Help File: Some work-arounds for getting at those .lit files

Sunday, May 9, 2010; G03

Q: I have some books and stories in .lit format. Is there a way to open the files to read them?

A: Microsoft seems to have forgotten this format, concocted back when it had ambitions of providing a standard for electronic book publishing. It still provides software downloads (http://microsoft.com/reader), but most haven't been updated in years.

If your .lit books aren't locked with "digital rights management" restrictions, use the free, open-source Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com) to convert them to a more current, compatible format, such as ePub. If they are locked, you can try to "activate" a Windows computer to read them at http://das.microsoft.com/activate. Or you could use a conversion tool suggested in Microsoft Reader's Wikipedia entry, the free and open-source Convert LIT (http://convertlit.com).

Think about this incompatibility risk before you get too excited about some new e-book reader with a proprietary, DRM-addled format.

When I use my cordless, I lose my WiFi connection; no matter how many times I try to re-link to my network, it won't happen until I turn off the phone.

Draw the obvious conclusion from that evidence: The phone is at fault. This was more of a problem several years ago, when phone manufacturers didn't always pay attention to the risks of interference from phones using the same 2.4-gigahertz frequencies as home WiFi networks.

If your cordless phone is labeled "2.4 GHz," you can try changing channels on your WiFi router using its setup interface (usually, a special Web address listed in its manual) or, if your phone allows it, on the phone itself. But in some cases, only replacing the phone will work.

Phones aren't the only source of WiFi interference; older baby monitors and even aging microwaves can cause problems.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.

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