Why using a PC is like a coffee break…

By | July 1, 2013
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It’s never struck me before but what with websites using cookies, downloads of Java and so on, using a PC tends to make you feel peckish.  Google even name versions of their Android system after desserts and sweets – Gingerbread, Jelly Bean, Ice-cream sandwich…

Anyway, before I get onto Java, I wanted to mentioned something about various different gadgets that can be confusing…

Problems with gadgets like touchscreen tablets

When you have a problem with a PC not working properly, often the best thing to do is simply turn it off and then back on again, or “restart” it.

That empties out the memory and clears out some of the bits of Windows that can cause problems.

But what about tablets?  They don’t work quite the same way.  Often when you turn them on, they haven’t really been fully off, just in a sort of stand-by mode.  It’s how they can turn on again so quickly.

And sometimes you can find there are problems that mean it won’t even turn on.  Apparently a few people with Google’s Nexus 7 have had this problem – it’s as if the battery just won’t charge up so as soon as you turn it on, it says low battery and turns off.

Even if you’ve just charged the battery.

Usually, you can fix it by doing a special kind of restart.  On the Nexus 7 you hold the power button and the volume up and down buttons on the side of the device until it turns on.  You get a special menu – select start up and it should start up and work properly again.

Other tablets and gadgets have similar tricks you can use to start them up like this – you can search for “restart ipad” or “restart Kindle Fire” or whatever you have on the internet.  (Of course if you’re a member of the PC Inner Circle, just ask there instead).

The main thing is knowing that it’s possible – if you ever have a problem like this, don’t worry that it means the device is broken.  You might be able to fix it by pressing a few buttons and holding them down for a few seconds!

Your mouse might not have a flat battery when it stops working

While I’m writing about problems that are easy to fix but don’t look it, here’s one about optical mice.  Chances are your mouse (assuming you use one) is an optical mouse.  If you turn it over and there’s a little red light, that’s an optical mouse.

It uses a light to tell when it’s moved over a surface, rather than older mice which use a ball and some rollers.  Optical ones tend to be more precise, last longer and don’t clog up all the time.

Generally (if you have a mouse with a battery rather than a cable) if it stops working the battery’s run down.  But occasionally it can be a little bit of dust in the way of the light or the receiver, in the bottom of the mouse.  Just turn it over and blow hard to blow any dust away.  Or use a cotton bud to clean the lens.

If it was dust stopping it working properly, that should sort it.  And save you buying new batteries only to find it still doesn’t work!

Java doesn’t know its own mind

I don’t know if you know about Java (the program, not the coffee!). It’s a little program that helps websites do various fancy things, particularly things where you interact with the webpage somehow, for example select menu options or so on.

It’s quite handy and like many computer programs it’s constantly being updated.

But Java seems to have a weakness – and has done for years.

Fairly often it’ll tell you there’s a new version and you need to update. You click to allow it, it downloads and starts installing… only to tell you that you already have the most up to date version.

I’ve no idea why – it’s a flaw in Java itself.  And I really don’t know why they haven’t fixed it, since it’s been an issue for years.

But I just wanted you to know so you don’t worry – if it happens to you, just shrug your shoulders, mutter “What do these programmers do?” and carry on.  It doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong and it’s not something to worry about.

(Oh, and Java programmers, if you happen to read this, could you fix it?  I’ll buy you a coffee to say thanks!)

eBay videos and my blunder

The eBay videos have proved really popular despite me accidentally sending the “launch” email to half of everyone at midnight instead of midday (don’t worry, I didn’t expect you to be at your PC at midnight).  Perhaps I’d better let Julie teach Alastair the difference between am and pm when he’s a bit older…

You can read all about the videos, what’s included and so on here: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/ebayb.htm

You’ll also find out about the limited gift I’ve got for you as a newsletter reader – but only if you’re pretty quick.

(Oh, and Louize now has the small Japanese Cherry tree I mentioned.  Confused?  Read more here: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/ebayb.htm)