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A sound solution

Also, don’t settle for blurry digital shots.

Q: I’m using a SoundBlaster Live! card from Creative Labs, but I’m seeing an error indicating that there isn’t enough memory to load SoundFonts. How can I get around this problem?

A: This normally occurs when a SoundFont-compatible MIDI file tries to play, but insufficient memory has been allocated to the SoundFont cache. You can work around this type of trouble by allocating more memory to the SoundFont cache, or make the SoundFont bank(s) smaller. To allocate more system RAM to the SoundFont cache, open the SoundFont control applet and select the Options tab, then move the SoundFont Cache slider to the right. Keep in mind that the maximum size of the SoundFont cache will depend on the amount of system RAM available. If you’re running short of system RAM, open the SoundFont control applet and select the Configure Banks tab, then select a smaller SoundFont bank from the Select Bank box (down to 2MB). Unfortunately, smaller sound fonts will result in lower sound quality.

Q: I use a CD-RW drive all the time, but I’d like to avoid the “DirectCD” banner each time I start the PC. Can I stop the banner without uninstalling the DirectCD software?

A: Yes, you can easily disable the DirectCD banner. After your system starts, look in the System Tray for the “CD device” that represents the DirectCD feature. If you hold your mouse over the little icon, it will probably say something like “Adaptec DirectCD Wizard” and indicate whether the drive is locked or unlocked. Right-click this icon and select Properties from the menu that appears. This opens the CD-RW drive’s Properties dialog. Select the DirectCD Wizard tab. Look at the bottom of the dialog under “Other options.” Uncheck the box that says “Display Adaptec DirectCD startup banner.” Click Apply and OK to save your changes.

Q: I’m taking pictures with a digital camera, but I’m finding that many of the photos are out of focus. Is this a camera problem, or is it me?

A: In many cases, focus issues are due to operator error (especially if you’re taking close-up photos or trying to use limited light). Here are some rules that may help you achieve better focus. First, make sure your subject is within the camera’s range. Each digital camera is a bit different, but as a rule, you should be at least 20 inches away to take a picture without the flash, and 20 inches to eight feet away to take a picture with the flash. If your camera has a “macro mode,” you can take a picture as close as eight inches. When you take macro close-ups, make sure you have adequate lighting (with the flash disabled).

Try using a tripod. This will help to keep the camera steady and prevent shaking or movement that may blur the image. Make sure you hold the camera steady after you press the shutter button (usually an indicator light will start to flash), and see that your subject isn’t moving. If you’re shaking the camera when you lock the focus, a warning icon may appear in the corner of the LCD. If you want to photograph a moving subject, you may be able to change the shutter speed. For example, cameras such as the Epson PhotoPC 850Z allow you to use Program (Sports Mode) or Manual (Shutter Priority) to increase the shutter speed.

Q: I have a Lexmark laser printer, and I often get paper jam errors. What exactly do these errors mean, and how can I prevent them?

A: According to Lexmark, the “200 Paper Jam” error indicates that a sheet of paper jammed at the input sensor (where paper enters the printer). Open the top front cover and remove the toner cartridge. You should find a piece of paper there. Release the pressure in the registration rollers and remove the jammed paper.

A “201 Paper Jam” error means that paper has reached the input sensor but never reached the exit sensor–it’s lost somewhere within the printer mechanism. Open the top front cover and remove the toner cartridge. The paper is either jammed under the cartridge, or under the fuser in the back of the machine.

If the paper jams in the rear of the machine, you’ll get a “202 Paper Jam” error. Open the back cover to find the paper. Be sure to check the user manual for the codes used with your specific printer model.

If your printer jams frequently, make sure that you’re using a fresh supply of paper that is suitable for the laser printer (i.e., standard 20-pound xerography-grade paper). Paper that is unusually thin, thick, or coated can easily cause the printer to jam. Also take a look inside the printer to see that there are no other paper or label fragments stuck in the mechanism that may be interfering with the normal paper path.

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