SPEEDING UP A SLOW COMPUTER

firefoxBob’s XP computer was so slow, Joy tried to talk him into restoring it back to its factory settings. Bob wouldn’t do it.

Because what it means is you’re clearing the hard drive. You’re taking it back to the beginning, when the Universe was dark. All your files, all your programs, will be gone. Did you back up the files before you reset it to factory specs? No? Too bad. Do you still have the disks to reinstall the old programs? Who does?

Faced with the prospect of living forever slow or committing digital suicide, Bob took drastic measures: He uninstalled Google Chrome and Malwarebytes. Both of these seem to have become too demanding for old computers. So he switched to Firefox as his browser and everything is running fast again, as in the old days when the Earth was young. Joy tried Firefox too, and also found it clean and fast.

A couple weeks later we read that PC Magazine named Firefox as the best browser for the Internet. Of course, they were reviewing the latest version, the one Joy installed on her machine. Because Bob has an older operating system, he searched for and got an older version of Firefox to go with it. It’s just like fashion, you should have matching outfits. You should also select matching accessories.

Just kidding. You should have the latest version of any browser for security reasons. Bob updated the one he found.

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RHYMER

Courtesy: KennyMyers.com

Courtesy: KennyMyers.com

Rhymer.com is a rhyming dictionary. It’s easy to rhyme with boat. But what if you need a three syllable word for that song you’re writing? We suggest overcoat or antidote.

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RECIPE PUPPY

RECIPE PUPPYRecipePuppy.com: Enter the ingredients you have on hand and they’ll give you a recipe that uses those ingredients.

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PERFECTLY TIMED PICS

LENINPerfectlyTimedPics.com has many cute photos, such as a giraffe peeking through someone’s French doors, a bear on a JetSki, or a little girl feeding a squirrel. We liked the toddler curled up with a puppy for a nap and the gecko giving a high five to a man’s finger.

NOTE: Always be careful of the ads in sites like this. We advise not clicking on any of them; beautiful Russian girls looking for boyfriends may not be may not be what you expect. The ads are questionable but the site is otherwise fun.

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FASCINATING SCIENCE BITS

ifl scienceIFLscience.com has fascinating bits, including “21 GIFs that explain mathematical concepts.” For instance, did you know that the number Pi (3.14159 etc.), is equal to the distance traveled by rolling a wheel exactly one revolution? That distance turns (ha, ha) out to be 3.14 times the diameter. This is true no matter what size the wheel.

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WHO’S LOOKING AT YOU KID?

twitterIf you’re one of the 271 million Twitter users, you may want to know how many people are potentially viewing your tweets. Go to Analytics.Twitter.com to find out. We found that our tweets were received daily by around 1800 people. Of course, just because someone is getting your tweets doesn’t mean they’re actually reading them. Stop us before we tweet again!

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MAKING A PHOTO BOOK

photobookIt sounds so easy. Shutterfly.com automatically assembles a photo book for you. No more placing photos in albums, or even buying an album.

Here’s the problem. When a family member sends you a link to their Shutterfly photos, it’s likely to have only a few dozen pictures you actually want. But instead of taking your selection and putting those into a book for you, they put in the whole thing. Bob’s son just sent him 278 photos, and the resulting book would have cost us $83 plus shipping and taxes. Forget that.

To get the photos we wanted, we checked off our favorites, making a new album with 50 photos in it, selecting from the ones we were sent. This time it only cost us $11 for a 5 by 7 book. Lesson learned: Don’t click “Make a photo book” until you’ve created a new album.

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ORGANIZING PHOTOS

photosWe recently used ScanMyPhotos.com to have a big box of our favorite old photos scanned and placed on a DVD. They charged $159 but it was worth it. We then used Kooboodle.com to store them online, and this was free.

ScanMyPhotos was easy to use but requires some work on your part. We ordered the service online and they sent us a pre-paid mailing box to put our photos in. It was the first time we’d looked at these photos in years. They gave us six months to get the photos back to them and of course we dilly dallied for a few months, because it’s sort of a pain going through all those photo albums to look for the gems.

They required photos of the same size to be grouped with rubber bands, and for extra fees they will provide more services: For $70 you can have your photos digitally enhanced, for $13 you can have them put on a flash drive in addition to a DVD.

Kooboodle searched our hard drive for photos and put copies of all of them in private storage online. This is a nice service, especially since its free for as many photos as you have.  It’s owned by ClickFree, a company we’ve written about them many times, because they make backing up easy.

Having your photos stored online makes them easy to skim through and easy to select ones to send to print or email. Highly recommended.

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YOUR RING IS LISTENING

RinglyYou’d have to be living on Mars to be unaware of all the smart watches coming out this year. But did you know you could also get a smart ring?

Ringly” has $195 rings with a choice of emerald, onyx, pink sapphire or moonstone. Each ring connects to your iPhone or Android phone by the phone’s Bluetooth wireless chip and will vibrate and light up when a call or message comes in. That could be handy if your phone is set to vibrate. You might otherwise miss a call if it’s in a purse or bag. Of course the ring has no screen, so you won’t know who’s calling unless you look at your phone. You can  set it to flash only when certain people call or text.

Ringly needs charging every two days; just put it in its jewelry box, connected by USB to a power source.

 

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GOOD STUFF FOR LESS

certified refurbishedYou don’t have to buy a new tablet or computer to get a good one, any more than you have to buy a brand new car. “Refurbished” machines are items returned to the store or the manufacturer, but they’re not lemons.

According to Digital Trends, an online magazine, refurbished tablets and computers are subject to more rigorous testing than ordinary machines. After a person returns something to the store, retailers want to be darn sure there’s nothing wrong with it. From our own experience, we know that some equipment labeled as “refurbished” is brand new and has never been opened; a company ordered too many and returned the surplus.

Apple has an online store where refurbished iPads sell for $420, an $80 savings. At other company sites, smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, cameras, and TVs are discounted by as much as 50 percent. To find the Apple refurbished department, go to Apple.com, click “store” and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In tiny print, you’ll find “refurbished and clearance.”

Similarly, Amazon has an outlet store at Amazon.com/outlet. You can find others by going to Google.com or any other search engine and adding the word “outlet” to your search term. For example, a search on “Sony Outlet.” or doing the same for Dell, HP, Nikon, New Egg, Best Buy and many others, turns up their bargain basement divisions.

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