Walt Mossberg

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Mossberg’s Mailbox

Changing the Look of Your Wallpaper

There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about rotating wallpaper and using the Xbox 360 to play music without a Media Center PC.

If you have a question, send it to me at mossberg@wsj.com, and I may select it to be answered here in Mossberg’s Mailbox.


Is there a way to get my wallpaper or desktop picture to rotate among a group of images, with the picture changing at preset intervals?

Yes. If you have a Windows PC, you can install one of many third-party utility programs that will allow you to do this. I can’t recommend one because I haven’t tested any. But if you enter “wallpaper changer” into a search engine you should come up with multiple choices. For instance, I found Wallpaper Changer, Power Wallpaper Changer, Wallpaper Master and Wallpaper Sequencer, among others.

If you have a Macintosh running the current OS X operating system, this rotating desktop feature is built in, like a lot of things that require extra software in Windows. Just go to System Preferences, select “Desktop & Screen Saver,” and then click on “Desktop.” First choose the folder of pictures through which you want to rotate. Then, check off the option called “Change picture.” Finally, choose the interval you want — there are lots of choices, ranging from every five seconds to every day — or opt to change desktop images only each time you log in or the computer awakes from sleep.

I am a stock market day-trader, and am thinking about getting the new Verizon Fios high-speed Internet service you reviewed awhile back. Has the service been reliable for you?

At my home, the Fios service has been totally reliable since I installed it in July. It hasn’t been down for a moment. And I haven’t received any reports of unreliability from others using the service. But, remember, Fios is very young and has relatively few people using it. As more sign up, managing the network may pose greater challenges for Verizon.

In your recent review of the Xbox 360, you explained how it can work as an extender to a Media Center PC so that you can view photos and videos, and play music, using files from the PC, on a TV in another room. Is there any way to do this with a plain old Windows PC?

Apparently there is but it’s more limited. Several readers informed me of a Microsoft software utility called Windows Media Connect, that supposedly works on regular Windows XP computers (without the Media Center features) to remotely play files using an Xbox 360. However, according to the Xbox Web site, it only can transmit photos and music via an Xbox 360, not videos. I haven’t tested it, but you can find information at: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/howto/media/xbox360/howto-media-pc.htm. Scroll down to the section labeled “Windows Media Connect.”

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Because of the volume of e-mail I receive, I can’t routinely answer individual questions by e-mail, or consult on individual problems or purchasing decisions. I read all questions I receive and select three each week to answer in the column.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at mossberg@wsj.com


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