Windows TV program won't work without PC video card

Help Line

November 15, 1999|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

Windows 98 offers a program called Microsoft Windows TV. I installed it and have the little TV screen icon on my task bar. When I log on, I get fancy diagrams but nothing moves when I try to use the mouse to turn on the television.

Using that old cliche, when all else fails, read the instructions, I did and see where I missed the last instruction that said "install antenna." There is no port on the back of my PC that says "antenna." Can you help me?

Count yourself among the hordes of Microsoft customers who have had their hopes built up about getting television programs on their PCs by misleading directions built into Windows 98.

As your experience underscores, the Windows setup screens falsely indicate that any PC running Windows 98 can receive broadcast video in the WinTV module of Windows.

The reality is that this feature is merely a software module that works when computer owners install special cards that have built-in television tuners, which include a plug for the antenna.

Because these PC video cards come with software that almost always is better than the Windows 98 video program anyway, this has become a particularly rankling example of misleading advertising from the world's largest PC software company.

I use a computer every day at home and at work, but my knowledge is limited to using e-mail and accounting and word-processing software. I would like to be able to see photos I have taken, and learn more about the whole process of printing photos and storing them on my computer, but I don't know where to start.

You are a prime candidate for one of the new flatbed scanners now flooding the marketplace and designed to connect either through the parallel (printer) port or through the new universal serial bus connectors included on Windows 98-compliant PCs.

I am partial to the Visioneer One Touch line of flatbed scanners (www.visioneer.com) because they come with a particularly easy-to-use software package called PaperPort that greatly simplifies keeping track of large numbers of scanned photos. It also works particularly well in letting a user send pictures to friends and family as e-mail attachments.

With a price range of $150 to $300, One Touch models let you scan color prints and then do things like print them out, fax them or attach them to e-mail merely by dragging icons.

Let me add that the USB scanner connections are far better than those that must share a connection with a printer because the USB eliminates a raft of problems associated with conflicting hardware settings. USB is much faster as well, so if your PC offers USB, don't even think about a parallel-port scanner.

I work with my 200-MHz IBM Aptiva with a 4.2-gigabyte hard drive, but I have only about 700 megabytes free. I'd like to upgrade the hard drive but can't get a straight answer on whether IBM is so proprietary that it won't accept a store-bought hard drive. I can't get a straight answer about whether I would lose data and I can't even get a straight answer about whether there's room in my tower case for a second hard drive.

Is it time to buy another computer or can I upgrade my computer without sending it back to IBM?

Yes, there is room in that tower for a new drive. Your solution is to take the machine to a shop and have that 4.2-gigabyte hard drive upgraded to a 10-gigabyte drive. You will need to pay a bench fee, probably around $75, and a couple hundred dollars for the new drive, but the technicians will be able to transfer the contents of your 4.2-gigabyte drive onto the 10-gigabyte replacement in short order. They can then reformat your smaller drive to act as a slave drive to the 10-gigabyte one, thereby giving you a machine with roughly three times your current capacity.

In a recent column, the implication was made that one can be an AOL user and still use Netscape. Could you explain how one does this? Also, I went to Netscape on the Web, thinking I would download it. When I got to the site there were way too many options for the uneducated to comprehend. I run a Power Mac.

To use Netscape with an AOL connection on your Macintosh, simply run the America Online software and then open the Finder and run Netscape. You will find that your Mac will use the AOL connection to establish a MacPPP connection to the Internet to pump data into Netscape just as it does with the America Online software itself.

If you check www.netscape. com, you can order a CD with the software and have it sent by mail rather than wrestling with confusing downloads.

A final option is to drop by a Mac-friendly computer store and buy a shrink-wrapped box of Netscape.

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