Ask Rick 2008



Ask Rick 008, 12/12/08


Hotspot Hackers

We have a new laptop fitted with wireless and would like to use it in our hotel reception in Madeira to pick up e-mails. However I have read that this is dangerous and if you use Internet Hotspots someone nearby could pick up your personal details. I have spoken to people at Norton and Kaspersky, neither of which can help; can you give us any advice?

David Philpot, by email


Provided you have password protected your user account, your anti-virus software is up to date and you have a firewall installed on your computer then your data should be safe from all but the most determined and well-resourced wireless hackers, who would need to be staying at the same hotel, or lurking within 25 metres or so of you when you are using your PC. Nevertheless, remain vigilant and make sure that you are actually logging onto a legitimate hotspot. There is a new scam, called ‘Evil Twin’ hotspots that look like the real thing but once connected to the bogus network your passwords and PINs etc. could be intercepted.


It’s not like the movies, though, and hacking into a protected Vista PC requires considerable time and effort but you have to ask yourself if it is sensible to keep important personal data on your laptop? If it is unavoidable then it should be encrypted. If your version of Vista lacks this facility then a freeware utility like EncryptOnClick does an excellent job This is not so much to protect your data from ambitious wireless hackers but from the much greater threat to laptops of theft or loss.



Pictures in Documents

I followed your instructions on how to use the Snipping tool in Vista and it works a treat. However, I would like to use it to illustrate letters with pictures and therefore would like to be able to place the snipped picture where I want it on the page. So far I have only managed to reproduce it at the top of the sheet.

Jill Marshment. By email


You didn’t mention which program you are using but I am going to assume that it is Word, in which case the trick is to switch to the Print Layout view, place the cursor where you want the image to appear. Next, go to Insert > Picture (or Clip Art). Locate your image file and click OK. Resize as necessary and on the Picture toolbar that should have appeared, click on the Text Wrapping icon (the one with the silhouette of a dog). Select the last item, Edit Wrap Points; you can then click on the image and drag it to any point on the page and it will stay put



Right Click Change Case

Is it possible to add a command to the right-click on the mouse?  I should like to add 'Change Case' from the Word Format menu as I use this regularly?

Jenny Crawley, Leyburn


There are ways and means using paid-for utilities but I think it is just as easy to use the change case keyboard shortcut (Shift + F3), or assign the function to a toolbar button. To do that right-click on an empty part of the Toolbar and select Customize then the Commands tab. In the Categories pane select Format and in the Command pane scroll down to Change Case then click and drag the item onto the toolbar. If you want to change its appearance right click on it, select Default Style, right-click again, select Change button image then Change button image and choose an icon. Finish off by exiting the Customize window. If you later want to remove it open the Customize dialogue box and you’ll be able to click on the icon and drag it off the toolbar.



Office Annoyance

I use Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 edition running under Windows Vista Home Basic. Each time I open Word, Excel or PowerPoint I get a small message window entitled ‘BCM Office Add-in’, which says ‘Office Application does not match’. There is no indication of what does not match what!  There is no Help option either. It disappears when I click OK but is very annoying and did not happen previously.

Alan Draper, by email


It’s a known glitch with Outlook 2007’s Business Contact Manager add-on and it happens if you have more than one version of Office installed, upgrade from a trial version to a full version of Office or install certain hotfixes.


There’s a full explanation and a patch in MS Knowledgebase article 935569 ( but this is only for the US English version of Office. I’m guessing that you don’t want or need BCM so just remove by going to Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features.



Bad Timing

I recently noticed the taskbar digital clock is losing time when my PC is closed down. Is there likely to be a battery somewhere in the computer that needs replacing?

Arthur Papworth, by email


Most PCs have a small battery-powered digital clock on the motherboard, called the Real Time Clock  (RTC) or hardware clock and this maintains the correct time when the PC is switched off. Clock backup batteries   typically last between 3 and 5 years and when they expire timekeeping can become erratic, though you may not notice it if you have a broadband connection as Windows automatically synchronises the clock with an Internet timeserver. The batteries are quite cheap (£2.00-£3.00) and they are usually fairly easy to replace though if you are concerned about opening up your computer ask an expert.





© R. Maybury 2008 2411


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