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Talk and Recharge Cell Phone, or Not

June 18, 2008

Q. Does it cause any harm or shorten the useful life of my cell phone battery if I talk on the phone while it is plugged into a wall socket recharging?

A. No, using your mobile phone for calls _ or other functions _ while the battery is recharging should not harm or shorten the useful life of the battery, said Bret Maughan of CellPower, an online cell-phone battery and accessory retailer.

Today’s cell phones and mobile devices typically are designed to allow this, he said, but he advises consulting the user’s manual as well.

Though the battery won’t be harmed, Maughan noted that the length of time required to completely charge your phone may be increased, depending on the extent that you use it while it is recharging.

Q. I am connected to Cox cable and use Outlook Express. Somehow my e-mail is set to perform the spell check in French, and I want to know how I can change it back to English. When I go to “tools” and click on “spelling,” the language drop-down has French and no other choices, thus I do not know how to change my spell check back.

A. While odd, your problem actually isn’t uncommon. A quick Google search turns up others who had the same issue after upgrading to Office 2007.

In fact, a blog posting a solution to the problem has gotten more than 30,000 hits since January 2007. In it, Dave Goldman, a Microsoft escalation engineer who is based in North Carolina, suggests going to www.snapfiles.com/download/dlspelloe.html, where you will automatically download a new spell-checker for Outlook Express.

The software does not contain adware or spyware, Goldman notes in the blog (blogs.msdn.com/dgoldman). More than a dozen users have left comments on the blog confirming that the solution works.

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Rob Munz, CEO of Proof-it-Online, a Cary, N.C., company that provides online review and approval products for videos and other content, responded to my last column about choppy video streaming with the results of a recent experiment.

His company found that one of the main causes of “herky-jerky video” is resource allotment, or multiple applications running on the computer at the same time as the video download. The experimenters achieved better video performance on many machines by shutting down other software, including Outlook and Office applications, that were running at the same time.

Munz and his staff also noticed that on the Mac platform, video began lagging behind the audio track as the computer’s battery life declined.

“My advice is to shut down unnecessary programs and plug in,” Munz said.

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(Think you can stump the geeks? Send your high-tech question to stumpthegeeks@newsobserver.com. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number. Individual replies are not given.)

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