Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 277 05/10/13


Mind Your Language

I have just installed Microsoft Office 2013 and to my horror it has come up in a different language. I know I selected English in the language choice box but it was only when the installation completed that the wording came up. I didn’t click the box because not sure what was being asked. I was hoping that the installation was not complete but I now have the Office icon with my other programs. Can I disable it and start again?

Ruth Cooper, Kettering


You are not alone and it seems to be far too easy to accidentally select the wrong language. This is a particular problem with laptops and the slightest brush of the touchpad can alter the setting without you noticing. Unfortunately once the installation has completed you are stuck with the selected language and the only solution is to contact Microsoft Support. According to reports from fellow suffers they either provide you with a new product key, and this is the preferred option, or they offer you a voucher for the English language pack. The problem with this method is that you need to be able to read the menus in your installed copy of Office in order to load the language pack, but once it is done everything switches to English.



Savings Advice

Having recently bought a new PC without a DVD drive I am coming to terms with buying and downloading software from the Internet, rather than buying it on DVD. In the event that something like a catastrophic hard drive failure results in the need to reinstall the software, what do I do if the vendor from whom I bought it no longer exists? Will the software manufacturer to recognise my original purchase?

Andrew Brazier, by email


To avoid this becoming a problem when downloading an application from the Internet always select the ‘Save’, rather than the ‘Install Now’ option. This ensures that a copy of the program’s installation files stored on your computer’s hard drive and it also reduces the chances of a failed installation if, for any reason the download is interrupted or corrupt. You should also include saved installation files in your regular backup routine. Ideally this will be on an external hard drive or recordable discs, rather than an internal slave drive or partition on your computer’s main drive. Always store your backups separately from your PC, preferably in another location, so they will be safe in the event the computer is stolen or destroyed in a fire, for example.  



Manual Override

I needed a simple free program to manage my photos and noticed that you suggested Photofiltre. I tried to download it but finished up having my browser taken over by something called Delta Search. It took a long time to get rid of it. It may have been my fault because I Googled Photofiltre rather then using the web site you mentioned. Should I try again? Or have you another suggestion?

Michael Finnis, by email


A lot of freeware applications, even when they are downloaded from recommended sources, may come laced with extra commercial programs, web browsers as well those much disliked toolbars. Unfortunately they are not going to go away and they help to fund the development of freeware programs, many of which, like Photofiltre, are every bit as good, and sometimes better than paid-for applications. To avoid unintentionally installing something that you did not ask for and may later regret, it is important to keep your wits about you. The golden rule when loading any item of software, free or otherwise, is never chose the ‘Quick’ or ‘Easy’ installation option. Always select Custom or Manual installation, read each screen carefully before clicking Next and make sure that you uncheck those offers to install anything that you do not want or need.


Code Breaker

I have a Sony Xperia Z, which has been a challenge for me. I can phone and text and muddle through on email but I want to be able to read barcodes and those little squares. I have found Settings > More > NFC but I have no idea how to make it all work. As you may have gathered I am new to this technology, but I do have a fair idea how to use a computer. 

Anne-Marie Montague, by email


It is not surprising, and entirely understandable that it can take a while for newcomers to get to grips with all of the new features and facilities on smartphones and tablets, so let us begin with reading barcodes. Nowadays they come in two varieties: original UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes; they are the familiar vertical lines of varying width and spacing; and QR or Quick Response codes, which are those square boxes, filled with a pattern of small blocks. In both cases they are captured by the smartphone or tablet’s camera and decoded by an app, which uses the phone’s Internet connection to identify the product or load a web page. On some phones you have to download a barcode reader app but one is pre-installed on the Xperia Z, called Neoreader. Just tap the Neoreader icon and point the camera at the barcode. The phone vibrates when it has been successfully read and it displays the search results or web page on the screen.


NFC or Near Field Communications is a very short-range (1 – 3 cm) wireless system. The phone uses it to communicate with or exchange data, such as contacts, media files and so on with other NFC compatible devices. It can also be used to make contactless payments, scan NFC tags in advertising hoardings and posters and in some parts of the world, pay for parking, tickets and travel on public transport. The NFC sensor on the Xperia Z is on the back of the case. This has to touch or be in very close contact with the NFC contact area on the device, tag or reader it is communicating with and the phone vibrates and plays a sound when the link has been established. 



© R. Maybury 2013 1609

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