Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 290 04/01/14


Touchy Tablet

I have a tablet computer and need to enter a PIN to unlock it. Sometimes it is very, very slow to register the PIN, the screen remains stubbornly blank, and it can take a couple of minutes before the numbers are recognised and I can access the machine. No one else seems to have any problem with it. I am particularly prone to static electric shocks from my car and other machinery, so could it be something to do with me?

Pip Murphy, by email


The sensitivity of tablet touch screens does vary, and it can be affected by the dryness or thickness of the user’s skin, humidity and temperature, but it highly unlikely that this has anything to do with how long yours is taking to register an input. That, coupled with the fact that the problem appears to be intermittent, and other users are unaffected, suggests that there may be a fault.  If rebooting the tablet, or resetting it to its factory defaults does not help (but only after backing up your apps and data), then it needs expert attention.



Primary Concerns

Connecting my laptop to the TV with an HDMI cable I get very heavily saturated colours. They are much stronger than the picture on the laptop and deeper than the settings I have on the TV. What do I have to do to tone down the colours?

T Sandford, by email


This is normally due to differences in the way PCs and TVs process colour information and/or a mismatch between the computer’s video output and the TV. It can usually be fixed but be warned, there are a lot of things to fiddle with and you can get into a tangle, so only change one thing at a time and return it to its previous setting if an adjustment makes no difference. Start with the basics and see if you can get an acceptable picture using the TV’s picture controls (colour, contrast and brightness). It is also worth trying another HDMI socket as on some TVs they are configured differently. Some high end TVs have an advanced colour settings menu, if so try each option in turn but again, return to the default setting if there is no improvement. You are likely to have more luck with the PC, though, and with it connected it to the TV, right-click on the desktop. Hopefully there will be a Display Setting Wizard, Graphics Properties or Display Adaptor menu (the latter may be in the Windows Control Panel). Click to open then make sure that the TV has been identified and the resolution is set correctly (on most HD TVs this will be 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080). If there is an option to make adjustments automatically try it; follow the prompts and see if that helps. If not your graphics adaptor’s Properties menu should have manual adjustments for colour, brightness, contrast and gamma correction. Windows 7 and 8 also have their own video adjustments. They are not especially easy to use but if you want to give them a try right click the desktop select Screen Resolution > Advanced Settings > Color Management tab > Color Management button > Advanced tab.



Charity Calendar In The Cloud

A charity shop that I am involved with is staffed by about 60 volunteers each giving half a day of their time. We currently use a desk diary, relying on volunteers to mark off the shifts that they can do. Unfortunately gaps appear that the main organiser is not aware of resulting in the shop being closed. Nearly all volunteers are on line; is there a simple system that volunteers could log into to choose their half days, and could it be remotely visited by the organiser to check that the shop is being staffed?

Victor Ward, by email


There are a number of online calendars that fit the bill but I suggest you keep it simple, and free, with Google Calendar ( It is highly configurable, very easy to set up and manage. It can also be used to send reminders, notifications and invitations by email and everyone who has permission can access it on any web-connected device, including laptops, smartphones and tablets.



Current Affairs

I wanted to buy some Bluetooth speakers to play music from my iPhone and iPad when I was away from home, nothing fancy, just cheap and cheerful. I found what I was looking for, at the right price in a discount chain store and duly purchased them. Only when I got them home did I discover that they were American and, therefore, charging the integral batteries may be a problem. The speakers came with a 3.5mm jack to USB lead and the instructions state that the speakers can be charged from the USB socket on a computer or via a mains adaptor, but this would need to be 120V type. An adaptor was not included but the instructions state that it should have an input of 120V 60Hz and an output of 5V DC 1000mA. Is there a means for me to charge these speakers other than via a computer?

Guy Mathison, by email


I doubt that your speakers were made in America, although this was clearly the intended market, but it is not a problem. You can use any USB mains adaptor, rated at more than 1000mA (or 1 Amp), to charge your speaker’s batteries. You may even have one to hand in the shape of the charger that came with your iPad, though the ones supplied with fourth generation models can be a tad fussy when used to charge non-Apple devices. For future reference most USB chargers are designed to operate over a wide range of mains voltages, typically 120 – 230VAC 50/60 Hz, which means that they can be used almost anywhere in the world, but pay attention to the output current rating; if the device you are trying to charge draws a higher current than the charger can supply it may overheat, and it is not unknown for cheap of badly designed chargers to smoulder, and occasionally, burst into flames!



© R. Maybury 2014 1612

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