Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 177 29/10/11


Converting to Kindle

I run a MacBook under Snow Leopard and Safari. I have downloaded several user manuals for various

applications in pdf format. Rather than call up these manuals when running the application, would it be feasible to load them onto a Kindle and read the manual from that? If so how to I get them from my Mac to the Kindle?

Mike Heaton, by email


Yes you can, and it’s really easy. The simplest method, and this works on Windows, Mac OS and Linux PCs, is to connect the Kindle to the computer using a USB cable. The Kindle appears as a removable drive, click on its icon to open and you’ll see a set of folders. All you have to do is drag and drop or copy and paste your pdf file into the Kindle’s Documents folder and it appears as an item on the Home page.


Some pdfs might not display properly but they can be converted into Kindle format using a second file transfer method. Every Kindle has its own email address and you can send files to your device as email attachments. However, before you can use it, you have to go to the Manage Your Kindle web page (Manage Your Device > Personal Document Settings) and if it’s not already registered, add your sending email address to the approved list; this is to stop your Kindle being flooded with Spam. If you have problems reading pdfs using the USB file method send it to the Kindle as an email attachment and in the subject line type ‘convert’ and it’s automatically reformatted into Kindle format.


As a matter of interest Kindle can also display plain text (.txt) files, and play .mp3 and .aa and .aax audio files when transferred by USB cable. Additionally it can display Word documents (.doc & .docx), HTML web pages plus .rtf, text documents, .jpeg. .gif, .png, and .bmp images, but only when sent as email attachments.



Unusual Router Activity

I suspect someone nearby is trying to break in to our wireless router. After our PC is turned off, I frequently notice the activity light on the router flashing on and off many times a minute rather than the normal twice a minute. I have resorted to unplugging the phone line night now as a precaution, but I don't want to switch off the wireless in order to stop anyone moving into our airspace.


I have enabled WPA2 encryption with a 60-character passkey for the wireless network, so hopefully that should be fairly secure. What I am concerned about, though, is if anyone could gain access to the router setup page, which is not as well protected. Could they change settings so that our Internet traffic is redirected via their computer for example?

Vernon Jonas, by email


A hacker would need to be really determined and well resourced to get past your strong WPA2 encryption, so unless you are storing state secrets or highly sensitive information on your PC I think evil intent is highly unlikely. The unusually busy activity light when your PC is off is probably due to neighbouring networks, smartphones and a myriad of other wireless devices polling for wireless connections and vacant channels. It flashes more because the channel previously used by the PC is now showing as available. Access to your router’s setup menu is also protected as it sits behind the wireless encryption. It can be accessed by a PC with a direct LAN cable connection to the router; even so it’s a good idea to change the router’s password from the easily guessable factory default.



Scary Cat

My husband has a Dell laptop, running Vista. Quite frequently and intermittently there is a couple of seconds of sound suddenly coming from the machine, usually of a cat crying and at other times of someone singing.  We don't know how these sounds got onto the computer or what sets them off. It might happen three times an hour or not for several hours. We have up-to-date antivirus software and scans of the system indicate no infections. It makes us jump out of our skins when it goes off, so I hope you can help and restore our blood pressure to normal.

Mrs V Peterson, by email


This could be the work of AOL’s Instant Messenger (AIM) Buddy List, which makes a variety of sounds, including a cat meow, when people log on and off, you receive an incoming message or you sign in and out. If you are using AIM you can disable or change the sounds by clicking Buddy List > Options > Settings. If you are not using it, AOL might be part of a package of software that came bundled with your PC. You may have inadvertently installed it and it is launching automatically with Windows, in which case you can remove AOL from your computer via Programs and Settings in Control Panel.



Wireless Weakness?

I've recently started using a wireless keyboard and mouse, to tidy-up my working area, and I'm very impressed with both. My only reservation is the security of these devices. They both use the same tiny USB connector. Can they be hacked and what can be done to improve their security?

Bernard Portis, by email


Although most wireless keyboard use a form of encryption it is possible to intercept and decode the signals from many models using software and expertise available from the nether regions of the Internet. However, the range of these devices tends to be fairly short, usually no more than a few metres, so a would-be hacker will have to be physically close to your setup. There’s nothing you can do to beef up security of most wireless keyboards so if you are concerned switch back to a wired type. You can still use your wireless mouse, though, as its meanderings around the screen are of no use, or interest to anyone except you and your PC.



© R. Maybury 2011 1010


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