Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 227 20/10/12


A Flash in the Pad

My iPad3 seems not to support the Adobe Flash Player, which is a nuisance.  Is there a solution or any alternative short of buying a tablet that does support the player?

David Buck, by email


Not only doesn’t iOS support Flash, the late Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, was an ardent critic, citing problems with security, performance, battery life and reliability, and his faith in HTML5 and JavaScript standards. Whatever it’s shortcomings, and security really isn’t an issue on iOS, the fact is Flash animations are very widely used, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future and many Apple users are justifiably irritated buy its absence. Fortunately there are workarounds and one of the simplest is to use a browser called Puffin, free from the App Store. This remotely processes Flash content on its servers before forwarding it to your i-Device. It’s not a complete solution and some videos might be a little choppy but it’s definitely worth trying.


Serial Offender

I recently changed my computer and on the old machine I was able to connect my Garmin GPS using the 12-pin Serial port. My new PC only has USB sockets, so I purchased a USB to RS232 adaptor, which came with a driver CD. However the GPS program screen indicates ‘Not connected’, and when I attempt to check which COM ports are available it reports that none are available.

David Morgan, by email


It can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to get older hardware and software, designed to use a Serial port, to work through a USB connection. But don’t give up hope and it may only be a simple configuration error or conflict. Open Device Manager by pressing WinKey + Break to open System Properties then select Device Manager (In XP select Hardware in System Properties, then the Device Manager tab). Scroll down the list to Ports (COM & LPT), double click to expand the entry, look for your USB to Serial adaptor. It should have been assigned a COM port number, but it may be in use or unavailable, so you should change it. Right click on the entry, select Properties then the Port Settings tab. Click the Advanced button and on the COM Port drop-down menu select an unused COM port (the lower the number the better) click OK, exit Device Manager, reboot the PC and run the software, this time using the new COM port number.



SKY is the Limit

I recently started using SKY broadband and I am having problems with the email. My wife and I have two PCs and a smartphone. We want to be able to download emails on any of them, at any time, which is what we used to be able to do with our previous broadband service. I have tried re-selecting the option to ‘leave a copy of the email on the server’ on the PC and phone’s email programs, but incoming messages are downloaded on the first PC and deleted from the server, so that they are unavailable on the other PC or the phone. This often means we often miss emails, if the phone is left switched on, or my wife or I download messages and forgets to inform or forward them to the other. Is this a fault or have I missed a setting?

Howard Taylor, by email


It also happens with Virgin broadband and other hybrid POP3/IMAP systems and in both cases there is a workaround, though it has a couple of drawbacks. Here’s what you do. Open the Account settings menu on your PC’s and the phone, and in the Account Name or Username box, put ‘recent:’ (without the quotes) immediately in front of your email address, so it reads: (or etc.). Now for those problems mentioned earlier. The first time you log on after the change, each device downloads all of the messages you’ve received in the previous 30 days but this only happens once, and you will probably receive copies of sent messages as well.



Type Disapproval

I have a laptop with Windows Vista and I have great problems typing. The computer misses letters or fails to use the letters actually typed in and as a result it is very difficult to use. What is the cause of this error and how can I rectify it?

Audrey Jones, by email


Compared with their more rugged desktop cousins, laptop keyboards are more prone to problems and tend to wear out faster. However, before you go any further try plugging in a known working USB keyboard. It should be automatically recognised and if all of the keys function normally then the laptop keyboard is faulty, or its connecting ribbon cable needs reseating. Either way it’s a job for an expert as they can be quite tricky to remove. I would also get a couple of estimates as replacement keyboards on some models can cost more than the laptop is worth, otherwise there’s nothing to stop you continuing to use an external keyboard.  



Where’s it At?

My family and I go on home swap holidays. On many of the keyboards in our swappers homes across Europe there is no key for the oft-used email @ ‘at’ symbol.

Ewan Hastings, by email


It’s worth taking a closer look as it’s often there, but not where you expect to find it. The US layout, where the @ symbol shares the 2 key is the most popular place; sometimes its Shift + 2 but if that doesn’t work try Alt  + Shift + 2  or Alt Gr + 2 (Alt Gr key is to the right of the spacebar). In France you will normally find it on the 0 key, whilst in the Czech Republic and Hungary it’s on V. On Austrian and German keyboards it’s on the Q key, and again you have to hold down the Alt Gr key to make it appear. Failing that there is a shortcut that works on virtually all Latin script keyboards and that’s Alt + 64; press the Numlock key first, and enter the digits on the numeric keypad.



© R. Maybury 2012 0110


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