Q and A on computer issues

It has been a couple of weeks since I answered reader mail and the mailbag is bulging at the virtual seams with letters that are pretty timely for the season.

It has been a couple of weeks since I answered reader mail and the mailbag is bulging at the virtual seams with letters that are pretty timely for the season.

Let’s answer those first.

Q. What is the best email program out there that will also let me share my calendar with my whole family at once?

A. Set up a Google Calendar for your family. It has a fantastic calendar application and just gave up its requirement that everyone keep their mail in “conversation” threaded mode. This goes triple if you have an Android phone because Google mail syncs with it effortlessly. You also can have a domain for a few pennies a month and have a personalized email address for everyone in the family.

I love how they are handling it and their Google Apps cloud computing application is going to take over the world pretty soon.

Q. I am getting my kids laptops for Christmas and what do I need to put on there for anti-virus and child security?

A. I would uninstall whatever came on the PC and install Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free from the Microsoft web site, for anti-virus, and then install CyberPatrol if the child is under 18. The built-in parental filters to Windows 7 are a joke, unfortunately.

Q. Can you run Microsoft Office on an iPad?

A. No, but there are several office-like applications for the iPad that will allow you to do basic word processing and spreadsheets if that is your goal. You also can open attachments you get send in email and do office-like tasks when you are using your iPad away from your real PC. What you should be asking is can you run Angry Birds on a PC?

Q. My laptop PC gets horribly hot when I use it on my lap. Do you recommend those cooling pad things to prevent that?

I see them in the stores but they require another plug and they seem heavy and thick.

A. I recommend a thin sheet of plastic you can get at the hardware store, like Lexan. That will serve you well for years.

Q. Can you print from an iPad yet?

A. Without going through a ton of hoops you can print to a small subset of wireless printers using the latest version of the iPad software. Apple promises improvements soon.

But don’t count on easy printing if you buy an iPad, that is not what it is for.

Q. You recommended remote viewing software that lets people take control of a computer. Can you explain how that is not a security problem?

A. I recommended TeamViewer, which allows you to control a computer across town or across the world for support reasons or screen sharing.

It is not a security concern because the other person has to give you a code to allow that sharing to take place and click things on their end to enable it. It is a great way to fix another person’s computer for free.

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His email address is jim@cyberdads.com

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