Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 206 26/05/12


Roaming With an iPad

My wife and I have iPads, which connect well with our home router. When travelling in the UK we use a Three Mobile Mi-Fi adaptor.  However, we find that we cannot get a connection in many free Wi-Fi hotspots, and Three coverage on the continent is limited. The Mi-Fi device picks up the local phone signal but then does not work for an Internet connection. Are there any gadgets that would boost hotspot signals or do you have any advice on how we can overcome this problem.

Richard Atwell, by email


I am not aware of any Wi-Fi signal boosters for the iPad but there are some configuration tweaks that may help if you ‘Jailbreak’ your device. However, this is not recommended for most users and will invalidate your warranty. In any event it’s unlikely that signal strength is the root problem, but if it is, keep an eye on the signal bars and move your position until you get a better signal and avoid holding the iPad like a book (long side up) as this can impair wireless reception.


Usually it’s something simple, like not entering the correct access code or failing to agree to the hotspot’s terms and conditions on the registration or logon page that appears when you open a browser window. Otherwise here are a few things to try. Before logging on to a new hotspot, power down the iPad (hold down sleep and drag red slider to Power Off), restart and log on. Still no luck? Tap Settings and go to General > Auto Lock and set it to Never. On the Settings menu open Wi-FI Networks and make sure  ‘Ask to join Networks’ is switched off. Next, tap the blue arrow after the network name then ‘Renew Lease’. This clears old DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) settings that may be inhibiting the connection. Finally, if all else fails go back to Settings for the network (blue arrow), tap Forget Network and try logging on again. There’s no much you can do about the Three network’s lack of coverage but if you can get your Mi-Fi device unlocked you may find that a Vodafone pay as you go SIM card has more luck. This has a £2.00 a day charge for 25Mb of data, which should be plenty for emailing and light web browsing.


The Long Goodbye

I listen to Radio Four on long wave radio in Brussels. When it goes digital, will my current radio go quiet, and do I just have to get a new, digital, radio or is it more complicated than that?

E. Spence, by email


The BBC says the eventual closedown of the Long Wave service is determined not so much by the digital switchover but a dwindling supply of valves used by the Droitwich transmitter, owned and operated by Arquiva. At the last count there were only 10 left and their operating life is put at between one and 10 years. Apparently they can no longer be made, though it has been pointed out it that it should be possible to refurbish faulty valves or replace them with modern solid-state devices. In the end, though, the deciding factor is almost certainly the cost of maintaining the service for what is a relatively small audience, so the clock is ticking. When the transmitter is finally switched off you won’t be able to receive Radio 4 on a DAB radio, you are too far away, but you can listen to it on the BBC iPlayer, through the Internet on any PC or web connected device.



Android Backup

I currently own an HTC Desire Android smartphone. What needs to be done so that when I upgrade to a new Android smartphone my Google account, Gmail, and all of my apps are preserved, so that everything was like it was on my old phone? Furthermore, what do I need to do to my current phone, so that if I sell it or recycle it, all of my apps, text messages and account information are deleted?

Simon Jethwa, by email


Android phones do not have a built-in backup facility but your Google account settings and Gmail messages will all be available when you log on to your account on your new phone. For everything else the simplest solution is to use a third-party backup utility. If you have rooted your phone (removed the locks on the operating system) the best option is a free app from Google Play called Titanium Backup ( This is easy to use and saves all of your apps, settings and data, games -- including levels – contacts, bookmarks and most system settings to the phone’s SD memory card, so all you have to do move it to the new phone. However, rooting is a tricky procedure so if you don’t want to take chances there is a slightly less sophisticated paid-for alternative called MyBackupPro, which costs around £3.00. This copies all of your app installation files, music, photos, contacts, bookmarks, system settings and so on to the SD card, so they can be re-installed on the new phone.


Once all of your apps and files have been successfully transferred you can wipe all stored data and return the phone to its default, out of the box condition, by going to Settings > SD & Phone Storage and select Factory Data Reset.


Still Solution

On the final night of a recent holiday a fellow guest took a picture of the six of us at our table. Unfortunately this turned out to be a video clip rather than the still photo we intended. If I freeze the video at any particular point is there a way I can print a still photograph from it?

Shirley Duddy, by email


Pressing Alt + PrtScn takes a screengrab of the active window and sends it to the Windows Clipboard as a bitmap image, and you can open and print it in your preferred image editing program or Windows Paint. However, due to the way Windows displays video it doesn’t always work, but give it a try anyway and if all you see is a blank screen download a small freeware program called DuckCapture (, which should work.



© R. Maybury 2012 0705


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