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Issue #49: June 29, 2008

Q: My wife wants to buy a laptop because I take too much time using the desktop. She thinks perhaps one buys one, switches it on and proceeds on with whatever.  But, I know that somehow, a wireless laptop must be connected to the internet service, and that is geek to me.  Perhaps you could explain the options for connecting a laptop to high speed internet access.

– Truly Geekless (Marvin)

A: You aren’t as geekless as you make yourself out to be, Marvin.  You’re correct that a laptop must be connected to your internet provider.  What you’re looking for is a device called a wireless router.  These are quite common these days, and can be found at almost any store that carries computer accessories.  Their price runs from $50 to $200 depending on features.  Since you wrote in using a e-mail address, I assume you have a cable modem, and your current desktop computer is connected to it via a wire.  Well, a wireless router plugs in between your cable modem and your desktop computer.  It allows you to share a single internet connection among multiple computers, including wireless laptops.  Most wireless routers also incorporate multiple hard-wired ports, which you can use to connect other devices to your home network, such as network-capable printers, and network-attached mass storage devices.

The actual physical cabling is the easy part.  The devices come with instructions, and all the ports are labeled.  The more tricky part is configuring your connections, particularly the wireless ones.  This process is far too varied and detailed to cover in my little 500 word column.  If you purchase it locally from one of the big box stores, your salesperson may be able to help a bit.  The better routers come with “wizard” type setup utilities that guide you through the entire process.

Q: Last week I downloaded Google’s Picasa and during the set up it went through my entire computer and picked up every picture that was in there including pictures from the programs.  It even picked up the tile sets from my Majong game.  My question is how do I get those pictures out of Picasa and if I delete them will it delete the graphics from my games?  I hope you can help me with this because I am at a total loss as to what to do.  

– Judie D.
Navarre, FL

A: Picasa is one of those applications that thinks it’s doing you a favor by scanning your entire disk structure for anything and everything it can process – in this case pictures.  As you discovered, in addition to your digital photos, there is many other images floating around your hard drive, from sample artwork that comes with drawing programs, to the images that game software uses to display cards or game pieces.

Fortunately, it’s easy to remove folders from Picasa.  In Picasa’s Folder view, use your mouse to select a folder that you no longer want to see.  Then go to the “Folder” menu, and select “Remove from Picasa…”  You should get a confirmation dialog.  Answer “Yes” and the folder won’t trouble you any more in Picasa, but will remain safe and sound on disk.  Repeat this for each folder you wish to get rid of.

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