Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Greeting cards

Answer Man

I would like to create my own greeting cards. Do you have a favorite card program?

I have used Print Shop for many years, and think it is the best thing since sliced bread. You can use their pre-made cards, alter their cards, or start from scratch. The only difficulty you may have at first is in determining how to print the outside and inside of the cards so they come out in the correct orientation. When I do half-fold cards in portrait mode, I have to print the outside and then turn the paper around so the picture is nearest me, and then print the inside of the card. Your printer may behave differently.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Printer output streaky

Answer Man

The output from my inkjet printer is streaky. How do I improve the quality of the print?

The cartridges are probably low on ink, and new cartridges should solve the problem. Other causes for streakiness include clogged print heads and defective gearing. Try cleaning the print heads first using the printer's head cleaning menu. If that doesn't work, install new ink. If the problem persists, try dropping an ink or two into the screen below the cartridge. If you still encounter a problem, it may be time for a new printer.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Phone as MP3 player

Answer Man

I have an old cell phone I am not using and it is not active with any provider. Can I use it as an MP3 player?

Probably. Most phone contain mini SD cards that are used to store photos and music. Remove the card, put it in the SD holder it came in and insert the card into your computer. Copy music from your computer and paste it in the SD card. Re-insert the mini card in your phone, and, by selecting the correct phone icon, you should be able to play the music that is on the card.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Vacation planning

Answer Man

I have never been on a cruise. Can you mention a good cruise planning site?

Vacations to Go is a great place to start. The prices may not always be the best you can find, but the site is beautifully laid out and it is very easy to find exactly what you are looking for.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Remote control

Answer Man

My daughter lives in San Francisco. She knows very little about computers and I would like to be able to help her with some computer problems. Is there a free program that will let me control her computer?

Yes. Team Viewer is an excellent program, and it's free.

Computer background

Answer Man

I would like to make one of my favorite pictures appear as wallpaper (background picture). How do I accomplish my goal?

Locate the picture. Right click on it. Click on "Set as desktop background".

Friday, December 26, 2014

Enlarge print

Answer Man

You once mentioned a way to enlarge the print on a computer screen. Please repeat how it's done.

Here are two ways: You can hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard as you move the scroll wheel forward (move the wheel backward to make print smaller) or you can hold down the CTRL key and tap either the plus or minus key to achieve the same objective.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Update pop-ups

Answer Man

My computer frequently displays pop-ups about updating various programs. I don't know if the updates are legitimate or not. How can I tell?

There are so many scams with false pop-ups that I suggest you don't click on any of them. Either go to the source for the programs or you might try a great program that will install and or update many of your favorite apps. The program is Ninite, and it's free. You simply put a check before all of the apps you want to get or update and Ninite does the rest.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Purchasing online

Answer Man

I have never purchased anything online. I have always been afraid that someone will rip me off, and I wonder if there are any real bargains out there. Are there any bargains?

I have been purchasing items online for many years and have never had a problem with being ripped off. There are many good bargains. For example, I just bought some computer memory on Ebay for $11 that would cost $35 at most brick and mortar stores.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One cartridge out and printer won't print

Answer Man

I don't understand what is going on with my printer. One of the color cartridges is out of ink and the printer won't print in black and white. Can that possibly be happening?

Unfortunately, there are many printers on the market that work that way. I suggest you read lots of online printing reviews before buying a printer to see if the printer you are thinking of purchasing works in that manner.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Free Microsoft books

Answer Man

I understand that Microsoft has dozens of books about their products that can be downloaded free. Do you know how I can get them.

Note: Most of these books are for professional IT people, but not all. You can even download some of them in Kindle format. Most are in PDF.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Keyboard shortcuts

Answer Man

I know you are an advocate of keyboard shortcuts. Which ones do you think are most useful?

I like CTRL + ALT + DEL to start Task Manager and stop programs that freeze. CTRL C and CTRL V to copy and paste, CTRL Z to undo the last move and to undo up to 26 times, CTRL P to print, CTRL A to select all, CTRL S to save and CTRL D to bookmark.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Printer eating ink

Answer Man

I don't know if it is my imagination or not, but it seems that whenever I use my printer's head cleaning utility the ink is drained right out of the cartridges.

It's not your imagination. Many printers are known to do that while others don't. If you plan to buy a new printer, check the reviews to see if your complaint is common to the printer. You might also check the Consumer's Report article on printers.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Windows activation

Answer Man

The hard drive in my desktop quit. I installed a new drive and Windows 7, but I keep getting a nag from Microsoft that the computer is not activated. A window appears that says I should contact Microsoft and a phone number is listed. There is also a list of nine groups of numbers. Is the process of activating difficult?

It is not difficult, but you have to read all of those numbers to Microsoft. When you get done, a series of blanks will appear. Microsoft will give you new numbers to enter into the blank squares. The whole process seems idiotic, but it works.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rubber ball mouse

Answer Man

I have an old style mouse that has a rubber ball inside. Is the mouse totally useless with today's computers?

The old ps2 connector on the end makes it almost useless unless you have a matching jack in your computer, and the computer's that have those jacks are 8 or more years old.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Windows 8 Refresh

Answer Man

I'm using Windows 8, but it appears to be corrupted. I have heard that I can refresh the computer without affecting my files. Is that true?

Yes and no. How's that for a definite answer? You're documents and photos are preserved, but programs you have added will not be saved. Windows 8 will list items that were removed, but that doesn't do much good. You will have to re-install all of the programs that were removed, and that can be a real pain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Delete multiple emails

Answer Man

I use Gmail. Sometimes I have hundreds of emails in my inbox, but I don't see any way to delete more than 20 messages at a time. Is there a way to get rid of hundreds at one time?

Look above the emails at the Google search box. At the right of the box you will find a tiny down pointing arrow. Click on it. Where you see Size, type in 1 MB. Where you see Date Within, make it 1 year from today's date. Then click Create Filter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Board Minutes

Oak Run Computer Club – Executive Board Minutes
December 12, 2014

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

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

Bob Norton gave the treasurer's report. The current balance is $2,175.59

The December 17 general meeting will be the club’s annual holiday party. Coffee/tea will be served along with donuts and bagels. A short demonstration will be given on Windows 10 by Alan Marcus.

Board members discussed for possible purchase of one sending unit and two hand-held microphones for the club. Alan Marcus will check into the pricing and report his findings at next month’s board meeting.

The Oak Run Computer Club will conduct a Q & A session, meant for novice computer users on Friday, February 13, in the Orchid Club, between 3 and 5 PM. The session is open to all Oak Run residents.

Several program recommendations were presented to the Board for the coming months. Future programs will be announced when finalized.

The meeting adjourned at 10:05 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol H. Norton


Answer Man

I get very poor cell phone reception in my home. I don't want to have to step outside every time I want to make a phone call. Are there any other options?

Cell providers can't put towers everywhere, so many will sell users a device called a femtocell (AT&T uses the term microcell). The device uses VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to act like a cell tower in your home. Femtocells can greatly improve the signal, so you won't have to step outside whenever you want to make a call.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keyboard types different letters

Answer Man

My computer types gibberish. I carefully type the correct letters, but different letters or symbols come up. What could be wrong?

Check to see if English is selected as the language default. Click Start, Control Panel, Clock Language and Region and Change Input Method. There, you can select the language of choice.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Unwanted programs

Answer Man

I don't visit any suspicious web sites but still managed to get toolbars, anti-virus programs and search engines I didn't request. How did this happen?

Unfortunately, even legitimate websites have resorted to the inclusion of stuff you may not want. Adobe reader will include McAfee anti-virus software unless you un-check a box on the Adobe update site. CCleaner, which is an excellent program, includes Google toolbar, unless you un-check the inclusion box. Whenever you download or update from any site, read the fine print and take the appropriate action.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Use for old hard drive

Answer Man

I have a spare hard drive, taken from an old computer, but have a new computer. Can you think of any good use for the old drive?

You can purchase an external hard drive case, mount the drive in the case, and use the set-up as an external drive for back-up purposes. Just be certain you buy the right kind of case. Older drives, known as IDE drives have lots of pins on the connection end. Newer SATA (serial ATA drives) have one long connector and one short connector. Purchase the appropriate case and you'll be good to go.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dirty computer

Answer Man

I know dirt is harmful to my desktop computer. What's the easiest way to remove it?

Purchase canned compressed air from a computer store. Remove the cover from the side of the computer. Take the machine outside, and direct the air spray at the fan, power supply and everywhere you see dust. Put the computer cover back on and you should be good to go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Computer turns on intermittently

Answer Man

My desktop computer starts some times but not others until I press the switch several times. What could be wrong?

Possibilities include a bad switch, bad power supply, bad mother board, bad hard drive and poor connections, but I'd check the BIOS or UEFI settings first.

Open the case and look for a watch sized battery in some type of holder. Remove the battery, wait a few minutes and insert a replacement battery (the batteries can be purchased at Wal-mart's jewelry counter). Close the case. Reconnect the cables and start the computer. Hopefully, this will solve the starting problem.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Administrative Rights

Answer Man

Some programs and services require administrative rights.  How do I start those programs and services?

Here's Microsoft's suggestion on the topic:

To run an application one time with a full administrator access token
  • Locate the program icon or a shortcut in Windows Explorer.
  • Right-click the program icon or shortcut, and then click Run as administrator.
  • When the UAC message is displayed, do one of the following:
  • If you are logged on as a standard user, or if UAC is configured to always require credentials, enter the appropriate administrative credentials, and then click OK.
  • If you are logged on as an administrator and UAC is not configured to always require credentials, click Yes to start the application.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Command prompt

Answer Man

Many computer solutions suggest typing a command at a command prompt. How do I get to a command prompt?

Type CMD in the search box of any version of Windows. A black and white screen will appear where you can type your command. After typing the info, press the Enter key on the keyboard to execute the command.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Answer Man

I have been reading about the huge number of recalls related to defective auto airbags. Where can I find out if my car is in the recall?

You can check to see if your car is part of the recall by going to the federal government recall site

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Low cost cables

Answer Man

A recent Club speaker mentioned an Internet site that has low cost cabling.  Do you recall what site that was?

I think you are referring to Monoprice:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Switching cell carriers

Answer Man

I used to have an Apple 5S cell phone, but on the advice of a friend, I got rid of the Apple and got a Samsung that has more bells and whistles. I like the Apple better, but I'm in the middle of a 2 year contract with Samsung. Is there any way to get out of the contract?

You will find that many cell phone vendors will buy out your existing contract to get you to switch to their service. Call Apple and see if they'll make such an offer.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hard drive size

Answer Man

I am going to buy a new computer. How do I know how big a hard drive I should purchase?

Most people have much more hard drive capacity than they need. A typical user, who uses the computer for email, Internet searching and storing some family photos and some music can get by very nicely with a 320GB hard drive. If you do video editing, store thousands of photos or play complex video games, you will want a larger drive. Mechanical drives are dropping in price as solid state drives have begun to take over, so you might just let your pocketbook be your main guide.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Virtual keyboard

Answer Man

What is a virtual keyboard?

It is a keyboard in appearance such as those that appear on the screen of a tablet computer or smart phone. A user can type on the screen and can achieve the same results as though acquired by typing on a physical keyboard.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Windows 7

Answer Man

My computer just died. I want to buy a new one, but I'd like to have one with Windows 7. Can I still get one containing 7?

Microsoft has stopped supplying 7 to original equipment manufacturers, however, Dell still has a supply of the machines containing the OS. I don't expect the supply to last long.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Windows 10

Answer Man

When will Windows 10 be available?

Microsoft hasn't released a date yet, but the best guestimate is mid-April 2015. The preview edition is available now for anyone to try, but it is in Beta, and could blow-up (not literally) your computer. If you have another computer you can use for testing, you might want to download the preview edition.

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