Ask Rick Maybury 2014



Ask Rick 334 08/11/14


Tardy Text

I was somewhat amazed to receive a congratulatory wedding anniversary message that had been sent 3 weeks previously! Can you explain what might cause such an inordinate delay? It didn't matter on this occasion but had it been a reminder to put my car in for an MOT for example, it might have had more serious consequences!

Richard Lewis, by email


Text messages can be held up by temporary network overload or faults that can last for minutes or hours and occasionally a day or so, but delays of that magnitude are very unusual. Assuming that you have not just returned from a three-week holiday, and did not take your phone with you, and it only happened on this one occasion, then there are a number of possible explanations. These include the sender switching off their phone, their battery running down, or losing coverage before the message was sent, and for some reason the connection not being restored for 3 weeks. They may have run out of credit or had a fault with the phone or SIM card, the message may have been corrupt, the sender’s Sent Items, or your Received message boxes could be full, or there may be a software glitch on your phone, that disappeared after a reboot. Take your pick but if your text messages are now arriving normally, do not worry about it and blame it on those pesky gremlins…



Pointless Passwords?

We are often advised to regularly change passwords, but what is the point of this? If a hacker has obtained, say, your bank login, your money will quickly be taken. If a hacker has not got your details, how will your security be improved by a new password?

Robert Clark, by email


There is more to it than users simply looking after their own passwords and PINs. One of the biggest threats to online security lies in the theft or loss of credentials of thousands and sometimes millions of users from the companies charged with looking after them. These breaches may not be made public immediately, it at all, and it takes time to raid several million bank accounts so changing your passwords on a regular basis offers you some protection against corporate carelessness. You should make a point of changing default passwords and those that have been issued to you, as there is no way of knowing if they have been intercepted or compromised. Regular change also invalidates passwords stored on devices that have been lost, forgotten, sold or discarded without being wiped. It is by no perfect but unless and until biometric systems are perfected, pins and passwords are the best that we have and hopefully those constant reminders to remain vigilant makes us all more security minded, and life more difficult for villains and others with malicious intent.



Missing Messages

I use an Acer laptop running Windows Vista and appear to have blocked several senders and do not know how to unblock them. Also, for a period of a month, a couple of e-mails sent to me never arrived, although subsequent ones from the same sender did. Any suggestions much appreciated.

Nancy Moss, by email


In Windows Mail, the option to block a sender is on the Tools menu in an open Message Window, under Junk Mail Options. To remove an accidental or deliberate entry, go to the Tools menu on the main Windows Mail screen, select Junk Mail Options then the Blocked Senders tab. When emails from one particular sender mysteriously, and temporarily fail to arrive do not dismiss the obvious, which is that the messages were never sent, or they were incorrectly addressed. Other possibilities include sever problems at the sender’s end and ISPs may briefly block a domain responsible for sending large volumes of Spam or infected messages.



Awkward Apple?

It appears that photos taken on Apple iPads or iPhones and then emailed to me cannot be received on my Nexus Tablet but they come through fine on my Windows 8 laptop. The message appears on the tablet but not the photos. Is this because of differences between Apple and Android? Is it surmountable or do I have to live with it?

John Broadbent, best regards


There is nothing special or unusual about photographs emailed from iPhones and iPads. They are standard jpegs and viewable on almost any device but the way some email programs handle attachments does vary and in some cases makes them unnecessarily difficult to open and view. One very simple way of avoiding this type of problem is to switch to another email program. My personal favourite for Android is a free app called K9 Mail and it downloads and displays photos in your preferred image viewer with just a couple of taps.



Kobo Kafuffle

Our Sony ebook reader is showing its age and we have been investigating replacements. The Kindle is not compatible with our ebooks and after talking with a very persuasive salesperson we settled on a Kobo Aura. What neither the salesperson or the Kobo web site told us is that the software doesn’t work on 32 bit computers!  We now have several unread ebooks on our computer in epub format but cannot transfer them to the reader. Is there any way a 32-bit computer can be linked to a Kobo Aura, or have we been misled?

Peter and Audrey Pallett, Lichfield,


The Kobo Aura works happily with 32-bit versions of Windows but the Desktop software does not work with XP, which is probably why you are seeing the ‘…not a valid Win32 application’ error message. If you are using Windows 7 or 8 it is probably just a glitch so download the latest version from the Kobo website, where you will also find simple instructions for transferring epub format books to your new reader ( If you are using XP all is not lost and an excellent freeware program called Calibre ( can connect and sync your Aura’s library; it also downloads, manages and displays ebooks and converts to and from all popular ebook formats.



© R. Maybury 2014 2010

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