Google rules; using laptops outside

I got an earful from readers when I said in last week’s column that Google’s Chrome was the best browser, so let’s get to the fan-boy email and get that over with this week.

I got an earful from readers when I said in last week’s column that Google’s Chrome was the best browser, so let’s get to the fan-boy email and get that over with this week.

Q. Does Google do anything wrong in your opinion? How can they make the best phones and the best browsers and the best search engine? You’re turning into a Google fan-boy.

A. Well, it is true I own an Android phone, which is made by Motorola but has a Google operating system in it.

And I use Google as my home page because it loads really fast. But if you do some research in my 20 years of columns you will see I once liked Netscape 0.98 too, so I do have a bit of history with browsers.

I like Chrome because it is fast, it just “works” and I don’t have to keep messing with it. It is elegant in its design and when I mouse over to find something it is “there.”

I also use IE for a few things and every computer I own still has Firefox on it but I confess I rarely launch it. After a week with Chrome I imagine you won’t, either. Oh, and by the way, Google is taking over the world.

Q. My new laptop came with Windows 7 but a 32-bit edition. I know you recommend the 64-bit edition. Under what circumstances would you upgrade?

A. If you are doing intensive applications that will take more than four gigs of memory, which would be video-editing and high-end gaming. The ability to recognize more than 3.5 gigs of RAM is the main benefit of 64-bit Windows.

Q. I noticed Office 2010 comes in both 32-bit versions and 64-bit versions. If I am running 64-bit Windows 7, do I want 64-bit Office 2010? I have only seen the 32-bit version in most stores.

A. You would think so, but unless you have extreme needs in Excel (and you already know if you do) then Microsoft recommends the 32-bit version for everyone, even if you are running 64-bit Windows.

Q. Can I harm my laptop using it outside?

A. Well, assuming you protect it from direct sunlight, rain and things that annoy postal workers you should be OK.

You want to avoid heat and leaving your laptop in a car and getting it overly hot, too.

If you are going to consistently use your laptop outside you may wish to invest in a screen protector and a keyboard protector, which are found cheaply on eBay.

Q. What graphics and photo viewer do you recommend?

A. Irfanview is awesome, powerful and free. Head to and enjoy. It views everything, lets you edit pictures, crop everything and will make crispy fries. Be careful when you download it that you actually get the right program and not one these silly registry cleaners.

Q. I keep getting errors that Adobe Flash cannot start when I play a web video. I have installed it several times and that has not helped.

A. Uninstall Flash completely and reinstall it from scratch. And switch to Chrome. (smile)

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer service firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His email address is

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