Thursday, July 31, 2014

Check Rumors on Snopes

Answer Man

I heard that there is a new national do not email registry that will stop users from receiving unwanted emails. Do you know how I can sign up for the service?

It would be really nice to have such a service, but, unfortunately, there is no such registry.

Whenever you hear a story about something that appears a little too good to be true, check it out by going to snopes Snopes will let you know if a rumor is true, partly true or false. In most cases, you will be able to read how the rumor originated and the motivation for the rumor. One of the recent rumors that proved false is that Target stores are owned by the French.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ways to connect to the Internet

Answer Man

What methods can be used to connect to the Internet?

Connections can be made via phone line (DSL), Cable, Satellite or mobile broadband (through cell phone towers).

Will wireless adapter work when NIC is bad?

Answer Man

Yesterday you advised using a wireless adapter when the network interface card is bad. Will the adapter work if there is no NIC?

Yes it will. The devices function independently of each other.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Answer Man

I have an old laptop. I tried to install and activate Windows XP, but the computer displayed a message that the activation was in error. I am certain that I typed in the product code correctly, and that the code has not been used on any other machine. What could be wrong?

I'm willing to bet that the network interface card (NIC) in the computer is defective, and the computer can not communicate with Microsoft to activate the computer. Plug an external adapter into a USB port so that the computer connects wirelessly. If you don't have an adapter, call the number displayed to activate the computer via telephone.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Windows 7 support ending?

Answer Man

A friend of mine says that support for Windows 7 is ending on January 13th, 2015. Is that true?

It is partially true. Here's a quote from Ziff Davis publishing about the situation:

Mainstream, free support is ending on January 13, 2015 for a number of major Microsoft products, including all versions of Windows 7 (Enterprise, Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate and Starter). Extended support for Windows 7 lasts until January 14, 2020, so users can expect to continue to receive free security updates, but not feature updates, for Windows 7 until that point. For those running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 applied, the end of mainstream and extended support dates are the same -- January 13, 2015 and January 14, 2020, respectively -- given there is no Windows 7 SP2.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Save vs. save as

Answer Man
You explained this before, but I still don't understand when to use the command Save and when to use Save As.

Save As is used when you want to save a new version and preserve the original. I'll try to explain the difference by using an example. Let us suppose that you compose a long name and address list for your neighborhood in Oak Run. You save the document. Two years later, many people have left the neighborhood and some new people have moved in. You type some changes to the old letter, and click Save. The old version is now no longer available since you typed over it, and you don't know what got deleted.

If, after you typed the revised info, you had clicked Save As, and had given the revised version a new name, the old version would still be available under its original name.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hard drive size

Answer Man

The hard drive in my desktop computer quit and I'd like to replace it with a solid state drive, but the drive that I took out was 3.5" and all of the solid state drives I see are "2.5" size. How do I make the small drive fit into my computer?

You can buy a caddy that holds the 2.5" drive and mounts in a 3.5" drive slot. When I don't feel like shelling out the money for a caddy, I just use some double-stick Velcro to fasten the drive to the bottom of the case.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Spreadsheet name sort

Answer Man

I created a name and address list in a spreadsheet. Everything was going fine until I decided to sort the names alphabetically. Now the addresses don't match the names. What did I do wrong?

You must hi-light the entire spread sheet before you do the sort. If you don't, only the names will be sorted, and the addresses will be left in the order they were in. The correct procedure is to select all and then pick the sort column (such as last names). Then, when you sort, all data associated with the name will keep its association with the name.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Laptop battery life

Answer Man

It seems to me that the battery in my laptop has gone downhill very quickly. How long should a battery last?

According to one study I saw, most laptop batteries will lose 80% of their capacity within one to two years, and the total life expectancy is normally four to six years. Of course, some batteries will last longer, and some will fail within the first year. Fortunately, inexpensive replacements can generally be found on the Internet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Monitor speakers

Answer Man

My computer monitor has built in speakers. Is there any reason to purchase other speakers?

Most monitor speakers, like laptop speakers, are tiny and of lesser quality than larger external speakers. If you rarely listen to music, and don't find the monitor speakers objectionable, I suggest that you forget external speakers. The same type of situation applies to most TV sets. The internal speakers are adequate, but not great. That's why so many people now buy sound bars.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tablet storage capacity

Answer Man

I have been thinking about buying a tablet computer. I noticed that most tablets are listed as 4 GB, 8 GB or 16 GB, and there's a big difference in price from one to the other. How important is the number of gigabytes?

The figures you mentioned are indicators of the storage capacity of the hard drive. The hard drive on tablets is solid state and considerably more expensive than mechanical hard drives. If you do nothing but search the Internet, the number of gigabytes will not be greatly important. However, if you plan to store many photos or lots of data, the number could be of great importance. I have a netbook that had just 8 GB of storage. I found it insufficient and replaced the drive with a 32 GB solid state drive.

Monday, July 21, 2014

No boot disk

Answer Man

I turned on my computer this morning and saw a message on the screen saying something like "No boot disk". What does that mean?

It probably means that your hard drive has gone south, and the computer can't find it, but there can be other causes for the message. The operating system could be corrupted, and you could try a system restore or recovery. When the manufacturer's logo first appears, you will see a message something like "Press F11 for system recovery" If you do, press the key mentioned. You may be prompted to insert the original or back-up disk. If the no boot disk still appears, there's a good chance the hard drive has failed.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Find app in Windows 8

Answer Man

I have Windows 8. I find it very annoying that I can't alphabetize the start screen tiles. As soon I move one, the rest jump around. Do you have a solution?

I also find that seemingly random movement annoying. The easiest solution is to ignore the start tiles and click on the down arrow at the bottom of the screen. That will take you to a screen showing all of the apps on the computer. The apps are in alphabetical order, so you can easily find what you want.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Scan documents

Answer Man

I scanned an address list into my computer, but now I can't make any changes to the list. Can you tell me why?

Most scans are scans of pictures, and, while photographs can be altered in programs such as Photoshop, text within the scan of a photo can not be edited. If you want to edit a document, you must scan the item as a document. However, documents can only be edited if the scanner software includes OCR (optical character recognition). If you do not have OCR, you can download OCR software. Some OCR programs are free. Here's one example:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Best way to backup

Answer Man

What is the best way to back up a computer?

The best way is to have multiple backups. I'll illustrate why using the following story.

I have a friend who installed a 2nd hard drive in his computer, and he backed up all of his important files on a regular basis. The computer was hit by a lightning surge and both drives were destroyed. Now, he backs up to an external drive and to DVDs. It seems, as the Pennsylvania Dutch say, "We grow too soon old and too late smart".

Backup to flash drive, external hard drive, CD or DVD, but back up often and on more than one device.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wi-Fi availability

Answer Man

I am planning a trip to China, but I'd like to keep in touch with my grand kids. What's the best communication method?

I have traveled extensively and find that many large hotels, throughout the world, provide free Wi-Fi, and that should work fine for most communication purposes. You do not, however, want to do any banking, stock buying or engage in any sensitive communications as Wi-Fi is not secure anywhere. Do not use your cell-phone as roaming charges can be prohibitive.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Map Quest printing

Answer Man

I use Map Quest for directions, but the directions always come up with a map. Isn't there some way I can print the directions without printing the map?

You will see two print commands in Map Quest. Click on the command on the right above the map. You will be given an option to un-check those features you don't want to print. Remove the check before the word Map, and you'll print only the directions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Can't Print

Answer Man

I just replaced my printer with a new HP printer. I find that many e-mail attachments (pictures) I printed before won't print now. An HP screen comes up with the picture, but there's no place to click on to print. I tried CTRL & P, but that doesn't work either.

I like HP printers, but their software is the pits. You need to go to the control panel, programs and default programs. Change the printer default away from HP and to something else such as Windows Photo Viewer. Your pictures will appear in a new window with the option to print.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Answer Man

My subscription to Norton anti-virus is about to expire. I'm wondering if there is a better anti-virus program out there, or should I just renew my subscription?

Most anti-virus programs do a good job, but I'm a great fan of free programs, and there are several good free programs available. I like Avast and AVG, Windows 8 comes with its own anti-virus program (Windows Defender), although some reviewers say it isn't quite as good as Avast or AVG. Consequently, I would not renew Norton but would go with one of the aforementioned free programs.

Blogmaster note: We have these and other programs under the *Free Software* page tab at the top or look half-way down the left sidebar.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Clogged printer

Answer Man

You recently gave some tips for unclogging an ink jet printer. I changed cartridges and ran the cleaning utility 3 times on my HP Photosmart, but still have no luck. Can you think of anything else to try?

Remove the cartridges and use an eyedropper to drop 1 drop of rubbing alcohol on to each screen in the cartridge holder. Wait a minute or two, insert the cartridges, and try printing. A friend tried this and had great success.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Router firmware

Answer Man

Someone told me that even though I have a new router, the router may have outdated firmware that could affect its speed. How do I get new firmware?

According to Webopedia: Firmware is a combination of software and hardware ROMs, PROMs and EPROMs that have data or programs recorded on them. Outdated firmware could slow down your router.

Here is the procedure for a Netgear router:

Friday, July 11, 2014

ORCC Board Minutes

Oak Run Computer Club – Executive Board Minutes
July 11, 2014

Alan Marcus, President, called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM. Members in attendance: Richard Bambridge, Elliott Bogart, Frazer Crane, Ron Kenyon, Bob Leiner, Bob Norton, Linda Tingley, Alan Marcus.

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

Bob Norton gave the treasurer's report. The current balance is $1989.38.

Richard Bambridge announced the schedule of upcoming programs:

July 16 – Richard Bambridge, Club VP, “Top 10 Internet Scams”

August 20 – Bill Sobel, Stone Creek Computer Club, “Alternatives to Costly Cable and Satellite TV Systems”

September 17 – (Tentative) Dr. John Rogacki, Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, “Inventing the Future”

October 15 – Bill Sobel, Stone Creek Computer Club, “Home Automation & Security Systems”

November 19 – Don Zenn, General Manager of Staples, Ocala, “Open Workshop”

December 17 – Holiday Party

The meeting adjourned at 10:10 am.

Respectfully submitted,
Alan Marcus, Acting Secretary


Answer Man

I'm new to Skype. I downloaded and installed the program without difficulty, and I was able to get the microphone working, but I don't know how to check to see if the webcam is working. Can you tell me how to check?

Open Skype. Click Tools, Options, Video Settings. If your webcam is plugged in and facing you, you should see your own picture.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Run a PATA drive in a SATA computer

Answer Man

I have a recent desktop computer that originally came with a SATA (serial ATA) drive. The drive quit, and I have an old PATA (parallel ATA) drive (often called an IDE drive). Can I use the IDE drive in the SATA computer?

I have run a PATA drive in a SATA computer, and found that there are various ways to make the drive work. The best way is to use the 2nd connector on the DVD drive cable. If you attempt to use a SATA to IDE conversion card and use the regular connectors in the computer, you will find that there is a loss of speed. Unfortunately, the ribbon cables used for the DVD are often too short to reach both the DVD and the IDE drive. I suggest biting the bullet and buying a new SATA drive, preferably a solid state one.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Laser Printers

Answer Man

You said that you prefer laser printers. Why?

Black and White laser printers are much less expensive to operate. They normally run about one cent per copy vs, 8 cents for an ink jet. The quality of print is better. The toner used in laser printers does not dry out and has a very long shelf life, while ink jet inks have a shelf life of approximately 2 years. Ink jet inks will dry out and clog your printer unless the printer is used frequently.

I have never had a laser printer become clogged. Lasers generally print 2500 copies or more per cartridge, so you don't have to replace cartridges very often. There are, of course, times when you may need color. Then there is no real substitute for an ink jet printer. Color lasers are too costly to operate, and require several cartridges. That means that the printer is much larger and may not fit on your shelf.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Printer not printing in black

Answer Man

My HP printer will not print in black. All of the colored inks work. I changed cartridges, but that didn't make any difference. Any suggestions?

The first thing to try is the "Clean Print heads" utility within the printer. It is usually within the Tools menu. Try using it up to 3 times to see if that makes a difference. If that doesn't work, remove all of the cartridges, and if your printer has a removable ink tray under the cartridges, remove the tray and soak it in warm water for 10 minutes or so. If you don't have such a tray, try dripping a drop or two of rubbing alcohol into the screens below the cartridges. You can also try unplugging the printer, holding the start button down for a minute, and then re-plugging. If none of these steps work, it may be time to buy a new printer.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Computer shuts down

Answer Man

I was in the middle of typing a page, and the screen went blank. The only way I could see the screen was to re-start the computer. What is going on?

I'm willing to bet that your computer's power settings are set up that way to conserve energy or preserve battery life. You can go into the Control Panel and change the settings to any length of time you like before shut down. I set mine up to Never shut down. It's just too annoying to have a computer blink off when you are in the middle of a project.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Poor quality printing

Answer Man

My printer is less than a year old, but a couple of the colors are barely printing. I have hardly used the cartridges. Do I have to buy replacement colors?

Ink that hasn't been used in some time tends to dry out. It sounds to me like your printer print head needs cleaning. Directions for cleaning differ for different types of printers, so look in your manual or on the printer display for directions for print head cleaning.

Most printers will run through a test print after cleaning. If that doesn't solve the problem, try cleaning a 2nd or 3rd time. If that still doesn't solve the problem, it's time for new cartridges.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How much RAM?

Answer Man

Is there a quick way to see how much RAM (memory) is in my computer?

Click Start. Right click on Computer (on This PC in Windows 8), and select Properties. There you will see RAM, the version of Windows, whether the operating system has been activated by Microsoft, the CPU, etc.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Default Programs

Answer Man

I'm using Windows 8.1. I clicked on one of my photos and it opened in Photoshop. I want my photos to open in Paint. How do I change the default setting?

Right click on the Windows icon in the lower left of the screen. Click Control Panel, Programs, Default Programs and Set your default programs.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Can't view Yahoo contacts

Answer Man

Since Yahoo changed their e-mail format I haven't been able to correctly view or edit my contacts.

Yahoo received tons of complaints about the problem, and I started to write a work-around, but you will find that the Yahoo gurus have resolved the situation, and you can now edit your contacts without difficulty.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Find a blog post

Answer Man

I recall that you posted an article about checking the speed of an Internet connection. Where can I find that article?

All of the posts to this blog are labeled. If you scroll down near the bottom of the blog page, you will see the INDEX OF POST LABELS. They are an alphabetical display. Find the label "Speed Test" and click on it to read that post.

Blogmaster note: You can also find a list of 4 speed test sites on the "Helpful Links" page tab at the top of the blog.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Can't connect

Answer Man

Sometimes my computer displays a message that it can't connect to the Internet. What is wrong with my computer?

Most likely, there is nothing wrong with your computer. We often forget that Internet providers frequently have problems, and that their systems go down. The other day, Yahoo experienced an odd problem. You could receive e-mails, but couldn't send any. It took Yahoo about 8 hours to resolve the problem. If you receive a message that the computer can't connect, suspect your provider before you suspect your own computer.

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