Ask Rick Maybury 2015



Ask Rick 343 10/01/15


Memory Malaise

I have Norton 360 and Norton Utilities 16 installed on my laptop. After swapping the original hard drive on the PC for a SSD, a warning message was displayed from Norton warning me that the life of my SSD would be seriously shortened if I continued to use some of their products. I phoned Norton for more information and they confirmed their warning, stressing that I should no longer run the following programmes: ‘disk defragmentation’, 'disk cleaner’, 'disk free space bleach’ and ‘disk optimiser’. Why is this and should I uninstall Norton Utilities?

Brian Wingate, by email


There is no need to uninstall the whole application, just disable the utilities mentioned. The reasoning behind this advice is that manufacturer’s of solid state drives (SSDs) generally quote life expectancy in terms of how many times data can be written and read to and from flash memory chips. In some cases this can be as few as 5000 cycles and this is due to a gradual breakdown, at the molecular level, of insulating and semiconductor materials inside the chips. Clearly it is prudent to avoid using disk utilities that impose a very high workload on the chips but in practice the risk of sudden failure is quite low and most SSDs should outlive the hardware in which they are installed. The problem is well known and most SSDs employ a technique called wear levelling, which distributes read/write operations evenly to avoid over use of particular memory blocks. SSDs also have sophisticated diagnostic systems that can provide an early warning of failure, and built-in spare capacity that automatically replaces memory cells that are showing signs of wear. Nothing lasts forever, though, and accidents happen, so continue to back up your irreplaceable data. 



Off The Map

I like to look at places on Google Maps and use the Street View feature but am annoyed by the dropdown that comes and goes interminably, covering up to a quarter of the screen each time it is there. Do you know whether and how it is possible to disable it altogether?

Peter Gellatly, by email


It sounds as though you are viewing Google Maps in a browser window, rather than an app, and the problem is the highly excitable Search Bar, which expands if you so much as look at it. It is an integral part of ‘new’ Google Maps, and optimised for devices with touch screens (tablets, smartphones and laptops etc.). You cannot get rid of it in New Maps but, for the moment at least, you can still switch back to the Classic Google Map display and the Search box remains a fixed size and firmly anchored to the top of the screen, where it belongs. All you have to do is click the Help icon (?) in the bottom right hand corner of the screen and select Return to classic Google Maps, and if you want it to stay that way click Yes, when the asked if you want to remember this choice for next time.



Ace In A Hole

My airtime contract recently expired and I decided to use my Samsung Galaxy Ace as a backup phone by installing a Pay as you go SIM card. I have now been locked out of the phone. I have tried every password and combination of passwords I have used in my many years of computing without success. A local phone shop offered to unlock the phone for £15. My two questions are, is this legal and could they install something on the phone enabling some form of hacking to take place?

John Depledge, by email


In theory an unscrupulous phone fixer could put malicious software on your mobile, but it is not something I have come across before, and no, unlocking a password protected phone is not illegal, but charging £15.00 for doing something that you can do for yourself, for free, in a couple of minutes, is a bit naughty.


You have two basic options, recovery or reset. If you have a Google account you should be able to get back into your phone fairly easily. After the fifth failed password attempt press the Forgot Password (or Pattern) key that should appear on the screen. Enter your Google username and password, tap Sign In and follow the prompts to create a new password. Returning the phone to its factory settings is a more drastic solution and it will wipe everything on the phone, so remove the SIM and memory card before you start. Remove and refit the battery then simultaneously press and hold the central Home, Volume Up and Power buttons. After a few seconds the Samsung Galaxy Ace opening screen appears, as soon as it fades release the buttons and after a few moments the Recovery Menu is displayed. Use the volume keys to select ‘wipe data/factory reset’ and press Home. On the next menu screen step down the list to ‘yes – delete all user data’, press the Home button again. When ‘reboot system now’ is shown press the Home button and the phone restarts in its default state and you can log into Google Play and My Apps to re-install your previously downloaded apps. 



Brought To e-Book

Can you help me to share an ebook, which I have read, with my brother? We both have Android tablets and we both use the Play Book app. I have a Samsung Galaxy note 10 and my brother has a Hudl 2. Do I send it by Gmail or another means? Will the ebook automatically go to the Play Books app? Finally, when the end of the ebook says one can share it, does that mean all of the ebook or just a text sample?

William Preston, by email


The share option on the Play Book menu is a little misleading because all it does is send a link to the book in the Google Play Store, so the recipient can buy their own copy. User Policies for Google Play Books (and most other e-book sellers for that matter) specifically prohibit lending or co-ownership of purchased books; and if you were thinking of being clever and transferring the ebook file by other means, such as copying it to a memory card, forget it. The Play Book library folder is buried deep inside the Android system and the files, if you can find them, have unrecognisable names.



© R. Maybury 2014 2212

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