Ask Rick 208 10/06/12
I want to be able to read the electricity
meters in my holiday home from my main residence. However, I foresee two
problems: there is no mobile phone signal at this remote location, but I do
have ADSL broadband by telephone line at the property. If the solution involves
using a PC at that end, I would not want to have it switched on continuously.
There are three meters. One is a very new
digital meter and has some sort of optical port. The other two are of the older
type with rotating discs. I suspect
that getting the electricity supplier to upgrade the old meters might prove
expensive but I would consider doing it if it’s the only answer.
Geoff Stephens, by email
No problem, all you need is an IP network
camera or ‘netcam’, which connects to your broadband router, either directly
via a LAN cable, or wirelessly, so there’s no need to keep the PC running. You
will be able to log on and remotely watch the camera from anywhere in the world
over the Internet on a web browser or viewer program supplied with the camera.
Many netcams can also be viewed on smartphones with a suitable app. The lack of
light won’t be a problem; a lot of netcams have built-in infrared illuminators
so they can effectively see in the dark. If the meters are mounted close
together you may be able to read the display and dials on a simple fixed
camera, otherwise use a netcam with a PTZ (pan tilt zoom) facility, which can
be controlled remotely from your PC or smartphone. This arrangement has the
added advantage that you can steer the camera away from the meters to keep an
eye on other parts of your property. Cameras of this type usually have motion
detection, which sends an email alert with a still image attached of whatever
triggered the alarm. Most models also have a microphone, so you can listen in
on your property, and some of them have two-way audio, so you can give an
intruder a nasty scare. Netcams with all of those features are readily
available on ebay and from Amazon, and they are suprisingly cheap with prices
starting at under £50.00.
iPad Storage Solutions
I am going on a ten-day research trip and
expect to take a significant number of photographs. To save weight I am only
taking an iPad (series 1, 32Gb). Is there a way to add external storage to the
iPad, which would enable me to back up high quality RAW images, transferred to
the iPad from my camera, or should I resign myself to shooting jpegs to save
Chris Ould, by email
The limited amount of internal memory and lack
of provision for simple and inexpensive external storage used to be a big
problem for iPad owners but it’s getting easier. You can of course backup files
to the iCloud, though you will need access to a web connected PC or Mac running
iTunes. Otherwise you can upgrade your iPad to iOS 5 so it can upload to iCloud
independently of a PC. However, there is now a growing number of
purpose-designed portable storage devices for the iPad, including the AirStash,
iFlashDrive, Segate GoFlex and Kingston WiDrive, but be warned that some of
them are quite pricey.
I find it infuriating that the toolbars in IE8
disappear whenever the cursor moves onto the main part of the screen. How can
the toolbars be made to remain permanently in view, as they do in Firefox?
Andrew Miller, by email
It sounds as though you have inadvertently
enabled Internet Explorer’s Full Screen display mode. To toggle back to a
normal display just press F11.
Canon Clean Up
My Canon Pixma MP130 no longer prints and tells
me the waste ink reservoir is full. Both recommended repairers are in the
South, I'm in Yorkshire and they want £60 plus carriage for the repair. Can I
do the job myself?
You can easily reset the counter, which decides
when the waste reservoir is full, based on the number of pages printed. As this
is only a guessimate, you can usually get away with one or two resets but
eventually you will have to clean the pads as they will be saturated, but we’ll
come to that in a minute. First the reset procedure: press Menu > Scan >
Copy > Scan to enter Service mode. Now use the ‘>’ key to select NVRAM
then press OK. Next, set ABS-M and ABS-P Levels to 0 then press Stop to exit.
the pads can be a messy job and it will void your warranty but if you want to
have a go at it disconnect the printer from the mains and prise off the front
panel. You’ll need a screwdriver to release a small latch in the opening where
the paper comes out. Remove the screws holding the right side of the case; take
it off and you’ll be able to see the print head, which is parked over the waste
ink reservoir pads. Move it gently out of the way and using a pair of tweezers
lift out the tray containing the pads. Carefully take them out of the tray and
rinse them through using methylated spirits. When they are clean and dry
replace and reassemble.
I have a friend who is registered blind but has
some residual vision. Can you suggest any programs to enable him to use a
computer for emailing and web browsing?
Richard Munford, by email
Both Windows PCs and Apple Macs have a good
assortment of built-in accessibility features in that can help those with sight
problems, so he or she shouldn’t need any extra software. These include large
character and high contrast colour schemes, on-screen magnifiers, speech
synthesisers and voice recognition utilities. For a summary of what’s available
in Windows go to: http://goo.gl/ssSzY, and
for the Mac see: http://goo.gl/PgSIg. The
RNIB also has some useful advice and a guide to third-party applications on its
website at: http://goo.gl/Z69qH
© R. Maybury 2012 2105