Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 092, 20/02/10


Ring The Changes

Recently you commented that you doubted that Internet ‘Accelerators’ would make any difference on a broadband connection.  I recently fitted an iPlate Accelerator from the BT shop online. Speed readings taken before and after indicated an increase of 50%. I live in the country at least 3 miles from the nearest telephone exchange. I am no apologist for BT but how say you?

Michael Faiers, by email


That is impressive but the BT iPlate is not an accelerator in the usual sense. It normally refers to software that promises to optimise a connection or a web service that compresses data, making pages appear faster. The iPlate is neither; it’s a simple adaptor that fits onto the front of a standard BT NT5 Master phone wall socket. Basically all it does is isolate the ring wire or bell wire connection, which these days are largely unused. This third wire, which goes to all extension sockets and remote bells in older installations, acts as an antenna, picking up interference from nearby electrical and electronic devices. This reduces the quality of the line and equipment at the exchange ‘throttles’ the broadband speed to compensate.


Obviously for this to work you must have a bell wire connection and more recent installations, made within the past 10 to 15 years, say, and DIY extensions may not have one. Nevertheless I am guessing that it is still present in the majority of BT installations so this simple tweak is well worth trying if you are suffering from connection problems. Actual gains are often quite modest and when it works BT reckons there is an average increase in speed of around 1.5Mb/sec. I suspect that your unusually dramatic improvement may have been due to dirty or intermittent contacts in the socket that were ‘cleaned’ when the plate was fitted. Of course, if you know your way around a BT socket you can disconnect the bell wire yourself but be warned that BT frown upon such practices!  By the way, any increases in speed may not happen instantly as it can take time – hours or even days – for the exchange equipment to adjust the changes.



Password Lockout

After making some changes to my wireless router my network has started behaving erratically. I am also no longer able to access the router from my computer as the password I set no longer works. I have tried going to the routers setup menu though another computer but nothing seems to work. Where have I gone wrong?

Graham Sharp, by email


I really couldn’t say and rather than waste any more time on it I suggest that you reset the router to its factory defaults and start again. On most wireless routers the reset button is on the underside, it may be recessed so you might have to use an unbent paperclip to get to it. There may an additional action, such as holding down the power switch when you press the reset button but this should be explained in the manual.


When the router reboots after the reset and the Internet light is steady you can re-configure your connection via your PC or laptop browser, so make sure you have this information to hand before you begin. You’ll probably have to re-enable the WEP/WPA security and create new passwords but again all of this is explained in the setup menu and instructions. Incidentally you should carry out the setup using a wired LAN cable connection between your PC or laptop and the router, you can switch back to wireless operation once everything is working properly.



Spelling Mistakes

I find spellcheckers very useful, spelling is not one of my strengths, however, try as I might I can’t seem to get the one in the Thunderbird email program working. Whenever I click on ‘ ABC Spell’ it never picks up words I know are spelt incorrectly.

Derek York, by email


The spellchecker in Thunderbird is essentially an add-on, though it is included in the English versions of the program. Nevertheless the dictionary can become corrupt or detached from the program so the first thing to try is reinstalling it from: http://tinyurl.com/4nwes. Installation instructions are on the same page and make sure you select the correct one (i.e. English (United Kingdom), if that is what you need. If that doesn’t work try a utility called Dictionary Fix, which should resolve any conflict or corruption problems; you’ll find the file and instructions how to use it at: http://tinyurl.com/3dx2mz



Clearing the Clutter

I make full use of my desktop PC and have a reasonable basic knowledge of how things work using it, as I do, on a daily basis. I have now decided to see what clutter has found its way on to the list of installed programs. I have found that Java is in the list but is accompanied by a number of updates. My question is does the most recent update mean that I can remove all the earlier ones as they seem to be taking up a fair amount of amount of space or should I be leaving well alone?

George Barker, by email


Yes, you can safely remove the older Java updates from Control Panel (Add/Remove Programs in XP or Programs and Features in Vista or Windows 7) but in the scheme of things they are relatively small files and if you are running short of space then it is time to think about fitting a larger hard drive or installing a second slave drive. 



One Under the Eight

We have a 3-year old laptop and since upgrading to Internet Explorer 8 we are having all sorts of problems. Any thoughts on changing back to version 7 and how best to obtain a copy?

Peter Crawford


There’s no need to worry about finding a copy of IE7, it is still on your machine. All you have to do is uninstall IE8 from Control Panel (full instructions in Microsoft Knowledgebase article 957700 at: http://tinyurl.com/dzjtct) and the previous version of Internet Explorer will be automatically reinstated.




© R. Maybury 2010 2501


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