Ask Rick: signal boosters, Freeview HD, Task Manager, using a Mac, and converting files

1287651623 29 Ask Rick: signal boosters, Freeview HD, Task Manager, using a Mac, and converting files

Freeview quandary You recently mentioned that four high definition TV channels are available on Freeview. We live in East Sussex but I don’t seem to be able to receive any Freeview HD channels. James Spires, by email

Freeview’s HD service is still being rolled out and unfortunately for you the Meridian region will be one of the last to get it. According to the Freeview website it isn’t due in your area until 2012, though some transmitters will probably be operational well before that. You can keep track of progress on the site, where you will also find a coverage map and postcode checker.

Mystery memory-hog My laptop, using Windows XP, has recently been running very slowly. When I open the Task Manager it often shows that something called KService.exe is using up to 99 per cent of my CPU’s resources at any one time. I have been told it is something to do with the BBC iPlayer. Will the problem be solved if I uninstall it, or is it not that straightforward? Jeff Ewing, by email

Nothing to do with PCs is ever simple but yes, uninstalling BBC iPlayer will get rid of KService and may well speed up your computer. KService is a component in the Kontiki peer-to-peer file sharing service used by iPlayer and other online TV services, like 4OD and Sky Player. but if you want to keep on using iPlayer there are other solutions. make sure your PC is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible – if you have 1GB or less of RAM, then adding more memory will almost certainly help speed things up. You might also like to run through the XP Tuning Tips outlined in Boot Camp 355.

You can also manually switch off KService or use a batch file to turn it off when it is not being used. However, this involves a fair amount of tinkering and is not for novices. my suggestion is to use a small freeware utility called Process Lasso. this program works really well with older PCs and underpowered netbooks. It automatically prioritises Windows processes and services to make the most efficient use of the CPU, helping to avoid lock ups and slow downs. It should take control of KService without any intervention but you can manually change its priority if it is still making a nuisance of itself.

Mac to basics I have a MacBook Pro, kindly donated by a friend. The problem is, I cannot delete anything off the computer. I always understood that Apple computers were logical and user friendly; that has not been my experience so far. Admittedly, I don’t have a copy of the instruction manual. Dave Jordan, by email

You can download a copy of the manual from Apple. Macs really are exceptionally easy to use and very intuitive but there’s a fair amount of ground to cover if you are an absolute beginner, and a few old habits to unlearn (if you’re a ex PC user). The Big Dummies Guide: Macs for Seniors, is a good place to start if you never used one before, or try one of the many online tutorials, like MacForBeginners.

In the Works How can I convert a MS Works 7.0 spreadsheet with the extension .xlr to a MS Office Excel worksheet .xls file so it can be read on my wife’s Dell laptop? I do not have Office on my computer, and she doesn’t have Works on hers. Eric Jones, by email

If it’s only one or two files, then the quickest and simplest thing to do is open them in Works on your computer then go to Save As on the File menu and in the Files of Type drop-down menu choose the Office/Excel .xls option. Alternatively try this old trick: copy the file to your wife’s PC and change the file extension from .xlr to .xls. by rights it shouldn’t work as there are a number of differences in the two file formats, but it seems that in many cases it does, so it has to be worth trying.

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