Handy Hints And Tips

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Shutter - Protect your laptop from thieves

If you’re worried about thieves accessing your personal information from a stolen laptop, the Shutter utility for Windows can help block their attempts. The tool shuts down or locks Windows after a period of inactivity, and can be downloaded for free from

To use Shutter, select User Inactive from the top dropdown menu. Choose how long you want the software to wait and select an action. The Lock Workstation option is best because it will permanently lock the thief out of your PC. The flaw with the Shutdown option is that a thief can interrupt the shutdown process, leaving your files vulnerable. Click Start. The Status bar at the bottom of the Shutter window will show how long you have been inactive. This countdown is handy for you but also for anyone wanting to steal your data. This can be fixed by hiding Shutter. It’s also helpful to set it to start with Windows.

Shutter locks your laptop after a period of inactivity to prevent thieves stealing data

Shutter locks your laptop after a period of inactivity to prevent thieves stealing data

Close Shutter. Right-click the Shutter icon and click ‘Run as administrator’. Click Options, select ‘Autorun at Windows startup/logon’. Click Save and restart Shutter. Return to options and select: ‘Start event when program starts’ ‘Minimize on start of event’, ‘Minimize when program starts’ and ‘Minimize when click on close button’.

The ultimate safety setting for Shutter is to tick the ‘Never show Tray Icon’. This makes Shutter virtually invisible. As it can be tricky to get the Shutter window back, it would be a good idea to disable the minimize options. Click the close button to hide Shutter when Windows starts.

Win with your hints

The sender of the Tip of the Fortnight will win a copy of Honestech VHS to DVD Deluxe worth $90. It includes an adapter to connect video devices to your PC and software to capture audio and video. Visit for more information. The hint should be around 150 words long and should include a screenshot. Email entries with your name and address to [email protected]m or write to our usual address (marking envelopes ‘Hints &Tips’). By sending a tip, you agree to have it published by Dennis Publishing.

Dropbox - Recover deleted files

Dropbox can recover files that have been deleted by mistake. Find the folder of the deleted file and click the rubbish bin next to the search box to show deleted files. Right-click the deleted file and then click Restore.

Dropbox can recover files that have been deleted by mistake

Dropbox can recover files that have been deleted by mistake

Dropbox keeps past versions of files so you can recover work that has been edited. Right-click a file and select Previous Versions. Click one to restore it.

Excel - Create subtotal formulas

I have a spreadsheet for my insurance inventory with separate sections for different types of item. Because they are arranged into Groups (using the icons in the Outline section of the Data tab in the Ribbon), I can use the Subtotal function to get quick totals for individual or several groups. This is because the Subtotal function can ignore hidden cells. This won’t work with cells hidden with the Filter tool. The cells have to either be hidden manually or with groups.

Subtotal formulas

Subtotal formulas

To calculate the total value of the visible cells in the range C5 to C36 use the formula =SUBTOTAL(109,C5:C36). The first number is used to select the kind of function. Three-digit numbers exclude hidden cells, one-digit numbers include them. Other codes include 1 and 101 for Averages and 2 and 102 for Count. A full list of the different functions appears as you enter the formula. Find more information at

Raspberry Pi - Make remote access easier

If you want to access a Raspberry Pi over a network, giving it a fixed IP address will save you a lot of time. This is best set up when the Raspberry Pi is connected to a monitor and keyboard.

Your router will automatically give out IP addresses so it needs to be told not to use the address that you give to the Pi. Consult your router’s manual for exact instructions on changing the range of addresses used on the DHCP server. I have set my DHCP server to give out addresses between and, leaving 20 fixed addresses I can use (including one for the router itself).

Raspberry Pi access

Raspberry Pi access

Return to the Raspberry Pi and double-click LXTerminal. Type cat /etc/ network/interfaces and press enter. This will tell you the name of your network connection. If you connect with a cable this will probably be ethO.

Next, type sudo nano /etc/network/ interfaces and press Enter. Move down to the line with your network connection and replace dhcp with static. Now enter the lines in the blue box above based on the IP address used by your router.

Press Ctrl and 0 to save the file and Ctrl and X to quit. Restart the Pi and it should now use the fixed address of

See the discussion on Computeractive’s forum at for instructions.

Windows 7 - Play sound over HDMI

Windows 7 play sound over HDMI

Windows 7 play sound over HDMI

When you connect your computer to a television using HDMI, you’ll need to change the audio playback device in Windows in order to use the HDMI cable for sound as well as video. Once you have connected the computer and switched on the television, right-click the Volume Mixer icon in the Notification Area and left-click Playback Devices. Right-click the box that shows a TV or HDMI device, then left-click ‘Set as Default Device’. A green tick should appear by this device. Start Windows Media Player and play some music to test that the audio device is working properly. It’s probably a good idea to turn the volume on the computer all the way down to begin with to prevent any nasty surprises.

Microsoft email accounts - Use two-password authentication

Microsoft has added a security tool to all its email accounts - Live, and Hotmail - that sends an extra password to your mobile phone or email address. You’ll need to enter this every time you sign into a Microsoft Account. This means if someone guesses your main Microsoft password they still won’t be able to access your account.

Visit sign in. A notification email will be sent to your secondary email account. Copy the code from the email and click Submit. Confirm the security info. Click ‘Set up two-step verification’ and then Next. Choose whether to receive a text or call to your mobile number. A test code will be sent to you.

You’ll get an email confirmation that explains how to create sign-in details for programs and devices that don’t support two-step verification, such as Windows Mail.

You can disable these extra passwords for individual devices, such as your PC at home.

WordPress - Secure your blog

If you use the Word Press blogging software on your website, you can keep yourself safer from the recent hacks with a clever plugin that limits unsuccessful login attempts.



Log into WordPress and click Plugins. Click Add New. Search for Limit Login Attempts. Click Install Now, then Activate Plugin once installation is finished. When four incorrect attempts are made in a row the site will disable login requests for 20 minutes. For more information see

KeePass - Read passwords more easily



If you find it hard to read passwords in the KeePass manager, you can adjust the font so it’s easier to read. Click the Tools menu and then Options. Click the Select Password Font button at the bottom right. Choose a new font, style and size and then click OK. Don’t make it larger than 18 point or the text won’t display properly. Consolas is a good choice as its zero and letter 0 are easy to tell apart.

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