Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 259 01/06/13


Instructions and Safer Surfing

I have recently been given an iPad 2. Using it gives me a lot of pleasure and my only criticism is the absence of any form of instruction manual. Apart from that my main concern is regarding security. I do my banking and quite a bit of shopping online on my Windows 7 desktop PC, which is fully protected, and wonder how I can achieve the same level of protection on my iPad?
Derek Elliott, by email


IPads are famously easy to use and I dare say that you will have picked up most of the basics simply by playing with it, but if you fancy a little light reading then open Safari browser, pop along to:, and download the iPad User Guide from the Apple Support website. If you have a specific question or problem just Google it in plain English and you can be reasonably sure of finding the answer in the first few hits.


You need not worry about spyware, malware or hackers getting at your personal information but loss or theft of your device is a real concern. Everything stored on the iPad is encrypted but it is only lightly protected by the 4-digit passcode. The first thing to do is go to Settings > General > Passcode, set Simple Passcode to Off, re-enter your original passcode and you will be invited to set a much longer and stronger one. When that’s done go back to the Passcode Lock page and set Erase Data to on. This automatically deletes your data if more than ten attempts are made to enter an incorrect passcode. While you are at it go to Require Passcode and change it from immediately to 15 minutes, say. That should keep your personal data fairly safe but you may want to add further layers of protection, especially if you use it when you are out and about. If so you can install apps that make surfing safer by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), to encrypt your connection when using potentially unsafe public Wi-FI hotspots, and remotely wipe the memory if your iPad is stolen. There is more useful advice in Macworld article 1160313 at:



Rebellious Reader

I am using Windows 7 on my PC and I have an on-line account with EON. Suddenly, I am unable to get the account on-screen, nor print it out. The system says, ‘It appears you don’t have a PDF plug-in for this browser’.  What does this mean?

Ken Boaler, by email


It usually points to a problem with Adobe Reader. Life is too short to try and sort it out and usually the easiest thing to do is uninstall it and replace it with another pdf reader. I suggest Foxit; it is free, fast and generally a lot less troublesome. You will find a link to the download at:



Sunny Delight?

Since having solar panels installed a few weeks ago, my electricity meter has gone into reverse. I took this to indicate that my panels were producing more electricity than I was using and I would eventually receive a payment for the surplus electricity I am generating. However, having consulted the Internet, I find that many others are totally baffled. My meter is now reading considerably lower than it was a few weeks ago but the new meter installed when my solar panels were commissioned, is operating as one might expect. How will my supplier know exactly what to charge?

John Maddison, by email


This happens on older analogue electricity supply meters with a spinning disc, which run backwards whenever your panels generate more electricity that you are using. It produces a completely false reading and you run a very real risk of eventually receiving a large and unwelcome estimated bill, so notify your electricity supplier immediately. In theory your old supply meter should have been replaced with a modern digital type as soon your system was operational but in some power companies the departments responsible for issuing bills and managing payments for the Feed In Tariff (FIT) operate independently and apparently do not always talk to one another. It was also remiss of your solar panel installer not to have carried out a follow up check to make sure the correct meter had been installed. On the plus side it sounds as though the new generation meter, which measures how much power is being fed back to the grid, is working properly and the readings that you provide to your supplier will be used to calculate your quarterly FIT payments. Patience is a virtue though, and new solar system owners often find that it can take six months or more for the two processes, of you paying for the electricity that you use, and the FIT payments, to settle down.



In Search Of The Lost Contacts

I lost my Outlook Express contact list when my previous computer went US earlier this year. I have managed to retrieve documents and photos from old computer, but there is no sign of Outlook Express. Is it possible somehow to find these addresses somewhere in the ether. If so, please advise the procedure to so do.

Arthur Howlett, by email


Outlook Express contacts are stored locally on your computer in a .wab (windows address book) file. Providing data on the old hard drive is still accessible, either via the PC or by removing it and fitting it into a USB ‘dock’ or ‘caddy’ plugged into your new PC, you will find it in: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book. Copy the .wab file to a location on your new PC’s hard drive and use the Import function on your email program to open and transfer the contents. If the email program doesn’t recognise .wab files you can still open it in Windows 7 and 8 using the Contacts utility (type Contacts in Search on the Start menu). Open the .wab file using the Import drop-down menu and use the Export function (also on the Import menu) to convert it to a .csv (comma separated value) text file, which is recognised by virtually all email programs.




© R. Maybury 2013 1305


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