SPRING CLEANING

Worldwide shipments of desktop computers have dropped in half since 2010, while tablets and laptops have surged, but I still like the feel of a good desktop. I just have to remember to clean the inside occasionally. This is the perfect time of year for that, before summer starts to fry everything.

I’ll never forget the time my husband cleaned my sister’s desktop computer for her. No wonder her machine was slow! The dust bunnies were thick and still multiplying.

Dust never sleeps, especially inside a desktop. The cooling fans bring in air from the outside, clogging the parts with dust. If it gets hot enough in there, the central processing unit (CPU) as well as the graphics processing unit (GPU) can conk out. It’s like putting a gun to a computer’s head. 

To take the case off the back of a desktop, unscrew the bolt and use the lip to pull it straight off. You may want to put the machine on its side first. To put the case on again, line it up along the bottom, a little to the right, before sliding it into place. 

A friend of mine uses ultra-thin brushes on a vacuum cleaner to get at dust that’s really stuck. But blasting away with compressed air should be good enough. Get two cans of the stuff. One can may fizzle out after a couple blasts but will be ready to go again as soon as you’ve done a few blasts with the other can. Be sure to blast everywhere, even inside the CD drive in front, which you can get at if you unscrew a bolt and lift the handle. An old paintbrush can also help you knock dust off the fans.

My Chromebook doesn’t have a fan so there’s no air to draw in and create dust. Maybe your laptop doesn’t either. But be aware that they can still get hot if they sit on your lap or on a towel or blanket, covering the vent. 

Facebook Breach

Half a billion Facebook users had their names, email addresses and cell phone numbers exposed recently, including 32 million from the U.S. You can check if yours was on the list by going to haveibeenpwned.com. (Note that there’s no “a” in “pwned.”) My Facebook account was fine, but there were lots of other sites where my data had been exposed. Fortunately, none of those had sensitive information. Otherwise, I would have changed their passwords.

Porn on the Lock Screen

Porn messages kept showing up on the lock screen of my phone, no matter how many times I erased them. The messages said that my “collaborators” could still access the files.

The porn files showed up in Google Drive and Google Docs, because of a rogue app pretending to be Google Drive. When I uninstalled it, the porn went away, both in the Drive and in the Docs. The real Google Drive app was still there.

The Google support page is full of complaints on this issue, with no solution offered. I figured that the problem was a rogue app because I could uninstall it. The real Google Drive can’t be uninstalled on Android phones, only disabled.

Wild About Chromebooks

A reader writes: “Thought I would give you an unsolicited testimonial for a new computer I bought for my wife. She is not a computer person but enjoys all the web stuff like Pinterest, Facebook, local news, email, music, etc. She does nothing with applications that require disk storage such as word processors.” Previously she used a two-year old Toshiba laptop.

“She was always having trouble with it with login problems or the computer slowing down,” he said. “Anytime she has trouble, she screams my name and expects me to fix it (instantly).  Well, I solved this problem. I bought her a Chromebook.”

He bought her the Acer Chromebook C740, a refurbished model he got for only $107 at Walmart. It has a sixteen gigabyte solid state drive, four gigabytes of RAM, and an Intel dual-core processor. The screen is 15 inches.

 “She does not have to login,” he added. “She simply closes the cover and it goes to sleep. To use, she simply opens the cover and it is ready to go where she left off. It is fast. It requires no antivirus or anti-malware software.  It has no CD/DVD drive but it does have two USB ports.  She can link to Bluetooth speakers.  She can use a web word processor if needed and print to a WiFi printer that we have.” Best of all there was no learning curve. She just clicks on one of the four icons for “Chrome,” “Email,” “YouTube” or “Docs.”

 “She loves it and doesn’t bother me at all anymore,” he said.  “I love it. It is the best investment in computer devices that I’ve made in years.  Of course, I still have my high horsepower desktop for my work and games.”  

Sending Sensitive Email

If you ever send someone sensitive info by email, encrypt it. The free version of ProtonMail, formerly used only by CERN scientists, makes it easy. All user data is protected by Switzerland’s strict privacy laws. 

There’s a free app or you can use it in a browser such as Chrome or Edge. To send an email, click the encrypt button to give it a password, adding a hint for the recipient. The message evaporates after 28 days. Or you can set your own time period. 

 

 

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