Ask Rick 300 15/03/14
Never Too Old
Coding, or programming, is to be introduced
into the National Curriculum later this year. This is the foundation of all
that we see and do on the Internet, but it is a total mystery to me. Where can
I find simple but detailed teaching instructions for an absolute beginner?
Fred Parsons, by email
Good for you and hopefully you will quickly
discover that it is nowhere near as mysterious or difficult to grasp as you may
think. In fact you are already more than halfway there, simply by being able to
understand English, which is the basis of most computer code and common
programming languages. The web is awash with tutorials and instructional videos
but for a good basic grounding, which assumes no prior knowledge, I suggest
that you try Codeacademy (www.codecademy.com).
It is completely free and presented as a series of short, easy to follow
lessons. You can progress rapidly from the fundamentals to creating simple
games, web pages and applications. You are encouraged and rewarded along the
way with points and badges for completing exercises. If you see it through you
should be ready to tackle the slightly more challenging follow-on courses that
will lead you towards designing and building real world applications.
Desire For Smaller Bills
My HTC Desire smartphone costs have risen
hugely over the last month. I only make very limited use of text messaging and
maybe a couple of brief UK calls per month. I only upgraded to this phone to
get Bluetooth compatibility with my car. So what are the likely causes of the
cost increase and how do I correct it?
Is my phone is somehow, and unknown to me, connecting with the Internet,
which I do not need?
Alan Dundas, by email.
You should contact your network provider, ask
them to give you a breakdown of the bills and make sure that you are on the
most appropriate tariff. However, assuming that you are not making more phone
calls or sending text messages than usual then it is almost certainly due to
data charges. Your new phone and some of the applications installed on it are
busily accessing the Internet, downloading and uploading data, without you
doing anything. Unless you have set up your phone to check for emails then
these will be relatively small amounts of data, checking for updates,
establishing your location, displaying weather reports and so on, but it is
going on all of the time and soon adds up. To disable the data connection got
to the Settings menu then Wireless & Networks and uncheck Mobile Network.
You will still be able to use the phone and send text messages as normal and if
you want to use your smartphone to access the Internet you can still do so,
using a Wi-Fi connection. If you do through your home network or on a free
public wireless hotspot it will not cost you anything.
iTunes For The Privileged
I am unable to open iTunes and get the message
‘…cannot start because MSVCR80.dll is missing from your computer’. I have tried
reinstalling iTunes but it won’t let me. I have looked on the Internet and
there are lots of suggestions, including sites that say they can solve it for a
price. What is the safest way to get iTunes back?
This has been bothering a lot of iTunes users
recently and in most cases it is due to the program not being allowed by
Windows to install the necessary updates. The trick is to uninstall iTunes and
all of its components then re-install, giving it administrator privileges. If
you are unsure how to do this there are some step-by-step instructions in Apple
Knowledgebase article 5376 at http://goo.gl/5Shv67.
Doc Lock Block
I have lost the password to a long and
important Word document. Is there any way to get around this?
John Campin, by email
Yes, and it is worryingly easy, especially on
documents created on older versions of Word (2003 and earlier) A quick web
search reveals a very wide range of free and paid for programs and services
that claim to be able to unlock, decrypt or neutralise Word password
protection, which should come as a warning not to rely on this facility to keep
your documents safe from prying eyes! Rather than list the options have a look
at these articles on About.com (http://goo.gl/gNctR)
and TechRepublic (http://goo.gl/m5JnZF),
which review some of the most popular products. Be careful, though. You should
be reasonably safe with free and trial programs that reveal just the first two
or three characters of a password and hopefully this will be enough to jog your
memory, but you may want to think hard about giving your credit card details to
companies, which may be on the fringes of legality, and are in the business of
cracking security systems!
I have a problem with my laptop, which seems to
stem from Mozilla Firefox, which will now not work at all.
When I try to load it, I get the message
‘cannot load XPCOM’. I have tried uninstalling Firefox, and I have rebooting
the system without success.
John Wood, by email
XPCOM or Cross Platform Component Object Model,
and since you ask it is a library of files that lets Firefox access and
interact with various web services. Occasionally it stops working or becomes corrupted
and you have to carry out a clean reinstall. Step one, using Internet Explorer,
download, but do not install the latest version of Firefox. Next, uninstall
your current version of Firefox, and make sure that the option to remove your
personal data is unchecked otherwise you will loose your personal settings and
bookmarks. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Program Files and delete
the Mozilla Firefox folder. Finally, install the newly downloaded version of
Firefox. In the unlikely event that it does not work see this tutorial (http://goo.gl/FDY8lB) for removing all traces
of Firefox from your PC, before reinstalling.
© R. Maybury 2014 2402