Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 311 31/05/14


Power Hungry Google

I have been told that every time one clicks onto a new web page the electricity used is equivalent to boiling a kettle. I find this hard to believe so could you please enlighten me?

Mark Nixon, by email


Stories like this have been doing the rounds for a quite while but tend not to hold up well under close scrutiny. This one, which first appeared a couple of years ago, was based on some rather pessimistic assumptions about how long a typical web search took, and the power consumed by the Internet’s infrastructure as search requests and returned data bounce around the web. Nevertheless, it prompted Google to publish energy consumption figures for its own network of server farms. Based on those figures further analysis suggested that a typical web search would, on average, produce around 0.2g of CO2, compared with the 7g of CO2 generated by a boiling a kettle. Like many good urban myths there is a grain of truth and if nothing else it helps raise awareness of the energy consumption and environmental impact of our gadgets and gizmos.


While we are on the subject, Google has also been blamed for wasting large amounts of energy through the design of its home and search return pages. PC monitors, LCD screens and so on consume more power when displaying bright white pages and it is fair to say that used to be quite significant on old style CRT monitors but even though modern screens consume much less power it all adds up. If you want to help ease the burden, continue using Google and maybe even extend the running time of battery powered devices there are several energy-saving Google-powered Search engines and browser add-ons that switch off the white background. Try Blackle, ( Blackl ( , Go! Black! (, Jabago ( or the Firefox add-on Black Google Theme (


Explorer’s Hidden Talents

I have recently updated from Windows XP to Windows 8.1. File Explorer - which replaces Windows Explorer is irritating and difficult to use, particularly when searching for collections of file extensions between set dates. Is it possible to run the old version of Windows Explorer in Windows 8.1?  Using the compatibility troubleshooter was unsuccessful.

Eric Firth, by email


Windows Explorer in XP will not run in Windows 8, but File Explorer almost certainly has all of the features you need, they have just been hidden. The search options can locate files by location, type, size, extension, date, tags and so on, but to display them you have to open the Ribbon bar. To do that press Ctrl + F1 or click on the tiny down arrow next to the ‘?’ icon on the far right side of the toolbar, then tap/click in the Search box. There is a useful guide to File Explorer’s advanced features on the Microsoft website at:


Back To Fax

My previous Windows XP computer had Word 6 and I was able to send Word documents as faces. I prefer to fax letters because they always seem to get more attention from companies, compared with emails or website messages. Now I have Windows 8 and Office 2007. When I try to send a fax I get a message that there is no fax modem. Checking the Internet indicates that fax modems are available but they seem quite costly and therefore unlikely to be economic in terms of postage saved. Is there a low cost solution?

Richard Ball, by email


I am impressed that you are still able to communicate by fax; in my experience many companies stopped using it ten years ago, but you are right, they are difficult to ignore and the sender has clear proof that a fax has been sent and received. The problem is fax is an old technology that uses audible tones, sent over ordinary phone lines. This makes it difficult, but not impossible, to send a fax from a broadband connected PC, using a web-based forwarding service. However, USB fax modems are still available, and they are not that expensive. Prices start at under £10 and you will find a good selection on Amazon ( but check the small print to make sure that they work with Windows 8.


Radio Ways

I have had my Google Nexus 7 tablet for about 9 months, with mixed feelings, but the one thing that is really puzzling and annoying me are the radios. BBC Radio Player and TuneIn Radio work well, but the one thing I cannot do, when I no longer want to listen any more, is switch them off! I switch over to something else, like the e-reader app or the web browser, but the radio still keeps playing in the background. The only thing that I can do is switch the tablet off completely. Surely this is not right?

Reg Evans, Frome, Somerset


Android’s ability to multi-task and switch between applications is one its big selling points, but I understand your frustration. If you look closely at most player apps there is usually a taskbar with a row of tape recorder-style playback control buttons, though iPlayer Radio has a just single triangular/square shaped Play/Stop button. If you switch to another app, but accidentally leave the radio running, you can easily return to it and Stop playback, using the Recent Apps button. This is a common Android feature and on the Nexus 7, Tesco Hudl etc., it is the third icon on the right on the lower edge of the screen.



© R. Maybury 2014 1205

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