Practical Help Library

  • More Firestick with older equipment

    More Firestick with older equipment

    Hi Chris, I’m in Nairobi, Kenya. I recently bought an Amazon firestick to help “transform” my basic Samsung UHD (Model PA51H4500AR) tv to something much more exciting. I think I am only halfway there as I was disappointed to note that the firestick does not work with my Sony DAV-TZ140 home theater. I ran to the internet for a solution and stumbled across an article you wrote in 2016. Although the article was really insightful, I was hoping you could […]

  • Ripping CDs to iPod or iMac

    Ripping CDs to iPod or iMac

    Ripping CDs to iPod or iMac: a reader asks… We have a box full of CDs that we would like to download to our IPOD or to our IMAC Unfortunately, our computers do not have disc drives. How do we do this? Both your iPod and iMac use Apple’s Music app to play and manage your music library. Most likely that’s what you’re using, so here are two options for you: First, you could skip the importing of those CDs […]

  • A Better Microphone

    A Better Microphone

    A Better Microphone: a reader asks… I’ve been using Zoom for awhile now and folks tell me my voice sounds echo-ey. I’ve got a desktop computer with a Logitech HD webcam that includes a microphone, and I also use my Lenovo laptop with built-in webcam. Neither are great but the desktop is particularly bad, although I hear everybody else ok. I’d never have known how bad my microphone was except a few folks have mentioned it. What can I do […]

  • Using Chrome Tabs

    Using Chrome Tabs

    Using Chrome Tabs: a reader asks… I use Google Chrome and almost always find myself with 20+ tabs open at a time. These are websites I go to fairly often, such as email, shopping, banking, etc. While I know about the bookmarks function, is there an easier way to navigate with these? I have Chrome set to remember my open tabs so when I quit and restart Chrome all my tabs re-open. For awhile now, Google Chrome has had the […]

  • Setup Windows 10 in 2021

    Setup Windows 10 in 2021

    Setup Windows 10 in 2021: a reader asks… I finally bit the bullet and purchased a new Dell laptop PC direct from dell.com. It is due to arrive in the next day or so. Can you give me some tips on how to set it up correctly? Thanks! I’ve written a number of articles on setting up new computers over the years, but it’s been awhile so here’s the latest for new Windows 10 computers in 2021. Firstly, you’ll want […]

  • Using MS OneDrive on Mac

    Using MS OneDrive on Mac

    Using MS OneDrive on Mac: a reader asks… I have a recent Macbook and also have a Microsoft 365 account and subscription. That gives me a terabyte of cloud storage on OneDrive. How can I use this storage space to backup all my Mac’s personal files? I’ve already installed MS 365 and configured the default OneDrive folder. I’d like to add the Mac’s Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Video folders to OneDrive. Using MS 365’s OneDrive on a Mac adds […]

  • Screenshots of my PC

    Screenshots of my PC

    Screenshots of my PC: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 PC and would like to take screenshots from time to time. Is there a good utility to do that? My favorite utility for screen captures is SnagIt from Techsmith. I’ve found it to be exceedingly smart and intuitive, and offers a lot of flexibility in image editing. I can add graphics, text, or layer images. While it’s no Photoshop, it does offer all the basic tools needed to […]

  • Telephone Service 2021

    Telephone Service 2021

    Telephone Service 2021: a reader asks… I currently use Verizon for my home phone and Cox for my internet. Cox is offering me a bundle for telephone, TV and phone. Should I switch? I want to make sure my home phone works even in a power outage. The short answer is that it’s probably a wash in terms of which is better, Verizon FIOS telephone service or Cox Residential telephone service. Both use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology rather […]

  • Email Links on Websites

    Email Links on Websites

    Email Links on Websites: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 computer, use Google Chrome and Gmail, and do all my email at mail.google.com. I don’t use any app or program for email, just the website. The problem I have is that when I’m looking at other websites, sometimes they have a link in them to email someone. When I click on that link, I get an odd popup asking me which program to use for email. How can […]

  • Play iPhone thru Lightning

    Play iPhone thru Lightning

    Play iPhone thru Lightning: a reader asks… My Pioneer Elite SC-79 that I’ve had for a few years suddenly stopped playing my iPhone music using the dedicated USB port & a standard lightning connector. I’ll turn on the receiver, turn the Source button over to ipod/USB, plug it into my phone and then after a minute or so, plug in the USB. I’m getting a readout NO DEVICE FOUND and nothing happens except sound from my phone & not my […]

  • Home Theater Sound Lag

    Home Theater Sound Lag

    Home Theater Sound Lag: a reader asks… I have a home theater setup that works well except for one problem. The audio lags just a bit behind the video. Is this something I can fix? I use a projector (Epson Powerlite 3500), my receiver is a Yamaha HTR-5650, and my video sources are a FIOS TV One cable box (connected with RCA cables to receiver), a Sony Blu-ray player BDP-S550 (connected via HDMI to the projector, and an Amazon Firestick […]

  • My Font’s Too Small/Big

    My Font’s Too Small/Big

    My Font’s Too Small/Big: a reader asks… I use both Google Chrome and Gmail, and sometimes the new Microsoft Edge on my Windows 10 laptop. Every once in a while something seems to happen that makes my font size in the web browser either shrink down a lot, or grow horribly large. I know about the zoom control in Chrome, and am certainly not using that! What could be causing this? Could a hacker be changing this for me? I’m […]

  • iPhone Control Panel Pops Up

    iPhone Control Panel Pops Up

    iPhone Control Panel Pops Up: a reader asks… I have an iPhone 12 and have noticed that randomly the control panel appears. I don’t know why this happens. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why this happens. I know to swipe down from the top-right “ear” on the screen to call up the control panel, but it sometimes appears without me doing that. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out if I’m accidentally tapping […]

  • Firestick & HD Copyright Protection

    Firestick & HD Copyright Protection

    Firestick & HD Copyright Protection: a reader asks… I’ve been trying to get my Firestick to work with my home theater system. First I connected it directly to the TV and it worked fine, but the audio only came out through the TV speakers. I then connected it to my Onkyo receiver, but then the video didn’t work there. What am I doing wrong? I’m guessing that the issue is HD Copyright Protection (HDCP). Since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act […]

  • Sending Zoom Recording to Facebook

    Sending Zoom Recording to Facebook

    Sending Zoom Recording to Facebook: a reader asks… I use my iPad to do live sessions on Zoom. I do have a Zoom Pro account, I have recorded sessions, but do not see Facebook as an option to send to. How do I get these recorded sessions to my Facebook page from my iPad so others can access on demand? When you record a session using Zoom for iOS, you can only “Record to the cloud”. That stores the Zoom […]

  • Zoom Audio for Two

    Zoom Audio for Two

    Zoom Audio for Two: a reader asks… I read and followed your previous article about using earbuds to listen to Zoom, which has helped immensely, thank you! I have a set of Skullcandy earbuds connected to an audio extension cord which is plugged into the headphone port of my desktop PC. If I’m listening to Zoom alone, no problem using the earbuds to hear better.  But if my husband and I are listening together, only one of us could hear […]

  • 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 […]

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