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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

Windows Sandbox

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
1 June 2019

One of the neat features added to the Windows 10 1903 version is the Windows Sandbox. A sandbox is an environment that allows testing code or apps in isolation from the normal operating system environment. It is useful in trying out new browser extensions or apps, or even browsing unfamiliar and possibly risky websites with minimal risk to the normal operating system environment. The Windows Sandbox does have some limitations and is not available for all Windows 10 systems.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Printing from Mobile Devices

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
11 May, 2019

Most people now use an Ethernet capable printer that is connected to their home network either by wire or wirelessly. There are several easy methods available to also print from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet to a printer when both are connected to the same home network. Even if you are using a USB only printer connected to a computer on the home network, your mobile device can still be set up to print to it as long as the computer and printer are on and available when you want to print. I just set up my Android phone to print to a USB printer connected to a desktop computer by using Google Cloud Print.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

CloudReady: A Free Chromebook Experience

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
9 April 2019

Are you curious about the capabilities and limitations of a Chromebook as a possible next computer?
Do you have an old desktop or laptop computer with an obsolete operating system that you would like to put a familiar looking modern operating system on for free?
Do you want to try out a Chromebook experience that runs from a USB flash drive on your current Windows 10 or macOS desktop or laptop?   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 1 comment

Problems with Windows 10 Feature Updates on Old Computers

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
13 March, 2019

Windows 10 was released in July 2015. Many older computers manufactured as far back as 2007 were upgraded to Windows 10 during the free upgrade period. All seemed well until the feature updates were rolled out twice per year and difficulties in updating the old computers began to surface. Being stuck at one of the feature update versions for the remaining life of the old computer would be more tolerable if not for the limit of only 18 months of security updates Microsoft provides for each feature update version.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 2 comments

Is it Time to Consider a Chromebook?

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
24 February, 2019

Chromebooks were introduced in 2011 as low cost alternatives to Windows and MacOS computers. They run the Google Chrome OS using either Intel or ARM processors. The goal was to make computers and the internet available to the masses for under $200. The first Chromebooks were a little pricier than that and had very few capabilities as a computer without being connected to the internet. Since then, Chromebooks have become available from sub-$200 models up to $600 or more for high-end models.  Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

When Windows 10 Won’t Boot (for UEFI Systems)

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
7 February 2019

There are many possibilities for why Windows 10 fails to boot, so troubleshooting involves a process of elimination. Start with the simplest and least risky possible fixes. If the recovery partition exists, failing to start the third try should automatically bring up the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). If not, there are other methods to get it as outlined in this Microsoft link, along with several things to try once there:    
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4026030/how-to-use-windows-recovery-environment-winre-to-troubleshoot-common-s
For more detailed help in using DISM, see the following:

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-dism-command-line-utility-repair-windows-10-image Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

My 2019 Laptop Buying Dilemma

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
14 January, 2019

It has been quite a while since I have provided updated buying tips for laptops. Partly it has been because of frustration with my own search for a replacement for my wife’s 2009 model Dell Inspiron 1750 laptop. It is still working and does everything she wants, and she does not want to give up the features it has that she loves. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Life of Computer Disk Drives

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 December 2018

Hard Disk Drives
For most computers, the first parts that fail are those with moving parts that will have mechanical wear and tear. Hard disk drives are usually the first item to go. Hard disk drives, like most electronic components, often have mean time between failure (MTBF) ratings. These are statistical ratings based on accelerated tests to failure that are useful for comparison, but are not related to real world expected life. On average, about one out of twenty consumer hard drives will fail in the first year and a half due mostly to defects in manufacture. That is the price we pay for demanding cheap consumer products.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

What to do with Old Computers

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
9 December, 2018

After purchasing a new computer there is often a question of what to do with the old one. If you are like me, I do not want to see it go to waste or recycling if it is still useful to someone. Here is my evaluation of whether it might be worth using by another person:   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Tips for Slow Computers

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
3 November, 2018

Many low budget laptops and small desktop computers are provided with very low performance processors, such as the Intel Celeron or Pentium models or the older pre-Ryzen AMD models. Even some of the older Intel i3 processor models are very low performance. You will probably become aware of the performance limitations when trying to use the computer while it is running a scheduled antivirus or antimalware scan, or when Windows updates are being automatically downloaded in the background. You may notice that the computer becomes painfully slow at doing more than one task at a time. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Migration from Old Computer to New Computer

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
14 October 2018

Windows Computers
So you have purchased a new Windows computer and now you are wondering how to move your files, and maybe even your settings and programs, from the old computer to the new one. If you only want to move your user files from the old computer to the new computer, you can either copy the folders containing those files from the old computer to a USB flash drive or external hard drive and then copy them from there to the new computer, or you could set up the computers on your home network to share files and copy them over the network connection.  Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

October is for Techies!

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
6 October, 2018

October is an exciting month in the world of computer technology. Whether you are in the Apple, Microsoft, or Google camp, all sorts of new products arrive at this time of year, just before the holiday shopping frenzy begins.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Memories

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
5 September 2018

There are many types of computer memory being used these days. It used to be simpler when you had RAM memory and a hard drive. Sure the RAM memory evolved over the years from DRAM to DDR, then DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 and hard drives went from SCSI or PATA to SATA, then SATA2, and SATA3, but now there are several more new types to confuse us.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Surge Protection – Are You Protected?

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
31 August, 2018

Point of use surge protectors, usually in the form of a power strip, are probably used by most of us for at least some of the more sensitive or costly electronic items in our households. Did you know that your surge protector has likely been subjected to multiple surges if it is over two or three years old and may have diminished or even no protection left? If it has an indicating light, usually red, to indicate the protection is working, then there is at least some protection left in it. This is different than a light in the on/off or reset switch that only shows if it has power or not.  Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Power Cycling and other Maintenance Tips

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
16 August 2018

Most people are aware that many times a computer, modem or router problem can be resolved by just turning off the power to it, waiting a few seconds, and repowering it. This also works for all kinds of other equipment with electronic components, especially logic boards, in them. Sometimes even the power supply for a device has a protective circuit that must be power cycled to reset it. The following are some common experiences I have had that were fixed by power cycling.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

No More System Image Backup?

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
23 July, 2018

Microsoft is no longer supporting the System Image Backup feature of Windows 7 that was carried over to Windows 10 and plans to eventually remove it in a future update of Windows 10. Few people were using it and often had trouble using it when they did. There are many third party programs that are easier to use, have more features, and are available in both free and paid versions. We will take a look at some of the best and most popular programs available for Windows and also macOS, as using Apple’s Disk Utility to create a system image backup is no picnic either.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Migrating Operating System to SSD

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
10 June 2018

One of the most cost effective ways to improve the performance of a computer is to migrate the operating system from a mechanical rotating hard drive to a solid state drive. Accessing and reading data from a solid state drive can easily be at least 30% and up to 100% or more faster. With prices as low as $25 for a 120GB SATA type, it is the most bang you can get for your buck and is relatively easy to do. Here is the easiest method for any desktop or laptop computer with a SATA type hard drive:   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Are You Seeing Red?

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
4 June, 2018

Internet browsers have recently begun displaying red warning pages about potentially unsafe websites you are about to navigate to. Google analyzes keywords and attributes found on the page that might indicate danger and flags the site in a database that is also used by some other browsers for their warnings. It is possible for a site to be flagged as dangerous that is not, and Google will investigate and remove a listed site from the database if requested to do so, though it may take some time for that to happen.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Virtual Machines

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
9 May 2018

A virtual machine is an emulation of a computer system in software. It provides the ability to test or try out various operating systems on your current computer, often at no cost for non-commercial use. It was even provided by Microsoft as an optional Windows feature that could be enabled in Windows 7 Professional to run Windows XP in a virtual machine. For those who still like to tinker with old DOS programs or games, free emulators such as DOSBox are available.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Searching for Tech Support

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
8 May, 2018

I continue to hear stories from people who were scammed or almost scammed from fake technical support providers. Most recently it was someone looking for help with their Amazon Kindle. Thankfully they got nervous about giving personal information to a stranger over the phone and ended the conversation by saying they would have their computer consultant (me) get back to them if needed.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Google Experiments & Labs

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 April 2018

Google has insider user groups just as Microsoft does. You can browse experimental apps for Android or Chrome or sign up for early access to test new Android and iOS apps through Area 120, a workshop for Google’s experimental products.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Bluetooth Wireless Technology

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
15 April, 2018

Bluetooth is finally becoming a very usable and useful feature thanks to two major improvements:
First, the new Bluetooth 5 standard has greatly improved the performance in both speed and distance over previous versions of Bluetooth. New devices already supporting the standard include Apple iphone 8 (and X) and the Samsung Galaxy 8. New headphones, earbuds and speakers are also available using the new standard, and are now able to work with the Low Energy mode first introduced with Bluetooth 4. This will greatly improve the battery life for wireless audio peripherals. The new standard also supports Dual Audio, streaming the same or different audio to two devices simultaneously.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

USB Info & Tips

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
17 March 2018

USB or Universal Serial Bus started showing up in computers in 1998, beginning with the Apple iMac. The USB 1.1 ports were designed for Low Speed (1.5 mbps) or Full Speed (12 mbps). Three years later the USB 2.0 standard improved USB to High Speed (480 mbps) and supported up to 100mA (0.5W) of power for low power and up to 500mA (2.5W) for high power. SuperSpeed USB 3.0 devices started showing up in 2010. The first generation USB 3.1 supports 5 gbps speed and up to 150mA (0.75W) for low power or up to 900mA (4.5W) for high power. The second generation of USB 3.1 increased the top speed to 10 gbps, and the current USB 3.2 top speed is 20 gbps. The USB 3.x standards are backward compatible to USB 2.0 devices.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Digital Tracking

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
13 March, 2018

If you browse the internet or use a cell phone, you are leaving digital tracks that can be monitored by others for financial gain or other purposes. These tracks include information obtained from your internet viewing and searches and location information from your cell phone usage. Some tracking you have no control over. A cell phone that is turned on connects periodically with cell phone towers which record the “cell,” a small geographical area, that the phone is located in.  Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Windows 10 Download

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
14 February 2018

So now that both the free upgrade to Windows 10 for the general public and the extended free upgrade for those using assistive technologies have ended, you are out of luck for a free upgrade, right? Well, not necessarily. Supposedly if you download the Windows 10 installation software from Microsoft at www.microsoft.com/en-in/software-download/windows10
and upgrade using a qualifying Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license key, it will still upgrade and activate Windows 10 for free.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Know Beans about Java

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
14 February, 2018

There is a lot of misunderstanding about Java, partially because of the confusion with the similar sounding JavaScript. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems almost 23 years ago. Sun was acquired by Oracle Corporation. Java was intended to be a “write once – run anywhere” programming language using a virtual machine that can be run on any processing platform.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Meltdown, Spectre and WPA3

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
13 January, 2018

I tried to resist writing on these because they are everywhere in the media already and there have been new developments almost daily as companies frantically prepare their responses to the vulnerabilities. You can follow new security updates easily by looking at the Security Alerts and Updates on our own SenCom web site. The technical details and many helpful links and manufacturers’ responses are also contained in the following alert by Homeland Security.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Windows Reliability Monitor

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
4 January 2018

If you have ever tried to analyze the contents of the Windows Event Viewer to troubleshoot a computer, you should appreciate the value of the different views of events offered by the Reliability Monitor.
Start typing Reliability Monitor in the Search bar and you should see “View reliability history” as a Control Panel item show up in the search results. Running the Reliability Monitor produces a daily summary of events by categories and a reliability trend curve scaled from 1 to 10. Clicking on a particular day will list the events for that day, where you can also click to view technical details for each event.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Email Tips

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
26 December, 2017

There are two methods that most people use for handling email. The most common method these days is using a web-based email client. Examples are Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, or anything else that opens up in your web browser to connect to the host email servers to view or send email that is stored by the servers. The other method is an email program or app that installs and runs on your computer and connects to the host email servers to download the new mail to your computer for storage. Outlook Express and the older versions of the full Outlook program available from Microsoft as part of the Office suite (not to be confused with outlook.com which is web-based) are examples.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Fixing Printer Offline

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
3 December 2017

Recently a lot of people have been experiencing their network printers going offline and having great difficulty getting them back online or keeping them from going back offline. These are printers that had been working fine in the past and something must have changed to create the problem. It could be due to a change in the router firmware by the internet service provider, an operating system update, or a printer driver update. It has occurred with various makes and models of printers, multiple internet service providers with various makes and models of routers, and both Windows 7 and Windows 10 operating systems.    Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 1 comment
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