Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 268 03/08/13


Hotel Hangups

I am writing to you from my hotel after a frustrating half hour, trying in vain to adjust the sound (too quiet) and picture (too dark and colour too high) on the Philips flat screen TV in my room. I am a frequent traveller and I would say that eight out of ten hotel TVs are unwatchable and unadjustable. Is it a conspiracy and is there a remedy? 

Michael Benson, by email


It is called Hotel Mode and many TVs have this hidden facility, which is designed to stop guests fiddling with picture and tuning controls, or turning up the volume and annoying fellow guests. Hotel mode can also inhibit the TV’s external inputs, so you cannot connect your video game, laptop or tablet to the TV to watch a movie or play games. The lack of adjustment would be okay if the TVs in question were properly set up in the first place, many are not and in my experience reception staff rarely know how to change settings. On the understanding that you promise not to have it too loud, and return the TV to its previous state when you leave, the trick is to Google the TV’s make and model number, followed by the words ‘hotel mode’. Nine times out of ten this finds the service code and instructions for disabling hotel model. For future reference on many recent Philips models press the following keys in rapid succession: 3-1-9-7-5-3-mute and this lets you to access the setup menus.



Trials and Errors

I have been using AVG Internet Security Software, free edition for some time. Recently a message appeared, asking me to click to update to the latest version. This turned out to be a 30-day trial for their subscription service costing £60 per year. Now, after the trial has finished my Internet security has been turned off and I keep getting pop-ups to subscribe. I can't find a way to return to the free version. Is there a way out of this?

Pete Worsley, by email


Obviously AVG would like you to subscribe to its paid-for products, but a lot of users have been caught out by this heavy-handed tactic, and it is not making many friends by complicating the exit from the 30-day trial. You can go back to the free version but the only way to do that is to completely remove all AVG software from your PC. Normal uninstallation methods can leave behind toolbars, scanners and services that will prevent re-installation of the free program. It is a lengthy process, though, and you will find all 14 steps listed on the WikiHow website at: Incidentally, if you want to try something else that is also free, just as effective, and won’t pester you to upgrade then pop over to Microsoft and download Security Essentials from:



Classical Conversion

When my old mp3 player died, I decided to upgrade my phone to a Samsung model so that I could download music onto it.  I have been using Samsung software to do this, which works well, except for classical music.  Whenever I try to rip a classical CD I see a message that the tracks failed to rip. Since the bulk of my collection is classical, it is a considerable disappointment. Why is there a difference between classical and pop CDs and how can I overcome it?

Myra Carter, by email


This sounds like the handiwork of DRM or Digital Rights Management, which is codes embedded in the data that is designed to prevent or control the copying and sharing of digital media, of all types and genres. I doubt that it is used more widely on classical recordings but it probably appears to be more prevalent due to the fact that the market is smaller and there are fewer record labels. There is plenty of advice and free software on the Internet for removing or bypassing DRM protection, however this is a legal grey area and almost certainly violates the CD product license as well as various UK and EU copyright laws and directives. There is a workaround, though, and a freeware program called mp3mymp3 ( makes digital recordings on your PC from the analogue outputs of CD and record players, cassette decks etc., and converts it directly into an mp3 file. There will be loss of quality, but depending on the performance of the source component and your headphones or earphones, it may be hardly noticeable.



Safety For Numbers

Recently you discussed the use of a password vault program to protect passwords and PIN numbers on a computer. I am using Windows 7 and I looked at a few programs but when I attempt to download Microsoft warns me that they are from 'an untrusted source'. Please advise and if possible can you recommend one that is both free and easy to use.

Mac Singleton, by email


The untrusted source warning message normally only applies to desktop gadgets, which have been found to contain vulnerabilities that could be used by hackers. Microsoft now recommends that the Windows Sidebar and gadgets is disabled (see Microsoft Security Advisory 2719662 But back to password vault software and there are plenty of programs to choose from, but as you want to keep things simple, and free, then have a look at KeePass ( and Password Safe (



Holiday Help

We were quite happy with Hotmail but like a lot of people have been updated to  We have just about got used to most of the changes, but do not know how to setup useful things, like the one that sends an automated message if you are away and on holiday, is this option still available?

Lesley and Tony Fernand, by email


Yes, it is and once you have logged on to your account go to Settings > More Mail Settings > Managing Your Account and there you will find ‘Sending automated vacation replies’, Click on it and it will take you through the setup process.




© R. Maybury 2013 1507


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