Practical Help Library

  • 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 […]

  • Airdrop Caution

    Airdrop Caution

    Airdrop Caution: a reader tells a true story… I was at a high school recently where some kid used the iPhone’s AirDrop to send everyone at the school a picture of a swastika. Yes, the kid got in trouble, but it became a really serious issue mostly because everybody with an iPhone had AirDrop turned on to allow anyone nearby to send pictures. You should warn folks about this! Yes, there are risks of exposure to unwanted images by having […]

  • Flat Design Complaints

    Flat Design Complaints

    Flat Design Complaints: a reader asks… Ok, I’m going to rant here (sorry). I’m seeing this problem on my iPhone, and on my computer in various programs including Microsoft Office. The problem is that the design of buttons I can click on has changed. Now instead of visual buttons, all there is showing is a link with a word. Often I can’t tell if that’s a clickable link or not. Everything on screen is now devoid of shape or other […]

  • Email Won’t Deliver

    Email Won’t Deliver

    Email Won’t Deliver: a reader asks… I am trying to send E-Mails to some clients who work in [foreign country] but they keep getting returned. I personally checked the format with them but the E-Mail still bounces. I use GMail. What should I do resolve this? Gmail (and almost all other email service providers) doesn’t impose any delivery restrictions when you’re sending email to any recipient world-wide. Some countries may impose delivery restrictions, as well as some email service providers, […]

  • Overloaded iMac

    Overloaded iMac

    Overloaded iMac: a reader asks… My 2015 iMac is running very slowly. Web pages are not loading and characters being typed are taking a long time before they appear on the screen. Is there something I can do to solve this? Fortunately, I got more information from the reader, in that the iMac was equipped with 8gb of RAM and a Fusion hard drive. That and the recent pattern of usage for this iMac pointed to the issue. When I […]

  • Is my iPhone Too Old?

    Is my iPhone Too Old?

    Is my iPhone Too Old? a reader asks… I have an iPhone 5 I’ve been hanging onto for awhile. I know it’s old, but is it now too old? I hung onto it because it’s small enough for me (I’m petite with small hands) and does everything I need to do, make phone calls, text, email, snap pics and occasionally surf the web. All the latest iPhone models are too big. Unfortunately, I cracked my screen and I guess it’s […]

  • A New Laptop for Me

    A New Laptop for Me

    A New Laptop for Me: a reader asks… Ok it’s finally time for me to get a new laptop. My old Dell (Windows 7) is getting crunchy, some keys don’t work, Windows 7 is no longer supported, and I want something faster. Can you give me some ideas on what to get? I don’t do much more than surf the web, email, use MS Office 365, listen to music and watch Netflix on my laptop. I live in Fairfax and […]

  • MS Office Repair

    MS Office Repair

    MS Office Repair: a reader asks… I have a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 and have installed Office on my Windows 10 PC. It’s been working fine for months now, but suddenly I’m having problems. Word won’t open, when I start it, it begins to load and then stops. The loading window goes away and trying again doesn’t do anything. What should I do? Microsoft Office has a repair function built-in to the installer program. You need to open your […]

  • iPhone Video Share

    iPhone Video Share

    iPhone Video Share: a reader asks… I would like to share a video with someone that I shot on my iPhone, but it takes a long time to prepare the video for sending, and I want them to have the full-resolution, not a compressed version – so they can watch the video on their big-screen TV. How can I do that? Your iPhone’s Share feature has multiple ways to share things. The most obvious is to send someone a copy […]

  • Travel Voltage

    Travel Voltage

    Travel Voltage: a reader asks… Hi there! I live in the USA and am traveling to the UK soon, staying in hotels mostly. I want to use my iPhone, iPad and Mac, along with their various chargers, et.al. Is there anything special I need to do or buy? When traveling internationally, you will encounter different types of plug styles, and more importantly, different voltages and cycles (that’s the rate at which alternating current switches, expressed in cycles per second). In […]

  • Blocking Junk Calls

    Blocking Junk Calls

    Blocking Junk Calls: a reader asks… I’m starting to get a bunch of junk phone calls on my mobile (iPhone) these days. Sometimes there’s a foreign voice on the other end, sometimes it’s a recording, and sometimes they just hang up. I’ve learned that anytime there’s a delay of more than a second before hearing a caller’s voice, it’s always a junk call, so I hang up after a second of silence. But they keep calling and I know it’s […]

  • Windows 10 Helpers

    Windows 10 Helpers

    Windows 10 Helpers: a reader asks… I have a 1-year-old Windows 10 computer that’s starting to work slower and slower. I’ve been considering using a utility like CCleaner to clean it up and wonder if there are other utilities you think are better? Let me just stop you right there. Pretty much all the 3rd party utilities that purport to make your computer work better, faster, and clean up junk are a waste of time and money. Back in the […]

  • Facebook 2 Strikes

    Facebook 2 Strikes

    Facebook 2 Strikes: a reader asks… Is it time to give up on Facebook? It is helpful to be able to see info about relatives and friends, but fewer and fewer are posting these days. I noticed you’re no longer posting your articles on Facebook either (not since July 2018). And I keep reading about issues with Facebook, including the latest security breach. What do you think? It’s always been the case that if you’re not paying directly for something, […]

  • Apple TV HDMI

    Apple TV HDMI

    Apple TV HDMI: a reader asks… Which converter will I need to be able to use the following systems together? I have a Samsung TV UHD (Ultra High Definition) 4K model # UN40JU640DF; I have a Yamaha AV Receiver RX-V995. And I have an Apple TV 4K. Short answer, you don’t need a converter box, just an optical audio cable. Your Samsung TV has HDMI IN ports, so you can plug the Apple TV directly into one of those, and both […]

  • Mac Word 2-sided Printing

    Mac Word 2-sided Printing

    Mac Word 2-sided Printing: a reader asks… My printer prints 2-sided (auto-duplex), and most of the things I print give me the option to do so. When I print a Word document I’ve created on my Macbook Pro, it does not and it always comes out 1-sided. Some pre-print windows in other programs on my Mac have a button that says “printer” which you can use to get 2-sided. The Word documents do not. Can you help? Microsoft Word for […]

  • Windows Apps to new PC

    Windows Apps to new PC

    Windows Apps to new PC: a reader asks… I finally bought a new computer. Got my old laptop cleaned & transferred all my documents. But how do I transfer my programs without using a CD? The new laptop doesn’t have one and I don’t have a disk for every program. I’ve seen a couple programs and i did buy a cable. Mac users have had the Migration Assistant for years, which makes it easy to transfer all your personal files and installed apps, […]

  • Where did Windows Desktop Go?

    Where did Windows Desktop Go?

    Where did Windows Desktop Go? a reader asks… I have a new (to me) computer with Windows on it. I have two problems. First, I was last using it about a month ago and was using this “Windows Edge” program to check my Gmail. All the sudden the font size went down really small and I can no longer read the screen. Everything’s too little. Second, I don’t have a start button, nor any way I can see to change […]

  • Malwarebytes New Version 3.6.1

    Malwarebytes New Version 3.6.1

    Malwarebytes New Version 3.6.1: PSA Malwarebytes.com released the latest version 3.6.1.2711 for Windows on Saturday 9/22/18. Most folks should be on version 3.5.1 and should take the earliest opportunity to upgrade. The easiest way to upgrade is simply to visit https://malwarebytes.com and download the free version. Malwarebytes offers the same version for free, trial and premium, the only difference is what features are activated. If you already have a current subscription, installing the latest version won’t change your subscription status. […]

  • Mac Time Machine

    Mac Time Machine

    Mac Time Machine: a reader asks… I understand that Apple is discontinuing the Time Capsule. I have a Mac at home and want to use the Time Machine app to backup my computer. Since there’s no more Time Capsule, what should I do? Any external hard drive can work as a Time Capsule. You can choose a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive that connects to your home or office network (using Ethernet cabling), or you can choose an external hard […]

  • Should I iOS 12?

    Should I iOS 12?

    Should I iOS 12? a reader asks… I have an iPhone 7 and my husband has an iPhone 6s. We also each have iPads (mine is a mini2, his is an air2). We also both have Apple Watches (series 2 & 3). So yes, we’re sort of all-in on Apple. My question is, should we update to iOS 12 (released on Monday the 17th)? Or should we wait? My general advice is for most consumers to update their technology at […]

  • iPhone Scanning Options

    iPhone Scanning Options

    iPhone Scanning Options: a reader asks… I have various things in paper form I’d like to scan, including documents and photos. What’s a good app for my iPhone that I can use instead of buying and using a flatbed scanner? The days of needing a flatbed scanner are quite over except for those who have lots of documents to scan – a multi-sheet-fed scanner would be helpful there. The first thing you should consider though, is how you’re going to […]

  • Nitty-Gritty PC Spec

    Nitty-Gritty PC Spec

    Nitty-Gritty PC Spec: a reader asks… Can you give me a brief rundown on what specs I should be going for when buying a new desktop PC? Nothing special, no gaming, video or other high-end work. I do have large music and photo libraries. Ok, here’s the nitty-gritty: Get Windows 10, get 16gb of RAM, get the largest solid-state drive (SSD) you are willing to pay for, and get the largest screen size that fits your situation – preferably 1080p […]

  • New iMac

    New iMac

    New iMac: a reader asks… I have an older 2011 iMac that’s been giving me a lot of trouble, and I’m giving up. I’m going to go buy a new one. What’s the easiest way to get everything transferred over from the old iMac to the new one? Apple’s utility program, Migration Assistant, is the easy way to get your personal files, settings and apps transferred over from the old iMac. For this process, you need to unpack the new […]

  • Word Won’t Work

    Word Won’t Work

    Word Won’t Work: a reader asks… My Word program has ceased functioning. Yesterday I attempted to add a second language in the settings. It seemed to progress, then got stuck. I could not close the program. I tried rebooting twice to no result. I tried to repair the Word program, which started but then would not end. I simply can not open or access any word documents, either on my computer or on my drive. I don’t know what else […]

  • Fitbit vs. Apple Watch3

    Fitbit vs. Apple Watch3

    Fitbit vs. Apple Watch3: a reader asks… I’m looking at getting a fitness tracker, and am considering either a Fitbit Charge or an Apple Watch. What are your thoughts? As a matter of fact, for the last few weeks I’ve been wearing both, and noting the differences, so let me spill the beans for you. First things first, the Fitbit Charge 2 is available now, and costs about $130. The Charge 3 is coming out in October, you can pre-order […]

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