Monday, January 04, 2010

Beware the Best Buy Optimization

Best Buy offers to do a "optimization" on new computers that claims to speed them up. This service is supposed to be optional for $39.95, but there are some stores that sell computers that are "pre-optimized." If they claim that they are sold out of the non-optimized computers, they will force you to buy one that is "pre-optimized" even if you don't want that service. Read more about this here:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Youngstown Computer Show notes for September 12, 2009

Segment 1

Talking about people and thieves - using twitter and facebook to find out when you are not home
Joe D realizes that there are not nice people out there. Check your security settings to make sure all of your information is not public.

The internet and social networks are now affecting professional sports. NFL says that players cannot be on the internet or social networks 90 minutes before and during a game.

Talking about "sexting", that is, sending dirty pictures and texts from cell phones. Parents should keep tabs on what their kids are doing. Kids have to realize that stuff they post on the internet cannot be undone and can affect their future.

Segment 2

Go to to see a list of rouge/fake anti-virus programs. Also there is a picture of a burned out hard disk controller. Also played recordings of failing hard drives so if you hear these kind of sounds, your hard drive is about to fail.

Caller 1
Q: when I turned it on, I got a message that your computer would start, and it was there for 40 minutes and it said "repairing" Is this normal? Then it started up ok.
A: Joe D recommends to back up your important files right now. Then bring it in to have it professionally installed. It sounded like Windows had to do some fixing, so it might be a failing hard drive.

Caller 2
Q: what are the signs that you need to defrag?
A: Joe D says to defrag if you see constant drive activity. If you uninstall/intstall stuff a lot, try to defrag once a month.

Joe D amazingly suggests defragging more than once on XP?!?!?

Segment 3

Mike brings in an article about a carrier pigeon against the internet in South Africa.

Caller 3
Q: got a wireless usb adapter. but we can't find the disk for the d-link router. can we reset the router and set it up again without the disk?
A: yes you can. You just have to log into the router at and configure it through a web browser.
Q: actually we don't remember the wireless password.
A: well, since your laptop gets on, use that computer to go to the router setup and change the wireless password and WRITE IT DOWN!

Caller 4
Q: on a skype video call, my sister's video camera stops working after 15 seconds, audio is fine, and she can see our video fine
A: try to download the latest drivers for the web cam and maybe for the video card. perhaps there is also a problem with a firewall program that might be shutting off the video stream

Caller 5
Q: after returning from a trip, I turn on the powerstrip and the printer and screen are on, but the main system unit will not turn on.
A: try another outlet on the power strip, but it seems that the powersupply might have burned out.

Segment 4

Caller 6
Q: This is Dan Rivers. Got norton AV. Do I remove the old version before I install?
A: yes, that is usually better.
Q: can you install that on two machines?
A: you will have to check the license. some retail copies can be installed on up to 3 computers.

Caller 7
Q: when the computer starts, I hear the hard drive scratching, but then it smooth about about 10 minutes. things are slow until about 10 minutes in
A: some hard drives do make some noise. if the noise changes, then that's what you have to listen to. get the hard drive tested to make sure that it is ok.

Caller 8
Q: the physical power button has broken, I can't turn it on
A: we can look at the switch to see if it can get fixed

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Youngstown Computer Show Notes for August 29, 2009

Segment 1

Talking about fake anti-virus popups. There is a screen shot on If you see this, keep tapping Alt-F4 to close all the windows. If windows still keep popping up, then you are already infected, then seek help to disinfect your computer. Adam asks about how the web sites themselves get infected.

There is a Youngstown Computer fantasy football league starting. See Adam talks about the Dallas Cowboys' HD screen that got hit by a punt.

Also check out the poll about Senate Bill 773.

Segment 2

Jessica Biel is now the most dangerous search on the internet.

Joe D shares an example of how work occurs at his shop.

Segment 3

Caller 1
Q: lost D and E dvd drives, they don't appear anymore
A: have you checked the cables?
Q: no, but I have been working with msconfig, then I had some problems with a phone sync, I uninstalled the phone software and the drives were gone.
A: try to use tweakui, if you are on XP, to see if the drives are hidden. also try running disk manager to see if the drives are shown there.
Q: I got a error mark when I look in device manager
A: try right-click, remove the device, then restart the computer
Q: any time for the mp3s to be posted?
A: we are working on it

Q: got a new vista, but I couldn't run my old dos doom games, so I got a patch, but it does not support the new red light mice
A: Ian would answer that, but he is not here today.

Caller 3
Q: about acer and vista, got a problem with windows explorer, when I try to copy a file to a floppy, I try to right -click the file to check the properties explorer freezes, there is also a dvd rom that I can can't read in vista, but works on XP
A: sounds like a hardware problem,
Q: well, explorer seems slow when going down the folder tree
A: you will have to look at it in the office

Segment 4

boy that was a fast break

Caller 4
was not there on the phone

Caller 5
Q: who benefits from viruses?
A: three reasons: 1. recruitment, that is, use your computer to do their work like sending spam, 2. tricks you into buying something that does nothing, 3. then there are kids that just lash out at society

Caller 6
Q: on XP, sometimes when I try to open something, but everything freezes, but I have to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and then it works
A: that is strange, we will have to look at it closer

Segment 5

Caller 7
Q: got XP, says i need javascript enabled, like youtube
A: go into the security settings for IE, change it from High or med-high to medium or low. you can also check out the custom settings to check that scripting is enabled

Caller 8
Q: my computer suddenly stops then restarts
A: sounds like windows is crashing, usually a driver is crashing, also the power supply might be failing

Caller 9
Q: can I transfer music from media player into itunes?
A: you just have to itunes where the old music is, it is usually in your "My documents/My Music" (in XP)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Youngstown Computer Show notes for August 22, 2009

Segment 1

Talking about the movie nights in Mathi park. If you have an outdoor movie night, nominate your cause for a drawing for a free movie night.

Talking about online communities vs. real relationships. Joe D asks Ian and Adam if they have noticed if they noticed that youngsters communicate different. Joe D feels it is safer to meet people online than in real life. Joe D wants to see Youngstown as a premier wired city to attract tech workers and youngsters. Adam talks about having community wifi.

Talking about the AT&T network and the iPhone. Their service has gone downhill since the iPhone release. Some cities are switching coverage to a lower-speed, but more robust 3G system to try and improve service.

Segment 2

Caller 1
Q: how can you tell if a wifi router is sending out wifi? I can't seem to get any on my computer
A: sometimes you can turn off the SSID from being broadcasted, so you don't see any wireless networks. log into the router setup screens, and see what the SSID is set to, and you can make sure that the wifi is on. you will have to log into the airport and check the settings. reference your setup instructions for the address to go to on your web browser to log into the settings pages on your wireless access point (airport).

Talking about problems you can have with wireless networks, if a neighbor has the same name SSID as yours, it can cause connection problems. So please, set an unique SSID for your wireless. Ian mentioned that his linksys router seems to go down often.

Segment 3

Caller 2
Q: is there a maximum speed for a wireless connection?
A: wireless G is limited to 54Gbps, and wireless N is about twice as fast. most laptops are G, but some newer ones might have N, otherwise you would need both a new router and adapter

Caller 3
Q: after a virus was cleaned up, some things are not working, like I can't change the background
A: the virus probably set the user policies when you were infected, but when you cleaned it out those policies were not turned back on

Caller 4
Q: I can't get on the internet. IE can't display any webpage. I have roadrunner.
A: you will need an expert to check out the settings, please call into the shop

Caller 5
Q: I got AT&T and they switched security on me, the guy set it up to twice a week check everything out, and I was trying to get one day off, it comes on Sunday and Thursday.
A: to change McAffee scan settings, use file -> preferences, look for scheduling, we will have to look that up

Caller 6
Q: problem with Trend Micro antivirus, it seems to be making temp folders and files. there are over 23,000 files. they recommend to delete them, they are debugging files.
A: yes, go ahead and delete them and turn off debugging.

Segment 4

continuing Caller 6...
try to make a backup copy in a different location, like on a external drive, and reboot and make sure everything works before getting rid of those files.

Caller 7
Q: I think I got infected with spyware. How do I check?
A: unwanted pop-up screens, changed backgrounds, unknown icons on the taskbar, try running a virus scan. Look at the task manager to see if there are any processes that are using a lot of CPU, if any of the names look totally random letters and numbers.

A tip to try and prevent infections, if you get a pop-up that says you are infected, use the Alt-F4 keys to close all windows. Don't try to click on a close button, because it might trigger an install.

Caller 8
Q: using firefox, I can't use the online streaming of your show, but it works in IE
A: use the plug-in called "IE tab". It allows you to load a page in IE but still inside of firefox. You will have to download this extension.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Youngstown Computer Show notes for August 15, 2009

Segment 1

Joe D talks about the number of lawsuits this week. They talk about the lawsuit against Microsoft that stopped sales of Word 2007. I4I wants $94 per copy. They claim a patent on XML editing. Joe D says a lot of other products use XML technology. Joe D hates patent trolls.

The Psystar case is moving very slowly. They are still in the disposition phase. Adam worries that Apple can break OSX for the people who bought psystars.

AT&T class action suit that says that they claim the phone has MMS, but AT&T has it turned off. Joe D wonders if Apple will move to another provider. Even cheap phones have MMS, but not iPhones don't. Joe D claims that AT&T's network is getting hammered by the iPhone users.

This week has been big on performance issues due to recent service packs and updates like SP3 if you only have 512MB of RAM. This is for XP users. Vista users already should have 1-2GB of RAM.

Lots of power supplies were failing this month. They sort of degrade over time, they put out less power over time.

Segment 2

Caller 1
Q: when I use the mouse to adjust the up down selections on dialogs, the numbers jump around too much, they go up in too big of steps
A: seems that the mouse is set too sensitive

Caller 2
Q: looking for interfaces from computers to automobile diagnostics, any suggestions?
A: you should maybe talk to the car care guys.

Caller 3
Q: ran a full scan on norton and it took 6 hours to run, is that normal
A: depending on your hard drive, this is normal, try to clear out temporary files to speed it up

Caller 4
Q: got a blue screen of death. got a mini acer, got like 96GB of data, stop code 00007E. I got it into safe mode, but the stop code will not go away
A: so it seems that there is a driver problem, like display or network, that is messing up. You will have to uninstall them one by one, until it goes away. try swapping out memory, hard drives, video cards. it could take a lot of work to find out what is going wrong. so check out the drivers, disable all extra devices

ways to maximize your memory:
--reduce some startup applications, download startup inspector to assist you
--defrag the hard drive, multiple times

Segment 3

Adam complains about Vista's defrag. XP needs to have multiple defrags. {joe m: ???? That's like saying alphabetizing my files multiple time makes them more alphabetized.}

Adam is amazed that we still have spinning disks in hard drives. Joe D talks about the solid-state drives, they are still too expensive and too small, but they perform very well. They also have a limited number of writes. Ian is worried about this.

Caller 5
Q: need a backup system, got a usb backup system, but it did not have drivers, went to the delmar site, but everytime I install them they crash. I have windows 98.
A: the problem is that new hardware might not support windows 98 anymore. it would be easier to get an internal drive that works

Caller 6
Q: what is your recommendation, should I get a computer with vista and get a free upgrade to windows 7?
A: yes, better if you wait until October and then win 7 pre-installed

more performance things to look at:
if you double-click something and it does not open immediately, the system might be making space for the program to open, if you don't have enough memory

Segment 4

new item: when Google gets threatened, they are developing a new search engine. Joe D sees this as caused by Bing. It is called now Google Caffeine.

Caller 7
Q: I can't burn video to DVD in XP?
A: do you have a dvd burner?
Q: don't think so
A: DVD burners come with software.
Q: I have never updated to the latest service packs
A: check with the DVD burner and see if it came with software

Caller 8
Q: when I ran chkdsk, it found invalid security IDs, it set them all to default
A: Joe D thinks the physical drive is failing
Q: I had everything backed up, so I reformatted
A: so keep an eye on it
Q: I'm afraid to run chkdsk, because it messed up all the security

more news items: some guy is using Limewire to steal identities. Limewire allows you to download and share files. Some people share folders on their pcs that they are not aware of, like accounting information, so he was searching for account numbers. so make sure if you use Limewire, be sure to watch what folders you share so that you aren't sharing sensitive information. Better yet, DON'T USE LIMEWIRE!!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Youngstown Computer Show notes for August 8, 2009

Segment 1

Live today from the Youngstown Air show.

Joe D talks about last week a call about Windows Vista that was marked as not genuine. If you do call in to microsoft, as long as you can prove that you have a true certificate sticker on your PC (make sure that it is for the same version of Windows you have installed) you should be able to get it activated somehow. You will likely have to activate it over the phone, where they read you a long string of numbers and you type them into windows activation wizard.

Caller 1
Q: Vista, allows me to open AOL, but I can't get to a website. I tried to reinstall IE, but it said it was already installed.
A: could be a malware infestation. Run system file checker to repair. See if that helps.

Joe D talks about the Denial of Service attack on Twitter and Facebook this week. It seems to be an attack on a single person. A network of infected computers (a botnet) can be used to all send requests to a single place, that is what is a Denial of Service attack.

Caller 2
Q: got a message "mode not supported". The system starts up, I see a Windows 98 screen, then that message shows up.
A: that message is from the monitor, it sounds like the computer is trying to set a mode that the monitor cannot be displayed. You can try and go into safe mode to reset the video mode. it sounds like the video card is going bad and needs replaced.

Caller 3
Q: my blackberry cannot play videos or send emails. it says "wrong format".
A: how are playing video attachments?
Q: as a email attachment, but I can't send any emails
A: blackberries can only play certain formats of videos. you'll have to call in the shop to do more checking.

Segment 2

Caller 4
Q: I seem to have "personal antivirus" but I can't get rid of it
A: yes, we have seen this a lot this week. It is tough to get rid of.
Q: I have a handycam with a disk, but I need to get it on a dvd
A: if you bring it in with your computer and we will set you up

Caller 5
Q: problem with adobe flash. I installed the latest version, but the computer does not recognize that it is installed
A: seems like a busted install, you will need to do a more complete uninstall to get rid of settings that might be messed up. you can either look for tools, or bring it into the shop

Caller 6
Q: it takes 15-20 seconds to launch IE8
A: you computer might not be powerful enough to launch it quicker
Q: I can't take it off
A: if you go to add/remove programs in control panel, uninstall it there

Joe D talks about the "personal antivirus" company, it has collected $80,000 a week for not doing anything. Adam talks about all the rogue antivirus programs that are out there.

Caller 7
Q: got a pop up says I can't find Macromedia Flash. It just comes up all the time.
A: you just need to go to and download the flash player.

Caller 8
Q: got a dell 2010 desktop, it had a bad motherboard and I replaced it, I was trying to install XP but it was loading, but then it stopped now it does not work
A: could be any of the CPU, motherboard, power supply, any of those could have gone bad. I'm suspicious of the motherboard since you just replaced it.

Segment 3

Caller 9
could not hear because of the airplanes

Joe D talks about the release to manufacturing of Windows 7. It is available right now to MSDN and technet subscribers. It is going to be available on Oct 22 to the public. Adam mentions the family pack -- 3 licenses for $150. {Joe M: beware, you cannot do an in-place upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, you will have to back up your settings and do a clean install going from XP to 7.}

Caller 9 again
still having sound problems, sounds like he is having problems installing the flash program
Try to make sure that there is nothing else running in the background. Try to turn off your antivirus temporarily to install.

Joe D talks about building computers. They really don't like to build computers, it is usually cheaper to buy off-the-shelf. We focus on the service side. We can advise them on the type of computer to buy, and we can clean up a new computer too.

Caller 10
Q: whenever I get a forwarded email with attachments, and I forward it on, the recipients don't get the attachments
A: you have to set the options in your email program (AOL, hotmail, outlook, etc.) to explicitly include attachments when you forward messages

Caller 11
Q: can I run a simple program called QuickPay on a netbook?
A: yes
Q: i can't find a printer HP 1012 laser drivers for vista or windows 7
A: you will have to find some compatible drivers that are for some other printer model
{ Joe M: here is the driver, right on HP's web site, all vista drivers work in windows 7}

Caller 12
Q: problem with XP, none of the restore points will restore, my computer freezes up
A: Joe D does not like to depend on restore points. Joe D also does not believe in registry cleaners.
Q: I have tried lots of different anti-virus programs but they don't seem to help
A: something got corrupted, you will likely have to bring it in to have us look at it

Segment 4

Joe D talks about the poll for charging for content, Murdoch is talking about charging for their content. Adam says that if everyone does it, then we will have to. It can't be outrageous. Now, there are so many places that offer stuff for free. Joe D wants more for paying, so they better have more features than the free sites.

Caller 13
Q: trying to hookup my computer, I moved it to another place in the house, I just get a blank screen, keyboard beeps
A: sounds like something came loose during moving, check the connections, if you are comfortable, open it up and check inside too for loose cables or chips

Caller 14
Q: on windows mail, I can't send any pictures, it says to provide a server name
A: you will have to get server settings from your internet provider, usually your DSL provider, and you put those server settings into your windows mail program. you can usually find those names on their support web site

Caller 15
Q: on my laptop, I get a generic host 32 error message popping up several times when I shut down
A: sounds like there was a virus infestation, but some things got removed but other things got left behind, use msconfig to turn off un-needed things

Go to Startup Application Knowledgebase to see what things are good and which are bad.

Joe D talks about some common messages: "you are out of virtual memory" - you are exceeding your RAM and the amount set aside on disk, switch your virtual memory settings to "system managed" instead of "custom".

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Youngstown Computer Show notes for August 1, 2009

Segment 1

Adam apparently does not do the show opening anymore.

Joe D talks about an exploit for all iPhones. Through text messaging, an attacker can issue commands to launch remote commands. There is an update available that fixes this. Ian says that they also exploited Android and Windows Mobile.

For listeners, call in now to schedule work at Youngstown Computer and get $20 off.

Joe D saw the new Adam Sandler movie last night. All during the movie he was noticing all the people texting during the movie. He wants to complain about using technology in inappropriate situations.

Adam tells about using wifi while getting an oil change. Joe D wants to sell that to businesses everywhere.

Segment 2

Joe D talks about the cash for clunkers program, the computer systems were being overwhelmed. Joe D explains how this happens, essentially systems can only handle so many requests at a time.

Caller 1
Q: got an old DOS program, need to have a new computer but I need to run that old program
A: we can set up the emulation for it.

Even though you might feel the need to stay with an old program, you should try to get up to a supported program that runs on modern OS. The problem is migrating the data in the old program into a new one.

Ian explains 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit: it is essentially how much memory the CPU can access.

Windows XP support will expand up to 2014. Next year Windows 2000 will go out of support. They announced this over a year ago.

Segment 3

Caller 2
Q: dell mini tower is not turning on after a power outage. It was turned off at the time.
A: sounds like the power supply.

Question from the chat room: when I booted up, it is asking me to choose an operating system. I don't understand what is happening? What is the BIOS? No hard drives seem to be installed in the system. Ian tries to explain what BIOS does. This sounds like a hard drive crash, or the BIOS configuration data was messed up so that it forgot it had a hard drive installed.

A jury fined another downloader. Pirate Bay is also sued again.

Joe D complains about mechanical mice. He says if you call in with an old mouse, Joe D will give you a new one.

Segment 4

Caller 3
Q: wants to partition a hard drive to install a MAC operating system. so I can learn how to use final cut pro
A: Ian explains how to do a "hackintosh". First, you have to shrink your existing partition. Make sure you do have a backup.

Q from chatroom: how do I get windows 98 to do a defrag? It doesn't want to run. Run scandisk first, then that will usually let you run defrag next.

Caller 4
Q: I am using magic jack, and I have an cell internet connection card. is there anything to do to keep it running while on the road?
A: nothing really

Caller 5
Q: getting a Windows Activation popup in Vista. what does this mean?
A: You can activate over the phone. it sounds like your product key got marked as being illegitimate.

Caller 6
Q: want to download a flash video off of the web
A: it is tricky, it depends on the site. it is helpful if you can get the original source of the video (it is an internal company video). Otherwise search for flash video extractors.

Joe D talks about Google Wave. He sees potential, but doesn't see people switching over.