Ask Rick 310 24/05/14
Resisting Windows Charms
Is there any way of disabling the Charms Bar in
Windows 8? Its continual appearance is driving me mad.
Peter Lally, by email
You are not alone and a lot of W8 users find
the pop-up Charms Bar intensely irritating and largely superfluous, unless you
are using a touch screen. If you ever need it you can make appear using the
keyboard shortcut Winkey + C. It is relatively easy for Windows 8.1 users to
stop it showing when the mouse pointer strays into the top right hand corner of
the screen. Just right-click on the Taskbar, select Properties then the
Navigation tab and uncheck the first item ‘When I point to the upper right-hand
corner…’. There is a Registry hack that removes it completely in both Windows 8
and 8.1, but this for advanced users only. The safe alternative is a small
freeware utility called Winaero Charms Bar Killer, which you can download from http://goo.gl/DZdwWm.
Picasa has on many occasions duplicated and
triplicated my photos. I have thousands to go through. Is there a way I can
easily delete them?
Bob Neilans, by email
Picasa might not be directly responsible;
duplication is often due to photo editing software saving original unedited
files with the same name in a different location, or a digital camera photo
manager program repeatedly downloading images from a memory card. Picasa has an
option to display and delete duplicates that can help to speed up the process.
Go to Tools > Experimental and click Show Duplicate Files. Click to select
the ones that you want to get rid of (hold down the Ctrl key whilst clicking if
there are multiple copies), then right click and select Delete from Disk.
Camera To Card
Having recently purchased a Tesco Hudl and a
32GB Micro SD card. I cannot see a way in the Settings menu of saving pictures,
by default, to the memory card. The store assistant said that he thought it
might be possible but did not know how to do it.
David Shepherd, by email
Try an app called UPSafe Media Director. The
free version, from Google Play, lets you change just one default directory. The
Pro version, which costs just £1.17 has unlimited functionality, and no
I live in a fairly large house with no near
neighbours. I have supplemented my Netgear router with a few TP Link range
extenders but I still find that wireless reception is spasmodic in some areas.
Is there a more powerful router that would enable me to receive all over the
house and perhaps outside as well?
Rex Gascoyne, by email
The power output of consumer wireless routers
is limited, to avoid congestion and overcrowding, and whilst slightly more
powerful models are available they rarely make much difference. Part of the
problem is that wireless data flows in both directions, so whilst increasing
the router’s output means that the PCs receives a stronger signal, there is no
improvement in the strength of the return signal, from the PC to the router. Repeaters
or extenders can definitely help, but only if they are installed strategically,
and it also helps to use an external USB wireless adaptor on the PC or laptop,
preferably one with an external antenna. Relocating the router -- higher is
usually better -- and connecting it to a more efficient or directional antenna
can also improve coverage but to determine the best position you need a Wi-Fi
signal strength meter. If you have an Android smartphone there is an excellent
free app from Google Play, called Wi-Fi Analyzer. This quickly shows how
effective each change in location is, and helps to identify dead spots, where a
repeater can do the most good. Other things to check include accessing the
router’s setup menu to make sure that it is using the more efficient 802.11n
standard, and while you are at it, try switching wireless channels, (the Wi-Fi
Analyzer app will show you which channels are not being used). Finally, ensure
that there are no other wireless devices or noisy appliances close to the
router, causing interference or using the same frequencies. If so, move them as
far away as possible. The main culprits are cordless phones, keyboards and
mice, central heating thermostats or controllers, baby monitors, CFL and LED
lights and microwave ovens.
PC To TV Via USB?
Three years ago I bought an HP budget laptop,
which presumably explains the absence of an HDMI port. I would now like, if possible, to connect it
to my smart TV and have found a gizmo that claims to convert a USB port to
HDMI. The reviews are good but before committing to the expense I would be
grateful for your views.
Ronnie Cleave, by email
USB to HDMI adaptors tend only to be capable of
mirroring desktop displays on TV and they are generally incapable or not very
good at streaming HD video, particularly if your laptop has the USB 1.0 or 2.0
ports. However, this is something Google’s Chromecast dongle does very well
indeed, and it can stream media from your PC over your home Wi-Fi network to
I have been given a secondhand laptop, which
has a lot of programs that I have no use for. Deleting them one by one is a
tedious exercise. Is there a way of wiping the hard disc but retaining the
Alec Twitchett, by email
No, but a removal utility like Revo Uninstaller
(free from http://goo.gl/Z1R1) makes it a
little easier and does a more thorough job. However, the best way is to start
over and reinstall Windows, which also gets rid of any lingering viruses,
malware or problems with system files. It is not difficult to do if you have
the original Windows installation discs, or the machine has a Recovery
partition. Incidentally, if it is an XP machine, even though support has now
ended, for the foreseeable future you will still be able to download SP3 and
install existing hotfixes and patches using Windows Update.
© R. Maybury 2014 0505