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Issue #868: March 10-16, 2024

Q: Many years ago, my daughter asked me to write about my childhood living on a small farm in rural Wisconsin. Now I am wanting to do this. I would like to write it on my laptop. Please recommend a program I can download. Thank you!

 – Nancy C.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: You’re welcome, Nancy!  Before I answer you, here’s a bit of useless trivia for you: I grew up in Wisconsin too.  My community was more sub-urban than rural, and I didn’t live on a farm, but as you probably know from personal experience, you can’t drive more than a couple of miles in any direction up there without running into a farm – usually a dairy farm. So, I got to spend a lot of time around farms and knew farm life fairly well.

But none of this is getting your question answered.  Let’s fix that, shall we?  The kind of software you’re looking for is called a Word Processor.  At its core. such software provides you a blank page, and allows you to type on it.  Moreover, most word processors allow you to format your text, including such things as bold, italics, underline, paragraphs and even multiple columns.  They also include the ability to embed captioned pictures, tables of data, footnotes, and more.  And of course, you can save or print your files at will.  One popular word processor, in fact the one I use to write this column, is Microsoft Word, available separately, or as part of the Microsoft Office Suite.

Office can be a costly purchase, or a recurring expense that many don’t wish to add to their bills.  There are other, free options.  You could do an Internet search for “Free Word Processors” and get a nice list. It probably never crossed your mind that one of the best solutions might not even require a download and install.  If you have a Google account, you have access to the Google suite of applications, which includes everything from the ubiquitous Google search engine, to Google Maps, to YouTube, to Gmail.  There are many more apps in the suite, including one called Google Docs, which is a fully capable word processor.  To access it, sign-in to your Google account, then in the upper-right corner of the browser window, find a grid of nine gray dots.  When you mouse-over this a tooltip will pop-up that says “Google apps.”  Click on it, and a menu of available apps will open.  Scroll down this menu and you will find an icon labeled “Docs”.

Within Google Docs, you will find a rich selection of templates that provide a starting point for how your document will look.  For your purpose, I suggest you take a look at one of the “Essay” templates.  The files you generate with Google Docs can either be stored on your Google Drive, where you can access them from any system from which you can sign-into your Google Account, or you can store them locally on your hard drive.

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 Q: Have 2 CoolerMaster tower custom boxes, Win10, 4 HDs, 2 optical drives each. Is it possible to replace motherboard for Win11 requirements and keep everything else intact?

 – John M.
Northport, Alabama

A: It is technically possible, John.  But a new motherboard would probably mean that the system CPU and even the RAM would also need to be replaced. Then there’s the matter of updating the operating system to Windows 11, which may or may not be free. 

Taken together, that’s a pretty high price to pay to hang onto a particular case and accessories.  I can’t choose for you, but if it was me, I’d rather replace the system as a whole than futz with pieces in the name of compatibility.  You might consider moving those hard drives into an external chassis and plugging them into a nice new PC that has a new operating system and a warranty.

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July 2024

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