How to Find Software Support

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About a year ago, I took out a lifetime subscription to SUPERAntiSpyware and I have used it without any problems until the last ten days or so. Now, I find that I am unable to activate the scan feature; I click on it just I have done for the past year, but nothing happens. I called the phone number listed on my receipt, but there was no answer and I wonder if you know whether or not they have gone out of business.

To the best of my knowledge, SUPERAntiSpyware is alive and well.

However, the approach you took to contact them is worth reviewing. Sometimes, finding appropriate contact information can be confusing. In some situations, it can lead to very questionable territory.

Read moreHow to Find Software Support

Why Does a Scan of a Simple Text Document Result in Such a Large File?

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 I scanned a copy of my W2 form and tried to email it to someone but I was told the file was too big – over 25 MB. How does a simple text document acquire such a huge volume?

The short answer is very simple: a scan of a document creates a picture. It’s exactly as if you had pointed your camera at the paper and snapped a photo of it, except your scanner is better at capturing large, flat surfaces.

And pictures can be big.

Let’s look at why, and what some of the alternatives might be.

Read moreWhy Does a Scan of a Simple Text Document Result in Such a Large File?

How Do I Print Pictures from Websites So They Look Good?

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I would like to know the simplest way to print a small to medium image from a web page and have it print out as a crisp picture to fit an 8-1/2″ by 11″ sheet.

This is a simple question that turns out to have both a very simple and a fairly complex answer.

The simple answer: you can’t. Not most of the time, and not with what you’re asking for.

The complex answer, of course, is: it depends.

Read moreHow Do I Print Pictures from Websites So They Look Good?

Use OneNote for Basic OCR

OCR, an acronym for Optical Character Recognition, is a process that converts a picture of text into actual, editable, text.

For example, you might find a picture of a meme on social media, which may be nothing more than text on a nice background saved in an image format, such as .jpg. Or you might scan a document you’ve received, which often results in a series of image files, or a PDF containing a series of images — “pictures”, if you will, of the individual pages.

Rather than retyping that text by hand to use elsewhere, you can use OCR to automatically extract the text for you.

As it turns out, Microsoft OneNote, present in Windows 10 and Microsoft Office, has basic OCR capability built in.

Read moreUse OneNote for Basic OCR

What Is DRM?

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Looking at a book online it said: “At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.” – What’s that about?

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is software that prevents you from copying digital purchases and giving them to others.

Naturally, it’s complicated, and can be used for more fine-tuned control, but put another way, at its core it simply prevents theft of copyrighted material.

Unfortunately, it’s rarely bullet-proof, and in doing its job, it’s the innocent who pay the highest price.

Read moreWhat Is DRM?

An Easy-to-Miss Source of PUPs

One of my assistants recently alerted me to a new (new to me, anyway) source of PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs).

In fact, it was new enough that I didn’t pay close enough attention while investigating it, and almost ended up installing software I didn’t want or need.

Let’s use this as an opportunity to review what you need to look for when downloading software or software updates.

Read moreAn Easy-to-Miss Source of PUPs

Why Can’t I Boot from an SD Card?

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I have noticed many times in publications that we can use a USB flash drive to boot from under certain situations. But what about SD cards? Can we also use SD cards in the same way as we can use USB drives? I have noticed on my computers that the computer seems not to differentiate between the different types of drives. Does Windows really care if you use a USB drive versed to an SD drive for doing these sorts of things like booting from?

Windows doesn’t really care at all, for reasons that we often overlook.

We need to start by clarifying something: the initial steps of booting your computer have nothing – or at least very little – to do with Windows.

Let’s have a look at booting, who does what at boot time, and why you probably can boot from an SD card if you really want to.

Read moreWhy Can’t I Boot from an SD Card?

What Does “Unsupported Software” Really Mean?

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Could you define Unsupported Software please? Is it something like Windows XP which Microsoft will not protect anymore from viruses or whatever it was taking care of…so that now almost everyone has changed to W7, 8 10 or some other upgrade?

Windows XP is certainly one example, but the topic of unsupported software turns out to be much more complex than we might think.

There’s unsupported, and there’s … unsupported.

Let’s review some of the different aspects of unsupported software.

Read moreWhat Does “Unsupported Software” Really Mean?

Why didn’t Microsoft fix the bug I care about?

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I’ve complained about this bug for years and no one has an answer. It’s horrible – forums are full of people who are experiencing this bug and no one has an answer. It’s been there for years and Microsoft continues to just ignore us. Obviously, Bill’s too busy trying to make more money by forcing us to upgrade and doesn’t have time for bugs that impact lots of people. WHY WON’T THEY FIX THIS HORRIBLE BUG?

First, I need to be clear: this isn’t about some specific bug. There is no bug being discussed here.

This is about folks who discover something that, to them, is a horrible, horrible problem, and they can’t understand why it’s not fixed immediately.

As you can probably guess, the question above is actually a composite of questions, comments, and rants: every time someone is convinced that they’re dealing with what they consider the Most Important Bug Ever and Microsoft – no, Bill Gates himself – is ignoring them.

Typically, there’s no satisfying the folks who have landed in that extreme position. I often do suggest – and it’s an honest suggestion – that they might be better served by a Mac or Linux solution, because they’re not satisfied with Microsoft and Windows.

However, for those who are interested, I’d like to go over some of the things that factor into the process of deciding which bugs get fixed and why a bug you consider important might not be one of them. And yes, I’ll also discuss why Bill Gates is not only not ignoring you, but probably has no idea that you, or the bug you care about, even exists.

Read moreWhy didn’t Microsoft fix the bug I care about?

Can I Delete Setup Files I’ve Downloaded?

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Can you safely delete set-up files of programs or updates that you have downloaded from the internet? My C: drive’s Windows’ Downloads folder has files as far back as five years. Since these were set-up or update files, I assume they were zipped, and that upon installation, the electronic carapace for lack of a better word became discardable? Is this correct, or is the downloaded file necessary to the proper functioning of the file or update that has been downloaded (like a Jack-in-the-Box, that would stop being a Jack-in-the-Box if you removed the box)? Which types of downloaded set-up files or updates are safe to delete, and which MUST remain (if any MUST remain)?

The answer is both yes and no.

Assuming you’ve run the set up to install the programs they contained then yes, you can delete setup files safely. The programs will continue to work without them.

However, the answer is also no: you don’t want to delete them. You want to do something else instead, for reasons that aren’t always obvious.⋅

Read moreCan I Delete Setup Files I’ve Downloaded?

What happens when applications die?

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While I am not particularly concerned about my privacy (all that stuff on the internet was out there before the internet, it was just a little harder to find), I am not particularly trusting. I realize that TrueCrypt was open source and Lastpass etc are all paid services but what happens if they go belly up? What happens if they hire some idiot and all of their saving software goes up in smoke? I have a hard time trusting these services or any others for that matter and these are things that I want under my control.

Actually, what you describe happens more often than one might think.

Typically, it’s nothing as attention-grabbing as the TrueCrypt shutdown, but I do regularly hear from people who have been using an application of some sort for some time and suddenly find that the company’s no longer in business and there’s no way to get an update. In some cases, that means they can’t migrate to current versions of their operating system if they want to keep running that now-unsupported software.

It’s something I consider when using important software. Depending on exactly what software it is we’re talking about, there are often approaches that you can use to protect yourself from potential obsolescence or disappearance.

I’ll give you one hint: it’s one of the reasons I moved from Roboform to Lastpass.

Read moreWhat happens when applications die?

How Do I Download and Read a PDF eBook?

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I’ve purchased an ebook and have received in return a web page, or some kind of pointer in email, that I’m supposed to do something with. It tells me the ebook is a “PDF”, whatever that is. For the life of me, I can’t figure out the instructions. How am I supposed to get my book?

Ebooks, which is short for “electronic books”, are books that you download and read on your computer. The “download” part is fairly straightforward, but it’s difficult to give one set of instructions that works for all users. And, to be fair, sometimes publishers make it harder than they need to as well.

Let’s see if we can’t cut through some of the confusion.

Read moreHow Do I Download and Read a PDF eBook?

How do I keep my browser from being hijacked?

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Hi, Leo. I was leading our computer club’s “Internet & More” special interest group last night. One of our attendees wanted to share how to record audio to the hard drive from YouTube content. He used Audacity’s free program in the past and proceeded to show us how to find and download it. We were using Windows 7 and Firefox. We downloaded the program and started to try out some of the sound editing features. We wanted to search for a YouTube example and open up a new tab to Google. Google wasn’t there.  Trovi.com search engine was there and we couldn’t get back to Google.

We tried IE10 on the same computer – no luck. When we downloaded the Audacity free program, there was no option to do a custom install and unselect the extras. The only reason we had any idea what Trovi was that another of our attendees recounted his recent experience of this happening after he installed an Adobe update. He had to take his laptop to the Microsoft store. They finally got it off his computer but it took them a couple of hours.

Many people in our club are older and likely would have to ask for assistance in getting rid of this monster. I prefer to educate them on prevention. They all have real-time anti-virus software and have learned to do malwarebytes scans. We teach our users to do image backups (thank you for hounding me until I did my first one). Other than restoring my computer to an earlier time, how can we protect ourselves?

What you’ve experienced is something that’s happening more and more these days. It’s actually kind of frightening, and it’s frustrating because a large part of it comes from what I would call otherwise reputable companies just trying to make an extra buck or two.

Read moreHow do I keep my browser from being hijacked?

Why is only one core on my multi-core processor being maxed out?

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I’m experiencing a strange quirk using one of my programs. At times of intense calculations, the program itself stops responding. Yet my PC remains perfectly usable. I’ve looked into the resource manager and I notice at these times, the program is using exactly 25% of the available processor power. That figures constant until the program unfreezes. My processor has 4 cores and all are available. The program is allowed to use all the cores though none of them are registering high usage at the time the program freezes other than the one. Do you have any idea why this might be happening and possibly a way to get the program to use the rest of the resources that it has available to it?

I experience almost the exact same thing from time to time. I too, have a quad core machine and occasionally it will be running at exactly 25% CPU usage as only one of the cores is maxed out by some program that I’m running.

But I know why.

Read moreWhy is only one core on my multi-core processor being maxed out?

Why Might an Uninstalled Program Still Be Listed?

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I’m running Windows XP, SP3, fully updated. I was running AVG anti-virus free edition 2012 until I uninstalled it when I started using Microsoft Security Essentials. Belarc Advisor still lists AVG anti-virus with real-time file scanning turned on. Speccy lists similar information and states that the virus signature database is up to date. Both also show Microsoft Security Essentials as being up and running. I downloaded and ran the AVG 2012 uninstall program and used search/Windows Explorer to find and delete any remaining AVG files. Belarc Advisor and Speccy still say that AVG free edition 2012 is still installed, up to date, and real-time scanning. Do you have any suggestions how I can overcome this problem?

Let me begin by asking this question: is this really a problem?

I get that it’s an annoyance. I wouldn’t expect those utilities to show something that you have so clearly and thoroughly uninstalled.

The problem is that the solutions we have aren’t really as clean as we might want them to be. If we want to actually clean this out completely, that involves a little risk.

Read moreWhy Might an Uninstalled Program Still Be Listed?

Is There Software that Will Transform Poor Quality Images and Videos?

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Hi, Leo. I’ve recently come across a number of apps that claim they will transform your poor quality media files into a higher quality format, such as HD for video files. Now, I don’t know enough to say that it’s just not possible, but I do remember a golden rule from my photography days. If it isn’t on the film from the start, no matter how skilled you are in the dark room, it won’t be on the print in the end. That was in relation to the exposure in the film; if you don’t expose the film sufficiently to form an image, then all was lost. Surely, this implies to computer files also. Or am I missing something?

Fundamentally, you are absolutely correct. You can only have so much information in an image. When you take a picture, that is all you have. You can’t enhance it to create more information than what’s in the existing image.

It really annoys me when a police drama on TV has a scene where somebody enlarges an image and zooms in on a tiny area… to find that area is now all of a sudden enhanced and crystal clear.

In real life, it just doesn’t work that way. Still, there are some things that can be done. Let me talk about that for a minute.

Read moreIs There Software that Will Transform Poor Quality Images and Videos?

Can I ZIP My Pictures or MP3 Files to Save Space?

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Can I ZIP my pictures or MP3 files to save space?

ZIP is a very popular compression algorithm supported by many popular programs such as WinZip, 7-Zip, and recent versions of Microsoft Windows. ZIPping a file or set of files can often reduce their size significantly at the cost of needing to be unzipped before they can be used.

Note though that I said, “…often reduce their size.”

Unfortunately, “often” doesn’t mean “always.”

Read moreCan I ZIP My Pictures or MP3 Files to Save Space?