Houston We Have a Problem 10



 Houston We Have A Problem 98, 03/04/10


A Touch of Security

One of my daughters gave me an Apple iPod Touch for Christmas. It is very user-friendly and I now use it, instead of my PC, for most of my on-line surfing. However, I am reluctant to use it for email, online banking and purchases until I am convinced that it is safe.

Ron Davidson, by email


In theory it is possible for an iPod Touch to be infected by a virus or Trojan but the circumstances that would allow it to happen are so convoluted that it is extremely unlikely. Security is another issue, however, and a number of vulnerabilities have been uncovered – the most recent one in February. It’s possible for someone with physical access to your iTouch to defeat the passcode and get hold of data stored on your phone, which could include your messages, email username and password plus any stored passwords and PINS. Security breaches like this are normally fixed fairly quickly but it is entirely dependent on you downloading the latest software updates, and above all, making sure that you don’t lose your device. Providing you only use it at home and don’t leave it lying around, or take it out and about with you then it should be okay to use for on-line transactions. 



Surfing Turkey

My wife and I are going to be spending a few months in Turkey. Can we access the Internet using a mobile broadband USB dongle, connected to our Toshiba Satellite laptop?

Julian Sargeson, by email


Normally you are usually better off using your laptop’s wi-fi capabilities and Turkey has plenty of free hotspots in bars, cafes and hotels. If you are staying in an apartment ask the owner if there’s a broadband or wi-fi service available. If neither option is available start by checking what your current mobile broadband service provider’s is charging for data roaming. I suspect it will be quite expensive, though, and prohibitive on a longer trip unless you only need to use it very occasionally. Assuming that your dongle is unlocked so that it works on any network you can use a pay as you go (PAYG) mobile broadband SIM from a Turkish mobile broadband service provider, such as Avea and Turkcell. Both of them offer a number of packages that should work out a little cheaper than UK roaming rates. Be aware that you may be asked to show your passport and provide your local address and the IMEI number of the dongle (it should be printed on a label). Cheaper contract tariffs are only available to Turkish residents; long-term visitors can apply but you will need to show a work permit.



Resolution Resolved

Every time I start my computer a small window appears headed Resolution Notice. There are two boxes entitled Exit and Disable but when I try to place my cursor over either of them it slips underneath.  The notice does disappear after a short time but it is irritating.  How can I get rid of it? 

Brenda Champion, by email


The reason you can’t click on the message box is because it is coming from the monitor, which I wouldn’t mind betting is made by either NEC or Viewsonic. It appears to be due to a glitch in the monitor’s firmware, which has difficulty recognising some PC video adaptors, though it doesn’t affect actual operation. You can suppress the warning message by going into the monitor’s setup menu via the buttons on the front panel. The exact procedure is outlined in the manual.



Recovery Position

About 18 months ago, I accidentally caused my laptop to crash leaving me with just a blank screen. I could not get any response and even the Rescue system was unable to help. I eventually bought a Recovery CD set from the manufacturer and got everything working again, though of course all of my files were missing.


The other week I found a newspaper cutting from 2002 and of one of your Boot Camp articles, which suggested a free program called Restoration, for recovering lost or deleted files. Could I use this program to recover the files that were lost when I crashed my computer?

Ron Bolton, by email


I am afraid not. When you carry out a full system recovery the drive is reformatted prior to re-installing Windows and this effectively destroys all of the data from the previous installation. Specialist firms using forensic recovery techniques may be able to extract some file fragments but the costs involved are astronomical. Programs like Recovery can often restore files that have been deleted in Windows, but only if you act quickly. That’s because the data the deleted files contain are still on the disc. Only the filename is erased; the space the data occupies is marked as 'free' so eventually it will be overwritten.



Lost In Space

I have a 4-year old XP laptop with a 40GB hard drive. I am the only user and according to the hard disc properties on My Computer, I have used 33.6Gb with only 706Mb free space remaining.


The file sizes listed in Add or Remove programs in Control Panel comes to 3.75Gb and Properties for My Documents tells me that everything I’ve saved amounts to 5.33Gb.  I have run CCleaner and the Disc Cleanup utility and what little space I recover seems to go very quickly. The Recycle Bin is empty and I regularly delete Internet History and Cookies.


What could be taking up so much space on my hard drive? How do I find and remove it? Could there be a fault that isn’t actually allowing anything to be deleted?

Duncan Mackinven, by email


I doubt that there’s anything wrong with your computer but you are only seeing part of the picture when you add up file sizes. Windows is dependent on numerous System files and data libraries but these are hidden from view and some of them, like the Registry and Swapfile or Virtual Memory can be quite large. There are also countless data files created by the programs installed on your computer that may not show up in a cursory search, like virus signature libraries and program updates, to name just a few. For a more accurate assessment of what’s on your hard drive I suggest a little freeware utility called SpaceMonger (http://tinyurl.com/y9rqbk5), which creates a visual map of your drive. However, whilst you might be able to claw back a few gigabytes of wasted space the simple fact is your drive is too small, it is almost full and it is time to fit a bigger one. 



© R. Maybury 0103 2010

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