Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 257 18/05/13


Tackling Tablets

Please excuse me if this enquiry sounds stupid. I have a PC and a rather old laptop and I have decided to treat myself to either an iPad or Google Nexus 10. I anticipate using it for photos, Internet, emails and possibly catch-up TV. I’ve been advised to go for a 32gb model, but my question is, can I buy a cheaper 16gb version and upgrade via a SIM card or is this just for when it is linked to a smartphone?  And what about the Cloud; will I be able to store my photos up there?

Penny Smith, by email


These are entirely sensible questions, the market is awash with tablet PCs and it is becoming a nightmare for newbies, but as far as your intended uses are concerned most models will do everything that you want, and plenty more besides. On the question of storage space, the internal memory of iPads and most Android and Windows tablets cannot be upgraded. It’s not a huge problem though, and a growing number of models (though not the iPad or Nexus 10) have expansion slots for full size and micro SD memory cards. Also, one way or another, most tablets can be connected to USB memory sticks. By the way, SIM cards are used to connect suitably equipped 3G/4G tablets to mobile phone networks and the tiny amount of memory they have is only used for contact lists, address books and so on.


Computer memory is cheap and generally speaking you can never have enough of it but tablet PC manufacturers are milking the market with disproportionate price differentials. However, 16gb could be more than sufficient for your needs. For example, if you have a 12-megapixel camera, at the highest resolution setting your photos will be around 2.5mb in size so you would have enough room to store more than 6,000 pictures. You can supplement this with external USB or SD flash memory (the latter by using a USB card reader on models that do not have a SD slot.


Cloud Storage is an option on all devices but you have to read the small print carefully to work out how much it is going to cost. The free space allocation, which is typically between 5 and 10gb won’t go very far if you want to store large photo libraries. It is also worth pointing out that you will only be able to access your images in the Cloud when you are connected to a mobile broadband or wireless network, which can also bump up the costs. 



Gmail Grumble

I use Google gmail and recently a new version appeared, which I found confusing. There was provision to revert to the old format but it would not let me do so and I had to wait for my neighbour to come home to help out. I find this infuriating and there is no phone number to contact these people.

J Toplis, by email


It is a little unrealistic to expect a service like Gmail not to change from time to time, as new features and options are added; some of them are actually quite useful. Bear in mind also that Gmail is free (well, supported by advertising…) but this means they can do pretty much what they like. The chances of you speaking to a real person on this matter are frankly small to non-existent. To be fair Google does invite online feedback and comment, and have been known to respond to user suggestions. You can add your two-penneth to the debate through the gmail Suggestion box at:, and there are plenty of online forums, including its own Community Help Forum ( This is a good place to air your grievances, seek help from other users; you may even hear from a Google insider, they monitor the conversations and frequently chip in with advice. If you want to avoid changes like this in future then you are better off using your ISP’s email services and a traditional email client (many of them can also pick up your gmail messages). There’s a list of popular free email programs with download links at:



Painted Into A Corner

In error I made Paint on our Windows 7 PC the default program and now it opens, even when viewing photos from emails, and everything else I try to do with pictures. How can I either stop or turn off the default action or just make it appear when I want it to?

William Jaques, by email


Go to the Start button and select Default Programs. Click  ‘Set your default program’ and if your preferred image viewing or editing program is on the list, select it and click ‘Set as default’. If it isn’t there click ‘Associate a file type…’ scroll down the list to find the image format you use most often (usually jpeg), click Change Program and select the program that you want to use, or click the Browse button if it is not displayed.



Safe To Disconnect?

I have a HP notebook and when not in use I turn it off, but not at the mains. I assume that the device is still using electricity but I have no idea of how much. If I turn it off at the mains each night am I likely to damage it?

Michael Clark, by email


Don’t worry, laptops and notebooks are designed to operate independently of their mains chargers and it is perfectly safe, and good practice, to unplug them when not in use. Laptops do consume very small amounts of power when in Sleep or Hibernation modes, but the battery easily meets this modest demand, and depending on its state of charge and condition should keep it supplied for days or weeks on end. Even if goes completely flat it will still boot up as normal when reconnected to the charger. 


© R. Maybury 2013 2904

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