Thursday, 27 November 2008

The 11th Carnival of Computer Help and Advice

Welcome to the eleventh monthly Carnival of Computer Help and Advice. Another collection of blog articles to help you avoid problems and get the most out of your PCs.

We start this month's carnival with a heads-up for WordPress bloggers. Madeleine Begun Kane extolls the virtues the Life-Saving, Spam-Fighting WordPress Plugin at Mad Kane's Humor Blog.

Kenneth Reitz compares Windows vs. OSX vs. Linux in a light-hearted article on KennethReitz.com. On the subject of OSX, Tim Biden shares his solution to the problem of Small Printing in Apple Mail on his Biden PC's Quick Notes page.

A number of people are having a problem connecting to the Internet after installing Service Pack 3 on Windows XP. The author of the Glowicki ProBlogger site offers a solution to the problem in The procedure entry point apsGetInterfaceCount could not be located in the dynamic link library wlanapi.dll.

BookFundas.com have sent as an article that links to a free eBook copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to PCs, 8th Edition. BookFundas told this carnival that "[t]his book takes the novice by the hand for a very ambitious tour of the world of possibilities available to the PC user. After a section of basic training for those who’ve flipped the “On” switch for the first time, the book surveys the world of software and hardware opportunities." Any freebie are appreciated in a time of economic uncertainty. As Momma notes in the first of a series of posts: Save money and tune up your PC: PART ONE: Software posted at Engineer a debt free life.

Regular contributor, Andrew Edgington, presents an article Beginner Photoshop Tricks at his Learn Photoshop Now blog. Andrew offers "Simple Photoshop Video Tutorials that will help you conquer Photoshop in no time at all. Take a look at their blog for a free sample video."

If you have a blog with posts about computer issues and would like to host the next carnival then please leave a comment on this post or use the contact form over at our Blog Carnival page, where you can also submit your blog posts for inclusion in a future carnival.

If you would like to host a future carnival but don't wish to have the responsibility for selecting articles or writing the carnival post, don't worry I can do that for you.

See you all after what will hopefully be an enjoyable Christmas.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Jargon Busting: Anatomy of a window (Part 2)

A number of weeks ago I posted an article naming the various elements that you will find in in Windows programs. This is the second part of that series. Unfortunately, whereas in the last post the displayed elements were interactive, in this post they will only be images.

Scroll Bar
A control for shifting the contents of a window left and right on horizontal scroll bars or up and down on vertical ones.


Slider
This control can be used to adjust a value within a limited range. Sometimes the value chosen with the slider will be displayed. On some sliders there will be only a few values that can be chosen, as with the screen resolution selector.


Spinner
The spinner is a combination of a numeric input box and two small buttons with which you can increase and decrease its value.

Tree View
Tree views appear in a variety of forms, but share the same basic characteristics: items containing sub-items containing sub-items and so on. On some tree views each item will have an associated tick boxes. Click on the + symbol next to an item to see the sub-items it contains. The symbol will then change to a -, which you can click to hide the sub-items.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Digital Cribs Competition

Cisco are running a competition called Digital Cribs: Heaven or Hell? To enter you have to submit a video that either demonstrates your technological heaven or your consumer electronic hell. There are grand prizes of $10,000 for both categories, as well as ten $500 gift cards for the other finalists (five for the 'heaven' videos and five for 'hell').

The competition closes on November 26, 2008. Those videos that are most viewed and highest rated will be more likely to win, as these two criteria will make up 66% of the submitted video's final score. So even if you don't want to submit a video yourself, you can see other people's digital experiences, both good and bad, and rate them accordingly. Good luck.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Five free file conversion sites

There is already a bewildering selection of different files types and this will only get more confusing as more innovative file formats become available. You may be able to install conversion utilities for some applications such as Microsoft Word and you can download various freeware file conversion tools, but there is a third option: web-based file conversion services.


Media Convert - I have mentioned this site before on this blog. It can cope with a greater variety of file types than the other sites listed here, but the amount of advertising makes the interface rather ugly and far from intuitive. The maximum file size is 150Mb, although, the larger the file the more likely that there will be a conversion error. You can download the converted file directly from the website.

YouConvertIt - This site supports nearly as many file formats as Media Convert, but it is till in Beta testing. It has a clean and intuitive interface and - like most of the other pages in this list - it enables you to download video files from sites like YouTube. File conversions are received by email, so check the maximum email size that you can receive.

Media Converter - This service also has an easy-to-use interface and it supports many popular file types and on-line video sources. It also offers a Firefox add-on to simplify the process of downloading and converting videos from sites like YouTube, MetaCafe, etc. For the free service the maximum file size is 100Mb and each user is limited to ten conversions per day.

Zamzar - Zamzar is probably the most well known of the file conversion sites. Again it supports the most popular file types and video sites, but the maximum file size that can be converted for free is 100Mb. File conversions are received by email, so check the maximum email size you can receive.


Primo Online - This is a specialist file conversion site that offers a pdf creation service. It enables you to create a pdf document from over 300 different file types as long as they are no bigger than 5Mb. You receive the converted pdf file via email.


All-in-all the variety of supported file types and the convenience of being able to download the converted file mean that my file conversion site of choice is still Media Convert.