Ask Rick 211 30/06/12
Wait for 8?
My six-year old Windows XP computer is reaching
its sell-by date and I am starting to consider a replacement. My dilemma is
whether to go ahead now with something running Windows 7 Home Premium or to
wait until the autumn when I understand Windows 8 will be released. The PC is
for home use and I am a relatively unsophisticated user.
Richard Neal, by email
Judging by the pre-release versions we've
seen Windows 8 should be worth having but there’s no need to delay buying a new
PC. Microsoft recently announced that new Windows 7 PCs sold after June 2nd,
and before January 2013, can be upgraded to Windows 8 Pro for just £14.99. You
can check if your chosen PC qualifies for the upgrade and register your details
by going to http://goo.gl/lsi9G. This also
means you’ll be able to wait a few weeks after W8 has been launched, to make
sure that any unforeseen bugs and glitches have been sorted out.
Where’s My Password?
Like one of your recent correspondents, my
grandchildren have been given iPods and iPhones and when they visit they want
to access the Internet via my wireless router. I am quite happy for them to do
this but I have no idea where to find my router‘s password, which I assume is
stored somewhere on my computer.
David Smee, by email
If you have lost the wireless password provided
by whoever supplied the router it’s not a problem, provided your PC is
connected to the router by Wi-Fi. In Windows 7 click the wireless icon in the
System Tray (next to the clock), right click your connection, select Properties
and check the Show Characters box to display the passcode. In Windows Vista,
after clicking the wireless icon select Connect or Disconnect then as before
right-click the highlighted connection and select Properties. For Windows XP
you need a small freeware utility called WirelessKeyView, which you can
download from: http://goo.gl/eyKu.
If the PC is connected to the router by LAN
cable or you haven’t yet used the wireless facility you can get the passcode
from router’s own setup menu. This is accessed by entering the router’s IP
address into your web browser. This, along with the logon details will be in
router’s manual, otherwise go to the Support section on the router
manufacturer’s website. It’s usually something like 192.168.0.1, and the
default login is typically ‘admin’ and ‘password’ (so change them when you get
a moment). You’ll find the passcode displayed in the Wireless Security section.
If all else fails and you can’t access the router you can reset it to its
factory defaults (usually by pressing a hidden button on the back or underside
of the router) and create a new passcode. However, this is not for novices as
you will also have to re-configure your broadband settings, so make sure you
have them to hand, before taking this fairly drastic step.
I have a Sharp TV, bought in December 2006 as
HD-ready. It has three SCART sockets and one DVI connector. I recently obtained
a Sky + HD Box which has an HDMI socket. Can I buy something that would allow
the Sky HDMI cable to connect to Sharp TV or, given its age, would I be better
off just buying a new TV?
Ian S, by email
Yes-ish… HDMI (High Definition Multimedia
Interface) is a development of the DVI (Digital Video Interface) connector
system and the video signals carried by both types of cable are broadly the
same. However, HDMI is used for video and audio, whilst DVI is video only, so
in addition to an HDMI to DVI lead or adaptor you will also need to connect the
Sky + box’s audio output to the TV’s external audio input. There are a few
other ifs and buts that might gum up the works but for the cost of an adaptor
(around £5.00) it’s definitely worth trying, before you consider splashing out
on a new TV.
Is Sleep Harmful?
When I place my new Compaq Windows 7 PC into
Sleep mode, does the hard drive stop or continue spinning? Is there any
long-term harm in putting a PC into Hibernate mode?
Richard.Longridge, by email
Hibernate and Sleep reduces a computer’s power
consumption by switching off the hard drive and display when they are not being
used. It’s virtually zero in Hibernate mode as the open programs and the data
they contain are copied to the hard drive. In Sleep mode they’re stored in the
PC’s RAM memory, so there is still a small power drain, but the computer can be
up and running in just a few seconds; however, it only takes a little longer to
resume from Hibernate.
Neither mode is damaging to a computer’s
hardware but a handful of programs don’t take too kindly to it and can freeze
when the computer starts up. It can also affect some peripherals, like Wi-Fi
adaptors, which may need tweaking if they don’t work properly when the computer
resumes. The default Sleep and Hibernate settings work best for laptop users
running on battery power because all you have to do is close the lid or press
the power button. On a desktop PCs you may be better off manually configuring
the Windows power options, which can be found in Control Panel, to better
reflect your patterns of use. For example, you can set it to switch off the
display and power down the drives independently and enter Hibernate or Sleep
modes after a period of inactivity, and resume when you click the mouse or use
the keyboard. Incidentally, it’s a good idea to switch off and re-boot a
regularly sleeping or hibernating computer every so often, once a week, say, to
refresh the Windows Registry and implement any configuration changes or updates
that may have occurred in the meantime.
© R. Maybury 2012 1106