± 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 tre me 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 als SALE SALE SALE SALESALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE De 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 Xtreme CT, full details at our website rock notebooks – gaming to go rock notebooks feature performance as standard, our gaming powerhouses will put your desktop to shame. See our website for the latest specs and prices. For peace of mind, every rock notebook has a 3 year comprehensive parts and labour warranty and 0% finance is available. “ we can't deny that rock is the best gaming laptop we've seen.” Custom PC | February 2006 “ Rock has won the race to ship the first notebook based on an AMD dual-core processor” The Register | 16th December 2005 to find out more call 08709 90 90 90 or visit www.rockdirect.com < 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 email@example.com 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 Elonex recommends Microsoft® Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005. Effortless Entertainment Start something amazing… Now you can enjoy all your home entertainment with the Artisan LX Media Center PC from Elonex, preinstalled with Microsoft® Windows® XP Media Centre Edition. It’s the all-in-one PC and entertainment centre for your entire home. Get the Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with HT Technology in the Elonex Artisan LX for outstanding performance to handle digital media. TV, music, movies, games, photos, the web and a whole lot more. Featuring the Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with HT Technology, the Artisan LX Media Center PC from Elonex is the powerhouse at the centre of your Digital Home - and with HT Technology, it provides that extra punch when doing two things at once. Artisan LX - the ‘Hi-Fi’ style PC and entertainment system, designed for the living room. Integrating seamlessly with your existing TV and audio equipment, • Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 530 (3.0GHz, 800Mhz FSB, 2Mb Cache) the sleek all-in-one entertainment centre and PC controls all your • Microsoft® Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005 • 512Mb Memory home entertainment choices. You can watch, pause, record and • 200Gb Hard Drive schedule live TV, browse the internet, watch DVD movies, listen to your • DVD+/- R/RW Dual Layer Burner music, create your own movies, burn DVDs and much more. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. • Wireless 802.11b/g Networking • WMV HD Ready £999 inc. VAT Experience the amazing Artisan LX Media Center PC for yourself at Comet stores throughout the UK. Order direct 08705 425 425 or Comet.co.uk Dream in Digital All trademarks acknowledged. Intel, Intel Inside, the Intel Inside logo, and Pentium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation. Elonex Plc., 2 Apsley Way, London NW2 7LF. E&OE. 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 Reader survey 2006 Help to shape the future of Computeractive by taking part in our online survey WIN £700 H Tell us which sections of Computeractive you enjoy the most A PC! B irthdays are often a time for looking back, but on our eighth birthday 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 of our magazine and its website to meet the needs of readers, so to help us keep on hitting the target we want you to tell us about the various ways you use technology. Every reader who completes the online questionnaire in full will be entered into a draw to win a powerful Media Center PC and a digital-quality slimline display from Mesh Take part and win a £700 PC Computers worth £700. EVERY READERWHO completes the online and other PCs from Mesh’s Media Center 2005 The information you provide will be used questionnaire in full stands a chance to win the series,contact 08700 46 47 47 or go to to help guide the editorial team’s choice of latest Media Center PC from Mesh Computers,the www.meshcomputers.com. subjects for features, Workshops, news, Matrix Media,which is worth over £700. To take the survey,go to: reviews and every other part of the With an AMD Athlon 64 processor,the Matrix www.computeractive.co.uk/readersurvey magazine and website. The survey covers Media is capable of powering through the your attitudes to the various sections of the most demanding of tasks,such as 3D games magazine, as well as the products you use and video editing. 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 This research is being carried out according to the Market Research Society Code of Conduct, and as the comfort of your sofa,including digital such all your answers and personal information will Freeview channels.All this can be experienced remain confidential and will only be used for the through the supplied 19in monitor, purposes of this research or specific follow-up which has a DVI socket for true activities which are specified at the end of the survey digital quality,as well as stereo (and then only if you give permission). output.With a three-year parts We hope you will take the time to help us keep and labour warranty,peace of Computeractive as relevant tomorrow as it is today. mind is guaranteed. Thank you for your help. For more information on this Tell us your views: www.computeractive.co.uk/readersurvey 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 Increase your Internet connection by 10x for only £24.99 a YEAR - www.onspeed.com Dial-up - 10x Faster! Broadband - 5x Faster! E verybody wants a faster Internet connection and even with Broadband, it’s just not quick enough. There is a simple, inexpensive and reliable solution If you are on Dial-up and don’t want to pay or commit to an expensive Broadband contract, ONSPEED is the perfect solution as its performance rivals that of to speed up your existing Internet connection and it Broadband but at just a fraction of the price. works anywhere in the world. You need the NEW ONSPEED costs just £24.99 a year (compared to version of ONSPEED – optimised for both Broadband Broadband at around £200 a year) and has no set-up and Dial-up. www.onspeed.com fees or contract. ONSPEED is a quick and easy software download If you are already on a Broadband connection, you’ll that significantly increases the speed of your existing know that you rarely get the full connection speeds Internet connection - Dial-up by 10 times and you’ve been promised. Put ONSPEED on top of what Broadband by 5 times. There’s no need to upgrade you already have and you’ll get a lot more speed out your hardware or do anything to your phone line, of your existing connection – without changing and no need to change your existing Internet anything at all. provider. You’re up and running in no time and it’s impressively quick. You can securely pay for and download ONSPEED from www.onspeed.com. It takes just two minutes Just a 1Mb software download for PC and Mac, to install from start to finish and is covered by a ONSPEED compresses the data you download in web 14-day money back guarantee. So join over 500,000 pages and emails using unique compression happy ONSPEED customers today. “We think ONSPEED techniques. When independently tested, ONSPEED is an excellent investment” increased a standard Dial-up connection from 30Kb www.onspeed.com to over 300Kb. On a standard 1Mb Broadband One quick download and a faster Internet Computer Active 158 CCCCC connection, ONSPEED increased performance to 5Mb. connection is yours. *Internet connection required - standard fees apply. Works with AOL when using an alternative Internet browser. Speeds up Broadband connections up to 2Mb. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T 24,576 SPEED? SPEEDING ON THE INTERNET IS NOW SAFE. Broadband is getting faster - fast. This router, armed with ADSL2+, gets you up to 24 Mbps (24,576 Kbps) broadband i.e. 439 times the standard 56 Kbps dial-up connection. Feature-packed, it enriches every file transfer, SkypeTM call, shared printing, online game or music download. Used with the wireless adapter it creates a top of the range mainstream wireless network. Meanwhile, an industrial strength firewall keeps your connections safe from hackers, wireless intruders and unwanted websites. The awards are hardly surprising. OZENDA 11G WIRELESS ADSL FIREWALL ROUTER OZENDA 11G WIRELESS USB ADAPTER NOW THAT IS SPEED – THE RECOMMENDED ROUTER! AND MORE... proven ISSUE 171 ISSUE 126 NOV 2004 systems Go to WWW.OZENDA.COM or call 0845 601 8525 Find great deals for all your computing needs! Visit www.computeractive-direct.co.uk today 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 we’re lowering technology prices… every day! www.dabs.com SATELLITE PRO L20 iPOD NANO - 1GB outstanding Featuring dazzling Believe Your Ears!! 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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 Remember your memory. When you need to buy a new Hi-Speed USB drive, there’s only one name to remember - Crucial Technology. Visit our website to find exactly the right capacity for your needs at a price that fits your pocket. As The Memory ExpertsSM backed by more than 25 years of experience, we offer a broad range of memory products that are 100% quality tested and approved by all major computer manufacturers. So don’t forget... go to www.crucial.com/uk and get Crucial memory today. • Manufacturer direct prices • Free delivery on qualified orders • Free helpline and technical advice The Memory ExpertsSM ©2005 Micron Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Crucial, Crucial Technology, the Crucial Technology logo, Gizmo!, and The Memory Experts are trademarks/service marks of Micron Technology, Inc. in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Crucial Technology is a division of Micron Semiconductor Products, a wholly owned subsidiary of Micron Technology. Products and specifications are subject to change without notice. Crucial Technology is not responsible for omissions or errors in typography or photography. 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 To store additional information about a digital Reader tips image,right-click on the file or thumbnail,select We need more reader tips! If you have Properties followed by Summary.Tap in the data a great hint or tip that you think into any of the available entry boxes,then click would benefit your fellow Apply followed by OK to close the window.All Computeractive readers then we data will be saved on this Summary page.To encourage you to send it to us.Those verify this,return to the picture file and let the that make the grade will be mouse hover over the filename.The information published on this page,with full credit in the Title and Comments boxes will be shown. given to the author.The hint or tip AlanCatchick,viaemail should not exceed 100 words.If possible,please supply a suitable screenshot and your name.Email contributions for consideration to email@example.com, or write to us at our usual address Staying alert (mark envelopes ‘Hints andTips’).By submitting a hint or tip you are 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. default the alert does not stay on screen for very 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 Copyright © 2006 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo and Norton Internet Security are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation. Amanda Thomason 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 NEW especially for you! from Do you have the problem of numerous cables for accessories cluttering your desk? Tired of carrying long cables whilst carrying your laptop? Well, with the Road Warrior Kit you can easily manage them all. 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Take a look at Order online: By telephone: Post this form to: Computeractive Direct, Tower House, Sovereign them out today! www.computeractive-direct.co.uk 0870 830 4973 Park, Market Harborough, Leicester, LE16 9EF ✁ ❏ 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 Email ■ (Issue No. __ ) Visa ■ MasterCard ■ Amex ■ Delta ■ Switch/Maestro Address Card No. ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ Valid from ■■ / ■■ Expiry Date ■■ / ■■ Postcode Subscriber number (if known) Telephone Signature____________________________________Today’s Date __________ We will use one or more of the various contact details supplied to contact you about your order, reader research and related products or events. Please indicate below your privacy wishes for other contact from VNU and 3rd party organisations: Email ■ Tick box to receive information about other products or services from the VNU group of companies by email ■ Tick box to receive information about products or services from selected companies by email Mobile/SMS ■ Tick box to receive information about other products and services from the VNU group of companies by SMS ■ Tick box to receive information about products and services from selected companies by SMS Postal/telephone ■ Tick box if you do NOT want to receive information about other products and services from the 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. 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 % your home NEW from Computeractive Direct brings you the Saitek A-250 Wireless Speakers, allowing you to access your entire Transfer music easily from room to room, whether 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 – the perfect gift 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! ✔ ✔ Wireless connection to PC (requires Windows 2000/XP) Connect to MP3, CD and portable media players via 3.5mm 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. ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■ / ■■ Expiry Date ■■ / ■■ Address Valid from Postcode Subscriber number (if known) Telephone Signature_________________________________________Today’s Date __________ We will use one or more of the various contact details supplied to contact you about your order, reader research and related products or events. Please indicate below your privacy wishes for other contact from VNU and 3rd party organisations: Email ■ Tick box to receive information about other products or services from the VNU group of companies by email ■ Tick box to receive information about products or services from selected companies by email Mobile/SMS ■ Tick box to receive information about other products and services from the VNU group of companies by SMS ■ Tick box to receive information about products and services from selected companies by SMS Postal/telephone ■ Tick box if you do NOT want to receive information about other products and services from the 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 in style with a W e have teamed Shuttle small up with Shuttle, 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 B Richings,I Unwin,G Williams, companies by email.s Tick box if you do not want to receive information about products and services from the VNU Group by post/telephone.s Tick box if you do not want to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 Only £3.99 £3.25 Direct from our website* ON SALE N OW! ● Jargon-free Buyers Guide to the latest digital home technology ● Hot new products for 2006 ● 24 pages of in-depth group tests ● Plus, 15 pages of step-by-step workshops Available at and all good retailers or www.computeractive-direct.co.uk * Only available at this price directly from Computeractive Direct 8 Celebrate Computeractive’s 8th year with this fantastic subscription offer issues for just 88p GET 8 ISSUES of Computeractive for just 11p each Visit: www.subscription.co.uk/ca/C247 or call: 0870 830 4968 quoting C247 Only Or post this form to: Computeractive Subscriptions, FREEPOST, MID17513, 11p an issue! Market Harborough, LEICS LE87 4HX ¡ s I would like to subscribe to Computeractive at 88p for the first 8 issues Please quote Code C247 then pay £12.50 every 6 months (13 issues) by Direct Debit Your Details Direct Debit Details Instruction to your Bank or Building Society to pay Direct Debits Title Initials Surname Please fill in and send it to: Originator’s Identification number Computeractive Subscriptions, Tower House, Sovereign Park, Market Harborough, Leics, LE16 9EF Email 1. Name and full postal address of your Bank or Building Society branch 9 4 2 5 7 9 To: The Manager Bank or Building Society Address Address Postcode Postcode 2. Name(s) of account holder(s) 5. Reference number (for office use only) Telephone 3. Branch Sort code 6. Instruction to your Bank or Building Society We will use one or more of the various contact details supplied to contact you about Computeractive including your subscription and reader research. Please pay VNU Business Publications Ltd Direct Debits from the account detailed on this Please indicate below your privacy wishes for other contact from VNU and 3rd party organisations: instruction subject to the safeguards assured by the Direct Debit Guarantee. s Tick box to receive information about other products or services from the VNU group of companies by email. I understand that this instruction may remain with VNU Business Publications Ltd and, if so, s Tick box to receive information about products or services from selected companies by email. (from top right hand corner of your cheque) details will be passed electronically to my Bank or Building Society s Tick box to receive information about other products and services from the VNU group of companies by SMS. s Tick box to receive information about products and services from selected companies by SMS. 4. Bank or Building Society account number s Tick box if you do NOT want to receive information about other products and services from the VNU group of companies by post/telephone. s Tick box if you do NOT want to receive information about products and services from selected companies by post/telephone. SIGNATURE DATE Offer available in the UK only, for overseas subscriptions call +44 (0)1858 438870. End date is 31st May 2006. Source Code: C247 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 www.printcartridge.net We will match/beat any ad in this magazine for multi-pack Epson/Canon compatibles RUNNER UP – BEST CONSUMABLES EPSON COMPATIBLE MASSIVE BUY ONE GET OUR TOP 10 BEST CHIPPED CARTRIDGE ONE FREE RANGE of compatible SELLING LEXMARK ★★ PACK DEALS ★★ Epson, Canon, Sharp and Xerox cartridges & HP ORIGINALS ● FOR USE WITH:– C42/C42+/C42UX/C44/C44+/ EPSON COMPATIBLES LEXMARK C44UX/C46/C50/C60/C62/CX3200/680/777/790/870/ 10N0217 Black (No.17) £12.99 875/890/895/810/830/Photo900/1270/1290/915/925 Black Compatibles for: printers. 3 x Black & 2 x Colour 400/440/460/480/500/580/600/640/660/C20/C40/ 10N0227 Colour (No.27) £13.99 NOW ONLY £9.49! 670Photo/700/740/750/760/800/860/880/900/1160/ 10N0016 Black (No16) £18.99 1200/1520/2000/2500/EX ● FOR USE WITH:– C70/C80/C82/CX5200/ ONLY £2.69 10N0026 Colour (No.26) £19.99 CX5400/C64/C66/CX6600/CX3600/CX3650/RX420/ 17G0648 Black (No.48) £12.99 RX425 printers. 2 Black and 1 of each colour Colour Compatibles for: 200/300/400/440/460/480/500/580/600/640/660/700/ 15M2619 Colour (No.19) £14.99 (5 cartridges in total) NOW ONLY £9.99! 740/750/760/800/860/880/900/980/1520/EX/C20/C40 ONLY £4.69 HP C84/C86/CX6400 2 High Capacity Blacks HP C6656 Black (No. 56) £13.95 & 1 of each colour NOW ONLY £11.99! 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Sites for sore eyes Never has it been easier to make your presence felt online UK'S BEST-SELLING COMPUTER MAGAZINE without having to grow an extra brain in the process. Average sales, Jan-Dec 2004, We give you the inside track to everything you’ll need to 236,026 copies per issue. build your first website EDITORIAL Editor in Chief Dylan Armbrust Deputy Editor Paul Allen Make the switch Reviews Editor/Deputy Features Editor Luke Peters With ISPs set to lower prices and increase broadband speeds Features Editor Ben Tudor News Editor Dinah Greek over the next few weeks, it pays to shop around or even Staff Writers Tim Smith, Anthony Dhanendran Production Editor Alvira Khan-Gordon consider switching allegiance to make the best of the latest Deputy Production Editor Martin James Sub Editor Caroline Boyle deals.We show you how Art Editor Nick Palmer Designer Sharonjit Samrai Editorial Assistant Anna Lagerkvist Photo finish Sorry, no technical or buying advice. ADVERTISING At last, the results of our ever-popular digital photographer of Advertisement sales hotline 020 7316 9208 the year competition are in.Take a look at some of the awe- Display ads/media pack 020 7316 9208 Sales Manager Paul Button inspiring images we shortlisted as we announce the winners Display Sales Damiti Ward, Natalie Lue, Eve Daniels Classified Sales Akbar Ansari 020 7316 9223 Media hype US/European/Asian/Middle East representation Global Media Europe Ltd, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London, W1A 2HG Media Center PCs may be all the rage but you can get the same Tel: +44 20 7316 9638 www.globalreps.com results without having to fork out for the brand name.We’ll show MARKETING AND CIRCULATION Brand Marketing Manager Tim Webb you how to create a home entertainment centre, without having Marketing Executive Kieran Proverbs Subscriptions Controller Harriet Cumming to remortgage the house Newsstand Manager Emma Smyth Subscriptions 01858 438870 For issues regarding copyright, Computeractive Workshops reader offers/Webstore offers, call 020 7316 9180 Reprints & Buy It/Best On Test Awards Surf the web anonymously, find the right memory for your PC, Kieran Proverbs 020 7316 9180 try Internet Explorer 7, manage smart playlists in iTunes, and PRODUCTION Production Director Joanne Hurst much more... Production Manager Cathy Mahoney Digital Production Controller Rebecca Yegliss PLEASE NOTE THAT CONTENT IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE Production Controller Sacha Farnham PUBLISHING Subscriptions, back issues, binders and contact details Publishing Director Duncan Tickell Chairman and Chief Executive, VNU Business Media Europe Ruud Bakker Subscriptions Digital subscriptions Annual subscription rates UK £25.77; Europe (including Irish Republic) £65; Rest of World £100 For new and existing subscription queries go to To subscribe to the downloadable version of www.subscription.co.uk/help/vnu, email Computeractive, visit www.ziniomags.co.uk. OVERSEAS LICENSING Computeractive is available for international email@example.com or call 0870 830 4971. To order online, visit: licensing. 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Whilst every precaution is taken to ensure that Sovereign Park, Market Harborough LE16 9EF. 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG. reliability and good business practices prevail, the Publisher cannot be held responsible for the overall trading activities of any supplier referred to, or advertising within, this publication. Editorial email addresses Sorry, but because of the huge number of enquiries we get, we can only give technical help and consumer VNU Business Publications Ltd, advice through published replies in the magazine – we cannot take phone calls or answer letters personally. 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG. For subscription enquiries, see the details above. Telephone: 020 7316 9000 We cannot respond to any correspondence Letters page: firstname.lastname@example.org personally. Technical help: email@example.com Consumer problems: firstname.lastname@example.org @ A PUBLICATION Workshop feedback: email@example.com No materials may be reproduced in whole or in part Website feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org without written consent from the copyright holder. ©VNU Business Publications Ltd, 2006. Visit our website: www.computeractive.co.uk Printed and bound by St Ives (Peterborough) Ltd. Distributed by Marketforce (UK) Ltd. ISSN 1461-6211 90 www.computeractive.co.uk 2 - 15 March 2006
"Computer Active Magazine - March 2006 Issue"