Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 319 26/07/14


Keeping It In The Family

I research family history and enter the information in an OpenOffice spreadsheet on our Acer laptop. I regularly visit the local Records Office to research parish registers, write down the information, then have to type it in at home. I don't want to take the laptop out of the home for security reasons. I wondered if I could use a small portable device to type in the information at the Records Office and transfer it to the laptop once home. I have a basic Kindle for reading books, and wondered about changing to a Kindle Fire if it would do this extra job. I wouldn't use the device for anything else, so don't want to spend any more money than necessary.

Sarah Callen, by email


Virtually all smartphones and tablet computers have a note-taking facility and the Kindle Fire is no exception. However, for a relatively undemanding task like this you might like to consider one of the cheaper alternatives available from major high-street chains and supermarkets. These are all reasonably competent tablet computers with 7-inch screens, running the Android operating system. Examples include bargain basement offerings like Cyclone Odyssey from Asda for just £49.00 and Argos is selling  the Acer Icona for £59.99. The Celcius, at Sainsbury’s costs £69.99, and if money is no object, consider the excellent Tesco Hudl for £119. You can transfer notes from the tablet to your PC using a USB cable or you can use an OTG (On The Go) adaptor cable, costing around £3 online, to copy files to a USB stick. However. You can make the task even easier by installing a free app from the Google Play Store called Kingsoft Office. This is a full office suite with a word processor and it is Excel/Calc compatible so you can enter your new data directly into a spreadsheet whilst at the records office and sync it with your laptop when you get home. Incidentally, you can also get a free Kindle app from Google Play and share your Kindle e-book library.



Lingua Chroma

The spell checker on the Chrome browser is for American English.  How can I change it to UK English?

Joseph B. Fox, by email


The option exists but it is quite well hidden and even if you find it, it can be a tad confusing. Click the Customise and Control icon (three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the window) then Settings and at the bottom click Show Advanced Settings. Under Languages select Languages and spell-checker settings. Resist the urge to choose English, under English (United States); all this does is display a bizarre message that says this language cannot be used for spell checking… Instead click the Add button at the bottom of the page then select English (United Kingdom) from the drop down menu and click OK. This takes you back to the previous window where ‘Display Google Chrome in this Language’ and ‘Use this Language for spell checking’ should appear; on some versions these options have to be manually selected. Finally, click Done, or OK then close and restart Chrome, for the change to take effect. 



Digital Dinosaur?

I have an oldish Olympus C-3030Z digital camera.  This still takes good pictures but unfortunately uses an SD memory card, which is slightly bigger than those used today. I have just acquired a new computer with Windows 8, but there is no slot for the Olympus card, unlike on my old computer. I have tried using the cable but, even with assistance from the Olympus help team, it does not seem to work. Are you aware of any piece of equipment, which would take the larger card?

Neil Anstee,by email


Oldish...? The 3030Z, launched in January 2000, is practically an antique. It uses the long obsolete SmartMedia memory card, around twice the size of an SD card; they have very limited capacity and were notoriously unreliable. Your camera was a classic but the painful truth is that it is living on borrowed time and you should start thinking seriously about a replacement, before it lets you down, you lose treasured images and the supply of cards finally dries up. Picture quality has improved dramatically since the days when the 3030Z’s 3.3 megapixel sensor was considered cutting edge – it is barely acceptable for smartphone cameras these days -- and you won’t have to spend anything like the £800 this model cost when it first came out. Fortunately you can easily transfer files from your memory cards to your PC using an adaptor. Several types are available but for the sake of simplicity I would opt for an external USB SmartMedia reader. They are available online from the usual suspects (Amazon, ebay etc.), for under £10.00 and Windows 8 treats it like any other plug-in memory device. 



IPad Safety

I understand that the iPad has some sort of protection against viruses but does it offer any form of protection for shopping online?

M. Hollenberg, by email


Thanks to the high security fence surrounding the Apple App Store, and safeguards built into the operating system, viruses and malware that directly attack the iPad and iPhone are extremely rare and currently not a concern for the vast majority of users. However, it cannot protect you from the countless other crooks, scams and exploits that affect everyone using the web, on any sort of PC or Internet connected device. In no particular order they include ‘phishing’ emails and pop-up advertisements that can lure you to fake websites where you may be tricked into divulging pin codes, passwords or credit card details. Wireless data connections can be intercepted by so called ‘evil twin’ Wi-Fi hotspots and MITM (Man In The Middle) attacks, then there is the whole issue of theft and loss. Unencrypted personal and private data stored on the device is poorly protected by the basic passcode and new bugs and security loopholes that can bypass it are uncovered with monotonous regularity. In short, if you are going to use your iPad for online shopping, remain vigilant!    



© R. Maybury 2014 0707

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