As Christmas approaches, one of the things I get asked a lot is “What is the best way to create Christmas cards on your PC?”. The answer is using a Desktop Publishing program. But there have always been two problems. First, Microsoft Publisher is quite pricy and second, the instructions that come with it are, well, to put it politely, not very good. This year, I’ve solved both those problems… Read more here: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/secretpage3.htm
Mini-article – Watch TV over the Internet
I happen to live not far away from Whitehaven, the first area of the UK to have its analog TV signal switched off and go completely over to digital. In my town, though, you can’t get the digital freeview signal yet. If you want to get digital you need a satellite dish.
I’m not particularly bothered but there are occasionally some programmes on the other channels that I’d like to watch. Not enough to be worth paying for a satellite dish contract, though. But this weekend I was looking on the ITV website whether one of their programmes was going to be on ITV1, or just on ITV4 and found out something interesting – you can watch all 4 ITV channels on the internet. I knew you could get snippets of programmes, but it turns out you can now watch the full programmes.
I couldn’t resist trying it out and I was quite impressed. I’ll admit it’s not as good quality as watching it on a normal TV. But it was certainly watchable (especially if you select “detach player” or “full screen”).
So far, so good. But it’s probably only useful if, like me, you can’t get ITV 2, 3 or 4. But then I found out something else. They store a lot of their programmes on their website so you can watch them afterwards. And not just a few days afterwards – months or even years afterwards. Of course I had to try it out, so in the interests of testing it (honest) I was forced to watch two episodes of the Hornblower series that was on a few years ago. They also have Inspector Morse, Upstairs Downstairs, Sherlock Holmes, Jeeves and Wooster… Quite a selection. It’s well worth a look.
I had a look at the other channels as well, to see whether you can watch their programmes online. Channel 4 have a limited system, where you can watch programmes up to 30 days after they’re broadcast. Useful if you forget and miss a episode of a favorite show. You can watch older prorgammes but you have to pay for them.
The other channels at the moment only let you watch snippets of programmes… but the BBC are apparently working on a system to allow you to watch the full shows. Watch this space.
One warning, though – you will need broadband to be able to watch television online. If you have a dial-up internet connection, it just won’t cope with it properly.
When I go to buy paper to print my photos, some types are really expensive and others are cheap. Is it worth the difference?
Of course the easy answer is to buy some of each, try the same photo on both and see. But here’s what I’ve found:
The photo paper gives much better colour (more vivid) and also gives sharper definition – by an surprising amount. Quite often it can make more difference than whether you have a cheap or expensive printer. But once you’re getting proper photo paper, I haven’t noticed much difference between the makes. More expensive ones are thicker, and you can choose whether to have a glossy or a matt finish. But I’ve found WHSmiths own brand is pretty much as good as the expensive ones.
So I’d recommend buying proper photo paper but getting one of the cheaper makes.
Word to the Wise – DTP
It’s short for Desktop Publishing. That’s the type of program you use to make cards, newsletters, calendars or anything similar (in my case books!) on your PC.
That’s all for this month. Don’t forget to have a read of the information about the new Desktop Publishing Book: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/secretpage3.htm
All the above © Tim Wakeling 2007