Ask Rick Maybury 2015



Ask Rick 345 24/01/15


Streaming Headache

I recently acquired a NOW TV box and find it useful for watching catch-up terrestrial TV programmes, and YouTube. I have since discovered that there are a number of Android devices available, which claim to be able to access many more TV websites and better quality videos. Do you have any views on these devices and if so, what are the pros and cons?

Sam Mansoor, by email


Although the technology for streaming TV channels, movies and video over the Internet has been around for some time there is still a whiff of the Wild West about the products and services on offer and it will take a while for it to be tamed and civilised. NOW TV is one of the more successful attempts to do just that. It hides all of the various player programs behind an easy to use interface and programme guide, bringing multiple popular streamed channels together in a set-top box, that looks and works like rival digiboxes from BT, Freeview, Sky and Virgin. The devices that you mention tend to be barebones Android computers that plug into your TV’s HDMI socket, basically just using it as the video display. Whilst it is true that they can access more streamed channels than your NOW TV box, in order to do so you may have to download numerous player apps, manually enter streaming website addresses and generally do a lot more button pressing to get pictures on your TV screen. A fair number of those ‘extra’ channels will be devoted to special interests, outside of the mainstream, or in a foreign language and probably of little interest to you. They also tend to come and go with no warning so there is no way that they can be accurately listed on a single programme guide. On the plus side they can be quite cheap but if you want to explore the world of TV streaming you may be better off spending a little more on a budget Android tablet with an HDMI output and have the additional benefit of a portable device that you can use for emailing, web browsing, reading e-books, storing and playing media and viewing photos and so on.



Unwanted Underscore

I use Windows 7 with Live Mail through PlusNet. Recently some, but not all, attachments to emails in MS Word format are coming in with a filename in the style something._docx, which will not open. What is causing this, and how can I rectify it?  I do not think it is a sender error, as other recipients are not experiencing this problem.

Tony Fleming, by email


This is a known bug in Windows Live Mail that, for some unexplained reason, inserts an underscore when there are multiple dots in a filename. I am not aware of a fix but there is a simple workaround and that is to save the attached file to a location on your hard drive, right-click on it and select Open With, specify MS Word from the list and in future they should always open normally in Word



Safari Slowdown

I have an iPad3 and my wife an iPad2. I have updated both to iOS 8 (including the latest update) and we are dismayed at how slow Safari has become. Can anything be done to fix this?

Colin Morle, by email


Possibly, and assuming that only Safari is affected, rather than a more general drop in performance, try this. The slowdown is often due to old data (history, cookies, temporary files etc.) cluttering up the browser’s cache memory so the first thing to do is delete it all by going to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data. Some functions in Safari may also be struggling under the new OS and there are a couple of other things that you can try, that may help perk it up, including switching off JavaScript (Settings > Safari > Advanced) and temporarily disable iCloud sync, which lets you clear another potentially troublesome data cache (Settings > iCloud > Safari > Delete Locally Stored Data).



Trust a Tablet?

If I buy a cheap tablet and use it only for online purchases, using my credit card or PayPal as well as online banking, will this improve my security? If general surfing, emails etc. are scrupulously avoided then surely the chances of being hacking or infected by malware is quite remote?

Peter Savage, by email


Online security is more of a mindset, rather than using, or not using, a particular device or application. It begins with setting a long and strong passcode for your home wireless network, and as far as possible, not using public wireless networks for any form of financial transaction. Create strong and unique passwords for your online finances and other vulnerable or attack-prone services (email, social networks etc.), never store passwords on your tablet or device and always enable or install any security apps that let you remotely track and wipe the device, should it be lost or stolen. Only install apps from authorised sources but only after you have read through the user comments and, where applicable, read and understood the ‘permissions’ that you are asked to give, before you press the accept button. Be wary of apps that want to access your files, messages, contacts or your tablet’s camera or microphone for no good reason. Do not download pirated software or media, stay away from dodgy websites, never open unexpected attachments or click on links in Spam messages and unsolicited emails. If you are out an about with your tablet switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections when you are not using them, it also helps improve battery running times. Finally, invest in a good quality case, and do not let it out of your sight. 



© R. Maybury 2015 0501

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