Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 282 09/11/13


Image Problem

A potentially damaging photo of my 16-year old son has been uploaded to the web via YouTube account. A ‘friend’ thoughtfully did this for a laugh, having presumably having got hold of his password. The image was very soon on Google where it remains. Although he has tried, his attempts to remove it have all been in vain. Can you explain the correct procedure to follow and once our request is made, how long we should expect to wait for the image to be deleted?

V K, by email


Google Search and Images trawls the web, looking for photos, which it catalogues and displays on its pages. Once the original image has been removed from YouTube references to it will eventually disappear, though this can take a couple of weeks, possibly longer. However, if it also appears on other websites you should contact whoever is responsible and ask them to remove it, but again, even if they comply it still takes a while for Google to update its databases. If you have legal, copyright or other compelling concerns there are steps that you can take to speed up the removal process and there is a helpful video and links to various tools at: You should also check the other major search engines and their support pages for advice on how to remove links and photos. This should be a timely reminder to parents, to warn their offspring to protect their passwords and PINs, and that in the digital age, embarrassing and unwise photographs may never go away! 



Starter, Off The Menu

My 20 month-old Acer PC came with Office Starter installed. Finding it adequate for my needs, and with the assurance from Microsoft's website that this was not a trial program, I used it happily, until recently. Without warning a Microsoft Update installed itself and the program was replaced by Microsoft Office 2010. I can no longer access my documents and when I try I see a message saying that I need to purchase Office 2010. What is going on; is Microsoft trying to blackmail me?

Sheila Reynolds, by email


Microsoft announced that it was phasing out the Office Starter Edition last year. This free, ad-supported edition of Office was meant to be a replacement for the elderly MS Works freebie bundled with many PCs, and a taster for the full Office suite. However, it wasn’t well received, relatively few users upgraded to paid-for Office and apparently there were problems with it running under Windows 8. Microsoft pledged that it would continue to work for the life of the PC it was installed on, and as far as I am aware it only stopped working if MS Office was ‘silently’ installed during a routine update or the operating system was upgraded to Windows 8. There are several ways to get Office Starter back and working on your computer and the first thing to try is uninstall the new version of Office from Control Panel. Another possibility is to re-associate .doc, docx , xls etc, files. Go to Default Programs in Control Panel and make sure that those files are set to ‘Always Open WIth…’ Microsoft Office Client Virtualisation Handler. If you don’t fancy messing around with programs on your PC you can install the excellent LibreOffice office suite, which is completely free and should be able to open all of your files, plus much more besides. There is a link to download at: Finally two drastic alternatives; either stump up for a copy of Office, or go through a full Windows recovery, which will probably wipe all of your files.



Steamy Windows

PCs are already becoming like relics form the age of steam and frustratingly slow compared with an iPhone. I can find what I want on my iPhone faster than it takes my PC’s browser to open; ditto Outlook for email and getting around generally, and both devices are working off the same router so it can’t be that. Can you comment or explain why Windows have become so yesterday?

Hugh Leggatt, by email


Smartphones and tablets are clearly very good at performing relatively undemanding tasks, like emailing, web browsing, playing media and so on. However, they only appear to be faster than desktop and laptop PCs as tablet browsers and email programs tend to be quite lightweight with fewer features; much of the heavy work is carried out by powerful computers on web, and because they are always on, or sleeping lightly, so there is no waiting for the operating system to load and configure itself. Faster and more powerful processors will undoubtedly extend their capabilities but it will be a while before they can manage the kind of intensive tasks that only traditional computers can handle. These include obvious things like high-end graphics and video editing, and tablets still have difficulty managing multiple running applications and even modest programs that rely on raw power, lots of working memory and abundant storage space. This will continue to be an issue for as long as magnetic disc-based memory remains significantly cheaper than its solid-state counterpart. Cloud storage and web based applications get around some of these shortcomings, but it is worth remembering that tablets and smartphones may lose up to ninety percent of their functionality if deprived of a fast broadband or network connection, and for those living or working at the end of a flaky phone line or in a mobile black spot, steam-powered PCs still have a future.



Folder Foibles

This may be an old chestnut but when opening folders in Windows 7 they are nearly always reduced size and necessitate opening to full size. Is there any way of preventing this permanently?

Alan J. Blackbourn, by email


Folders not remembering the size and position they were last opened used to be a problem in early versions of Windows but it was fixed in XP. However, for reasons best known to Microsoft, it dropped this useful feature in Windows 7, leaving it to third-party programmers to come up with solutions. The most comprehensive one is a utility called WindowManager (, which works with most programs and costs $10 to buy, though there is a free 30-day trial version. The freeware alternative is ShellFolderFix (, which also works well, but only on Windows folders.



© R. Maybury 2013 2110

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