be either mounted
on stands or, as their name implies, rested on a shelf.              NXT developed flat-speaker       attempted to use it in new and     The first sound projector,the
  They remain highly popular because they provide                    technology.The technology is     innovative ways.For example,       YSP-1,cost £800,but a newer
good stereo clarity. In fact, you’ve probably already                being used by a number of        Yamaha has come up with the        model called theYSP-800 is
got a pair attached to your current hi-fi or mini                                                     concept of a sound projector       now available for £600.
system. There are thousands of types of bookshelf
speakers available. Some are from big-name
manufacturers like Sony, while others come from




   i
              For more information on the topics,projects
             and companies mentioned in this article,go to
             www.computeractive.co.uk/2150609


                                                                                               2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                         65
 On Test CD-ROMs

                                                   Games master
                                                   Whether you’re king of the chess board or queen of Hearts,
                                                   our selection of games software meets all tastes and levels
                                                   FROM BOARD games to puzzle and card                      interesting for newcomers and experts alike.
                                                   games, your PC is the perfect playing partner.              World Poker Championship rides on the tails
                                                   This issue, our five titles give a new twist to          of poker’s current popularity, and removes the
                                                   some classic games, and none of them will set            financial risk without cutting out the fun.
                                                   you back more than a tenner.                                Those with an endless appetite for games
                                                     To start with, though, is Ka Kuro Classic – a          will enjoy 1000 Games, an all-in-one collection
                                                   well-made digital version of a game that is only         of pretty much every game you could imagine.
                                                   just becoming popular.                                      Lastly, Scrabble 2005 brings new levels of fun
                                                     The same cannot be said about chess, but               and excitement to the classic board game.
                                                   Chessmaster 10 keeps the game fresh and                                                             Martin James




 Ka Kuro Classic                                                                        Chessmaster 10




I    f you are the type
     that enjoys mind-
     bending logic
and arithmetic,the
game of Ka kuro is
                                                              two difficulty levels
                                                               for each.
                                                                  When dragging a
                                                               number across the
                                                               board,each square
                                                                                       A         nyone who
                                                                                                 has played
                                                                                                 chess will
                                                                                       agree that the game
                                                                                       is far more complex
                                                                                                                                                       The game offers a
                                                                                                                                                     wide variety of
                                                                                                                                                     computer
                                                                                                                                                     opponents,and
                                                                                                                                                     success leads to a
the ideal pastime.                                             lights up either        than it first appears.                                        more difficult
    The object is to                                           green or red,               Chessmaster 10 is                                         opponent being
create rows and                                                depending on            much the same –                                               suggested,while
columns of numbers                                             whether the             spread over three                                             failure prompts you
that add up to a             KA KURO CLASSIC                   number will fit.        discs,it takes quite a                                        to downgrade.The
specific total,              Contact Greenstreet               Similarly,each          while to install and         CHESSMASTER 10                   more games you
without any                  Tel 01480 496789                  completed row is        to get to grips with.        Contact Focus Multimedia         play,the more
numbers being                Info                              given the green             The reasons              Tel 01889 570156                 accurate and
duplicated.                  www.greenstreetgames.com          light if all is well.   behind this became           Info www.focusmm.co.uk           detailed the
    Given the                                                     Visually,the game    clear when we                                                 program’s analysis
straightforward               Overall ####                     is well laid out and    explored the                 Overall #####                    of your profile.
nature of the game,                                            easy to view.Of         program’s features.                                              The tournament
Ka kuro programs are
                                  Price £10                   course,this might not    From training to
                                                                                                                          Price £10                 mode offers over 50
bound to have much in                                      be a good thing if          tournaments,                                               competitions,although
common,but Ka Kuro Classic still has       indulging in a bit of clandestine play,so   Chessmaster 10’s depth and attention       some only become available once
several impressive touches to make it      there is a hotkey to hide the application   to detail are obvious.                     certain levels have been achieved.
stand out.                                 should unwanted eyes be lurking.                For beginners,lessons are grouped         Chessmaster 10’s sheer number of
    It uses a drag-and-drop approach to       Overall,Ka Kuro Classic is a program     together to form a course;alternatively, features and slightly cluttered
filling in numbers,which means the         that adds several thoughtful and            a separate coaching mode gives in-         interface may put off some novices,
game can be played solely with the         innovative touches to what is by nature     depth strategic help to players already    but its power and flexibility for the
mouse.There are four board sizes,and       a very simple game. I                       comfortable with the basics.               price more than make up for it. I


66     www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
  World Poker Championship
                                                                                                                                                1000 Games
                                                                                                                                                       ost bulk             catered for,with endless

                                                                                                                                             M         collections of
                                                                                                                                                       games are very
                                                                                                                                             similar.There are a few
                                                                                                                                             unexpected gems that are
                                                                                                                                                                            variations of card games
                                                                                                                                                                            and board games,plenty of
                                                                                                                                                                            space and first-person
                                                                                                                                                                            shooters,puzzle games,
                                                                                                                                             truly enjoyable,maybe a        word games,casino and
                                                                                                                                             dozen or so games that         logic games… the list goes
                                                                                                                                             keep you interested for a      on and on.
                                                                                                                                             while,but the vast majority       And while we weren’t
                                                                                                                                             are there just to make up      able to look at every game
                                                                                                                                             the numbers.                   in depth,we were
                                                                                           WORLD POKER                                          Encouragingly,all 1,000     generally impressed by the
                                                                                           CHAMPIONSHIP                                      games here are full            level of quality,given our
                                                                                           Contact GSP                                       versions,and not               expectations.
H A great way to pick up poker tips but lacks some of the excitement of the real game      Tel 01480 496666                                  shareware or demos.In             Having this many games
                                                                                           Info www.gsp.cc                                   fact,there are closer to       will certainly never lead to
        oker has been around                 how to play the games,but                                                                       1,100 games included           boredom,and while you

P       for a long time,but
        recently it has enjoyed
a huge surge in popularity
                                             also on how to place your bets.
                                                The game’s controls are
                                             easy enough to understand
                                                                                              \Overall ###

                                                                                                  Price £10
                                                                                                                                             across two discs,and
                                                                                                                                             thankfully they don’t all
                                                                                                                                             have to be installed on the
                                                                                                                                             hard disk.
                                                                                                                                                                            won’t find any classics
                                                                                                                                                                            here,there’s certainly
                                                                                                                                                                            nothing awful either. I
through television and                       and master,and World Poker
internet gambling.                           Championship is enjoyable to                                                                       Just about every taste is
   Now you can join in the fun,              play.However,on a scale
safe in the knowledge you                    between typical PC card
can’t lose any real money.In                 games and the nail-biting
World Poker Championship,                    pressure of real high-stakes
you take on a variety of                     poker,it inevitably leans
computer players,all with                    towards the former.
the aim of earning a place at                   The subtlety and
the ChampionshipTable as                     complexity of human
one of the top-20 players in                 expression that makes real
the world.                                   poker so intriguing,complete
   Four card games are                       with all its bluffs and tells,is
catered for here – five-card                 lacking here.That’s not to say
                                                                                                                                                                             1000 GAMES
draw,seven-card stud and                     World Poker Championship
                                                                                                                                                                             Contact GSP
Texas and Omaha hold‘em.                     isn’t fun,but the new wave of
                                                                                                                                                                             Tel 01480 496666
And if all that means nothing                poker fans that has grown in                                                                                                    Info www.gsp.cc
to you,the practice mode                     recent years will probably be
gives plenty of tips not only on             slightly disappointed. I                     H There’s something to suit all tastes in this collection of games                    \Overall ###

                                                                                                                                                                                   Price £10
  Scrabble 2005
        ike most board games,                                                                                                           The Championship room is

L       Scrabble has made the
        migration to digital
format,and this latest
version adds several twists to
                                                                                                                                    where the serious games take
                                                                                                                                    place.There is no access to any
                                                                                                                                    help,and every move made
                                                                                                                                    affects your overall rating.
the old board game.                                                                                                                     Lastly,there is the online
   For the most part,these                                                                                                          room,which allows for
are in the form of adding                                                                                                           games to be played over a
elements of competitiveness                                                                                                         home network,or online if
to the basic experience of                                                                                                          players can be found.
playing Scrabble.                                                                                                                       The main criticism of
   On playing for the first                                                                                                         Scrabble 2005 is that it is
time,each player creates a                                                                                                          over-complicated.Actually
profile,which includes                                                                                                              playing the game is simple
factors such as age and                                                                                                             enough,but there are so
experience.Based on these                      The playroom is where the                selected from amateur to                    many game types and                      SCRABBLE 2005
attributes,a proficiency                     games are to be found,                     master levels.                              preferences to choose from,              Contact Focus Multimedia
rating is calculated.                        including not only Scrabble                  Playing the game itself is                it can be overwhelming.                  Tel 01889 570156
   As for the gameplay itself,               but some other word-based                  simple,with placing tiles a                     Still, if you can work your          Info www.focusmm.co.uk
this is broken into‘rooms’.                  games,too.                                 simple matter of dragging                   way though all that,
The classroom includes                         Up to four players can                                                                                                       \Overall ####
                                                                                        and dropping them in place.                 Scrabble 2005 will give
tutorials and a library of                   take part; alternatively                   Opponent moves are also                     plenty of fun for players of                   Price £10
games for analysis.                          computer opponents can be                  made quickly.                               any level. I

                                                                                                                             2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                          67
  On Test Games




                                                                                                                                         H There’s plenty of scope for customisation

                                                                                                                                         get as there isn’t much co-operative
                                                                                                                                         action – it’s just you against every
                                                                                                                                         other robot butcher.
                                                                                                                                            You’ll soon find complex strategies
                                                                                                                                         often neglected in favour of the
                                                                                                                                         headless chicken approach,albeit a
                                                                                                                                         headless chicken with enough
                                                                                                                                         firepower to alert Hans Blix.
                                                                                                                                         Thankfully,the controls are perfect
                                                                                                                                         for the speed of the action,and don’t
                                                                                                                                         hinder the furious pace of the game.
                                                                                                                                            The third-person perspective works


War World: Tactical Combat
                                                                                                                                         well,and presentation-wise,it scores
                                                                                                                                         highly throughout,with smooth
                                                                                                                                         animation and a well-designed
                                                                                                                                         camera that keeps up with the
Robot creation and subsequent destruction is the key to this                                                                             frenetic action.The various weapons
                                                                                                                                         and explosions look fantastic,and it’s
game.A simple case of mech war,not love                                                                                                  particularly inspiring with the sound
                                                                                                                                         turned up high.
            hile the idea of building                 offer such a premise but while many                                                   As mentioned,there’s nothing

W           robots and fighting other
            electronic beasts in the
real world sounds thrilling,anyone
who’s watched Robot Wars will know
                                                      games in the genre get bogged down
                                                      by complex menu systems,Tactical
                                                      Combat goes straight for the jugular
                                                                                                “There isn’t much
                                                                                              co-operative action -
                                                                                               it’s just you against
                                                                                                                                         particularly original in Tactical
                                                                                                                                         Combat but we loved its take on the
                                                                                                                                         mech genre.It’s already garnering
                                                      with intuitive controls,balanced          every other robot                        massive online interest and we
that smoking engines and frustrated                   gameplay and exciting visuals.                  butcher”                           expect it to become hugely popular
designers are par for the course.A far                   You start by building your ‘mech’,                                              over the coming months.We
easier option is to reproduce virtual                 which is a simple but comprehensive                                                certainly loved every minute of this
battles on a computer.                                process.Choose whether you want a       around the battle zone but with the        great little blaster.
  Tactical Combat isn’t the first title to            dexterous robot,which can zip           trade-off of having little ammunition                                Eddie Henderson
                                                                                              storage,or something that’s less pacy
                                                                                              but with the advantage of serious
                                                                                              amounts of weaponry on its back.
                                                                                                 Once you’ve built your mech,it’s
                                                                                              straight into battle,with some well-
                                                                                                      designed maps that offer
                                                                                                         plenty of scope for utter
                                                                                                               carnage.The single-
                                                                                                                      player mode
                                                                                                                      becomes
                                                                                                                    increasingly
                                                                                                                   violent and tricky,
                                                                                                                    and it’s easy to
                                                                                                                   become immersed
                                                                                                                 for long periods at a
                                                                                                  time.While it’s not particularly             Info www.warworld.net
                                                                                                    clever – the enemy bots tend to            PEGI age rating 12+
                                                                                                     attack in similar patterns – it’s         Also consider Unreal
                                                                                                     still great deals of fun.                 Tournament 2
                                                                                                        Around the maps,you’ll find
                                                                                                    health packs and ammo                        Overall #####
                                                                                                    scattered to help you out,and
HTactical Combat combines exciting visuals with fast-paced,high-octane carnage                you’ll need all the assistance you can
                                                                                                                                                        Price £20

68         www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                         Games
                                                                         Top 10
                                                                         Here are the top 10 games according to the
                                                                         official UK Leisure Software chart.©ELSPA.
                                                                         Compiled by Chart Track.




TOCA Race                                                                                          Call of Duty 2
                                                                                                                        World Class
Driver 3                                                                  1 Football
                                                                          Manager 2006
                                                                                                                        Poker
                                                                          £35 (football management) Sega
         acing games on the PC    person action is hugely                                                                             ith online poker       from professional player TJ

R        are something of a
         rarity,so praise be to
Codemasters for bringing us
the latest instalment of its
                                  impressive,with 80 tracks
                                  across most terrains and
                                  random weather throwing a
                                  further spanner in the works.
                                                                          2 Age of Empires III
                                                                          £35 (real-time strategy) Microsoft
                                                                          3 The Sims 2
                                                                          £40 (people simulation) EA Games
                                                                                                                        W             becoming a
                                                                                                                                      serious business,
                                                                                                                        it’s perhaps a good idea to
                                                                                                                        actually learn how to play
                                                                                                                                                             Cloutier,you’ll find you’ll your
                                                                                                                                                             game improving quickly.
                                                                                                                                                                While it won’t teach you the
                                                                                                                                                             tricks you need to master the
                                                                          4 Battlefield 2
Touring Car simulation.              In short,if racing is your           £35 (first-person shooter) EA Games           the game before handing              ‘poker face’, World Class Poker
   Although perfectly playable    thing,you’ll be hard pressed to         5 F.E.A.R.                                    over credit card details and         is a cracking title that might
with keys,you’ll need a force-    find anything better on the PC.         £30 (first-person shooter) Sierra             taking a financial risk against      help you generate your
feedback steering wheel to                            Mike Anderiesz      6 The Sims 2:                                 real players.                        fortune in time to come.
get the best out of it and,                                               Nightlife                                         World Class Poker is an ideal                       Eddie Henderson
frankly,this is the best reason                                           £20 (add-on pack for the Sims) EA Games       tutorial tool,offering you the
yet to invest in one.               Info www.codemasters.                 7 World of                                    chance to learn the skills
   As always,the 70-odd car         co.uk/tocaracedriver3/                Warcraft                                      without the danger of                  Info www.masque.com
                                    index.php                             £35 (online role-playing) Blizzard
models are superb,featuring a                                                                                           plunging into the red.There            PEGI age rating 11+
broad mix of over 150 Touring,      PEGI age rating 12+                   8 Call of Duty 2                              are various game types,and a           Also consider Masque
Muscle,Off Road and even            Also consider Colin                   £45 (first-person shooter) Activision
                                                                                                                        quiz section to test your poker        Classic Game Trio;Masque
Monster truck events as well        McRae 05                              9Civilization IV                              knowledge.Visually it’s tidy           101 Bally Slots
                                                                          £35 (real-time strategy) 2K Games
as the central WorldTouring                                                                                             and about as exciting as it
Car and Pro Driver modes.
                                   Overall #####                          10 The Movies
                                                                                                                        really can be.
                                                                                                                                                                Overall ####
                                                                          £45 (simulation game) Activision
   Based on the Colin McRae              Price £35                                                                          The artificial intelligence is          Price £25
graphics engine,the first-                                                                                              sharp,and with regular hints



Agatha Christie: And Then
There Were None
      he‘point & click’genre      charmingly dated spin on the            As you might expect,red                       course,a fully 3D world where

T     is almost extinct now,
      so it’s nice to see this
                                  old Agatha Christie tale Ten
                                  little Indians.
                                                                       herrings abound in the
                                                                       remote mansion where 10
                                                                       dinner party guests meet their
                                                                                                                        you could rotate the camera
                                                                                                                        instead of being restricted by
                                                                                                                        the edge of the screen would
                                                                       increasingly gruesome ends.                      have been better.
                                                                          A new character has been                          What takes more getting
                                                                       created to allow you to                          used to are the constant
                                                                       observe all the main suspects                    delays while the primitively
                                                                       and several new endings have                     animated characters
                                                                       been tacked on from the                          complete their dialogue.
                                                                                                                                                                 Info www.agathachristie
                                                                       original book,which Christie                     Unfortunately,there’s no way             game.com
                                                                       fans may have strong feelings                    of skipping them,despite the             PEGI age rating 12+
                                                                       about but at least keeps the                     presence of on-screen text.              Also consider
                                                                       events less predictable for                          However,the quality of               Broken Sword:The Sleeping
                                                                       those who know the book.                         voice acting is good and if a            Dragon
                                                                          The various locations are                     murder mystery is your thing,
                                                                       well realised,with animated                      it all adds up to a thoroughly              Overall ###
                                                                       weather effects and                              enjoyable whodunnit.
                                                                       sumptuous interiors.Of                                               Mike Anderiesz
                                                                                                                                                                       Price £20

                                                                                                                    2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                         69
           Amazing offers chosen
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ✁
❏ I would like to order the Road Warrior Kit @ £29.99 (Z476)                                                                                  (Please add £1.99 Postage & Packing)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Please quote
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Code Z476

  Your Details                                                                                                                         Payment Options                                      (Please indicate your preferred method of payment)

                                                                                                                                       1. ❏ Cheque enclosed for £_________ (made payable to VNU Business Publications Ltd)
   Title                     Initials                 Surname                                                                          2. ❏ Please charge £_________ to my

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                                                                                                                                 Net Chart


±± FREE Downloads
 We’ve trawled the internet to
 test what you can get for free...
                                                       Site seeing...
                                                       Planning on taking a year out? Get yourself
                                                       organised with our selection of helpful sites
YAHOO! WIDGETS
www.computeractive.co.uk/2150534                        Go to www.computeractive.co.uk to find quick links to all these featured websites
Fast factfinder
Yahoo Widgets are free programs                        www.gapyear.com
downloaded from the Yahoo                              This website is a great place to start when
website,that show information on                       thinking about a gap year,or just about
the Desktop,such as train times or                     general travelling.There are loads of good
calendar entries.                                      suggestions on where to go and what to do.
Type: Freeware                                         Advice is plentiful for both groups and the
File size: 11Mb                                        intrepid solo explorer,and worried relatives
Download at 56K: 40 minutes            Overall #####   can be reassured that there is plenty of
                                                       practical help,as well as inspirational articles.
OPENCANVAS PLUS
www.computeractive.co.uk/2149970                       www.payaway.co.uk
Computer art                                           World travels can pay for themselves,as there
OpenCanvas Plus is a program for                       are plenty of jobs to be taken while travelling.
creating art with a computer.                          Payaway is a good site to explore,with
There is a wide range of brush                         comprehensive listings as well as lots of advice
types and effects that can be                          about gap years,and organisations to travel
applied to the image.                                  with.This is a very good place to find out the
Type: Shareware                                        kind of activities that will enhance a CV when
File size: 5.4Mb                                       the world of work beckons.
Download at 56K: 20 minutes            Overall ####
                                                       www.world-challenge.co.uk
SMALLWINDOWS                                           World Challenge is a good website for
www.computeractive.co.uk/2150143                       anyone wanting a little more structure
                                                       during a gap year.The advantage of using
Switched on                                            WCE is greater supervision and support
Similar to Exposé,the Mac                              should anything go wrong.Even if you are
alternative to the Alt-Tab switching                   planning an individual travelling gap year,
of programs,this shows a preview
                                                       this is a website worth checking as World
of all running applications,with a
                                                       Challenge runs safety training courses.
single click to select between
Type: Freeware                                         www.vso.org.uk
File size: 121Kb
                                                       It’s not just students who want to travel and
Download at 56K: 30 seconds            Overall ###     do volunteer work.VSO organises volunteer
                                                       work for experienced professionals whose
STICKY NOTES LITE                                      skills can make a difference overseas.It offers
www.computeractive.co.uk/2150535                       grants and training but in return looks for a
Bright ideas                                           significant time commitment of up to two
There’s no need to look for bits of                    years on a placement.Youth programmes are
paper when inspiration strikes.                        also available.
Sticker can take notes and save
them for future reference or even
print them out.
Type: Freeware
File size: 2.8Mb                                       SITE OF THE FORTNIGHT
Download at 56K: 10 minutes            Overall ###
                                                         www.banthebulb.org
IMAGE ANVIL                                              Unlike most calls to help save the
www.computeractive.co.uk/2150537                         planet, banthebulb.org is about
                                                         saving you money as well.Old
Size up                                                  fashioned light bulbs are very
Image Anvil has basic editing                            inefficient and produce far more
options and a very good set of                           heat than they do light.
batch tools for renaming and                             Banthebulb has information
resizing a number of pictures at                         about other types of lightbulbs
the same time.                                           and information about
Type: Freeware                                           supermarkets that sell cheap,
File size: 24.6 Mb                                       energy-efficient alternatives.It is
Download at 56K: 1 hour 25 mins Overall ###              also a great place for general      H Find out about alternatives to the traditional but wasteful
                                                         information about energy saving. and inefficient light bulb



                                                                             2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                71
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        SA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               20         VE
Get wireless music for                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   %
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PC music library and listen to Internet radio from                                                                                       you're studying upstairs, cooking in the kitchen,
anywhere in and around your home, at the amazing                                                                                         working in the garage or entertaining friends – you
price of only £79.99 – Saving you £20 on the RRP.                                                                                        can listen to music anywhere, even outside.
                                                                                                                                         Stream music wirelessly from your PC... to anywhere
✔ Stream music from your PC wirelessly all around                                                                                        around your home!
  your home
✔ Enjoy quality digital 2.1 stereo with active bass                                                                                           Quality
✔ Portable and durable for everyday use                                                                                                 wireless speakers
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                                                                                                                                                     Features of the Saitek A-250 Wireless Speakers
                                                                                                                                                    ✔     True digital-delivery 2.1 stereo sound
                                                                                         RRP £99.99                                                 ✔     Active sub-woofer
                                                                                         Your Price                                                 ✔     No Wi-Fi network needed - plug in & play
                                                                                                                                                    ✔     Three separate amplifiers for high fidelity and natural sound
                                                                            only                £79.99+p&p                                          ✔     LCD display to keep you in control
                                                                                            SAVING YOU                                              ✔     Audio range within 30m
                                                                                                  £20!                                              ✔
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                       Take advantage of this                                                                                                             jack audio cable (provided)
                                                                                                                                                    ✔     Listen to internet radio anywhere
                       fantastic offer for your home                                                                                                ✔     AC adapter included
                                                                                                                                                    ✔     Plays for up to 24hrs with 4 x AA batteries (not included)
                       ORDER IT TODAY!                                                                                                              ✔     Dimensions 335mm x 115mm x 78mm

By telephone:                                                           Order online:                                                                                          Post this form to:
0870 830 4973 quoting Ref: Z445                                         www.computeractive-direct.co.uk                                                                        Computeractive, Tower House, Sovereign Park,
✁                        We endeavour to deliver products within 7 to 10 days however please allow up to 28 days for delivery.
                                                                                                                                                                               Market Harborough, Leicester, LE16 9EF

❏ I wish to order the Saitek A-250 Wireless Speakers system for £79.99 plus £2.99 P&P
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Please quote
                                                                                                                           Code Z445
Your Details                                                 Payment Options (Please indicate your preferred method of payment)
                                                                                                                                  1. ❏ Cheque enclosed for £_________ (made payable to VNU Business Publications Ltd)
 Title                     Initials                 Surname                                                                       2. ❏ Please charge £_________ to my

 Email                                                                                                                            Visa   ■       MasterCard        ■       Amex     ■       Delta   ■       Switch/Maestro            ■ (Issue No. __ )
                                                                                                                                  Card No.       ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■
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 Address
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VNU group of companies by post/telephone ■ Tick box if you do NOT want to receive information about products and services from selected companies by post/telephone.
                                                                                                                                                          Shuttle Competition


Win one of two Shuttle
PCs worth £2,400!
Two sleek and compact Shuttle PCs with a host of
extras up for grabs                                                                                                                                                                                                Q Save space
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                    e have teamed
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                    up with
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                                                                                      WHAT YOU                                                                                                                    form factor PC

                    makers of                                                         CAN WIN
                    small form                                                       First prize:A Shuttle XPC System
factor PCs, to give away two                                                                P 8100H computer.
computers, worth a total                                                            Second prize:A Shuttle XPC System
of £2,450, to two readers                                                                   G5 8300H computer.
of Computeractive.
  One lucky winner will
receive a Shuttle XPC
System P 8100H, while
a second will receive a
Shuttle XPC System G5
8300H. Both systems
come with Shuttle monitors,
keyboards and mice, as well as
Windows XP Home.                       and a 200Gb hard disk. There is a                              form factor cases, which mean                                    Shuttle XP17 TempAG v2
  The Shuttle P 8100H uses an          dual-format DVD writer and a                                   not only do they take up less                                    monitor, a TFT flat-panel screen
Intel Pentium 4 630 processor          multiple memory card reader                                    room on a desk, but can also be                                  with a 1280 x 1024 resolution.
running at 3GHz, along with            which, like the one on the                                     easily moved.                                                      The monitor for each will be
512Mb of memory, a 200Gb hard          P 8100H, supports all the most                                   This makes them especially                                     supplied in a colour that
disk and a double-layer                common formats.                                                suitable for students, and for                                   matches the computer in
recordable DVD drive.                    This PC also comes with eight-                               those who often move from place                                  question. The computers both
  The PC makes use of Shuttle’s        channel surround sound and                                     to place. Both come with                                         come with Windows XP Home,
SilentX Cooling Technology,            Intel integrated graphics. Both                                Shuttle’s two-year pick-up and                                   Ahead Nero 6 and Cyberlink
which means the fans inside the        the P 8100H and the G5 8300H                                   return guarantee service.                                        PowerDVD 5.
case don’t have to spin as fast as     are supplied in Shuttle’s small                                  Both computers come with a                                     www.shuttle.com
in normal PCs, reducing the
amount of noise produced.
  It also comes with eight-                                                              SHUTTLE COMPETITION
channel surround sound, with
standard analogue, optical               How to enter by post:
                                         Just answer the following question and send the answer, to arrive by 16 March 2006, to: Shuttle competition,
digital, and optical coaxial ports.      Computeractive,PO Box 10218,Sutton Coldfield,B76 1ZB.Photocopied forms,postcards or sealed envelopes
There is an integrated memory            with answers on the back are also acceptable.Email entries are not accepted.Please complete the entry form
card read, which reads all               in clear, block capitals.Or enter online at www.computeractive.co.uk/competitions
common formats, and the
                                             Question
                                             Question                                                                                    Name: ______________________________________
computer also has built in
support for a fast network.                                                                                                               ___________________________________________
  The Shuttle G5 8300H comes                 What is Shuttle’s advanced cooling                                                          Address: ____________________________________
with an Intel Celeron D 351                  technology called?                                                                           ___________________________________________
processor running at 3.2GHz,                 a)          FastX                                                               s            ___________________________________________
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ¢
along with 512Mb of memory                                                                                                                ___________________________________________
                                             b)          SilentX                                                             s           Postcode: ___________________________________
  Congratulations                            c)          ActiveX                                                             s           Daytime phone no:____________________________
  The winner of issue 204’s                                                                                                              Email: ______________________________________
  competition is Mr J O'Connor of
                                         This competition is open to readers of Computeractive,except for employees (and their families) of VNU Business Publications and Shuttle.Computeractive is the sole judge of the
  Belfast,who receives a Sony Vaio       competition and the Editor’s choice is final.Offer applies to residents of the UK and the Irish Republic only.Entrants must be over the age of 18 and only one entry per household
  V3S PC,a Logitech cordless             will be accepted.Winners will be selected at random from all correct entries received.No cash alternative is available in lieu of prizes.VNU will use all reasonable endeavours to
  gamepad and a copy of                  notify the winner(s) within 14 days of the close of the competition.VNU reserves the right to substitute the prize for one of greater or equal value if circumstances make this
                                         unavoidable.Prizes will be dispatched by the competition sponsor(s) and the winner(s) name(s) and address(es) will be provided to the competition sponsor(s) for this purpose.No
  Civilization IV.The 10 runners-up,     purchase of the magazine is necessary to enter the competition.VNU will use all reasonable efforts to ensure that the prizes are as described on this page.However,VNU cannot
  who each receive a copy of             accept any liability in respect of any prize,and any queries regarding a prize should be taken up directly with the sponsor of that prize.
  Civilization IV,are:R Dumpleton,       s Tick box to receive information about products and services from the VNU Group by email.s Tick box to receive information about products and services from selected
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                                         receive information about products and services from selected companies by post/telephone.
  P Bamforth,S Davis,V Harbourne,
  R Rumney,A Smellie and B Tingey.
                                                                       FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT WWW.SHUTTLE.COM

                                                                                                                      2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                                        73
 No Problem! Q&A
                                                                                    noproblem@computeractive.co.uk

                                                                                     Answers to...
                                                                                     PC PROBLEMS
                                                                                      Our resident technical doctor is here
                                                                                      to cure your PC ailments
                                             I’m all ears                                            OK. Next, start Skype, click on the          Run and enter ‘cmd’ (without the
                                                  I recently bought a USB                            Tools menu and select Options.               quotes) in the window that appears.
                                             Q    handset to use with Skype. It
                                             does this job perfectly but is also
                                                                                                     Click on the Sound Devices option
                                                                                                     on the left and select USB Audio
                                                                                                                                                     Press Enter and the command
                                                                                                                                                  prompt window will appear.
                                             now being used by default for all                       Device for Audio in and Audio out.           Assuming its drive letter is C, the
                                             the sounds from Windows. If I                             It is best to leave the Ringing            command to convert the hard disk
                                             disconnect the handset from the                         setting to Windows default device            to NTFS is ‘convert c: /fs:ntfs’.
                                             PC, everything returns to normal.                       so that incoming calls are clearly              Note that if Windows is installed
                                                                  Dave Spence, via email             sounded. Click on Save to close. I           on the hard disk being converted, a
           Techno babble                                                                                                                          message will appear saying the
           demystified...                         The problem here is that                           All change please                            conversion will not take place
                                             A    Windows has got confused
                                                                                                     Q     I have been told that I ought          immediately. Instead, Windows will

±   BIOS Basic Input Output System.          over which sound device to use for                            to use NTFS on my hard disk            ask to perform the conversion
    Software built into all PCs,to control   Skype and which for general use.                        but I see from My Computer that              when the computer is next started.
    the operation of devices such as the        First, make sure that the                            it is using the FAT32 format.                Click on Yes and then restart the
    screen,hard disk and keyboard.           speakerphone is connected to the                           Is there a way to switch to the           computer at the first opportunity.


±
                                             computer. Click on the Start menu                       NTFS hard disk format without                   If there are other disks to be
    Command prompt The                       and select Control Panel. Click on                      reinstalling Windows?                        converted, change ‘C’ to the
    predecessor to Windows,DOS,              the icon labelled Sounds, Speech,                                           BF Thompson, via email   appropriate drive letter when typing
    requires typed in commands to            and Audio Devices and then on                                                                        the command. When asked for the
    control the PC – and these are           Sounds and Audio Devices.                                     The NTFS disk format offers            volume label, type the exact name
    entered at the command prompt.
                                                Select the Audio tab and the                         A     several advantages over                that appears for the disk in My

±   Database Any collection of
    information accessed by a PC.
                                             hardware used by Windows for
                                             recording and playback will be
                                                                                                     FAT32 but some computers are still
                                                                                                     set up as the latter.
                                                                                                                                                  Computer; this makes sure that the
                                                                                                                                                  right disk is converted. I


±
                                             shown. In this situation the name                         Microsoft does supply a small
    FAT32 A system used by older             you see will probably be ‘USB                           utility program that can convert the         A mind of its own
    versions of Windows to organise          Audio Device’.                                          disk, but this should be used with                 I recently bought a new
    files stored on a hard disk.                Click on the arrow on the right of                   some care.                                   Q     computer loaded with

±   Hard disk A high-capacity disk
    drive that stores programs and files.
                                             the text box in the Sound playback
                                             section to show a list of available
                                                                                                       As it changes all the files on a
                                                                                                     computer, be sure to back up all
                                                                                                                                                  Windows XP Home.
                                                                                                                                                     Without any action on my part,


±
                                             devices and select the sound card –                     important files before attempting to         it turns itself on automatically two
    Motherboard The main circuit             it will probably be the only other                      use it. The risk of something going          or three times a day. This stops if
    board inside any PC.                     option available.                                       wrong is small but it is better to be        the telephone cable is unplugged

±   MP3 A high-quality compressed               Repeat this for the Sound                            safe than sorry.                             from the back of the PC.
    file format for digital music.           recording section and then click on                       Click on the Start button, then on            The shop it came from has
                                                                                                                                                             suggested it is a problem

±   Network A way of connecting
    several devices so that they can
    share data and resources.
                                                                                                                                                             with the internet
                                                                                                                                                             connection, but the
                                                                                                                                                             problem did not occur on

±   NTFS NT File System.A more                                                                                                                               my old computer.
    secure and reliable hard disk file                                                                                                                           Len Jackson, via email
    system than FAT32.
                                                                                                                                                                Some computers

±   Server A computer on a network
    that stores shared information.
                                                                                                                                                           A    are able to turn
                                                                                                                                                           themselves on

±
                                                                                                                                                           automatically if there is
    USB A quick and easy way of
    attaching external peripherals to
                                                                                                                                                           activity on the network
    your PC.                                                                                                                                               card or the modem –
                                                                                                                                                           mainly to cater for the
                                                                                                                                                           needs of businesses.
       For more on Jargon Buster visit:                                                                                                                      It is likely that your
      www.computeractive.co.uk
                                             H Windows can be instructed to allocate a given sound device for specific purposes                            computer is set to turn on


74    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
                                                                                                                                             http://forums.computeractive.co.uk

                                                                                                         Using your browser,
                                                                                                      compare the in-box with
                                                                                                      that of Outlook Express.
                                                                                                      Find the last message to
                                                                                                      have been successfully
                                                                                                      accessed by Outlook
                                                                                                      Express – the message
                                                                                                      following that in your
                                                                                                      browser inbox is most
                                                                                                      likely to be the
                                                                                                      offending item, so
                                                                                                      delete it. It is important
                                                                                                      to log out of the email
                                                                                                      website before trying
                                                                                                      Outlook Express again.
                                                                                                         If it is not obvious
                                                                                                      which email it is, the next
                                                                                                      option is to tell Outlook
                                                                                                      Express not to leave
                                                                                                      copies of messages on            H A graphics card’s memory differs from the number of bits it displays
                                                                                                      the server. See the
                                                                                                      Saving emails question on page 79                 contains. This is used by the card for
H Stop your PC from switching on automatically by making adjustments to the BIOS                      for the instructions on how to do this. displaying graphics on the screen,
                                                                                                         However, if for any reason this                particularly the complicated 3D
when there is activity on the                         the word Enabled next to the option             route stops working there are                     graphics used by modern games.
telephone line, and as a result, it                   Modem Ring Resume, and press                    websites that can access email for                    What you see in the Settings tab
may simply be that it is turning                      Enter. Move to the Disabled option              you, such as www.mail2web.com.                    of the Display Properties box is the
itself on when the phone rings.                       and press Enter.                                They are very simple to use and                   number of ‘bits’ of colour the
   This is not difficult to fix but does                Press Esc twice to return to the              often require no more than your                   computer displays. On modern
involve making changes to the                         main menu, select the option Exit               email address and password. I                     computers this can be set to 16-bit,
BIOS settings of the computer. The                    and Save Changes, press Enter,                                                                    which is equivalent to 65,536
BIOS controls the computer before                     then Y and then Enter again. The                Bits and bytes                                    colours (which is 2 multiplied by
Windows starts and should be                          computer should restart with the                        About two months ago I                    itself 16 times), or 32-bit, which
treated with care, as some options
may make the computer work more
                                                      new setting. I                                  Q       bought an nVidia GeForce
                                                                                                      FX 5500 256Mb graphics card.
                                                                                                                                                        shows billions of colours and is
                                                                                                                                                        known as true colour.
slowly or even not at all.                            One way traffic                                    After returning from the shop,                     This figure is independent of
   If possible, check the manual for                        I have been using Outlook                 fitting it and switching my PC on, how much memory is on the card.
the motherboard, if one was
supplied with the computer. If not,
                                                      Q     Express for some time on my
                                                      Windows XP Home PC.
                                                                                                      I noticed that Windows Display
                                                                                                      Properties still reports 32-bit
                                                                                                                                                        To check that the card contains
                                                                                                                                                        the correct amount of memory,
the name of the motherboard is                          However, it has now started                   graphics. Why is this, and how                    open the Display Properties box
shown when the computer starts –                      reporting an error message that                 can I change it to 256?                           (right-click on a blank part of the
although you have to be quick to                      includes the code ‘0X800CCC93’.                                 Lesley Steelyard, via email Desktop and click on Properties),
spot it. The sole alternative is to                     I can send emails with no                                                                       then click the Settings tab and click
open the PC and find the name                         problems but this message                              The 256Mb on the card refers to            on Advanced.
written on the motherboard itself.
Enter it into www.google.com,
                                                      appears every time Outlook
                                                      Express tries to check for new
                                                                                                      A      the amount of memory it                        In the second dialogue box, click

along with the word ‘manual’, and                     mail. Accessing the email
you should see a link to download                     account with a web browser is
or view it.
   The BIOS settings menu can be
                                                      still possible but I would rather
                                                      use Outlook Express.                                      We can work it out!
                                                                                                             If your PC or software is driving you up the wall,send us the details of
accessed by pressing a key when                                              Lynne Hills, via email
the computer starts. This is                                                                                      the problem and we’ll try to print a solution that will help you
probably the Del key or maybe F2                           This error message normally
or F12. There should be a message
on the screen telling you the correct
                                                      A    means there is a problem with
                                                      one of the emails on the server. It
                                                                                                            Contact us by email at noproblem@computeractive.co.uk or by post at:No Problem,
                                                                                                            Computeractive,32-34 Broadwick Street,London W1A 2HG.Whether responding by post
                                                                                                            or email,please include your telephone number and address.Unfortunately,we can’t
key to press, otherwise just press                    has probably been corrupted in                        reply personally to your letters and emails or give technical advice over the phone.When
these three keys repeatedly as the                    some way and so Outlook Express                       sending a query,tell us about your PC and include full information about the hardware
computer starts.                                      does not understand the                               and software you’re using.Be as specific as possible about what you were doing when the
   There are many different kind of                   information it is sent when                           problem occurred and include any error messages that appear,even if they appear to
BIOS, but the setting you need to                     checking for new mail. The fact that                  make no sense.Screenshots of your problem would also be useful.To make a screenshot,
access will be called WakeOnLAN,                      the web browser approach is still                     press the Print Screen button,click on the Start button,All Programs, Accessories and then
WakeOnRing or Modem Ring                              working seems to bear this out.                       Paint.Click on the Edit menu and select Paste.Click on the File menu and save the image.
Resume and is normally in the                            According to Microsoft, the best
Power Management menu. On our                         way to remove this problem is to
test machine the procedure was to                     delete the offending message. As
move to the Power Management                          you have access through your
option and press Enter.                               browser, this should be quite                          More problems solved turn over ±
   Press the arrow keys to highlight                  straightforward.

                                                                                                                    2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                       75
 No Problem! Q&A
on the Adapter tab. This will show            Download the installation file to
the name of your graphics card             the computer and run it to install
and how much memory it has. I              MP3Gain. Start the program and
                                           click on the Add Folder button.
Film to digital                            Select the folder containing the
     I have been a digital camera          music files – probably My Music in
Q    user for over two years and
have a large collection of photos.
                                           the My Documents folder.
                                              Click on the Album Analysis
  However, I also have dozens of           button and all of the music files will
APS film cartridges, from my pre-          be checked for volume. Depending
digital days, that I would like to         on the size of the collection and the
scan and add to my collection. Is          speed of the computer, this may
there a suitable scanner, scanner          take some time. When this has
adapter or some other simple and           finished, click on the Modify Gain
cost-effective method that I could         menu and select Apply Track Gain.
use to scan these at home?                    Bear in mind that this will make
           Charlie Lillyman, via email     all of the MP3s play at the same
                                           volume. To make whole albums
      Older models of film scanners        the same overall volume while
A     can often accept APS film,
which comes in small cartridges
                                           maintaining the variation in
                                           volume between individual tracks
                                                                                            H Some eBay traders list auctions in the wrong manufacturer category to try and sway your decision

which remain intact when the film          (such as with full orchestra and                        that needs to be properly set up,                Website error
is developed, rather than being cut        solo instrument pieces), use the                        which is easy to overlook. In                         When I go to my gym’s
into strips or individual negatives.
   The Canon FS series, and some
                                           Album Gain setting on each album
                                           separately. Consult the help file for
                                                                                                   Windows XP, each user account
                                                                                                   can have its own keyboard
                                                                                                                                                    Q    website to view my workout
                                                                                                                                                    summary, some of the page
Microtek, Minolta and Nikon                more information. I                                     settings, to account for different               appears as normal, but there is a
scanners, can all take APS film.                                                                   people potentially using different               large section missing, along
Remember that APS film can only           Confusing                                                languages on the same PC.                        with the following message:
be scanned in once it is                  keystrokes                                                  You can change these settings                 ‘Microsoft OLE DB Provider for
developed, like normal 35mm                       I run Windows XP Home on                         yourself, but will have to adjust                ODBC Drivers error ‘80040e14’.
film. A list of film scanners, along
with details of which ones take
                                           Q      my computer with five user
                                          accounts. However, the keyboard
                                                                                                   each account one by one. Click on
                                                                                                   Start, then Control Panel (or Start,
                                                                                                                                                                          Mary Jones, via email

APS films, can be found at                works correctly on only one of                           Settings, Control Panel), then                         The fault is most likely with
www.scantips.com/basic13f.html
, or you can refer to our feature on
                                          the accounts.
                                             On the other accounts the “
                                                                                                   double-click on Regional and
                                                                                                   Language Options.
                                                                                                                                                    A     the PC that runs the website,
                                                                                                                                                    rather than the one you are using.
scanning slides in issue 209.             and @ characters are reversed, so                           Under the first tab, select                      If you are using Mozilla Firefox,
   Note that some of these are old        that typing one on the keyboard                          English (United Kingdom) from the                Opera, or another non-Microsoft
models, so try second-hand                produces the other on the screen.                        ‘Standards and formats’ drop-                    browser, try viewing the page in
camera or computer shops or eBay             I have checked the language                           down list, and United Kingdom                    Internet Explorer to confirm that
if you cannot find them new.              settings in the Control Panel and                        from the Location drop-down list.                this is not the problem, as some
   If you cannot stretch your             everything seems correct.                                   Under the Languages tab, click                websites do not operate properly
budget to a film scanner, some                             Paul Wright, Lincolnshire               on Details. In the dialogue box                  in non-Microsoft browsers.
shops that offer developing and                                                                    that appears, select ‘English                       However, it is likely that the fault
printing services also scan APS                  This problem occurs when the                      (United Kingdom) – United                        is at the other end. The website is
films to CD, although this could
work out quite expensive in the
                                           A     keyboard settings have not
                                          been correctly set in Windows.
                                                                                                   Kingdom’ from the drop-down list.
                                                                                                      Under Installed services, click
                                                                                                                                                    connected to a database that
                                                                                                                                                    fetches everyone’s workout
long run. I                                  There is more than one value                          on any countries other than United               summaries when they log in, and
                                                                                                            Kingdom and click on                    displays them on the page.
All together now                                                                                            Remove, until the only                     Somewhere between the
     Are there any free                                                                                     thing left visible in the box           database and the web server, the
Q    tools that can process
my MP3 collection so that
                                                                                                            is English (United
                                                                                                            Kingdom), with Keyboard,
                                                                                                                                                    connection has broken, which
                                                                                                                                                    results in the error you see.
the volume levels are                                                                                       then United Kingdom                        If you see this error every time
equalised across the                                                                                        underneath, as shown in                 you try and access the service,
board. It is annoying                                                                                       the screenshot below.                   contact the people who run the
having to constantly adjust                                                                                    If this is not possible,             website and give them the details
the volume due to                                                                                           click on Add and select                 of the error and when it occurs. I
fluctuation in sound levels.                                                                                English (United Kingdom)
                 ‘Daz’, Lincoln                                                                             for the input language and              Auction frustration
                                                                                                            United Kingdom for the                        Over the past couple of

A     There is a utility called
      MP3Gain that does just
                                                                                                            keyboard layout.
                                                                                                               Click on OK to close the
                                                                                                                                                    Q     months I’ve noticed that
                                                                                                                                                    listings on the camera section of
this and can be downloaded                                                                                  box, and follow the                     eBay, which is my interest, are
free from http://mp3gain.                                                                                   prompts. Finally, in the                being mixed with items that
sourceforge.net.                                                                                            Advanced tab, select                    should be in other categories.
   It will only convert MP3                                                                                 English (United Kingdom)                   Of 90 results for a search for
files at present, though there                                                                              from the drop-down list.                Topcon cameras, only 26 were
is also a trial version that                                                                                Click on OK to close the                specifically Topcon. The rest
can convert AAC files.            H Remove other language options so just the UK keyboard format is used    dialogue box. I                         were for Nikon, Canon and other


76    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
YOUR COMPLETE                 GUIDE TO HOME ENTERTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY



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●   Plus, 15 pages of
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companies, which is
very irritating.
      Mike Perrett, via email

     This is a slightly
                                                                                                    *                READERS
                                                                                                                     TO THE RESCUE...
                                                                                                    Can you help your fellow readers? Do you need a
                                                                                                    problem solved? Join our forum dedicated to PC
                                                                                                    trouble-shooting at www.computeractive.co.uk
A    suspect marketing
technique whereby
sellers attempt to lure                                                                             THE PROBLEM
viewers to their auctions                                                                           I have about 200 names in my Outlook Express address book. How
by linking them with                                                                                can I print out a list with just the names and email addresses?
other auctions.                                                                                     JS Brown, issue 206
   The theory is that
someone looking for a                                                                               YOUR ANSWER
Topcon camera might                                                                                 One way is to open the address book and click on File, then Export,
be swayed into buying                                                                               then Other Address Book. Click on Text File (Comma Separated
another make, which is                                                                              Values) and press Export. Give it a name and press Next, then
why sellers put the word                                                                            untick all the boxes except Name and E-mail Address, then click on
Topcon into the heading                                                                             Finish. Load the file in a spreadsheet and you will see a compact
for auctions of other                                                                               list as required, which can then be printed.
manufacturers’ kit.            H Emails don’t have to be deleted once accessed by Outlook Express   Graham Round, Brighton
   While eBay isn’t able
to do much about this, you can use             procedure is similar, and the                        THE PROBLEM
eBay’s advanced search to combat               relevant dialogue box can be                         Sometimes when I correct spelling in a Word document, I find that
it yourself. To exclude terms from a           found in the Tools menu, under                       the text is being deleted as I type, which is very inconvenient.
search, put a minus sign before                Accounts. This option can be                         Carol, issue 209
them; so to search for Topcon and              found on most email programs. I
specifically exclude any listings that                                                              YOUR ANSWER
also include the word Nikon, search            Minidiscs forever                                    I had a similar problem, and it turned out that I had accidentally
for Topcon -Nikon. To exclude                         I very much enjoyed                           pressed the Insert button on the keyboard so I was overwriting the
several terms, put them in brackets
with commas between them, such
                                                  Q   Computeractive’s articles on
                                               transferring records and tapes to
                                                                                                    text as I typed. Just press the Insert key again and that should solve it.
                                                                                                    Jim, via email
as Topcon -(Nikon, Canon).                     the computer.
   To search for a specific phrase,               However, my whole music                           THE PROBLEM
put it in quotes, such as “Topcon              collection is stored on Minidisc.                    When surfing the internet, I have noticed some web pages have a
camera”. This way, you can                     What is the easiest way to                           large blank square with a logo in the corner that is made up of a red
exclude extraneous results and                 transfer Minidisc music to my                        square, a green circle and a blue triangle.
narrow down the relevant ones. I               computer? I have both optical                        Voyager, issue 209
                                               and coaxial outputs on my
Saving emails                                  Minidisc player.                                     YOUR ANSWER
      I have an email account with                                                                  This indicates the web browser is missing a plug-in needed to view
Q     Yahoo, which is set up so
that the messages are
                                                                       Rob Farrant, Bromley

                                                      Depending on how your discs
                                                                                                    the page. Some web pages use content that requires a specific
                                                                                                    program to work properly. If the program isn’t there, this icon will be
downloaded to my computer
using Outlook Express.
                                                  A   were created, it may be
                                               possible to transfer them.
                                                                                                    shown. The web page in question should have more details as to what
                                                                                                    plug-in is required. Common ones are Flash, Java and QuickTime.
   However, when I receive emails                 Using either optical or coaxial                   John Bowen, via email
they are deleted from my account               ports will give the best sound




                                                                                                     *
when transferred to my computer                quality, as these are digital
so I cannot access them again                  connections. If your computer has
from anywhere else.
               Stephen Oakes, via email
                                               optical or coaxial inputs, it’s simply
                                               a matter of buying a suitable cable
                                                                                                             Your help wanted
                                               from a local electronics shop or the
     Outlook Express can be told               internet (the optical cables are                     If you can answer the questions below, or have questions
A    whether or not to leave
messages on the server when they
                                               often known as TOSLink cables).
                                                  However, pre-recorded albums,
                                                                                                    you want answered, write to the No Problem address given
                                                                                                    on the left, or go to our website: www.computeractive.co.uk
are delivered to your computer.                and those copied digitally from
   In Outlook Express, click on the            CDs, cannot be transferred this                      THE PROBLEM
Tools menu, then Accounts. Click               way, as Sony included copy-                          I moved a Word file from one folder to another and now I cannot
on the Mail tab, then double-click             protection technology when it                        open it or move the file back. The error message “Word cannot
on your Yahoo account.                         developed the Minidisc format.                       open the document. User does not have access privileges”
   Click on the Advanced tab, then                In this case, the best way to                     appears. I have checked the properties and it does not have
put a tick in the box marked “Leave            transfer these discs would be                        checks against Read only or Hidden.
a copy of messages on server”.                 using an analogue connection                         TD Whistlecroft, via email
You can select to remove them                  from the Minidisc player to the
after a set period of time, or when            Line In port of your computer’s                      THE PROBLEM
you delete them on the PC, or not              sound card but this will give poorer                 My computer is running Windows XP Home and I want to set it
at all, by ticking one of the boxes            quality recordings. Once the                         by default to show files in list rather than icon format. I know
below that if desired. To confirm              connections are made, the                            how to do it for individual folders via the View menu, but when I
any changes, click on OK.                      principles are the same as when                      reboot the default has returned to the icon view.
   For those using Outlook, the                transferring tapes or records. I                     Brian Jones, via email


                                                                                                           2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                  79
 Letters Your say!
                                                                                         Star letter
                                                                                    One more tip
                                                                                               A nice little trick can    Explorer to find the file. It is also
                                                                                               be added to Tip 49,        more pleasing for the audience.
                                                                                    Automatic Slideshows, in the          If showing on another computer,
                                                                                    cover story in issue 208 (page        copy the file to a USB key along
                                                                                    21). Right-click on the               with the Shortcut. Then it is just
                                                                                    resulting file in its folder, then    a matter of copying the Shortcut
                                                                                    select Send To > Desktop              icon on to the other computer’s
                                                                                    (create shortcut).                    Desktop and away you go.
                                                                                       When you click on this icon                       Bill Hansen, via email
                                                                                    on the Desktop the show
We want your opinions!Write to us on any                                            starts up immediately, saving
                                                                                    a few clicks browsing
of the topics covered in Computeractive                                             through Windows


                                                Sticky solution
                                                   In response to Phil
                                       Horner’s advice on GPS holders
                                       being a magnet for thieves, here’s
                                       a little trick I’ve used for years to
                                       safely hold handheld PCs or
        Next issue, the writer of      mobile phones in my car.
        our Star letter will receive      Self-adhesive Velcro is available
        a Trust DC 4200                from many shops and costs just a
 PowerCam.Using this digital           few pennies. I have found it
 camera, anybody can take              indispensable over the years, and
 excellent photographs, make           one patch stuck on the dash can
 video and sound recordings,           hold anything that you stick the
 as well as play games.                opposing side of the Velcro on.
 The CCD optical sensor, with          One day it’s your mobile phone
 a 4-megapixel resolution,             and the next it’s your sat nav
 guarantees clear photographs          equipment. Truly universal.
 that can be viewed on the 4cm            I also think that it is a lot safer
 TFT colour screen.For more            to have a patch of Velcro stuck
 information visit                     to the dash than a 30cm long
 www.trust.com.                        piece of metal obscuring your            experience of building one – I           young people can learn, be
    Have your say; email us at         vision of the road, and pointing         work on aircraft, not in IT.             entertained and communicate
 letters@computeractive.co.uk          at you as you fly down the                 It also lets me have a PC built to     with friends.
 or write to us at: Letters,           motorway at 70mph.                       my specification and not with bits         Is there an age at which it is
 Computeractive,VNU                       Manufacturers make a fortune          and pieces that will rarely get          reasonable to accept that
 Business Publications, 32-34          selling us such useless devices,         used. I saved quite a lot of money       teenagers are old enough to
 Broadwick Street, London              and most of them aren’t universal,       and yes, it did work first time.         handle the internet? If so, should it
 W1A 2HG.                              so each time you change to a new                          John Allen, via email   be 16, 18 or some other age?
    To be considered for the Star      device you need to spend an extra                                                   When you consider that 16-
 letter prize, please include your     £20-£30 on the in-car holder.            Look out for a feature on building       year-olds can marry, and there are
 full name and address.                   I find it helps if you stick the      a quiet-running PC over the              different ages for voting, drinking,
 We cannot offer technical             softer side of the Velcro to the         coming months.                           working and living away from
 assistance or reply personally to     device as it tends not to stick to                                                home, it is hard for a loving parent
 correspondence but all letters        the lining of your pockets when                    The internet age               to feel right in stopping their
 are read by our staff.                you take it with you out of the car.               I wonder if your readers       teenagers use the internet. This is
                                                         Paul Kaja, via email   can help resolve a burning issue         especially so if the young people
                                                                                in our house – at what age should        believe they are old enough and
                                                 DIY                            children have unrestricted               want to have unrestricted access.
                                                 With reference to Alan         internet access?                           We thought putting Net Nanny
                                       Pearse’s letter in issue 208 (Out of       As we all know, the web is full of     or other control software on the
                                       order), has he not thought about         unpleasant, violent and vicious          machines would be the answer,
                                       building his own computer? I             material that even adults can find       but a quick search showed how
                                       have just built my first one at the      hard to handle. Yet it is also a         easy it is to get round such
                                       age of 58 and with no previous           wonderful medium through which           programmes if you want to.


80    www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
  What is the experience and              cameras (non-SLR), can result in                                                             At time of going to press, we
advice of Computeractive readers?         parallax problems.                                                                               understand that another
                 John Smith, via email      An LCD screen shows                                                                              company has taken over the
                                          ‘what you see is what you                                                                           Aramiska service, and
          Picture piracy                  get’, as with an SLR                                                                                intends to reconnect
          As an avid movie buff, I        camera (film or digital).                                                                            customers shortly.
spend a large proportion of my            Parallax problems can
time looking for bargains on              usually be corrected                                                                                               A different
online auctions, and it is no             afterwards, in the camera                                                                                          view
surprise that many lots within            or on a computer, but it is                                                                          In response to Ken
this area are illegal copies of           always advisable to get                                                                               Robinson’s letter (issue
movies. Sometimes you win an              the best possible shot in                                                                              209), I bought a Fuji
authentic copy and sometimes              the camera.                                                                                            MX1700 in 1999, and
you get stiffed with a dodgy                     Roger Keay, via email                                                                           have been using it
copy; this isn’t really my gripe.                                                                                                              constantly since then.
The thing that bothers me is                        Aramiska                                                                                 During that time I have
what exactly is being done to                        After reading                                                   H The optical     dropped it on the road three times
stop those that use online                your article about Aramiska                                                viewfinder on     and on the grass numerous other
                                                                                                               digital cameras can
auctions to hustle the more               UK from issue 209, I have                                               result in parallax   times, and that’s without the
unsuspecting buyers.                      sympathy for all of its customers                                                            other various bangs and knocks it
  I accept piracy exists, and I do        who were left without internet                                                               has been through. It has never
my best to avoid those sellers that       access on the afternoon of                     I am very surprised how in so                 had to go back to the
peddle it. Unfortunately, there are       27 January.                                 many short years, so many people                 manufacturer for repair.
times when you get caught out                The company I work for is one            and businesses have come to rely                    I must also agree with Michael
and wind up with a poor-quality           of the customers affected. This             on broadband to conduct day-to-                  Robotham (issue 208). I find that
movie (or music CD, or pair of            meant that our company was left             day services and activities.                     using the viewfinder for 99 per
jeans, or whatever else it may be).       with no means of connecting to a               After three weeks of no                       cent of my shots works fine, and
  Ordinarily I would report it to         high-speed internet service, which          broadband service, we have to                    I only rely on the display for the
the auction house and would               is vital for us to run the business.        see if we can quantify how much                  odd close-up shot. This also
most likely receive the standard          Our situation is not helped by the          lost business has been caused to                 conserves the battery life.
email in response telling me that         fact we used the satellite internet         our company, due to the closure                                        Linda Lee, via email
fraud is taken seriously and this         server, due to poor ADSL coverage           of Aramiska.
issue will be investigated, then          in our area by British Telecom.                In the meantime, I have
chalk it up as bad luck and forget           Today (15 February), I’m still sat       rediscovered the office fax, dusted
about it.                                 here at work without a reasonable           it down and put it to work. After
  Past experience, however, has           means to access the internet and            tidying my desk I have also
proved that very little is being          send or receive company emails.             discovered my phone.
done to combat piracy as a few            In the short term, we have one PC              Then the strangest thing                                 Techno babble
months later I came across the            in an office of 20 users, connected         happened as I was typing this                               demystified...
same seller still operating under         to a pay-as-you-go, dial-up service,        letter to send via my handheld
the same name (only this time
their feedback rating had
increased) and still selling the
                                          allowing us contact with a
                                          temporary web-based email
                                          system to capture all of our
                                                                                      computer – our internet service
                                                                                      strangely reappeared via the
                                                                                      satellite receiver.
                                                                                                                                       ±   ADSL A technology that converts
                                                                                                                                           an ordinary household telephone
                                                                                                                                           line into a fast internet connection.


                                                                                                                                       ±
same (or similar) material.               company correspondence.                        This was 15 minutes before we
  It appears to me, and probably             After one failed attempt by BT           expected to have the BT engineers                    CMOS Stands for complementary
                                          last week to activate a line to             on site to install a new telephone                   metal-oxide semiconductor.A
many others, that very little is
                                                                                                                                           special computer chip that looks
being done after all. It is clear that    enable ADSL, we are living in               line. Why does it seem Aramiska
                                                                                                                                           after system set-up information,like
large quantities of goods are being       hope that a solution is to be found         is alive again?
                                                                                                                                           date and time and so forth.
reproduced and sold to the less           by the end of this week.                                      Neil Martin, via email
savvy buyers or those who simply
don’t care that they’ve bought a
knock-off product.
                                           Corrections and clarifications                                                              ±   GPS A network of satellites that
                                                                                                                                           are used to pinpoint an exact
                                                                                                                                           position on the planet.
                                           It is Computeractive’s policy to correct significant errors as soon as possible.
                                                                                                                                       ±
  Clearly thousands of ‘pirated’
                                                                                                                                           Motherboard The main circuit
pounds are changing hands over             Please email letters@computeractive.co.uk with any important corrections.
                                                                                                                                           board inside any PC.
online auctions and ostensibly,                Information on paying car tax online can be found at www.dvla.gov.uk,
nothing is being done to combat it.
                Vic Charlton, via email
                                           not www.dvla.go.uk as printed on page 8 of issue 208.
                                               In our feature on Office tips and tricks in issue 208,Tip 50,regarding
                                           increasing and decreasing font sizes,applied to PowerPoint and Word,not
                                                                                                                                       ±   Parallax When the position or
                                                                                                                                           direction of an object appears to
                                                                                                                                           differ when viewed from different
          The view from                    Outlook.                                                                                        positions.
          here
                                                                                                                                       ±
                                               Step two of the‘File and printer sharing’Workshop published in issue
                                           207 included instructions on activating Simple File Sharing features in                         USB A standard that allows quick
Generally I agree with Mr.
                                                                                                                                           and easy connection of peripherals
Robotham’s comments (Advice                Windows.We should have pointed out that this action is not required in
                                                                                                                                           to your PC.
on digital cameras, letters, issue         Windows XP Home,as Simple File Sharing is always on.Windows XP
208), but I feel it should be              Professional users,on the other hand,will find they have the option to turn
pointed out that using the optical         Simple File Sharing on or off.                                                                     For more on Jargon Buster visit:
                                                                                                                                             www.computeractive.co.uk
viewfinder, with most digital

                                                                                                  2 - 15 March 2006 www.computeractive.co.uk                                     81
Best buys



                                                                               recommends...
Our Best Buys are a selection of the best products reviewed in Computeractive in recent months.Those selected are not necessarily winners of our Buy It! award but
they have fared well enough in our tests to warrant consideration.The prices were correct at the time of printing but use them as a rough guide.The prices we print
are suggested retail prices.For the latest,lowest prices on a wide range of products go to www.computeractive.co.uk/activeprices


 PRODUCT                        TYPE                          WE SAY                                                                                        PRICE      ISSUE RATING

 PCs
HP m7041.uk                     Home entertainment           No monitor but really good value for money for a Media Center PC.                                £799     198   ####
Apple iMac G5                   General use                  More powerful than ever and comes with the fantastic Front Row software.                   From £899      205   ####
Packard Bell iPower 6800 SLI    Gaming                       Uses two fast graphics cards to achieve the highest graphics score we’ve seen in a desktop PC. £1,499     193   ####
Evesham Mini PC Plus            Home entertainment           As small as a box of chocolates but powerful enough to run Windows Media Center.           From £500      208   ####
Mesh Matrix Xtreme Immense Fast performance                  A super-fast PC at a price that reflects its power.                                            £1,527     204   ####

 Notebooks
Evesham Voyager C720            Desktop replacement          Not as pretty as some of its rivals, but the most powerful gaming notebook we’ve seen.         £1,349     206   ####
Averatec 1050                   Portable                     A small but reasonably powerful notebook computer.                                               £999     206   ####
Evesham Voyager C540            General use                  Evesham’s Core Duo notebook shows that processor technology is moving on.                        £949     210   ####
Elonex Mediastar 1541           Home entertainment           An all-round good Media Center computer but lacks a digital TV tuner.                          £1,398     203   ####
Alienware Area-51 m5500         General use                  A really good all-round notebook computer with good graphics.                                  £1,366     209   ####

 Printers
Lexmark e232                    Laser printer                A big mono laser printer but fast and cheap to buy and run.                                       £93     196   #####
Epson PictureMate 100           Compact photo printer        The best compact photo printer we’ve seen in terms of quality and cost per print..                £99     202   #####
HP Photosmart 2575              Multifunction device         A sturdily built, good quality printer, scanner and copier from HP.                              £149     205   ####
HP Photosmart 8450              Inkjet printer               Huge and expensive but produces great photos and text while being fairly cheap to maintain.      £249     183   ####
Epson Stylus Photo R1800        Photo printer                A big and expensive A3 printer that achieves truly astonishing photographic prints.              £353     193   ####

 Peripherals
Evesham Bluemedia BM6380        Route planning               Low-cost satellite navigation with a host of additional features.                                £299     205   ####
Sony Walkman NW-A1000           Portable music player        Just as cool as an iPod nano but cheaper and with more capacity.                                 £159     210   #####
Toshiba TS10                    Mobile phone                 A good basic mobile phone.                                                                        £60     208   ####
Thomson Speedtouch 585(i)       Networking                   A reliable combined modem and router at a good price.                                             £60     208   ####
Buffalo Ministation HD-PS40U2 Removable storage              Not much more expensive than other hard disks, and more robust.                                   £70     208   ####

 Software
Civilization 4                  Game                         The latest version of this strategic classic is the best yet.                                     £40     201   #####
Norton Internet Security 2006 Security software              A very good security application, but possibly not worth the upgrade for existing customers.      £50     209   ####
Pinnacle Studio Plus 10         Video-editing                One of the best-value video-editing packages, now with support for HD.                            £63     204   #####
Roxio Easy Media Creator 8      Media management             Will do everything media related, and very well too.                                              £60     202   #####
Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 Photo-editing                     Improvements to this fourth version make it one of the best photo editors around.                 £70     200   ####

 Digital cameras
Fujifilm FinePix S5600          5mp / 10x optical zoom A camera with enough features to cater for varying types of photographer.                              £300     208   ####
Nikon D50                       6mp / SLR                    A great starting point for digital SLR photography.                                              £550     202   ####
Kodak Easyshare Z740/Dock 3 5mp / 10x optical zoom A versatile camera and a capable printer adds up to fuss-free high-quality home printing.                  £270     210   #####
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1          8mp / 3x optical zoom        Sony’s fantastic 8-megapixel camera is more than a mere gimmick.                                 £380     209   ####
Canon Digital IXUS 750          7mp / 3x optical zoom        Canon’s top-end IXUS marries futuristic looks to a performance that’s similarly out of this world. £420   210   #####
                               Key mp = megapixel   SLR = single lens reflex



82       www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
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                               build your first website                                                              EDITORIAL
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                              Make the switch                                                                        Reviews Editor/Deputy Features Editor
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                            over the next few weeks, it pays to shop around or even                                  Staff Writers Tim Smith, Anthony Dhanendran
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