Ask Rick Maybury 2013

  

 

Ask Rick 264 06/07/13

 

Plugging The Data Drain

Our current broadband contract has a limit of 10GB of data each month, which is generally reckoned to be sufficient for normal use. My three most recent monthly bills included additional charges for 20GB, 15GB and 20GB, over and above my 10Gb allowance. The ISP is unable, or unwilling to tell me what has caused this, or on which days it occurred. We do not use Skype or iPlayer, nor do we download videos or e-mail photos (except singly and occasionally).  We have been using a Cloud backup system since last July, but the sudden increase in usage significantly postdates this. The ISP offered to upgrade the account to unlimited use at reduced cost, but it doesn’t answer the question about what is behind the surge. Could it be due to Cloud backup, or has my Wi Fi been hijacked?

Mark and Kate Evans, by email

 

It is certainly possible that someone may have hacked into your Wi-Fi connection, though if your router’s WPA or WPA2 encryption is enabled it is quite difficult to do and nowhere near as common as many people seem to think. You can conduct a quick and simple check by switching off your PC, and any other devices linked to your wireless network, and monitor the activity lights on the router. It is normal for them to blink several times a minute, but constant flashing may indicate that someone is tapping into your network. To be on the safe side repeat the test at several times throughout the day. Even if there is nothing untoward you should still change the router’s passcode, especially if it is still on the default setting. See the instruction manual for details.

 

Cloud storage is a more likely candidate, though it is unusual for such a large and sudden increase in data throughput, unless you have recently changed your backup program’s settings. But rather than guessing, I suggest that you install a bandwidth monitor program on your computer. This will show you exactly how much data is flowing in and out of your PC, and when it is happening, which should help you to track down the cause. Try BitMeter II (http://goo.gl/mJhMI), which is a free Open Source utility for Windows. It logs data traffic and displays it graphically, minute by minute and over periods of hours, days or months and can be set to alert you when you are at or close to your data limit. There is also a version for Windows, Mac and Linux PCs called BitMeter OS (http://goo.gl/UYTN) that uses a web browser interface.

 

 

Bleak Outlook For Kindle

Motor homing around Europe we have used the Kindle keyboard edition's 3G facility to access the Internet. Last year Amazon imposed a monthly restriction. Now, even when I am within that limit, I find that it is impossible to log into Hotmail. Has this been blocked or is there an alternative login?

Brian J Picken, by email

 

Sadly this very handy feature was just too good to last and the monthly 50Mb data cap was inevitable after instructions for hacking into the e-reader’s free 3G connection appeared on the Internet. Needless to say there are no restrictions on downloading books from the Kindle store or accessing Wikipedia. However, the blame for this particular inconvenience lies with Microsoft, and the switch from Hotmail to Outlook.com. The new service logs on through a secure ‘https’ server, which the Kindle’s basic ‘experimental’ browser is not configured to use. You can still use Kindle to send and receive messages through gmail, though, but I suspect the reduced data allowance will not last very long.

 

 

Orange POP

My Children have just given me an iPad 4 for my birthday. I am really pleased with it but I cannot set up my Orange email address through the Mail app. I can of course still get it, as I used to on my PC via the web and on the iPad using Safari but I prefer the easier access and functionality of Mail. I have tried various combinations for IMAP and POP services but I can't seem to get it to work. Can you put me on the right track?

Roy Barton, by email

 

Orange, now part of EE, uses the POP3 email system for orange.net messaging on the iPad 4 Retina. The setup procedure is to go to Settings > Mail Contacts Calendars > Add Account > Other. Tap Add Mail Account, enter your name, username and password then tap Save. Check that POP is highlighted in blue at the top of the box and that your details have been entered correctly. By default the iPad enables SSL security, but Orange/EE doesn’t use it so tap Yes when it asks ‘Do you want to try setting up the account without SSL?’ and it should verify the settings. If it doesn’t work then the server port may have been wrongly set, so go to Email Settings and scroll down to Outgoing Mail Server. Tap smtp.orange.net, then the panel under Primary Server and make sure the Server Port is 587, if not change it. Tap Done and fingers crossed, it should work.

 

 

Tackle The Trackers

With Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 9, what should one do to improve Tracking Protection? If an external add-on is required, which do you recommend?

Brian Wilson, by email

 

Tracking Protection is a feature available in several popular browsers that attempts to stop websites and the third-party content they may contain, from sending information about your IP address and other sites you may subsequently visit. Microsoft have developed a test page at: http://goo.gl/Wg6Sw that checks whether or not this is available and enabled on your browser, and it works with IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. A link on the page lets you add Tracking Protection lists to IE9. For those using Windows 7 or 8 the feature is built into IE10 and turned on by going to Tools > Internet Options, Advanced tab and check the item ‘Always send Do Not Track header’.

 

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© R. Maybury 2013 1706

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