Ask Rick 349 21/02/15
A recently deceased family member left me a
rather nice laptop but I cannot get past the opening password box, let alone
open Windows. The previous owner was elderly and as far as I know it was only
ever used for email and Skyping, so there are no concerns about security. Are
there any programs available that can crack this password so that I can
continue to use it?
Michael Woods, by email
It sounds like the BIOS password, which prevents
the computer from booting up. This is an option in the Basic Input Output
System program that configures the computer’s motherboard and hardware
immediately before the operating system (in this case Windows) is loaded. It is
unusual for it to be set, though, as it provides very little protection. Data
on the hard drive is easily accessed by other means, and most manufacturers set
a so-called backdoor password, moreover there are a number of ways to reset the
password to its default null setting. Lists of backdoor passwords, and other
techniques can be found on the web; just Google the make and model number
followed by ‘BIOS password reset’. However, first have a chat with the laptop
manufacturer’s support department; explain the situation and only resort to
other methods if they insist on charging a fee or are unwilling to help.
I run the website for a tiny Anglican Church in
Leicestershire with 20-odd members. We do not get many regular visitors, apart
from a several addresses in the US and UK. They visit the site every few days,
sometimes twice a day. Apart from that they never contact us. Are they really
interested in our church activities or are we under surveillance, and if so by
A Freer, by email
I suspect that you have been using a web
traffic-monitoring tool like StatCounter.com. This can tell you a lot about
your site visitors, including their domain names or ISPs, geographical
location, and IP address. A ‘Whois’ search of the IP address (try DNS Query at http://goo.gl/f9x63n) may reveal even more
about their identity.
However, avoid drawing too many conclusions
from this data. A fair proportion of your visitors will be automated ‘bots’ or
software programs that endlessly trawl the web. At the low end of the threat
scale they are search engines, like Google, updating their databases. More
ominously bots also harvest email addresses for spammers, ‘scrape’ content for
re-use on other sites, attempt to infect your site with worms and viruses and
if the site has any advertising it could be Click Fraud, exploiting the
pay-per-click (PPC) systems that generate fees from web advertising.
You can usually tell humans from bots by how
long they are on the site. Bot visits tend to last just a few seconds and may
be at regular times. Genuine visitors typically stay longer or skip between
other pages on the site. Organised surveillance seems unlikely if, as you
suggest, your site is uncontroversial but sometimes entirely innocent words and
phrases can attract the attention of security services or be inappropriately
flagged up by search engines, so double check the content to make sure that
there is nothing that could be mis-interpreted.
What Happened To AutoText?
I recently made the giant leap from Windows XP
to Windows 8.1 and on the whole it is going well. However, I can’t find an equivalent in 8.1 to AutoText. It was so useful being able to tap two keys
and have a whole address come up, or a salutation. Helplines and guidebooks have not solved this problem. Is it now
called something else, or does it no longer exist?
Jane Anson, Oxford
AutoText is a feature in Microsoft Word, rather
than Windows, and my guess is that you are now using Microsoft Office 2007 or
later. AutoText is included in these versions of Word but it is a shadow of its
former self, much harder to use, hidden from view, and no longer supported by
other Office applications. Quite honestly you are better off using Word’s
AutoCorrect function to automatically insert text when you start to type in a
set of characters. If you want to persevere with AutoText and you are using
Word 2007 you will have to manually add the button to the Quick Access toolbar.
There are some easy to follow instructions on the Microsoft website at: http://goo.gl/yOd2HB. In Word 2010 onwards you
can find it on the Ribbon display; click the Insert tab and in the Text Group
select the Quick Parts button.
I've been sent an email with over 300 wedding
pictures embedded within it as a list of jpg files. I can open any one of them
with a simple 'click' but I cannot find out how to move/copy them all to one of
my storage devices.
John Corfield, by email
This is probably a list of links to the contents
of an album on one of the many photo-sharing services, like Flickr, Dropbox,
Google Plus Photo, Photobox and Photobucket, to name just a few. Most of these
sites have a simple to follow instructions for downloading single or multiple
images and they should appear when you select an image filename or thumbnail.
If not check with the sender that you have been sent the correct link for the
album. Otherwise you may be able to download the images manually. Click to
highlight the first link on the list then hold down the Shift key and use the
down arrow key to highlight subsequent filenames. I suggest that you do it in
batches of 20 or so to reduce the chances of the transfer failing so keep a
note of the numbers. Next, right-click on one of the highlighted files and
select Save As, specify a location on your hard drive click OK and repeat for
the next batch.
© R. Maybury 2015 0902