Ask Rick Maybury 2012

  

 

Ask Rick 221 08/09/12

 

Taking The Tablets

For a forthcoming trip I plan to buy a tablet computer to keep copies of documents, books and to maintain contact with the outside world.  But I also want to preview and back up photos (jpegs) taken on my Pentax SLR and Nikon compact cameras, both of which use regular SD cards and have a micro USB slot. The new Nexus 7 has had good reviews but I have not been able to establish if it is possible to get pictures on to it direct from a camera or an SD card via a card reader without the use of a PC?

Peter Graham, by email

 

For some inexplicable reason this basic and extremely useful facility isn’t available on the otherwise excellent Nexus 7, but it can be enabled, either with a paid-for app from Google Play called Nexus Media Importer, this costs £1.27, or a free app called Stickmount. They  both let the Nexus read flash drives and memory cards but before you get too excited there’s a catch with Stickmount. It only works on ‘rooted’ devices. Rooting allows full access to the device’s file systems and overrides security features designed to protect the operating system, and it will invalidate the warranty. However, it’s a relatively quick, simple and safe procedure using free PC utilities like Nexus Root Toolkit; there’s an easy to follow online tutorial with links to the necessary software on the How-To-Geek website (http://goo.gl/WJtq8). Make sure you carry out a full backup first as rooting deletes user installed apps and data. By the way, whichever method you choose you will need an OTG (On The Go) adaptor as well. This a micro USB plug at one end and a standard USB socket on the other, so you can connect directly to a flash drive, a camera via a USB lead, or a SD card reader; you’ll find OTG adaptors on ebay and Amazon for a pound or two.

 

 

Bad Apple?

Some weeks ago a reader wrote that their iPad could not always connect to wi-fi hotspots, and you took them through the various procedures.  However this does not answer my problem, which is that the iPad does not always 'see' known wireless networks. I have just returned from a sailing holiday in Greece, intending to log on to weather forecast web sites. Fortunately I also took an old Samsung notebook. Throughout the two weeks, the notebook would connect to several networks each day and log on where allowed. The iPad picked up only two hotspots during the whole time, which suggests that there wasn’t a problem with Greek networks. I’ve had the same issue in the UK, failing to see a hotel network. Is there anything that I can do to locate these perfectly good signals?

Kathy Mallam, by email

 

A quick trawl through the forums suggests that quite a few iPad users have been experiencing this and similar wi-fi connectivity problems so there does seem to be a glitch with the new model. Apple tends not to be very forthcoming when there are ongoing issues with hardware or software, so assuming that you have tried all of the standard fixes (clearing old settings, renewing DHCP lease, resetting etc.), you should return the iPad for investigation and possible replacement.

 

 

Blowing a Raspberry

I have just acquired a Raspberry Pi, £30 computer, and can access the Internet with it. I presume it is just as vulnerable to malware as any other Internet linked PC. It has no antivirus or firewall protection. How secure does that make my local network, which is used by two other PCs?

David Booth, by email

 

I really wouldn’t worry, at least not for a while. The Linux operating system, which this ingenious little computer uses, is very secure and isn’t yet under serious threat from malware or viruses. The only minor concern is remote access, through insecure network and Internet connections, but this is easily countered by changing the default login password, and keeping the operating system updated.

 

 

Slipped Disc

Like many others in the 1980s we bought a Kodak Disk camera. The format eventually disappeared and the actual camera has long gone. I recently came across our collection of the disks and wonder if you know of any way we can get prints from them using a scanner? There is an example on YouTube, but that involves cutting the disks.

Ken Davison, by email

 

The DIY methods I have seen are far from satisfactory; the negatives are small so the quality is likely to be poor – it wasn’t that good to begin with -- and you run a high risk of damaging them if you remove them from their holders. I’m not aware of any consumer film scanners that can handle this format, but if there are, I suspect that the ones that do a decent job, are going to be horribly expensive. Your best bet is to have them professionally reprinted or scanned; it won’t be cheap but you should be assured of the best possible results. Several firms provide such services. Try Process C-22 (http://goo.gl/uPoZ2), which charges £20.00 per disc for reprints or scan to CD for £15.00 a disc. Fotostation (http://goo.gl/rGCHW) reprints are dearer but scanning is also £15.00 per disc.

 

 

Office Alternative

I recently bought a new desktop PC with Windows 7 home edition. I feel disinclined to spend a further £70 to £80 to buy a new copy of Microsoft Office, so I can transfer files from my old PC. Is it possible to download the Office program from my old XP computer? I still have the activation code but I am bit nervous of mucking things up.

Jack Woods, by email

 

You can’t transfer installed programs from one PC to another and the only way you could use your existing copy of Office would be if you had the original installation disc. However, it sounds as though it was pre-installed and you don’t have a disc, in which case I suggest that you try LibreOffice (http://goo.gl/dwCUa). This is a free office suite, based on OpenOffice, and it is compatible with MS Office programs. It’s actually very good, you won’t have to learn any new tricks and it should do everything that you want. Otherwise, if you want to stay with Microsoft you will find plenty of new and unregistered copies of older versions of Office (2003 onwards) on ebay selling from £20.00 or so, and these work perfectly well on Windows 7.

---end---

© R. Maybury 2012 2007

 

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