Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 232 24/11/12


Making a Start With Windows 8

I am about to purchase a new laptop and judging by the ads most of the PCs in my price bracket now have Windows 8. I have read that this new operating system takes some getting used to; it has a new layout and things like the Start button been replaced. Until now I have been using Windows XP, so I am worried that I won’t be able to cope with the new system, having missed out on at least two generations of Windows since XP. Would I be better off paying to have XP installed on the new laptop?

Barry Fields, by email


I understand your concern but I think that you will quickly adapt to W8, but if you want to ease your way into it there are ways to make it look and work like just XP, Vista and W7. The first thing to do is install a free utility called StartMenu8 (, which creates a Start menu button and has the option, set by default, to load the conventional desktop display and hide the new Metro Start display. You can call it up at any time by pressing and holding the Winkey button, when you are ready to explore W8 many new features. Windows 8 is also pretty good at running older programs and most mainstream applications can be installed without too much fuss. Of course there are exceptions, and you may find that some elderly peripherals lack suitable drivers but in the main the changeover is proving to be relatively painless. 



FAT Chance

I want to make a backup of my music files from a Brennan Jukebox. The process is simple enough, just plug in a USB memory stick formatted to FAT32. I already have larger USB storage devices but they are NTFS formatted. How can I change them to FAT32, so that I do not have to buy yet another memory stick? 

Mark Stainthorp, by email


It’s easy enough to change a storage device’s filing system, but be warned that the contents will be erased. Connect it to your PC and right click on its icon in Windows Explorer or Computer, select Format and on the dialogue box that opens, select FAT 32 on the File System drop down menu, click Start and follow the prompts.


Banking On Change

I recently had trouble changing the password for my online bank account. I started with a complicated password involving symbols and upper and lower case letters and was careful to conform to their requirements. I received various error messages and after trying to logon on my Mac and a PC so I had to  contact the bank. Their reply was that when entering my existing password I had to make sure that the caps lock was on. Does that mean it is pointless having a mix of upper and lower case on their system? We are urged to renew passwords regularly and not use simple combinations but some online accounts have only drop-down menus where one is only given a choice of letters or numbers. It also surprises me that security checks often involve parent’s names, dates of birth and other facts freely available from public documents.

Mike Reed, by email


I checked with the bank concerned and it maintains that password entry is not case sensitive so it seems that the advice you were given was wrong. Changing your password from time to time is generally a good idea but it can also cause problems, especially if it failed more than a couple of times. The banks security software may interpret this as an attempt to hijack your account so don’t be surprised if you are asked to present yourself at a branch with identifying documents. Logins that use the mouse pointer to select letters and numbers may seem quite crude but they are designed to defeat a type of spyware called a keylogger, which record keystrokes. The check questions that ask for memorable names, dates and so on are typically found on the second or third stage of the login process, after the username, password and account or customer number. One of the reasons for this is that most people ignore the advice and record their typically unmemorable login details, but generally won’t bother with the last element. If your details somehow fall into the wrong hands the lack of this last, vital piece of information may be enough to protect the account. 



Touch Of Death

My 12-year old son upgraded his iPod Touch 4 to iOS 6, and ever since then it has stopped working; all we get is the blank screen. We tried unsuccessfully to restore it by pressing on/off button and Home button and various other solutions on the Internet. Our local Apple Store wanted £12 to reset it, but could not guarantee that it will work.

Upen Pandya, by email


Before you try anything else put it on charge for a few hours, just in case it’s something as simple as a flat battery. If it still fails to respond try a hard reset; this will erase all of the music, playlists and apps stored on the device, but you can restore them from iTunes. The correct procedure is to simultaneously press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons for at least 10 seconds, until the Apple Logo appears on the screen. If nothing happens try again, and it can take several attempts. If that doesn’t work the last resort, before returning it for repair, is to see if it will start it in DFU (device firmware upgrade) mode. Plug the iPod into a PC or Mac using a USB cable or dock and open iTunes. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons for 10 seconds then release Sleep/Wake but continue to hold Home for up to 60 seconds until iTunes says it has detected the iPod and offers to restore the device from a backup.



© R. Maybury 2012 0511


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