Readers' Forum - May 2005

from the May 2005 Actrix Newsletter

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and answer your question by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

Vanessa asks: How does Internet radio work? Can I record from it? What are the risks? Is there spam involved? Thanks, Vanessa

Hi Vanessa, If you find a video stream on the web (and most radio web sites will have them,  you could record the stream just using Media Player or Real Audio, though you may need to purchase the add-ons to these programs to record. If you did a search you would probably find free or trial versions of programs that would do both, though. There would be associated risks with these programs as free stuff tends to include spyware, but not always. If you find a free program that you think you might like to download, it is often good to do a Google on the program itself including words like "spyware" and "danger" in the search at the same time to see if anybody has written about it or reviewed it from a security perspective.

Actrix streams a few radio stations, and the technology is reasonably simple. We just take the sound feed from the radio station and encode it into a compressed digital format that streams across the web. When you tune in, your computer just accepts this digital stream and turns the data back into sound. The data streamed is compressed, but it still adds up to a fair amount of info or traffic, so in some cases dialup access is not sufficient to receive a reliable and continuous stream. It depends on a lot of things like where the data is coming from. Even on a 56K modem, you would probably get most of a domestic stream reasonably well, though sound quality suffers a little due to compression. If the stream is coming from overseas, you could probably expect reasonably frequent sound drop outs.

If you're on JetStream, you'd want to be aware that the radio stream would be steadily eating into your traffic allocation. If you're on dialup, there are no traffic allocations.

Bob from Vogeltown writes: I am constantly frustrated when I print a page from Internet Explorer, only to find that it has chopped off the right hand edge. Is there some setting I can change to make it wordwrap to all fit on an A4 page? I have resorted to printing everything in landscape for the moment.

Steve Trayhorne from the Actrix Help Desk responds: Hi Bob, Unfortunately the chopped print is usually due to the design of the web page. It happens because some web pages have fixed widths and Internet Explorer does not have any print options to correct this for printing. It is possible that in some cases your printer may be able to compensate for. When you click Print from the File menu, see if there's a button you can click on the Print dialogue box labelled Properties, Options or Settings. Among the settings you may find a box you can tick labelled "Fit to page" or something similar. This may be able to force the printing to stay on the one page, but I don't think we can guarantee that.

Other than that, continuing to print in landscape may be all you have. The only other alternative is to copy the text you wish to print into your word processing program. This will correctly align the text for printing on the normal A4, or will allow you to wrap the text for printing. To do this select the text on the web page, right-click on the highlighted text then select Copy. Open up your word processor, go to the Edit menu and choose Paste. You should find it is now formatted for printable A4 pages. Of course this will ruin the original layout of the page, but if it is mainly the text you are after, it may be okay for you. I hope this is of assistance.

Wendy writes: Up until a few months ago, about every 10 days I would delete cookies, delete files, clear history and this would clear all sites visited on the Internet. But for about two months, nothing has happened and when entering www in the address bar, so many sites come up in the drop down box! What can I do to delete all these? Thanks for your help and a great newsletter. Wendy

Hi Wendy, Ordinarily clicking Tools, then Internet Options and then Clear History should work. However sometimes Internet Explorer gets a bit surly about co-operating. It's a reasonably well documented bug, but there's not much in the way of simple fixes for it.

You can delete your history by going into your Registry, but that's a little bit like going into the control room on the bridge of a battle cruiser. It may be safe to have a quick look, but push the wrong button and you could let loose a problem of nuclear proportions. So be very careful if you're doing this (and you certainly do anything in there at your own risk).

  1. Start button --> Run --> regedit
  2. Browse to the following registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TypedURLs
  3. Delete all of the values except for the (Default) value

There are two other points to mention. You could try using a different browser such as Firefox (www.getfirefox.com). Mike Cooper (who helped with this answer) was keen to suggest that.

Secondly,  some Spyware issues could be involved. Some Spyware will seek to lock your history and prevent it from being deleted (so that it has good stat info on you to send back to its evil creator). That could be another avenue to explore. If you haven't run a good spyware cleaner recently, then that would be a good idea. More info on this is available from past newsletters. See the article Three programs You Probably Need from the October 2004 Newsletter, for example.

With regards to recent articles about getting the computer to make a sound when you press the Caps Lock key, Paul asks: Is there any way of disabling the Caps Lock key other than hitting it with a large hammer? I don't have the speakers on - too many annoying noises and I haven't quite got to the stage of not looking at the keyboard while typing.

Hi Paul, your computer actually has its own little speaker independent of the speakers that come out the back of your machine, so your speakers don't need to be on for this to work. However, there are a number of other options. You can edit your own registry to disable your caps lock key or configure it to act like some other key instead (e.g. your Ctrl key). This is a risky thing to do and could render your system unbootable if you make a mistake, but if you want to proceed at your own risk, the instructions are here: http://pergatory.mit.edu/perg/resources/Windows_2000.htm.

There are some more possibilities under the Accessibility Options of your Control Panel:

  1. Start the Control Panel and double-click on Accessibility Options. You should see the Accessibility Options dialogue box with the Keyboard tab selected.
  2. Make sure the Use Toggle Keys check box is selected. (If you stopped right now, your system would make a little sound whenever you hit the Caps Lock key.)
  3. Click on the Sound tab.
  4. Make sure the SoundSentry check box is selected.
  5. Click the Settings button. Windows displays the Settings for SoundSentry dialogue box.
  6. Using the drop-down list, choose Flash Active Window.
  7. Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.

That's it. Now, every time you hit the Caps Lock key, your entire screen should flash as well as make the little sound.

You can, of course, simply remove the Caps Lock key from your keyboard. Just slip a small screwdriver under the edge of the keycap and try to pry it off. With just a little pressure, you can easily do this on many keyboards. If you do remove the key, store it in a safe place in case you later need it. I also read about someone who had trouble teaching himself to remember to not use a certain key He taped a thumbtack, point up, on top of the offending key. After only three or four sharp jabs to the little finger, your nervous system quickly learns, and you will stop automatically (or accidentally) hitting the wrong key.