Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 224 29/09/12


Shortcut to Happiness

I am enjoying my new Nexus 7 tablet PC but frustrated because I cannot use the on-screen keyboard to produce word or paragraph shortcuts. On my desktop PC I use a program called Macro Magic whereby holding down the Alt key and pressing J, for example, my email address appears. However, you can't use two keys simultaneously with a screen keyboard. I know that I could use a wireless or USB keyboard but I am unsure how to load my Macro Magic program, which is on CD, on to the Nexus.

John Edge, by email


First things first; you cannot install programs written for Windows PCs, (or Macs, iPads etc.) on a tablet computer running the Android operating system. There are a few macro apps for Android but most of the one’s I’ve tried won’t work on the Nexus 7. It’s a recurring problem with new devices. Android version 4.0 (codename Ice Cream Sandwich), used on the Nexus, has caught some app developers on the hop and it can take a while for updates to appear, but there is some good news. A free app from the Play Store, called CanalRun Macro Keys does work and will do everything that you want. Once installed all you have to do is enable it as the default keyboard. It appears, like the standard keyboard, whenever you click on a text entry field, compose an email or start a new document, but it has an extra Fn key in the bottom left hand corner. To create shortcuts that assign a word, text string or email address to an Fn + ‘x’ key combination, all you have to do is add a simple command line to an XML file, using another free app called ES File Explorer.



Keeping it in the Family

I am researching my ancestry and this can involve visiting long lost relatives who possess a wealth of useful information, including old photographs. I expect that some of them will not have a computer, so what I am looking for is a portable photo scanner, to use with my laptop. Despite much searching I have been unable to identify a suitable product.

Hugh Sawer, by email


There’s no need for a dedicated photo scanner, a decent flatbed scanner is all that you need. If you want to keep it really simple shortlist USB powered models, so you won’t have to mess around with a mains adaptor. Don’t forget you can also copy photographs using a digital camera. Providing it’s up to the job (10 megapixels or more) and you take care with lighting and exposure, with a little practice the results can be very good indeed.



Fair Shares?

My wife and I often use our respective computers at the same time in the same room. My wife uses a 7-year old IBM laptop using Windows XP connected through a Wi-Fi link. I use an iMac running OS X and this is connected by cable to the shared Belkin modem router. My wife complains that every time I open up my iMac, her computer slows right down. Everyone I have spoken to says this is impossible but the evidence would suggest that there is some interactive effect. Is this the case, and if so, what is the remedy?  

Robin Armstrong, Dereham, Norfolk.


I know of no mechanism that could make the IBM laptop’s processor slow down when an iMac, or any other computer for that matter, connects to the same network. However, there will be a marked reduction in download speeds.  This is perfectly normal, and maybe this is what your wife is noticing. Think of your broadband connection as a water pipe and each PC connected to it as a tap. As you turn on more taps so the flow through each one slows down, and by the same analogy, the tap furthest from the supply experiences the biggest reduction in flow. In other words, the iMac is a big tap; it has the fastest and most direct connection to the router so it gets first dibs on the data flowing down the pipe. It also has a faster processor and more memory and to top things off, it’s probably hogging more of the connection if you are using it to download or stream media or large files. You may be able speed things up a little on the laptop by switching the connections, just don’t expect miracles.



Epson Sorts

I have an Acer Aspire notebook, which connects by cable and Wi-Fi to my Epson SX525WD Printer/Scanner. I can print but not scan and get a message saying ‘Communication Error, make sure the computer is connected and try again’. It works properly on my old Dell laptop, so it’s obviously not faulty. I have reloaded and updated the drivers, sought advice from online forums and friends in the IT business but with no success.

Ian Smith, by email


Well done for eliminating the obvious causes, though a driver problem is still high on my list of probable causes so please double check that you have downloaded the correct Windows 7/64-bit drivers. Otherwise that leaves us with the more obscure possibilities. The first two come from Epson Support, they are a bit of a long shot, but try them anyway. If you are not already doing so, use the USB lead that came with the device, and it connects via a hub, bypass it and plug the printer directly into the laptop’s USB socket. The Windows Firewall can sometimes play tricks so create an exception for your printer by going to Start > Control Panel > Security Centre > Windows Firewall and click ‘Allow a program or feature…’. If Windows User Account Control asks for permission click Continue, and enter your logon password if requested. Click Change Settings, check the list for Epson Scan and make sure it is ticked. Microsoft has couple of utilities that are worth trying. Start with the built in Hardware and Device Troubleshooter, by typing ‘troubleshooter’ in Search on the Start menu. Click Troubleshooting > Hardware and Sound > Configure a device and follow the prompts. There’s also a free device detection repair utility, called Fixit and you’ll find a link to the download at



© R. Maybury 2012 1008


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