Ask Rick Maybury 2014

  

 

Ask Rick 315 28/06/14

 

Infinite Possibilities

We have had BT Infinity for just over a year with a 40GB monthly data allowance. According to BT our average monthly usage is 5.36GB, however on one day recently we apparently used 39GB, and received a warning email two days later. We had done nothing different on that date and no one else has access. BT advisors could provide no explanation but the billing section agreed that it was totally abnormal and our account was credited with the £42.00 we will be charged for exceeding our limit. Can you suggest any reason for this occurrence, or any other steps we should take? 

Elizabeth Hunter, by email

 

The fact that BT chose not to pursue the matter might suggest that it was aware of a problem at its end. However, you cannot discount the possibility of a fault or that someone has hijacked your Internet connection or another connected device, such as a digital set-top box, downloading large volumes of media without you realising it. Hijacking is relatively unusual on a well-secured wireless network but take no chances and change your encryption key immediately. There are simple to follow instructions, covering all BT Home Hubs at http://goo.gl/1q8iSd. This shows you how to log on to your router’s setup menu, and on most models there is a facility to monitor how much data is passing through it. It will also display the MAC (Media Access Control) address of any devices connected to it. Alternatively, you can keep a daily check on data throughput using BT’s own online data usage monitor, which you can log on to at www.but.com/mybt.

 

 

Airside Apps

If I went into Anorak mode and wanted to watch my progress on a flight tracker app on my iPad, would I be allowed to do this on the plane and be subject to any roaming charges?

Don Cook, by email

 

It depends. Most flight tracker apps rely on live positional data sent from aircraft transponders and air traffic control radar, which is collated, then uploaded to your device and superimposed on a moving map. This sort of real-time display relies on an Internet connection, through aircraft in-flight Wi-Fi or a mobile phone service, if it has them. Of the airlines that offer on-board Wi-Fi, most charge handsomely to use it, and apps that consume a lot of data may be blocked. Connecting to the Internet through an in-flight mobile phone service can be eye-wateringly expensive, and using it to track your progress on a long International flight could cost you more than the ticket! At least one flight tracker app (mi Flights) has an off-line (Airplane Mode) option that estimates your position based on stored data but without live updates it cannot take into account changes in speed and direction due to weather and air traffic control etc. By the way, most iPads with 3G/4G cellular connections have built-in GPS chips and in theory this could also provide you with a moving map display of your flight, however, establishing a connection with GPS satellites through a tiny aircraft window at 30,000 feet is a bit hit and miss, and it also depends on a live data connection to update the map. 

 

 

Flash Messages

Is it possible to save emails from Outlook.com to a flash memory stick or a CD?

Ray Powell, by email

 

Yes, and the most reliable method is download and install Windows Live Mail (part of the Windows Essentials package, free from Microsoft at: http://goo.gl/Psl3AH). Configure it with your Outlook.com details and your messages will be downloaded and stored on your PC’s hard drive. You can then copy the message Store Folder to a memory stick or CD. Incidentally, the message folder is quite well hidden but you can find its location by going to Live Mail’s Options menu, select Mail > Advanced tab and the path is shown under Store Folder. There is another method within Outlook.com that involves creating a new folder on your PC and moving the messages into it. This has proved troublesome, though; it can affect syncing multiple devices and in some cases has resulted in a loss of data.

 

 

Powerful Arguments

I have just discovered that instead of shutting down my Windows 7 computer, I can put it into Hibernate mode, and then it starts up much faster. Are there any dangers in doing this?

Ken Whittick, by email

 

Windows PCs and laptops have four power states: mechanical off, soft off, sleep and hibernate. Mechanical Off as close as a PC gets to being completely inert with only the battery-powered internal clock still running. Soft Off is the normal shut down state with a few low power circuits monitoring the power button, and, if enabled, checking for inputs from the keyboard, network connection or USB ports. Hibernation mode is the next lowest power state with the Windows operating system, running applications, open documents and so saved to a file on your hard drive called Hiberfil.sys. The computer will wake up and you can carry on from where you left off, usually in less than a minute. Sleep is a medium low power standby state where Windows, running applications and open documents are stored in the computer’s RAM memory and it wakes up and is ready to use in seconds. Hibernate is better for longish periods of inactivity, a day or two for example. Sleep mode is useful for short interruptions, from a few minutes to several hours. Neither mode is harmful, though you might lose data in Sleep mode if there is a power cut; laptops should automatically save data to the hard drive and enter Hibernate mode when battery levels become critical. If you get into the habit of using Hibernation mode it is good practice, though not absolutely essential on Windows 7/8, to shut down and reboot about once a week, to allow Windows to clear cache memories and refresh the Registry

 

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© R. Maybury 2014 0906

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