Ask Rick Maybury 2015



Ask Rick 344 17/01/15


Open Government

Government Gateway has moved to .ods files when previously they used to use .pdf. It is claimed that an .ods file can be opened in Excel. My Microsoft Office Excel 2007 refuses to open them; is there anyway I can make it do so? Or do I have to buy a more recent version of Office?

Gian Gopal, by email


Changes to the way the UK Government publishes new documents online were announced last summer and there is more information at The switch to ODF or Open Document Formats (.odt for text, .ods for spreadsheets and .odp for presentations) only applies to material intended for editing, sharing, or interacting with. Documents for viewing only will continue to be published in PDF/A and HTML5 formats. There is no need to replace your copy of Office, but it may be that you have not yet installed Office 2007 Service Pack 2, (free from, which includes the necessary ODF updates


Licking Lollipop Into Shape

Google recently sent a notification for an upgrade for my Nexus 7, which l installed. Since then the tablet has been very slow. It often freezes and sometimes will not access some websites. Is there going to be another update or should l try to revert back to the previous setting, if so how?

Tom Smith, by email


Tablet operating system upgrades rarely go smoothly and it is always a good idea to wait a few weeks before implementing the installation, to allow for the inevitable bugs to be found and corrected, usually by one or more subsequent updates. Reverting to an earlier OS can be a temporary solution but you may find that a growing number of apps will start misbehaving or stop working. 


Android 5.0, better known as Lollipop is a worthwhile upgrade, though, but it has caused a few problems, especially for owners of older Nexus models who were amongst the first to receive it. However, there is some good news; a long awaited Lollipop 5.0.2 bug fix is now available and that should sort out most, if not all of your glitches. Otherwise, if you do not want to go through another update there are two fairly simple procedures, which should also help to get it back on track. Step one is clear the tablet’s cache memory of old and potentially troublesome files, which is worth doing on any Android device following a system upgrade. With the tablet turned off, press and hold the volume down and power buttons. When the Start arrow appears use the volume down to scroll to Recovery Mode and press the power button to select. When the Android icon appears hold down power and press volume up; release power and use volume down to select  ‘Erase or Wipe Cache Partition’ and the tablet should restart. If it is still sluggish go to Settings > About Tablet and tap Build Number 7 times to enable the hidden Developer Options menu. Go back to Settings, Tap Developer Options then Window Animation Scale and set it to Off. Repeat for Transition Animation Scale and Animator Duration Scale. Finally tap Background Process Limit, set it to 3 Processes, switch off, restart and it should be a lot livelier.  


Feline Fiddler

My cat inadvertently changed the operation of my laptop keyboard to letters and numbers. I have no idea which keys he managed to get his paws on.

Penny Cooper, by email


Your cat managed to press two keys enabling the laptop’s ‘nested’ numeric keyboard function, which temporarily assigns numbers to the U, I, O, J, K, L and M keys. To toggle it off you, or the cat, should press and hold the Fn key then tap NumLock, which should be on the right hand side on the top row of keys.

Mystery Folders

I have a Samsung mp3 player, which has a Micro SD card in the available slot. Recently, on the internal memory and SD card, folders called System Volume Information have appeared. If I click on them nothing happens, and if I connect the player or the card to my PC they are invisible. In the System Volume Information folder on the internal memory there is a file called ‘?Indexer Volume Guid’. This is how it appears on the player’s screen, complete with spelling error. Can you help me to clear these interlopers from the player?

Stephen Franklin, by email


Windows System Restore creates these folders automatically whenever an external drive is connected to your computer and they contain restore points and database files. Incidentally, Guid is not a spelling mistake it stands for Global Unique Identfier, a long string of characters used by your computer to identify some system files. The files in the folders are well protected and deleting them is bit of a palaver, but they are unlikely to be very large so I would play safe and leave well alone. You can, however, stop them from getting any bigger and wasting space. With your player connected to your PC open System Properties (Winkey + Break), select System Protection (Windows 7/8), System Restore tab, highlight the SD card on the Protection Settings list, click the Configure button and select Turn Off System Protection; repeat for the player’s internal memory and click OK.


Word Gridlock

I have a small and recent problem with Word 2010. When I open a new blank document it is not blank but shown as squared paper. Is there any way of getting rid of this and getting a proper blank page to appear? As a workaround, I have to open an older Word document from my hard disc, save it under a new name, then open it and delete all the text. Not a massive issue but very annoying.

Brian Jackson, by email


That is an ingenious, if somewhat convoluted solution, but you will probably kick yourself when I tell you that you have accidentally enabled a Word feature called ‘gridlines’. All you have to do to make them go away is click the View tab on the ribbon and in the Show/Hide group, uncheck Gridlines.


© R. Maybury 2014 2912

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