Ask Rick 247 09/03/13
The Heart of the Problem
We have had a desktop computer for many years,
but I have recently bought a laptop and at the moment am only using it to play
games. I would like to connect it to the Internet while away from home by using
Wi-Fi but I have a pacemaker and am wary at any side effects this may cause.
Clive Delamore, by email
You should really address this type of question
to your consultant or cardiologist but the fact is you are being constantly
exposed to a very wide range of radio frequency signals, many of them a great
deal more powerful than the relatively weak emissions from laptops and wireless
routers. Pacemakers are designed to operate in this kind of environment, which
includes the all-enveloping sea of RF radiation coming from mobile phones and
base stations, emergency and public service two-way radios, television and
radio transmissions, cab offices, wireless hotspots – even those in hospitals
-- and countless other sources. Nevertheless there are plenty of reports of
pacemaker users who claim that they have been affected by wireless signals so
you shouldn’t take chances and adhere to the ‘6-inch’ rule, issued by a number
of organisations, including the British Heart Foundation (http://goo.gl/2az7Q) and manufacturers of Wi-Fi
products, like Apple, This basically says you shouldn’t put any wireless or
electrical device, or strong magnets closer than 15cm or 6-inches to your
pacemaker, but again, I must stress that you should talk to an expert.
A friend has just purchased a Windows 8 laptop,
but cannot now afford to purchase updated versions of all the software she
uses. I know that W7 had a facility called Virtual PC, whereby you could
partition your hard-drive and load an alternative operating system but I can’t
find out if this is available in W8. Is there a Virtual PC solution for W8?
Following on from this, can you access data files on partitions other than the
one that you have booted-up from?
Colin Smith. By email
New versions of Windows often cause problems
with older applications but this time around there have been fewer casualties.
Before your friend gets too involved with Virtual PCs and partitions she should
check the Windows Compatibility centre (http://goo.gl/uAvZo),
which has a large and growing database of products and where available, links
to patches and upgrades.
In the end, though, running an older version of
Windows on her PC may be the only solution, but a Virtual Machine (VM) and
partitioning or multi-booting are two quite different things. A VM is a PC
simulation program that runs inside Windows, in which you can install another
version of Windows. In other words it is a PC within a PC. Multi-booting
involves dividing the hard drive into two or more partitions, creating one or
more virtual drives, and installing a second copy of Windows, or any other
supported operating system, on the new partition. All you have to do is select
which system boots up immediately after switch on. In both cases the
alternative operating system should be able to read and write data stored
elsewhere on the host drive.
On balance, and if there is sufficient free
space on a hard drive, multi booting is usually the simpler option and there
are some easy to follow instructions at: http://goo.gl/JxPxw.
Windows Virtual PC has been replaced by Hyper-V in W8 (http://goo.gl/Wf2Zk) and there are several third
party alternatives but VMs can be quite tricky to set up and are probably best
avoided by novices looking for an easy life.
Root of the Problem
My wife cannot access the Google Play Store on
her new Kindle Fire HD. I have found ways of rectifying this but it seems to
involve serious brain surgery with warnings of potentially fatal mistakes,
Should I risk it, or is there a foolproof answer for amateurs?
Jim Bolton, by email
Although the Kindle Fire HD uses a version of
the Android operating system, first and foremost it is an Amazon product and
therefore designed for downloading e-books, media and apps from Amazon’s online
store. You have to override Amazon’s customisations to get it to behave like a
regular Android tablet and this involves taking control of the operating system
in a process known as rooting. Provided you follow the instructions it is a
relatively straightforward and safe procedure. The real problem is that
invalidates the warranty, so if anything goes wrong you are on your own. The
other point to bear in mind is that some Android apps won’t work on the Kindle
Fire because of differences in the display and operating system and
restrictions imposed by Google. There are plenty of online guides to rooting the
Fire HD, I suggest that look at a few of them (this one on CNET is a good place
to start http://goo.gl/zzXks) and decide if
it is something you can tackle, and are prepared to take the risk, otherwise,
start saving for a unfettered Android tablet.
Seeing The Light
A major plus of my now defunct Amstrad E-mailer
was its warning light signalling the arrival of a message. A laptop can't tell
me this, and because I only use it for emailing, this entails the inconvenience
of switching it on each day to see whether any of the two or three messages I
get in a month has arrived. Is there any way of utilising any of the five
warning lights on my computer to alert me an email?
John Goulding, by email
Sadly not, though there are several gadgets
that flash a light or change colour when a message has been received but the PC
has to be on all the time and running email software. However, this is one of
the things that tablet PCs and smartphones do really well. Most models can
operate in a low power mode for several days, and sometimes a week or more
between charges, and sound an audible alert or flash an LED when there is an
incoming message. Tablets also boot up much faster than PCs, in some cases
taking less than 30 seconds.
© R. Maybury 2013 1802