Practical Help Library

  • Samsung/Firestick Snafu

    Samsung/Firestick Snafu

    Samsung/Firestick Snafu: a reader asks… I have a Samsung DVD player with surround sound (HT-D355K) and a Samsung TV (UA30D5000PRXZN). I’m trying to get an Amazon Firestick to work. I plugged the Firestick into my TV and ran an optical cable from the TV to the DVD Player. When I select the D.IN option on the DVD player, I get stereo audio coming from the Firestick and can’t find a way to get Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. What can I […]

  • Win10 AutoCorrect Frustration

    Win10 AutoCorrect Frustration

    Win10 AutoCorrect Frustration: a reader asks… I have a computer with Windows 10 and I’m often typing non-standard words into various apps like Word, Outlook, etc. Windows auto-corrects that word and I have to backspace and re-correct it, since the auto-correct wasn’t, in fact, correct. For example, it auto-corrects HSA (e.g., health savings account) to HAS. I looked in the Windows 10 auto-correct settings and there’s no way to add words to the auto-correct dictionary. How do I do that? […]

  • If your PC runs Windows 7, get out your Wallet

    If your PC runs Windows 7, get out your Wallet

    If your PC runs Windows 7, get out your Wallet: A reader asks… Is there a way I can get my Windows 7 computer to work faster without spending a lot of money? In a word, nope. Microsoft officially retired Windows 7 in January 2015, and fully retired it in January 2020. In those 5 years, Windows 7 only got basic security updates, no feature updates, fixes or improvements. Now you get nothing, and Windows 7 is a full-blown security […]

  • Is this fake?

    Is this fake?

    Is this fake? A reader asks… I’ve been getting some suspicious-looking emails lately, and I’m not sure if they’re fakes or real emails. Is there a quick way to tell? I’ve included an example. In the example you provided, the biggest indicator that it’s a scam is in the From: address. You will see that it says “Bank of America” followed by an email address that is definitely not B of A. You don’t need to look any deeper – […]

  • Quick fix for shrunken text

    Quick fix for shrunken text

    Quick fix for shrunken text: a reader asks… I have a Macbook with macOS Catalina and am using Safari to look at websites. All of the sudden, Safari is showing webpages very small. What happened and is there an easy way to fix this? Yes, Safari, like most apps on your Mac, has a “zoom” feature where you can enlarge or reduce the size of the text on the window. This doesn’t actually change the font size, just the viewing […]

  • Teaching over Zoom

    Teaching over Zoom

    Teaching over Zoom: a reader asks… I am a teacher, and back in April my school moved to teaching remotely over Zoom. It’s a near-certainty this will continue in the fall, so I’m thinking now is the time to get my setup at home as good as I can without spending a lot of money. What do you suggest? I have a fairly new Windows 10 laptop computer and have been using the built-in webcam, microphone and speakers. that is […]

  • Home Office Tech

    Home Office Tech

    Home Office Tech: a reader asks… Now that so many of us are working from home, we are doing a lot, a lot of video conferencing. If I was to outfit a new home office to handle all my work-from-home needs, what should I get? Assume I have nothing, please! I’m sure I’ll need a computer (desktop or laptop or both, and Windows not Mac), a printer/scanner/copier, and internet service. I have a budget from my employer to outfit this, […]

  • Free Email is Great, but…

    Free Email is Great, but…

    Free Email is Great, but… a reader asks… Help! I’m using AOL email and have my iPhone’s Mail app setup to access it. I’m also accessing it on my PC using the website. All of the sudden, I noticed that a bunch of emails have disappeared from my account. This happened after I got an error message on my iPhone, something about not finding the AOL mail server. I don’t see those emails anywhere on my PC now. Are they […]

  • Up your Zoom Game

    Up your Zoom Game

    Up your Zoom Game: a reader asks… I read your Fun with Zoom article and am using a virtual background with a greenscreen. Looking at your screenshot, you look very sharp! Meaning clear and bright, whilst my image is pretty ugly. Not the background but me. My image is muddy and dark. How can I improve my on-screen looks? Congrats on scoring a greenscreen! It’s looking like a lot of us are going to be working from home much more […]

  • 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 […]

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