Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 253 20/04/13


Public Liability?

I would like to make use of public Wi-Fi but I want to protect myself. What is your opinion of security programs like Hotspot Shield?

Tim Gibbons, by email


Hotspot Shield is a free Virtual Private Network or VPN service and instead of your PC linking directly to the Internet it goes via an encrypted connection, through to one of Hotspot Shield’s web-linked servers. This means that your data should be reasonably well protected, even if it passes through an insecure or fake wireless hotspot. Your IP address is also hidden behind the VPN server so in theory you are anonymous and can log onto websites that would otherwise block access because of your geographic location. However, as we know free lunches are few and far between. Hotspot Shield carries intrusive banner advertising and the companies behind are involved in the business of data mining. It slows down some computers; disabling it can be awkward and uninstallation may leave behind active components. The safest thing to do is assume that public Wi-Fi hotspots are insecure, so avoid using them for online banking or exchanging any personal or private data. VPN does create an additional layer of security but in general the paid-for services have fewer strings attached than the freebies.



Folder Printing

I have Windows 7 and use Microsoft Office and if I click on a folder I can scroll through the documents in alphabetical order. Is there any way I can print out a list of documents?

Marion Farrell, by email


Here’s a nifty little trick that works on any version of Windows and any list of files used by any program. All you need is the Firefox browser on your PC (free from Simply open Windows Explorer, drag and drop the folder icon onto the Firefox icon, it opens and displays the contents of the folder and you can print it out from Firefox’s File menu. 



Video Sharing

I can send emails and attach photos up to 25MB in size, but I would like to send some video clips, lasting around 2 or 3 minutes, from my photo files. How do I do it?  

Wallace Bowden, Denmead


If you want to share your videos with friends and family, say, who may be using a variety of PCs and devices, then the simplest and near universal solution is to upload them to YouTube. You should use the Private setting, so they can only be accessed through a web link that you email to selected recipients ( There are also plenty of free and paid for web and Cloud-based services that can send, host or stream your video files, including Skype (, SugarSync (, Vidstocloud ( and YouSendIt ( They all have their plusses and minuses but most of them have a free trial option so try a few, to see which of them best suit the size and file format of your videos.



Remote Roofing

I frequently have to drive hundreds of miles to inspect roof failures. Is it feasible for a local roofer to send video images to me and save me the journey and the clients my costs? What kit would be needed?

Terry Hughes, by email


Assuming that the remote roofer probably doesn’t want to lug lots of equipment and trailing wires around with them, then the simplest solution would be to use a smartphone or tablet PC to stream live video using a messaging app. The choice of app largely depends on the device used to capture the images and the PC or equipment you’ll be using to view the pictures but if, as seems likely, it is going to involve a mixture of devices (Android or iOS device connecting to a Windows, Mac or tablet PC etc.), then your best bet is Skype. If everyone is using recent Apple products (iPhone, iPad, Mac PC etc.) then FaceTime would be your first choice.



Preaching To The Converter

Our Rector, who in his own words is a ‘dinosaur’ when it comes to technical matters, writes his sermons in cursive handwriting.  It would be good to produce this in printed form, either on paper or for our church website, but no one really wants to spend ages typing the text having already lived through the real thing.  Is there any software that might help us?

Nigel Lucas, by email


The optical character recognition (OCR) software supplied with many scanners is next to useless with handwriting, no matter how neat it is, but there is another option. All you need is a microphone a PC and a text to speech program like Dragon Naturally Speaking. If you can tap into the pulpit microphone you could do it as it happens, otherwise you, or the rector, will have to go through a repeat performance.



iPod Battery Blues

My 4-year old iPod Nano does not keep its battery charge for long. Even when not used at all it is flat in a few days. I use it when away skiing for outdoor skating and when in my caravan. Do you have any tips for increasing running times?

Carol West, by email


The lithium ion battery in your Nano is rapidly approaching the end of its useful life and it is not unusual for them to lose up to 50 percent of their original capacity after four or five years constant use. Even when new this type of battery has reduced capacity in cold conditions. At this point I usually suggest that if you have a modicum of DIY skills, you can make significant savings by replacing the battery yourself, but not this time,  iPod Nanos are fiendishly difficult to work on.


You could be in luck if you have a first generation Nano and qualify for a free replacement. There was a manufacturing defect on some batteries used in this model that caused them to overheat; there are more details at: Otherwise Apple’s official battery replacement service (don’t forget to backup your library) will set you back around £46.00. High street repairers are usually cheaper but you run the risk that they could fit an inferior quality battery and you will be no better off, or damage your player. In short, it may be time to start saving for a replacement. 


© R. Maybury 2013 0104

Search PCTopTips 



Digital Life Index











Top Tips Index

Smartphones Tablets & ebooks

Windows 8

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

Internet, Email & Network

Word Processing & Office

Folders, Files & Backup

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy Security & Environment

Imaging, Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities


Display & screen

Fun & Games








 Copyright 2006-2013 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.