Need some help with your Computer?

While I am pretty expert on a number of computer support issues and can offer advice easily.  Some topics require remote access to your computer and research.  If you want to contact me be my guest.

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Speeding up your Personal Computer

The first question that comes to mind is “why” do you want to speed up your computer?

  1. I want to play games on it.
    1. You need to look at the minimum and recommended hardware for that game.  It may either be cheaper to buy a newer computer or it may not be possible to upgrade your current computer to play that game (for example trying to upgrade the video on most laptops).
  2.  It is slower than it used to be.
    1. There are several things you can try to speed up your computer.
      1. Un-install any programs you are not using regularly.
      2. Disable as many programs that normally “startup” while the computer is starting up.  In windows 7 try running the “system configuration” program from search box or help menu.  You can also get “Autorun for Windows” from to help you with this.
      3. Run the “cleanup temporary files” under system tools.
      4. Run the hard disk defrag after iii.
    2. If the above do not speed up your computer sufficiently you have 3 other choices:
      1. Back up all your data and personal preferences and do a “clean” re-install of your operating system.  Then re-install your anti-virus, run all the service pack updates, re-install your applications/programs and then re-load your data/preferences.
      2. Increase the available memory on your system.  If your running less than 2 Gigabytes of memory on a Windows computer increasing it to 4-8 Gigabytes will make a big difference.  The reason it will make a big difference has to do with what operating systems do when they run out of memory.  They write copies of part of the memory out to the hard disk into what is called “Virtual Memory” or the Paging file.  Anytime a computer has to read or write to the Virtual Memory the whole system is slowed down on the order of 100 times.  The only time this is not true is if you are using what is called a “ram drive” or the SSD hard disks that use memory modules in place of “regular hard drive” media.
      3. Replace your computer if it is a laptop.  Or try to do a motherboard upgrade if you have a pretty standard (ATX) desktop machine. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]


Introduction to Personal Computer Troubleshooting (continued)

I am going to talk about “general things you should do” to keep your computer healthy.

1) Always have a “firewall” running on the computer even when your inside a “firewalled” network.  The only exception to this rule is when network-based applications are failing for un-known reasons.  Then after consulting with your Techy you might try turning the workstation/server firewall off will keeping the Internet interface firewall turned on.

2) Always have an Anti-Virus program installed and up to date.  There are a lot of very good free Anti-Virus programs out there including one from Microsoft.  Use something!

3) Always have a program like the free version “Search and Destroy – Spybot” installed and available to run.  Browsers keep getting infested with assorted items that steal information and report on your internet activity.  S & D – Spybot will not only clean out those problems but for Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox it also offers “immunization” that protects the browser from many common exploits.  Another commonly used one is the free version of “Adware”.

As time goes on the commercial and free Anti-virus programs are providing more protection to browsers.  But as of this writing they still don’t replace S & D Spybot and/or Adware.

4) Don’t download and install software that you didn’t specifically go looking for on the Internet.  A lot of “Ads” that offer downloadable software over the Internet turn out to be variations on Spyware and also produce un-wanted “popups”.  You need to either only install reputable software you are familiar with or to find reviews of software someone is offering you to see if that are any “gotchas”.

I have relative who regularly downloads programs off the internet that “looked” interesting.  He keeps getting un-wanted popups and allegedly free programs that cost to actually be useful.  About every quarter I have to go over and clean off their PC.

5) Un-install any program you have on your PC that you are not using regularly.  This will help delay the time where your PC starts slowing down.  A large number of programs will startup “helpers” when you turn on your PC.  This ties up resources and (eventually) will slow your PC down.

6) Operating System Updates – For windows you should always have these turned on to run automagically and in the background.  I suspect the Mac/Android OS’s are updated less frequently but if an automated way to keep them updated is available it should probably be implemented.  Deciding when to update Linux is more complicated because depending on exactly which “brand” of it you are running you want to keep it completely current (maybe even beta-release) or you want to wait for the “long release”. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Introduction to Personal Computer Troubleshooting

I am assuming that you are already “computer literate” on your choosen platform (eg.Windows, Mac, Linux, Android etc).  If you are still un-comfortable with your PC, Tablet, Cellphone the first thing you will need to do is search for “how to” articles for your hardware/operating system to get yourself up to speed.  If your trouble is being caused by “operator error” then you need to fix that first.

Trouble comes (in theory) from malfunctioning hardware and malfunctioning software (eg. Viruses, badly written computer programs, etc).  The catch is there is also the interface between computer hardware and software.  These are called “drivers” and if they are malfunctioning it can be hard to track it down.

Trouble on a computer is generally related to either “running to slow” or “crashing”.  Crashing refers to an un-planned computer stoppage where it either stops working but still seems to be running or a spontaneous re-boot where you suddenly discover your computer is starting up again.  Running to slow is an “objective/subjective” issue.  It might be that the computer is not running fast enough to suit you or it might be the computer is running slower than it used to.

Both problems start their troubleshooting with “What was the last program you installed” and/or “What is the last file you downloaded/installed from the Internet?”  Modern computers (less than 3 years old) don’t usually have hardware issues unless you plug something new in.  But new software can commonly cause a problem.  So if you installed a new program or updated a program in the last couple of weeks that is the first place to look.

How do you “look”?  Go to the Frequently Asked Questions page for the last program you installed and/or updated.  Does it mention “known” problems?  Do you have any programs that are listed as “not playing together”?  Etc.  If there is no ideas there you could try un-installing the program and seeing if the problem goes away.  If it does, then most likely that last installed program was causing the problem.

A related question is “What were you doing” when you started having trouble.  1) What programs 2) How many are open 3) What files did you have open?  If you only have that one application open/running does the problem go away?  Or is it always “that program” that gives you trouble.

(To be continued)

Zen To Done

I ran across this book in Mp3 format at my public library.  It offers a light weight, low tech, easy way to improve you efficiency and effectiveness.  It even offers a “quick Zen To Done” implementation.  The tools are amazing easy to turn on and use.  A very small pocket notebook and a pen/pencil.  🙂

If you can’t find it at your local public library or through interlibrary loan you can buy a copy here:

Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System“>

Your Kindle and your Public Library

I found that having 1 click buying available for my Kindle was too much of a temptation.  I now have a large, lovely collection of several hundred books in my “Cloud” many of which I have paid for.

I have found a Kindle to be a very good way to enjoy a large collection of written or audible material without having to haul around many, many pounds of books.

But I can’t afford to be constantly buying more kindle books.

Whats a reader to do?

Go to your local library or to a free e-books resource like   Project Gutenberg offers books in “kindle” readable format in both PDF and .MOBI forms.  I recommend the .MOBI for superior text flow when you change font size.

The PDF reader doesn’t allow the font to be easily expanded on some platforms like a Kindle touch or some other tablets/cellphones.  Try it out.  If the PDF format is not really usable for you on your reader then try another file format.  On the Kindle the .MOBI has been reliable and works well.

Many public libraries contract with a 3rd party provider and have thousands of Kindle and non-Kindle titles available.  My public library is making a good collection of fiction and non-fiction available without having to build-out the infrastructure to do it.

Once you “check out” an Kindle formated e-book the 3rd party vendor connects to to provide you with a copy of the e-book sent through your local WiFi connection.  You can also use the “manage my Kindle” feature at to return books early when you get done reading them.  My library has a 5 e-book limit.  And a default 7 day checkout.  So if you are going through books faster than that your really need to know how to check them back in early. has a large collection of free and/or classic literature available.  You “buy” an e-book version with a $0.00 cost and it really doesn’t cost you anything.  You do need to download the e-book through a WiFi connection.