Ask Rick Maybury 2013



Ask Rick 289 28/12/13


3G Broadband Booster

Last week, in reply to question about poor mobile phone coverage, you suggested that little could be done, aside from changing the handset to a model with better performance. I have another suggestion, when I had this problem, my phone provider, Vodafone, suggested that I purchase a gadget called SureSignal. This plugs into my broadband router and a mains socket and provides localised 3G coverage in and around my home. Maybe this would help your reader?

Chris Monroe, by email


Thanks to you, and the other readers who reminded me about SureSignal ( and the EE version, called SignalBox ( These devices first started appearing about a year ago and initially they were only available to business users. First generation models had a reputation for not being very effective and they were quite expensive, at around £100. However, recent reports indicate that the performance of the latest models has improved; the price is still the same, though several users suggested that complaining to their network operators about poor or non-existent coverage, or threatening to switch to another provider, has resulted in a substantial discounts. Bear in mind that they depend on a reasonably fast broadband connection of at least 4.5Mbps otherwise they may not work, calls can be dropped or the quality is unacceptably poor. This can also happen if other members of the family are using the Internet connection for large downloads or media streaming. The range is typically around 15 to 20 metres from the unit and there may be compatibility problems with some phones, so check with your provider first. You will still have to pay your normal call charges and if you are on a capped broadband tariff, keep an eye on your data usage as making or receiving too many calls could prove expensive if you exceed your limit.



Router Advice Worth Repeating

Some time ago you fielded an enquiry from a reader with lousy wireless reception in distant parts of a large Victorian brick built house. He asked if his spare wireless router could be reconfigured to act as a repeater. You said yes, provided he adjusted the settings. I am faced with the same problem and owning two spare routers, set out to follow your wise words. Alas, neither of my routers, a Netgear N300 and Netgear Rangemax, have any visible settings buttons. I have tried connecting them to a phone outlet and that didn't work. I brought in the village's computer genius, who said she would research the problem but later reported that she could find nothing online. Please enlighten me.

Gerald Williams, by email


It may be time to find a new genius, as this is a well-known and relatively straightforward procedure. The lack of buttons is also easily explained and virtually all wireless modem-routers use on-screen setup and configuration menus that are accessed through the web browser on your PC. Normally all you have to do is type in the router’s IP address then enter a username and password to display the menu. These details should be in the router’s instructions and sometimes on a sticker on the underside. Otherwise they can be found in the support section of the manufacturer’s web site. Once you have logged into the router’s menu, and before you do anything else, it is a good idea to change the default username and password settings. This is a very worthwhile security measure and it also helps to familiarise you with the menu system. The changes that you need to make to turn the router into a repeater vary from one make and model to another but you can easily find them online by Googling the routers make and model number, followed by the word ‘repeater’. To get you started the instruction for the Netgear N300 can be found at:, and for the Rangemax model, go to:



Friendly Face Off

My wife and I are not the brightest of individuals when it comes to IT, but we manage. One of our relations spends hours every day on Facebook putting up pictures of dogs and cats with inane comments. She is also a vegetarian and desperately trying to convert the world to her way of thinking. We have reached saturation point.  How can we unfriend her without her knowing what we have done, and avoid upsetting her partner?

J. W., by email


There are ways and means of hiding or limiting unwanted posts through the Facebook Privacy Settings menu, without the sender knowing, or causing offence. Have a look at the easy to follow guide on the WikiHow website at:



Laptop Lock Out

My wife is unable to log on to her Windows 7 laptop. After entering the password, a message appears: User profile service failed… cannot be loaded. An expert advised pressing F8 before the welcome logo appears, but after trying at least 20 times I am no further ahead. My wife is the only person authorised to use her laptop, and there doesn’t seem to be any other way to logon.

Peter Bishop, by email


Pressing F8 to display the Boot Options Menu is a good first step, but it would have been even more helpful if your expert had explained it better, and what to do next. If this menu doesn’t appear don’t worry, restart the computer and try again but this time tap the F8 key repeatedly as soon as the initial startup screen disappears. When it shows use the cursor key to select the Safe Mode option, and enter your logon password. You may be lucky and it boots into Safe Mode, in which case wait for it to finish, exit Safe Mode and it should then boot normally. If that doesn’t work then things get a little more complicated but there is still hope. Work through the options in Microsoft Support article 947215 at: If you still can’t get in then there are some more drastic solutions to try on the Sevenforums website at:, though at this point it may be wise to seek expert assistance



© R. Maybury 2013 0912

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