DOUBLING UP

Over the holidays we visited with an Italian who sells automated chicken coops. It’s an odd business but somebody has to do it. But what we thought was really odd was in the basement of his home in suburban Chicago, he had six terabyte disk drives linked together in what the techies call a daisy chain. That means they can all act as one continuous drive as the contents are fed along the pipeline. He uses them to store information for his business, and, oh yeah, movies. Terabyte drives have become common now; most new computers come with disk drives of one or two of these monster storage capacities. How monster are they? Well, a terabyte is a thousand gigabytes. […]

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TRUTH FINDER

We now know people who are married, or about to be, to mates they met online; it’s becoming normal. But if any of these meets make you nervous, you can make preliminary checks. A friend of ours turned down a match from an online dating service because the guy had “too many relationships.” Truthfinder.com told her. The scope of the information was amazing. TruthFinder not only knew how many online relationships the guy had, but how many business filings he’d made with the government (they were for McDonald’s franchises), what his house was worth, how much he paid for his mortgage, and so on. The service, which charges $28 for a one-time search, or $23 if you go monthly, also […]

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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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A WORD TO THE FRUGAL

Topics this week: Free word processors and dictation, smart shopping, pinpointing your location, annoying ads.

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JUMPING OUT OF WINDOWS

Several years ago, one of our friends announced he’d had it with Windows. He went out and bought two Macbooks, one for himself, one for his wife. We’re slow but we’re starting to see his point. Feeling the same exasperation, we recently turned to a Macbook Air we’d had in the closet since 2012.The relief was instant. Websites loaded immediately. Joy didn’t have to do four yoga poses before pictures came in. Normally, when our main Windows computer gets screwy, we set it back to its factory defaults. You can do that with the Recovery option in “Settings” or “Control Panel.” Once you do that, it  feels brand new again. Unfortunately, it is brand new again — all the programs […]

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OUR SAVVY READERS

Readers wrote immediately to tell us we’d missed something in our Windows 10 announcement. We said it’s free but after a year you have to pay for it. Turns out it’s free, period. But if you wait longer than a year to download and install it, it will cost you $120.
By the way, Microsoft has said you will no longer need any anti-virus software because Windows will be fully protected against all viruses, and presumably any other hack attacks. If you believe that, Bob wants you to know that he has a large bridge in New York that he’d like to sell you. (No new operating system ever produced has been invulnerable to virus attacks.)
Nevertheless, Joy, our master tester, likes Windows 10, saying it has the best of Windows 7 and avoids the worst of Windows 8. (Bob is sticking with Windows 7. He grudgingly went on from XP after his old computer got balky.)
If you want Windows 10, beware of scams. There are sites that lure visitors with the promise of a free copy. It’s already free, but be sure you get it from Microsoft.com. The exact address is Microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10. Click on “download tool now.” If you aren’t sure whether you have a 32-bit system or 64-bit, you can find that by searching on “system info” from the help area of your computer. Just hit the “F1” key to bring up a help menu. If you still can’t decide, it’s almost certain that you have a 64-bit system; we haven’t seen 32-bit systems in many years.

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WINDOWS 10 IS FREE, BUT WITH A CATCH

Windows 10 is free starting today, July 29 but there’s a catch. If you wait more than a year to download and install it, you have to pay for it. They don’t say how much it will be. But if you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

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WINDOWS SPEAKS

If you don’t like Windows 8, don’t hold your breath waiting for Windows 9. Microsoft is moving ahead with Windows 10, due sometime in 2015.

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THE DIGITAL CLOSET

Microsoft has doubled the amount of online storage you can get for your phone, tablet, PC or Mac. It’s now 30 gigabytes. To get started, go to onedrive.live.com and choose your device. If you have Windows 8.1, it’s already installed.

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XP AND BEYOND

We heard from several readers who said they have no intention of giving up their Windows XP machines when Microsoft support ends (neither does Bob), and others who asked, “What about Vista?”

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