By Guy Clapperton
Each month we answer readers’ technology-related queries. Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with anything you need to know.
Q: I have a display system for presentations and am using a high-def television. My projector has an optical socket for the sound but when I use it the sound doesn’t improve. What’s going wrong?
Adam Tyler, Sheffield
A: It sounds as though you’ve read a lot of the hype and accepted that a simple cable will improve the sound your television makes. It will indeed but only if the old cable was causing a problem. It’s entirely possible that the sound you were getting, whether through a component connection, scart or something else, was as good as your sound system was capable of. To improve further you might need to invest in some new speakers if it’s that important to you: the Logitech Z-5500 is very good and has an optical input but be aware that the size of the subwoofer will put some people off.
Q: I’ve been planning to buy something hand-held as a diary — what would you recommend?
Elise Noble, Edinburgh
A: A diary. No, seriously, do consider that technology doesn’t always have to be the answer. A second idea might be to check the website of whichever company makes your mobile phone; although the SmartPhones market themselves as carrying personal information quickly and easily, it’s worth considering that many non-‘smart’ Nokias, Sony Ericssons and others will synchronise their diaries with the calendar on your PC and Mac. Check also the calendar application on things like the iPod Touch — it might well be good enough for your purposes, as of January 2008 you can enter appointments on it and it also plays music!
Q: There’s been a lot in the press about people wasting their time on social networking sites. What are these, and how can I control my employees’ use of them?
Mark Jones, Solihull
A: By management techniques the same as you would if they were abusing your phone system, of course. Social networking sites — Bebo, Myspace, Facebook — are all aimed at getting people together online to discuss subjects that interest them, or put themselves onto a video for the world to see, or various other non-work-related activies. Clearly you don’t want employees wasting time on these sites and there have certainly been issues — with instant messaging services joining them on the list of things people do instead of working.
But as I said when I started this, is this really much more than an extension of using the phone for social purposes? Will you alienate your staff if you’re too stringent about their personal use of your computer systems? It could be better to consider putting a policy in place — maybe they could use the social sites only over the lunch hour and after 5.00pm or something? That way you don’t look unfair but you establish boundaries for your personnel.
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