Sunday, June 30, 2013

Router Range

Answer Man

Decca installed my modem and router in my garage. The signal seems to drop off significantly in my bedroom where I have my computer. What's the range of a router? Can I improve the range?

Router range is usually 200 to 400 feet. The distance depends upon many factors. The range can be improved through the use of antennas and devices called range extenders. Do a search on the Internet for range extenders and choose one that fits your needs and your pocketbook. Best Buy sells many in the $60 to $100 range.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Icons on desktop are difficult to see

Answer Man

I'm having great difficult seeing the icons on the desktop. I made them larger and have changed the brightness and contrast on the monitor, but I still have trouble seeing them. Any suggestions?

I have found that when you select a background, you are much better off by choosing a dark solid color background rather than a picture. I personally like a black background. When you use black, the icons pop up right in front of you. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Using 2 printers

Answer Man

I would like to use both a laser printer and an ink-jet. Is there any problem in having 2 printers attached to the same computer?

Just use the software that came with the printers and install each one. Click Start, Control Panel, Hardware and Sound and Printers. See if both printers are shown. Click on the printer you use most often to set as the default printer. When you print anything, that printer will print unless you select the other printer.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

No sound from monitor

Answer Man

My old monitor went bad. I bought a new one and hooked it up according to the directions in the package, but I'm not hearing any sound. Can you tell me why?

I'm willing to bet that you're old monitor had built in speakers. Some monitors have speakers, but most do not. If your new monitor does not have speakers, you will either have to purchase some external speakers that plug into the computer or use headphones.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rolling CPU Stand

Answer Man

Have you ever seen a tower computer with wheels? It would sure make it easier to move in and out when I want to connect or dis-connect cables.

I haven't seen wheels attached to a tower, but you can buy a rolling stand that a tower sits on. Amazon sells one for just under $17.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Start Menu

Answer Man

I know that you have mentioned that a computer can be speeded-up by removing items from the Start Menu. How do you accomplish that?

Type msconfig in the search box, and then click on that word up above the search box. Click the Start tab. Un-check any item that doesn't need to start when the computer starts. Then click OK. The computer will function fine even if you disable all items in the Start tab. Remember, you haven't removed the programs, you just set up the computer so that the items wouldn't start when the computer starts. Any item you want to have start can be re-checked..  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monitor turns itself off

Answer Man

My monitor just goes black. I can push the power button and have it come on. Is there any solution?

Some monitors have problems when their capacitor's go South. Some manufacturers sell capacitor replacement kits, but the kits will cost a few dollars and you must be good with a soldering iron. A short term solution is to press the monitor button 5 times rapidly. That may work for awhile, but eventually, you will have to purchase a new monitor.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

SATA Drives

Answer Man

I went to put a new SATA drive in my computer but couldn't find the jumpers to set Master and Slave drives. How come?

SATA (serial ATA) drives don't use jumpers. The sequence of drives is set in the BIOS. PATA (parallel ATA drives) aren't in use any more. They had the jumpers that signaled which drive should boot first.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Multiple Virus Checkers

Answer Man

Is it possible to use more than one virus checker?

It's possible, but it's a terrible idea. One will start detecting the other one. You can however add some software that is similar. You could, for example, have Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes and Spybot all running on the same computer without conflict.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Orphaned Files

Answer Man

I guess I didn't shut down my computer correctly. Suddenly the machine went into Chkdsk. Files started flying by that said something about orphaned files. They went flying by for what seemed forever. What are orphaned files?

They're files that for one reason or another that have no names. If the process happens again, let the program keep running even if it takes a very long time. The computer will assign names and the process will not repeat again.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Executive Board Minutes - June 14, 2013

Alan Marcus, President, called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM. Members in attendance: Bill Balch, Lawrence Bauer, Elliott Bogart, Frazer Crane, Ron Kenyon, Bob Leiner, Bob Norton, Linda Tingley, and Carol Norton.

Secretary’s report read by Carol Norton. No corrections or additions necessary.

In the absence of Laura Stein, Treasurer, Alan Marcus reported a balance of $1,527.69.

Much discussion ensued regarding a name change for the club. Four names were agreed upon and will be presented for a straw vote at the general meeting, Wednesday, June 19. They are: 1) Oak Run Computer Club; 2) Oak Run Technology Club; 3) Oak Run Computer Technology Club; and 4) Oak Run Computer and Technology Club.

Discussion continued regarding moving the Club’s checking account to another banking/credit union institution. It was decided to wait until club members agree upon the club name change.

A new e-mail account is being established so that we can obtain a more accurate member e-mail address list. A $25 gift card drawing will be conducted for those that submit their addresses.

Windows 8.1 final release will be available late summer. A page tab will be added to the blog for Windows 8 Tips.

Upcoming Programs: June 19 – Richard Bambridge, from Oak Run. He will discuss iPads, iPhones, iTunes, and Macs. Q & A will follow. July 17 – Tom Males, Director of Marketing, Ford Motor Co., will speak on Future Technology that Ford will add to its vehicles. Future programs are being researched.

1. At the General Meeting on June 19, the membership voted to retain the original club name, “Oak Run Computer Club.” 

2. Since the Board meeting, an email account,, has been created for the purpose of updating members email accounts as mentioned above. 

The meeting adjourned at 10:10 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol H. Norton

Cable Installation

Answer Man

My computer is in a very large cabinet that is extremely difficult to move. Many wires need to go behind the cabinet. Have you any suggestions to make the installation easier?

The best device I have found for the purpose is a 3 foot long plastic cable tie. Use masking tape to tape a wire to the end of the cable tie. Fold over the last little bit of tape upon itself so that it is easier to remove the tape after you push the cable tie where you would like. Snake the cable and wire where you want the wire to go. Then pull both the wire and the tie through. Un-tape the wire from the cable tie and repeat the process for other wires.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vista Service Packs

Answer Man

I had a problem with my Windows Vista machine and had to re-install the operating system. I tried to download and install Service Pack 1, but kept getting an error message. What's wrong?

You can solve the problem by downloading and installing the Windows Vista System Readiness Tool. Here's one version: If that doesn't solve the problem, you need to get to a command prompt and type: sfc /scannow. Then try the Service Pack install again.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Answer Man

I've heard people mention computer hard drive partitions. What are they talking about?

Special partitioning software such as G-Parted is used to divide a hard drive into partitions or segments. Users may create separate partitions for Photos, Documents, the operating system, etc. Most new computers have C: and D: partitions. The partition labeled C: normally contains the operating system. The partition labeled D: normally holds computer restore information.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Do I Need a New Computer?

Answer Man

My computer is 5 years old. Is it time for me to get a new computer?

I'll answer your question with a question. Does your computer do all that you need it to do? If you do little more than check your e-mail and do an occasional Internet search, your current computer is probably fine. If your old machine has less than 2 GB of RAM, consider adding more. It's a cheap fix to make your old computer work better. If you need a bigger hard drive or just want to get Windows 8, think about purchasing a new machine.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Battery Back-Up

Answer Man

I've been told I need an uninterruptible power supply for my computer. What are your thoughts?

A UPS is essentially a box containing a battery and a switching mechanism. When the power to your computer is interrupted, the box switches on instantly. The purpose of the device is to prevent loss of data when the AC power goes out. These devices are important for businesses that can't afford any glitch in data, but are much less important to home users. A UPS could prevent damage during a lightening strike. One of the problems with a UPS is that it is only as good as the battery inside. If the user neglects the battery, the UPS may prove useless.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Change Background

Answer Man

How do I change the picture on the desktop?

To change the background of the desktop, click Start, Control Panel, Change Desktop Background. Click on the word Browse. You will see many options for backgrounds. These include sample pictures, solid colors, and your own pictures. Select the one you want and the background will change.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Icon for Club Blog

Answer Man

It takes too much time to type in the address of the Club's blog site every time I want to view it. How can I create an icon that will take me directly to the blog?

Right click on the desktop. Click New. Click Shortcut. Type in the address of the blog: Click Next. Type in a name for the shortcut. You might type Computer Club. Click Finish.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Answer Man

I have heard the term firewire. What does it mean?

Firewire is Apple's name for a high speed serial bus (IEEE 1394) that is used in much the same way as USB connections. Firewire cables have different connectors but are used for most of the same purposes as USB cables. USB has become much more popular.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Computer brands

Answer Man

What is the best computer brand?

There is not a lot of difference from one brand to another. Most have parts made in China, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan and several other locations. Each brand has low end, low priced models as well as some expensive deluxe models. Instead of concentrating on brands, look for processor type and speed, amount of RAM, size of hard drive, size of monitor, type of construction, and whether or not you like the appearance.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Find Photos

Answer Man

I have thousands of photos on my computer. I often want to find one but have great difficulty in narrowing down the search. Is there a better way?

Download Picasa Read the Help file and learn how to insert tags for each picture. Let's say that you have a picture of a 2000 year old olive tree from the Garden of Gesthemane in Israel. You might assign the following tags: Olive tree, Israel, Garden, Gesthemane. After your photos are tagged, you simply type in some or all of the search terms. If you only searched by the tag olive tree you would probably locate the picture immediately.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Create an External Backup Host

Well, it's like making an omelet: first you need an egg!  When I get a new PC, (I'm on Desktop No.4 since 1999) I remove the old Hard Drive, if it's working, for re-purposing. I now have 2-40 GB, 1-160 GB and a 250 GB. The latter is the one referred to in my last post and is in service as a backup for two Laptops. Each has an assigned Partition.

This is accomplished using a Kingwin DockMaster Hard Drive Dock which has a slot for either a 2.5 in. or a 3.5 inch SATA Drive, a USB A and B Data cable (like a printer cable) and a Power adapter. This I purchased from our friends at ACI for $25, but they are available on the internet.

The Hard Drive is plugged head-first into the slot provided and, with the USB plugged in also, shows up right away as a drive in My Computer.

From there your Backup software takes over, described in the Post below.

Have fun,
Jim Dillman

Backup, Backup, Backup

You are backing up regularly, right? Well, you know you should. Our old friend, Gene Barlow, told us why and showed us how on a couple of occasions. I bought a single instance of his Acronis True Image Home ($40) several years ago and have been backing up my Win 7 Desktop ever since.

Now we have a Win 7 Laptop that needs help too but I want a FREE app this time. A search found just the info we need. DOTTECH.ORG has a wonderful article ( which explains "disk" backups and "file" backups, and, for each, lists a half dozen FREE apps in order from "best" to just "ok", with pros and cons for each.

I selected the "file" backup app by ASCOMP SOFTWARE called BackupMaker. Here's the link, First, I did a backup of the Libraries (which include all my data and no system files. If I need those, they are on my install disc). Subsequent scheduled backups are incremental, only what's been changed since the last backup.

You need to backup to somewhere outside of your computer or all could be swept away by accident. I've backed up to an external hard drive described in the Post above.

Jim Dillman

Old Computer; Worth Anything?

Answer Man

I have an old computer with little memory and a small hard drive and no operating system. Is it useless?

I suggest that you get someone else to download the Linux Mint operating system and install it. The operating system is free and will run with as little as 512 MB of RAM. It's easy to use and your old computer will be like new.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Boot after virus attack

Answer Man

In the past, my computer has gotten viruses that completely locked the computer. Then, I had to pay big bucks to have someone rectify the problems. Is there something I can do on my own?

I suggest you download the free AVG rescue software and save it to CD. Then, when your computer is locked up, insert the CD and re-boot the computer. The procedure will save you lots of money and should rectify the problems.

Cell Phones and 911

Answer Man

Is it true that old cell phones that have no minutes assigned can still dial 911.

That is true. Many people donate old cell phones to battered women's organizations so that the users can dial emergency services if they have a need to do so.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

DVD Players Going Away

Answer Man

Is it my imagination or do I see more computers being produced without DVD drives?

No, it's not your imagination. Since more and more programs are now in the cloud, DVDs are no longer needed. You simply download the program to your computer.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lost Charger

Answer Man

I lost the charger for my e-reader. Can I substitute anything else?

Many e-readers will accept the charger used for cell phones. You can also purchase an inexpensive cable that will charge the e-reader from a USB port.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Solid State Hard Drive

Answer Man

I am thinking of purchasing a new computer with as solid state hard drive. Do you think it is a wise investment?

The main advantage of a SSD is that it is quite a bit faster than a mechanical drive. The big disadvantage currently, is the high cost. I say currently, because prices on all new technology start out high and gradually drop. I have used both types of drives, and my feeling is that the price difference is too steep at the present time. In a year or two the prices on SSD should drop, and at that time I would consider going with the new technology.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hard Drive Failure

Answer Man

Do hard drives often fail? Mine is making some kind of scraping noise.

All hard drives, whether mechanical or solid state, will fail eventually. Some will fail very quickly, and some may last for years and years. Unusual noises are signs that there may not be much life left in the hard drive. The wise user backs-up data frequently. Then, if the hard drive fails, the data can be copied to a replacement hard drive.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Connection speed

Answer Man

I am thinking of connecting a desktop and a laptop computer. Am I better off connecting them by wire or by wireless?

Wired connections are faster and more reliable and are not bothered by interference. However, you may want to be able to operate the laptop while you are sitting in your favorite easy chair. In that case, I would connect the desktop by wire and just connect the laptop by wireless.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Home Improvements

Answer Man

My rain gutters are sagging, and I wondered if you know of any good home improvement sites on the Internet.

I have found that there are many great home improvement ideas on youtube, Type in a description of what you want, such as installing rain gutter hangars, and see what is available. You will find both amateurish and professional sites. Some of the best are produced by manufacturers. I have used such sites many times. One of the best I found told me how to disassemble a Toshiba laptop.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mobile Hotspot

Answer Man

I am a snowbird and would like to have Internet connectivity wherever I go, but I don't want to have to pay and Internet Service Provider in each location. Any suggestions?

I have two. You can either take advantage of free Wi-Fi locations such as McDonald's or Starbucks, or, you can purchase what is called a Mobile Hotspot. The hotspot is a device that dials a nearby cell tower and enables you to hook up several devices which can connect to the Internet. Be prepared, however, for some rather hefty monthly charges for use of the device.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

USB Hubs

Answer Man

My laptop only has two USB ports. I need more. What can I do?

You can buy a device known as a USB hub. It plugs into one of your USB ports and usually provides 4 or more additional ports. The hubs are inexpensive. I have often seen them for $8.00 or less.

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