Joy tried to clear up Bob’s startup screen by dragging half the stuff into Windows’ Documents folder. It turned out to be a vanishing act!

Gone was his story about Atlantis and a couple of detective action pieces. And doing a global search to find them, found nothing. Joy was a wee bit upset. She was only trying to help Bob back up his files. She even used the “copy,” command instead of “move,” which should have prevented such losses, but it didn’t. The universe is a strange place.

She used Windows 10’s own backup tool called “File History.” After all, it’s there. But it has to be turned on. You’d think it would be on by default when you started up Windows, but no. We were assured that any changes we made to a document would still be there, even if the document was destroyed or lost.

Should you want to take this trip yourself, here’s the ticket: To use the built-in backup, type “File History” into the search box in Windows 10. Then choose “More Options.” Now choose how often the backup should occur. (We chose every 10 minutes.) Next we looked at the list of stuff to be automatically backed up. The only folder on the list we cared about was “Documents.”  So we clicked on “Music,” “Links” and others to skip.   The backup takes place zip quick and only covers the stuff we care about. If you don’t click on stuff to skip the backup takes a long time.

To recover a document, repeat the File History steps and scroll to the bottom of the screen where it says “restore files from a current backup.” Click the file you want and click the big green arrow. It restores the item to its original location. We tested this by deleting a file we didn’t care about and then recovering it. That’s where many backup programs go wrong, so it’s important to make a test of the recovery feature — make up some nonsense file to use as a test. If all goes well, then … all is well.

He Can See Clearly Now

A reader writes that he never could get used to bifocals so he turned to “computer glasses” for reading his computer screen. These are a step-down from his regular prescription. That’s what Joy uses too.

A doctor might not think to prescribe computer glasses unless you ask for them. Joy’s tri-focal lenses supposedly had a sweet spot in the middle, for computer work, but they were way off: She has to tilt her head back to get the right angle, and reading was tough too. Someone (was it Bob?) stepped on her dedicated pair of computer glasses so we ordered a new one online and they’re incredible. She prefers them for reading too.

The reader says his computer glasses were recommended by an eye surgeon. “Really amazing,” he writes. “They’re made to focus in the two-foot range.”


App Happy

  • One of the great horror writers of all time, Edgar Allen Poe, has his own app. It’s called “iPoe,” and it’s $2 for the iPad, iPhone or Android device. It adds creepy music, animations, and haunting pictures. Not real scary.
  • Toca Lab: Plants,” from Toca Boca, is a $3 app for Android, Kindle and iPad/iPhone. The maker says children love it; bored the bezeeus out of us. You start with a cartoon plant and experiment your way to 35 different plant classes.

Using Word on Your Phone

Creating a Microsoft Word document on your phone might feel like an exercise in self inflected pain, since the screen is so tiny. Typing is tough, but dictation is easier, using the free Word app for Android and iPhone/iPad/iPod.

On an iPhone or Android phone, sign in to your Microsoft account. If you don’t have one, go to and create one; they’re free. Then start a new document. When you click inside it, a keyboard comes up with a tiny microphone. Tap it to dictate. Click the top of the document to reveal the “Save” command. Your document is automatically saved to the cloud. You can find it again at

Zip it Up

The ability to zip a file to save storage space goes back to the earliest days of Windows. In fact, the “WinZip” program is now out in version 21 for $30.  But why pay $30 when you could use the free program 7-Zip?

Well, the answer to that depends on how much free cash you have and how many features you want. WinZip 21 has a lot of extra features. For example, you can encrypt a file, so it takes a password to open it. If it’s an image, you can add a watermark, so no one can copy it without revealing their thievery. You can click to zip and email the file, send it in a text message, or save it to your private space on the web.

The Numbers Report

The three best cities for computer gamers are Orlando, Seattle and Austin, according to a report. But some cities score higher on other variables.

  • Las Vegas has the most video-game stores per person, Memphis the fewest.
  • Pittsburgh has the highest average download speed, around 15 megabits per second, three times faster than Honolulu, the slowest.
  • Gilbert, Arizona has the highest share of households with a broadband connection, 94 percent, almost twice as high as Detroit.
  • Durham, North Carolina has the cheapest monthly internet cost, $40, two and a half times cheaper than Anchorage, Alaska, where the cost is more than $100 a month.



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