$100 devices capture frames from camcorders for e-mailing

Help Line

January 31, 2000|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

You recommended an inexpensive product that would take a single frame from a camcorder and send that frame in e-mails to others. I have forgotten the product name and the Web site and company that sells it.

Times change. We are being bombarded with gadgets for capturing single frames or movie clips from our camcorders, VCRs and broadcast television.

The reason: Pentium-level chip speeds, huge hard drives capable of storing loads of gigantic graphics files, and the new universal serial bus connection that frees hobbyists of the need to open their computer cases and install complicated hardware cards, drivers and allied software.

A variety of products in the $100 to $150 range with USB technology will make things as easy as possible.

I like the Win-TV USB tuner and adapter from Hauppage Inc., which goes for just under $100 at stores and Web sites.

If you want to shop around, try a Web store such as www.cdw.com and type in search terms like "USB Video."

My new computer came with a modem but without a fax program. I found one for $339 but that seems excessive.

When Microsoft moved from Windows 95 to Windows 98, the built-in Fax program was dropped. Companies including Symantec gained potential customers for their expensive and power-loaded software such as WinFax Pro.

WinFax Pro costs $119. With it you can create message templates to fit your needs, and bells and whistles for filing faxes, broadcasting faxes, displaying them and such.

If your needs for a fax are modest, go to the shareware site www.tucows.com, type in the keyword "Fax" and check a $20 shareware gem called Just The Fax.

On our family desktop, the power-up boot sequence doesn't appear to load Windows 98. When I type "win" at the DOS prompt, I get a message that Windows is running and the DOS prompt appears again. The only way I can get into Windows is to go into a "step-by-step" confirmation and load all the Windows options except the config.sys and the autoexec.bat files.

Somebody set your computer's shutdown sequence to activate the Restart in MS-DOS mode; you can change it back to boot up in Windows with three clicks.

Next time you shut down, click on Start, then Shut Down and you'll get a box with radio buttons for options including shutdown, restart and restart in MS-DOS. Pick either shutdown or restart instead of restart in DOS.

I brought home my computer from work, which runs Windows NT 4.0 well. I think it's a 133-megahertz processor with 32 megabytes of RAM. A few of my programs don't run properly on NT, so I want to switch to Windows 95 or 98. Is there a simple way to do this?

You'll need to buy a properly licensed copy of Windows 98 Second Edition. The manual has instructions for performing a "clean install," using the new Windows CD to create a boot-up floppy disk and then reformat the hard drive. This will erase NT for you.

I would like to create one form but have gotten nowhere. I have used a software program (Formgold Ver. 1.0) and found it too confusing. Microsoft Word can create forms but the manual gives little detail. The form probably will be a one-time thing, so I'd like to avoid buying software. Any suggestions?

The easiest way to set up a Word document as a form is to open the Insert menu on the tool bar and pick Tables. This works much like a spreadsheet. These can be laid out in a grid and placed wherever as you need in the master document.

You could set up a document with a column of text on the left with titles such as name, address, shipping number, age, etc. Next to it you can create a table in which a user can enter data for each heading.

With a table you can move from cell to cell using the Tab key and Shift + Tab.

Word software lets you make each cell as high and as wide as you want using its "draw table" feature, so you can create a variety of forms.

You can send e-mail to jcoates@tribune.com.

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