Sunday, May 31, 2015

How to make an exact copy

Answer Man

I have an old computer program on disk. The program isn't available anymore, and a friend would like a copy. I don't want to give him my disk. Is there some way I can copy the disk so that it works?

You are talking about making an image. Here's one way to do that using a free program. Download the program Burnaware www.burnaware.com. Insert the original disk in the computer's CD drive. Open Burnaware and select Copy to Image. The image will be created as an ISO file. Insert a blank CD in the drive and select Burn Image.

Friday, May 29, 2015

What is slowing down my computer?

Answer Man

My Windows 8.1 computer is slowing down. Is there a way to see what might be causing the slow down?

You can take a look at the processes that are running on the computer by simultaneously pressing CTRL, Shift and ESC keys on the keyboard. You will be able to identify most processes by name, and can end an offending process, if it is not critical to the operation of the computer. Do not end any Window process.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What good is Microsoft's verbal assistant?

Answer Man

I heard that the new Microsoft Windows 10 comes with a verbal assistant. Why might someone need one?

You are referring to Cortana. The computer user simply says, "Hey Cortana" and then asks a question. While some questions may just be plain fun, such as asking Cortana to sing a song or tell you a joke, Cortana has some serious applications. You might, for example, say "Hey Cortana, where is Tierra del Fuego?" Cortana will respond by bringing up a map. The process is much simpler than having to type in a long question.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Travel alarm

Answer Man

I'm going on an Oak Run Travel Club trip. It is suggested that I bring along a battery operated travel alarm so I get up on time. Do computers have any kind of alarms built in?

You can download applications that will serve as alarm clocks, but I have a simpler solution. Almost all cell phones (even the non-smart pay-as-you-go type phones) have built in alarms. Most of them will let you set the type of tone and the volume. Since they are much smaller than even small travel alarms, I think you will find them superior to alarm clocks and computers for your purpose.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Flash drive not recognized

Answer Man

My HP laptop, running Windows 8.1, suddenly stopped recognizing flash drives. My back-up is on a flash drive. How can I get my flash drives to be recognized?

Windows 8 and 8.1 have had flash drive problems. It seems that removing the drives incorrectly caused the problems. The right way to remove a drive is to click on the little green icon in the taskbar. You should see a message that says that it is safe to remove the flash drive.

Once you have the problem, you can try several fixes. There is a registry fix (not for the faint of heart), and you can restore to an earlier point. However, I often find that these fixes do not work and that you will either have to do a system refresh or a complete system recovery (type refresh in the search box to learn how to perform the operation).

Monday, May 25, 2015

Free access to genealogical databases

Answer Man

I recently got interested in genealogy. The largest genealogical database in the world belongs to Ancestry.com. Membership in Ancestry can get very expensive. Does the Freedom Library provide free access to the database?

They sure do. They also will give you access to Heritage Quest and to a neat program called Power Search. Power Search will let you search all of the libraries databases at once. All you need is a valid library card number to access these great databases.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Page doesn't print correctly

Answer Man

Every once and awhile my printer doesn't print correctly when printing a page from the Internet. It might print half black, half white or not at all. Do you know of any work-around so that I can print the information correctly?

If a page won't print correctly, try the following: Drag your mouse across the page while holding down the left mouse button to highlight what you want to print. Press CTRL and C on the keyboard to copy the page to the clipboard. Open up a word processor such as Word, Libre Office Writer, Word Pad or Notepad. Press CTRL and V on the keyboard to paste the info from the clipboard, and then click on File and Print.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Is cloud storage safe?

Answer Man

I notice that more and more information is being stored in the cloud. What are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud storage?

Many users are unaware that they have been using cloud storage for years. All email is stored in the cloud. Cloud storage is not just a computer in space. It's multiple servers in multiple locations, and is therefore safer than storage on your home computer. Much of your banking information is stored in the cloud. Firms go to great length to protect cloud files through redundancy and encryption. Since more and more files are being stored in the cloud, you will eventually have to hop on the bandwagon and put your files there also.

Friday, May 22, 2015

How do you do a system recovery?

Answer Man

My computer is a mess. How do I do a recovery to put the machine back to the factory state?

Much depends upon the brand of computer. HP for example, normally suggests that users press F11 as the computer boots, and the computer will rebuild itself from a recovery partition (normally labeled as the D: drive). If your computer does not show a recovery message as it boots, you may have to re-install the system from disks.

Windows 10 will not have a recovery partition and, if you do a recovery, you will not have to go through a lengthy update process.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quick course on routers

Answer Man

My router just quit. I'm confused by all of the router choices at the store. Can you give me a quick overview so I know a little before I purchase a router?

Routers are normally used to provide a wireless signal so you can use your wireless tablet, laptop or other wireless device within range of the Wi-Fi signal that the router broadcasts. Routers are identified by the letters B, G, N or AC. (B being the oldest and AC being the latest). Most users are currently on the N standard which was developed in 2007. AC routers are 3 times faster than N routers, and cost more. All AC routers operate on a  5 GHz signal which is less susceptible to interference than previous routers. The prices of AC routers have been decreasing, so it makes sense to pay a little more for one than to buy an N router.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Is Vista still supported by Microsoft?

Answer Man

I know that Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP. How long will they support the other operating systems? I'm using Vista.

Windows Vista will be supported until April 11, 2017

Windows 7 will be supported until January 14, 2020

Windows 8 will be supported until January 10, 2023

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Record music from Internet

Answer Man

There's an Internet site that plays some neat music that I'd like to have. Is there some way I can record it for personal use?

You can download Audacity audacityteam.org/. Click "Record", and start the music. When the recording is over, you can export the file to your computer.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Restaurant Table Tablets: A Gimmick, Or Actually Helpful?

Tablets for ordering and tipping in restaurants can now be found on tables in eateries including Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Chili's, and more. The practice has clear financial benefits for the restaurants, but does it actually improve the dining experience?

A new trend is sweeping the restaurant scene: Tablets can be found at the tables in many eateries, serving as interactive menus that take on some of the workload of wait staff. You'll already find them in Chili's Grill & Bar, and many Outbacks and Applebee's locations. Olive Garden is the latest big chain to announce a nationwide roll out.

But, can a tablet really replace a waitress? Is this just a gimmick, or does it improve your dining experience? We decided to take a look at the pros and cons of restaurant tablets.

The Pros of Restaurant Tablets

For restaurants, these tablets are sold as a way to increase the take. According to the suppliers, they cut down on the time people spend in the restaurant, they encourage people to spend more money, and they boost customer loyalty. But how do they work from a customer perspective? Here are some of the major benefits:

  • Order when you're ready. You don't have to catch the eye of a passing waiter, you can just tap on the tablet to order a new dish or a refill.
  • Entertainment at the table. Most of these tablets offer games, for a small fee, that are suitable for keeping children amused, or act as ice-breakers for adults.
  • Pay when you're ready. You no longer have to wait for a member of staff to be free before you can ask for the bill, pay it, and leave.

These are the key attractions for diners, but there are other potential benefits that can be good for the business and the customer. It's possible to include more detailed descriptions of dishes and photographs. There shouldn't be any errors in the order, at least none that can be attributed to the servers. Restaurants can appeal for instant feedback, which should help them improve. People are much more likely to complete a survey or answer questions while they are still there, than go online using a receipt link when they get home.

On the other hand, some benefits for the restaurant may actually turn into costs for the diner's waistline. Chili's reported a 20% bump in dessert sales during testing, because it can play adverts for irresistible sweets while diners are on the main course.

It's important to note that not every tablet system offers the same range of options, and there are certain limitations. For example, you can only pay if the tablet has a card reader, and that means you'll still need wait staff if you want to pay cash. Different chains also have different rules; at Applebee's the server has to take your first drink order, and after that you can re-order from the tablet.

The Cons of Restaurant Tablets

These systems are obviously pretty expensive for restaurants to roll out, and there's a maintenance cost. You could argue that the fact they're encouraging people to spend more and eat more isn't good for diners, though it's obviously great for restaurants. There are a few other major downsides:

  • There's a learning curve. While people get used to tablets at restaurant tables, staff have to explain to diners how they work, when they could be taking orders. The initial result can be a slowdown in service.
  • Losing the human touch. You may feel that a little chat with the waiting staff is part of the dining experience. Tablets don't replace servers, but they definitely cut down on human interaction.
  • You can't ask questions. What if you'd like to ask about the specific ingredients of a dish, you'd like another napkin, or you want to query the bill? You're going to need a server.

According to one of the biggest providers, Ziosk, tablets also increase tipping. But this may be because the restaurant can set the default suggestion, rather than because of any perceived improvement for customers. For example, Chili's defaults to a 20% tip, and you have to alter that before swiping your card if you feel it's too high.

There are other potential problems. What happens if your tablet isn't working properly? What if you tap to order the wrong dish or your kids do? What if you want some time away from technology? Tablets can also act as advertising windows at your table, and that could definitely detract from the experience. Much depends on exactly how these systems are configured, and, at the moment, most restaurants are still working that out.

Tablets aren't going to be a good fit for all restaurants, but it looks like big chains are seeing a clear benefit. The danger is that they focus on their own bottom line to the detriment of the dining experience. If restaurants try to replace staff with tablets, then it's easy to see how the standard of service is likely to decline. However, as an enhancement, the optional convenience of ordering or paying without having to call busy wait staff over could be a really good thing all round.

What do you think? Have you used a tablet in a restaurant? Did you enjoy the experience or not?

You can read the entire story with video >> HERE.

Credit: csmonitor.com

Need old software

Answer Man

My XP machine crashed. I have the original XP install disks, but I'm missing many old programs that I used to run on the computer. Is there anywhere that I can find and download old programs?

Yes there is. Here's a site that has many old programs and earlier versions of current programs: www.oldversion.com

Blogmaster note: another popular site is www.oldapps.com

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fast Shutdown

Answer Man

You once showed a way to create an icon that would quickly shut down a computer. Would you please show it again.

Since I last published that trick, I saw a better write-up than the one I did. Here it is:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Windows 7 Still A Safe Alternative To Windows 8

Some two and a half years after Windows 8's arrival, Microsoft's earlier desktop operating system remains easy to find on new computers if you're flexible in your hardware choices.

HP's site, for example, lists eight desktop configurations available with Windows 7 vs. 35 with Windows 8; among laptops, 68 versions come with Win 8 against 31 with its predecessor. Those numbers obscure how the top computer vendor in the USA offers at least one model in most of its product lines with either Microsoft release.

At Dell, ranked second in market-research firm IDC's latest data, a similar pattern prevails with laptops. Although you have far more choices with Windows 8 than 7 - 101 choices on the menu compared with 29 - choosing the older software still gives you choices among Dell's major product lines. (except all-in-one desktop designs)

At Lenovo, fourth in IDC's ranking after Apple, specifying Windows 7 on a laptop also requires compromises. Not only does it's site list only 19 laptops with Win 7 vs. 100 with Win 8, you have to forgo more advanced models such as its Yoga and Flex series.

Although the 2009-vintage operating system exited "mainstream support" Jan. 13, all that means in practice is that Microsoft's updates to Windows 7 will consist only of security fixes, not new features. Those security patches will keep coming until Jan. 14, 2020, the scheduled end of "extended support" for Win 7.

That leaves potential Windows 7 shoppers few reasons to worry. Microsoft analyst Wes Miller wrote the following in an email, "They can buy a Windows 7 Professional PC today and receive security fixes for almost four and a half years. I also don't expect vendors to drop support for Windows 7 anytime soon - it's extremely popular with consumers and business".

Microsoft's Internet Explorer will get left behind - the Redmond, WA, firm is retiring that browser in favor of a new app called Microsoft Edge that will ship with the upcoming Windows 10. Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox can easily take IE's place. Since both still support Windows XP, you can expect Windows 7 to remain welcome at both browsers for years to come.

Don't rule out upgrading to Windows 10 from 7 when that ships this year. It should look much more like Windows as you've known it, including a streamlined version of the traditional Start menu. It will be a free upgrade from Win 7 as well as Win 8.1.

Read the complete story >> HERE.

Credit: usatoday.com

Put Linux on an old computer

Answer Man

I have an old computer that has very little memory and a small hard drive. The computer used to have Windows XP as an operating system, but it became corrupt and I have lost the install disks. Any suggestions?

I find that most versions of Linux work very well in old computers. I suggest that you purchase a flashdrive (4 GB or larger). Have someone else, who has a working computer, use the following program to download a Linux version to the flash drive:
Insert the drive into the USB port of your old computer and run the install program.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Be Prepared for system failure

Answer Man

I have a lot of valuable information on my computer, and if the computer failed, I don't know what I'd do. What suggestions do you have to protect my data?

I can't tell you how many computer users I have worked with who think about protecting their data after the computer has crashed. I like your forward thinking.

The first thing you must do is to create a back-up, or more than one. I like the file history back-up built into Windows 8 and 8.1. You must also make certain that recent restore points have been created. To do so, enter the words "Create restore point" in the Windows search box, and follow directions. I also like to create a system image (see previous posts to find out how to create one). You should also create recovery disks. To do so, just type "Create recovery disks" in the Windows search box.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Versions of Windows 10 and One Little Hitch

PC World's Mark Hachman reported yesterday, "As with Windows 7, 8, and now 10, Windows 10 will be sold in two versions for consumers: Windows 10 Pro, and Windows 10 Home. The Windows Phone brand, as Microsoft has indicated previously, is going away: It will be renamed Windows 10 Mobile, and will ship on phones and small tablets. Businesses and enterprises will also receive their own versions: Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise and Windows 10 Education."

Also in the article he states, "The differences among the versions of Windows 10 are easy to guess. In Windows 10 Home, Microsoft calls out Cortana, the new Microsoft Edge (“Project Spartan”) Web browser, the Continuum tablet mode for touch devices like the Surface, Windows Hello face recognition, and universal apps like Maps and Calendar as its selling points. (Windows Hello will also require a specialized depth camera, possibly built into new PCs."

Most notable for those of you using Windows 8 who have not yet upgraded to Windows 8.1 was this, "There’s one hoop to jump through on the path to Windows 10: ...... Windows 8 users will need to upgrade to Windows 8.1 before upgrading to Windows 10. That’s a small hitch for consumers ....

Read the complete story >> HERE.

Credit: pcworld.com

Modem/Router reset

Answer Man

Would you please review the way to re-establish modem/router connections?

I think I get more calls about loss of Internet connectivity than I receive for any other subject.

When your browser tells you it cannot connect, try the following: Disconnect the power plugs from behind the modem and router or just the one device if you have a Century Link combined modem and router in one box. Leave the plugs out for a minute or two. Plug in the modem and wait a minute or so until all the lights come on. Then, plug in the router and wait another minute or two. That should re-establish connections. If that doesn't work, call to see if your Internet provider is having problems.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What is a trackball?

Answer Man

I saw this funny looking gadget called a trackball. How do you use them?

A trackball is a gadget that looks like an upside down mouse. Trackballs serve the same function as mice (mouses?), and some people prefer them to mice. To use a trackball, you roll your hand over the ball, and that movement moves the cursor. I find them awkward to use, but I have friends who love their trackballs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Card Reader

Answer Man

I have an old computer that does not have a camera card slot. Can I add a camera card slot to my computer?

It would be too expensive to add slot capability to an existing computer, however, you can purchase an external card reader that plugs into a USB slot. You can also connect the camera to the computer using a USB cable designed for that purpose.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Windows 7 Dominance Not Slowing

Windows 10's free upgrade may stifle 7's growth, but data shows the older OS will power a quarter of all PCs when Microsoft pulls support in 2020.

Windows 7 last month powered nearly two-thirds of all personal computers running a version of Microsoft's OS, according to an analytics company.

Net Applications' monthly user share tracking -- an estimate of the percentage of all systems that rely on a specific operating system -- pegged Windows 7 at 63.7% of all Windows PCs in March. That was a 2.6 percentage point jump from February.


The climb of Windows 7's user share has been remarkable. An older operating system -- Windows 7 debuted in 2009 -- typically loses share when a successor appears on the scene. Even in the dark days of Windows Vista, the OS tagged as a flop for Microsoft, Vista stole share from the then-overwhelmingly-dominant Windows XP.

Instead, Windows 7 has gained significant user share since the October 2012 launch of Windows 8. In the intervening 29 months, Windows 7's share of all Windows PCs has climbed nearly 15 percentage points, representing an increase of almost a third.

Notable, too, has been Windows 8/8.1's stagnation: In the last four months, Microsoft's latest OS has grown by just six-tenths of a percentage point, reaching 15.4% of all Windows PCs in March. In the same span, Windows 7's share of all Windows machines jumped 2.2 points.

Windows 7's days are far from numbered. Microsoft won't retire the operating system from security support until January 2020, but it's probable that it will slip starting this summer, when the Redmond, Wash., company releases Windows 10. Consumers and some businesses will be able to upgrade their Windows 7 PCs to Windows 10 free of charge for a one-year period after the latter's launch.

The question for both Microsoft and its customers is ....
.... read the rest of the story >> HERE.

Credit: computerworld.com

Image vs. Back-up

Answer Man

What is the difference between an image and a back-up?

Back-ups normally back-up your data, pictures, videos and music. They do not save your programs or your operating system. Images contain all of the above and can be used to restore your entire hard drive, operating system, programs and files.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What is a Passport drive?

Answer Man

I keep running across the term "Passport Drive". What does it mean?

Passport is the name that Western Digital, a maker of hard drives, gives to portable backup drives that derive all power from a computer's USB port. A 1-terabyte Passport drive currently sells for approximately $70, and is a very handy device for use in backing up a computer.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Board Minutes For May 2015

Oak Run Computer Club – Executive Board Minutes
May 8, 2015

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

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

Bob Norton gave the treasurer’s report. The current balance is $ 2,184.39.

At the May 20 general meeting, Richard Bambridge will give a presentation on “The Apple Watch” (if his is delivered on time).

Alan Marcus demonstrated the use of the Virgin Hotspot that the Club will use to access the Internet at Club meetings. The device was purchased to eliminate the need of having members bring in their modems for Internet access.

Bob Norton motioned that Alan Marcus be reimbursed for the $74.00 he spent to purchase the Virgin Hotspot and card for the Club. Motion was seconded by Bob Leiner and carried.

The group discussed future program ideas. One idea was to have various members talk about subjects such as backing-up computer, making computer images, restoring to an earlier point, use of print screen and re-establishing Internet connections. Bob Leiner said he would give a talk on creating recovery disks. Bill Balch will talk about print screen and Bob Norton will talk about back-ups.

The group discussed various ideas to bring new members into the Club. Bob Leiner suggested that we give several presentations on smart phones, Alan Marcus suggested that Don Zenn, Manager of Staples, might be the one to give such a presentation.

The meeting adjourned at 9:50AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Carol H. Norton

Computer slow down

Answer Man

What, in your opinion, is the most frequent cause of computer slowness?

I find that all most all users have too many programs running in their start menus, and computers will run very well even if no programs are flagged to start when the computer starts.

You have probably heard me talk about computer bloatware. Bloatware is a term used for unneeded programs that the computer manufacturer has added to the computer and which start when the computer starts. HP, for example, frequently puts Wild Tangent Games in new computers. Most of the games are not free, and most users would be better off without them. See some of my other posts to find out how to rid your computer of bloatware.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Flash Drive

Answer Man

I have never created a backup. Can you tell me a simple way to create a backup?

Many people create backups on their main computer hard drives, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a backup. If the hard drive fails, their backups are gone.

I suggest you purchase a 32 GB flash drive. The cost is about $16. Insert the drive in a USB port. Locate the files you'd like to back up, such as Documents. Press CTRL and A to select all the files. Click CTRL and C to copy the files. Click Start, Computer and the letter that shows up for the flash drive. Then press CTRL and V to paste the files into the flash drive.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How long do hard drives last?

Answer Man

According to Lifehacker, the average mechanical hard drive lasts 4 years. Since solid state drives are relatively new, no one really knows how long they will last.

Remember the expression that it is not a question of if they will fail. The question is, when will they fail? So ---- Remember to back-up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Using Microsoft's Cortana

Answer Man

I know Windows 10 will come with Cortana (voice assist). What do I need to have to make Cortana work?

All you need is a microphone. If you have a web cam, it probably has a built in microphone. Simply click on the picture of the microphone in the Windows 10 search bar and say "Hey Cortana". Then ask a question or make a statement. I like to say, Hey Cortana, tell me a joke. The jokes are a little lame, but funny.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Backup the Backup

Answer Man

My laptop quit. I bought a new one. My portable USB backup device did not contain what I thought I saved. I tried to get my documents off the old hard drive, but the information wasn't there either. What do I do now?

I have talked to many people who have run into similar situations. You might try to recover data using a program like Recuva, https://www.piriform.com/recuva . I think you now know that you should periodically test your backups, and it is often wise to make a 2nd backup to avoid tragic losses.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Replace my laptop hard drive

Answer Man

The hard drive in my laptop quit.  I would like to replace it with solid state drive (SSD). Will any SSD fit?

It all depends upon the age of the laptop.Older laptops used PATA (parallel ATA) hard drives. Newer laptops use SATA (Serial ATA) drives. The connections between the two types differ. You must replace PATA with PATA and SATA with SATA.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wait for Windows 10?

Answer Man

My computer just quit. I need a new computer right now, but I hear that Windows 8.1 is terrible. Windows 10 isn't coming out until late July. What can I do?

Don't believe all the reviewers and critics. Windows 8 and 8.1 are great. I'm typing my answer to you on a 6 year old machine that was running Vista and is now running 8.1.

If you purchase a machine with Windows 8.1 now, it will upgrade to Windows 10 without any cost to you. Go get your new computer now. You will get used to Windows 8.1 in a New York minute.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

What is a SIM card?

Answer Man

What is a SIM card?

SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module. SIM cards are tiny circuit cards that identify the phone to your carrier. Generally the cards can be transferred to another phone, that uses the same carrier. The card contains your phone number, voice and data plans. The card also includes security information, information about your account and billing information.

If your cell phone runs low on power, and you have a second cell phone from the same carrier, you can swap SIMs and be up and running.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Integrated graphics card

Answer Man

I am investigating the purchase of a new desktop computer. The specifications for one computer listed an integrated graphics card. What does that mean?

A graphics card (often called a display card or graphics adapter) outputs images to the computer monitor. Inexpensive computers generally incorporate the card into the mother board. If the graphics portion fails, you have no choice but to replace the entire mother board. More expensive computers generally have discrete graphic cards. If the card fails, you simply replace the card in lieu of replacing the mother board. Graphics cards have their own memory and can be very expensive.

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