BUYING A USED NEW COMPUTER

Buying a new computer is fun and they’re pretty cheap now. But watch out for the online reviews; trust no one and don’t speak to strangers. When searching for “how to buy a desktop computer,” you’ll find articles steering you to computers costing $1800 and up. These are fast and mean but appropriate mostly for people who edit videos or play games. Lots of memory and lots of processing power are important in those areas; for most of us, not so much. Searching for “budget desktops,” you get some strange picks, not all of them ready for prime time. PC Magazine shuttled us to the “Shuttle XPC Nano with Windows 10.” It weighs only one pound and goes for $221 […]

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RANSOM!

A reader writes to tell us her Windows files have been hijacked. The hijacker is demanding money to release her photos and personal documents. Here’s what to do and how to prevent that. Restart the computer. Keep tapping the F8 key as you start up. A recovery option will come on the screen. This will take the machine back to a time before the hijack. (And to think that some people say time travel is impossible.) If for some reason this doesn’t work, there are lots more ways to do it in PC World’s article “How to Rescue Your PC from Ransomware.” It’s better to avoid being taken for one of those rides in the first place by getting free […]

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WORTH FIVE BUCKS

Ever watch a video of an artist drawing? These quickly-drawn cartoons are used in ads and training videos. We got one for fun. It cost $5. Our interest began when a reader asked for our recommendation on “whiteboard animation software.” That would be software that creates cartoon videos. “PowToon” and many others are free, but we weren’t sure about the art part. That’s when we turned to artists on Fiverr. There are hundreds and most are super cheap. Fiverr.com is a marketplace for people who sell services in dozens of fields at surprisingly low prices. Wouldn’t it be fun, we thought, to have a video clip for our history club? We’re doing “history of fashion” and a plain PowerPoint presentation […]

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THE FUTURE ALREADY GOT HERE

Movies versus video games, public radio app, setting your home page and finding a professional.

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OFFICE POLITICS

Topics in this column: Office politics, Losing the Internet, TED Talks, an app for Healthy Eating, Giving away a Kindle Fire, and the new Mac operating system.

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MEDICAL APPS

A reader asked us to find her a blood pressure app for the iPhone. There are several of these for both iPhone and Android. Unlike the kind you see at the doctor’s office, the apps do not use a compression band that temporarily cuts off your circulation. They measure the slight pulsing from placing your finger on the phone. We tried “Finger Blood Pressure! Free” on our Android phone, and compared it with the reading we got on the $35 Omron 3 Series Blood Pressure monitor with a pressure cuff. The Omron is battery operated, so you’re not tethered to the wall plug. Omron said Joy’s systolic pressure was 118, her diastolic reading was 74 and her pulse was 46. […]

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BLUETOOTH MYSTERIES

We heard from a reader who wasn’t sure what Bluetooth was and why she needed it on her new iPad Mini. The answer is (the envelope, please): It’s a short-range radio transmitter and receiver, and she doesn’t need it.

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MONEY GEEK

MoneyGeek.com has free financial guides and tools, including a cost of living calculator, and a mortgage refinance calculator, among others.

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SIMPLIFYING PAYROLL

FingerCheck 360 is a smart phone app for handling payroll. It costs $6 per employee per month. It combines time tracking and payroll so you don’t have to re-enter hours worked. When workers clock in, the payroll data gets entered automatically. Taxes are calculated as well.

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ORGANIZING DOCUMENTS ONLINE

“Docady” makes it easier to organize all your important documents. It pulls them from various online locations, such as email or online storage services such as iCloud and Dropbox, and sends you reminders when anything is about to expire, such as your passport.

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