Practical Help Library

  • My Password

    My Password

    My Password: a reader asks… I’ve been using a variation on a password theme all across the internet for all my accounts. It’s a combination of a remembered password and some characters unique to the website or service I’m logging into. Is that ok or should I do something different? Nowadays, it’s all about password length and guess-ability. Hackers use technology that can go through all the possible combinations of characters,letters, numbers and special characters at speeds that make short […]

  • Web Host Recommendation?

    Web Host Recommendation?

    Web Host Recommendation? A reader asks… I am a new small business owner, and want to put up a website. I’ve been doing some research and see that I can setup one using Weebly or Wix, and GoDaddy and Network Solutions have these website design tools that are supposed to be very easy to use. I don’t intend to sell anything online otherwise I’d just use shopify.com, but do want the flexibility to change things around on my website at […]

  • Reading Mode for Web Pages

    Reading Mode for Web Pages

    Reading Mode for Web Pages: a reader asks… So, I have to do a lot of research that requires me to look at lots of news websites — the worst of which, oddly enough, are in Israel and Nigeria (lots of ads, social media stuff, etc.).  All I’m trying to do is to capture the headline, text and date.  Copying and pasting into word is really irritating and consumes a lot of time. I started to use “Clean print” in April […]

  • Don’t fall for this scam

    Don’t fall for this scam

    Don’t fall for this scam: a reader asks… Help! I had a problem with my HP Officejet Pro 8710 printer which stopped working with my Lenovo laptop PC after a recent Lenovo update. I looked up HP online and called a number which got me connected to somebody at helpme.net (800-546-2856). They remotely connected to my computer with Zoho Help and installed Avast Premium on my computer, then tried to sell me a $200/year ‘software firewall’ to protect my Windows […]

  • Fake Tech Support

    Fake Tech Support

    Fake Tech Support: a reader asks… Hi Coach, I got a phone call today from Microsoft Tech Support. They said that my computer was infected, and they had to fix it remotely. They wanted me to let them take over my computer to fix the problem. I declined but am worried that my computer is infected. What should I do? I have a Windows 10 PC and am using Windows Defender and the Malwarebytes product you recommended. You did the […]

  • Safe Dating Tech

    Safe Dating Tech

    Safe Dating Tech: a reader asks… I’m a woman re-entering the dating scene after a long time. I’m using these dating sites and services, but am a bit concerned about the potential for creeps out there. I know enough to get a separate email account so bad dates can’t troll me, and to create separate social media accounts. But don’t know what to do about cell phone and text messaging and don’t want to have to have a second phone. […]

  • iPad Can’t Record Zoom

    iPad Can’t Record Zoom

    iPad Can’t Record Zoom: a reader asks… Hi I’m using Zoom to do video chats with my clients. I’d like to be able to record the videos, but there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to do that. I’m using my Apple iPad and have a free Zoom account. The short answer is that you need a computer (Mac or PC) in order to record the video chats to the hard drive. Firstly, the free version of Zoom […]

  • Using File History

    Using File History

    Using File History: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 PC. Can you tell me how to backup my computer? I read your advice about using File History, how do I set that up? There are a lot of different programs and utilities that you can use to back up your computer, but Windows 10 comes with one that is perfectly adequate – File History. Before you jump in and try to turn that on, you first need someplace […]

  • Password Advice

    Password Advice

    Password Advice: a reader asks… I read your advice on basic computer protection, thanks! Can you tell me a little more about managing my passwords? Sure! If you are very limited in the number of online places you go, then you can get away with writing down passwords. For most of us, we need the help of a password manager. That’s because the current cardinal rules for passwords are: Long passwords. Forget about password complexity, just make your password as […]

  • Simple Answer to PC Protection

    Simple Answer to PC Protection

    Simple Answer to PC Protection: a reader asks… Can I get a simple answer please? There are so many computer protection programs out there, what should I do to protect my Windows 10 desktop computer? Simple answer: Use the built-in Windows Defender, and supplement it by buying, installing and using Malwarebytes Premium ($40/year). Get it at https://www.malwarebytes.com/. Don’t bother with the free version, pay your money and get full-time protection. Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain the […]

  • PDF App for Mac

    PDF App for Mac

    PDF App for Mac: a reader asks… I have a Mac, and am having trouble with certain PDF files. When I open a PDF I can see the file just fine and print it. But some PDFs such as IRS forms are supposed to be capable of being filled out online, then printed or saved. My Mac can’t do anything with those except the usual view and print. What do I need to be able to fill out these forms? […]

  • iPhone Airdrop?

    iPhone Airdrop?

    iPhone Airdrop? a reader asks… So I’m sitting in a restaurant with some friends. We all have iPhones and one person is showing off her pictures. We all say “we want that one!”, but we all want different pictures. She texted each of us a separate picture. Is there an easier way? Well, you could use Airdrop but it will be marginally easier. I laid out the arcane place that Apple hid Airdrop in its latest version of iOS (in […]

  • HDMI to Old TV?

    HDMI to Old TV?

    HDMI to Old TV? a reader asks… Hi, I bought a new Amazon Firestick, and want to use it with my older Panasonic projection HDTV Model# PT-56TW53 – which has no HDMI ports. I bought an HDMI converter “HDMI2AV 1080p Mini” made by BlackWeb that has 1 HDMI input port, and 3 output ports (red, yellow, & white), along with RCA cables. I tried hooking the converter up to the video ports on the back of the TV, But all […]

  • Outlook shows name not email

    Outlook shows name not email

    Outlook shows name not email: a reader asks… I have Office 365 and when looking at my Outlook inbox, I see the sender’s name in the To column, but not their email address. Is there a way to get it to show the full email address? The reason why is I’ve been getting emails that show the name of someone I know, but when I open the email the From address is not their email address. This is a vexing […]

  • Reboot your Router

    Reboot your Router

    Reboot your Router: a reader asks… I’ve been reading in the news that I should reboot my router, and possibly do more stuff. Not sure what to believe these days or do. I have Verizon FIOS. Any advice? At this point, my recommendation is along the lines of the FBI’s recommendation and reinforced by a Dept. of Justice notice: unplug electrical power from your router, wait 60 seconds and plug it back in. Given that this threat is ongoing, I […]

  • Gmail Retract Email

    Gmail Retract Email

    Gmail Retract Email: a reader asks… I use Gmail and have found that sometimes I’ve accidentally hit the send button too quick. Is there a way for me to cancel an email that I’ve already sent? Yes, this is something that Gmail users have been asking for forever. Google added that feature in awhile ago, but it’s easy to miss that setting. It’s called “Undo Send” and you can use it to set a hidden sending delay of up to […]

  • Laptop Brands

    Laptop Brands

    Laptop Brands: a reader asks… I’m in the market for two new laptops to replace our aging ones. My wife and I are PC folks, not interested in the Mac. I have two questions: What are your top brand recommendations for light and powerful laptops, and what are your recommendations on specifications? We don’t do anything really taxing (no video editing or gaming), but do have a lot of multi-tasking going on. Thanks for your help! The first question is […]

  • Laptop for Analytics

    Laptop for Analytics

    Laptop for Analytics: a reader asks… I’m going to start Graduate school in the fall, working on a Masters in Business Analytics, so I imagine I will be working with large sets of data. I spoke with someone who did the program this past year and he used the school issued Thinkpad (I have an X1 carbon with an i5 now) and he said that the laptop specs weren’t really necessary. He said that the only issue he faced was […]

  • Mac BootCamp vs. Parallels

    Mac BootCamp vs. Parallels

    Mac BootCamp vs. Parallels: a reader asks… I’ve got a Macbook Air and occasionally need to use Windows. Do you think I should use Boot Camp or Parallels? It really depends on your needs and how you want to operate. Let me go over the differences in the way the two options operate. They both give you an alternate computing environment to work in, and if you want to use Microsoft Windows, you’ll need to buy a software license. With […]

  • Macbook Pro Fix?

    Macbook Pro Fix?

    Macbook Pro Fix? I have a 6 year old MacBook Pro which has been incredibly slow for quite a while. The rest of my family can’t even stand to use it. For example, when I click on a URL, often it will take 15-30 seconds to load the site, and sometimes it just beach balls until I leave the computer. I had initially thought that the slow response time was due to having Mac versions of Office products (Excel and […]

  • Airdrop Photos, iPhone to Mac

    Airdrop Photos, iPhone to Mac

    Airdrop Photos, iPhone to Mac: a reader asks… I want to send some photos from my iPhone to my Mac, but I don’t use iCloud. I’ve figured out how to send the photos from my iPhone, but don’t know where they are going on the Mac. Usually, files that are AirDropped to your Mac are sent to the Downloads folder. Open Finder and click on the Favorite Downloads. If you are AirDropping a lot of files, you’ll want to make […]

  • Quick Scan a file

    Quick Scan a file

    Quick Scan a file: a reader asks… I followed your recommendations and have Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Premium running on my computer. I know these scan my computer periodically for bad stuff, but is there a way I can scan a particular file? Such as a file attachment in email? For the most part, you’ll be looking at either your desktop icons or a File Explorer window showing you the name of the file. Normally you’d single click to select […]

  • Browser Tabs

    Browser Tabs

    Browser Tabs: a reader asks… I’m new to computers and have what is probably a dumb question, but here goes. I know how to open a web browser to go to a web page, but I don’t know how to have multiple web pages open at the same time. I read something about ‘tabs’ but aren’t sure what those are and how to use them. Can you give me a quick primer? All modern web browsers can have multiple web […]

  • Mac Chrome Cookies

    Mac Chrome Cookies

    Mac Chrome Cookies: a reader asks… Are you aware of any setting that might always be clearing cookies in Chrome on my mac? So often I get “we don’t recognize this device” on sites I frequent, and then I have to answer extra security questions.  Then things are hey for a little while, but then it happens again.  It’s a huge pain and I have looked in Settings but found nothing. Sometimes, settings can get stuck for whatever reason, and […]

  • Another Malwarebytes Update

    Another Malwarebytes Update

    Another Malwarebytes Update: a reader asks… I just got and installed an update to my Malwarebytes Premium protection program as you recommended. I’m showing version 3.4.5. Am I good to go now? Sorry, in a word, no. The current version is 3.5.1 and is most likely not going to show up with the program’s automatic update notifier for awhile. I’m guessing that the folks at Malwarebytes do this on purpose so that they can have folks (early adopters) test out […]

  • Fix Win10 Update

    Fix Win10 Update

    Fix Win10 Update: a reader asks… I tried to install the Windows 10 update 1803 but it keeps erroring out, it says “Error 0x80070005”. Do you have any advice for how I can fix this and get the update? I’m worried because I read that the Meltdown and Spectre updates for Windows 10 didn’t work. You’re right that the updates to Windows 10 intended to fix vulnerabilities for Meltdown and Spectre were not effective. As a result, all versions of […]

  • FIOS Quantum

    FIOS Quantum

    FIOS Quantum: a reader asks… I just got new boxes from Verizon FIOS, I was talked into upgrading my TV service to their Quantum after asking if they had smaller cable boxes. So I got the boxes and want to know how I should go about doing the upgrade, they delivered the boxes and said it’s “self-install”. My main TV (Samsung) has the cable box connected and also my Onkyo home theater receiver which handles the audio from the TV. […]

  • Sprint Wireless Boost

    Sprint Wireless Boost

    Sprint Wireless Boost: a reader asks… I got an email from Sprint today offering me a “Magic Box” for signal boosting, free. Do you think I should get it for my home, I’m in kind of a dead zone. While I normally eschew 3rd party devices that purport to boost your wireless cellular signal, Since Sprint is offering you this for free, it might be worth using. Please note that while the device is free to you, it comes with […]

  • Windows 10 April Update

    Windows 10 April Update

    Windows 10 April Update: a reader asks… I’ve been reading about a major update to Windows 10 coming soon. Should I install it? In a word, yes, but with a caveat or two. On April 30th, 2018 the April 2018 update is released to consumers. That means that within a few days, weeks or months, your computer will tell you that it wants to install the update. You have to affirm that you do in order for it to happen, […]

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