Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 157 11/06/11


Payoff for Mobile Phone

I understand that the iPhone 5, due to be launched in the autumn, will have a new feature called NFC, which communicates with nearby devices. What is the difference between NFC and Bluetooth as they seem to serve the same purpose?

Tim Mills, by email


As Matt Warman reported here a few weeks ago a number of new smart phones and devices are or soon will have Near Field Communication capability and at least one mobile phone company and bank are rolling out a service in the UK. To recap, NFC allows suitably equipped phones to make ‘contactless’ payments for products and services, by holding the phone close to a reader terminal. The technology is actually much simpler than Bluetooth and very closely related to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. This is used in security tags, for protecting products in shops and RFID chips are embedded in travel cards (like London’s Oyster system). NFC has a very short range of around 20 centimetres (Bluetooth devices typically communicate over distances of 5 – 10 metres) and unlike Bluetooth the amount of data that can be transferred to and from the NFC module in the phone is limited and tightly controlled.


As well as being able to make secure payments, NFC smart phones can also read RFID chips implanted in signs and posters, to tell the phone to go to a particular website to display relevant information. NFC phones can also exchange data with one other, for swapping virtual business cards and so on. It’s going to add little to the cost of a smart phone and should prove popular but whilst there are some sophisticated security measures in place be prepared for the inevitable slew of privacy intrusion and lost or stolen phone horror stories.



Market Forces

I recently purchased an Advent 10 inch tablet PC, which is much cheaper than the iPad and has a really responsive screen. It runs Android 2.2 but for some bizarre reason it cannot access the Android Market for downloading apps. I have heard that there is a way to modify the device to get Android Market by installing a new program.

Peter Altman, by email


Don’t do it!  It’s a potentially tricky procedure that involves flashing the device’s Read Only Memory (ROM) and you risk ruining your tablet. There are plenty of other Apps stores, though admittedly none of them match Android Market for the number and scope of the apps on offer but Amazon’s Android app store (http://goo.gl/lVOOI) is growing fast and AndroidPit (http://goo.gl/qekSz) is also worth investigating. Android Market can only be pre-installed on devices by manufacturers that comply with Goggle’s compatibility requirements and licensing agreements. If you want to go through with the hack you’ll find more information and a link to the download at http://goo.gl/tbZ19, but if it goes wrong you are definitely on your own!



Banking on Trust

I bank online and have been asked to download ‘Trusteer Rapport’ security software. How will it affect the operation and efficiency of my PC, and how beneficial is it? My wife and I take system security very seriously but is there any downside to using it?  If I choose not to use it will this prejudice my position if fraud occurs on my account?

Bob Moore, by email


Trusteer Rapport first validates and then locks down your connection to the bank website. This helps prevent Phishing attacks and blocks trojans, keyloggers and other nasties that can monitor your activity. There have been reports of it conflicting with some firewalls and security programs and a number of users claim it slows down their PCs, though this mostly seems to happen on older, lower powered machines. Clearly another layer of security is no bad thing so if it has no impact on the performance of your PCs give it a try. I’m not aware of any bank that insists on installing this type of software and given the wide range of devices now being used it would be very difficult to enforce but do check the terms and conditions and if you choose not to use it, follow all of the usual precautions to protect your online security.



eBook Smarts

I am much enjoying the Kindle that I was given for Christmas but have one query that doesn’t seem to be covered by the user manual. It’s wonderful to be able to download the complete works of Charles Dickens for 99p but how do I delete the ones that I have read? The free sampling facility is great too, but how do you delete the sample once you no longer need it? I am concerned that I am filling up Kindle space with unwanted prose.

Val Marriot, by email


You really don’t need to worry about filling up your Kindle. The version you have has 3Gb of onboard user memory, which Amazon reckons is enough for 3,500 books. If you want to delete a book or preview from the Kindle simply underline it on the Home page, press the right cursor key and select Remove from Device. Alternatively press the left cursor key to go direct to the Delete function. However, even when you delete a book from your Kindle you can still reload it as your book purchases and selections are archived on the Kindle website.



Unruly Update

Whilst giving a PowerPoint presentation my Vista laptop decided to install new updates and I had to keep cancelling the ‘Shutting down in 10 minutes’ message box, which was very annoying.  How can I exercise more control over the downloading and installation of Windows updates and stop this happening in the future?

Martin Locke, by email


Windows Update downloads and installs files automatically by default but you can take charge and in Vista and Windows 7 is to go to Start > Control Panel > Windows Update. Click Change Settings and on the Important Updates drop down menu the safest option is to select ‘Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them’. In XP go to Start > Control Panel > Security Centre and under Manage Security Settings click Automatic Updates and select ‘Notify but don’t automatically download…’. You will be prompted in install updates after boot up but you can decide to do it when it is convenient.




© R. Maybury 2011 2305


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