New home for old faithfuls
by George Skarbek - 29th November 2005

To look at the book, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here

Q: I have bought a new computer and have restored most of what I needed from the old one but what I cannot find and really miss is my many AutoCorrect shortcuts that I use in Word. Such as when I type "yf" it fills in Yours faithfully, several lines then adds my name and title. Is it possible to copy these across to the new computer? The old one had Windows 2000 and the new one has XP Pro.

A: It certainly is possible as the AutoCorrect list works with all versions of Word since Word 97. The actual file that you need to copy is an .ACL file and could be MSO3081.ACL but most likely you will have several MSO????.ACL files on the old computer. Look at the dates that these were modified and if one is recent and the others are old then the choice is easy. If you cannot tell from the dates, make a change to the AutoCorrect and then the file that you want will have today's date. The reason for the various files is that you may have several languages installed, such as American English, Australian English etc.

Having located your file, search your new computer for *.ACL and copy your file into the folder. Typically, they are stored in C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Application Data\Microsoft\Office. If you have added many AutoCorrect entries, as I have, the ACL file(s) should be included in your back-up procedures.
Microsoft has a two-page article on this topic.

Q: When using W98 I was able to record and save a WAV file using the MS Sound Recorder to insert up to 60 seconds of sound in an email. When recording and saving a WAV file in the same manner using the Win XP MS Sound Recorder, I find that the size of the file makes it impracticable to insert in an email.

A: Sorry, but I am not aware of a method using the XP recorder. However, I can suggest an alternative and that is to convert that WAV sound to an MP3 file. There are several free WAV to MP3 programs or you can buy an add-on for Media Player for $US9.95. If you are considering the free option, this is a good starting point.
As an example of MP3 compression, the Windows closing sound "Tada", which is 1.9 seconds long, is 168 KB in size. After converting it to an MP3 file, it is 24 KB, or only 14 per cent of the original size, with no perceptible difference in the sound quality.


Q: I have recently started using a digital camera and transfer the images to my computer. Often the images need to be cropped to the standard print ratios and often I find heads are cut off, or I may only want a selected area of the image. Can you recommend a simple program that would enable me to prepare my images first?

A: I am well aware of this problem. It is caused by the difference in the aspect ratio of the prints compared to the taken images, and with the processing services the default cropping can lead to important parts near the edges of the image being cut off. For this reason I crop my photos to the aspect ratio of the prints that I require before having them processed. Then I upload the corrected images back to the camera and take the memory card to the booth for processing.

There are many programs that can constrain the cropping the specified ratio. One acceptable free program is Picasa. When you double-click on a photo, you will have the option to crop. Having selected this, you then will have the common preset sizes. Picasa can be downloaded here. There are many more advanced programs that can do this, and these include Photoshop Elements and PaintShop Pro. These programs will also allow you to place text onto the photo and also to perform more subtle changes as well as the removal of blemishes or unwanted objects in order to enhance the image before going to have the images printed. Picasa also includes the ability make some image correcting, index all images on your computer, and even to print a contact sheet of photos stored in each folder. These contact sheets will provide about 40 thumbnail images on A4 paper to refer to offline.

To look at the book, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here