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GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison

The purpose of this blog is to be a resource for consumer information on computer related technology without getting too technical (free of geek speak) and without cost (geek for free) – thus the name “GEEK FREE”.


FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison

Warning! This blog is for geeks only. If you are not comfortable working with the command prompt, Windows registry, system restore, administrative tools and such, then you are welcome to read, but please FOR~GO trying anything you read here on your own. SenCom and the author will not be responsible for your actions and the results!

Posted by Joe Callison in Introduction

Computer Lifecycle

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
21 May 2022

Support for consumer computer hardware and software used to be typically 10 years, because that was the normal contractual requirement in business and government purchases, which drove the need for stocking replacement parts and repairs and for software updates. In recent years this has changed, probably because of the explosive growth of the consumer electronics market. Now support for consumer products can be as short as the warranty period.

Computer operating system versions from Microsoft and Apple used to be supported for about 10 years, which was also about the time between new releases. Currently, releases of new versions (or feature updates) occur annually, and it has become common to support previous versions for only a few years after a new version is released, except for Enterprise and Education versions that are still supported for longer periods. Certain industrial and commercial specialized applications are still supported for a full 10 years.

The following is some information from the web regarding operating system support by Microsoft and Apple as of May 2022. The end of support is important to know because of the increased security risk of running software that is not receiving regular updates.

From Windows 10 Home and Pro – Microsoft Lifecycle | Microsoft Docs:

From Windows 11 Home and Pro (Version 21H2) – Microsoft Lifecycle | Microsoft Docs:

From Get Windows 11 for Your Compatible PC | Microsoft (frequently asked questions):

Windows 11 Free Upgrade from Windows 10

The free upgrade offer does not have a specific end date for eligible systems. However, Microsoft reserves the right to eventually end support for the free offer. This end date will be no sooner than October 5, 2022.

Windows 10 Free Upgrade from Windows 7

For the Windows 7 holdouts, you might be interested to know that I just upgraded a laptop to Windows 10 this month with no problem. I suspect it will continue to be possible until the Windows 10 end date.

Apple macOS (from macOS | endoflife.date)

Computer Hardware

The computer equipment that runs the operating system has a limited lifecycle also. New operating system versions or updates take advantage of new hardware features available. Older hardware will not be able to run the new features and at some point may not be able to run the operating system at all when the updates are no longer designed for or tested on the older hardware. The hardware manufacturers may also not update drivers for older hardware to operate on new operating system versions. In general, you can expect hardware to be supported by the software for about 6 to 8 years. By then it is getting way behind the current technology and is prone to failures that may no longer be repairable.

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Windows Settings for Ease of Use

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
17 January 2022

Windows has a number of settings that can make it easier to use computers, especially as we begin to lose manual dexterity and visual acuity with age. There are a few settings that I recommend every senior computer user consider to possibly enhance their user experience. I have used Windows 11 screenshots because people getting new computers are more likely to need or want to make these changes and the settings look different than they might be used to in Windows 10. Continue reading →

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Google Changes

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
5 December 2021

Google has made changes recently that may require action if they apply to you, i.e. if you use any of the Google services such as Google Photos, Gmail, or Google Fiber TV.  Continue reading →

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
18 November 2021

Sometimes we would like to have an old program or need an older version of a program to access files that we have or maybe just for nostalgic reasons. There are several websites that are repositories for old software that can be downloaded from them. There are also user groups that you can become a member of and have access to copies of old software contributed by members. Some of the software for installation of a program or operating system may or may not require you to have an existing software license to be able to run it. The following links provide information on some of the available sites for old software:

The 10 Best Sites to Download Older Versions of Software

List of websites to download old version software for Windows PC

Library

OS VAULT – Home

Macintosh Repository: Old Mac Software Archive

Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine

Download old PC games for DOS and Windows

VETUSWARE.COM – the biggest free abandonware collection in the universe

If you search the internet for other software repositories, almost all results will be for sites used by software developers to store their work, such as GitHub. Search instead for old software, old software repositories, old software archives, or abandonware.

In order to run old software on a modern operating system, you may need to run it in a virtual machine, which is software to emulate another computer system. Software to create a virtual machine is available from VMware, Parallels, VirtualBox, Hyper-V, DOSBox, and others. Otherwise, you could use an old compatible computer that still functions.

Best virtual machine software of 2021

Beginner Geek: How to Create and Use Virtual Machines

 

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Shopping for a New Television?

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
5 September 2021

Labor Day through New Year’s Day is the best time to buy the current model year televisions before the next year models are introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early January and available to consumers by spring or summer. Most television manufacturers set the prices that authorized retail dealers can sell their televisions for, so any discounts should be the same wherever you shop but selecting a dealer with a price match guarantee is a good idea. Amazon does not do price matching according to my source of information.  Continue reading →

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GitHub

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
24 August 2021

The Microsoft community of developers and customer/users post their on-going creations on GitHub for access by anyone, whether you are a contributor to the development or just want to try out what they are working on. Eventually some of the creations make it into the official Windows distribution as new features. Three features that caught my interest and a sample user contribution are in the following.   Continue reading →

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Windows 11

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
12 July 2021

Introducing Windows 11
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11

Much to my surprise, Microsoft chose to name their “new and improved” version of Windows as 11 instead of creating a catchy new name- a missed opportunity in my opinion. I guess they were still stinging from the Millennium Edition and Vista names that did not go so well. Now let’s see if they can actually get the new version out to computer manufacturers soon enough to be pre-installed in new computers for this holiday shopping season or if it will have to be installed later as a free upgrade. Continue reading →

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Linux as an Alternative Operating System

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
10 June 2021

For decades computer hobbyists looking for a free or low-cost alternative to Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS operating systems have turned to Linux. Because of its reliability, modest hardware resource requirements, and low cost, it is now widely used for embedded operating systems for smart devices and a large percentage of computer servers powering companies and the internet. In recent years, improvements in the distribution process by organizations such as Ubuntu have made it more accessible to even those with modest computer skills by using bootable “live” CD or USB downloads that let you try it out without installing on the computer unless you choose to do so. Of course, the performance will be much faster when installed rather than running from the CD or USB files.   Continue reading →

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Advantages of New WiFi Standards

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
21 April 2021

Wifi technology and the routers and wifi adapters using it have advanced a lot in recent years. It is difficult to explain the nuances of wifi technology without getting geeky, so bear with me a little as I attempt to explain some of the terminologies as simply as I can. Continue reading →

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Building Your Own Computer

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 April 2021

Many of us like the idea of putting together our own computer. Not only is their satisfaction in building something yourself, but you can choose to put more or less money in the parts that you choose for your build depending on their importance to you. Even kids have been able to assemble their own desktop computers from parts these days. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 1 comment

Smart Home Device Privacy and Security

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
7 March 2021

The use of voice-activated devices, smart TVs, and other smart devices, are becoming more and more common in our daily lives. So much so that we usually do not even give a second thought to reviewing the terms and conditions for privacy and security information when installing them, or bother to look at the relative settings when setting them up. Perhaps we are being a little too trusting of the companies producing the devices to look out for our best interests.   Continue reading →

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Technology and Covid-19 Vaccination

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
26 January 2021

Kansas City area county health departments are all employing technology to help roll out the Covid-19 vaccinations. Below are links to websites and images of the areas for signing up to be notified when it is your turn to be vaccinated and the vaccine is available. Using your computer, tablet, or smartphone to sign up for notification is the most efficient method. Telephone numbers may be available also but may involve long wait times. These surveys are for notification only, not appointments for getting the vaccine.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 1 comment

Fixing Windows Password Problem

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 January 2021

I ran across a pretty useful trick for unlocking a Windows computer with a forgotten password for the only local account with administrator access, assuming file encryption had not been enabled. For a locked Microsoft account, see the instructions in https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/account-billing/reset-a-forgotten-microsoft-account-password-eff4f067-5042-c1a3-fe72-b04d60556c37).   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Troubleshooting with Windows Safe Mode or Clean Boot

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 December 2020

When looking for solutions to problems using Windows, you will sometimes read advice to run in “safe mode” or run after a “clean boot”. They both do similar things but there are some differences that can make one more appropriate than the other for specific situations.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Free Creative Programs for Beginners to Professionals

GEEK FREE
by Joe Callison
18 November 2020

There are some great free open source programs available that I consider good enough to not only recommend to beginners to try out, but that will satisfy the needs of most professionals. Of course, if you find a program useful and want to support the developer(s), you are encouraged to donate to them.   Continue reading →

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Using Command Prompt: Network Commands in Batch Files

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
10 October 2020

Probably the most common use for the command prompt is to run ipconfig to view the network properties. It only takes a few steps- opening the command prompt app (at least two steps) and typing ipconfig and then enter (two more steps). A batch file can be created to reduce these tasks to just opening the batch file which then runs the tasks for you. A batch file is created using a plain text editor such as the Windows Notepad app.   Continue reading →

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Understanding Internet Speed

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
10 October 2020

How fast is my internet connection? Am I getting what I am paying for? These are common concerns for consumers, especially if they think their internet connection is too slow. We will look at this from the top-down, starting with the service from the internet provider to the residence or business, then the modem/router that provides the local network over wire and wi-fi, and finally the adapters in the computer devices connected to the local network.   Continue reading →

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How to Create a Personal VPN

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
8 September 2020

I had some time during the Labor Day weekend when it was too hot to do anything outside, so I was experimenting with a VPN feature in an ASUS router in the SenCom computer lab. It began as an investigation into the possibility of adding access to a classroom management program running in the computer lab from a remote student’s computer.   Continue reading →

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Solving Video Conferencing Camera and Microphone Problems

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
29 August 2020

Solving Video Conferencing Camera and Microphone Problems

Because of privacy concerns, the use of cameras and microphones on electronic devices has become complicated. The operating systems (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS) have settings to either allow or block apps from using the camera and microphone. By default, they are initially blocked until you change the settings. If you access video conferencing through an internet browser (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari for example), the privacy settings of the browser will also initially block access until you change the settings in the browser. This is often done when first accessing video conferencing through a browser when a message appears for you to either allow or block access to the camera or microphone (two separate messages). Doing so will change the browser settings for you, but sometimes you just get a message that says you need to change your browser settings to allow access.  Continue reading →

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Mac Computers: a Love-Hate Relationship

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
8 August, 2020

Full disclosure: I do not own or regularly use a Mac computer. I have provided technical support and upgrade services for several clients with Macbook Pro, iMac or iPad devices over the years and have virtual MacOS systems running on my Windows computers to help increase my knowledge and skills to support them.   Continue reading →

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Using Command Prompt: Network Commands Exercise 2

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
5 August 2020

This exercise will use the network commands “ping”, “pathping”, “tracert”, and “netstat” in the Command Prompt. The commands will also work in PowerShell. Running in administrator mode is not required, but can be invoked by a right-click on the app, select More and then Run as administrator. Help for using commands and all of their options can be viewed by typing the command followed by a space and then /? and then press enter.   Continue reading →

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Don’t Waste Your Money

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
1 July 2020

We all like bargains, but sometimes they may not be the good deal they appear to be. Some to watch out for are below.  Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 1 comment

Using Command Prompt: Network Commands Exercise 1

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
27 June 2020

This exercise will use the network commands “ipconfig” and “arp” in the Command Prompt. The commands will also work in PowerShell. Running in administrator mode is not required, but can be invoked by a right-click on the app, select More and then Run as administrator. Help for using commands and all of their options can be viewed by typing the command followed by a space and then /? and then press enter.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

TV-Internet-Phone Service Providers

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
27 May, 2020

Some members have been wanting us to talk about television/internet/phone service providers in the area. It is a very complex subject because they all have advertised promotional prices for bundled packages that do not include a lot of other fees, taxes and other extras that apply, nor do they advertise what the normal price will be after the introductory rate for the first year or two that it typically lasts.   Continue reading →

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Router Admin Basics

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 May 2020

What we refer to as a router is typically a multi-function device that performs more tasks than just routing communications among multiple Ethernet connected devices on your home network and to your internet service provider’s network. It is also a gateway to remote networks through the internet, and usually includes a wireless access point and a firewall. It is sometimes incorporated into a cable, fiber or DSL modem rather than being a separate unit.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Pet Peeves During Covid-19 Lockdown

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
2 May, 2020

Maybe it is from watching too much television these days, but I am really getting irked by what I see as potentially bad deals often taking advantage of senior citizens.   Continue reading →

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Gee, What’s the Big Deal About 5G?

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
6 April 2020

There is much confusion, misunderstanding, and even conspiracy theories about 5G cellular communication. The “G” in 5G does not stand for gigahertz like your router. It does not stand for gigabit speed like your internet service. It is simply a new generation of cellular technology involving new radio hardware and new software techniques that allow more efficient use of the available frequencies and new frequencies that are being added for cellular communications.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Smart Television Apps

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
31 March, 2020

As we are for a time mostly isolated from face to face contact with people, many of us with computers, tablets or smartphones have learned to use video chat and conferencing to keep in touch with family, friends, and associates. If you have not tried it yet, you are encouraged to take part in one of our upcoming virtual SenCom meetings. Be sure to frequent our website kcsenior.net for information.   Continue reading →

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USB Drive Not Shown in File Explorer

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
29 February 2020

I have recently encountered a problem on some Windows 10 computers that I have not seen before. When plugging a USB flash drive or USB external hard drive into a computer, it normally recognizes a new device has been added as noted with a familiar sound, then a device driver may be loaded by Windows if needed, as indicated in a notification, and finally a notification announces that the device is ready to use. When you go to File Explorer and click on This PC, the new storage device is shown with a drive letter assigned.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

New Microsoft Office App for Tablets and Phones

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
21 February, 2020

Many of you know that Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are available as individually downloadable apps for free in the Android Play Store and Apple App Store for tablets and phones. If you only use one app, such as Word, that may still be your preference, but if you would rather have more of the Office suite available through one single app, you can now have it that way for both Android and iOS. Just search for Microsoft Office in the store and select the app called Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint & More and make sure it is from Microsoft Corporation. After downloading and installing the app, it will appear as a red on white icon simply called Office. If you have a white on red icon called Office Mobile that looks similar, that was just an old link to get you to download the individual products. I uninstalled that app from my phone to avoid confusion.   Continue reading →

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