Ask Rick 193 25/02/12
Generally my Internet speed is quite acceptable
but I find that on some sites there is so much advertising that it is takes a
long time before I can scroll up and down easily. I think I've found a box in
Internet Explorer that stops the adverts, but it also hides things on the page
that I need, like graphs. Is there an easier answer?
Nick Tracken, by email
It’s a contentious subject, and whilst some ads
can be irritating and a drain on resources, many websites depend heavily on the
revenue they generate. There is an argument that widespread ad blocking could
result in a lot of very useful websites disappearing, or switching to pay to
view or subscription-based access.
However, one easy way to dismiss more than 90
percent of ads is to switch to Mozilla Firefox and install a free add-on called
Adblock Plus (http://adblockplus.org/en/).
This has ad-zapping off to fine art, and if it removes something you want to
see it’s easy to lift the embargo. Similar add-ons and plug-ins are available
for Chrome, Opera and Safari, but in general they are not as effective. You
should be alert for tick boxes, for unwanted toolbars and browser add-ons that
could sneak in during installation. Internet Explorer’s built-in pop-up and
filtering features are reasonably effective but they do require a lot of
configuration so it’s worth trying a free plugin called Simple Adblock (http://simple-adblock.com/). This works
in a similar way to Adblock Plus, however, the free version only blocks 200 ads
per day; the unfettered Pro version costs $30.00.
I use a Viewsonic monitor and a strip roughly
70 mm wide at the bottom of the screen is prone to disappear.
I have noticed that a tap on the side will
often return the full screen, or at least induce activity in the darkened
strip. Does this suggest a connection problem?
I have removed and replaced the cable.
Should I buy a new one?
Geoff Thomas, by email
We can dismiss the monitor cable as the cause;
this is most likely due to an intermittent contact on the ribbon cable that
connects the display panel to the circuit board inside the monitor. If so it
should be a relatively easy problem for an engineer to fix. The cable simply
has to be cleaned and re-seated, and it should only take a few minutes.
However, if the LCD panel or circuitry is faulty it will almost certainly cost
more to replace than the monitor is worth.
Analysing the calls we make with TalkTalk shows
that my wife and I call a lot of 0844 prefixed numbers, which cost us money. If
we dial only 01 and 02 our calls cost us nothing. We both prefer to talk to
someone before ordering a product or service, instead of ordering from an
Internet website, so is there a way to find a 01 or 02 number equivalent to a
Derek Armstrong, by email
In some cases you will find a standard
geographical number for a company on its website. Otherwise try entering the
name in the search box on the saynoto8070.com website, which maintains a
growing list of alternative numbers.
Laptops, the Big Picture…
I am finally going to replace my ageing desktop
PC and I initially thought of getting another desktop, but now I am veering
towards a laptop. Certain things I do, however, would be easier on a larger
screen, say 20 to 22 inches. I know that I can connect an independent monitor
to a laptop, but I would appreciate your thoughts on the pros, cons and
pitfalls to look out for.
Jeff Handrihan, by email
Dell is one of the few companies to make a
laptop with a 20-inch screen, and Samsung has a model with a detachable 19-inch
screen but they’re both quite pricey. Connecting an external monitor to a laptop
is usually very straightforward and there shouldn’t be any problems utilising
the screen’s maximum resolution, though you may have to download additional
drivers. However, the big problem is what to do with the lid. It has to be open
to access the keyboard, but it will inevitably obscure the screen. The solution
is to close or partially close the lid and use an external keyboard and mouse,
though you may have to go into Control Panel, Power Options menu and disable
the sleep, standby or hibernate function, which is normally engaged when the
lid is shut.
New Life for Old Routers
I live in an old house with very thick Walls,
and my only live phone line enters the house right next to my PC. My Wi-Fi
extends to the top of the stairs, but not into my bedroom, which I could really
do with. Is there a way of extending my Wi-Fi range, without running cables and
moving the modem from its current position?
Sam Wells, by email
We’ve dealt with this question several times
and the usual advice is to connect a external high-gain antenna to the router
and mount it as high up as possible, or consider buying a wireless repeater or
extender, but here’s something else to try. Many popular wireless routers can
be configured or adapted to operate as a remote repeater or access point. Often
all you have to do is change a few settings, or download some new firmware.
It’s a neat way of recycling an old or
redundant router, and if you haven’t got one they can be picked up cheaply from
ebay and car boot sales where they often sell for £5.00 or less, though the
latter can be a bit of a gamble. The precise method varies and the makes most
likely to have this feature include D-Link, Linksys, Belkin and Netgear. It’s
not a difficult job but you will need to do a little homework. There are
detailed instructions for dozens of routers on the web, simply Google the make
and model number, followed by ‘as repeater’.
© R. Maybury 2012 3001