Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

I knew there was something about hybrids!

Someday — one day — a hybrid is going to kill a blind person, and so..
BALTIMORE – A bill intended to protect blind people and other pedestrians from the dangers posed by quiet cars will be introduced Wednesday in Congress. (AP)
(To read this news item, click here.)

Yes folks, two of our intrepid Senators are watching out for (some of) us, and so they are going to introduce a bill to enact a law which will require automakers to make hybrids noisy. This law/bill will be debated; printed up in multiple, legallese-filled hard copies (typed and re-typed), and quite probably, passed.. after all the rough edges are hammered out by our professional law makers in Washington. (After all, who wants to be seen as indifferent to the plight of the blind?)
To have this law have any real impact, it will most certainly have to made retro-active.. and owners of Hybrid 1.0’s will have to have noisemakers installed.

Hey! I have a suggestion for the sound hybrids will Have to make– the burb-b-ling sound the aircars from the cartoon The Jetsons make. (To hear what I mean, click here). says that the salary for a Senator is currently $169,300/yr., and that ain’t chickenfeed.
Hey,.. I guess they gotta do something to earn their money…

Now, I don’t want you to think I am unsympathetic to the difficulties faced by people with handicaps, but sheeze! Does this strike anyone else as ludicrous? (I just love that word. When I can’t slip it into my writing occasionally, I get cranky.) Why not just go to the auto manufacturers and suggest that maybe their quiet cars are a little too quiet? Why not encourage an auto parts/upgrades manufacturer to sell a noisemaker kit? And then tell folks that if they run over a blind person with their hybrid, and there wasn’t a noisemaker installed, they’ll get hit with a vehicular homicide charge.. and lose everything they have-ever/will-ever own because of the ‘catch’ of willful negligence and Civil Court?

No. That wouldn’t get any Senator’s names into any papers. And they couldn’t look like a hero to a “community”.
Gotta have a Federal Law.
Bell the hybrid. A Law to “prevent” something that’s never happened yet..

Sometimes.. I get tired.

[a brief aside: I want you to know, Dear Reader, that I have always been a “man ahead of his time”. My first few cars were sporty coupes, and I took the exhausts out so I could put on headers, big pipes, and glass packs and gain a few horses… loud? You betcha.]

Tip of the day: For those of you who are finding it harder to read the words on your computer’s screen (or, if you know someone who’s always leaning in and squinting at their monitor.. ahem), you may find some relief by clicking on this link,, and following the Quick Tip there.
And for those of you who need even more help, and need to make some more impressive changes,
For those with a true vision disability, an article on Windows’ Narrator and Apple’s Speech is on its way soon.

Today’s free link: I found the Jetson car sound effect by visiting and scrolling down to the “TV and Movies” category, but I could have used a keyword search as well. This is the place to go if you ever want to find a particular sound or “sound effect”.
Isn’t the Internet amazing?

PS– If you are a Senator, and want to pass a law that will REALLY help folks, try this one:
1) Members of our goods-transportation industry (trucking & railroads) will not pay more than $1.99 per gallon for diesel.
2) Diesel refinement facilities must meet production quotas as a matter of National Security. If more need to be built, certain exemptions from State and Federal environmental protection laws must be considered.
That’s how you can be hero.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.
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April 9, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, PC, tech, tweaks, Windows | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

More tweaks for easier viewing (reposting)

For those of you who find themselves squinting at your screen, or having to lean in real close, just to be able to read that darn small text, there are a couple of quick settings adjustments you can make that will make the items on your screen bigger, without pushing everything off of the edges. Microsoft calls these adjustments “Accessibility” settings.. which makes a certain amount of sense, if you think of reading your screen as “accessing” the information.

Tip of the day: Enlarge your fonts and icons for easier reading. The first and easiest way is to change the screen settings to a larger dpi (dots per inch), which is not the same thing as changing your screen’s resolution. Your screen resolution is determined (usually) by your monitor’s size, and should be set to the highest setting your monitor allows. This is the number of ‘lines’ drawn to create your screen image, and the more lines you have the crisper (sharper) your image will be, reducing the blocky effect called “pixilation.
However, increasing you resolution has the consequence of making the items on your screen smaller. But, that is what you want to do anyway; the higher the resolution the better.

To offset the shrinking effects of high resolution, (or simply to aid those with less than terrific vision) increase the dpi number. Right-click on any blank area of your desktop. Click on the bottom menu choice — “Personalize” in Vista, and “Properties” in older versions. I will demonstrate Vista first.
Click on the menu link (on the left) “Adjust font size (DPI)”, and then click on the lower radio button and change the number from 96 to 120.

In XP (and older), there are a few more steps to get to the right menu. From the Display Properties window, click on the Settings tab. In the lower right is an “Advanced” button, click on it. This opens a new Properties window.
Here you will use the drop-down arrow under “DPI setting:” which allows you to choose 120, or “Custom”. The Custom offers a sliding scale to set the dpi, and you can fine tune your setting here.. perhaps you prefer 112 dots-per-inch. Make sure the “Apply the new settings without restarting” radio button is selected to avoid a un-needed reboot.

These steps will change the over-all appearance of items on your screen, and everything will be larger and easier to read. And things will not get pushed off the edges, which a magnification, or “zoom” tool can sometimes do. If you try this, and do not like the effect, or look, of 120 dpi, simply repeat these steps and set it back to 96.. or try a number in-between.

For more vision-related settings adjustments, read this article as well.

[update: a reader comment has prompted me to make it clear that these Options have been a part of Windows all the way back to Windows 95] 

[addenda: If you have tried these options, you may want to consider the purchase of a 22 (or larger) inch LCD monitor. Sure they’re more expensive, but It really does make a tremendous difference. I recently did this for my mother, and she can’t stop commenting on the “wonderful” improvement.]

Today’s free link: Authors, researchers, and teachers know the wonderful depository of information that is the Library of Congress. It is THE place for reference materials, digitized films, and everything ever published in the US. Much of it (if not all) is available online. Check it out, and be amazed.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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February 8, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , | Leave a comment