Monday, October 31, 2011

Answer Man - Mouse pointer

Answer Man

I would like to change the size of the cursor arrow on my computer.  How do I do it?

Right click on the desktop and select Personalize.  The click on Mouse Pointers.  You can make the pointer a hand, a plus sign, a dark big arrow or a variety of other objects.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Answer Man - Larger Icons

Answer Man

I changed the resolution of my monitor.  Now I have icons that are so tiny that they are difficult to read.  Can I change their size without changing the resolution?

Right click on the desktop and click View.  Then click on Classic, Medium or Large Icons.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Answer Man - Create a shortcut

Answer Man

I downloaded a program from the Internet, but I have trouble finding the program when I don't use it frequently.  Is there a way to put a shortcut icon on the desktop that will open the program?

Right click in a blank space on the desktop.  Select New and Shortcut.  Type in the file location or web address of the program you want the shortcut to open and click Next.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Answer Man - Music and computer use

Answer Man

Can I use my CD to play music while I work on the computer?

You certainly can.  Put your favorite CD in the DVD/CD player, select the music and Play.  Then continue with whatever computer program you'd like to use.  You can search the Internet while you are listening and make the whole process more fun.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Answer Man - Uses for really old laptops

Answer Man

The battery on my old laptop is dead, and the computer has a really old processor and very little memory.  Is the computer good for anything?

My wife and I like to play solitaire.  That's about all our really old machine is good for, so we take the computer with us when we go RV-ing, and we enjoy using it for our daily solitaire games.  Other than that I'd say that the only other use for the machine is to fill a re-cycling bin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Answer Man - Uses for old hard drives

Answer Man

I have an old computer that isn't working correctly, but the hard drive is still good.  Can I use it for anything?

Yes.  You can purchase an inexpensive enclosure for the drive.  The enclosure usually is plugged into the USB port of another computer, and a power supply connects the enclosure to AC.  The drive can now be used as a convenient back-up location for your most important files.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Answer Man - Multiple Browsers

Answer Man

Is it possible to have more than one browser?

It's not only possible, it's desirable.  You can have each browser set to open to a different home page.  For example, you might have Mozilla Firefox open with the Computer Club Blog. You might have Google's Chrome Browser open with Google.  You might set Microsoft's Internet Explorer to open with Yahoo Mail, and have Opera open the Hewlett Packard web site.  To set the home page in browsers you generally click on Tools and Internet Options.  Then type in the address of the site you want that browser to open and click Apply.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Answer Man - Disk Wipe

Answer Man

I have an external drive that malfunctioned and is under warranty.  I want to send it in for replacement, but it has a lot of sensitive data on it.  Is there an easy way to make the data unrecoverable?

There are many free programs that will do the job.  I like Disk Wipe.  You can download the program from  It's easy to use, but may take a long time to work on your external drive.  You can select to have it over write the drive using  from one to 35 passes.  Note that you can't overwrite the C: drive, unless you remove it and put it in another computer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Answer Man - Deleting icons

Answer Man

There are a lot of icons on my desktop that I don't use anymore.  How can I remove them?

Simply right click on the icon and select delete.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Speed up Computer

Can anyone give me advice on how to go about speeding up my computer.

What would be the cost.

Please advise

Frazer Crane

Answer Man - Uploading to a GPS

Answer Man

A friend of mine somehow plans trips on his computer and than transfers all the information to his GPS.  I don't understand the process even though I've asked him to explain what is happening.

Let's look at an example.  Garmin, the largest manufacturer of GPS systems, uses a desktop system called Map Source.  The user plans an entire trip by establishing what are called Waypoints. Those are planned stops, such as the Grand Canyon.  From the Waypoints, the user creates a route.  The route and the Waypoints can be transferred to the GPS through a USB cable.  The user, selects My Locations on the GPS and then selects the particular location he wants the GPS to use.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Answer Man - Making my pictures last

Answer Man

I recently read that CDs and DVDs don't last forever as originally thought.  How can I safeguard my digital photos?

If you have old photos on paper, they have faded.  If you have video-tape, they experience print-through.  Nothing lasts forever.  The only advice I can give you is to have back-ups of the back-ups and keep some of them in cool secure places.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Answer Man - More than one E-Mail address

Answer Man

Is it possible to have more than one e-mail address?

It certainly is.  You can have many.  Most e-mail is free.  Providers include: Hot mail, Yahoo Mail, G-Mail, Thunderbird and  AOL Mail and dozens of others.  Many people use one address for friends and another address because they feel they may be bombarded with spam. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nominations Wanted

Nominations Needed

Most of the Oak Run Computer Club Officers have served several years, and were glad to do so, but it's time that the Club be revitalized by having new officers and new or additional people to serve on the set-up and membership committees.

I haven't minded serving as your President, but if no one else comes forward, and I again serve in 2012, I will complete 3 two-year terms as the Club's President. That's not good for the Club. We need new people with fresh ideas. The Federal Government knew what they were doing when they enacted no third term legislation.

When I asked for nominations at the October 19th meeting, we didn't have a single new nomination for any office. That's sad. Please nominate some capable people at the November meeting so we can keep our club vital and dynamic.

Answer Man - What is partitioning?

Answer Man

What does partitioning mean?

Hard drives are partitioned into areas for the purpose of keeping items separate.  Most computers shipped today have 2 partitions.  One is for the operating system such as Windows 7, and the other partition contains recovery information you can use if there is a problem with the operating system.  Some people like to create more partitions so they can keep photographs or music apart from data.  Many partitioning programs are available.  Many are free.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Answer Man - What is Firwire?

Answer Man

What is a firewire cable?

FireWire is Apple's name for the IEEE 1394 High Speed Serial Bus.  It uses a cable like a USB cable with a slightly different connector.  It is typically used to connect data storage devices.  The data transfer speed through a Firewire cable is faster than USB 2.0, but slower than USB 3.0.  Not all computers have Firewire connections.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Executive Board Minutes - October 14, 2011

Alan Marcus, President, called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM. Members in attendance: John Baccoli, Lawrence Bauer, Frazer Crane, Jim Dillman, Ron Kenyon, Laura Stein, Dave Simmons, and Carol Norton

Laura Stein, Treasurer, reported a balance of $2,669.71, with 128 current members.

Alan Marcus will present a PowerPoint presentation on the basics of computers at the October 19th meeting. All Oak Run residents and their guests are invited to attend. Question and Answer session encouraged.

Nominations for 2012 officers will take place at the October meeting with elections to be held in November.

The Oak Run Computer Club's Bylaws state that three officers of the club are approved to sign checks for the Club. As only two signatures are on file at the bank, a third needs to be added.

John Baccoli to accept responsibility for the purchase and pickup of assorted donuts/bagels/cream cheese for the December meeting – approximate cost $100

Jim Dillman to continue responsibility for Membership; John Baccoli, Publicity; Bob Leiner, Setup; for 2012.

Upcoming Programs: November 14 program will feature Paul Higgenbottom. Topic to be discussed includes anti-virus, anti-malware, security, and fake e-mails; December – Christmas Coffee/Bagels/Donuts; January – Uploading of photographs by Jim Dillman; February – Speaker from ACI; March – Backup Links by Frazer Crane.

The meeting adjourned at 9:35 AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Carol H Norton

Answer Man - Free computer help

Answer Man

Where can I get free computer help?

It always amazes me that people wouldn't expect to get the services of a plumber, electrician or a gardener free but expect an Oak Run resident with computer knowledge to drive to their house and fix their computer for free.  I get computer calls every day, and I don't mind giving out advice on the phone, but it is annoying to have people who expect me to take my free time, drive across the community, and spend a few hours at their home without getting reimbursed? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Answer Man - Alternatives to Photo Shop

Answer Man

I understand that Photo Shop is the gold standard of photo editing programs, but it's very expensive.  Are there any free alternatives?

Take a look at Gimp.  It's free, and very powerful.  However, it does have a steep learning curve.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Ubuntu 11.10

Many readers of this blog may not be aware that Ubuntu is a free but powerful operating system.  It can be download from  Since the download is an ISO file, it must be burned to a CD.  Once the CD has been created, you simply insert the CD into your DVD/CD drive and follow the on-screen directions. If that is too difficult for you, have a friend burn the CD for you.

I have used Ubuntu for several years.  Some versions were good and some were poor.  The latest version (11.10) is outstanding.  I think that it is head and shoulders above Windows 7.  The program is very fast and the learning curve is minimal.  Here is a great example of the simplicity.  In Windows you click on Start to Shut down (that makes lots of sense).  In Ubuntu, you click on a picture of a switch.

If you have a 2nd computer or an old Windows computer that has slowed to a crawl, try Ubuntu.  I think you will like it.

Answer Man - How many megapixels do I need?

Answer Man

I want to buy a digital camera, and there's a real good buy on 10 megapixel cameras.  The stores mostly have 14 megapixel cameras.  Can a 10 megapixel be any good?

Camera manufacturers have been hyping cameras by megapixels.  Unless you are going to greatly enlarge the pictures, megapixels aren't that important.  More important questions are:  Is the lens glass or plastic?  What is the size of the viewing screen?  Does the camera have digital zoom of at least 3X.  I have taken pictures all over the world with a 4 megapixel camera and achieved excellent results.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Answer Man - No sound

Answer Man

No sound is coming from my system.  What should I check?

First look to see if the speakers are plugged into the computer.  Most speakers use a green colored 1/8" plug that goes into a corresponding green colored jack.  Laptops normally have built in speakers.  If the speakers are external, see if they have an on/off switch.  Click Start, Control Panel, Sounds and check to see if your speakers have a check next to Mute.  If they do, un-check the Mute square.  If that fails, you may have to download new speaker drivers from the computer manufacturer or install a new sound card in the computer.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Answer Man - Cost of a decent computer

Answer Man

What should I have to pay for a half decent computer?

You can purchase a good laptop with 3 GB memory, a 320 GB hard drive, and a dual core processor for approximately $320.  Such a computer will suit most users just fine.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Answer Man - Free Virus and Malware Protection

Answer Man

Are good programs available that will provide anti virus and malware protection?

There certainly are.  You can do searches for the following programs:  AVG Free Edition, Malwarebytes, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast, Windows Defender, etc.  Just download the program you want and click on install.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Answer Man - Selecting multiple items in a list

Answer Man

I'd like to copy several items in a list, but not all.  Is there an easy way?

There are several ways.  One way is to click the first item in the list and hold down the Shift key as you click on the last item.  All items will be highlighted.  Then click on the ones you don't want selected and their hi-lighting will be removed.   You can than click on the Delete key.  It will delete all the hi-lighted items.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Answer Man - More USB ports

Answer Man

My old computer only has 2 USB ports.  After using those 2 for a mouse and keyboard, I don't have any for flash drives, backup drive, another printer, etc.  What can I do?

You can purchase a device that plugs into a USB port and provides several more (usually 4).  The ones I have purchased generally were not more than $8.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Answer Man - Printing Costs

Answer Man

The high cost of print cartridges is driving me up a wall.  Can you suggest a cheaper way to print?

I suggest you purchase an inexpensive black and white laser printer for $100 or so.  I just saw a Canon multi-function laser printer advertised for that price.  Only print in color when you have to using your current printer.  You will find that most of the time you don't need color.  Lasers cost much less to operate as they use toner cartridges.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Answer Man - What size drive for a back-up?

Answer Man

I would like to back-up my computer, but most back-up drives are expensive.  Is there a cheap alternative?

Well, there are several alternatives.  If you puchase a small flash drive (8 GB or so), the cost is roughly $12.  You could also back up to DVDs or CDs or a small usb driven hard drive.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Magic Jack Plus is Now Available

Many of you have been waiting for the new Magic Jack Plus.  You can now order it from Magic Jack.Com.  You will pay $81.64 for the device and one year of service (worth $29.95).  If you want to save money on the yearly service cost you can purchase 3 years of service for $19.95 per year vs. the 1 year cost of $29.95.  You will also pay $19.95 extra if you want to assign your home phone number to the Magic Jack so that you can end your Century Link home phone service.

The advantages of the Magic Jack Plus are that you do not need a computer, and you have phone number portability.  To use the device, you plug the Magic Jack Plus into the router by using an
ethernet cable.  Then plug any phone into the Magic Jack.  Then you can make unlimited calls to others in the U.S. and Canada at no additional charge.

Answer Man - Hard Drive Capacity

Answer Man

I am about to purchase a new computer.  Prices escalate with the size of the hard drive.  Do I really need a 2 terabyte drive? 

I think my computer has every program on it under the sun, and I have only used 149 Gigabytes.  Today's machines generally start about 320 Gigabytes, so even the starter machines should be enough for most mortals.  However, if you do a great deal of video work or store thousands of photos, you may want to go larger.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Answer Man - Incremental Back-up

Answer Man

I would like to buy an outboard hard drive to back-up my data.  Do you have any recommendations?

I suggest you look for a drive that comes with software that enables you to make incremental back-ups.  Such back-up programs only back up those files that have changed since the previous back-up.  If you don't have that capability you have to back-up all of your files every time, and that's a pain.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Answer Man - GPS Map downloads

Answer Man

I am planning a vacation and wonder how I can easily  put the trip in my GPS.

Most GPS systems come with mapping software.  For example, Garmin usually uses a program called Map Source.  Map source is installed on your computer and is used to plan the trip.  Each stop you plan is called a Waypoint.  You can create a route from the waypoints.  To download the waypoint or the route or both to the GPS, you connect the computer to the GPS with a USB cable.  The program will recognize that the GPS is connected and will let you transfer the data to the GPS.  When using the GPS, you select My Data, and choose the next location you want to go to, and the GPS will give you directions.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Answer Man - What is a database?

Answer Man

I keep hearing the word database, but I have no idea what one is or how to use one if I have one.

A database is a searchable record finding device. Let's assume you create one that contains all the people in Oak Run, their addresses, phones, neighborhood and what clubs they are in.  Then, you perform a query such as:  Give me all the people in neighborhood 3 that are in the computer club.  A list will be produced.

If you would like to try your hand at creating a database, download libreoffice from Open the program.  Click on Database and then on help.  You will be asked to create record fields.  You type in fields of your own choice,  such as Last Name, First Name, etc.  Then you perform a query.  You will find how to do these operations under help. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Answer Man - Photo Frame

Answer Man

I would like to have one of those photo frames to display my photos on a continuing basis.  The problem lies in the fact that most frames are too small to see well.  How can I display bigger pictures?

You could use any old computer and monitor.  The computer doesn't need much capability.  Set up the screen saver to display photos on a rotating basis. Most monitors are at least 17" diagonally, so you could have a pretty big picture.   Some new TVs will also let you display photos when the TV is connected to a computer.  You could have 60" pictures if you have a TV that big.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Answer Man - Home Inventory

Answer Man

I've been told that having pictures and a write-up of items in my home is needed if I ever have to make an insurance claim for items damaged in a catastrophe.  Do you have any suggestions on how to make such an inventory?
Go to and search for WYO home inventory.  The use of their site is free, and you can add photos and descriptions. Save the data to a CD and put the CD in a safe place, preferably off site.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Answer Man - What E-mail program should I use?

Answer Man

I want to get into e-mail and need to pick an e-mail program and set up an account.  What program should I get?

E-mail programs are generally free, and there are many available.  I suggest you choose one of the major ones such as,,  You will be able to access your e-mail, using these services, anywhere in the world.  I have retrieved my mail in Tanzania, China, Thailand and 40 other countries without difficulty.  Simply go to the site and create a new account.  That's it.

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