Ask Rick Maybury 2013

  

 

Ask Rick 265 13/07/13

 

West Country Woes

We have a holiday cottage in Cornwall and with no phone connection. We have no plans to have one installed, as we are not there very often. I bought an O2 wireless hotspot module for mobile Internet access but the signal at the cottage is very weak so it is largely unusable. It works well elsewhere, though. Is there anything I can do to amplify the phone signal? O2 have been no help.

Trevor Pepper, buy email

 

Mobile phone repeaters are available but they are illegal to use in the UK and with the threat of a fine of £5,000 and up to 51 weeks imprisonment I strongly advise against it. It appears that 02 has no plans to improve coverage in your location, however, it may be possible to use one of the other mobile phone networks. Ask friends and neighbours to try their phones at your cottage. If they get a decent signal find out which network they are using and get your hotspot device unlocked. This will let you use any network; you can test the connection with a pay as you go (PAYG) SIM card, though you may want to sign up to a contract tariff if you plan on downloading a lot of data. Unlocking usually costs around £5 to £15, it only take a few minutes and can be carried out online or in many high street mobile phone accessory shops. 

 

 

Talking Telly

Something weird has happened to our digital television since my husband retuned it a few weeks ago, following an on-screen message. He carried out the same procedure a year ago, without incident but this time we get a running commentary on most programmes. On the last episode of Coast, after the retune, a woman's voice tells us what is happening, ‘Nick is now walking along the deck’. We can see all of this so we don't need to be told. Why has it suddenly happened? 

Mrs A D Burrell, by email

 

It is called Audio Description (AD) and it is a free service for blind and partially sighted viewers, available on many digital TVs, set top boxes and DVRs. How it was enabled on your TV is a mystery and without knowing the make and model of your TV I am unable to tell you how to switch it off but the option can usually be found in the audio settings section of the setup menu. For those who want to know more about AD pop along to the RNIB website at: http://goo.gl/YYm1z.

 

 

Paperwhite Powersapper

I was given a Kindle Paperwhite at Christmas. It failed to hold a charge for very long. According to the adverts this latest Kindle's battery is supposed to last for up to eight weeks. I queried this with Amazon and was sent a replacement without any fuss. The latest one has not proved to be any more reliable. I fully charged the battery then left it aside having taken precautions to save power, including turning the wireless off. Three weeks later (not having read anything on it) there was only a thin line left showing on the battery scale. Am I being unrealistic in expecting better?

H. McInnes, by emails

 

Like car manufacturer’s fuel consumption figures, Amazon’s battery life claims are based on idealised usage patterns that may not necessarily reflect real world conditions, but I would have expected it to show more signs of life after three weeks of inactivity. However, it is not unusual for battery consumption to be temporarily higher on new Kindles, especially if you have a large number of books. This is due to indexing, and you may find that subsequent charges last longer. It can also get stuck indexing a corrupt book file. One way to test this is to search for a non existent word (enter some random characters into the Search box); it will tell you that it can’t be found, along with a list of the books that are being indexed. Repeat this a day or so later and if you find the same book is still listed remove it from the Kindle and see if that makes a difference to battery performance.

 

 

Sizing Up Windows

I have a new laptop, which is slightly smaller than my previous one. I'm finding it difficult to read small print, especially if it faint. Is there a magnifier available that I could somehow place in front of the screen to enlarge the display? As it is reading details, especially on websites, is very stressful and gives me a headache.

C. Constantine, by email

 

Mounting a magnifying glass or even a lightweight lenticular lens in front of the screen is likely to give you an even bigger headache, but there is no need for such extreme measures. Your PC has a number of built-in features that can help to make it easier to use. But first, here is a quick tip for web surfing. Most browsers have a simple zoom facility; just hold down the Ctrl key and press ‘+’ or ‘-‘ to increase or decrease the size of the display. The rest of the visibility improving options in Windows 7 and 8 are grouped together in the Ease of Access Centre, in Control Panel. These include an on-screen magnifier, high-contrast colour schemes and options to increase the size of text on menus and icons. I suggest that experiment with them all to see which ones best suit your needs. However, the root of your problem is the small screen. If the purchase was recent one it may be worth talking to the retailer who sold the laptop. Ask them nicely if they would consider taking it back as you would like to upgrade to a model with a larger screen. This probably doesn’t apply to you by now but for future reference you are entitled to a full refund, no questions asked, if you change your mind and return the laptop – in good condition along with all of the accessories and packing, of course -- within 28 days of purchase.      

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© R. Maybury 2013 2406

 

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