From time to time I receive voice mails that I would like to save beyond the standard 14 days provided by my Cingular Family Talk 700 plan. Is there some way to record a voice mail from the phone to another device?

I have a basic flip phone.

– Bill Withycombe, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

The plug that is used to attach earphones to a mobile phone can just as easily be plugged into a recording device.

For example, I use a nifty little Olympus digital voice recorder for making voice memos, and it works great copying voice mail. This particular recorder, Model VN 1000SE, isn’t much bigger than a pack of gum. It even has a diary feature that automatically sets up a new recording for every day of the week for an entire year.

If you drop by a RadioShack you can find an RCA pin-type cable that plugs one end into the voice recorder’s microphone injack and the other end into the earplug jack on a cell phone. Keep in mind that mobile phones often have smaller audio plugs than do other gear, so take your phone to the store and look for the right pin size, probably 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm.

Connect the phone’s earphone plug into the recorder’s microphone connection and play your voice mail with the recorder engaged. To monitor recording, plug some headphones into the recorder’s audio out.

Is it reasonable to expect a notebook computer to have the “guts” to do video editing? While running Ulead Video Studio 8, my notebook freezes up during editing while using an external 7,200 rpm hard drive to capture clips.

Should I admit that my notebook just won’t cut it for video editing because the motherboard and graphics cannot be upgraded? Or should I buy a desktop for video editing? If so, what capabilities do I need?

I have an HP Notebook with the following specs: Intel Pentium M with 1.40 GHz chip speed, 1 gigabyte of RAM and a 60 gb hard drive that spins at 5,400 rpm.

As the sales of notebooks continue to climb, I think people will find that the standard notebook does not have the guts to handle video editing. Because it is not cost-effective to upgrade a notebook, people need to configure their notebook for video editing when purchased.

– Jeffrey Swan, Glenview, Ill.

It’s more likely that you encountered a glitch in how your laptop works with Ulead’s excellent moviemaking software than that your laptop’s chip speed and hard drive performance are at fault, Mr. S.

Let me suggest that while hobbyists enjoy access to a variety of high-powered video editing software such as Ulead Video Studio 8, Windows XP comes with built-in moviemaking software that works great at importing video from camcorders onto modestly powered machines such as your notebook.

Windows XP Movie Maker 2 comes with powerful video-clip-editing tools and delivers scores of different transitions and special effects as well as fancy animated titles. This software was designed to work with fairly ordinary computers, and it rewards users with more than merely serviceable home movies.

And it doesn’t cost anything beyond the price of the operating system itself. So before you decide on jacking up the computing horsepower, I urge you to run some of your video through Movie Maker for a look-see.

This is not to suggest that your computer lacks the horsepower for dedicated video-making software, either. Ulead’s own specifications call for just 800 MHz chip speed compared with your 1.4 GHz, and the company also notes that your 1 gigabyte of RAM is twice the recommended amount.

That much memory should more than make up for the slightly slower hard drive speed of 5,400 rpms.

All that said, however, it also is a fact that video editing probably ranks at the top of applications where users benefit from hardware performance. This is particularly true for so-called real-time work such as rendering graphics to create animated 3D titles and enhancing clips by improving brightness, saturation and hue frame-by-frame as a movie is digitized.

But even here, Ulead suggests a 2 GHz chip speed and a 7,200 rpm hard drive, which isn’t all that far removed from what you have.

Got a question on personal technology? Send a note to Jim Coates at [email protected] Questions can be answered only through this column.


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