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Published 05-Dec-2002

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  Picture down-size  

To solve the problem with sending attachments which are photos or images, download the IrfanView program - it's free and small enough to fit on a floppy so you can share it with friends who aren't online.

When sharing photos and images through email, use IrfanView to reduce the size of the file to a size that's not going to cause the recipient's email program to choke. A rule of thumb is that the image's file size should be only about 10 to 20 Kbytes - yes, that small. Use Irfanview to not only reduce the size (say, to about 10cm x 15cm or 320 x 240 pixels) but the quality. Remember to save this edited file with a new name so your original remains untouched. If your recipients want to print a high-quality copy, burn the images onto a CD and post that by snail mail.

As the receiver of that "family.pcd" attachment, because you've downloaded and installed IrfanView, you can save the file to your hard drive in your "My Pictures" folder and later view it using IrfanView.

When installing IrfanView, you have the option of associating a long list of file types with the program. If you'll be receiving many photo files of type "PCD", for example, at this stage you may want to choose that association. Then whenever your friend sends an attachment of type PCD, double-clicking will load IrfanView with the file so enabling you to see the photo.

For casual use, however, it's best to leave IrfanView's huge list of image file types unchecked. This just means to view a photo or image you need to start IrfanView and choose the image from a particular folder for viewing.

Irfanview is one of the few programs that still fit on a floppy. So if users persist in sending you huge pictures that you find difficult to download in your email, copy Irfanview onto a floppy and snail mail it to them, hinting that they only post you images of a sensible size.

Irfanview is not only an essential tool for resizing images, it can be used with your scanner. On the File menu, select your scanner then whenever you click on Acquire, your scanner will go to work and the image will be loaded directly into Irfanview for you to resize or enhance.

Image enhancement is available under the Image menu and you can adjust the brightness, contrast and the colours of the image. The latter feature is particularly useful for photos taken with a digital camera.

All in all, Irfanview is a remarkable piece of free software. If you've already installed it, did you know it plays sounds and videos too?

  Static - beware  

With the type of weather we're currently experiencing, there's a heightened danger of static electricity causing damage to valuable electronic equipment or giving a fright to unsuspecting people who love to point to or touch a computer screen.

The humidity on most days at present is very low so certain types of shoes and carpets are perfect for generating static electricity. You or the young ones can get quite a fright when pointing to an area on the computer screen. TV screens also fall into this category.

So the best way to avoid problems with static is to be in bare feet when using the computer while the low humidity weather continues. Discourage the young ones from pointing or touching the computer screen and TV. If you have to do any work on the internals of your computer, remove your shoes and socks and work in a place where there is no chance of you generating static electricity.

  Tablet PC  

It's taken a long time to arrive but it's here. We now have a device, about the size of a notebook computer, that understands our writing, doodling and drawing. Using a stylus - it can be set for left-handers, too - writing or drawing on a special flat screen can be sent to a journal program as typed text with just another tap of the stylus. The notes you scribble on the screen are in your own handwriting, unlike the special graphics writing that those small personal digital assistants use.

The prices of these new devices may appear prohibitive at the moment but it won't be long before they're reasonable. Well, it's back to pen and paper for webDotWiz to practice his handwriting and make it legible, at least for his own eyes.