Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 263 28/06/13


Psions Of Change

I have a Psion 3c organiser; the case and hinges are breaking up but they are, after all, some 20 years old, and have served me well. Moving on, and the Apple iPad Mini seems like a good replacement. One point you may be able to help with; on the Psion I set an alarm, turn it off, close up and at the appropriate time it switches itself on, the alarm sounds and shows the message tapped in earlier. On the iPad there is a clock with alarm facility but it appears that it only works if the iPod is left switched on. Not good, I think. I never leave my mobile phone on, only when I use it; perhaps I live in another age?

James Gibson, Quorn, Leicestershire


There is no need to worry about battery consumption or anything wearing out. Devices like the iPad are designed to be always on, and even though it has an Off mode, it’s not really and a circuit monitoring the power button remains active. In normal use an iPad has two operational modes: On, when you are using it, and Standby or Sleep, when you are not. In the latter state there is a modest drain on the battery and functions like the clock, Wi-Fi, push notification and email fetching, built-in alarm and the numerous alarm apps that are available tick away in the background and it can remain in this mode for several weeks (depending on the condition and charge state of the battery). None of the electronic components in an iPad suffer from being constantly on and will generally last a lot longer than the typical 3 to 5 year working life of these devices, before they are replaced, though given your past record, I won’t be surprised to be hearing from you in 2033…



Defend Yourself

Windows Defender has been switched off on my new laptop pre-loaded with Windows 8. I understand this a common OEM ploy to promote their software. I have found no way to re-enable it. Can you help?

Peter Maine, by email


Those free trial and demo programs, unofficially dubbed ‘Cr*pware’, and included with many PCs, can be a real nuisance. One of the first things I do on a new Windows PC is install a free program called SlimComputer ( This helps you safely remove or disable the programs that you do not want – most of them, probably – including any security programs that may have switched off Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials. Once that’s done you can re-enable it by going to Control Panel > Windows Defender or simply type Defender into the Search box, click the Settings tab, check ‘Turn on real-time protection’ and click Save Changes.



Give Me Strength!

I have a Wi-Fi system but of late the signal seems to vary from low to good and excellent

On the low and good connection it fails to send or receive though I can access Internet pages

What I can do?

John Roberts, by email


Don’t read too much into signal strength meter readings but sudden and noticeable changes in Wi-Fi performance are often due to one of three things. The first and least likely is a fault with the router, or your wireless device, however this is fairly unusual and they normally either work, or they don’t. Some models benefit from a full reset, back to factory defaults every six months but only try this if you have saved your settings and know your way around your routers setup menu. Signal strength can be affected by moving the router, new metal structures like radiators, pipe work etc, or recently installed electrical or electronic appliances in the vicinity of the router (microwave oven, TV and so on). However, channel congestion is easily the biggest problem, due to neighbours Wi-Fi systems, other wireless devices (keyboards, mice, cordless telephones, central heating controls etc.). Changing the wireless channel often helps, and this is done through the router’s configuration menu, which you access through a browser on a PC or other device connected to your network. Details of how to do this along with your router’s IP address will be in the router’s instruction manual. The trick is to find an unused channel and the easy way to do that, if you have access to an Android smartphone or tablet, is a free app from Google Play, called Wi-Fi Analyzer. This has a graphical display showing all nearby networks, and the channels they are using. On a Windows PC or laptop try NetStumbler ( or Vistumbler ( if you are using Windows 7 or 8. Apple has restricted the use of Wi-Fi scanning apps on iOS devices though a version of WiFI Analyzer is available on jailbroken iPhones and iPads for 99 pence.



Time Out For DVD

How do I transfer the time and date stamp from a camcorder? When the camcorder is plugged into the TV, the corresponding time and date of the recording are shown on the bottom corner of the screen, which is great. However, when the same video is transferred to a PC to be burnt onto a DVD the all-important display is no longer visible. So how do I transfer it onto a DVD?

Harry Elmee, by email


A lot of people find a continuous time and date display distracting so why not just write the details on the disc, or, when editing the movie, insert a title line with the information at the start, or between sequences. The reason you are not seeing it on a digital PC transfer is because it is stored as invisible metadata within the datastream. The camcorder is able to decode and display it on its own screen and superimpose it on the analogue video output you see on your TV, but the way it is encoded varies according to make, model, recording format etc. Most general purpose video editing and DVD authoring programs are unable to process it, though software designed specifically for your make and model of camcorder may be able to. The only other way is to use an AV capture device to convert your camcorder’s analogue output to digital files on your PC and use that to create your DVD. The downside is that the picture quality won’t be as good as a DVD made using a digital transfer.




© R. Maybury 2013 1006


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.