Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 202 28/04/12


Parlez-Vous iPhone?

I have an iPhone and the predictive text is in English. How can I make it to do the same in other languages like French and Italian?

Guerrino Bertozzi, by email


Language support on the iPhone breaks down into three or four areas, depending on the model. There are more than 30 operating languages, for the menus, displays and so on. The on screen keyboard covers 50 character sets and layouts and over 40 languages are supported by the dictionary, autocorrect and predictive text features. If you have an iPhone 4S the Siri voice recognition can be switched between English, French and German. You can easily change the main operating language by going to Settings > General > International > Language. However, this also changes the dictionary support language, so if you want predictive text in Italian or French, you will have to live with French or Italian menus. You’ll find a full list of the languages supported by the iPhone at:



Remote Possibilities

My silver surfer parents use their Windows laptop for various tasks like emailing and word processing. When they get into difficulty they phone me and I try to help them out, but it can be hard to visualise what’s happening on another computer screen by the descriptions they give. It would be helpful if I could log on to their computer from my PC and fix their problems remotely. Is there any software that you would recommend?

Nick Morton, by email


You probably have it already. All recent editions of Windows (XP onwards) have a built-in facility called Remote Assistance, which allows you to see and take command of another PC and exchange text messages over the Internet. It’s easy to set up and use and very secure as the connections are on a one-off basis and will only be made when the two parties agree to it and exchange passwords by email. The exact procedure varies, depending which version or combination of Windows you are using and a good place to start is the FAQ on the Microsoft website at:



Paper Cuts

I mostly use Tesco Value brand white copier paper with my HP all-in-one printer, but I wonder if there is any disadvantage in using cheap paper, does it absorb more ink for instance? Because ink cartridges are so expensive I sometimes use recycled ones, does this matter? 

Juliet Davis, by email


When it comes to printer paper it’s a case of suck it and see, and don’t be afraid to experiment with the printer settings for paper type and print quality; Draft mode, for example, uses significantly less ink. The point is if you are getting acceptable results on cheap paper then by all means continue to use it. Paper absorbency doesn’t have any impact on ink consumption, but it can affect the sharpness of printed characters. You will notice a much bigger variation in quality on photo papers and in my experience the cheaper variety does tend to produce inferior results. There is a good case for matching brands, so if you use original HP cartridges you are likely to get sharper images and more accurate colours with HP’s own brand paper, which is optimised for its own ink formulations. But again, try different makes and when you find one that works for you, stick with it.


Recycled or compatible cartridges and ink refills can save you money, and I would have no hesitation in using them on most HP models, and other makes where the print head is built into the ink cartridge. If you are unlucky and the print head clogs then you can just throw the cartridge away, no harm done. However, on printers where the head is an integral part of the printer a blockage caused by a cheap compatible cartridge or refill ink can be fatal. If it can’t be cleared with a cleaning cycle or a cleaner cartridge the head may be permanently blocked in which case it will have to be replaced and this normally costs more than the printer is worth.



Cable and Copper

I appreciate you can’t have two suppliers of broadband on the same phone line, but can you have Virgin cable broadband and a BT phone line based broadband into the same house?

John Huddleston, by email


Yes, provided you are in an area served by Virgin’s cable network, in which case broadband and phone services are delivered by cable and you can keep your existing BT line. Otherwise you will need a second phone line.



Loose Labels

My HP DeskJet printer works fine on normal paper. However if I try to print out sheets of self-adhesive labels it loses alignment and the print progressively moves up the page. I have tried changing the print options to ‘labels' without success. Selecting 'photo paper' is a little better, but still not acceptable.

Alf Allenstein, by email


Double-check the dimensions of the label with a ruler against the settings on your label-printing program.  Even a fraction of a millimetre difference in label height or border width can result in this sort of mis-alignment. Another possibility is slippage due to shiny or hard feed rollers. This happens over time, as paper passing through the printer polishes the surface of the rollers, resulting in a lack of grip. HP produces a cleaning kit for some of its DeskJet models and there’s a list at: If yours isn’t included then further down the page you will find instructions for manually cleaning the rollers. Similar procedures can often be found for other makes of printer on their support websites or forums. As a last resort if you can’t get at the rollers, and the slippage is constant you may be able to manually compensate by subtracting a fraction of a millimetre in label height in the printing program’s settings. To save wasting label paper use plain paper to make test prints and check the alignment by placing it over a label sheet and hold it up against a light.



© R. Maybury 2012 0904

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