We downloaded our favorite paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, which just made over 52,000 works from its collection available in high resolution. Then we put them on our TV and cycled through some favorites, like Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom,” Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte,” and Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”

You can download what you like to your phone and then make a nice background show on your TV. To do this, we first tried the slideshow option on our seven-year-old Sony, but the images looked faded. We could have burned them to a DVD and used that to improve the colors but turned instead to try Roku and Chromecast.

We have the cheap version of Roku, the $30 “Roku Express.” This has worked okay with family photos, so it’s handy for the holidays, but it didn’t work with the paintings from the Art Institute. We’re not sure why. We turned to our Chromecast, which immediately stopped working. But … a call to their free tech support fixed it right up. Somehow it had gotten on the wrong network.

To cast photos from your phone to your TV using a $35 Chromecast device, which plugs in the back, first find the photo album on your phone. Then tap the “cast” picture, which looks like a square with a rainbow in one corner. Then tap the three vertical dots in the upper right of your phone screen and choose “slideshow.”

If you have any trouble with your Chromecast, call (844) 400-2278. If you want to add those Art Institute paintings to your phone or computer, go to and click on “The Collection.”


  • has poems for every occasion. Joy likes “Volcanoes Be in Sicily” by Emily Dickinson. Bob thought it was so-so. He prefers Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Clever Mason Jar Hacks” is a YouTube video with great ideas for replacing the top of a Mason jar with something more useable. For instance, cut a circle around the top of a soy milk carton and use it with the rim part of a Mason jar lid and you can then pour the ingredients, from juice to nuts.

Dump Your Web Browsing History

A reader said that learning how to dump her browsing history “has been a life changer.” It certainly can speed up your web browsing experience.

We found a shortcut for this, which works in all the browsers we’ve tried: Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Opera. Just hold down the “Ctrl” (or “Cmd” on the Mac), and the “Shift” key at the same time and tap the “Delete” key. Then click “clear” or “clear data.”

Adding to Your Google Play Music Library

Do you ever wish you could listen to the music from your CDs away from home or your home computer? Here’s how to do it on Google Play Music.

Go to Select the three stacked lines and then “upload music.” Select music from your computer to upload. (If you don’t have any music on your computer, you can pop CDs into the DVD drive and they will automatically get added to your music folder.)  If you use iTunes, you can drag and drop music from your iTunes library into the upload area.

A Better Uninstaller

High among the many things that bog down a computer: Installing programs and uninstalling them. That covers most of it. You’d think that uninstalling gets rid of programs, but there is usually junk left behind. These bits of flotsam eventually slow things down or worse. A friend of ours who has never added a thing to her Windows PC never has any problems.

We’ve had a couple of uninstallers over the years, and they work all right, but most recently we like Ashampoo’s Uninstaller, now out in version 8 for $20. It seems a small price to pay to keep a computer running smoothly. This version is easier to use.

Infuriating Pop-Ups

It turns out that it wasn’t notifications that were bothering a reader who wrote to us, but the kind of ads that didn’t get blocked by an ad blocker. Must have been a virus. In one evening, he said, he got 25 of them, mostly sex-related. “Just infuriating.”

We suggested he should make sure his anti-virus program was doing weekly or daily scans, and also try the free program from If that didn’t work, he should do a System Restore. Since he uses Windows 7, that means clicking “start,” “All Programs,” “Accessories,” “System Tools” and finally System Restore. System Restore leaves your documents, photos, music and other data intact. It only restores the system to a point where everything was working. In Windows 10, type “system restore” in the search box to find it. His McAfee anti-virus program finally solved the problem.

Free Books

A website called “JoyofAndroid” (no relation to the Joy we know and love) has some great tips for finding free books, as well as other articles on how to get the most out of your Android phones. Here are some suggestions.

  • Free Books,” a free app for Android and iPhone, has 23,469 classics for free.
  • Moon+ Reader” is a good guide to the most popular, free books from Project Gutenberg.
  • Wattpad” is a site we’ve mentioned before, but parents beware. There’s a lot of free fiction aimed at teenagers, but some of it can be crude. For example: number one in the sci-fi category is “My Sexy Alien Boyfriend.” Over 123,000 people have read it. Amateur writing, but popular.



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