Saturday, December 22, 2018

Speakers are Changing with Fewer Wires

It once was that you needed a bulky amplifier for quality PC speakers, with power(1), amplifier input(2), and output(3) wires. 

Then, speakers came out with builtin amplification, but they still needed power and output wires.

Now USB speakers are more and more USB self-powered, and even the cheapest are often excellent.   Just combined power/output via USB.

PineBook Linux "MacBook Lookalike" Update

The $89 (plus shipping) PineBook Linux Laptop, and MacBook lookalike, gave problems until I realized that WiFi and audio problems could be solved by using USB devices instead of the built-in Wifi and headphones jack.

The Panda USB Wifi adapter and USB headphones and speaker did the trick.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Hearing Aid Solution

 Faced with new problems in hearing over the past 6 months, it was a hassle to arrive at a resolution.

With this posting I may be able to help others avoid at least some of the hassles.  It is frustrating to be faced with up to a $7,000 cost for something tiny which may or may not work.

That may or may not be necessary

The high cost results from regulations requiring qualified experts to fit hearing aids and the support which is sometimes necessary and for those with limitations

The cost also reflects the ability in digital hearing aids to deal with sound issues using digital programs in many different ways, and the cost of those efforts.
The effect is that most of the 50% who are hard of hearing at 75 simply do not get hearing aids.

Now that it is understood that dementia goes along with loss of hearing,  this is unacceptable

Regulations are now therefore loosening  through bipartisan effort.

At the same time new players are entering into provision of self-programmable hearing aids at low cost, such as Bose and Zounds

The hardware for a hearing aid is very inexpensive.    Again, what is expensive is the programming logic which is Incorporated in it and the fitting to a particular customers needs

I went to an ENT physician and four hearing aid providers,  all of whom were most helpful and gracious in trying to help me find a solution.

Surprisingly, all of them indicated that Costco's least-cost Kirkland KS8 Signature hearing aid ($1,600 for two) should be able to restore my moderate to severe inability to hear most normal conversation.

This Costco hearing aid, which is essentially the Signia NX,  is the basic hearing aid which is sold elsewhere for as much as $7,000.

It took me a while to learn that.

The problem is that there are no metrics (numbers) for us to compare the functionality of various hearing aids.There is no Consumer Reports evaluations in lab tests.

The only way to compare was to visit four major hearing aids vendors.

One of them said  “it hurts me to say so”  but the Kirkland hearing aid is the best of them.

Here in this community we have an audiologist who can support this hearing aid at a fee-for-service cost for those who are not able to get to Costco.   That is invaluable.

Costco can be intimidating.     It is often crowded. It is large.      Getting around might be difficult for those with mobility problems.     Parking can be a problem. Costco does have motorized carts.

At the prices that Costco offers, Costco does not have the ability to assist you before you buy,  but it offers a 180-day trial once you buy the hearing aid. So you go there and purchase up front.    A short demo will prove nothing anyway. (Costco does everything possible to keep prices to a minimum and does a major business in hearing aid sales.   You need to become a member, and you will save by getting a Costco credit card and thereby exrend your warranty from three to five years.)

Now those with severe to profound hearing loss may do better to go to a provider who can offer more bells and whistles than come with the Costco hearing aid.      Such providers may offer service where you live or on a walk-in basis at any time.

Costco will supply the minimum start up for you but with ongoing but limited support.

Inpurchase considering the Kirkland hearing aid, it first seemed to me that the ability to use the iPhone was really just a frippery.     I learned very quickly that it is absolutely essential to have an iPhone to support their hearing aid

The price of the iPhone at $175 plus $25 a month service from Consumer Cellular is trivial compared to the cost of the hearing aid

Monday, October 15, 2018

Cloud Printer Offline

 Let's say that you set up your printer as a Cloud printer and now suddenly find it's offline.     You make sure it's turned on, but when you go to print, it's still offline.

This is a bug. It happens especially when a printer has not been used for a time.

The solution is to delete the printer and reinstall it

To delete the printer, initiate a print job and click on “change” to display printers and print jobs,  then click on “printers”and delete the offending printer.

To reinstall, go to the printer and get the IP number, such as

I also use a utility called “fing” to provide me that number from my network without going to the printer.

With the IP number in hand, simply type that number into your browser and re-register your printer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fixing the Nook Tablet and Others

The Nook tablet from Barnes & Noble is appealling in price,  size, and operating system.

It goes on sale for as little as $30, fits easily in a pocket, and runs the pure Android system from Google, as compared with the Kindle tablets.

It can do phoning with Hangouts where there is Wi-Fi,  and do it a lot cheaper than a big iPhone.

The problem is that it has woefully little memory…

Think of RAM memory as oxygen,  and application memory as body parts.

The use of both needs to be maximized, while the basic minimum apps still need to be installed.

These include Amazon Buying and eBay, Pandora, Spotify, Kindle, an internal music player, and maybe a news app like Microsoft News and/or Google News.   A better alternative to the last would be to have news delivered by email,

Without these, the Nook does not offer enough to be bothered carrying around.

Installing Opera Mini as a browser will not only speed up browsing but also give access to Amazon and eBay without needing to use memory to install them.

Amazon Kindle needs to be installed first.    Now we can have all our books with us and not two devices.

We need actually to uninstall Nook itself.     Don't worry, we are going to reinstall it as an app and save a 100mb  in the process. We do want Barnes & Noble to stay alive in competition with Amazon.

We then need a little known but essential app from Google called Google Go Files.     This app will clean memory as needed, and without the delay of other apps with commercials.

In order to do voice browsing we need the Google Voice app as well.

Where websites are designed to fit on our tablet, we need simply to load them and save them to our home screen where they appear like any other app.

(One concern about the Nook specifically is that we need to be very careful adding memory.    If not done carefully, the memory will slide past the memory slot and disappear inside the device.)

Otherwise older tablets may need a similar approach to the Nook..

Whereas the Nexus 7 2013 still does not need special efforts to run well,  its original predecessor, the 2012, is also burdened with too little memory.

It can benefit from such an approach, especially the Google Go Files app.

Older smartphones can be revived the same way.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


As we age the challenges of hearing it can be daunting.   Getting a resolution can be your full-time job for a time.

A good place to start researching is the National Institute of Health site as follows:

The important point is that most of us have hearing loss by 75.

The most important thing to do is live in  a place where the problems of aging and hearing are addressed.

Here at Happy Valley we have state of art facilities in our auditoriums and heaters.   No effort or expense has been spared so that we can hear speakers and music.

In one of our oldest dining rooms we also have remarkable design and engineering dedicated to all facets of aging, safety, and efficiency.

A newer dining room has very bad design.  It is loaded with hard reflective surfaces to an extreme.   Even those with the best of hearing must shout. In a large facility like this there's always somebody who doesn't get the message that this facility is for the aging.

We also have on staff here a highly competent audiologist.  This audiologist is not bound by any particular brand, but cannot support proprietary devices which are locked to be maintained only by the seller.    It is best to avoid such sellers.

Having an audiologist is vitally important, but in all aspects of healthcare we must also make it our job to do what we can do.

For example, I had a health care issue which local doctor emphatically insisted could not be resolved.   I worked for many months to find a resolution. When I got to the right doctor it was only a 12 days to wait for a six-hour operation to cure my problem permanently, to the point where I never need to go back to a cardiologist again for it.

So it is up to you to do the spade work.

So here's what we need to know to address such problems.

A really important point is that all hardware to address hearing issues is dirt cheap.     Almost all microphones inside hearing aids are made by the same source.

What costs is the digital logic of the device, plus also the skill and programming of using a hearing aid.   It takes a while and some work to use a hearing aid properly.

Without a hearing aid, a cheap bluetooth headphone from Five and Under can provide wonderful wireless sound from TV, iPad and smartphones.  I found bluetooth earbuds from China for a well under $5, plus adapters to use with your existing headphones.

For the fun of it, I bought two hearing amplifiers from China for $25 each, which were then reduced in price to $14.99 and then to $13.99 and then with a 20% off special.

They do work almost as well as some earlier hearing aids that I have had. They use pre-programmed audio curves which may or may fit any individual,s hearing curve (audiogram).

They do not work well in enabling me to hear the group at a dinner table clearly in a bad environment such as the one indicated above.

Also, it is possible to use a smartphone with a microphone app to connect someone else with our Bluetooth headphones.

The point, though, is that the hardware is dirt cheap. The digital software expertise is not.

And, with hearing aids there is no one place, like Consumer Reports, to compare the specific capabilities of various hearing aids.  Shame on Consumer Reports.

There is however a useful book called the “Consumer Report on Hearing Aids”, which I obtained free from Beltone.  

From AARP is this:

Generally, the Rexton/Signia lines, and Phonak appear to be the most advanced hearing aid designers.

The Rexton and Signia lines are available at least cost from Costco.

Do cheaper aids work?

Studies from Johns Hopkins indicate that they do.   This is also corroborated by Consumer Reports.

Unfortunately the only way to find out is to try them.   That is really not practical.

However, there are some initiatives to address the issues.

One of these is called iHear, which gives you the ability to obtain a good low-cost hearing aid, which either they or YOU can program, if we are up to it.

Otherwise you're left to deal with the multiple hearing aid sellers you will find in any area.  The idea is to pick one which will be there conveniently when you need them, at a reasonable cost.

Whatever hearing aid you choose it needs to be unlocked so that you are not tied to one particular source of support.

There is always the possibility that no hearing aid will work for you.   Alternatively, with a lot of learning on your part, working with a good audiologist, remarkable results may occur.

My otolaryngologist found that I had a moderate to severe hearing loss,  but no physical limitations which would preclude a hearing aid from working for me.     It is just a jungle to find the right one.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Fix Your Nexus 7 1st and 2nd

The Nexus 7 2nd Gen 2013 is the nicest table I have used.   Here is a tech way to fix a lot of problems when it quits.

The previous generation 2012 was effectively "destroyed" by upgrading to 5.01.    Here is how to fix that, too!!    Not for the faint of heart.

Tap or Click for How to Fix Your Nexus 7

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hearing and Hearing Aids

Bedeviled with problems with my old hearing aids, I needed to inform myself better about hearing loss and hearing aids. 

That process started as I was standing in a CVS drugstore and looking at a hearing amplifier at $20.

Shortly, as I stood there, an an older gentleman came by and volunteered that he had been successful in using this simple device.

The first point he made was that it is too easy to turn it off or leave it on the battery runs out.

He then indicated that it is best to replace the receiver loosely in the ear and not tightly so as to avoid interfering noise and occlusion.   But try the smallest, too.

He also volunteered that then lowest volume setting was enough.  (Consumer Reports warns against setting such a device too loud.)

He made a special point that it needs to be kept clean.   The device may seem to be working well when only dirty.

I bought the $20 device.   Trying this inexpensive amplifier, I then found it most useful in a quiet environment, but of no benefit in a noisy environment.

Far more expressive aids are able to shut out sounds which interfere with voice. That process is essential.   That capability drives up the cost.

Otherwise the hardware is pretty much the same. 

So, then, how to choose the best hearing aid?

Get an audiogram, of course, just to find out if anything will work with your particular hearing.

Then, the only thing you can do is try before you buy from an entity whch has them available to try. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Music & Money

 As more and more seniors venture into smartphones, some are unaware of the capabilities, and are surprised to find them useful for more than telephony.

Sometimes I hear a senior say that they don't do much phoning and don't need a smartphone.  (Yet more and more medical practices are using text messaging to communicate with their patients.)

But it is the non phoning activity that takes them unawares.

Listening to music is one.     Money is another.

All it takes is a smartphone to enjoy Concert Hall quality of music.     iPhones are delivered with a superb set of earphones with microphone. They don't look like much,  but the quality of sound will be as good as the most expensive speaker systems.

That is because there is nothing to get in the way of the sound.   

Hearing impaired seniors will hear even better than with speaker systems.      I found a $5 set of earphones from Five and Below which performs outstandingly.    Really!!

Then what about buying?

Buying on eBay alone will find you items you no longer can find in the stores, replacement parts you can't find anywhere else, and prices way below store prices.       Just take care in looking at the seller's history and the way the seller presents items for sale and handles your questions.

Seniors can buy online from nearly everybody nowadays and Amazon boxes are a common sight everywhere here

As I write this I am enjoying music and wearing $80 shoes I just got for $20 on eBay.   Really.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Which Cell Phone Service

 As more and more seniors start to use smartphones,  I get more and more questions about which cell phone service to choose.

At the moment, in general I am recommending Consumer Cellular,  especially for use with an iPhone, and for iPad owners. CC is easily accessible by phone.

That does not mean that there are not plenty of excellent alternatives.

In the past I have recommended Republic Wireless as costing a bit less.    Republic Wireless does not communicate by phone but only by email. Recently a resident had to go through a procedure of taking out the SIM card and upgrading to restore a locked up phone back to use, before re-inserting the SIM.

I have also used PureTalk.      Phone support is very good and prices are competitive.    This service uses AT&T as opposed to the others here which use Sprint.     I have heard that Pure Talk belongs to AT&T.

FreedomPop offers the lowest cost service but phone support is terrible.   I use it anyway.

Another service with low cost is Tello, which I have not tried, but offers phone, text, and data at just $10 a month.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Your Old Smartphone

 Users love to upgrade their old smartphones and show off their new ones.     

Often there is a good reason, such as getting a cheaper or faster plan, selecting a larger or smaller phone, or upgrading the operating system.    But maybe just for fun.

Yet if the phone is simply not running well,  there is a better solution.

That solution is a reset.   

I did both a factory reset, and a reset in settings where I deleted all my data.      The factory reset for my Moto G and Moto E is simply done by holding down the Run and Volume Down buttons at the same time for 30 seconds and then selecting reset with the up and down button.

The result can be miraculous.

The phones run just like new.

Memory is a bit short on the Moto G, and this time I employed a new approach from my efforts in the past to make the best use of memory.

I just installed as few apps as possible.      Instead of installing news apps,  I mainly had my news delivered by email.

I then simply installed:

Accubattery to assure that my battery was still good, Hangouts, Kindle Reader, Amazon. Microsoft News, Amazon Music, eBay, Google Podcast,  WeatherBug, and ConnectDrive to run media from a separate Wi-Fi equipped flash drive.

Google apps, especially the essential Google Docs, had been installed by default.

That way,  I came nowhere close to using up the limited memory.     In the Moto E I was able to install a separate 32 GB flash drive.   Most of the above apps are transferred to it.

If I need other apps, I can install and use them when I need them,  and then delete them If necessary.

Alternatively, I can run applications from websites designed for access from small devices.    These I can then add to the home screen just like other apps.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

FedEx Woes

Fedex Pickup  

(A few days after this posting, I received a FedEx Delivery Manager code giving me the ability to control deliveries online: at

Ever receive a fedex shipment which needed to be returned?    Hold your breath!

When you receive a fedex shipment, a return label will be included.     Or you may request the label to be emailed from your seller. The label may be copied onto adhesive label paper to make it easier to affix.

The label will include a tracking number.

Now, to get it picked up…

Tap or click to fill out this form, once you have a tracking number.

Or phone 1-800-463-3339  (1-800-GO-FEDEX) to authorize a pickup.  Ask for the "Return Manager" and have the return label at hand.    

You may find that you are required to have a fedex account.   If so,  tap or click here,

If you live here at Happy Valley, don’t be surprised if it is not picked anyway.   If not picked up at one concierge desk, try another.

Happy Valley’s pickup is actually listed for a non-Happy Valley location elsewhere, but under the same name, at a grocery store nearby, and your item may not appear on fedex’s pickup list for our front desk(s), but for this nearby dropbox at 200 WV Square.

You then need to drive you package to the nearest depot as a last resort.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Check this out for iPad and iPhone.Tap or click

Monday, June 25, 2018

Podcasting is ready for prime time

Podcasting has been around for a long time but only now is ready for prime time.

Podcasting is broadcasting over Internet for on-demand access. Anyone can do it.

The problem has always been in finding the podcast that addresses your particular interest.

That is being fixed with the new Google podcasting app. Apple has a similar app.

Having an interest in ragtime, I was delighted to find a podcast from Ethan Uslan.

See what you can find. Go for it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Windows 10 Storage Issues

 There is a very good chance that that nice Windows 10 laptop with 32 or 64 gigs memory will sooner or later use up so much of your storage space that you cannot update it at all.

This happens as applications are added and as Windows is updated and an old version of Windows, and or restore points,  are not deleted.

These are the things you need to do when presented with such a situation

1. (If possible), even before you get into such a situation, create a recovery drive by entering  “Create a Recovery Drive” in the search block at the left bottom of your screen

2 If you do not already have administrative rights,  set them up.

5.  Run the cleanup utility by entering “Clean Up”  in the search box at the left bottom of your screen and check to clean up old system files

3.  Delete the windows.old directory from your C:\  drive

4. Download the windirstat utility to determine where else storage can be reduced.
5. Add another USB  32GB or largee flash drive to give you more storage space in the future.     Make this a primary drive for new storage. Do this by going to Storage under Settings and identifying the drive for various uses..

6.Optionally,  reset your computer in Settings to get rid of items that are taking up too much space.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Robo Vacs

 Standing and vacuuming can pose a challenge for those with mobility issues.    

Recently I became aware that Consumer Reports had very good ratings for robot vacuums.   

That was enough for me to try a Deebot 79s on sale at $180.

As I write this it just came in to return to its dock for recharging after spending an hour picking up a huge amount of dirt.

Hard to believe that such a lightweight battery operated device could automatically clean a room in about an hour.

Plus it is very easy to clean.    You remove the high-efficiency filter and hold the rest under a tap. and dry off the dust bin.   The initial setup was a snap.

It took awhile for me to realize that I needed to set up the room properly for the Deebot.     That meant getting rid of obstacles such as wires and cables.

They should really be off the floor anyway but it took me some time to get them where they needed to be and not in the way.  If I were in an accredited hospital setting they never would have been permitted on the floor in the first place.

Then I needed to learn how to set up a barrier so that it wouldn't cruise down the hall when I wanted it to clean the living room.     I just put a bar stool in the way.

It was a little unsettling watching cleaning the first time around.      It goes in random directions and eventually covers the full area. That is in contrast to standing and vacuuming in a circular direction.  It can also be used to go along the edge of the room or just stop and do spot cleaning.

You only need three voice commands to accomplish the main tasks  with Alexa. However, the smartphone app Is handy to show when it is charging or stranded, and set room or automatic mode and other options.

Comparing it with a conventional vacuum cleaner,  it reaches areas not normally reached. The worst part of the job is to move furniture away so that it can thoroughly cover a room.  Once that is done, the robotic vac does the rest of the work without ado.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A WiFi Bottleneck Fixed

 I am learning that the Wi-Fi adapter in a device may pose more of a problem than other factors in reducing speed than I had thought.   

That is a simple problem to fix (<$20),  and may save many an old machine from being discarded since we are now so dependant on the internet for everything we do.

I searched for USB Wi-Fi adapters on Amazon and selected the one with the best comments.   

I was flabbergasted at the results.     My old Dell ran 10 times faster than before when browsing.    

These adapters plug right into a USB port.     Drivers then come with them which need to be installed.

Then,  after that happens,  nothing will change until  the old adapter is disabled in device manager.    I did not find that indicated in the documentation but it is absolutely essential.

Monday, May 14, 2018

New Modem or Router?

 The most frequent question I get asked is the following:

Internet is not working well for me.  what do I do?

Before I get to answer, I often get asked whether a modem or router should be replaced or a tech called in at $100 an hour?

Before any of that happens we need first to determine if we are getting a good signal into our system.

All kinds of things can happen which interfere with that.

And there is no point in replacing anything if the problem lies elsewhere before getting to our system.

So we need to have our provider check signal strength with a proper meter to determine simply if we are getting a good signal.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and there are far more points of failure before signal gets to us then within our own system.   

These include type of cabling and proper cable maintenance.    Typically switches and so-called splitters fail frequently before a doistant signal even gets to our equipment.

Archaic equipment may reside anywhere between you and the source of your data.   Somewhere in the chain there may be reliance on age old telephone equipment.

It is a miracle that the system works at all.     A little understanding of how it works will aid in addressing problems with it.

Before internet was in place,  it was indeed understood how to make it work once the electronic technology was in hand.    

Communication had to work even where that technology failed,  so how could that be done?

This is what you need to know.

Internet communication works exactly like the post office.    Information is transmitted by packets. packets are just like letters.     They include a sender's address and the receivers address and content.

These electronic packets can contain any kind of information and enough of them  can present music or pictures or videos simply text material when assembled by the receiving device.

The transmission must be perfect,  so that every packet is sent back to make sure it had been received perfectly as compared with the original.    That way, you always get either perfect information or none at all or only some of the information or a slowdown when only some of the through and need to be sent repeatedly.

This last situation explains a lot of the problems that you may be having with internet.     Somewhere the packets are not getting through perfectly.

Could it be your equipment?     Most of the time it is not. However, simple measures like checking connections are basic.     Then the process of elimination takes over. Is the problem related to one particular device, or one particular website, or one particular location,  such as in wireless or Wi-Fi.

Next to getting a bad signal from your provider,  wireless is probably the next biggest area of problems.

The further you are from a wired connection, the more packet  loss you will have, of course. Typically Wi-Fi drops your internet speed by about two thirds.

With Wi-Fi you are also sharing communications with many others nearby,  using a limited number of channels available. There is only so much space available, so much bandwidth.  

When someone watches a Netflix movie,  throughput drops everywhere else accordingly.   That is just how the system works.

What happens here at times is that there may be interruptions or slowdowns  not related to anything more than high usage, and in no way related to your equipment whatever.

Streaming movies for example may stop and start,  especially on a wireless or Wi-Fi device,

That can be avoided by downloading them in advance,  which I highly recommend out of consideration for others.

Other palliative measures are simply to use devices which work well for speed of communication.     One such measure is a high-speed Wi-Fi adapter.

Or you could avoid Wi-Fi all together by using a so-called  ethernet adapter. Ethernet is the name for the most efficient and modern cabling,  also called twisted pair or 10 base T.

These can be a remedy for problems where your TV uses a streaming device like Roku, Apple TV or Fire TV.    There is even an adapter for an iPad, though it tethers you to a wired connection.

A frequent problem I have encountered is the use of an old computer which simply doesn't have the capability of doing anything fast,

Windows users need only to buy a cheap laptop to overcome such problems.     An up-to-dmate cheap $200 laptop will outperform an older unit which cost thousands of dollars.    I actually use a cheap Intel stick computer the size of a pack of chewing gum to work with an ancient display at extreme high speed.

So, it is only occasionally that a router or modem needs to be updated, and usually only by upgrading the so-called firmware online.

If your internet provider rents such to you, take advantage of rental and leave the problems to them. Alternatively, simply substitute a known reliable router or modem and see if that resolves your problem.   Mostly, it will not.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Easy Printer Setup

In setting up a new printer wirelessly, we are often confronted with CDs and complex installations.  With my Canon Image Laser, all I had to do is tap on the bluetooth button and then tap the router WPS button.   Done!

It's All About Speed

 No matter what device you use, using it is all about getting everything done as quickly as possible.  That is paramount. We all spend time browsing and we need pages to come up instantly. Forget operating systems, manufacturers and types of devices.

Next is getting devices cheap and getting them small for convenience, but compatible with a big screen.

Getting back to speed, what do we need?

We need a good fast internet connection.  That means not bogged down by multiple users on Wi-Fi nor bogged down by multiple splitters between you and the ISP.

Recently I looked over my system to see what I could do to speed things up.

Right at the start my ISP found bad splitters and replaced them.

I ran cables and installed inexpensive usb ethernet adapters to avoid Wi-Fi on laptops.

I concentrated on devices which support voice input, which also speeds up my activity on any device, not just smartphones.

I ruled out mechanical hard drives, and I looked for high speed memory devices.

I did not rule out Windows 10,  even though Windows 10 runs horribly badly on most  old equipment. Microsoft eventually catches up with new technology and the latest Windows 10 is much improved.

I tried a Lenovo Windows stick with an age-old display and it ran quite well.

For real speed I needed something better with 4 gigs Ram and 32 to 64 gigs memory, 32 for 32 bit and 64 for 64-bit.

That's not a lot of memory and you need to be astute in holding down use of that memory.  You need fast emmc memory nowadays. Windows gets cluttered with stuff too quickly.

As Windows is updated you need to do away with system files using disk cleanup,  and delete windows.old directories. Since most activity runs online anyway, there is no need to load much software.

Since this effort does not need to be expensive,  I picked up a flagship low-cost 2018 laptop at $200  meeting the above criteria.

Windows being Windows,  it took 10 hours to update the thing, but then a big surprise . This little laptop turned out to be the fastest device I think I have ever used.   Lightning speed.

Of course,  the very first thing I did with it was to dictate “ create a recovery drive”,  on a 16gb flash drive. That way, when Windows goes sour, it can be reinstalled without ado.

The laptop is light,  built to mil spec, and designed for rough and tumble treatment by students.  (Microsoft is trying to regain the school market lost to Chromebooks.)

It is very small and lightweight.    Works beautifully was a large external screen,  but also when the little display is set for max resolution but 150%  of normal font size.

The only downside is a soft screen which is certainly is vulnerable,  but nothing like as vulnerable as Microsoft Windows itself used by an unschooled person.

Windows has the great advantage is that it recognizes printers and many other devices simply by plugging them in.    To run on this laptop, however, it also took 10 special device drivers from the manufacturer. I put them on a separate flash drive for use in a future reinstallation.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Recovering Windows

 Sooner or later,  if your laptop has 32 gigs of memory or less,  that memory will fill up as you update Windows over time,  especially if you have an old Windows directory from a previous update.

At that point you may no longer be able to update at all.

it is therefore important that you prepare a recovery drive such as a USB recovery drive as soon as you start using a new computer.

The means to do so are are found separately on this website or can be found easily by searching  for instructions in a browser.

Here's the rub.  There may not be enough space for reinstallation.

It may be difficult to accomplish that result by deleting files.

Recently I needed to use Windows partitioning tool to create enough space.   That worked.

Unfortunately, running the recovery process still may not bring your laptop back to full functionality.   I was still not done.

There are usually a bunch of manufacturer’s files which need to be loaded to give access to everything,  such as a touchpad.

These can usually be downloaded and installed from the manufacturer support site.    

I needed to do that  to complete the job.