Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 286 07/12/13


Router Off The Rails

My husband has owned a Kindle for about 15 months and up until a few weeks ago there were no issues. However he is now finding that the device will not stay connected to our router. He has tried changing the channel on the router among other things but all without success. I would add that a smart TV that we have owned for about 2 years also refuses to connect at times which is also a new development. I have a 5 year old laptop which continues to stay connected via Wi-Fi. We are totally perplexed. I am anxious about this issue because I would like to buy a small tablet but am afraid that it too will exhibit connection problems. Can you offer us any advice?

J Foreman, by email


Since this happened suddenly and affects several devices, it points to a problem with the router. A hardware fault is a possibility but first, try a full factory reset. Routers can become tired and confused after a year or more of constant use and a reset clears the cache memories and wipes settings that may have drifted, changed or become corrupted. It appears that you know your way around your router’s set up menu so you should know how to carry out the reset, but before you do, backup the current configuration. If it has a built-in backup facility use that or take screen shots of the menus. This is also a good opportunity to strengthen your router’s security by creating a new, long WPA passkey and, if your router has the facility, set up MAC address filtering, to restrict access to the Internet and your network to nominated devices.  



Intermittent Inkjet

I have an inkjet printer that I use very infrequently, say a couple of pages every 4 months or so. Due to the fact that it is so rarely used the print heads always need cleaning before use and I think that the ink also dries up. This means that I have to buy new cartridges often and makes the cost of printing too expensive.  Can you please advise what would be a better printer to make things more economical?

R Piper, by email


One way or another all inkjets suffer from this problem and the easiest way to avoid it is to print off a few lines of text and a small, simple colour graphic every couple of weeks. On printers where the print head is integral with the cartridge (most HP models for example), if you know you are not going to be using it for a while simply remove the cartridges, refit the protective covers and pop them into an airtight zip-lock bag until you need to use it. If you mainly use your printer for documents then you may be better off with a low cost laser printer, prices start at under £50 online. Print quality is generally better than inkjet, they can be cheaper to run and there are no problems with dried out print heads.



Is Virgin Getting >PERSonal?

My mobile phone provider is Virgin. When ever I go abroad I get Pers messages several times a day, telling me to delete them. What are Pers messages and how can I stop them?

Dee Alton, Yorkshire


It does sound a bit weird but it is nothing to worry about and you can safely ignore or delete these messages or they will disappear of their own accord the next time you switch your phone on and off. This is an OTAP (over the air programming) text message sent by the network to make configuration changes to your phone. Specifically, the  ‘>pers’ message updates your voicemail box number when you are roaming overseas and using one of Virgin’s partner networks.  



Off The Grids

I am thinking about buying a tablet computer, but not an iPad. Do any Android tablets have a mapping system that does not need an Internet connection to function?

Mike Cox, by email


Yes, and many models have built-in GPS receivers that use their own map libraries, otherwise you can use a facility called offline mapping. The latter requires an Internet connection to download the maps of the area you plan to visit, before you set out on your journey. One of the easiest to use examples of offline mapping is included in Google Maps, which is pre-installed on many Android tablets, or free from Google Play. In version 6 and earlier simple display the map areas you want to use, tap the menu icon then ‘Make available offline’ and the map tiles shown are downloaded to your device. On version 7 the option can be found by tapping the Search box at the top of the screen. There are some limitations and without a live data connection the ability to zoom in and view fine detail is limited and you won’t be able to use it to navigate or select items of interest. There are a number of other free offline maps and GPS apps of varying quality, reliability and coverage in Google Play, so there is bound to be something to suit your needs.



Upgrading USB

My Windows XP Pro computer doesn't have USB3.0 capabilities. Is there a driver or some software that I could download and install to allow my USB2.0 connectors to connect to and read a strictly USB3.0 external hard disk which I've recently bought?

Alan B. W. Flowerday, by email


It can be done but this is primarily a hardware issue so a new driver is not going to help. Unfortunately it’s not exactly straightforward and the simplest and most reliable method depends on your PC motherboard having a vacant PCI Express slot, into which you fit a PCI to USB 3.0 adaptor card, these cost around £30.00 if purchased online.



© R. Maybury 2013 1811

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