Ask Rick Maybury 2015



Ask Rick 352 14/03/15


Cross Platform Stream

Now that MiniDisc is effectively obsolete the facility to record and play obscure tracks from radio programmes has finally disappeared after more than 50 years. Foreseeing this, I transferred all my tracks to MP3 format, which still reproduces very old recordings remarkably well. As I find iTunes too restrictive I prefer to organise and play my tracks via Media Monkey, running under Windows Vista. However, I cannot figure out how to stream the music from the PC to my iPad. I am equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Any ideas?

Hamish Halls, by email


Apple does not make this sort of cross-platform activity easy but thankfully third-party help is at hand in the shape of an app called VLC Streamer, available from the App Store. Try the free app first but I suspect that the frequent ads and nags to upgrade will prompt you to splash out £1.49 for the paid-for version. The only point to watch out for is that your iPad must be running iOS 6 or later, otherwise it should do everything that you want and more besides, including converting a number of audio and video formats that the iPad cannot normally handle.


By the way, far from being outmoded, recording from the radio and countless other sources, has never been easier with a vast number of dedicated devices, not to mention PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, many of which are capable of professional, studio-quality performance. Although production ended a couple of years ago there are also still plenty of perfectly good MiniDisc machines on the market and, for the moment at least, there is no shortage of blank discs.



Defending Norton

I normally renew my Norton anti virus annually. Will you please advise if the free Microsoft anti virus will be just as effective on my Windows 7 laptop?

Kevin Bennett, by email


In very general terms yes. Windows Defender provides good basic protection against the most common threats, but paid-for applications like Norton usually have lots of extra features. These can provide additional protection against new and more devious strains of spyware and malware, tools for clearing infections, but most importantly, they usually come with around the clock support, including live chat and real human beings on the phone. This could all be worth paying for if you consider your PC to be in peril, either through your own lack of expertise, past experiences or behaviour, but for most users, who do not take risks, the Microsoft offering can keep you safe.   



Missing Memory

With no programs open (except possibly my anti-virus program in the background) my PC tells me that I have 4Gb of RAM installed, (which is correct, I have 2 x 2Gb modules) but that only 1.45Gb is useable. What else is using so much of my RAM?

Tom Whitley, by email


It is not unusual or necessarily a fault for Windows System Properties to underreport usable memory, though typically it is only around 0.5Gb. This can be due to several things, including an integrated video adaptor sharing system memory, settings in the BIOS and the version of Windows. For example, W7 Starter Edition only supports 2Gb. Larger discrepancies though may be due to problems with the memory modules, but a lot of the time it can be something as simple as a memory module becoming unseated or dirty contacts. However, the first thing to do is check your PC’s memory usage in Task Manager. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete, select Task Manager and then the Performance tab. Click the Resource Monitor button then the Memory tab. This shows exactly which programs and processes are running and how much memory they are using. It may be that there is several programs have been set to launch automatically with Windows and are running in the background. Otherwise, unless you are familiar with the inner workings of computers, jobs like checking, reseating or replacing memory modules and updating or changing BIOS settings, are best left to the experts.



Obsolete Office?

I have had MS Office 2000 Professional since it came out and have kept it through various incarnations of Windows ever since, seeing no need to upgrade it, as it works. However my latest laptop came with Windows 8 and again no problem with Office 2000, until I upgraded to 8.1. Then no more Office 2000. I had to restore back to 8 (losing all my files, fortunately I had backed up) before I could reload Office 2000. So far so good, but the bally computer is now insisting that I upgrade to 8.1, and will not take no for an answer. How do I either keep W8, or find a way to let 8.1 work with Office 2000

David Crute, by email


Sadly Windows 8.1 does mark the end for Office 2000. Even though it was effectively obsolete by the tie Windows Vista was launched it was still possible to use it, without any problems on W7. You were lucky to get it to run on W8 but MS has almost certainly included something in 8.1 that now rejects it out of hand. You may be able to get some functionality by running the install/setup program on the disc in XP compatibility mode (right click on it in Windows Explorer), but it will almost certainly crash on exit, though your files will be securely saved. If you are reluctant to upgrade to a newer version of Office why not have a look at an excellent free Open Source alternative, called LibreOffice (, which is compatible with Office and XML formats. It is possible to stop the Windows 8.1 update but it is not recommended as there are security issues, it also contains bug fixes and there are some genuinely useful new features but if you have made up your mind and understand the risks there are some simple to follow instructions here:


© R. Maybury 2015 0203

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