Ask Rick 249 23/03/13
A few days ago, on my birthday, I noticed the
usual Google logo had been replaced by one personally wishing me ‘Happy
Birthday’. I thought this was pretty creepy because as far as I know I have
never signed up for any Google extras such as GMail or Chrome, nor have I
knowingly disclosed my birth date to Google.
What is going on?
Hugh Searson, by email
Google knows a lot about you from what you tell
it or reveal through your web searches, browsing habits, and the devices that
you use to connect to the Internet. Information, stored as cookies by your
browser are used to create a profile that can include your likely age, sex and
lifestyle. You can see how much it knows, or thinks it knows, by going to
Google Ad Preferences at: http://goo.gl/fuiu3.
Specific information, such as your name and birthday, which is used to generate
that personalised birthday ‘doodle’, would normally have been provided by you
when you sign up to a Google service, so how it happened in your case is a bit
of a mystery.
One possibility is that someone has created a
Google Account in your name as a prank, to hide their own identity or for more
nefarious purposes. It is not difficult to do, nor is your birthday a state
secret and if you believe someone has set up a fake account you can report it
Otherwise you may have signed up without
realising or simply forgot all about it. This is also easily done. Google owns
or controls dozens of products and services. In addition to GMail there is
iGoogle, Buzz, AdSense, Google Drive, Picasa Web Folders, Google Voice and You
Tube. You will also have set up an account if you have an Android smartphone or
tablet. To find out if Google knows you go to the Accounts page (http://goo.gl/9Pbjq) enter your email address
and any commonly used passwords. If it doesn’t sign you in follow through on
the forgotten password or username links. If it transpires that you have a
forgotten account you can delete it, change your settings and review the stored
information through Google Takeout (http://goo.gl/2vLlr),
which compiles a downloadable file detailing all of the services that have
access to your data.
I have an iPad 3 on which I have Sky Go and Sky
Sports and these can be watched readily on the tablet’s screen. However when I
connect the iPad directly to my TV using an HDMI cable or via Apple TV, which
is also connects to the TV by an HDMI lead, there is no picture. What is going
Warren Starr, by email
According to Sky its decision to disable the
HDMI output on the iPad when using the Sky Go app is due to contractual
agreements imposed by rights holders. Interestingly this only affects iPad
users; the Sky Go HDMI output works perfectly well on other portable devices,
such as laptops, but only because there is no way for Sky to switch it off.
Various workarounds have been suggested but they all involve Jailbreaking the
iPad, and installing unapproved apps that circumvent Sky Go’s jailbreak
detector and enable the HDMI output. This requires a fair amount of faffing
around, some risk of damaging the iPad, and it invalidates the warranty, so on
balance it’s probably not a good idea.
Baffling Bits and Bytes
I am confused by jargon! A recent test of my BT broadband download
speed is stated to be 2.78 Mbps. Is this megabits or megabytes per second, as I
believe there are 8 bits to a Byte? I am sure there must be many other confused
users out here.
John Robinson, by email
The various ways units of computer data can be
expressed, the lack of consistency and marketing shenanigans puzzles a lot of
people, but here is a quick explanation. The speed at which data moves from one
place to another and over the Internet is fairly straightforward and measured
in bits per second. Bits are represented by a lowercase b, so for example, the
average broadband download speed in the UK is currently 6.3 million bits per
second or 6.2Mb/s.
When we refer to quantities of data, the
capacity of a hard drive or memory card, for instance, we talk about bytes, and
you say there are 8 bits to a byte, and this is denoted by an uppercase B. Thus
a million bytes can be shortened to 1MB. Now this is where it gets a little
tricky. Due to compromises made in the early days of computing, to accommodate
the way the binary system works and make the most efficient use of memory devices,
there are actually 1024 bytes in a kilobyte, and 1048576 (1024 x 1024) bytes in
a megabyte. This results in some annoying discrepancies. Hard drive
manufacturers often use the standard decimal interpretation of mega (million)
and giga (billion) to specify drive capacities, so what they label as a 500GB
drive the computer reports as being only 465GB, or around 7 percent less.
Printing Pad Poser
I intend buying a 3G iPad but I don't have a
computer or broadband connection in my home at present. Can I print from the
iPad to an AirPrint Compatible wireless printer, or do I have to have Wi-Fi?
Norman Reid, by email
I have come across reports of it working with
AirPrint compatible printers that also have a feature called Wi-Fi Direct. This
enables Ad-Hoc network wireless connections to devices like the iPad. I also
found a reference to setting up a peer-to-peer network connection to a
supported printer but this requires a PC for configuration. It seems to be
possible, but it is a palaver and depends heavily on the make and model of
printer so if you can, get a broadband connection. It could even save you
money, depending on the 3G data plan you choose or if you go for the cheaper
Wi-Fi only iPad. .
© R. Maybury 2013 0403