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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

Don’t Waste Your Money

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
1 July, 2020

Don’t Waste Your Money
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, 0 comments

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

My 2019 Laptop Buying Dilemma Revisited

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
26 January, 2020

I can’t believe a year has passed since writing about “my 2019 laptop buying dilemma.” During the after Christmas 2019 holiday sales I finally gave in to buying a new HP Envy 17t after a $200 price reduction. It had enough of my desired features at the right price to go ahead with the purchase:
Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 2 comments

Rich Communication Services (RCS)

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
5 January, 2020

Short Message Service (SMS) has been used since 1992 for sending text messages over mobile phone carrier service. It is limited to 160 text characters per message. Some enhanced message services were developed that could handle up to 1600 characters per message, but a real advance in capability came into use after about 2005 with Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). This expanded the capability of text messages to also contain files such as photos, videos, audio and documents. The data limit per message was initially 300 KB and then later increased to 600 KB, which is not enough for high resolution photos or video so they are compressed into smaller, grainier images. Since internet servers are utilized for storage and transfer of data between carriers, MMS is not real-time. Another breakthrough has begun to be rolled out in 2019 with Rich Communication Services (RCS). Theoretically the data limit per message is over 10 GB, but in practice may be limited to something less by the carrier service used.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Device Manager

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 December 2019

Windows Device Manager can be accessed in Windows 10 by right-clicking on the Start icon to get the menu, by typing Device Manager in the Cortana search box, or by using the old Control Panel desktop app. Device Manager is useful for troubleshooting or updating computer device drivers for hardware installed in or attached to the computer. Even if the hardware is removed, the previously detected item will still show with a light colored icon in the list and can be seen by clicking the “Show hidden devices” under View. Abandoned devices that are not likely to be connected again can be removed from the list by right-clicking on the item and choosing “Uninstall device” or if you have both toolbars checked in the Customize settings under View you can select the item and click on the red X in the snap-in toolbar, which only shows when applicable for the item selected. Similarly you can disable a device or update its driver from the right-click menu or the toolbar.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Public Wi-Fi Security Q&A

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
29 November, 2019

Does using HTTPS (secure HTTP) make internet browsing on public wi-fi safe?
Currently just a little over half of websites use HTTPS only in their designs. Others may use it to establish the initial connection with the user and then revert to HTTP for displaying some content to avoid the extra burden of encrypting/decrypting data. Some allow initial connection with HTTP and then redirect to HTTPS. This opens up opportunities for a “man in the middle” interception of the non-secure transmission and redirecting it to the attacker’s own content.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Free Backup & Recovery Software Worth Trying

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
30 October, 2019

Free Backup & Recovery Software Worth Trying

The File History feature in Microsoft Windows 10 or Time Machine for Apple macOS are fine for automatically backing up user files to another hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD), but should your main drive with your operating system and program files suddenly die, it is very convenient to have a recent backup of your complete system that can be restored quickly and easily onto a replacement drive.
The System Image Backup in Windows can be used, but it is not very simple to get to, often fails to complete when performed, is terribly slow, and a pain to find the backup VHD file to explore the contents.
Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Yes, You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
28 September 2019

As of September 23, 2019 the free upgrade to Windows 10 is still working except for those blocked from the upgrade due to hardware or software incompatibilities. The following link details how to perform the free upgrade and how to determine and possibly fix any software blocks to the upgrade: https://wccftech.com/how-to/upgrade-windows-7-download-windows-10-free/   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Snip & Sketch App

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
18 September, 2019

If you use the Snipping Tool in Windows 10, you have probably seen the message from Microsoft about it moving and suggesting you try Snip & Sketch:
Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Password Security

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
7 August, 2019

A friend recently asked what I thought about signing into a site using your Google or Facebook account credentials rather than creating an account for that site. I have not chosen to do that myself because of concerns about the data that could be shared between the sites and what they might do with it. It got me thinking that maybe it would be good to do some research on this and other password security questions that frequently come up. Let’s look at four common questions:   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 1 comment

Printer Troubleshooting Tools

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
14 July 2019

I frequently get requests for help from people having trouble printing. The most common problems I find are the following:

  • The wrong printer is selected in the printer settings. This is sometimes caused by using the default setting to “Let Windows manage my default printer”. I prefer to turn that setting off so I always select the default printer.
  • A failed attempt to print is still in the printer queue and needs to be cancelled.
  • The printer is offline. This is usually fixed by rebooting the router and/or printer for a network connected printer and either disconnecting and reconnecting the USB cable or rebooting the computer for a USB cable connected printer.  

Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Desktop, Laptop, or Tablet?

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
4 July, 2019

Lately SenCom has been asking members what type of device they think they will be using the most for their computing over the next few years- desktop, laptop, or tablet. Statistics on global sales of computing devices at https://www.statista.com/statistics/272595/global-shipments-forecast-for-tablets-laptops-and-desktop-pcs/ show a shift from desktops to laptops as the main device, while tablets sales have been decreasing. Projections for new sales of each over the next few years are almost flat. Comments by SenCom seniors show preference for devices with larger displays and keyboards, which generally favor desktops.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 2 comments

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, 4 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
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