Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 237 29/12/12


Recording Contract

I have just come to the end of a two-year contract on my Nokia N8 phone. I was hoping to go to an iPhone but find that there is no facility for recording telephone calls or transferring text message to my PC. Both of these features are available on the Nokia. Mobile phone sales people I have spoken to were unable to offer a new phone with these facilities. So for the moment I am sticking with the N8. Is there an alternative?

Roderick Mitchell, by email


Recording phone calls is illegal in the US and many other countries so it is likely that Apple took the decision not to incorporate this feature on the iPhone, to avoid complications. It can be done but it is suprisingly difficult and the third party apps that are available tend to use convoluted methods like remote recording or the recording facility on VOIP services like Skype and Google Voice (currently US only). Transferring text messages from an iPhone to a PC is a little easier, they can be extracted from iPhone backups and there’s a small assortment of free and paid for apps and PC and Mac programs that can do the job, like ipadio and Tansee from the Apple Store and iPhone Tool Kits from ( and DiskAid ( However, in the end you will find both tasks a lot easier with an Android smartphone, where there is a huge range of call recording apps in the Google Play store. Be sure to read the comments and reviews first, though, as some of them appear to be quite fussy about the make and model of the phone they are used with. There are also plenty of PC programs that can be used to backup and download text messages from Android phones. Try Wondershare (, which is free and has a number of other useful very features.



Drive Safely

With my old XP Laptop, in order to safely remove a flash drive, I only had to left-click twice on the icon down in the System Tray, which told me that it was now safe to remove the drive. I now have a Windows 7 laptop and if my memory serves me, the same procedure applied initially; but now, a few months later nothing happens if I click the icon. Help says that you can safely remove the drive as long as the icon is present, but my icon is present all the time that the flash drive is connected. Can you please tell me the current correct method?

Robert Woodward, by email


I can’t explain the apparent change in behaviour but the ‘Safely Remove’ and ‘Eject’ operations (in Windows Explorer) are a largely unnecessary belt and braces precaution. In fact you can usually safely pull out a flash drive after it has finished a read or write operation, the drive LED, (if it has one), isn’t blinking or the data transfer bargraph says the file has finished copying. The dire warnings against not doing it usually refer to something called Write Caching. This is where Windows may delay writing data to a drive either because the system is busy or there is a request to transfer multiple files. The argument goes that if you pull out the drive and a write operation is interrupted then data on the drive, or its table of contents, may be corrupted. It is true that it can happen on fixed drives but by default write caching is disabled for removable drives because Microsoft knows that users are impatient and have a tendency to whip out flash drives and memory cards willy-nilly, without properly ejecting them first. You can check this is so by connecting your flash drive, open Device Manager (Winkey + Break), right-click on its entry under Disk Drives, select Properties and on the Policies tab ‘Optimise for Quick removal’ or ‘Quick Removal’ should be selected.



Linkedin Spam Nuisance

Members of our Lion’s Club together with club helpers are all suddenly being deluged by spam mail from Linkedin. This seems to have emanated from an error made by a Lion’s member. Although there is an option on received mail to unsubscribe it is all to no effect. How do we effectively remove it from our system?

John Gee, by email


Linkedin spam, and messages purporting to come from them have become a real nuisance lately. If you have no interest or connection to Linkedin then the simplest thing to do is create a Rule in your email program, or set your Spam filter to automatically delete any emails with the word Linkedin in the message body. You can report both real and fake Linkedin messages by forwarding all details to If you are an active Linkedin member then all you can do is remain vigilant, ignore emails from members you do no know or trust, never click on any links and use your web browser to visit the site to check your messages and contacts.



Green Screen

I am trying to use my elderly DVD recorder to display DVDs on my modern TV but pictures are all-over green. I am using a SCART cable with 20 pins. Would a 21-pin SCART lead provide full colour? 

Neil Castle, Berkhamsted.


I haven’t come across a 20-pin SCART lead before; has the missing pin been pushed into the plug housing perhaps? SCART AV leads normally have either 21 pins (type U or Universal), or 10 pins (Type C). However, a missing pin on a Type U lead would usually only result in the loss of one colour, but in any case the first thing to do is try another Type U or C cable. There could be a problem with the sockets on the TV or recorder. If the missing colours return when you gently wiggle each plug in turn, that is probably the cause, and a job for an engineer. Otherwise there may be a mis-match between the recorder and TVs input and output settings. They should both be the same, and the choice is usually RGB, S-Video or Composite video. Check the manuals, which will point you towards the appropriate sections of their set-up menus.



© R. Maybury 2012 1012


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