Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 096, 20/03/10


Logging on at the Library

I do not have a computer of my own but use those in the public libraries from where I have opened a couple of on-line bank and building society accounts. The web sites have always displayed a yellow padlock and I have assumed safety. However, a grandson has now told me that I should not use library computers for this purpose as my passwords etc will be retained and could be accessed by library or local authority personnel or even by others. Banks and building societies do not warn us about this and I would be interested to know what you think.

Brian Fenerty, by email


The padlock symbol merely indicates that data passing in and out of the PC is encrypted so that it is reasonably safe whilst travelling around the Internet; it has nothing to do with the safety and security of the PC. Everything your grandson says is true and I agree that many banks and building societies could do a lot more to warn users of the dangers of using public computers in libraries and Internet cafes. To be fair some of them do but clearly there is room for improvement, however, it would be very difficult to ban it altogether as there are many people, like you who depend this kind of access.


The best advice I can give is not to use public computers for online banking because in the end you can’t protect your data if the PC is being monitored or has been spiked with spyware or a keylogger program. You are obviously comfortable using computers so why not get one of your own and eliminate this sort of risk? If there is absolutely no alternative to using a public computer there are a number of steps you can take to help protect your privacy. Do not tick any boxes that offer to save logon information. Internet Explorer 8 has a feature called In Privacy that stops information from being saved (Click Safety on the Toolbar). Beware of anyone looking over your shoulder, do not leave the PC unattended whilst in a session and whatever browser you are using, clear the cache memory when you have finished your online session.



Officious Office

On clicking on to Microsoft Office 2007 to open a document I find when trying to type in the page nothing happens and a message flashes on the bottom task bar that says ‘This modification is not allowed because the selection is locked’. Can you explain? 

Christine Loran, by email


I can think of three possibilities. The first is that you are using a trial version of Office, and it has expired. Number two, the document is protected, in which case select the Review tab then Restrict Formatting and Editing and click Stop Protection (if it was set using a password, you will need to enter it when asked). Finally the document may be marked as ‘Final’. Click the Office button then go to the Prepare sub-menu and click the ‘Mark as Finalized’ button to switch it off.



Last Word on Line Drawing

Some time ago you showed a way of inserting horizontal lines across the page in Word, which I found extremely useful. Initially this worked fine, and then it stopped. I expect that I’ve done something – but don’t know what. Can you help?

Bill Alden, by email


As is often the case with Word the switch for this handy feature is well hidden and misleadingly named so you’ll be unlikely to stumble upon it find it by accident. To turn it back on go to Insert > Autotext > Autoformat as you type and under Apply as you type select 'Borders'. For the record 5 dashes plus Return produces a single thin line, 5 equals signs (=) and Return produces a double line, 5 underscores creates a thick line, 5 tildes (~) makes a zigzag line, 5 asterisks gets you a dotted line and for a triple line tap in 5 hashes (#) followed by Return.



Quest for a Quaver

As a member of an organisation where first names are the norm, there are a number of Martins. To help tell us apart in documents and emails I append my name with the nearest symbol I can find for a musical symbol, the Hash or ‘Sharp’ sign (#). Are there any other musical symbols available, without having to load a music-writing program or font?

Martin Sharp, by email


Installing a specialised font or program probably wouldn’t do you much good unless they were also ion the recipient’s PC but there are a couple of musical symbols buried in the standard Windows character set. To insert them in documents and emails all you have to do is position the cursor where you want it to appear, press the Numlock key then hold down the Alt key and tap in a two-digit code on the Numeric keypad. For a single note or quaver press Alt + 13 (♪), and for what I now know is technically referred to as a ‘beamed’ note press Alt + 14 (♫).



Disagreeable Office

I recently upgraded to an Acer laptop with Windows 7. It’s lovely and I am very pleased with it but after installing my copy of Microsoft Office 2003 the Licence Agreement screen appears every time I open a document. I always accept, but it just comes up again.

Carol Tuckwell, by email


This is due to a minor Registry glitch and it’s normally fairly easy to put right. You must be logged on to the PC as the Administrator (if you are the only user log in as normal) then open Word, agree to the End User Licence Agreement (EULA) and close Word. Here’s the fix; repeat the procedure for every other Office application you have installed (Excel, PowerPoint etc). If that doesn’t work, and you don’t mind poking around the Registry, there’s a reasonably straightforward procedure outlined in Microsoft Knowledgebase article 884202 at http://tinyurl.com/3dw3o2




© R. Maybury 2010 0102


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