Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 314 21/06/14


I Hate 8!

I recently purchased a new Windows 8 laptop. Am I alone in finding it the most confusing, irritating and illogical operating system ever? It is driving me nuts! Is there any conversion to Windows XP I can download?

Steve Chapman, by email.


XP has been officially retired and going back to it is not a sensible option but many computer users buying a new PC have found the transition to Windows 8 difficult and frustrating. It is not helped by the fact that the Metro user interface is optimised for touch screen displays, but it can be fixed. Under the skin W8 is not that different to XP or Windows 7, on which it is based, but if you absolutely cannot abide W8 then you will find W7 more palatable and it is worth asking the vendor if they, or the manufacturer has a replacement option or program. However, don’t give up on W8 just yet as there are a couple of ways to get it to look and behave like previous versions of Windows and open with the familiar desktop and Start menu. You can achieve a semblance of normality by tinkering with display settings and making changes to the Registry but the easiest method it to install a utility that does all the hard work for you. The two most popular ones are Classic Shell, free from, and Stardock’ Start8 from: Classic Shell does a good job but it only goes part of the way to taming W8. Start8 goes much further and it is easy to set up and use. It costs $4.99 (around £3.00), though you can try it free for 30 days. For most W8 users that will be money well spent, and a lot less disruptive than reinstalling an older version of Windows.



Hunting Hotspots

I was interested in your recent reply to a question regarding BT Wi-Fi free hotspots, which use spare capacity on home wireless routers. I have often wondered where these hotspots are, as I have never seen a list. I have Sky Broadband and again they talk of free hotspots but with no details. Do Sky operate the same system as BT?

Brian Henderson


No, the Sky system is different, but first, BT Wi-Fi users, can find their nearest hotspot by going to and either zoom in on the map or type a location or postcode into the Search box. Sky Broadband customers have free access to The Cloud network of hotspots, which are less numerous and generally located at commercial premises, cafes, shops and so on. Again you can easily find your nearest one, or plan ahead if you are going to be on the move using an online hotspot finder, this time at:



Making Allowances

I have recently bought a NOWTV connection box, which I think is an incredibly clever device. My Internet provider has now advised me that they are increasing my monthly charge by £5 as I have exceeded my broadband usage allowance of 20GB. They have added a further 5GB for the month and an additional £5 to the next subscription charge. I presume that this may have something to do with the NOWTV box and its usage but I would appreciate it if you could explain what is happening?

Michael Hogan, by email


It has everything to do with your NOWTV box, which streams TV programmes and movies through your broadband connection. As rule of thumb it will use between 1 and 2GB of data per hour, so it is easy to exceed your monthly allowance. Unless you are going limit your viewing and closely monitor your data consumption you would be better off switching to an uncapped service.



Mystery Arrows?

I have Windows 7 and for some reason all of the pictures in my Library folder have acquired a blue lozenge

with two white arrows. How did this happen? What is their purpose and how do I get rid of them? I have asked numerous people but with no answer so far.

Stan O'Connor, by email


Norton 360 put them there and they are backup status indicators, showing which files have not been backed up. Backed up files have a similarly sized green tick icon. To remove the icons in Norton go to Settings > Quick Controls and untick the Backup Status Indicator check box.



Clipboard Comeback

I have recently changed my old computer, which ran Windows XP to a new Windows 8.1 machine. One program that I used regularly, called Clipboard Viewer doesn’t seem to be available in Windows 8.1.Does it exist? If so how do I access it?

Tim Vernon


The Clipboard Viewer utility, withdrawn after Windows XP, works happily in Vista, Windows 7 and 8. All you have to do is copy the clipbrd.exe file from your XP computer, which is in C:\windows\system32, to a USB memory stick and paste it into the same location on your new PC. While you are there, right-click on the clipbrd.exe icon then select Send To > Desktop (create shortcut).



Wasteful Wireless

I have had a Galaxy smartphone and have kept the Wi-Fi switched on at home where it connects to my desktop router and also when out and about. Recently when away from home, infuriating pop-ups telling

me what networks were available kept appearing. An Internet forum suggested that I switch off the Wi-Fi when away from home, as I didn't need it.  I have done this for some weeks and it works and I can surf the web without interference. The shop where I bought my phone said that my Wi-Fi connection should always be switched on. Does that make sense?

David Miller, by email


That was poor advice. When you are away from home keep the Wi-Fi switched off, until you actually need to use it, at a known secure wireless hotspot, or in conjunction with GPS for more accurate location, for example. Smartphone and tablet Wi-Fi adaptors use a fair amount of power, reducing battery running time, and the open connection is a potential security risk.



© R. Maybury 2014 2605

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