Ask Rick 219 25/08/12
iGoogle is displaying a message that it will
not be available after 1 November 2013. I am sure I am not the only one who
hasn’t got a clue about what to do next, to enable me to continue to use the
Sandra Hancock, by email
Introduced in 2005, iGoogle is a highly
customisable web home page or dashboard and one of more than 30 services that
Google is in the process of retiring, or spring-cleaning as they call it. It’s
essentially a Cloud service, so you can use it wherever you are, on any
web-connected device. It was popular and will be missed; there’s an online
petition if you want to join the protest http://goo.gl/DcXR3.
Of course you will still be able to access the
Internet and your favourite web pages and services, it just won’t be as easy or
convenient. There are alternatives, though none of them have quite the same
range of features. Protopage (http://goo.gl/SyD63),
and Netvibes (http://goo.gl/xzHM), come fairly
close, score well for ease of use and access to social media and news feeds. My
Yahoo (http://goo.gl/RcajO) isn’t too bad
either but if you want to avoid ads and banners try myway (http://goo.gl/WsMiC). Finally there’s the Google
Chrome browser. Surprise, surprise, this is where it would like homeless
iGoogle users to go, and, I suspect part of the reason for iGoogle’s demise,
with web widgets and features optimised for users logged on with tablets and
Nexus News Flash
When I try to watch BBC iPlayer (and some other
videos) on the new Google Nexus 7 tablet I am told to download Flash Player 11.
However when trying so to do I get a message that the Nexus 7 is not compatible
with Flash Player 11 as it does not support the Android 4.1 operating system.
Is there an alternative download, which will overcome this problem?
Tony Parsons, by email
This is a very clear illustration of the
Android operating system’s strengths and weaknesses. Unlike the closed and
tightly controlled environments of Apple products, Android is collaborative
effort, which is good, but it also means there’s a lot of buck passing when
things go wrong. Asus, who make the Nexus 7 say it has nothing to do with them
and it’s Google’s responsibility to handle software issues. Adobe who produce
Flash Player do not seem to be interested and the BBC tweets that it is working
on it. Fortunately there’s a large community of users who can usually sort
things out quite quickly and there is now a simple workaround. All you have to
do is manually download the iPlayer and Flash .apk files (there are links at: http://goo.gl/yKvBY), then go to Settings >
Apps, install them both and iPlayer and most other video services that rely on
Flash should now work.
I was rather stupid and bought an Acer Aspire
Laptop in Singapore. It has no pound sign, which I find very inconvenient and
is driving me mad! Can I do anything to overcome this problem?
Jean Long, by email
It’s a bit of a nuisance but there are ways
around it. The simplest method, and this works on any word processor, email or
web page, is to hold down the Alt key and press 0163 on the numeric keypad (you
may have to press the NumLock key first). The only problem, for you, is that on
most laptops the numeric keypad is incorporated into the keyboard (look for
numbers on the U, I, O, J, K, L and M keys) and you will have to activate it by
pressing a combination of Function keys, check the manual for details. For a more permanent solution you can
reassign the £ sign to an infrequently used key on your keyboard (AltGr or the one
to the left of 1) with a simple little freeware utility called Keytweak (http://goo.gl/lkq4).
I help organise point-to-point races, which are
held in fields, far away from mains power supplies. The current system requires
that information cards are made out by hand and given to starters, judges and
stewards etc. In order to improve the running of events I would like to
computerise the race. Can you recommend a portable printer that could be
powered by a generator, or is the power output not steady enough?
Malcolm Dickins, by email
Generators are noisy and smelly so I suggest
that you use a gadget called an Inverter. This converts a 12-volt DC supply
from a car battery into 230 volts AC mains, so you can use an ordinary printer
and power your laptop at the same time. They are silent and effectively cost
little or nothing to run, when powered from a car’s accessory socket. Inverters
come in a range of power outputs and it’s a good idea to choose one that’s
rated for at least twice the combined power consumption, in watts, of your
printer and laptop (this information should be on a label on the printer and
the laptop charger). I would do a dry run at home, to find out how long the
battery lasts; you may find that you need to run the engine from time to time
to top up the charge.
Is it possible to set my American family's PC
to play DVDs that have been compiled from home videos, the next time I visit?
If that isn't possible, is there any way for me to convert the DVDs from Area 2
to Area 1?
Harry Fox, by email
There shouldn’t be a problem. Regional Coding
only applies to commercial recordings, for enforcing licensing and copyright
restrictions. Home made DVDs are region-free and should play on any PC. For
future reference it’s not possible to remove or convert the regional coding on
DVDs, at least, not easily, but it’s not a huge problem as many DVD players,
especially the really cheap ones, have multi-region playback, or the feature can
be enabled by entering a hack code into the handset.
© R. Maybury 2012 0607