Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 191 11/02/12


Sentimental Messages

My wife has a new contract phone and has transferred the number from her old phone to the new one, consequently the old phone no longer works. The problem is she wants to save some text messages, for sentimental reasons. I foolishly suggested that I could transfer them to the PC, running Windows 7. I just cannot see how to do this if indeed it is possible. Is there a way you can get me out of this embarrassing jam?

Peter Brewer, by email


I suspect the old phone is okay and your wife should be able to forward the texts to the PC as emails and we’ll come to that in a moment. First make sure the phone is working by putting the SIM card from the new phone into the old one. If it won’t accept it try a pay-as-you-go SIM from the original network provider, and if that doesn’t work get the phone unlocked, so that it can be used on another network with a PAYG SIM. It only takes a few minutes and shouldn’t cost more than £10 for this model at a high-street phone unlocker or an online unlocking service. Now for text to email forwarding, and in most cases it’s really easy. It’s a little known facility provided by most major cell phone networks and all you have to do is select the message, then Forward and enter your email address, instead of a phone number and press Send.



Publishing in the Dumps

Two years ago I privately published the first ever book on the history of Victorian dumps and they have now all been sold to collectors. Each book cost £40.00 and I have no desire to republish it but I am constantly receiving requests for my book. I still have the whole book on a disc from the printers and I wondered if I could get a company such as Amazon to allow their customers to download it on their Kindle Readers?


I contacted Amazon some time ago but they appear either not to understand what I am on about or do not wish to participate and not being very computer literate cannot understand why there is a problem?

Peter Sellers, by email


Self-publishing for the Amazon Kindle is actually very easy. Not only is it free, you will also receive up to 70 percent of the purchase price in royalties. Whilst your photographs will appear in black and white on most e-readers, they can be viewed on a wide range other devices that have a colour display, including PCs and Macs, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Blackberry, and Android-based devices. Everything you need to know, including a simple to follow tutorial, is on the Amazon Guide to Kindle Direct publishing at:



Busy Vista Drive

Following the failure of the 150Gb hard drive on my Vista laptop a local IT man fitted a new drive 900Gb drive. The new drive appears to be scanning for about 30 minutes after switch on or overnight standby. Nobody appears to know how to stop it and the noise is getting on my nerves. Any ideas?

Paul Scott, by email


Windows Vista has a reputation for hard drive churning and it can be can be due to a number of things including Virus and malware scanners, so start by temporarily uninstalling them to see if that makes a difference. Otherwise you may not have sufficient RAM and if it’s 1Gb or less upgrade to at least 2Gb (the maximum is 4Gb). Another possibility is that Vista constantly indexes the hard drive, to speed up the Desktop Search facility, and it is normal for this to work overtime when a new drive is installed but eventually it should settle down. However, you can selectively exclude folders from the Indexing process by going to Start > Control Panel > Indexing Options. Click the Modify button and uncheck folders that you do not want to be constantly indexed. Alternatively, if you’re not using it all the time, or not in a desperate hurry you can switch indexing off by going to Search on the Start menu and type ‘services’ (without the quotes). Scroll down the list to Windows Search and double-click on the entry. Click the Stop button and on the Startup Type drop-down menu select Disabled, then OK. If the drive is still chattering try disabling a Vista feature called SuperFetch, which is supposed to speed up systems with slow drives or insufficient RAM. Go back to the Services menu, select SuperFetch and follow the same procedure as used for Windows Search to Stop and Disable the Service. 



Long Range Printing

I have a PC using XP and a Samsung laser colour printer, connected by a 3-metre length of High-Speed USB 2.0 shielded cable. I am proposing to move the printer to a different location, which would entail a 5-metre length, only the signal is so attenuated that the printer will not respond. Would it be practicable to use some sort of signal booster or connect to the printer using a wireless device of some kind?

B Niven, by e-mail


The simplest way to overcome the cable length limits on USB connections (3.0-metres on USB 1.0 and 5-metres for USB 2.0) is to split the cable run, with a powered USB hub in the middle. You still can’t exceed the 3 or 5 metre limit on any one cable but you can use up to 5 hubs to achieve your desired distance. Powered hubs with mains adaptors cost from around £10.00 and are readily available from online sellers like Amazon.



Catching Fire in Canada

I like the sound of the new Kindle Fire. If I buy one when I go to Canada shortly would there be any problems using it in the UK or Europe?

Frances Gabriel, by email


You should wait until it has been officially launched in Europe, which the rumour mill predicts will be in the next few weeks. Whilst some apps on an imported Fire may work, the basic problem is that it relies heavily on Cloud computing, where data and media used by the device is stored and streamed by remote servers, which are currently all in the US. As it stood this would have been in breach of European data protection laws, and there have been issues over copyright for streamed media so it hasn’t been possible to launch it in Europe until the necessary infrastructure and agreements were in place.   




© R. Maybury 2012 2301


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