BUYING A RENEWED PC

After 11 years, my friend’s computer conked out, due to a hard drive failure. I tried to talk her into replacing it with a refurbished PC. No dice.

Her first thought was taking it to a repair shop. Angie’s List said it would cost $300 for the drive and installation.  Not only did that sound like too much, but an 11 year-old all-in-one PC with a bad hard drive is likely to have other problems. So she got an HP Elitedesk 800 G1 desktop, which came with a monitor and mouse for $324 from Walmart. I was glad to see it had eight gigabytes of RAM and an Intel i5 processor. (You can compare processors at CPUboss.com.)

Unfortunately, the Elitedesk has an ordinary hard drive. I was hoping my friend would get one with a solid state drive, which is both faster and more reliable. But PCs with SSDs cost around $750 or more if you don’t buy a refurbished model. She could have gotten a great desktop with an SSD for $207 if she’d gone that route.

Typically, refurbished products are stuff that customers returned unused; they’re essentially new. Or they may be defective products returned under warranty which are resold after being repaired. Amazon’s “Renewed” devices, another name for “refurbished,” must show proof they’ve passed various inspections. Amazon guarantees that the battery on any renewed device has at least 80 percent of its original capacity. You also get 90 days to return it. Apple offers deals on refurbished equipment too. They thoroughly test each phone, computer or tablet and swap out any malfunctioning parts. 

Pretty in Pictures

The first thing I did for my friend with the new computer was download the free “Bing Desktop.” It gives you a different background picture each day, called “wallpaper.” Most are spectacular. You’ll find it if you search on “Bing Desktop.”

You can also get a daily wallpaper for your Chromebook, by right-clicking the desktop. Just tap two fingers on the trackpad and choose “Set wallpaper.” Whichever one you choose, click “Daily refresh.” Right now, I have beautiful mountains and tulips.

 On a Mac, open “System Preferences.” Then click “Desktop & Screen Saver.” If you choose “Desktop,” you can use a folder from your photos library and set how often you want the picture to change.

Fastest Phone Charger

Anker sent me their “PowerPort PD 2” charger for iPhone and Android, $21 from Amazon. It’s neat if you have a phone that handles wireless charging, and it charges two devices at once. It’s three times faster than the charger your iPhone came with. But you can go cheaper and faster than that.

The “3-Pack Quick Charge 3.0 Fonken 18W 3A USB Wall Charger” is four times faster than a traditional charger. It works with iPhone or Android. The three-pack costs $18, so you pay less for three of them than you would for one Anker.

Blocking Ads

A reader writes that Google Chrome removed the ad blocker he was using on his Chromebook. When he couldn’t find a replacement, he said: “Whom the gods would drive mad, they first give computers.” 

I found the ad blocker he wanted from AdBlockPlus.org. It’s free for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera and Android. It’s great on sites like Arcamax, which has free comics. Arcamax doesn’t ask you to disable your ad blocker, the way others do.

Using Multiple Accounts on Gmail

A reader wondered how he could check his Gmail from five different accounts by quickly switching from one to another. It’s a snap once you set it up  — which is easy too.

Having extra accounts is handy. That way you don’t have to give out your personal email address to businesses. To rotate between them in Gmail, start by clicking your profile picture. Click “Add account.” Or if you already have multiple accounts, click “manage account” and then “add account.” Keep adding accounts by signing into them.  From there, you can switch from one to another, by clicking your profile picture and choosing one.

It works great with the free Gmail app on a phone too. I added a Yahoo account by signing into it. I was then asked if I wanted to “Gmail-ify” it — a great idea. That allows Gmail to help keep the spam out of Yahoo mail.

Avoiding Cable TV

I signed up for Fox Nation’s streaming service, since I no longer get cable TV, so I could see my friend Cori Munro in her first starring episode on “America’s Most Wanted.”

They charge a dollar for the first month.  If I want to keep it after that, I’d pay  $4.12 a month if I go for two years at a time, or $6 month-to-month. CBS’s streaming service, from ParamountPlus.com, is also $6 a month for the pay-as-you-go month-to-month plan. Kanopy.com offers free TV and movies if you have a library card. There’s also free flicks and television from NBC at PeacockTV.com. I noticed that Peacock has some free Harry Potter movies as well as classics like “Pride and Prejudice.”  Unfortunately, on a Chromebook, the title stuck to every scene of both films I looked at. But it was fine in Windows.

Internut

SowellFilm.com traces the journey of economist Thomas Sowell, considered by some as one of the greatest minds of the past half-century. Here’s one of his sayings:  “Many people, in trying to insulate young people from adversity, insulate them from the things that give them strength.”

 

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