Practical Help Library

  • Fun with Zoom

    Fun with Zoom

    Fun with Zoom: a reader asks… Now that we are all sheltering-in-place, I’m finding that lots of people are connecting using Zoom.com video conferencing. One thing I’ve noticed is that some people have different backgrounds behind them, whereas I have my messy bedroom behind me. How do you use that feature? Using Zoom is a great way to connect with people virtually, much better than a telephone call. The service is generally free, although lately I’ve seen that it’s not […]

  • Coronavirus Notice

    Coronavirus Notice

    Coronavirus Notice: For the time being while we are all practicing ‘social distance’, I will only be providing consumer tech support service to clients and readers virtually, either by telephone, video conference or remote access to your computer. For video teleconference, I can use Facetime, Google Duo, Google Hangout, Zoom, WebEx, or whatever other method you use. For remote access, I use a commercial version of LogMeIn (called LogMeIn Rescue) for remote control over your computer. This works as long […]

  • Soundbar for TV

    Soundbar for TV

    Soundbar for TV: a reader asks… Do you know anything about Soundbars for TV’s? In truth, I just want to increase the TV volume. It’s fine for live TV, but if I play amovie on the DVR box or the Blue Ray DVD player, the volume has to be on 100, and still isn’t great. I don’t need all the Alexa stuff or to play all my music, but I’ll buy one of those if it solves the problem. Soundbars […]

  • Malwarebytes 4.1

    Malwarebytes 4.1

    Malwarebytes 4.1, a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 PC that’s about a year old and has started having problems. I think it’s got spyware on it. What should I do? I’m assuming you are using the built-in Windows Defender for anti-virus protection. That protection is ok, but if you suspect a spyware infection, then you want to use some other tool to detect and clean it off your system. I recommend Malwarebytes, which comes in two flavors: Free […]

  • Windows Update Hangs

    Windows Update Hangs

    Windows Update Hangs: a reader asks… I am currently doing battle with a Windows 10 update that hangs at a particular point, forcing me to restart the computer and wait for it to undo the partially-installed update. After that, I have to restart the computer a second time because something left behind slows down the internet connections gradually until it takes minutes to establish a connection. My update problem never goes away – the update package is still there, pending […]

  • Important Patch Tuesday

    Important Patch Tuesday

    Important Patch Tuesday: a reader asks… My office just circulated a flyer warning that some serious vulnerabilities exist for Windows 10 as well as other Microsoft software and operating system versions. A US-CERT bulletin (AA20-014A) was issued today outlining those vulnerabilities and my office is telling everyone to update their Windows 10 PCs. Is this for real? You becha, go run Windows Update without delay. This goes for everybody with a PC running Windows. The bulletin lays it all out […]

  • Is Windows 7 Dead?

    Is Windows 7 Dead?

    Is Windows 7 Dead? a reader asks… I’ve been reading about the impending demise of Windows 7. Do I really have to upgrade to Windows 10? Strictly speaking, no. Windows 7 will continue to work beyond the ‘end of life’ date (January 14, 2020). What’s happening is that Microsoft will no longer provide support or updates of any kind to consumers and anyone else using Windows 7 who doesn’t have a specific agreement (mostly enterprise customers). But truthfully, I wouldn’t […]

  • Converting Music & Media

    Converting Music & Media

    Converting Music & Media: a reader asks… I need some help from you. I have an old National Panasonic cassette player with line in, audio tape and Radio options. l also have a number of CD and DVDs with good old music. Can I use old disc drivers with my table top computer? Also, how can I interface my computer with the cassette player to recover taped music? And lastly, how about VHS tapes? Let’s start with your CD collection. […]

  • IR & RF Home Theater

    IR & RF Home Theater

    IR & RF Home Theater: a reader asks… In this part of the universe, the trend is to have a closet built where the a/v and all encompassing electronic equipment resides. My stack is over 70′ away from my main entertainment center and is powered by a Yamaha advantage 840 and includes an array of ceiling mount speakers, 12″ power subwoofers etc. etc ad nauseam/or you get the point. How do I connect my firestick, fire tv blaster and echo […]

  • New Year’s Resolutions

    New Year’s Resolutions

    New Year’s Resolutions: a reader asks… It’s time for me to craft my new year’s resolutions, what should I consider for my ‘digital life’? I would suggest that everybody put their own security at a place of importance on resolutions, to build good security habits when using technology. So many of us really don’t take security seriously, leaving our doors unlocked, garages open, and cars unlocked and with valuables/desirable objects in plain sight. We depend on (and hope for) nothing […]

  • Lost Document

    Lost Document

    Lost Document: a reader asks… A few days ago, I was working in Microsoft Word on a document, and saved it. I tried to find it today and it’s not in my Documents folder. I don’t know what happened, can you help? I can help explain how MS Word’s “File Save” window pane works. Different versions of MS Office each work a little differently. In the current version (Office 365), the File Save pane has three columns. The left-side column […]

  • Mac Infection?

    Mac Infection?

    Mac Infection? A reader asks… Help! I use a Macbook Pro and Google Chrome. I accidentally clicked on a link (porn) that started sending me Chrome messages. In a panic, I decided I should protect the Mac. I first installed MacKeeper but then uninstalled it. Then I read some reviews and TotalAV got the best review. What do you think? It did find some malware. So stop and take a breath, Macs are generally immune to the plethora of viruses […]

  • Earbud Dilemma

    Earbud Dilemma

    Earbud Dilemma: A reader asks… I have an iPhone and wired Earbuds I’ve been using for years. It’s time for me to upgrade to wireless earbuds. Should I go with the Airpods (or new Airpods Pro) or is there something else that’s better? I should mention that the Earpods aren’t really comfortable in my ears, especially after an hour or more. But we are a mostly Apple family, with Macs, iPads and Apple Watches. I’m stuck figuring out the best […]

  • New PC Advice

    New PC Advice

    New PC Advice: a reader asks… I’m still on my old PC with Win 7, but know that it’s near time for me to pull the plug and upgrade (especially after reading your article). You also advised me to consider refurbished computers, so I’m looking at Microcenter.com. I found these options, do you have any advice on which I should choose? I’m glad you’re ready to kick Windows 7 to the curb, it’s definitely time to get more current in […]

  • Dark Web Warning

    Dark Web Warning

    Dark Web Warning: a reader asks… I got an alert today saying my email was compromised on the Dark Internet. Not sure what to do. The notifier – Experian – has this when I logged into my account – I got one back in 2013 from Adobe.com.  I don’t know this site. What do you think? So I have to be careful here, you sent me a screenshot so I can’t verify the legitimacy of the warning. Usually folks forward […]

  • 2FA Authenticator Sync

    2FA Authenticator Sync

    2FA Authenticator Sync: a reader asks… I followed your advice and installed the LastPass Authenticator for 2FA. I’ve got it backed up to my LastPass account and installed it on my iPhone 7 and my iPad (Air2). I recently added 2FA on my Amazon account and that added fine on my iPhone, but didn’t add to my iPad so they aren’t matched anymore. What should I do? Very simply, delete the LastPass Authenticator from your iPad, make sure you have […]

  • WordPress Block Editor

    WordPress Block Editor

    WordPress Block Editor: a reader asks… I have a WordPress-powered website and am having trouble with some page layouts. I have content split into table columns using html coding, but there are some odd text breaks where the text doesn’t continue to the right end, but wraps badly. Any advice for me? First off, you’re having trouble because WordPress doesn’t do a great job of handling manual html coding within a page. WordPress is intended for website development without having […]

  • Fake Email Password Reset

    Fake Email Password Reset

    Fake Email Password Reset: a reader asks… I got this email saying my email account password was reset. Before I click the link to reset my password, I thought I’d check with you. Is this real or fake? It’s fake. Do not click the link, just delete the email. This is a phishing scam and would take you someplace you don’t want to go, in an attempt to get you to divulge your email password. The easy way to tell […]

  • MS Account Security

    MS Account Security

    MS Account Security: a reader asks… I received an email, supposedly from Microsoft giving me a code for my account password reset. Is this legitimate? I don’t even know if I have a Microsoft account. I have a Windows 10 PC. Thanks for forwarding the actual message, that way I can check the html links that are embedded in the email. This email appears legit. This is typical of an email response from an online entity that is attempting to […]

  • iOS 13.1.1 or iPhone 11?

    iOS 13.1.1 or iPhone 11?

    iOS 13.1 or iPhone 11? A reader asks… I have an iPhone 7 that’s been acting really wonky for quite a while, dropping calls and having bad wi-fi, plus the battery doesn’t hold much of a charge anymore. Do you think I should replace the battery and update to the latest iOS that just came out, or replace my old iPhone with a new iPhone 11? My general advice is to always update your iPhone to the latest iOS version […]

  • Pink TV Screen

    Pink TV Screen

    Pink TV Screen: a reader asks… You’ve helped me once before and I’ve found myself in another situation that I can’t figure out. I’ve got a fairly new TV (sharp led smart tv model lc-50Q703OU). I haven’t been able to get the color settings correct yet. It gets incredibly dark on standard mode and goes pink when I try theater mode, which is the only way I can actually see the details in the picture. I’ve reset all the settings […]

  • Firestick to Old Projector

    Firestick to Old Projector

    Firestick to Old Projector: a reader (from Rome) asks… Dear Chris, I have a problem, can you help me to find best way to connect Amazon Firestick to my projector for video signal ( Benq PE5120 ) and to my home theatre for audio signal 5.1 ( Yamaha DPS-A1 ). For audio connection I’d like to use optical signal for taking advantage of 5.1. I’ve attached photos of my projector and receiver connections. Saluti! Based on the pictures you supplied, […]

  • Printing Woes Resolved

    Printing Woes Resolved

    Printing Woes Resolved..A reader asks… I have two printers, both HP. One’s a Laserjet and one’s an Inkjet I use just to print 4×6 photos. A problem started a few weeks ago where I tried to print to the Laserjet (with letter-size paper loaded) and the printout came out with just part of the page printing. Sometimes I’m getting error messages on my computer when printing to the Laserjet, and am always getting an error trying to print photos on […]

  • Deleting Files in Win10

    Deleting Files in Win10

    Deleting Files in Win10: a reader asks… I have a ton of near-duplicate photos in my Pictures folder (Windows 10 PC). I think they came from my iPhone camera through iCloud. There are over a dozen sets of near-duplicates, the only difference I can tell is the file names (numbers go up). How can I get rid of all these duplicates? Most likely, you got those near-duplicates by holding down the shutter button when taking a photo instead of tapping […]

  • Dry Hair in Croatia

    Dry Hair in Croatia

    Dry Hair in Croatia: a reader asks… I’m planning to go to Croatia for vacation. I have been searching for a travel adapter/Converter for my electronics ( smartphones, watches, digital cameras, and of course my hair dryer) but I’m not sure which one should I get. The ones that I found online seems like will not with for my Dyson Supersonic hair dryer. Croatia uses the standard European round-pronged plugs and power (230v. 50hz AC). I don’t know the exact […]

  • Update Windows 10 Now

    Update Windows 10 Now

    Update Windows 10 Now: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 computer and haven’t been fastidious about updating every time Microsoft issues an update. I do have automatic updates turned on though. Is that good enough? I would say that in most cases, waiting for the automatic updates to apply is good enough for most people. You should prudently restart your computer as soon as possible anytime Windows tells you that it installed updates that require a restart. But […]

  • Mac Rings Phone?

    Mac Rings Phone?

    Mac Rings Phone? A reader asks… I noticed recently that anytime my iPhone rings, my Mac does too! What’s up with that? Is there a way to turn this off? I also see that my text messages are copied onto the Mac as well. I don’t want that either, other people use my Mac and I don’t want them reading my text messages. A few versions ago (of macOS), Apple developers added these capabilities to the Mac so you wouldn’t […]

  • SMB Internet Presence

    SMB Internet Presence

    SMB Internet Presence: a reader asks… I am a small business owner in the UK, just starting out. I don’t have a lot of money for a fancy website design and such, but want to get an internet presence. Do you have a quick and dirty list to get me started? Ok, let me start by saying this is an opinion piece, based on my many years of experience dealing with small businesses. Not everybody is going to agree with […]

  • Mouse Freezes

    Mouse Freezes

    Mouse Freezes: a reader asks… I have a Logitech wireless USB mouse I’m using with my Windows 10 system. It’s been working fine since I got it over a year ago, but all the sudden it’s started acting wonky. Every few seconds the cursor freezes, or disappears, and then a few seconds later it reappears and/or starts moving again. It isn’t the battery (mine’s rechargeable and has plenty of charge). Is there an easy way to fix this? Let me […]

  • Manage Safari Pop-ups

    Manage Safari Pop-ups

    Manage Safari Pop-ups: a reader asks… I am trying to get a document off a government website, but that website offers its documents using popups, and my web browser (Safari) automatically blocks all popups. How can I allow popups on that site so I can get the document downloaded? Safari (and almost all web browsers) have pop-up blocking tools built-in. In the case of Safari, they opt to automatically block pop-ups on all sites. Other browsers may let you set […]

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