A £1000 printer that is useless to nearly everyone

By | May 1, 2011
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In the Computers newsletter this month:
  • A £1000 printer that is useless to nearly everyone
  • Problems installing programs
  • Another way to follow Tim (and I don’t mean stalking!)
  • Watch films online (legally)
  • Tip from Laura: finding your cursor
  • Internet Explorer 9 – problems if you’re with Virgin

So many bank holidays! And even sunny weather for them. I’ve not been at my PC that much as I’ve been making the most of it and taking Alastair down the road to the beach (he’s too little to do much there yet but he still likes us walking along next to the sea). But even so, I’ve got a few new things that I’ve come across for you.

A £1000 printer that’s useless to nearly everyone…

There are lots of different types of printer: colour, black and white, inkjet, laser… But there’s now one you can buy that’s really different: it prints in 3d.

I don’t mean it prints out images you can see in 3d with those funny glasses or anything. It actually prints 3d objects, gradually building them up out of plastic that’s printed onto a base.

They can’t “print” anything bigger than a few inches across, and telling it what to print is more complicated than printing a letter, but even though I’d never want one, I’m staggered at what they can do! The company’s website is here http://www.makerbot.com but more interestingly, you can watch a video of it “printing” a miniature statue of liberty here: http://www.youtube.com/watch=3Fv=3DMidPMCnJif8&feature=3Drelated
I know it’s not terribly useful but I’ve just amazed that a “printer” you can fit on your desktop can do something like this!

A quick tip – problems installing programs

If you ever have trouble installing a program and it seems to have frozen, this is worth a try.

What can happen is that a window appears for you to click on – where you have to click on “Next” or “OK” or something like that. No problem there except it can appear behindanother window, so you never see that it’s there. You think the program’s crashed and it’s waiting for you to click on the button.

It’s happened to me a few times and each time it’s taken me ages to realise what’s going on – but once you know it’s easy to deal with.

Hold down the alt key on the keyboard and tap the tab key (just above caps lock). Every time you tap tab, it’ll cycle through the windows that are open. When you get to one that has a button for you to click, let go of the keys and click on it – and the program should carry on installing.

Now you can follow me on twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/timwakeling1975)

I’ve mentioned twitter before (/newsletter2009june.htm – right near the bottom) – it’s a website that lets you publish very short updates to anyone who’s interested. I have to admit it’s not something I’ve ever particularly got into, but some people become real fans. You can “follow” a particular person and whenever that person adds an update, it’ll appear on your screen when you next check twitter. Stephen Fry apparently is a big user (as in he uses it a lot, I’m not commenting on the size of his belly!) and has thousands of followers!

Anyway, I’ve finally set up an account and anyone who likes using twitter can follow me – my twitter name is timwakeling1975 (I had to add the 1975 because surprisingly enough someone else with the same name already has timwakeling as a twitter name.

If you’re not into twitter, don’t worry, I’ll still be writing this newsletter twice a month so you’ll still get all the help, advice and so on you’re used to!

Watch films online free – legally

There are lots of websites that let you watch films for nothing. The problem is, not all of them are legal. A lot have pirated a DVD, then put it up on the web.

Not only is it illegal but these kinds of websites are notorious for being full of viruses.

But there’s a legal site that has hundreds of films that you can watch online. It’s divided up into recent ones that you have to pay for and others that are free (though some of the free ones are fairly new). If you have a reasonably quick broadband connection, they play quite well. They’ve got all sorts from Hitchcock to Harry Potter (though the Harry Potter ones aren’t free). http://www.blinkbox.com

Tip from next door – Laura

Sometimes I hear from customers saying that they struggle to find their mouse pointer or text cursor on the screen. Well, here’s a way to change what your pointer looks like so you can find it more easily:

For XP and Vista users – Go to Start menu, click on Control Panel then click on Mouse (or if you can’t see Mouse, click on Printers and Other Hardware then on Mouse) If you’re a Windows 7 user – Go to the Start menu, click on Control Panel and click on Hardware and Sound, then under the heading Devices and Printers click on Mouse.

In the window that appears click on the “Pointers” tab. At the top you’ll see the word Scheme with a drop down box underneath it, to get the largest one click on the one which says “Windows Inverted (extra large)(system scheme)”. Or you can click through the others to see what all the different cursors and pointers will look like.

Find one that you’re happy with, that makes it easier for you to see the pointer. Then click on Apply, then on OK. Now you can close down that window. Or if you’d rather go stick with your original style just click on Cancel.

Internet Explorer 9 coming to a PC near you – but watch out if you’re with Virgin…

I’ve written about IE9 recently, saying you could now choose to download it. But now Microsoft have started it automatically downloading, if you have Automatic Updates turned on. It’s only for Windows 7 and Vista, not XP. If you have XP, nothing will happen for you. But if you have Windows 7 or Vista, you’ll get a window appear asking if you want to download it.

In general I’d say it’s best to get it but at the moment there’s one caveat: if your broadband connection is with Virgin, they’re having trouble with their email system and Internet Explorer 9, so I’d recommend leaving it for now. I’m sure they’ll fix their systems very shortly but best leave it until they have!

Well, it’s still sunny, so I might nip out for a quick stroll along the beach with Julie and Alastair.

Tim Wakeling
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