The HP desktop computer we bought on Amazon less than two months ago wouldn’t start. For a few hours, we panicked. The solution? Unplug the machine. Hold the power button until the little light on the back of the computer goes off. (That’s if it’s a desktop computer, the type sometimes called a tower.) This frees the computer from hibernation mode. Viola, as we say in fractured French! It’s fixed!

For several hours before that, we thought we had a dead computer. HP’s troubleshooting site told us to hold down the power button, but we didn’t do it long enough the first time. (HP said nothing about making sure the light had gone off before we released the power button.) While panicking, we had time to kick ourselves for not having created a recovery USB drive. We have one now, in case something serious comes up later.

Normally, you just tap F11 as your machine is booting up to enter recovery mode.  (Or press whatever key your computer manufacturer has chosen. Google the words “recovery” and your brand of computer. For Macbook recovery, tap three keys –“Command,” “Option,” and “R” when you hear the startup chime. Now you can’t do any of these magic keystrokes if the computer doesn’t come on in the first place. So go to square one and use your recovery disk or drive.

To create an emergency recovery drive to bring back a Windows 10 computer from the dead, type “recovery” in the search box and then click “create recovery drive.” It will prompt you to insert a blank USB drive, also called a thumb drive or memory stick. When we did that, it automatically backed up all our files as well.  In Windows 7, type “create a system repair disc” into the Windows search bar and follow the prompts. They’re easy. To create a recovery USB drive for a Macbook, download the “OS X Recovery Disk Assistant” from

Hey, Baby

Alexa, the voice inside Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot, now does text messaging and calling. Just say “Alexa, send a message.” Or, “Alexa, call so-and-so.” (No, you don’t call them a so-and-so.)

So Joy said: “Alexa, send a message.” “To whom?” Alexa said. “To Betty,” said Joy. Next, she dictated the message: “Hey Betty, how’s it going?” So Alexa sent a text message that read: “Hey baby, how’s it going?” Who knew that Alexa was sexist.

For now, Alexa’s text messaging only works with Android phones, but the messages can be sent out to any phone. She can also do phone calls. Joy said, “Alexa, call Bob,” and so she did. This could be handy if you fell and can’t get up, or can’t reach your phone, or you’re really lazy.

To set it up, go to the Alexa app on your smartphone. In the lower left of the screen, tap the icon that looks like a speech bubble. It stands for “Conversations.” From there, click to enable text messaging.


  • has tips for frequent flyers. We discovered you can use your airline miles to get a ticket for someone else, rather than pay a fee to transfer the miles to them. Just sign in, book a flight, and fill in your loved one’s name. Otherwise the airline will ding you for a substitution fee.
  • has The Greatest Finds of 2017. They have these lists going back for several years and for different categories. For example, you can check for new animal species found, and new archaeological sites like underwater cities.

A Bit Of Coin Here and There

On an individual basis, the people of Jacksonville Florida hold more Bitcoins and other crypto currencies than any other place. They hold an average about $31,000 per person according to The next closest city is Memphis, then Albuquerque, Charleston and Alpharetta, Georgia. New York is number 10, with about $7,000 in crypto currency per person.

But as a percent of the entire crypto currency market in the U.S., New York is number one. It has about seven percent of the market. Chicago is second, followed by Jacksonville, San Francisco and San Antonio. China has banned it, but Australia has made it legal currency. In South Korea, you can buy Bitcoins at 7-Eleven stores. Denmark has announced it is in favor all currency being digital. In Arnhem, the Netherlands, bitcoin is legal for all transactions. (Bob says this is a really interesting city, especially for World War II history buffs.)

Converting a PDF

A reader wondered how to convert a PDF to a Word document without buying a conversion program.

“PDFs” are files with photos and text that are locked in place. But you can edit them using free websites such as or

When you get to, ignore the words “free trial.” That’s a free trial of the premium version from NitroPDF. Just click “select your file” and choose the PDF you want to edit. They’ll send you an email with the converted document in under a minute. It worked perfectly in all but one of our tests.

We also like the free PDF editor at Joy used their eraser tool to erase parts of a poster for her Woman’s Club, leaving in the border and logo, and substituting a new event. It was easy to use and free.

The Office 365 version of Microsoft Word will also convert a PDF to a Word document. Launch Word and open a PDF. It converts automatically.



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