By Richard Sherman
Senior Wire 

These tools can resize your photos in a jiffy

Ask Mr. Modem


Q. Is there any way I can reduce the size of a photo that was given to me in .JPG format?

A. There sure is: Irfanview is a free graphics viewer/editor. Once installed, click "File", then "Open" to display your photo. With the picture displayed, click "Image," then "Resize/Resample". You will be able to choose from several options in the next window, including setting a new size by typing in the pixel dimensions, making the new picture a percentage of the original, or selecting from several standard sizes.

If you click the Half button, you can reduce the size of the photo as much as you wish. When you reach the desired size, click the OK button and you will see the picture in its new size. If the size is acceptable, click File > Save As, and give the file a new name so it doesn’t overwrite your original photo. Visit

Also popular and easy to use is, which is a Web-based service that enables you to reduce the size of digital photos. No software is required, the service is free and no salesmen will call. is a similar service, also free. PIX Resizer ( is another freebie that will resize one or multiple photos in one swell foop. All you have to do is create a new folder within which you can send the resized pictures.

Q. A friend gave me a CD of a computer program to make cards and posters. It was a brand new CD, still wrapped in plastic. When I put it in my computer, it asked for a product key and displayed a text field to type it into. What is a product key and how do I find it?

A. A product key is a combination of letters and numbers that is used to unlock or open software. Each individual copy has its own unique product key. The product key may be located inside the program’s box or case or printed or applied as a sticker to the front or back of the envelope the disc came in (also known as a sleeve). For downloaded software, a product key will usually be emailed to you. Do not throw out any of the packaging that comes with a program until you find your product key or try your program out to make sure it doesn’t require one.

You might also contact your friend if you cannot locate the product key on the packaging the CD arrived in. It is certainly possible that the CD was purchased within a box or jewel case that contained the product key.

Q. In the upper right-hand corner of my keyboard is a key marked “PrtSc/SysRq.” Someone told me if I want to print a map, for example, to get it on the screen, press the F11 key, then hold down this key and the SHIFT key to get a full-sized map printed out. Can you elaborate on this a bit more?

A. F11 switches into full-screen mode for most browsers, allowing more of a page to appear on screen. Press F11 again to reverse the action. Pressing the Print Screen (PrtSc) key captures (takes a picture of) the current screen and places it on the Windows Clipboard. You can then go to any graphics editor (Paint is fine, located within Windows, under Accessories) and paste (by pressing CTRL + V) the saved image onto the screen and print it from there.

Historical Footnote: The SysRq or SysReq key, which shares the PrtSc key is a relic from another era – not unlike Mr. Modem. Short for “System Request,” the SysRq key was the 84th key added when the 83-key PC/XT keyboard became the 84-key AT keyboard eons ago. Unless programmed by a particular application, the SysRq key does nothing in most operating systems today. The key doesn’t appear on many new keyboards.

Mr. Modem’s DME (Don’t Miss ’Em) sites of the month

This self-described “New Standard in Reference” is a free, online reference guide with information about millions of topics. differs from search engines in that it provides quick answers to specific questions, as opposed to results that link you to a list of related topics. The site’s editors draw their data from hundreds of reference sources, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases and thesauruseseseses.

Bozo Criminal of the Day

This site features stories from the Associated Press newswire, and other news sources, about incredibly stupid scofflaws.

Compendium of Lost Words

Philologists and lexicographers will love this collection of hundreds of obscure and rare words. In order for a word to qualify for inclusion, it must be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it must not appear anywhere on the Internet – except, apparently, on this Web site. A few minutes perusing Forthright’s Phrontistery will transform visitors from humble wordsmiths to knowledgeable, hypenemious aretalogers – and you can quote me on that.


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