Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 241 26/01/13


Write On iPad…

I have an iPad 3, which is a marvellous, however I wonder if it is possible to type a letter using this machine?

Colin Head, by email


A lot of people who buy or are given iPads believe that that they are getting a fully-fledged computer substitute but straight out of the box an iPad is only capable of fairly routine tasks like emailing, web surfing and media playback. If you want to use it for things like letter writing and presumably printing them out as well then you will need a few extra bits and pieces. The iPad has very limited text editing abilities; you can jot down a few lines using the built in Notes app, and send them yourself as an email, but that’s about it. Anything more ambitious requires a word processor app and there are plenty to choose from in the App Store. Free options include Documents Free, Easy Writer Lite and Textilus, but they all have limitations, carry intrusive advertising or pester you with pop-ups. Of the paid-for apps Pages for iPad at £6.99 is one of the most highly rated and it is compatible with Microsoft Word. Printing from an iPad can be tricky, unless you have an AirPrint compatible wireless printer. If not you can install a small program on your PC or Mac called FingerPrint (, which lets the iPad use your existing PC connected printer. Composing the odd short missive using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard isn’t a problem but for anything more involved you should consider an external keyboard.



Geriatric Games

When I was a kid, I had endless fun playing the simple Bat n’ Ball game on my trusty BBC B Micro. I’m sure my 5-year old niece would also love the game, so I was wondering if it is possible to get it running on our Windows 7 laptop? I have heard that I will require BBC B ‘emulator’ software, as well as the game itself. Can you tell me where I can obtain the necessary software, preferably with instructions on how to get it up and running?

Stuart F, by email


Good luck keeping your niece amused for longer 5 minutes with an ancient game like Pong but if you want to have a go there is no need to mess around with emulators. She can pit her wits against the computer with an online version at ClassicGames Arcade (, where you will find several other old favourites. If you want to challenge her to a proper game there is a fast freeware version called XPong (, however, you will need to equip your PC with a pair of joysticks. For a more sedate game, which uses the keyboard to control the paddles try another freeware offering called Emeritus Pong at:



Neighbourly Advice

For some months the Wi-Fi on my Vista laptop has locked-on to a neighbours BT service. I then have to use the Connect button to bring up the available services, deselect BT and click on my own provider but it is not unusual for my computer to lock on to BT again. Is there anything I can do to persuade my machine not to wander off to other networks in this promiscuous fashion?

Michael Fielding, Winchester


This can happen if your neighbour’s Wi-Fi signal is stronger than your own, or the wireless channel that you are using is congested. If you can’t improve signal strength by moving the laptop or router closer together you can remove unwanted networks from the list of available connections by right clicking on the wireless icon in the System Tray. Select Network and Sharing Centre > Manage Wireless Networks and right-click and deselect everything except your own network. If that doesn’t try changing the wireless channel on your router; instructions for accessing the router’s setup menu through your web browser will be in the manual. Failing that there is a way to block access to unwanted networks using a little-known Windows command line utility called Netsh (Network Shell); there’s a simple to follow guide on the Microsoft Community Forum at


Learning Old Tricks

I accept that if I use comma instead of a full stop in an email address my message will not be delivered. However, I am puzzled by having emails returned as undeliverable with the message ‘delivery expired (message too old)’. As the message has just finished being compiled, how can it be too old?

Lionel Codd, by email


I doubt that the problem is at your end if the majority of your emails get through unscathed and it only happens occasionally, or with the same addresses. ‘Too Old’ in this context normally means that up to 100 unsuccessful attempts have been made to deliver the message, usually over a period of three days. Why the delivery failed is another matter, but it could be due to an error in the address, the address is no longer valid or the recipient’s server mailbox is full. If you can contact them by other means suggest that they talk to their service provider to investigate the problem.



Recovery Position

I have accidentally deleted precious files from the Recycle Bin on my Windows PC. I am unsure from which site it would be safe to download a recovery program.

Tony Green, by email


Providing that you haven’t made too many changes to your PC by installing programs or creating large files there is a fair chance that the deleted data is still on the hard drive. You are right to be cautious, there are some very dubious recovery programs, including several that are laced with malware, or hold your PC to ransom until you pay up but you should be okay with a utility called Recuva (download link at:, the free version does a good job of retrieving recently deleted files, though if the files were deleted some time ago then it may be necessary to upgrade to the Professional version, which costs £15.50.




© R. Maybury 2013 0713

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