Deleting Internet Accounts

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By Joe Callison
3 December, 2017

There could be many reasons for needing or wanting to delete old internet accounts, if for no other reason than removing personal data from inactive accounts to reduce the chances of it being hacked. Finding instructions on how to do it may be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes the instructions provided by a particular internet site are hard to find or understand, and are explained more clearly by other sources that provide “how to” articles or videos.    Continue reading “Deleting Internet Accounts”

Last Chance for Free Windows 10 Upgrade!

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By Joe Callison
9 November, 2017

Time is quickly running out for a free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10. The extended deadline that was intended for those needing accessibility features or “assistive technologies” is ending on December 31, 2017. It is available whether you use accessibility features or not. The link is below:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows10upgrade?ranMID=24542&ranEAID=TnL5HPStwNw&ranSiteID=TnL5HPStwNw-u…q837srr4UGM1Qo7jIQ&tduid=(f73661ca7380245d9398e7af4f9c7854(256380)(2459594)(TnL5HPStwNw-u…q837srr4UGM1Qo7jIQ)()

Continue reading “Last Chance for Free Windows 10 Upgrade!”

KRACK and ROCA: Are You Safe?

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By Joe Callison
1 November, 2017

In October we were hit with two particularly onerous public alerts about security threats known as KRACK and ROCA. KRACK is the WPA2 vulnerability, which potentially affects the security of anyone using wi-fi communications. ROCA is the encryption key vulnerability, which potentially affects anyone using devices or software that uses encryption keys generated from chips made by Infineon, which has about 30% of the market share for such security chips.   Continue reading “KRACK and ROCA: Are You Safe?”

Firefox Browser Changes

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By Joe Callison
17 September, 2017

Firefox version 52 and later ended support of legacy plug-ins such as Java, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Silverlight and others. For an explanation of the reason behind the change see this Mozilla link:
https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/npapi-plugins?as=u&utm_source=inproduct

Beginning with version 57 that is planned to be released November 14, 2017 support of legacy extensions such as LastPass will also end and they will be replaced with WebExtensions. This change has also been incorporated in Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading “Firefox Browser Changes”

Windows 10 and macOS Fall Updates

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By Joe Callison
7 September, 2017

Fall is fast approaching and with it comes the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update which Microsoft has officially announced will be released to the public on October 17 (a little later than the planned September release). This will be the fourth feature update (new version) for Windows 10 since its initial launch and as a reminder, each new version of Windows 10 has an end of life for support 18 months after the public release. If you are more than one version behind, you can skip to the latest available version, assuming your computer hardware will support the latest version. This can be a problem for older computers that were upgraded from earlier Windows versions for the initial release of Windows 10, but should not be a problem for new computers that shipped with the initial release of Windows 10.   Continue reading “Windows 10 and macOS Fall Updates”

Why is Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8.1 Running So Slow!

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By Joe Callison
5 August, 2017

I have encountered Windows XP and Windows Vista computers running extremely slow recently. Checking Task Manager for the highest CPU processes (with “show processes from all users” selected) showed an instance of the svchost.exe process at a constant 99% CPU usage on computers with single core processors or 50% on computers with dual core processors (one core at 100%), and the process was using by far the highest amount of memory of all processes. Searching the internet for clues on the cause led to several articles on the symptoms being related to a problem with Windows Update.   Continue reading “Why is Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8.1 Running So Slow!”

Windows Search & File Indexing

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By Joe Callison
27 July, 2017

Windows Search has been around for several Windows versions, and frankly I never gave it much thought and rarely used it until Windows 8 came along, and then I found it was the quickest and easiest way to find where Microsoft had put all of the stuff I used to know where  was in Windows 7. I was aware of the option to index your hard drive or not in the disk properties, but had never made the connection with Windows Search until recently when I came across an article suggesting to speed up old computers and free up disk space by turning off the indexing if you do not rely on Windows Search that much and don’t care if it takes longer to find something when you do use it occasionally.   Continue reading “Windows Search & File Indexing”

Using Chrome Extensions

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By Joe Callison
17 June, 2017

I have never been a fan of loading up my internet browsers with extensions (or plugins or add-ons), mostly because they used to be offered by a third party (other than the browser developer) and they modified the browser programming code which sometimes made the browser slower or misbehave or could even introduce malware. All of the major browsers have moved to a different programming structure that does not allow extensions to modify the browser code. Instead, the code for the extension is kept in a separate secured area with strictly controlled access to the browser. This has made browser extensions much more secure and safer to use.   Continue reading “Using Chrome Extensions”

Windows 10 Update Policy

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By Joe Callison
13 May, 2017

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The security and quality updates released in this week’s (May 9) patch Tuesday cycle was the last you will receive if still running the original Windows 10 version 1507. To check which version of Windows 10 you have, you can go to the Start icon, click the Settings icon, click System, and then click About. The version will be listed below the Edition as on this example, which is version 1703 (Creators Update):   Continue reading “Windows 10 Update Policy”

Windows 10 Creators Update is Here!

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By Joe Callison
9 April, 2017

What is the Creators Update?
Windows 10 undergoes major updates introducing new features once or twice a year. On April 11, 2017 the next major update that will begin rolling out is called the Creators Update because of several new features planned to enhance the creative capabilities of the operating system. Unfortunately many of the planned new features are not ready to be released, so the update will not be as significant as first expected. It is still a major update in that it completely replaces your existing version of Windows 10.   Continue reading “Windows 10 Creators Update is Here!”

Mobile Wallets and Payment Services

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By Joe Callison
25 March, 2017

You may be familiar with the use of PayPal for sending money from your PayPal account linked to a credit card or bank account to another person’s PayPal account for Ebay purchases or receiving payments from others when selling items on Ebay. It has been around for a number of years and since being split off from Ebay, it is being accepted by many other types of stores and for peer to peer payments. There are a number of competing services available now. TopTenReviews “The Best Mobile Wallets of 2017” lists Android Pay, Apple Pay, Capital One Wallet, eWallet, Gyft, Key Ring, LevelUp, Samsung Pay, and Walmart Pay in addition to PayPal.   Continue reading “Mobile Wallets and Payment Services”

How I Use Computer Searches to Avoid Risky Businesses

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By Joe Callison
25 February, 2017

Around this time of year I like to start looking at seed and nursery catalogs for some new plants to try out. I ordered some plants from a couple of places in the past and since then I have been inundated with catalogs from numerous places. Looking through them I began to notice that many of the items in different catalogs seemed to be identical and then I noticed that most of them had addresses in Bloomington, Illinois. Two were on one street with numbers very close together and two were on another street with numbers very close together. Could there really be that many different companies operating nurseries next to each other in one city the size of Bloomington?   Continue reading “How I Use Computer Searches to Avoid Risky Businesses”

What is 2-Factor Authentication?

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By Joe Callison
2 February, 2017

Most of us rely on passwords for secure access to accounts on various web sites. Besides the possibility that weak passwords can eventually be broken, there are more and more elaborate phishing schemes to trick you into entering your password in a fake login screen that looks legitimate, but is there to steal your password. Many major companies are now joining an alliance to support a standard 2-factor authentication process that is easy and economical to greatly improve login security.   Continue reading “What is 2-Factor Authentication?”

What’s New?

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By Joe Callison
9 January, 2017

There are a lot of new developments in technology that should make 2017 a very interesting year. The recently held Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas offered a sample of what could be this year’s hot items.

Interestingly it seems that 2-in-1 convertible laptops are becoming the computer of choice over traditional laptops or tablets. Many CES 2017 reviewers were especially impressed with the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.   Continue reading “What’s New?”

Shopping for a Laptop?

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By Joe Callison
19 December, 2016

Tips for what I look for in a laptop:

I look for at least a 6th generation i3 processor. i5 is better but will cost a little more. I7 will be the most powerful, most expensive, and will run the battery down faster. It is essential for running the latest video games that the youngsters play.
AMD, Atom, Celeron, Pentium processors are too slow in most cases and I would avoid them unless maximizing battery life is your primary concern and you can live with a sluggish computer.   Continue reading “Shopping for a Laptop?”

About Solid State Drives

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By Joe Callison
23 November, 2016

Solid State Drives, or SSD as they are known, are becoming more common as the capacities have grown and the prices dropped to levels that most consumers can now justify for their new computers or as replacements to aging mechanical hard drives in their existing computers. Now is a good time to get up to speed with this rapidly changing technology.   Continue reading “About Solid State Drives”

Extension of Free Windows 10 Upgrade

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By Joe Callison
3 November, 2016

If you missed the deadline for the free Windows 10 upgrade and have changed your mind about upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10, it appears that the free offer is still in effect for those using (or say they are using) assistive technology. What is assistive technology? It includes screen readers, magnifiers, or whatever other features are used to make Windows easier to use. By clicking the UPGRADE NOW button on the web page, you are declaring that you use assistive technologies.   Continue reading “Extension of Free Windows 10 Upgrade”

Shopping for a New Computer?

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By Joe Callison
11 October, 2016

The 7th generation of Intel processors (also known as Kaby Lake or Kabylake) are showing up in the newest computers, right now in tablets, notebooks and laptops, and by the first quarter of 2017 in desktops. This should mean there will be some good bargains for existing 6th generation (Skylake) processor based computers for those who do not feel the need to have the latest technology available. So what do the newest processors offer? For most users, probably not a whole lot.   Continue reading “Shopping for a New Computer?”

Managing Browser Saved Login User Names and Passwords

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By Joe Callison
16 September, 2016

Allowing your internet browser to save the login user name and password for a website can be convenient, but what if you need to change the information or delete it? This blog will cover how to find and manage the saved login user names and passwords in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.   Continue reading “Managing Browser Saved Login User Names and Passwords”

War Declared on Robocallers!

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By Joe Callison
20 August, 2016

The FCC is on a new campaign to end the “scourge” of robocalls. They have put together a Strike Force of over 30 tech companies to come up with solutions to the problem. For a few years now, the FTC has even held contests awarding cash prizes for technical solutions to the problem. Several products are already available as a result of these incentives. Continue reading “War Declared on Robocallers!”

Last Week of Free Windows 10 Upgrade Availability

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By Joe Callison
23 July, 2016

We are in the last few days of the free Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 which will end on July 29. If you have Windows 8 or 8.1, there is no reason I can think of to pass up the free upgrade to Windows 10. If you have Windows 7, especially on an older computer, I can understand your reluctance. I have two older computers that have not been upgraded and I keep wondering if I might regret not doing it later even though I really prefer to keep them at Windows 7 for the foreseeable future.  Continue reading “Last Week of Free Windows 10 Upgrade Availability”

Final Month of Free Windows 10 Upgrade Availability

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By Joe Callison
22 June, 2016

A little over a month remains until the July 29 deadline to take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. It is still not known if waiting until the last days of the free update will include the next yet to be released major Windows 10 updates or not. I would not recommend waiting past about July 22 to find out to give yourself time in case you have problems downloading or installing the free upgrade.  Continue reading “Final Month of Free Windows 10 Upgrade Availability”

Modems, Routers, Switches and Other Network Equipment

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By Joe Callison
27 May, 2016

A modem converts the signal from your internet service provider, whether it comes from telephone, cable TV, or fiber services, to an Ethernet signal that provides the internet service to you computer or other internet connected devices. It could be called a dial-up modem, DSL modem, cable modem, or fiber modem depending on the type of internet service you have. At a minimum, the modem will have an AC power adapter, an Ethernet output port that provides your internet signal, and an input port and/or cable from one of the following: Continue reading “Modems, Routers, Switches and Other Network Equipment”

The Internet of Things (IoT)

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By Joe Callison
26 April, 2016

The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined in Wikipedia as “the network of physical objects– devices, vehicles, buildings and other items– embedded with electronics, software sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.” The number of online devices equaled the world population in 2008. By 2020 it is expected there will be at least 6 online things per person in the world. Continue reading “The Internet of Things (IoT)”

Internet Browser Bookmarks (or Favorites)

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By Joe Callison
1 April, 2016

Most of us have bookmarked pages in a browser but often do not take the time to organize them into folders. We also may have accumulated a lot of bookmarks (Firefox, Chrome) or favorites (Internet Explorer) in one browser and wish to copy them to another browser on the same computer or to a browser on another computer. These are the topics on what will generally be referred to as bookmarks for simplicity, for all three of the mentioned browsers. Continue reading “Internet Browser Bookmarks (or Favorites)”

New Malware and New Malware Protection

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
5 March, 2016

In the last month I have talked with 4 people who have had encounters with fraudulent computer “technicians” after getting a popup on their computer looking like a blue screen of death (BSOD) that claims to be from Microsoft informing them of viruses or malware on their computer and providing a telephone number from a “Certified Microsoft Partner”. Fortunately all of them got suspicious and ended the call before providing their credit card number, but just letting a fraud have remote access to your computer for a moment can put you at risk of having your files encrypted or deleted by them if you refuse to pay for their service. Continue reading “New Malware and New Malware Protection”

Windows News You Can Use

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By Joe Callison
3 February, 2016

Here are a few recent news items I have run across while browsing on cold winter days.

End of Google Chrome Support for Windows XP and Vista and Older Mac OS

Starting April 2016, Chrome will continue to function on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8, but will no longer receive updates and security fixes. Since most malware is introduced to your computer through either browsing or email, this could increase your security risk if you continue to use Chrome after April on these older operating systems. Continue reading “Windows News You Can Use”

Answers to Common Windows 10 Questions

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14 January, 2016
By Joe Callison

As the number of people migrating to Windows 10 increases, either intentionally or accidentally, I have been hearing some common questions.

How do I revert back to the operating system I had?

If your system was updated to Windows 10 unintentionally or you are having problems with it and want to revert back to your previous operating system, remember that you only have 30 days to do so from the day it was updated. Continue reading “Answers to Common Windows 10 Questions”

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

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12 December, 2015
By Joe Callison

I have tried out many free software tools and programs over the years and a few of them have become long time favorites of mine that I consider essential for my computers and I highly recommended them to others. There are probably several other good programs that do the same things and other things that I have not covered. I would be interested in some of your favorites if you want to share them with the community. Continue reading “These are a Few of My Favorite Things”

A Few Things You Should Know

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1 December, 2015
By Joe Callison

A new year is fast approaching, and with it comes some important dates to be aware of in the computer world for 2016:

January 12, 2016 – Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Internet Explorer versions prior to Internet Explorer 11. Note- You must have Windows 7 or later operating systems to run Internet Explorer 11. If you are still running Windows XP or Vista, then you should use a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome rather than the older Internet Explorer versions. Continue reading “A Few Things You Should Know”

Computer Reliability

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10 November, 2015
By Joe Callison

Computer reliability data is much like reliability data for automobiles or any other major consumer products. You may get a bad one buying the statistically most reliable brand or you may get a really reliable one buying the statistically least reliable brand. Still, you probably want the odds to be in your favor when considering your purchase. It also helps to know how a brand’s reliability is trending over several years, since any brand can have ups and downs over time. Continue reading “Computer Reliability”

Charity Ratings and Wise Giving

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3 November, 2015
By Joe Callison

It is that time of year when many of us respond to charitable giving appeals. With so many charitable organizations competing for donors dollars, you would think organizations would be motivated to be as efficient as possible to attract donors, but that is not always the case. There are many fundraising organizations with big advertising budgets and high salaries that use a relatively small percentage of their receipts for their own programs or grants to other charitable organizations. Continue reading “Charity Ratings and Wise Giving”

Managing Email Accounts

GEEK FREE
14 September, 2015
By Joe Callison

Sometimes it becomes necessary to switch from one email account to another, or maybe you would just like to be able to get your email messages from one or more accounts while using a different account. Most of the popular email services have the ability to fetch messages from other accounts. Some email services have the ability to forward email to other accounts. Continue reading “Managing Email Accounts”

Windows Settings Shortcut

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1 September, 2015
By Joe Callison

All Windows versions since Windows XP have a hidden shortcut menu to all available Windows settings (except do not use it on Vista 64-bit – it crashes explorer). It is referred to as the “god mode”, but I prefer to call it “all settings”. To create the desktop icon to access the menu, first create a new folder. A quick way to do that is to right-click your mouse on your desktop background and choose “New” and then “Folder”. You should then see a folder on your desktop named “Newfolder”. Continue reading “Windows Settings Shortcut”

Windows 10 Upgrade Thoughts

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7 August, 2015
By Joe Callison

I recently upgraded a Windows 7 laptop that is several years old and has lots of older programs installed on it. Before doing the upgrade I deleted all of the temporary files, ran the anti-virus and anti-malware software, ran check disk to check for and fix any hard drive errors, and then backed up all of my files to an external hard drive. The upgrade went smoothly and when it reached the stage where it was going to do Settings, there is an option to choose Customize Settings instead of just letting Windows install the default settings. I always choose Customize Settings so I can at least see what the installation is going to do, even if I end up not changing anything from the default setting. Continue reading “Windows 10 Upgrade Thoughts”

Federal Government Consumer Protection Services

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4 July, 2015
By Joe Callison

Taxpayer dollars go to so many government agencies and fund so many programs that sometimes we are not even aware of the services they are providing. I did some quick research on federal government resources for consumer protection services and found some web sites that might be useful. Continue reading “Federal Government Consumer Protection Services”

Google Photos – First Impressions

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8 June, 2015
By Joe Callison

Google recently split the photo feature out of Google+ and made it a separate new app (application) called Google Photos. You can find it by clicking the Google Apps icon in the Chrome browser (9 small squares arranged in a 3 by 3 pattern), and then clicking the word More at the bottom. After reading several reviews by users, I decided to give it a try myself. I already had a Google account, which is free for anyone to create in the Chrome browser. Continue reading “Google Photos – First Impressions”

More on System Image Back Ups and Windows 10 News

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13 May, 2015 
(Updated 19 March, 2016)
By Joe Callison

Formatting a Flash Drive or External Hard Drive for System Image Backup

Most Windows XP and virtually all Windows 7 and 8.x computer operating systems are installed with the hard drive formatted with NTFS instead of the older FAT16 or FAT32 file structure used in earlier versions of Windows. The FAT file systems are limited to much smaller maximum hard drive partition sizes and maximum file sizes than NTFS. To keep compatibility with most kinds of operating systems, flash drives (and many older and smaller external hard drives) are normally formatted with a FAT file structure. If you want to back up an NTFS system image on a flash drive, you will need to reformat it with NTFS first.  Note that this will erase all existing data from the flash drive! To do this, insert the flash drive in your computer USB port and open the Computer window.  Continue reading “More on System Image Back Ups and Windows 10 News”

Back Up Methods

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19 April, 2015
By Joe Callison

Backing up your computer data is essential if you do not want to experience the agony of losing irreplaceable family photos, tax and financial records, and other data that can be gone in an instant if your hard drive suddenly fails or if CryptoLocker type malware locks all of your files. There are so many methods of doing backups and pros and cons to consider that I have hesitated writing on it because it would take a small book to do the subject justice. Of necessity I am limiting this post to a few of the simplest and lowest cost methods available. Continue reading “Back Up Methods”

Updating Browser Plugins

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2 April, 2015
By Joe Callison

Browser plugins provide additional features to your browser and come from various companies. Some are good to have, and some are not. A previous post about free software provided a link to a Junkware Removal Tool that will automatically remove the bad ones, or you can disable them manually as described in the screen shot below. At present, the plugins are not automatically updated for you, though sometimes you may see a message in your browser that a plugin is out of date and needs to be updated.   Continue reading “Updating Browser Plugins”

Updating Drivers

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21 March, 2015
By Joe Callison

You may have experienced a pop-up ad while browsing the internet that says you have “X” number of out-of-date or missing drivers, or something to that effect. These ads are trying to get you to buy their driver updating software that will automatically scan your computer and search the internet for updated drivers. In order to decide if you would benefit from a product like that, you need to understand what a driver is and why it would ever need to be updated.  Continue reading “Updating Drivers”

Using System Restore

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24 February, 2015
By Joe Callison

One of the easiest ways to fix most software problems with your computer yourself is to use the built in System Restore feature of Microsoft Windows to roll back any changes to your operating system and programs to a previous point in time when your computer was working properly. This does not affect any user created documents, pictures, music, etc. that have been added- they will remain untouched.  The following instructions are based on Windows 7, but are similar for Windows 8 and even XP.  Continue reading “Using System Restore”

Windows 10 & Java Out-of-Date

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1 February, 2015
By Joe Callison

Windows 8, 8.1, 9, 10!

Microsoft recently did their big Windows 10 reveal to the press, and so far it has been received positively. Especially since they decided to make the upgrade from Windows 7 and later free for the first year after the retail release. That was a big deal not only for Microsoft, whose revenue depends heavily on operating system sales, but also the manufacturers of PC hardware whose revenues may take a significant hit if people upgrade their existing Windows 7 computers rather than buy a new PC with Windows 10 later this year. Microsoft is doing this to encourage as many people as possible to move to Windows 10, which will be one common operating system for all Windows PCs, tablets, and phones.  Continue reading “Windows 10 & Java Out-of-Date”

Office in the Clouds

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20 January, 2015
By Joe Callison

Most of us use a Microsoft Office suite, or at least Microsoft Word. Even though there are some alternatives such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice that provide reasonably good compatibility with Office files, we would probably prefer to use the real thing if we had the option. Keeping current with the new versions of Office has been quite expensive in the past, but now Microsoft has made the most popular applications in their Office 365 suite available through their cloud service, OneDrive at no cost! All you need to do is sign up for a Microsoft Account, if you don’t have one already.  Continue reading “Office in the Clouds”

FREE! (Or NOT?)

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11 January, 2015
By Joe Callison

I like free stuff, and the computing community is bursting with offers for free stuff. Offers for free scans, free downloads, free trials, etc. are everywhere. Unfortunately most of the time you get what you pay for. A free scan will scan your computer and tell you a multitude of things “wrong” with it, but if you want it “fixed”, it will cost money. A free download is usually similar- you can download the program and install it, but if you want to activate the program it will cost money. A free trial is at least a little clearer- you get to try it for a period of time for free and then if you want to continue using the program, it will cost money.  Continue reading “FREE! (Or NOT?)”

SCAMS , SHAMS and FLIM-FLAMS

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20 December, 2014
By Joe Callison

Seniors are often targeted by scam artists because we are considered as often easier prey. With the availability of so much personal information on the internet through telephone white pages linked to public records and social media sites such as Facebook, it is easy to identify seniors and find information about us and our families. This information can be used  to convince us of the legitimacy of the story being told by the scammer. Just a few of the prevalent scams in 2014 follow:  Continue reading “SCAMS , SHAMS and FLIM-FLAMS”

First Post – Some FAQs

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30 November, 2014
By Joe Callison

This first post will address some frequently asked questions from fellow computer users.

Can I Continue to Use My Windows XP Computer?
As long as it continues to perform the functions you need it for. Yes, you are exposed to a higher risk of computer viruses, malware, and identity theft, but on the other hand no system is going to be risk free. The most likely end of Windows XP will come when you can no longer access a web site that requires a later version of Internet Explorer than you can get for Windows XP.  Continue reading “First Post – Some FAQs”