Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 216 04/08/12


On The Offensive

From time to time, I receive obnoxious e-mails from a close relative. What action should I take to prevent such offensive emails reaching me, apart from planting one on his nose and ending up in the local Clink?

F P, by email


Violence is definitely not the answer and if the emails are in any way abusive or legally actionable your first step should be to report the matter to both your own and the sender’s ISP. If they contain threats of any sort you should inform the police. However, in most cases the best way to stop nuisance emails is to simply ignore and delete them. With no reaction or response from you the sender should soon realise that their messages are either not getting through or not having the desired effect and eventually they should stop. Check if your ISP provides any filtering options and on most email programs you can delete unwanted emails automatically without you ever seeing them, either by marking them as Spam, adding the address to a Blocked Senders List or creating a Rule to delete them as soon as they are downloaded. Make sure that you haven’t enabled automatic receipt confirmation. This is normally disabled by default but if it is on the sender can tell that you are receiving their messages.



Improving iPad’s Image

My family presented me with an iPad 2 for my birthday and on the whole I am impressed but I have encountered a few drawbacks. For example, I am accustomed to taking a netbook on holiday with me, for picking up emails, browsing the web and backing up photos from my digital camera. The iPad is very convenient for email and the web but I can see no way of uploading photos, other than by using iTunes. Is there an another way? I also cannot work out how to load Word documents. Is it even possible without buying an expensive app or connectors for my PC?

David Byers, by email


The first one is easy, you need is a little gizmo called a Camera Connector Kit. The official Apple module costs around £20 but you will find plenty of third-party alternatives for considerably less. Amazon and ebay have them for under £5.00, including postage. This lets you connect the iPad to your camera by USB cable, or read directly from an SD memory card. As soon as you plug it in there will be an option to open and import the stored images (ignore the not compatible message that may appear). As an added bonus you may also be able to use it to connect Apple and some other USB keyboards and other USB devices (microphones, headsets etc). If you also want to access files on a flash drive, or external drive you will have to jailbreak the iPad, but do not try this if you are of a nervous disposition as there is a small risk of ‘bricking’ your tablet.


The simplest way to get a Word document onto your iPad is to email it to yourself as an attachment. The iPad can open, but not edit Word docs. If you want to do that as well then you’ll need a paid-for app like QuickOffice, Office2 HD or Pages. They are modestly priced (£7.00 - £14.00), and there are also freebies and cloud services, like Google Docs and OnLive (soon to be launched in the UK), but one way or another they all have quirks and limitations so read the reviews and comments.



Skype Savings?

My son in America thinks it a good idea for me to switch from my landline to a Skype phone. I am uneasy, the limited info I have gleaned from the Internet shows that a landline and broadband modem are required. I have both but doesn’t this defeat the object of saving any money. What is your view?

Helga Shiekh, by email


My guess is your son is simply suggesting that you and he use Skype to chat, rather than your phone. It’s not an alternative to a fixed phone line or mobile, and you can’t make emergency calls but it does have a number of significant benefits. Firstly calls to him and other Skype users, wherever they are in the world, are completely free (apart from the cost of your broadband and phone line). You can also call landline and mobile phones from your PC or Skype phone, though you will have to purchase credits, pay a subscription or pay-as-you-go, but this can still work out much cheaper than normal phone tariffs, especially for International calls. Skype also has some useful extras, including two-way video calling, conference calls, instant messaging, SMS text messages and so on. I would definitely give it a try. It costs you nothing if you have a laptop; if you have a desktop computer you will have to buy a microphone or Skype handset or headset that plugs into your PC audio sockets but these only cost a few pounds.



Activation Aggravation

My desktop PC keeps showing a message to the effect that due to hardware changes, I need to activate Windows within 3 days. A phone number (0800 018 8354) is given, which I should ring to obtain a code. I have chosen not to activate and everything appears to work normally. I have run to System Restore, taking things back a week, but on restart, the message still comes up. I am suspicious of this for all sorts of reasons. Do you know if it is genuine?

Derek Acock, by email


The message and phone number are both legitimate and Product Activation is one of the ways Microsoft tries to reduce software piracy. The idea is that a change of hardware configuration could indicate that your copy of Windows, which is licensed for only one machine, has been installed on another computer. Reactivation is a nuisance but is normally it is quite painless, and even quicker online, involving just a couple of mouse clicks. If you continue to ignore it Windows will go into a reduced functionality mode after a 30-day grace period. Depending which version of Windows you are using this could mean more frequent pop-up messages, intermittent logging off or almost nothing will work, except the reactivation function.



© R. Maybury 2012 1607


Search PCTopTips 



Digital Life Index

Houston 2006

Houston 2007

Houston 2008

Houston 2009

Houston 2010

Houston 2011


Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME








 Copyright 2006-2012 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.