The ABCs of Bringing Some Order to Your Favorite Sites

Q: There's got to be a simple solution to this, but it's beyond me. How do I get my favorites in Internet Explorer 5.5 to alphabetize automatically as I save them? It's really annoying to have to go in and arrange them alphabetically, especially when you have a long list going.

A: There are no simple solutions, only simple programmers. There is a way to do this sort of thing completely automatically, but it's hazardous. We'll start by talking about the safe way to get most of the way to where you want to be. Assuming your mouse is set up with the normal configuration, left-click on the Favorites menu then right-click on one of your favorites, or bookmarks, or whatever you want to call them. A menu should pop up. The second-from-the-bottom choice should be "Sort by name." That should instantly alphabetize the list.

If it doesn't, you're using an older version of the Windows operating system or you've got lots of items in that Favorites folder. Upgrade your OS or use sub-folders to split things up.

You can completely automate the alphabetization process by tinkering with your system registry. This is a terribly bad idea. To sum up, do not open the system registry, do not go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/ Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer/ MenuOrder and do not alter the "Order" entry. The geeks have spoken.

Q: A teacher wants to have a TV display for her class. Sources for feed would be a VCR, DVD player and PC output. I realize VCR and DVD outputs are compatible for regular TV sets. But I need help for output from the computer. A friend suggested a video card that has regular TV output. It sounds workable, but I'm not familiar with what's available. How should I proceed?

A: First, you need to check the inputs on the TV. Are they composite (that's like a cable TV connection), S-Video or component? The odds are pretty good that the television uses composite.

One way to achieve your goal without opening up your computer is to use a Video Graphics Array signal splitter or a video distribution amplifier. You can pick up one of these for less than $300, which should include shielded cables.

Or you can replace the video card in your PC. Most high-end video cards offer TV output, generally composite or S-Video. Installing one probably would improve your system's performance, in addition to giving you the ability to output video.

We'd suggest paying special attention to 3-D video cards, which seem to have a life cycle of, oh, six minutes these days. A high-end 3-D card could run you well over $300, but since you're not looking to play 3-D games--just output the video to a TV--you could spring for a card that's a year or two out of date and has video outputs.

And finally, many high-end laptop computers come with S-Video outputs built in, so if you're in the market for a new computer, consider that option as well.


Dave Wilson is The Times' personal technology columnist. Submit questions to Tech Q&A; at

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