Ask Rick 149 16/04/11
Twice my Windows 7 PC with
Firefox has been taken over by Bing and each time I have managed to fix it
using instructions I found online. It has happened again but this time it
didn’t work. I am furious and frustrated. I don't want it, it is a grossly
unwelcome intrusion and the perpetrators should be caught and publicly
castrated. Can you propose an alternative way to remove it?
Mike T, Blackpool
Public castration seems a
bit drastic but you are not alone and having your search engine hijacked
without so much as a by your leave, annoys a lot of PC users. It can happen
without warning following a Windows update, especially if you are using MSN or
the Windows Live Toolbar, or after installing programs. Always watch out for
messages that ask if you want to make Bing your default, or offer to install
the Bing Toolbar.
If Google or your preferred
search engine is still listed as the default in Tools > Options, you need to
edit the Firefox configuration file. I suspect you’ve done that already but for
the benefit of others the procedure is as follows. In the Firefox Address box
type ‘about:config’ (without the quotes), click ‘I’ll be careful…’, the config
page opens and in the Filter box at the top type ‘keyword.URL’ (no quotes, no
spaces) and double click. Now all you have to do is replace the ‘Value’ text
with the following: http://www.google.com/webhp?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8.
Click OK, close the page and all should be well. If it’s not then you may have
the Bing Bar installed, which is overriding your preferences. Exit Firefox and
uninstall it from Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs (XP) or Programs
and Features (Vista and W7). In Firefox you should also make sure it has been
removed from Tools > Add Ons > Extensions. If Bing persists go to
Internet Options in Control Panel and select Programs > Manage Add Ons >
Search Providers and if Bing is listed click on it and select Remove or change
the default back to your preferred search Engine.
Sky Is The Limit
We have a router supplied by Sky installed on
the ground floor of our semi. It serves three computers, the closest one is
okay but the connection on the other two is unreliable and keeps dropping out.
We asked Sky if they could provide a more powerful one. Their response led us
to understand that their broadband would not work with any other router and
even if it did, the chances were that there would be no discernable difference
in performance. What is the truth?
Malcolm Turner, by email
Sky certainly keeps a very tight reign on its
equipment. Unlike most other broadband providers, key user settings are stored
in the routers firmware and not easy to get at, but it’s not strictly true that
you can’t use other makes. You can but it’s a breach of Sky’s terms and
conditions, and it’s possible for them to tell if you have switched routers.
It’s also fair to say that there can be quite significant differences in router
performance, but a lot also depends on the construction of the building its
used in, as well as the abilities of the wireless adaptor’s used by the PCs and
laptops connected to it. If you want to stay with Sky your best bet is to
experiment with different locations for the router. Sky routers are made by
Netgear and these can be fitted with more efficient antennas with longer leads
so they can be mounted higher up, or you could install a wireless range
extender, or upgrade the Wi-Fi adaptors used on your PCs or laptops.
I have been a contented
user of Gmail for about a year. However, recently it has begun to operate
extremely slowly, so slowly that it is almost impossible to use. Why is
this happening, and how can I fix it?
Brian Scott, by email
Browser clutter, caused by
running too many extensions, plug-ins, add-ons and toolbars, is a common cause.
Uninstall or disable the ones that you do not use, which is probably most of
them. You can also try clearing your browser’s cache memory, which gets filled up
with web site remnants that can slow things down. If you have installed any of
Google Lab’s Experimental settings, or the Skype extension I would get rid of
those as well. Reducing the number of ‘conversations’ to 25 per page can help
and unless you use it, disable the Chat feature (at the very bottom of the
page, next to Gmail View). Finally, if all else fails switch to another
browser. Google Chrome, for obvious reasons, handles Gmail very well, or try
Gmail Mobile (http://m.gmail.com). This is a
stripped down version designed for low powered mobile devices so it really
flies along on a normal PC or laptop.
Slow Acting Tablets
We have recently purchased
an Archos 9 tablet PC with Windows 7 in order to play movies for our son whilst
on long journeys and also to browse the Internet. The problem is that it is so
slow and the touch screen is not as intuitive as you would expect but I guess
that’s not something we can do much about. I have tried to switch off many of
the unused programs but this has not helped much and I wondered if we could
increase the 1Gb of memory or indeed if there was something else I could be
doing to improve performance.
Daniel Crabtree, by email
Yet another warning of the
dangers of being an early adopter. It always pays to wait a while and read the
reviews and this model has been widely criticised for its sluggish performance
and touch screen. The problem with this and several other Windows tablets is a
slow processor, and upgrading the memory – even if it were possible, which it
isn’t – wouldn’t make much difference. By the way, this model isn’t alone in
that respect, and something else to bear in mind with most tablet PCs is that
there’s no easy or cheap way for the user to replace the battery when they
inevitably run out of puff after 3 or 4 years.
© R. Maybury 2011 2103