Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 326 13/09/14


Meandering Mouse

I am using an Acer tablet with a wireless mouse. The cursor does strange things. Most times it responds perfectly to the mouse movements, but then suddenly changes to dragging behind, or continuing movement all over the place, when the mouse is still; then it reverts back to normal.

Ken Johnson, by email


Wireless mice can be affected by interference from other, nearby wireless devices (cordless phones, thermostats, broadband routers and so on) as well as microwave ovens, low power CFL and LED lighting, or it could be something as simple as dead or dying batteries. Assuming the batteries are okay check to see if interference is to blame by removing the mouse’s USB dongle and connecting a wired mouse. If it behaves you should be able to identify the source of the interference by switching off suspect devices, and it may not be in the immediate vicinity. The fact that the erratic movements come and go could point to a badly suppressed fridge-freezer or central heating boiler. If it persists with the wired mouse connected then there may be a problem with the PC, in which case it will require expert attention.



Count On Word

I wish to do a word count on several manuscripts. By word count I mean the overall total for each manuscript and the frequency of use of a specified word. Do you know of an app or program that could carry out this function?

F. Marley, by email


Word count is a standard feature in most word processors but to count the occurrences of a single word you can use the Find or Find and Replace function. On older versions of MS Word press Ctrl + H to display the Find and Replace menu, enter the word you want to count in the Find box and in the Replace With box type the command ‘^&’ (without the quotes), which tells it to replace the word with itself. Click Replace All and it shows how many instances have been changed. On later versions of Word click Find on the Home tab, type the word in the Find What box then click Reading Highlight and all instances are highlighted, with a count. Open Source and freeware office suites including LibreOffice, OpenOffice and the Windows version of Kingsoft Office all have similar functions.



Maps and Miles

From time to time I use Google Maps Lite. If I include a route on my map the step-by-step instructions give distances in Kilometres.  How can I have these displayed in miles?

Ian Hobday, by email


Google Map’s new, simplified layout has caused a fair amount of controversy but most key functions are still there, though some of them are quite well hidden. If you really cannot get on with it you can switch back to the Classic style, either temporarily or permanently, by clicking the Help icon in the bottom right hand corner. To change distance units in GM Lite, click Route Options on the step-by-step directions; it is under the Start Point and Destination boxes. In Classic maps, to switch between metric and imperial units click Show Options on the directions pop-up window.



Laptop Wake-Up Call

I regularly find that, having put my Windows 8 computer into Hibernate mode it switches itself back on again, often during the night. I've double and triple checked that I'm not mistakenly going into Sleep mode. Any suggestions?

Roger Goodacre, by email


Most PCs have a Wake On LAN (WoL) facility that allows them to be restored from low-power Sleep or Hibernation modes when they receive a so-called ‘Magic Packet’ data signal. This can be via a cabled Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. It is mainly used for remotely controlling a PC over the Internet but Magic Packets can also be sent by routers, other networked devices and on demand services. On older PCs this option was often enabled by default in the power management section the computer’s BIOS startup program but nowadays it is mostly integrated into the firmware that controls network adaptors, and that is the place to look. Open System Properties by pressing the Ctrl + Break keys and select Device Manager, (or type Device Manager in a Search box). Expand the Network Adapters entry, right click on your network adaptor then select Properties and click the Advanced tab. In the Property box select Shutdown Wake-On LAN and change the value to Disabled, then do the same for the Wake on Magic Packet entry, lower down the list, and click OK. Incidentally, disabling both options on a laptop will slightly reduce battery consumption.  



Heading For Trouble

The print head on my Kodak C315 wireless printer, which I've had for about 2 years, has dried up. I know it's due to infrequent use, but is there a printer on the market that can deal with this? I seem to have to buy a new printer every 2-3 years, as the cost of repair is always more than the cost of a new one. There are so many on the market it is very hard to choose. I use it for correspondence, photocopying and photo printing mainly and would prefer to spend under £100.

Helen Jones, by email


Most inkjet printer manufacturers recommend that you avoid dried out and clogged heads by printing something at least once every 2/3 weeks, though this useful advice is often buried in the small print. There are alternatives, though, and it tends not to be such a serious or expensive problem on inkjet printers where the print head is built into the ink cartridge. If the head becomes blocked you simply replace the cartridge. Most HP and some Canon and Lexmark models have this feature and are well within your budget. You may also want to consider a laser printer. They do not suffer from blockages and can be a lot cheaper to run, though I am not aware of any colour models, in your price range, that have the copying and photo printing features that you are looking for.



© R. Maybury 2014 2508

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