Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 323 23/08/14


Free To Choose?

Is there a simple, free, way of getting a mobile phone unblocking code to remove it from a network?  I have been with my present provider for over 10 years but I think coverage in my area has deteriorated since 4G became available. They want to charge me over £20 to issue the code; surely that is not right?

W. Shipman, by email


Whilst you are in a contract mobile phone providers are entitled to require you to use their network if they have provided a handset that is either free, or at a heavily subsidised price. Once the contract is over that is another matter, and in most cases you can shop around to get your phone unlocked. The going rate for most models, online, and in the high street is between £10 and £20, so I do not think they are being unreasonable. The exception is the iPhone and it is generally cheaper to go to the original network provider, who can arrange for an authorised unlock through Apple; independent phone unlockers generally charge a lot more. There are a lot of so-called free unlock services on the web but many of them are scams. You should also avoid any procedures that involve downloading software from the web onto your PC or accessing a phone’s hidden service menu as there is a very real risk of malware infection or ‘bricking’ your phone. 


Update or Wait?

My Windows 7 desktop PC is five years old, my daughters XP about the same. I have always thought that five years is about the life of a computer and am contemplating changing them. Not being very impressed by

what I have seen of Windows 8, my idea was to purchase two new Windows 7 machines. However, I am now having second thoughts, as I understand that Windows 9 is due next year and should be an improvement on Windows 8. Would you recommend that I go ahead with Windows 7, which I like and I am familiar with, or might it be a better bet to hang on for the launch of Windows 9?

John Martin, by email


The oft-quoted five-year lifecycle for PCs has more to do with how often people are persuaded by clever marketing and advertising to replace their computers, rather than the durability of operating systems and computer hardware. Be in no doubt that Windows 9 will have lots of flashy features that you did not know you needed but if Windows 7 – arguably the best Windows to date – does everything that you and your daughter wants it to do, why wait?  Experience also teaches us that it is often unwise to be ‘the first kid on the block’ where any form of technology is concerned.



Back To The Factory

I have a buyer for my Samsung Galaxy 3 smartphone and I want to return it to its factory settings. Could you tell me how?

Maggie Dover, by email


Be warned that it will delete everything stored on your phone, so make sure that you have copied or backed up the files and photos that you want to keep to a PC or the memory card, as there is no way back. Data on the SIM card is safe though, and don’t forget to remove the memory card before you begin. Switch the phone off or remove the battery, refit it and with phone still off press and hold the Power, Menu and Volume Up buttons for 10 seconds. Release the buttons and the green Android logo appears, followed by the Android System menu. Using the Volume up/down buttons scroll down to Wipe Data/Factory reset and confirm the selection with the Power button. When asked select ‘Yes – Delete all user data’ then Reboot System Now and the deed is done.



Hopeful Outlook For Gmail

I have been advised that a Gmail account would be useful when abroad so I set one up and it works well on my iPad and in Internet Explorer on my XP desktop PC. However, I cannot get it to function in Outlook Express because I do not know what to enter in the account setup boxes. I would prefer to use Outlook Express on my computer as I do not like the Gmail website.

Fay Ives, by email


It is not a problem, Outlook Express and most email programs can be configured to access Gmail. In OE go to Tools > Accounts > Add > Mail, as usual, enter your name, then your Gmail address and click Next. Make sure POP3 is selected and in the Incoming Mail Server box enter ‘’. In the Outgoing box type  ‘’ then click Next. When prompted enter your full Gmail address and password click Next and Finish. Highlight the Gmail account name, select Properties and the Servers tab and make sure that ‘My Server requires authentication’ is checked. Finally select the Advanced tab, ‘This server requires a secure connection’ should be checked under both Outgoing and Incoming mail and in the Outgoing Server (SMTP) box enter 465 and in the Incoming Server (POP3) box enter 995, if it hasn’t already been set. Click OK then Close and it is ready to use. 



Power Nap

If I put my laptop into Hibernate mode will it still need to be charging or can it be left unplugged?

Sue E, by email


A Hibernating laptop uses only a tiny amount of power, in most cases only slightly more than full Shutdown mode, so assuming your laptop’s battery is in good condition, and fully charged, it could remain safely in that state for weeks, or months, depending on the battery’s capacity. Even if the battery were to become completely discharged your data would still be safe as it is stored on the hard drive, and once power is restored the laptop will boot up as normal.



© R. Maybury 2014 0408

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