Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 261 15/06/13


Galaxy Quest

I have recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy 7-inch tablet and wonder if it is possible to change the keyboard? I would also like to get rid of predictive text as I find it makes it difficult to compose messages. Finally, is there any way of installing an app on this device so that in the event of it being stolen, it can be traced?

Eric Eagle, by email


Yes to everything. There are dozens of alternative keyboards for this and other Android smartphones and tablets. The only problem is the way we use touch screen keyboards and the functions that we need or use most often vary enormously from one person to the next. All I can suggest is that you try a few of the top rated ones listed on Google Play; most of them are either free or have free trials. As always, read the reviews and comments first, and before you agree to the installation check through the Permissions as some apps can take liberties with your personal information. The off switch for predictive text can be found in Settings > Language and Input. Tap the icon in the right hand pane next to the selected keyboard then Advanced Settings and deselect predictive text (Next Word Prediction on other Android devices).


Again you are spoilt for choice with Android tracking apps but one does stand out and that is Avast Free Mobile Security. In addition to a number of useful antivirus and malware features it includes device tracking and remote control options for sounding an alarm and wiping, resetting, monitoring or locking the device from a PC if it goes walkabout. As the name implies it is free and you will find it on Google Play.



Pass The Password

I recently installed Windows 7 on one of my computers and every time it starts it requires a password to complete the boot up. Is there any way to cancel this requirement?

Albert Purcell, by email


Although the Windows logon password provides only minimal security it is still a useful first line of defence against unauthorised access. If you are the only user and the PC is otherwise secure, you can bypass it by going to Control Panel > User Accounts. Under Make Changes To You Account click Remove your Password, enter your current password, follow the prompts to restart machine and it will now boot directly to the Windows desktop. 



Earthly Concerns

I have had Google Earth on my Sony laptop for some time and it used to work correctly, until recently. Now when I try to run it, I get a message saying my graphics card is not compatible and I should ensure that I have the latest version of DirectX installed. I do, and I have also downloaded the latest driver for my graphics card, but the problem remains.

Dietrich Koelling, by email


Google Earth graphics problems are many, various and frequently mysterious and you have covered the basics by installing the most recent drivers. I would also add uninstalling and reloading the program to the list, if you haven’t already done so. There are a couple of other things to try. If the message appears when GE starts, a file called myplaces.kml, which contains your personal settings, may be corrupt. Check this theory by backing it up then deleting the file, which in XP you will find it in C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Google\GoogleEarth, (in W7/8 the file location is C:\users\<yourname>\AppData\LocalLow\Google\GoogleEarth). If all else fails try switching to OpenGL mode; you will find listed under Tools > Options, on the 3D View tab.  



Double Fronted Windows

It is a long story but I have ended up with two versions of XP, Home and Professional, on my Dell Dimension PC. I have tried to delete one but the PC will not allow it. Can you advise how I can achieve removal?

John Murphy, by email


Without knowing a lot more about how the unwanted installation happened, and precisely where on the hard drive the files are located I am reluctant to go into details, just in case something goes horribly wrong and you end up zapping both systems. If the version of Windows that you want to use is working normally, and your PC is behaving itself then I would leave well alone. You can easily hide the unwanted version of Windows at boot up by editing a small file called boot.ini. It is not difficult and there is a helpful Knowledgebase article on the Microsoft support website at:



Speeding Fine

I have recently transferred to a new service provider and now have fibre optic broadband. During the initial setup period the connection regularly achieved 36-37 Mbps download speed out of a maximum of 40 mbps. After that the speed fell sometimes as low as 13 Mbps. My provider suggested that my home setup might need some adjustment. Is there any reason why download speeds have reduced by more than 50 percent if nothing has been changed with the router or the setup in my house?

David Carpenter, by email


This is not unusual and it is possible you have fallen prey to your provider’s traffic management systems. They can swing into action and limit speed at certain times of the day, typically between 16.00 and 23.00 on weekdays and from 12 to 23.00 at weekends. The idea is it helps them to distribute capacity more evenly at peak times, when more users are likely to be streaming media and downloading large files. It can also happen if you have a capped service or are close to your data allowance; some providers also throttle speeds with certain classes of data, notably from peer-to-peer file sharing websites. Suffice it to say that some ‘uncapped’ and ‘unlimited’ services can actually have quite stringent conditions attached to them and it pays to read the small print in your provider’s Fair Usage Policy (FUP), before you sign on the dotted line, especially if you are a heavy Internet user.




© R. Maybury 2013 2705


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.