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Issue #415: July 5–11, 2015

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I was very honored to be invited, and even more pleased to attend and speak at the July meeting of the Northwest Florida Military Officer’s Association, or MOA which you can visit online at www.nwfmoa.org. I’d like to extend a special “thank-you” for your gracious hospitality, a great breakfast, excellent camaraderie, and the cool challenge coin!  The Q&A in today’s issue are a select handful of the ones I answered during my MOA Geekspeak presentation.

• • •

Q: I have a laptop with Win7, an iPhone 6, and an old PC with WinXP – which I am phasing out but it still is the easiest to work. I had a pop-up on my Dell laptop telling me that McAfee had to be renewed.  So I did, and it cost me $89.   Also, I knew I had McAfee provided by Cox.  So I called McAfee and told them I had coverage thru Cox.  They refunded my $89, but I keep getting pop-ups saying I am not covered by McAfee.  How do I know if I am covered by Cox on all products, and how can I get rid of the pop-ups?

A: You are getting the pop-ups because McAfee thinks that it is not installed correctly.  This may have happened when you had both the commercial McAfee and the Cox-supplied McAfee installed at the same time.  I suggest you completely remove all McAfee products, then start from scratch and install only the one from Cox.

Two things you need to know:  First, when you remove McAfee through the Control Panel, it does NOT completely remove itself!  It leaves little traces, and adware fragments behind, that will occasionally nag you to go and download McAfee again.  McAfee even makes a product called the McAfee Product Removal Tool that WILL remove all traces of ALL McAfee software.  I’m not going to supply a link because the link changes periodically, but you can Google “McAfee Product Removal Tool”, or even the phrase “completely remove McAfee” and you’ll find it.

While I was at it, I went ahead and found some instructions for re-activating your Cox Security Suite and McAfee.  Go to tinyurl.com/NWFMOA-1 and you’ll be re-directed to a page on the Cox forums that has complete instructions.

• • •

Q: I have two hard drives on my desktop both formatted with Windows 7.  I would like to reformat 1 drive for Win8 or Win10 and set up a dual boot program to select either Win7 or Win8/10 to use upon start-up.  Is that more trouble than it is worth or perhaps not recommended?

A: Windows 10 isn’t quite out yet.  It is scheduled for release July 29, 2015.  Until it IS out, you shouldn’t install it in ANY configuration on your primary PC.  Now if you have an older one to play with, that’s great.  As far as dual-booting goes, the reason you’re having trouble is because you can only dual-boot from a single hard drive.  Your PC designates which drive is bootable during start-up, so any boot sector on other drives will be completely ignored.  So get your OS’s all onto the same drive, and you shouldn’t have any problems setting up a dual-boo system.  Just to help you out, here is a link that redirects to an article on How-To Geek entitled “How to Dual-Boot Windows 10 with Windows 7 or 8”:  tinyurl.com/NWFMOA-2

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Q: What is the very best thing to do or get to avoid hacking of my computer system?

A: That would depend on how one defines “hacking”.  The term has been glamorized and corrupted by TV and Hollywood, so its original meaning is unclear to most people.  If you mean how do you stop people from accessing your computer at home through your Internet connection, you probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than that happening.  Depending on how paranoid you are, you could go as far as unplugging your network connection when you’re not using it, but that’s really far more extreme than need be.  Just make sure your router and PC’s firewalls are enabled.  Even the regular factory setting should be enough to protect your system.  Now, if you mean hacking in the sense of going out in public and using the Wifi at places like Starbucks, McDonald’s or Panera Bread, that’s different.  Using a shared public connection is risky to the point where I wouldn’t recommend doing anything that involves account numbers or passwords when you’re so-connected, because they can very easily be picked-up by anyone nearby.  Finally, the single most powerful thing you can do to protect your data is good password management.  Use a different password for every site you access, and make sure these passwords contain no fewer than 8 characters (more is better) and make sure they have bother upper and lowercase letters, at least one number, and if possible, one or more punctuation marks, or other special characters.

• • •

For more Q&A from my MOA Geekspeak Presentation, see this issue of IGTM on my website. below. 

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Q: I run Windows 7 on a HP PC and use Cox Live Mail for my email. How do I delete SENT items other than one at a time?

A: I do not use Cox Live Mail, so I’m not familiar with the web interface.  However just about every webmail service I’ve ever used has the same folder and file interface no matter if you’re in the Inbox, Outbox, Sent Mail, Trash, or any folders that you create.  If that hold true on Cox Live Mail, there should be the same methods available to select multiple e-mails as the Inbox has.

Webmail sites usually put a checkbox next to each of the e-mails, and when you check it, the e-mail is considered “Selected”.  You should be able to select more than one e-mail, and most of the time, there is a checkbox at the very top and sometimes also at the bottom, that is not associated with any one e-mail.  When you check it, all the e-mails on the page become selected.  Once you have one or more e-mails selected, there are functions right on the page such as delete, move, etc. that will apply to all selected e-mails when you activate them.

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Q: For the past several months I have been having a problem with my typing just stopping for several seconds and then catching up.  Sometimes it does not catch up accurately and I have to retype that part.  This lag can be for as much as 20 to 30 key strokes. I originally thought this problem was keyboard related.   I was convinced of this answer when I used the same keyboard with a laptop computer (I believe it was my Windows 8.1 laptop) and had the same problem.  Then I happened to use another keyboard and the same thing happened.  Now the problem was not specific to a single computer nor a single keyboard.  Both keyboards are wireless.  I have now switched to a wired keyboard.    THE PROBLEM IS STILL THERE BUT NOT AS OBTRUSIVE.   Even the instability that I had previously associated with a mouse seems to be gone or at least not noticeable.  The problem does not happen as often  (so far on this page it has not occurred. )  Oh yes, while this was going on I had a problem where the operating system on my computer went bad and had to be completely reloaded.   That changed nothing.

Now as crazy as the above sounds let me throw in one more item.  I will be typing in the body of a message I am sending out on AOL.  All of a sudden my typing is appearing in the address box and not in the body.  No other keys have been touched.  I have uninstalled AOL and reloaded.  This has been going on before my computer operating system reload and after. This is not a joke it is a real and ongoing problem  AOL technicians have no clue.  Computer tech savvy friends have no idea.  The Techs at a local computer repair store have no idea.  Before I switched to a wired keyboard it was suggested that my wireless security system may be at fault.

A: I can probably help you with your first problem.  I handled this exact problem in my column once upon a time, and the person who was having the problem was every bit as baffled as you are.  This is a laptop, isn’t it?  And if it’s like most laptops, it probably has a built-in touchpad below the keyboard, am I right?  The component that is causing this is the one part of your system that is out of the reach of the Operating System, your virus scanner, and any malware utilities you might install.  It’s YOU.  More specifically, it’s your hand.  Even more specifically, it’s the HEEL of your hand, touching, or coming near that touchpad.  Windows provides two types of cursors.  There is the MOUSE cursor, which you use to point and click on stuff, and there is the I-BAR cursor, or typing cursor that indicates where keystrokes that you type get entered.  What is happening is that while you are fervently concentrating on the typing cursor, you’re forgetting all about the mouse cursor, which you probably left parked over the address box when you were entering addresses.  As you’re typing, and your hands are going up and down, the heel of your hand activates the touch-pad, which just so happens to be programmed so that a single touch is the same as a mouse button click.  And Windows responds.  Without missing a beat, it warps the typing cursor to wherever the location of the MOUSE cursor happens to be, and from that point, until you notice it, your characters get typed in the wrong place.  There are a couple of ways to fix this.  Many laptops have a simple on/off switch for the touchpad.  It’s located either adjacent to the pad, or on the front or side of the laptop.  If yours doesn’t have that, it might have a special key on the keyboard that turns the touchpad on or off.  It’s usually a function shared with one of the “F” keys on the top row, and you access it by pressing and holding the key labled “Fn” that’s at the bottom left of the keyboard, then pressing the other key, and releasing both.  It’s a similar gesture to Ctrl+C.

As for your OTHER problem, that is going to be one of those issues that I’d have to see for myself before I can offer any real advice.  That’s because there are SO very many things that could be causing this.  I would bet it’s not just your KEYBOARD that is getting a lag, but your entire computer.  In other words, the whole system probably seems to stop processing momentarily.  Just off the top of my head, some of the potential causes of this could be a malware infestation, not enough memory in your computer, a hard drive that is nearly full, too many processes running in the background, excess traffic on your network, or even too many USB devices plugged in at the same time.

• • •

Q: I think my question is generic, however, I run Windows 7 Professional on a Dell 580 computer; Windows and other software revisions are kept up to date automatically. I use Microsoft Backup and Restore monthly for files in libraries and personal folders, and every second or third month for system files. An option is present to create a repair disk after every system backup; my question addresses the frequency of creating of a repair disk: Having once created a repair disk, how often might an updated repair disk become advisable? To put it another way, should I occasionally make a new repair disk and throw the old repair disk away?

A: You should only ever need to create a repair disk ONCE, unless you change to a different operating system, for example, upgrading from Windows 8 to 10.  Is the system actively prompting you to create a repair disk, or is this just an option that’s present in one of the dialogs?

The purpose of a repair disk is to allow your PC to boot into your current Operating System in case the installed boot mechanism should become corrupted.  It allows you to get access to your files, and to attempt to repair the corruption.  Such repairs do not include all the 3rd-party software you’ve installed, or even Microsoft’s own security patches and updates.  If a repair should become necessary, ALL OF THESE can be downloaded again from Microsoft’s website once your system is working again.

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