Old Scams Never Die – at Least Not While They Still Work

Old standard scams seem to be a reliable source of income or perverted fun for those who are inclined to cheat and steal for a living or who simply have too much time on their hands. A client called me this week and said she …continue reading

How Can You Help Clients Protect Themselves when They Will Not Listen?

Yesterday I bought a new hard drive and external backup for a client. Today I installed both and rebuilt her four-year-old system. What happened to her computer?

For years I have strongly advocated that my client, a real estate agent, protect her computer with an …continue reading

How Do You Email Large Files (Gigs) to a Group?

One of my clients recently said that she had a problem with the Internet; could I help? When a client says there is a problem with the Internet, that can mean almost anything, but in this case, it was a combination of things — one …continue reading

Beta Ubuntu Vs. Beta Windows: Good Experience?

Is the nature of human interaction with the manufacturer a valid parameter when selecting an operating system?

Before Windows 7 was officially released, I accepted Microsoft’s invitation to download and install the beta release version. The computer I put it on was a home built …continue reading

What is the Best Backup? Well, Depends…

Will it never go away? “What is the best backup for me?” The issue of what is a good backup procedure for computers and their relatives just keeps erupting. The issue goes well beyond operating system preferences and nature of personal or professional computer usage. …continue reading

When Do You Start Fixing Computers by Hacking Passwords?

Try as I might, I have been unable to avoid having my problem-solving skills compromised by clients. I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. If a client simply deposits on your bench a compromised computer and says “Fix it,” then you are …continue reading

How Do You Know if a Client Needs Help?

Although I try to be proactive with my senior clients to help keep them out of trouble, sometimes they sneak by me in surprising ways.

Recently a woman who I have occasionally helped called after a long absence. She had a problem. All the lights …continue reading

How to Buy a Laptop and Salvage a Desktop

This is a two-part post of intimately related events:

Beating a dead horse. (Or: When will I learn?) Salvaging an XP desktop for donation.

The first part: While I do enjoy working with my clients, every now and then, it feels like I am beating …continue reading

Joys of LibreOffice and Life-long Learning

Although I usually write with WordPerfect, this post is being written with LibreOffice text document. There is a good reason. In a little over a week, I will start teaching my new class on downloading major applications for free (and safely) from the Internet. Among …continue reading

Are Seniors (This Senior) Obsolete?

Having just returned from a vacation cruise in the Caribbean, I am having re-immersion difficulties, but maybe those difficulties have given me some new insight into effective tutoring of seniors for computer literacy. Certainly these insights have been made even more clear by the links …continue reading

Good Deeds and the Evolution of Piracy

Knowing a group of people with similar interests can be more than just a social thing. There are often other benefits as I have once again learned. This week I received an email from one of the other members of a group I attend. He …continue reading

Solving a Problem Starts with Knowing Its Language

Correct nomenclature is important in solving problems, particularly in determining why computers are not operating the way you think they should.

Seldom do I get requests for help with computer-related problems from international sources. So when an email came from a foreigner who is also …continue reading

How to Have Effective Club Meetings

The PC users clubs I support have experimented with various formats for meetings with some surprising results. The normal format, probably repeated around the world, is to have a formal presentation by either a guest or volunteer from the group followed by a question and …continue reading

Can You Lecture a Senior?

The task I have set for myself, helping promote computer literacy in seniors, is probably a short-term goal in the sense that tomorrow’s seniors will already be computer literate, or at least oriented toward learning the skills they need to deal with whatever computers will …continue reading

Unintended Consequences of Tutoring Seniors

Anyone working with computers and the Internet for any time bumps up against the Law of Unintended Consequences. Geekdom is full of examples. However, we seldom think of it as applying to moral decisions — particularly moral decisions involving tutoring seniors in computer …continue reading

How Do You Define Retirement?

Yesterday, the latest OASIS catalog came with a huge variety of courses designed for, and mostly presented by, seniors. Being human, I quickly scanned through it to find the listing for the new course I will present starting in February. This should be a fun …continue reading

A Waste of Time, or an Investment?

This week, my senior group ogled over Google Gravity when I demonstrated it to them. If you have not seen this, either click that link or search for it and generally click the first entry that pops up.

Not to be a spoiler, …continue reading

An E-book (Almost) Rant

Long time readers of this blog know that I seldom rant. Venting spleen across the Internet is simply not my style. What follows almost rises to the level of a rant. It is really more of a call of frustration.

This morning I spent some …continue reading

Why is My Computer Getting Slow?

Well, it has happened again. A friend told me that he is thinking about buying a new laptop. His current one is about six years old and “getting slow.” For some reason, my senior clients and friends seem to accept as a given that older …continue reading

Do Computers Need Black Boxes for Disaster Tracking and Solving?

Frequently clients call with an immediate problem on their computers. “It was working fine, and suddenly it…” Fill in the blank with whatever disaster you wish.

Although this has happened many times, and therefore I should know better, I always ask, “What were you doing …continue reading

Why Join a Club and Death Valley Days

Because my wife suddenly asked what I was doing for the next couple of days, and because I did not have a good defensive answer ready, we took off on an hour’s notice to camp in Death Valley. Among other things, this meant I missed …continue reading

Frustration with Uncommon Sense

This is being written in LibreOffice on a Linux-only computer, and is being written with some frustration. Not that I am frustrated with either LibreOffice or Linux — I am frustrated with some of my clients. Behind me sits a newly converted computer that started …continue reading

Oops, No LibreOffice – when Help Files Are Less Than Helpful

This week I had another example of how what I think is simple might be difficult for others. One of my clients purchased a new laptop about a month ago and had me help her set it up while I was at their office doing …continue reading

Computer Repair and Good Interactions

A senior client with what I thought was a standard problem surprised me. She lives in another state, but has a house near me that she rents to occasional visitors and keeps for her family to use as a vacation house. In that house, she …continue reading

More Infections: Less Tutoring

Although I try to sell myself as a tutor for computer literacy, in fact, most of my client contacts could be called malware deletion sessions. It does not matter if the client is a senior, middle-ager, teenager, or a business. Few are willing to schedule …continue reading

Tool for Repairing Computers and Connections to Billiards

Strange how really simple things can make a big difference. Sometimes your life can be improved greatly with a small expense. In this case, an unlikely chain of events leading to a nice improvement in repairing computers started with our decision to move our stored …continue reading

Wanted Features?

The current computer helper column in our local paper features an explanation of making labels, particularly from an address list to send out greeting cards. That got me thinking. Making labels sounds like a useful skill for seniors who want to send out mass mailings …continue reading

How Does Data Get Hacked?

Many of my clients worry about getting various types of infections on their computers. More than simply having their performance degrade, they are concerned about the dangers of ID theft and compromising their passwords. These are certainly valid concerns, but how real are the risks …continue reading

Downloading Free Major Applications: There’s a Course for That!

Recently I posted the outline of a proposed course on downloading free major applications. By major I mean that nice little applications like Iconoid or ObjectDock for PCs are good, but they come more under the heading of eye candy. My proposed course …continue reading

What’s the Value of Free?

Recently I proposed offering a new short course for seniors interested in improving their computer skills. It is loosely based on one I presented a few years ago called something like “How to download nifty free thing from the Internet safely.” Since many of my …continue reading