Let word processor sort the list and Webcams help in reading

Helpline

October 29, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Is there a way to alphabetize in Microsoft Word? For example, if I typed a list consisting of the names White, Smith, Jones, etc., how can I put these in alphabetical order?

The ability to sort selected lines in documents is an important tool for many specialized users of word processing software. And as you note, even ordinary folks would like the option of sorting lists either upward or downward from time to time. This allows one to let the word processor do the sorting instead of figuring things out as we type.

The trick resides in the menu called Table at the top of the Microsoft Word display. First, type each entry as a separate line, then select the list using the cursor. Under Table you will find a Sort command that comes up with a choice to sort the list in ascending or descending order.

I'm looking for a Webcam-type of device that could be connected to a computer/monitor so a partially sighted person could focus it on a book and read it from the screen more easily. Most Webcams don't have the necessary focal length or resolution, or they cost too much. Has technology come far enough to help?

You are to be complimented for a wonderful idea to turn a PC monitor into a magnifying tool for reading by sight-impaired people. A growing number of modestly priced USB video cameras boast manual focusing options that permit close-ups sufficient for blowing up type in books or magazines until they are legible by those with partial sight. The new Logitech QuickCam Pro is typical of these video gadgets.

The second part of the equation, as you note, is resolution. Webcams tend to make images for display in small windows on the desktop, which limits the size of the type. To fix this, simply set the computer for a lower resolution, which will make the window take up a larger chunk of the screen as a user scans type.

To change resolution, right-click on the desktop and pick Properties in the pop-up menu. Then pick the Settings tab in the display that comes up. Here you will find a slider to change resolution. You should slide it to the left as far as it will go (probably 640x480 pixels). The resulting display of the video window will cover most of the monitor, creating an excellent tool for this purpose.

To make the display even easier to read, use the Windows Magnifier feature found under the Accessories menu that comes up when you press the Start button and then click on Programs.

The technical support people at Dell want me to wipe my hard drive and reload everything because I can't get the DVD player on my Pentium III computer to work. I want a simpler solution.

When I try to access the DVD player a message is displayed stating, "A required .DLL file, CINMST32.DLL, was not found." I have looked for the file on the Windows 98 CD but could not locate it. Is there any easy way of doing this, or am I going to have to listen to Dell?

Things aren't as bad as they sound, but you also can't just find that required CINMST32.DLL file and copy it from the Windows CD to your hard drive to fix things.

The problem is that Microsoft stores all of the data on its Windows installation CDs in a compressed format that only gets translated during the course of installing a program. So a simple copy can't be done. But you also needn't endure a "wipe and load," where your hard drive is reformatted and the operating system reinstalled.

Instead, just reload the multimedia features of Windows using the Add/Remove module. Click on My Computer then Control Panel to find the Add/Remove Program software. In the menu this brings up, select Windows Setup. This allows users to add or remove selected parts of the operating system.

In your case scroll down the list of stuff until you find Multimedia. First, remove the software for the DVD player, then you should repeat the process to reinstall it. This will remove the corrupted file in question and replace it with a fresh version.

James Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at jcoates@tribune.com.

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