strange_complex: (Computer baby)
People who know about computers - I would really love your advice right now.

My laptop, an Acer Aspire 5742, has suddenly ceased projecting images onto its own screen. I say this rather than 'has died', because I have the correct cables to connect it up to my TV, which instantly revealed that the computer itself is absolutely fine and could project images onto the TV screen perfectly well. Indeed, I was able to operate it normally and take an up-to-date back-up of all my files this way. It's just that the screen of the laptop itself remains utterly blank.

Obviously I have Googled "acer laptop screen not working" and tried some of the suggested tips - e.g. using Function keys to check I haven't accidentally turned the screen off, taking out the battery, waiting for a while and rebooting etc. But they haven't helped. Nor have I done anything which I would expect to have caused this, like dropping the laptop. In fact, as far as I can tell the sequence of events has been thus:

Friday night - laptop does a massive Windows update on shut-down.
Saturday morning - screen not working.

I am now planning to take it to PC World tomorrow, but since I know so many geeky people, I thought I would also ask here first, especially since it will help me not to get taken for a ride by the repair people. Does anyone have any idea what sort of fault this might be, or any suggestions for anything else I ought to try before paying lots of money for it to be fixed?

Thank you in advance if so!

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strange_complex: (Dracula Scars wine)
Portrait in Alice's roomDear internet,

Does anyone recognise the painting pictured right?

It is a prop in a low-budget film, which appears on screen for only about five seconds and has no role in the plot but is purely a piece of set-dressing. So while it could be an original piece created purely for the film, the odds are that it is either a) a straight copy of a real-world original, or b) a pastiche with readily-identifiable models.

Either way, if anyone can identify the original or the model(s) used to create the pastiche, I'd be very grateful. I am trying to use it to help me figure out exactly when the film is meant to be set, and while I know enough about art to say that a painting like this would have been unlikely before about 1880 or after the First World War, that's about as far as I go.

Full disclosure - the picture is from Hammer's Scars of Dracula, which has no explicit dramatic date, but which I am trying to date from internal clues such as this one. (It's not the only clue I have to go on, but it's the one I need help with.) Sorry the picture isn't particularly brilliant - it is, of course, a cropped screen-cap.

Thank you in advance!

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strange_complex: (Farnsworth don't aks me!)
Two weeks ago, I had an eye test, and last week, I went to pick up my new specs.

I really like the way they look. But there's a problem: the prescription for the right lens is too weak.

Double trouble: I had the glasses made up by a different optician from the one who did the eye test.

My problem now is that I've been sold something which doesn't meet my needs, but I don't really know what rights or liabilities I have in this situation. The fault clearly lies with the lady who did the original eye test - but I only paid £5 to her for that privilege. Meanwhile, I spent a lot more money than that on having spectacles made up from her prescription, but the opticians who made up those spectacles did so on perfectly good faith, and I have no reason to believe they did anything wrong. Getting the £5 back for the original eye test won't really do much to off-set the cost of having the incorrect lens replaced, but it seems to me that I can hardly expect the second optician to absorb the cost of replacing it either.

Did I accept liability for this situation when I voluntarily chose to go to another optician to have the glasses made up? Or do I have any kind of protection against the consequences of having paid rather a lot of money for an incorrect lens? I surely can't be the only person who's ended up in this situation, but I haven't been able to bring up any very suitable advice by Googling. The best I could find was this, which is someone reporting the same situation - but I'm not at all clear that any of the people advising him(?) have any real expertise in the matter, or indeed whether their comments would apply in the UK.

Further stuff about it, no longer really relevant to the issue of whose fault this was )

Anyway, if anyone has been in this situation, or knows anything about what my rights are, please do comment. And if not, I guess I've just got more inconvenience and another hefty bill coming up...

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strange_complex: (Hastings camera)
My digital camera (a Canon PowerShot) broke irreparably in the autumn, and I really need to get on with buying another one. In fact, there are two things I want to do this very week which I'd ideally like to be able to photograph - hence suddenly getting off my arse and paying attention to the issue.

I can easily drop into PC World late this afternoon on my way to a meeting, so I spent yesterday evening looking through their website for some likely candidates. I'm looking for a sort of mid-range camera - not one that will cost the earth and require me to know detailed things about lenses, light levels and so forth, but more the kind that will take decent pictures on some simple pre-set settings, while also allowing me a reasonable degree of manual control for when I am interested in making the effort to do something a little bit snazzy.

On that basis, I've whittled things down to a short-list of five (below), and am currently feeling particularly well-disposed to the Fuji Finepix at the top of the list. When it comes down to it, my choice may well be largely determined by what they have in stock in the store I go to - and that doesn't seem likely to include the Finepix. But I'd be really glad of any input that anyone else can offer, particularly since I know I have some pretty serious camera-geeks on my friends list. Does anyone have any personal experience of these cameras or similar models? Are there any obvious reasons why some of them would be markedly better or worse than others which I might have missed?

My shortlist:

Fuji FinePix HS10. 10.3 MP, 30x optical zoom (large lens), 2x digital. Takes the same batteries as my old one, which is easy. Loads of features, looks really cool, good reviews. At the high end of this range for professional-ish features, but also has 'easy' settings too. £274.99 web price, £309.99 in store - BUT doesn't seem to be available in the branch I can get to easily. :-(

SONY Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V Similar to Canons, below. 10.2MP, 10x optical zoom, 20x digital. GPS geotagging. £289.99

CANON PowerShot S95 Small, light, combines simple point-and-shoot with options for more advanced use. 10MP; 3.8x optical zoom, 4x digital, 3" screen. £359.99

SAMSUNG WB2000 Compact Digital Camera. Similar to Canons and Sony. 10.2MP, 5x optical zoom, 5x digital. £309.99

CANON IXUS 1000 HS. 10MP, 10x optical, 4x digital. Much the same as the rest. £309.99

Do let me know if you have any comments!

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strange_complex: (Prisoner information)
...what manner of thing might be wrong with one's washing-machine if it performs the spin cycle in an apparently normal fashion, making all the usual judders and space-ship-about-to-take-off noises that washing-machines make, but the clothes still need wringing out by hand before you can hang them up to dry?

If it makes any difference, this is definitely A Change - it was fine a month ago, but has developed this problem over the last few weeks.

Edit: I've now cleaned the filter by opening a little panel at the front, which yielded quite a lot of water, a few bits of fluff, and one of those ivory-coloured plastic toothpicks which slots into the end of a Swiss Army knife. If anyone wants the latter, I'll gladly post it to them - I'm the kind of person who never lost mine, but I know a lot of people do.


Tuesday, 27 June 2006 14:19
strange_complex: (Computer baby)
I really need to buy a printer. Quite urgently, actually. Please convey your printer-related advice to me via the poll below:

[Poll #757065]

I am also interested in views on the relative merits of straightforward inkjets, straightforward laser printers and 'all-in-ones' which copy and scan as well as printing. Do comment if you have thoughts on any of them!
strange_complex: (Default)
When I first moved to Belfast, I was told that the weather was extremely changeable here, and that people often spoke of experiencing 'four seasons in one day'.

Today, I walked into town in the early afternoon in order to do a bit of shopping. As I left my house, I sighed with pleasure at the feel of the sun's warmth on my skin, and looked up into a blue sky punctuated by fluffy white clouds. I walked town-wards for a couple of minutes, and then felt a heavy drop of rain on my eyebrow... quickly followed by a succession of several more. Hoiking my umbrella out of my bag, I looked up to see that the sky had turned a uniform iron gray, and I was surprised to hear a rumble of thunder. Being British, I carried out walking through the downpour, gamely pointing my umbrella into the biting wind which had by now arisen. A mere minute more, and a new development occurred: suddenly, the plummeting rain turned to hail. Hail, in fact, which fell more heavily and more thickly than I believe I've ever seen hail do before. Fearing for the health of my umbrella, I renounced my Britishness after all and took shelter in a bus-stop, joining a young couple in T-shirts, who were shivering and gaping in awe at the natural spectacle we were witnessing. After two minutes of mutual wowing, the hail ceased as quickly as it had begun, and I set off on my way once more, crunching and sliding a little over the layer of fallen hailstones as I did so. By the time I was approaching the town centre, five minutes later, it was warm again, and dark sections of pavement were literally steaming as the sun hit them and the melted remains of the hailstones condensed off into the atmosphere.

Next time, I think I will get the bus.

My shopping in town was fairly boring, but on the way back home I dropped into 'Rusty Zip', a retro clothing store on Botanic Avenue. There, I bought a beautiful halterneck party dress in a shiny fabric which is black in some lights and a rich, dark purple in others. I also bought a large puffy skirt, much like the bottom half of a ball-gown, in a bright purple satiny fabric. It is floor-length, and apparently designed with one simple aim in mind - to be as HYUGE as possible. I do believe that if I filled it with hot air, I could hang a basket from it and fly across the Atlantic. And I love it!

However, it has a flaw, which is that some kind of liquid has obviously been spilt over it in the past, in quite significant quantities. It's left water-marks in several places, so I need to find a suitable way of cleaning it to get these out. However, it has no washing instructions on it - in fact, I think it may be hand-made. So I'm uncertain as to whether I can hand-wash it, or whether it might need taking to the dry-cleaners. I'm also doubtful about whether they would be able to do anything about water-marks anyway, so I'm hoping I can hand-wash it.

Under the cut which follows is a scan of a section of the skirt, complete with one of the worst stains. The stripey effect in the picture is just a peculiarity of my scanner: in real life, the fabric is a smooth, shiny texture, with consistent colouring. It has a slightly crinkly feel when you rub it between your fingers, and I would guess has quite a lot of nylon in it. Underneath is a layer of white netting and a lining of thin white material which I am almost certain is nylon.

My instinct is that I probably can hand-wash this... but if anyone who knows a thing or two about fabrics would care to take a look at the scan and comment, I would be very grateful for any advice.

Stained patch under here )


strange_complex: (Default)

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