The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 094 02/08/08
Licensed to Annoy
Our old television has
given up the ghost and we do not intend to replace it. We are preparing for a
battle with the licensing authorities, which seem incapable of believing that
there are people who have better things to do than watch television. What is
the legal position? Do I have to buy a television licence if I use a laptop
G. Mackay, by email
Unless you are aged 75 or
over you are required by law to have a TV licence if you have any equipment
that is capable of receiving (though not necessarily displaying…) terrestrial
or satellite TV broadcasts – and not just from the BBC. This includes TVs,
digiboxes, video recorders, computers, mobile phones and organisers, and no
doubt gizmos yet to be invented. Even the registered blind have to pay, though
they can qualify for a 50 per cent discount…
Currently you do not need
a licence to watch TV programmes downloaded or streamed via the Internet using
BBC iPlayer since they are recordings and not live broadcasts, though that
might well change.
The trouble is that the
TV Licensing Authority (TVLA) take some convincing before they will accept that
you are exempt, and the fact that you had a licence until recently probably
doesn’t help. Judging by the personal accounts at: www.marmalade.net/lime/, a site
representing the views of those who do not have TVs, you could be in for a
rough ride. At the very least you can expect a steady stream of threatening
letters and eventually a visit from an investigator. However, it seems that if
you pre-arrange a visit, at a time convenient to you, and spend a few minutes
explaining your position then you might well be left alone thereafter.
Going Forward with
Can you please explain
to me why, when I receive an email that has pictures mixed with text, i.e.
funnies, jokes and cartoons, when I send them on to friends the pictures are
not transmitted and the text is basic? This does not occur with attachments,
which arrive at their destination perfectly?
Kate Hawkesford, by
It sounds as though your
outgoing mail is being sent as ‘Plain Text’ which strips out any images or web
links. To forward your messages 'as-is' go to the Outlook Express Tools menu,
select Options and the Send tab and check the item: 'Reply to messages in
the format that they were sent' is checked. You should also make sure that HTML
is checked under Mail Sending Format and in the message windows, on the Format
menu, 'Rich Text HTML should be selected.
You often recommend
the Firefox browser; if I install it will I have to remove Internet Explorer?
Roger Piper, by email
No, and should you
get the urge you can even have both browsers running at the same time, viewing
different web sites.
Website Time Out
About three months ago
I logged on to a website and obtained some helpful information. Since then I have been unable to access the
site again. A message on my screen says that the server is temporarily
unobtainable. I have left messages on the site’s answer phone and sending
emails and a snail mail elicits no response. Is there a central organisation
that I can contact, to find out what is going on?
David Knight, by email
Not as such and the
day-to-day operation of a web site is entirely up to the owner. Web sites can
and do disappear suddenly and without warning or explanation. There’s any
number of reasons why this might happen. It could be that the website owner has
simply decided to call it day, has gone out of business, or is ill. It’s also
possible that the company hosting the site has gone bust, though an active site
will normally reappear quite quickly, once the owner finds a new hosting company.
You can find out if the website’s domain name registration has lapsed –
suggesting that the site is dead and gone -- with a ‘whois’ search (www.whois.net). However since you are getting
no response then it is fair to assume that in the words of the famous Parrot
Sketch, this particular site has passed on, is no more and has ceased to be!
My broadband has just
been upgraded from 4Mb to 10Mb, but the service seems just the same. They tell
me speed-checking sites are unreliable. I really would appreciate your help.
Keith Bailey, by email
It's true that a single
on-line speed check won't tell you much but try several different test sites
(google broadband ‘speed test’), at different times of the day, over several
days, and this should give you a fair average. However, until there is better
regulation and tighter controls on advertising, ISP download speed claims are
at best only a theoretical maximum and should be treated with a very large
pinch of salt. My guess is your connection is now a bit faster than it was
before but without test results from before the upgrade it’s impossible to
© R. Maybury 2008 1407