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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, 0 comments

Virtual Credit Cards (Safer On-line Shopping)

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
3 December 2022

Virtual Credit Cards (Safer On-line Shopping)

Many seniors are hesitant to use credit cards for on-line purchases and for good reason. Some merchants are fraudulent, some have poor security for keeping your account information safe from hackers, and malware on your computer can steal your information while you use it for transactions. Having to get your credit card canceled is a nuisance and it takes time to get a new one issued. A recently introduced option that is growing in popularity is the virtual credit card. Continue reading →

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Uses for an Old Laptop

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
3 November 2022

Uses for an Old Laptop

An old laptop that still works can be turned into a number of useful projects, beyond the obvious ones like turning it into a Linux or Chromebook computer. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Downsizing My Computer

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
2 November 2022

Downsizing My Computer

I am getting ready to replace my old full-sized tower-type computer that I built over 13 years ago and have replaced parts and upgraded over the years. Having that capability was the primary reason I wanted a full-sized tower. Continue reading →

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Advanced Configuration & Power Interface (ACPI)

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
6 August 2022

Advanced Configuration & Power Interface (ACPI)

The Windows operating system ACPI standard can support several states of power for computers, but not all are typically supported by the hardware manufacturer. The possible states are identified as follows:  Continue reading →

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Swollen Li-ion Batteries

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
27 July 2022

Swollen Li-ion Batteries

A relatively recent phenomenon that is becoming more and more of a problem as our electronic devices have been designed to be ever thinner and lighter is a swollen battery. This is because the lithium-ion battery packs are no longer encased in hard plastic and are not designed to be user replaceable. They are thin, soft rubbery bags that are often glued in place and can only be safely replaced by professionals or very knowledgeable users. As a result, we don’t really think about them until they show serious signs of problems. If we are lucky, those signs are just a decrease in time they can run without charging, inability to hold a charge while not being used, higher than normal temperature when charging, or inability to stay on when the charger is unplugged. An extreme battery failure may even prevent the device from running, even with the charger connected. Continue reading →

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DIY Repairs

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
11 July 2022

DIY Repairs

You may be surprised to learn that my favorite hobby is not computers, though it does explain how I got into repairing computers. I have always been interested in studying how things work, how they fail, and how they can be fixed. It can be mechanical, electrical, or structural and I am interested in learning about it. In my engineering profession, my favorite assignments were the occasional opportunities to do troubleshooting or failure analysis and come up with fixes. I often thought I would have enjoyed specializing in forensic engineering, except for appearances in court as an expert witness. Because of these interests, I really enjoy resources like the following. Continue reading →

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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. Continue reading →

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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:  Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 1 comment

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Introducing 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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

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 →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

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
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