Ask Rick Maybury 2013

  

 

Ask Rick 243 09/02/13

 

Temporary Solution

Like many others I am deluged with junk email. Much of it is self-inflicted and comes from web sites that I have subscribed to and companies I have purchased goods from, which insist on knowing my email address. In the past I have tried putting in a made up email address, to avoid them putting me on their mailing lists but often you are required to respond to an email to complete the registration process or receive an order conformation, so what is the answer?

Derek Learner. By email

 

Any website that asks for your email address should have tick boxes for indicating your preferences for receiving mailing lists and promotions, though they can be hard to find, or cunningly worded so that it’s not obvious if you are opting in or out. However, it seems that a lot of companies send mail shots whether you want them or not so there are a couple of things you can do to avoid cluttering your primary inbox. The obvious solution it to set up a free webmail account and use it only for receiving registration emails and junk, though some companies insist on a fixed domain-based address. Another possibility is a temporary email service like 10 Minute Mail (http://goo.gl/U3cb). When you visit the site you are issued with an email address that self-destructs after 10 minutes; this can be extended for further 10-minute intervals if needed. The page serves as your email inbox, so that any messages sent to that address while it is active are immediately displayed.

        

 

Playing Safe

I have a Samsung Smart TV on which I can record and playback TV and radio programmes without problems, using an attached portable HDD. However I cannot access the recordings on my PC. When I try to load the HDD I am told to format the drive because the file system cannot be accessed. Principally, I record the BBC Long Wave Morning Service via the Freesat connection, and I would like to be able to transfer the programmes on to a SD card/CD, to be listened to when convenient. Any ideas?

Denis Wilkinson, by email

 

There are easier ways to record BBC radio channels for later playback; if you are using a PC I suggest a free Internet Radio program called RadioSure (www.radiosure.com), which records channels in all popular formats, including mp3, or if you are using an Android device, try an app called TuneIn Radio, free from Google Play.

 

Back to your Samsung TV, and I am afraid that it is all bad news. There are several reasons you can’t replay recordings on your PC. Firstly the HDD is formatted using the XFS filing system, used by Linux, possibly because the TV’s built-in PVR is Linux based. Windows can read the contents of the drive with suitable software, but that wouldn’t solve the problem. Even if you could copy the recordings to your PC they would still be unreadable as they are encrypted. Whilst decryption is theoretically possible, they are further protected for Digital Rights Management (DRM) purposes.

 

Samsung isn’t alone in this though some smart TV and PVR manufacturers do allow recordings of some free-to-air (FTA) channels to be playable on a PC but they are in the minority. I doubt that it’s done to make life difficult for users. You have to remember that products like these are made for world markets and sold in countries where there are large variations broadcaster’s licensing agreements, copyright restrictions and local censorship laws. It would be very difficult for manufacturers to accommodate every possible variation so they take the easy way out by only allowing recordings to be replayed on the device they were made on.        

 

 

Twain Crash

I have an Epson Perfection 1250 flatbed scanner connected to a desktop Windows ME computer. I would like to connect the scanner to Vista Laptop but I am not able to do so. I get a message asking me to install a Twain Driver. Can you please suggest a website where I can download the Twain Driver for free?

Roy Ramesh, by email

 

Twain is an interface standard for connecting scanners to PCs and the necessary driver is normally included on a device’s installation CD. Problems can arise when trying to use older peripherals on newer versions of Windows so the first thing to do is visit the software section of the manufacturer’s website to see if there is a suitable Vista driver available. It’s a bit hit and miss, though and support for discontinued products can be patchy but you have struck lucky and you will find the Twain driver you need at http://goo.gl/BxPzC. As a matter of interest the Twain comes from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, the Ballad of East and West, ‘…..never the Twain shall meet’.

 

 

Clever Stick?

For Christmas I was given a device called an Instant TV and Radio USB Stick. It picks up broadcasts from all over the world by just plugging it into my computer. It seems to have no aerial so I wonder just what sort of a gadget this little thing is?

Hedley Williams, by email

 

Sadly there’s no magic or even any mildly interesting technology involved, and impressive as it seems, it’s basically just a memory stick. There are quite a few of these doing the rounds at the moment and essentially all they do is open a database or viewer program that contains links to streaming Internet TV and radio stations around the world. You can find these stations, and more besides on Google or through dedicated websites like World TV and Radio Tuner (http://goo.gl/QGhdS), and watch and listen for free on any web browser. It seems from user reviews on sites that sell these things that the links are often broken or out of date, and the promise of access to high quality entertainment channels and the latest movies turn out to be somewhat exaggerated, or are in a language you are unlikely to understand…

 

 

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© R. Maybury 2013 2113

 

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