Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 187 14/01/12


Customising Kindle

I really love my Kindle e-reader, but I have one small niggle. I wonder if there is any way of changing the pictures that appear when it is switched off? They are very repetitive and I do not care for some of the authors and images displayed. Preferably I would like to substitute some pictures of my own, as I can with the desktop and screensaver on my PC. Can this be done?

Margaret Keith, by email


Yes it can, and it is called Jailbreaking, but I should warn you that it’s not an authorised procedure and there is a risk, albeit a very small one, that you could lose your downloaded books or if you really muck it up, even damage the device. It involves downloading a couple of pieces of hacking software to your PC. The first one carries out the Jailbreak, the second one creates an accessible screensavers folder into which you load your pictures. Don’t worry, your old screensavers are automatically saved and you can still use the ones that you like. The two programs have to be installed and run on the Kindle in sequence, so you need know how to connect it to your computer by USB cable and copy and paste files. Ready made Kindle screensavers are available but if you want to use your own images you’ll need a suitable picture editing program on your PC to convert them to the correct format, which is 600 x 800 pixel, 8-bit greyscale and saved in .png format. As you can see it’s not for absolute beginners. That said, if you follow the instructions carefully it is not too difficult and there are plenty of tutorials on the web. I would start with the one by How-To Geek (, which includes links to the necessary files for all Kindles up to version 3.2. As far as I’m aware there is as yet no Jailbreak for the new Kindle 4, but someone is bound to be working on it.



Dead Drive Post It Mortem

I had a small section of a Post-It note stuck on a CD and inadvertently put it into the PC drive. The disc came out minus the Post-It, so I presume that it is still inside. Discs load but I cannot access data or play music. What can I do, short of an expensive engineer call-out?

Joy Hammersley, by email


It sounds as though fragments of the Post-It note have found their way into the drive’s mechanics or optics. There’s nothing you can do about it from the outside and it’s almost certainly a write-off. However, instead of summoning an engineer you could simply bypass it by using an external drive. These are plug-and-play devices (no installation required) that connect to one of your PC’s USB sockets. They have the same functionality as internal CD/DVD burners, and prices start at under £25 from online retailers, such as Amazon.



Portable Netbook Hotspot

Can you suggest how to share the Internet connection from a Three mobile broadband dongle plugged into an Acer netbook, so it acts as a local hotspot for any of my other devices with Wi-Fi?

Martin Gordon, by email


With a bit of fiddling around it can be done on most versions of Windows 7, and there’s no need for any extra software or hardware but it’s difficult to achieve on the simplified W7 Starter edition, which is installed on most netbooks. If that is what you are using, or you want to avoid messing with network settings then the simplest solution is a third-party application called Connectify ( You will need the Pro version, which costs around £20.00. (The free Lite version only shares Wi-Fi internet connections). Once installed all you have to do is assign your newly created Wi-Fi hotspot a name and encryption password then you can log on to it through your device in the same way as you would any other wireless connection.



Warning Sounds

On start-up, the small fan of my Targa desktop PC runs at high speed and is very noisy from then on. If I then put the PC on to standby and immediately switch it back on, the fan starts normally and runs without any excessive noise. I have cleaned the blades of the fan and can’t see any other obvious problems.

John Boldero, by email


CPU cooling fans on well-used PCs typically last for four or five years and the noise that you describe is usually the first sign of imminent bearing failure. The reason the sound disappears after a restart is because the fan has warmed up, but it’s only a temporary respite. It will get worse and eventually it will slow down or stop altogether, which will cause problems with overheating, so get it replaced as soon as possible. It’s not a difficult job, nor are they expensive but if you’re uncomfortable poking around inside your PC, have it seen to by an expert.



iPad Print Problem

I have recently bought an iPad 2 and overall I am most impressed with it. But one thing I cannot make it do is find my Canon Pixma MG5350 AirPrint enabled printer on my wireless network. The printer works fine with my laptop. Do you have any ideas?

Walter Harford, by email


It appears that some versions of the MG5350 were shipped with firmware that won’t allow the AirPrint function to work with some devices. It’s not a problem and it can be fixed with a simple update. To check if this applies to your printer go to the LCD panel on the top and press Setup > Maintenance > Print Nozzle Check Pattern > Yes. If you do not see the Firmware Version printed on the test sheet you need to download and install the Printer Update Utility, which you will find on the Canon US website at:



© R. Maybury 2011 1912


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