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Copy-protected items can be copied

November 20, 2005|By JAMES COATES

Q. Over the years, you have bailed me out several times on PC-related issues. A recent article, however, has caused me frustration (perhaps my ignorance).

You mentioned the Alt+Prt Scr (Windows) option that allows you to copy what's on the screen even if it is copy-protected. Maybe my mechanics are ill informed, but I cannot get this to work on my 2-month-old powerful new Windows XP PC.

Can you help with the specific procedure?

- Jerry Olexa

A. My, oh my, Mr. O, your note is among a bunch I got asking for more details of the screen capture routines in Windows and Mac after I mentioned it in that column.

To recap: I pointed out that all the efforts of Google and to defeat pirates by posting pictures of book pages instead of the real text can be thwarted. This can be done simply by calling up a page with copyrighted stuff on it and using the Windows and Mac operating systems' screen-capture features to make a snapshot of the text.


I'll focus on Windows more than Mac, but the situation is similar in both operating systems. In Windows, you can capture only the active display by pressing Alt and the Prt Scr key. That key is usually to the right of the function keys at the top of the keyboard.

Or, by pressing the Control key and Prt Scr, the entire screen showing the currently selected window and all other stuff can be acquired.

In either case, these moves create a file in the highly detailed BMP format, holding a pixel-by-pixel version of the page at the precise time the keys were pressed.

The BMP file is held in the computer's memory, so one needs to paste it into some kind of a program that accepts photos, like the Paint program in Windows or flavors of Photoshop.

So open a screen, and press Prt Scr plus Control or Alt and then get the Paint program by clicking on Start and Accessories. Open it and click on the Edit command next to File and then pick paste. A photo of the screen will appear in the form of a relatively large BMP.

To save the file on your own computer, just click on File and Save As. This will give a number of choices for formats including JPG, which most folks like because they are the default files for Web sites and they are compressed and made much smaller than BMPs without appreciable loss of quality.

Macs prove more versatile because the screen captures are automatically saved as files in the PICT format - Apple's version of Microsoft's BMP. This file is created when one presses Command plus Shift plus 3. To save just the window you want, hold down Command plus Shift plus 4 plus caps lock. Now you can open any window and make a copy by holding down the Control key and clicking inside it.

A lot of folks like this feature because it can make screen captures of movies.

So let me anticipate a final bit of confusion and explain that Windows requires one to change the hardware video acceleration in the Media Player or else captures will be blank screens. With Media Player running, click on Tools and then Options and then Performance to make the change.

Q. The problem I describe here occurs on both a Windows XP and a Windows 98 machine. When trying to view a news video (say on CNN), a new window opens with a title bar showing the name of the video, and then nothing else happens.

I am using Internet Explorer 6, Netscape 7.2 and Firefox 1.07. Same response on all three browsers and both machines. For my virus protection and firewall, I am using Norton Internet Security 2003.

If I turn off the ad-blocking in Norton, the control bar for the video appears with the control symbols grayed out. If I disable Norton Internet Security, I can view the video, but I don't want to run with it disabled.

Can you suggest any tweaks in Norton Internet Security to have it allow me to view videos without difficulty?

- Joe Wrubel

Aberdeen, N.J.

A. Your problem is solved by using the program scan feature in Norton Internet Security to change your firewall settings from the default, which is set to disable opening any streaming files, such as CNN newscasts, in the Media Player software.

So right-click the Options command in the Norton software and then click on Personal firewall. Click on Internet Access in the drop-down menu that appears. There you will find a list of programs that can be toggled on and off.

Click on the Modify button and accept the Media Player, and you'll be able to watch incoming video. Keep in mind there are hacker tricks aplenty with nesting booby traps in media files, so make sure you know from whom your Media Player is streaming.

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