Video Messaging Playback Is Choppy 

by on July 27, 2006

Q: I am trying to improve video performance for Video Messaging because it is very choppy; even with normal video playback is choppy too. I have upgraded my video card from 8MB to 128MB and my RAM from 128MB to 512MB. I have also upgraded to 80GB hard drive with a fresh install of Win XP. I am using cable Internet with an average speed of 2MB/se. I have a 500MHz AMD K-6 3D Processor in the computer and am unable to video to play back smoothly. Is there anything else that I can do besides get a new CPU/computer?

A: Unfortunately my response to you is going to be that you upgraded all the wrong parts. Video playback, be it on from a VCD, DVD, or netcam is a very CPU intensive process. The reason for this is that the video from all these sources is compressed so your CPU needs to uncompress them along with piece them together with the sound and play it on your monitor.

My advice, if someone were to ask me before upgrading a system, would be to research the tasks you believe you would like to do. You need to take the time to research what it is that you would like to do on your computer. In doing so you will not spend money on pieces of hardware or software that wont help you get to your final goal.

Since your question is after you have already put some money into your older system there are a few things you can try but your mileage will very. First you can try and make sure as few processes/computer programs are running as possible. Look at your task manager and try to stop anything and everything that you possibly can. Second run the normal utilities on your system like scandisk and defrag. The last thing you want to do is browse around your system information and make sure you have hardware acceleration as high as possible along with virtual memory setup and all those little tweaks.

On a side note, just to add a little more data about upgrading computer systems, it is very important to understand that video memory is only going to effect 3D video games and high end graphics programs. These games and programs are written in such a way that they actually off load some of the work that the CPU would do onto the video card (GPU, Graphics Processing Unit). I say this because I noticed the first upgrade that was done was to the video card (at least the first upgrade listed) and because of the name it seems the most logical but that is not the case. Stay away from very expensive video cards unless you are doing 3D games or running software you know will use the video card.

 
 

Apple Mighty Mouse Click Scroll Wheel Wont Scroll 

by on July 26, 2006

Q: I just got an Apple Mighty Mouse and all of a sudden I cannot scroll pages down but I can scroll up and to the side with my Apple Mighty Mouse. I cannot find a way to easily take it apart and since it is only a week old it does not make sense that it is broken. Could I need to clean it and if so how would I go about cleaning the clickable scroll wheel?

A: It is actually pretty common that the clickable scroll wheel on the Apple Mighty Mouse stops working like that because people use the mouse for hours and hours a day and their fingers have oils and dirt on them and it gets into the clickable scroll wheel. Remember when you used to have a mouse that had a wheel on the bottom, most people have lasers these days but some people still have the wheel, and you had to take the bottom off and clean all the rollers inside the mouse to make the mouse track correctly?

Well it is the same idea behind the clickable scroll wheel except, like you said, it does not seem like it is easy to take the mouse apart and even if it were easy I would not suggest it.

The first step to getting the clickable scroll wheel clean is to get a dry hand towel and use it to roll the clickable scroll wheel all different directions. This will get the dirt and oil off the ball and off the sensors that it touches. The good news is that in most cases this alone will resolve your issue. If you find this does not resolve your issue then you will want to take a damp cloth and do the same thing.

Now people, damp does not mean running it under the sink then walking to your desk and dripping all over the place as you go. Damp means a few drops of water on the cloth then ring it out and make sure there are no drips. You will want to rub the clickable scroll wheel a few times and then dry it off with a dry part of the hand cloth. We can do this because we did not get the whole hand cloth wet right 🙂

Good luck and enjoy your Apple Mighty Mouse because I know I do. For those of you that do not know what an Apple Mighty Mouse is visit the website here at Apple Mighty Mouse.

 
 

Compare HD-DVD and Blu-Ray 

by on July 26, 2006

Q: What is HD-DVD and Blu-Ray and how are they different or the same?

A: In the lineage of high definition data storage, both the Blu-Ray and the HD-DVD are direct descendants of the DVD. What makes these formats superior to their predecessor is the use of blue laser technology to read and write data. DVD formats use a red laser. Because a blue laser has a smaller band width, more data can be packed onto the same amount of space. Therefore, both the Blu-Ray and the HD-DVD offer greater storage capacity and superior quality in high definition output. However, this edge that these disc formats have on the DVD format is probably their greatest similarity.

Where storage capacity is concerned, the Blu-Ray format can hold 25 GB while the HD-DVD holds only 15 GB. Structurally, the Blu-Ray and the HD-DVD are put together differently and this too makes a difference in the quality of each one’s respective sound and video output. Both discs are 1.2 mm thick, the HD-DVD is put together very much like its predecessor, the DVD. There are two 0.6 mm substrates which sandwich a record layer. On the other hand, the Blu-Ray is made up of a 1.1 mm record layer covered by a 0.1 mm substrate. Because the Blu-Ray laser has less to penetrate when reading and writing data, the Blu-Ray disc offers greater accuracy in recording and playing back data.

Much hype has surrounded the issue of which disc will triumph to become the standard for the high density storage of high definition data. As mentioned in an article on Blu-Ray technology on wikipedia.org, this debate is quite reminiscent of the video tape format war of the 1980s between VHS and Batamax. Today, Blu-Ray is backed by 170 companies that make up the Blu-Ray Disc Association including Apple, Sony Dell and 20th Century Fox. In opposition, HD-DVD is firmly supported by players such as Microsoft, Universal Pictures, and New Line Cinema who make up the group of 230 companies who anticipate releasing content on to HD-DVD.

 
 

Delete Attachments From Messages In Outlook 

by on July 22, 2006

An Into Tomorrow listener submitted the following question!

Q: How do I delete attachments from email messages in Outlook? I would like to keep my original email message but I would like to be able to remove attachments that I don’t need to save hard drive space.

A: While the user specifically asked for how to do this in Outlook this is something that can be done in most email clients.

First you will want to find an email with an attachment that you want to delete. You will then need to open the email by double clicking on the email. Once the email is opened you will want to right click on the attachment and you will get a menu that will include a “Save” and a “Delete” or a “Remove” option along with other possible options. In Outlook you will need to close the email and then you will be asked if you want to save the changes.

 
 

USB Flash Drives 

by on July 22, 2006

Q: What is the average price of a USB Flash Drive and how do I know if it will work with my computer?

A: A good memory stick can cost you anywhere from $14.99 for a USB Flash Drive to over $200.00 for a USB Flash Drive that doubles as an mp3 player. Primarily, what dictates the price among memory sticks are the storage capacity and brand name. The more data a memory stick holds, the more expensive it is likely to be.

If you have an older computer you will want to find out if you have USB or USB 2. If you have regular USB then you will need to make sure the USB flash drive you get will work with regular USB.

 
 

Using A Static IP With Windows Server 

by on July 20, 2006

An Into Tomorrow listener submitted the following question!

Q: How do I assign a Windows Server a static ip?

A: To set a static IP address to a Windows machine:

  1. Open Windows Start menu.
  2. Open Control Panel.
  3. Classic view: Open Network Connections
    Category view: Select Network and Internet Connections, and then Network Connections.
  4. Double-click on your active LAN or Internet connection.
  5. Click Properties.

This opens the Local Area Connections Properties window.

In the General tab, highlight the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) item, and click Properties.

This opens the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties window.

  1. In the General tab, click Use the following IP address, and enter:
    – IP address. The static IP address you want to assign to this computer.
    – Subnet mask. Subnet mask used by your router.
    – Default gateway. IP address of your router’s default gateway.
  2. In Use the following DNS server addresses, enter all the IP addressses for the DNS servers your router uses.

  3. Click OK.

Then:

  1. Click OK to close each window.
  2. Restart your computer.
  3. Then, check your ip address to make sure that the changes were applied.
 
 

Watch Video’s On Your MP3 Player 

by on July 18, 2006

Q: What does it mean if an mp3 player can play videos? Does it actually mean you watch movies? If so what kind of movies/format do they have to be in and what are some of the mp3 players that play movies?

A: There are indeed Portable Media Players (PMPs) that support mp3 formats and video formats and yes you can watch movies on these devices. A few of the more popular players are listed below:

  • Toshiba Gigabeat S which supports WMA
  • MPOI One supports AVI, MPEG4, WMV and DivX
  • Cowon iAudio 6 supports WMA DRM, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, FLAL, MP3 and ASF
  • iRiver Clix supports Mp3, wma, OGG Vorbis and ASF
  • RCA Lyra x3000 supports Motion JPEG

Determine your needs first before you embark on a purchase. Some players have great visual quality but not the greatest sound and vice versa. When choosing, also think of battery life span, portability of the device and accessories that you may want. There is a recent article at cnet.com that you can visit to get even more details. The article can provide you with great pictures, reviews, and video critiques.

 
 

Running Out Of Hard Drive Space 

by on July 15, 2006

An Into Tomorrow listener submitted the following question!

Q: I am running out of hard drive space on my computer. What are my options for getting more disk space?

A: There are two solutions for getting more space to store your pictures, videos, software, and files. The first solution is the most difficult and it requires having knowledge about computers and their internals or hiring someone that does. The solution is to install another hard drive in your computer. This is a nice solution because the hard drive is inside the computer and you don’t have to worry about it getting lost or stolen unless someone loses your entire computer.

The other solution is to get an external hard drive. This usually connects to your computer via a USB 2 connection and requires no knowledge of the internals of a computer. The other great thing about this is you can easily take this hard drive with you to a friend’s house to show them your videos or pictures on their computer.

For an external hard drive one solution is the Western Digital My Book Essential Edition 400 GB Hard Drive. It is extremely simple to use, portable, and comes in many sizes. While we linked to the 400 GB size they do range from 160 GB to 500 GB at time of writing. With the size variations you also get price variations as well.

The other nice thing about this external solution is that you can program it to backup virtually anything with the touch of a single button along with it allowing you to do scheduled backups. This means you can keep your important data on your computer and back it up to this external drive for safe keeping along with storing all your photos and videos on it.

 
 

Difference Between a BlackBerry and an iPod? 

by on July 15, 2006

Q: What is a Blackberry and how does it differ from an iPod?

A: A BlackBerry is a wireless, handheld communication device that first came to market in 1999. Manufactured by Research in Motion of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, this device attained successful notoriety because of its push e-mail capabilities. Push e-mail makes messages instantly available in devices that support an “always on” capability as opposed to pull e-mail where you would have to log on to check your messages. Coupled with its innovative text keypad which enables you to “thumb” messages quite easily, the BlackBerry makes it possible for roaming employees to stay in touch and friends and acquaintances to communicate back and forth. Anywhere you have access to an appropriate wireless network; you can take advantage of the many wireless services offered by the BlackBerry device. In addition to e-mail, the BlackBerry offers text messaging, internet faxing, web surfing and in more recent models, cell phone and two way radio capabilities.

Since its original release in 2001, the iPod has emerged as one of the world’s most popular consumer brands. Created and marketed by Apple Computers, the iPod functions as a portable media player (PMP) capable of storing and playing music and videos and an external data storage device, which makes you able to store text files too. The iPod works in sync with iTunes, special software that allows you to upload files and maintain a library of these files on your PC or Mac.

Currently, the iPod family consists of the fifth generation iPod that can also play videos, the iPod Nano with a color screen, and the iPod Shuffle.

A BlackBerry functions more as an instantaneous communication device designed for people to participate in distant dialogue. When you think of it, it is more like a phone when you realize that the service is obtained through a cellular phone company. An iPod on the other hand is more of a portable entertainment device to listen to music and watch videos. You cannot send information from one iPod to another the way you can with a BlackBerry.

 
 

Difference Between PCI and PCI-Express 

by on July 13, 2006

PCI-Express is the new standard for faster video cards. Most new video cards coming out today are designed for PCI-Express as most new motherboards and computers being made today are supporting this new connection.

A PCI-Express video card is NOT backwards compatible with PCI. So what you need to determine is if your computer is PCI-Express. A Sony Vaio from 2 years ago will most likely have either PCI or AGP connection. The order of video card types (listed slowest to fastest) is:

  • PCI
  • AGP
  • PCI-Express

To see if you have AGP, take a look at System Properties in your Control Panel and click on Hardware tab, then Device Manager. Look to see if you have an AGP controller under Display Adapters. If you just see PCI, then you only have a PCI connection, in which case you are limited to a PCI-only video card.

Decent video cards can range from $150 all the way up to $500. Odds are you have an AGP connection, and luckily they’re still producing plenty of AGP video cards. Just be sure to check the documentation of the video card you’re interested in before purchasing.