Ask Rick Maybury 2012



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 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:


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, 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.



HD Hook-UP

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


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