LewisFirst Computer Tech - brought to you by Affordable Technical Solutions
Welcome to this new section. It's not pretty, but it's functional...

"If you think experts are expensive, wait until you see how much amateurs cost you! "
    >> Call Affordable Technical Solutions today. <<

"Never, ever approach a computer repair saying or even thinking 'I will just do this quickly' ."

"The most important test Is the one you have not done."

"Data you don't have at least two copies of is data you don't care about!"

Free Computer Recycling

Excellent Professionally Refurbished Computers. Internet-ready with limited warranty.

Information and Downloads referenced in my newspaper column:

Fight Spam

Restore Real Internet Explorer desktop icon: Windows 7   Vista   Vista with "classic" desktop

Pinned Site control (Internet Explorer 9): Disable   Enable

Add Aero Snap to Windows Vista or XP: AeroSnap (cnet download)

Disclaimer: These programs and modifications are provided for your convenience. They are commonly known and hake been used with no problems. However you use download and use them at your own risk. If you need professional assistance, please contact me. I can provide Affordable Technical Solutions for all your computer needs.


Important Security notes:

Windows Updates Microsoft regularly issues critical updates for the Windows operating system. Your computer should be set to automatically download and install Windows updates. Unpatched systems are vulnerable to attack.

Any program or utility can have a security flaw. Since most programs now have Internet components and most computers have full-time Internet connections, make sure all your programs, especially those that are directly Internet-related, have the latest updates installed.

Older version of Adobe Reader and Flash Player have security flaws that could allow an attacker to gain access to your computer. Make sure you have updated fully patched versions.

Old versions of WinAmp have some flaws. info1   info2

This is not a thorough list. Make sure everything is patched and updated.

Best Antivirus:

I recommend, sell, and install Norton Antivirus at the best prices around. It has consistently been top rated by major computer publications. Contact me today at Affordable Technical Solutions.

Free Antivirus:

Still using CA Internet Security provided free by your Internet Service Provider? It is out of date, slows your computer, and just does not get favorable reviews:  Maximum PC   PC Magazine

What about F-Secure provided by Frontier? Better than nothing but not that great. Rated # 8 by PCWorld in 2012.Computer running sluggishly? F-Secure might be part of the problem.

There are some good free antivirus programs, but some are not so good, even worse, some actually malware in disguise. Be careful. You get what you pay for. Free programs generally offer no support and may be ad supported. PCWorld's top picks as of April 2012 are AVG, Avast, and Panda.

Supplemental antimalware:

Threatfire is not a complete solution, but it can complement a regular antivirus program by providing behavior-based detection.
Emsisoft Emergency Kit is a manual scanning tool. Detects and removes malware. Does not actively update, scan, or block.

Malwarebytes (free version) is another good malware scanner/cleaner.
Be aware that no program may be completely effective at finding and cleaning malware already on a computer. If you are having serious malware problems, the only 100% solution is a clean-slate reload of the entire operating system and application software. .

Windows Cleanup and Tune-up Utilities:

Be very cautious about downloading, installing, and/or running any program that claims to automatically tune up your computer, increase performance, clean/fix the registry, etc. You can easily do more damage than good. Don't waste your money buying any such program. The best solution is to take your computer to a professional for a complete tune-up.

Ccleaner cleans temporary files and invalid registry keys, manages startup programs, offers convenient add/remove programs interface, manages System Restore points, etc. If you know what you are doing it is a good utility to use.

Microsoft resources:
Security and Privacy Center
Knowledge base
Windows update
Word, Excel, PowerPoint viewers

Popular Computer Magazines /Web Sites:
PC World
Maximum PC
Smart Computing
PC Magazine / Computer Shopper / ZDNet

Computer Security Threat Status websites:
Symantec Security Threat Meter
Computer Associates Security Advisor
SANS Internet Storm Center

"How To Correctly Protect your Windows computer from viruses"


October 2008: Dealing with HP/Compaq - email transcript of representative tech "support."

HP doesn't know (or admit) to the adware they have preinstalled ("tech support" transcript)

Dealing With Dell - Chat Session Transcripts


Thinking of running out to the nearest big-box discount store or logging on to the Internet and getting a "bargain" cheap computer? Read this first:

  "Craputers" - Why you shouldn't buy a typical mass-market computer. (This page is somewhat dated, but the basic idea is still valid.)

Then call me at Affordable Technical Solutions (315-376-8879) to get a top quality computer offering great performance, years of dependable service, and best long-term value.


Let Affordable Technical Solutions
clear up those nagging computer problems quickly and efficiently
without the need for an on-site visit
or shop service. Try it today.

Some Computer Tech Tips:
Inside The PC (nice slide show on hardware basics)
Burning CDs in Windows XP
Understanding CD-R and RW

New LCD Monitor - Widescreen or Standard, and what size?

Most new monitors are widescreens, however the are still some standard screens available. When deciding on a monitor size, be sure you understand what the specifications mean.

Monitors are measured diagonally. For a given diagonal measure, a square has the most area, but computer screens are not square.

The traditional standard TV and computer screen aspect ratio is 4:3. A 19" standard aspect ratio monitor has a width of 15.2" and height of 11.4" - about 86.6 square inches of image area.

Widescreen ratio is 16:9. A 19" widescreen has a width of 16.6" and a height of 9.9" - about 77.1" of image area.

The same diagonal measure widescreen has 11% less area than a standard screen. The extra horizontal space might be worth losing 11% overall and significant height, if you want to put two windows side by side, but the windows can't be nearly as high.

Here is a spreadsheet showing actual viewable area and height of common sizes.

Upgrade to Windows 7?

If you have a relatively new computer with Vista, upgrading to Windows 7 may be a good idea. You may see an increase in performance, will have the newer "features" and look, and will have Microsoft support options for a longer period .

However, in most cases I don't think it is worth the price of a Windows 7 license plus the time to install it.

There are a lot of things that I can do to improve Vista performance short of upgrading. In most cases I can significantly improve the speed of a Vista computer at half the cost of a Windows 7 upgrade.

If you are considering an upgrade to 7, there are decisions to be made. Can you do a clean install or do you have to do an upgrade install to preserve existing programs? A clean install is just that. Nothing is carried over. Advantage-no junk software, no malware, etc. Disadvantage-you may lose some programs you actually want. Call me for details.

If you have XP, there is generally no strong reason to upgrade. Older computer hardware may not be up to running Windows 7 and your older peripherals (printers, cameras, etc.) might not work.

If your computer seems to be slowing down or acting erratically, it is probably due to software problems. If you are getting "low memory" messages it is not an indication that you need to add memory. It is an indication that you have unwanted and most likely malware programs running. These problems can best be resolved with a complete tune-up at a fraction of the cost of a good new computer. A tune-up will also take care of many 'out-of-the-box' Vista performance problems.

Call me today!

      Pete Newell   Affordable Technical Solutions   376-8879

Click here for a list of some streaming audio (Internet Radio) web sites.

Synchronize your computer's clock to the National Institute of Standards and Technology


Advertise on LewisFirst.com


LewisFirst - your web site for the Black River Valley