Practical Help Library

  • Don’t be a Victim

    Don’t be a Victim

    How To Avoid Being A Victim Of Social Engineering Social engineering is the intentional use of deceit to get information from individuals, which is then used for fraudulent purposes. In most cases, hackers find ways to lure unsuspecting culprits into giving them personal information that includes passwords for sensitive accounts such as bank accounts and emails addresses among other social sites. Internet users should know that it is never possible to be completely safe as long as they hold a […]

  • Best Browser?

    Best Browser?

    Best Browser? A reader asks… I have a Windows 10 PC and it came with the Edge browser. It sounds like nobody likes that, so do you have a suggestion for an alternative? I agree with the others, Microsoft Edge isn’t my preferred web browser. Personally I like Google Chrome, as it fits my needs. That would also be a good choice for anyone who uses a Gmail account. Lots of folks also like the Firefox web browser. Both of […]

  • New TV?

    New TV?

    New TV? A reader asks… I have a great system set up in my bedroom : Fujitsu TV, Yamaha AV Receiver RX-V2300, FireTv stick (with a HDMI converter which you recommended and works great) and about 6 speakers build in the wall. The Fujitsu TV is ready to retire and it will need to be replaced very soon. Which TV will you recommend to buy so I can still use what I have (receiver-speakers-fire stick). You provided lots of great […]

  • Airpod Listen In

    Airpod Listen In

    Airpod Listen In: a reader asks… While I’m not usually one to complain, I’m finding it harder and harder to hear when sitting at a table in any restaurant. The noise level is sometimes so loud I can’t easily hear the person sitting across from me. I know I can wear earplugs to cut the noise, but that really doesn’t help me hear my table-mate easier. Got any advice for me? If you’re an iPhone user who also uses the […]

  • Mac 32-bit apps

    Mac 32-bit apps

    Mac 32-bit Apps: a reader asks… I have a 2015 Macbook Pro updated to Mojave 10.14.3. Recently, I have been receiving pop up warnings about incompatibility of my 32-bit apps as apple transitions to 64 bit technology. The notice recommends my contacting each developer. I have never heard of most of these apps except for microsoft word, where most of my documents are. (I recently started writing new documents in Pages). I don’t have a clue what this means and […]

  • Fake Facebook Texts

    Fake Facebook Texts

    Fake Facebook Texts: a reader asks… I’ve gotten two texts from facebook, giving me a confirmation code. One includes a URL to click on (I know I shouldn’t). What should I do now? I think you’re being phished – someone is trying to get access to your Facebook account. Sometimes these text messages give someone else’s account (in your case “Franziska’s). That could mean they’re trying to connect their facebook account to your phone number or email address. If you […]

  • Windows 7 – Time’s Up

    Windows 7 – Time’s Up

    Windows 7 – Time’s Up: a reader asks… I’ve been putting this off for so long – upgrading my computer. I still have Windows 7 running on my desktop PC at home. So, quick question: how long have I got before I absolutely have to upgrade? I’d call this epic procrastination, my friend. Windows 7 has been around a long time, and Microsoft ended ‘mainstream’ support for it years ago (like in 2015). Except for pay-through-the-nose enterprise clients, Microsoft will […]

  • SSD for you?

    SSD for you?

    SSD for you? A reader asks… I was wondering what would be the most valuable upgrade to my laptop computer. I already have 16gb of RAM. It has a 7200rpm, 500gb 2.5″ hard drive, and an Intel i5 processor. Since you have plenty of RAM, your most valuable upgrade will be replacing that old spinning hard drive for a solid-state drive (SSD). SSDs today are very reliable and long-lasting, plus they are significantly faster than your existing hard drive. With […]

  • New PC Configuration

    New PC Configuration

    New PC Configuration: a reader asks… I’m setting up a new desktop PC and want to make sure I do it right. I’ve already created my user account and gone through the initial Windows 10 setup screens. Can you give me a hit list of things I should do next? Congrats on your new PC! I’m assuming your new PC has good specifications, e.g., an Intel iCore processor, 8gb or more of RAM (16gb is my sweet spot), and a […]

  • Buh-Bye Google+

    Buh-Bye Google+

    Buh-Bye Google+: a reader asks… I got an email from Google telling me that I had “a consumer (personal) Google+ account” and that Google was shutting this down. Do I have to find something other than Gmail now? I’ve sent you a copy of this email. Nope, Google offers a number of different services such as Gmail for email services. Google+ was Google’s answer to Facebook, e.g., a social media platform. It never really took off and Google is finally […]

  • New Malwarebytes Version

    New Malwarebytes Version

    New Malwarebytes Version: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 PC and took your advice about using Malwarebytes Premium. I just got a popup box saying there’s a new version available. Should I upgrade? Yes, absolutely. Out-of-date software is a common way for threats to get through your defenses, and so my advise is to keep all your software up-to-date. That means upgrading to the latest version when it’s offered. This goes doubly well for protection software like Malwarebytes. […]

  • Desktop Icons Gone

    Desktop Icons Gone

    Desktop Icons Gone: a reader asks… I’ve got a Windows 10 PC, and for some reason, all my desktop icons have disappeared. I usually keep some documents I’m working on sitting on the desktop. Have I lost all those files? Most likely, you haven’t lost the files. There’s a couple of possible solutions. First, you should check that you haven’t inadvertently hidden those desktop icons. Right-click anywhere on the desktop, which brings up a menu. Hover your mouse over the […]

  • HDCP Woes

    HDCP Woes

    HDCP Woes: a reader asks… I have an older LG HD TV and up until now used a Wii as a streaming device using the designated white, yellow and red cables. I found out that some streaming services will no longer be supporting the Wii connection. I am searching for the best device to use in place of the Wii and I am thinking Amazon Fire Stick is one of the best choices. I have already tried a Roku Premiere […]

  • iOS Update

    iOS Update

    iOS Update: a reader asks… I have an iPhone Xs and just saw the latest update pop up. Should I install this update or wait? In this case, you should install the update as soon as practical. iOS 12.1.4 fixes a vulnerability that made the news over the last 10 days or so. A youth figured out there was a serous problem with the Group Facetime feature Apple had recently released. He was able to demonstrate that he could start […]

  • SATA Port Mystery

    SATA Port Mystery

    SATA Port Mystery: a reader asks… I have a Dell Optiplex 7010 with a 500gb SSD and a CD/DVD drive that are using the SATA 0 and SATA 1 ports. I bought a 1tb SSD to add as a secondary drive, and plugged it into the SATA 2 port (my motherboard has three SATA ports). No joy, BIOS sees the drive but Windows 10 doesn’t. I’ve looked all over the internet to find an answer but everybody says the SATA […]

  • Mac Outlook Slow

    Mac Outlook Slow

    Mac Outlook Slow: a reader asks… I have Office 365 running on my Macbook Pro, and Outlook is running very slowly. Also, anytime Outlook is running I get a hooting sound every few seconds. Is there an Office repair feature like there is on Windows? After a few back and forths, it turns out the reader had an email stuck in their Outbox, and that email had somehow been corrupted or mis-addressed. Outlook kept trying to send the email out, […]

  • Gmail Hides My Mail

    Gmail Hides My Mail

    Gmail Hides my Mail – a reader asks… I recently switched to using Gmail for email, and am having trouble finding my mail. People send me email and I don’t see it in my inbox. What gives? The problem you’re most likely experiencing is Google’s attempt to help you organize your email. Google designed the webmail interface to try to keep your inbox clear. So instead of just one inbox where all your incoming mail flows, there are several other […]

  • Quick Text

    Quick Text

    Quick Text: a reader asks… I have an iPhone 7 and I’m often texting the same phrases. Is there a way to streamline this and make it easier to send phrases or sentences I use a lot? Yes, there is and it’s called Text Replacment. You can find that in your iPhone Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. Basically what you do is setup a few characters as a ‘shortcut’ that, when you type them, you are offered […]

  • Android Storage

    Android Storage

    Android Storage: a reader asks… Is there a way to mount my SD card as internal storage on a Samsung Galaxy S7 from AT&T running Android 8.0 without rooting my device? Your Samsung Galaxy S7 has a microSD card (aka flash memory) slot built into the device. It was designed for use as portable/external storage and not to replace the speedy internal storage memory of your device, which holds the Android operating system. The primary sticking point (imo) is that […]

  • Backup Mac

    Backup Mac

    Backup Mac: a reader asks… I have a 2017 Macbook Pro with a 512gb hard drive (about half full), running macOS Mojave. My question is, what’s the easiest way to backup my Mac that requires the least amount of work on my part? For almost its entire history, the Mac operating system has had a built-in app called Time Machine which can automatically backup your Mac. The only requirement is to have either a network-attached storage device (like Apple’s discontinued […]

  • Noise-Cancelling

    Noise-Cancelling

    Noise-Cancelling: a reader asks… I am looking for musician style earplugs so I can listen to music keeping the fidelity while making it quieter. Any recommendations? I’ve looked at several expensive options such as from Bose – do you think they’re worth it? Over the years I’ve tried out a number of hearing protection devices, from simple foam earplugs to yes, those fancy powered Bose noise-cancelling earbuds. The driver for this research has been hearing sensitivity and protection. Hearing loss […]

  • New Year’s Resolutions

    New Year’s Resolutions

    New Year’s Resolutions: a reader asks… I want to start off 2019 right, what things should I do to keep hackers and scammers at bay? I think one of the most important things to do at this point is to have good online security. With modern operating systems, your computers are generally much more secure than before, so less likely to be compromised. The concern these days is keeping your online accounts secure. This includes your email account, your social […]

  • Refurbished Mac

    Refurbished Mac

    Refurbished Mac: a reader asks… I saw a refurbished Mac Pro 15” on Nextdoor that someone is selling for $400. It has 750 GB. The OS is Mac high Sierra 10.13. (15-Inch, Mid 2010) Refurbished Feb 2017 New 750GB SATA 2.5″ internal hard drive from Western Digital w/2 year manufacturer warranty New 8GB RAM Module Fully Tested – New OS High Sierra Installed. 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 Mint condition with all work receipts and original packaging. Is it safe […]

  • Win10 Version 1809

    Win10 Version 1809

    Win10 Version 1809: a reader asks… I heard that Microsoft had pulled the latest Fall Update to Windows 10 due to lots of problems. But my computer is now telling me that version 1809 is ready to install. Should I do this now? According to https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4464619/windows-10-update-history, the Fall Update has been fully released and can be safely installed on your system. But just because Microsoft says you can, should you? I think it would be just fine for you to wait […]

  • Mesh Wi-Fi

    Mesh Wi-Fi

    Mesh Wi-Fi: a reader asks… I have a fairly large home and have been using a Linksys router with Wi-Fi. There are several dead spots in my home, and I want to get full wireless coverage, but I don’t want to have to run Ethernet cabling to setup Access Points. I’ve been reading about Mesh networking, and wonder if it’s time to consider this. Thoughts? Mesh networking for consumers has gotten a lot better lately, and it’s certainly time to […]

  • HDCP Explained

    HDCP Explained

    HDCP Explained: a reader asks… I have a home theater system and wanted to add an Amazon Firestick to it. I have an available HDMI port on my receiver, and my other video sources work ok (cable box, DVD player). But I can’t get the Firestick to work reliably – I can usually see the video on my TV screen, but can’t hear the audio through my surround sound speakers. I read some of your other articles and am thinking […]

  • Gmail Signature

    Gmail Signature

    Gmail Signature: a reader asks… I’m new to Gmail. I’m having trouble figuring out how the interface works. Can you give me a few pointers? Specifically, 1) how to I add or change a signature that goes on each outgoing email? 2) how do I get all the messages to show in the order they’re sent (not nested together)? Gmail has a very powerful interface, although with that power comes some complication. Everything is controlled from the various Settings inside […]

  • Install Windows 10

    Install Windows 10

    Install Windows 10: a reader asks… I’m about to build my next computer, and will need to install Windows 10 on it. Can you tell me the best way to go about this? I previously wrote about this in my article Win10 Recovery USB. The same process for creating a recovery USB thumbdrive is used to create a Windows install thumbdrive (it’s really the same thing). Basically, you’re going to get a thumbdrive, download an app, then run the app to […]

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