Sunday, November 30, 2014

Streaming video

Answer Man

I have been thinking about buying a streaming device from Roku, Apple, or Google, however, even regular You Tube videos play poorly on my computer. The movies are constantly buffering, and I'm sick of the starting and stopping. Will I be making a costly mistake by buying a streaming gadget?

You generally need an Internet speed of 7 MBS or greater to effectively stream. If your speed is lower than that (Both Decca and Century Link basic services are lower) than you will probably experience lots of buffering and will be unhappy with whatever service you purchase. Your only effective solution is to pay for improved service from your Internet provider.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Watch out for return shipping costs

Answer Man

I purchased a 3TB hard drive from China on eBay. The drive was very cheaply priced at $55, and was warranted to be be good. The seller will refund the total amount for defective drives, but the buyer has to pay the cost of return shipping. Imagine my surprise when I found that the cost to ship the drive back was $29.70. How can Chinese vendors make any profit if postage costs are so high?

The cost to ship from China to the U.S. is very low because the Chinese government subsidizes the shipping costs. The U.S. does not. Many buyers find out the hard way that the shipping costs from the U.S. are out of sight, and it just does not make sense to return an item because of those high costs.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hotspot not working

Answer Man

A friend of mine, in neighborhood 1, uses a Verizon Wi-Fi hotspot, and it works very well. I borrowed it, and tried it in my home in Bay Tree Greens, and it didn't work at all. What gives?

Wi-fi hotspot devices are essentially cell phones. They connect to the nearby cell towers, but some cell towers are closer to the user than others. I'm willing to bet that your friend, in neighborhood 1, lives much closer to a cell tower than you do. If the tower is by the front gate, then, you may be trying to connect from a point approximately three miles away in Bay Tree Greens. Signals fall off rapidly with distance. You may have to purchase a micro cell (repeater, booster, amplifier) to be able to receive the signal in your home.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Boot from flash drive

Answer Man

Someone gave me a flash drive containing Windows 7. I want to boot from the flash drive, but every time I start the computer, Windows Vista boots. How do I get 7 to come up?

You have to enter the computer Bios to change boot sequence settings. When your computer starts, look on the screen for the key to use to get into boot sequence or start up. If you press the key in time, the computer will show the sequence. Follow the on-screen directions to have the computer boot from the USB port first. Then save and exit. If Windows 7 starts to boot, you have followed the sequence directions correctly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recovery Disks

Answer Man

I have been told that all computer users have a means to create disks that can be used when the computer experiences catastrophic failure. How can I create the disks?

Insert a blank DVD in the CD/DVD drive. Click Start, and in the search box type Recovery. Click on the word Recovery that appears above the search box. Follow the directions that appear on the screen. Note: You must have burner software installed on your computer. Common burners include Roxio, Nero, CDburnerXP and Burnaware.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Simple backup

Answer Man

I would like to create a backup using a flash drive. How do I accomplish the task?

Insert the flash drive in a USB port. Click on the folder you want to backup (we'll assume that you want to backup Documents). Click Organize, Select All, Copy. Click Start, Computer and the letter of the flash drive. Click Organize and Paste.

Monday, November 24, 2014

iPod Shuffle

Answer Man

I have an iPod Shuffle MP3 player. It shuffles OK, but how do I get it to stop shuffling? I want it to play all the songs in sequence.

The Shuffle has a 3 position switch. If you turn the device on by pushing the on-off switch all of the way to the right, the music is shuffled. If you carefully slide the switch to a middle position, all of the music will play in sequence.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Monitor cables

Answer Man

My new monitor came with three cables. Which one should I use?

The oldest style cable is known as VGA. It is D shaped and the housing is usually blue or black. The next newest is DVI. It is usually white inside the connector and has pins in 2 sections. The newest cable is HDMI. It has the advantage of having sound and video in one cable. If your computer has an HDMI connector, use the corresponding cable. If the computer doesn't have HDMI, use DVI if available. If not, use the VGA. You can save or give away the remaining two cables.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Replace the operating system

Answer Man

I just purchased a new hard drive for my computer because the old drive went bad. I don't have restore disks for the computer. If I use a friend's Windows 7 disk, can I put 7 on my computer?

Yes, you can, but be aware of the following: You must have a valid product code sticker on your computer because you will have to enter the code when installing Windows 7. The installation will not be the same as the OEM's, so the installation will not include a back-up partition or many of the original drivers. You may have to download network drivers from the manufacturer's website. You will also have to install tons of updates to bring your computer up to date.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Solid State Drives

Answer Man

The hard drive in my laptop failed. What are the advantages and disadvantages of replacing the mechanical drive with a solid state drive (SSD)?

Solid state drives are faster and more reliable, but they are considerably more expensive than their mechanical brothers. I just purchased a 120 GB SSD for $56. I could have purchased a 1 terabyte mechanical drive for the same price.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Emergency shut down

Answer Man
My computer sometimes freezes. It won't leave the screen it was on. Do I just pull the plug?

The first thing to try is what is known as a soft boot. You accomplish it by pressing the CTRL, ALT and DEL keys on the keyboard at the same time. If the Task Manager appears on the screen, click to end the running task. If that doesn't work, you will have to hold in the computer's start button for approximately 8 seconds until the computer shuts down.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bad computer switch

Answer Man

The switch which turns on my computer is intermittent. Sometimes I can turn on the computer. Sometimes I can't. Is my computer toast?

It is doubtful that any repair shop can replace the switch. I doubt that even the manufacturer stores switches for old machines. I have replaced the switches in two desktop computers.

Open the computer. Locate the wires going to the switch and cut them off near the switch, and strip the ends about 1/2" from the end. Extend the wire 8" or so by soldering more wire to the existing wires. Insulate the splice with tape or heat shrink tubing.

Purchase switches at Radio Shack. You want miniature normally off momentary switches. They come 4 to a package for $3.99. Solder the wires to the switch terminals. Find an open space in the front cover of the computer and drill a 1/4" hole for the switch. Mount the switch, and you will have a fully functioning computer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Backup media

Answer Man

I need to backup my documents and photos. There are all kinds of backup systems on the market. Do they have any advantage over simply using a flash drive?

If you just want to backup a few files and photos, a flash drive will work well. If you have loads of material to save, you will need a larger drive (perhaps 500 GB or a terabyte). Many drives can be left plugged in and can be set to automatically backup, and even make incremental backups. I'm a firm believer in having more than one backup source. I know of a college that relied on a back-up system that failed. Now they have multiple backups.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Medical Advice

Answer Man

I see all kinds of medical advice on the Internet. Some of it seems unscientific or downright dangerous. How can I tell what sites to trust?

If you doubt a web site, you might check out the facts from sites such as
or well known hospital sites.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Executive Board Minutes - November 14, 2014

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

Secretary’s report read by Carol Norton. Correction necessary to last month’s treasury balance to reflect balance as $2,000.52, rather than $2,052.00.

Bob Norton gave the treasurer's report. The current balance is $2,025.29

Don Zenn, General Manager of Staples, Ocala, will conduct a tuning workshop at the November 29 general meeting by offering a free computer health scan, scanning for harmful viruses as well as any spy ware that will cause problems with the operation of the computer. Anyone with laptops, tablets, etc. who want to bring them in can do so and have them checked out.

The December 17 general meeting will be the club’s annual holiday party. Coffee/tea will be served along with donuts and bagels.

Board members agreed the club should purchase six dozen donuts and four dozen bagels. The club will pay ORHA for coffee and let ORHA know coffee should be provided for a planned attendance of 70 people.

Four $25 gift cards and two $100 gift cards are to be given as door prizes.

Alan Marcus will give a short demonstration of Windows 10 at the holiday party.

The meeting adjourned at 9:50AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol H. Norton


New operating system

Answer Man

I have a 6 year old computer. The operating system is Windows Vista. Can I put a newer operating system on my computer?

Newer operating systems generally take a minimum of 1 to 2 Gigabytes of memory. Check the specifications of your computer, and look up the minimum requirements of the operating system you'd like to install. The computer I'm using was a Vista machine and is now running Windows 8.1. However, the computer has a dual core processor and 4 GB of RAM.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hard Drive Failures

Answer Man

How do I know when the computer hard drive is about to fail?

The most obvious sign is noise that wasn't there previously. A clicking sound is often heard. Other signs include the inability to save, programs that won't start, drive not recognized, slow access times and computers that won't boot to the hard drive.

You might try using a free hard drive assessment tool called "DiskCheckup" from

Friday, November 14, 2014

Updates stopped

Answer Man

I tried to get my computer to install updates, and although it said it was installing updates, the progress bar showed 0 updates. What could be wrong?

My best guess is that previous updates are in the queue but weren't installed. Shut down the computer (not re-start) and start it up again. I think you will see a message that says "Install updates 1 of 10" or something of that nature. Let the previous updates install. Then try the new updates.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Replace laptop hard drive

Answer Man

How difficult is it to replace the hard drive in a laptop?

You don't need any technical know-how to replace a laptop drive. Use a small Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws (usually two) from the cover plate on the back of the laptop. You may find that two more screws hold down the drive. Some drives have a pull tab to aid in lifting the drives out of the bay. Some drives slide one way or the other to disengage the drive from the SATA connector. Reverse the procedure to install the new drive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Printer not working

Answer Man

I put new ink in my printer and all worked well last week, but today I went to print and the paper came out blank. Any suggestions?

The first thing to try is to clean the print heads. This can easily be done by using the printers built in head-cleaning utility. Look in the printer menus under settings or tools until you find something about head cleaning. If the printer doesn't print after using the utility, try it a second time. But don't use the utility more than 2 times as it runs through lots of ink. If the printer still won't print, check out the other posts on this blog that tell you how to mechanically clean print heads.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Answer Man

The hard drive quit in my laptop computer. I have heard that solid state drives (SSDs) are faster and more reliable. Is there any reason why I can't put an SSD in my laptop?

You can certainly replace the hard drive with an SSD. I recently replaced two laptop drives with SSDs made by Kingston. Each has worked flawlessly. I found that Newegg is a good source of reasonably priced drives. The drives I purchased were $7.00 less expensive than comparable drives at Amazon.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Slow computer

Answer Man

I have a 4 year old Compaq CQ62 computer. It seems to run very slowly compared to my neighbor's 6 year old HP Slimline S3400. Can you tell me why it is so slow?

Your Compaq was sold by Walmart at a bargain price. The computer has just 2 GB of RAM (memory) and a slow Celeron single core processor. The Slimline has 4 GB of RAM and a dual core processor.

Your computer will hold up to 8 GB of RAM, so you could improve its speed by adding more memory, but you won't be able to change the processor. Computer buyers should realize that faster computers almost always cost more than entry level models.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Computer keeps updating

Answer Man

I took my Windows 7 machine in for repair. They had to do a complete recovery. Now the computer keeps running. A recent message said that it was installing 170 updates. Is that normal?

A recovery re-installs the original software and the computer is returned to the way it was when you bought it. Most Windows 7 machines are 4 years old. All of the updates from 4 years ago to the present date have to be installed. So, let the machine run and don't shut it down until all updates are installed.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Copying files

Answer Man

I would like to copy some pictures from a friend's computer and put them on my computer. What's the easiest way to do that?

I suggest that you use a flash drive to accomplish the purpose. Insert the drive into the USB port of your friend's computer. Navigate to the location of the pictures. Left click on the first picture file until it is hi-lighted. Hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard and left click on each additional picture you would like to copy. When all the pictures have been hi-lighted, hold down the CTRL key and press the letter "C" to copy the pictures to the clipboard.

Click Start, Computer and then the letter of the flash drive to view the contents of the flash drive. Hold down the CTRL and the letter "V" to paste the photos into the flash drive. Plug the drive into your computer's USB port. Click on View Files. Copy and paste the photos as described above, and the pictures will be saved to your computer.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ream of paper

Answer Man

Is it my imagination or are packages of print paper becoming smaller?

No, it is not your imagination. A ream of paper has been historically defined as being comprised of 500 sheets. Lately, some stores have been selling packages they call reams, but the packages contain just 400 sheets. I don't know what others call it. I call it out and out deception. The next thing you know a pound will contain 6 ounces.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Calls from Microsoft

Answer Man

Someone with a strong foreign accent called me and said he was with Microsoft. He said that they were monitoring my computer and detected all kinds of problems. I didn't know what to do , so I said I'd talk to him later. How can he tell what's on my computer?

He can't! The only way people can access your computer is if you let them or if they are very good hackers. This is a classic scam. Microsoft does not make calls to individuals. The callers try to trick you into installing software such as Team Viewer that will let them control your computer from their end. Then they install malware and want you to pay them to clean up what they just installed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

No operating system DVD

Answer Man

My computer does not have a CD/DVD drive. Can I install a new operating system from a flash drive?

Yes you can. Download the Windows 7/USB download tool. (It works with other operating systems) It will let you write the OS to the flash drive. Insert the drive and re-start the computer to boot from the flash drive.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What OS can you use?

Answer Man

I have an old computer that uses Windows XP? Can I put a newer operating system on the computer?

It all depends upon whether the computer has the minimum operating specifications required by the operating system. Windows 10, for example, requires a minimum of a 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of memory. You must also have paid for the system if it is a Windows or Apple OS, and you must have the product code so you can activate the computer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Email always in draft folder

Answer Man

I keep trying to send an email to a friend. The program puts the email in the draft folder but doesn't send the email. What am I doing wrong?

I'm willing to bet that there is something wrong with the recipient's email address. Many computer users become preoccupied and type in an address with .com rather than @,, etc. When you are sure the email address is correct, try sending the email again.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ink problem

Answer Man

I have an HP Officejet 4620. The Cyan color isn't printing. The cartridge is brand new. Any suggestions?

Often, printer print heads can be cleaned by soaking them in hot water. The 4620, however, does not have a removable print head. Remove the cartridges and try cleaning the little inlet screens in the print head with cotton swaps and alcohol. Keep swabbing the screens until no more color comes off on the swabs. Then run a test print. If the cyan still doesn't print, repeat the cleaning process.

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