Santa’s answers to woes

A few hard questions popped into the mailbag this week, just in the nick of time for the answers to make it into stockings.

A few hard questions popped into the mailbag this week, just in the nick of time for the answers to make it into stockings.

Let’s get right to them and see what Santa might bring.

Q. I have a computer in a bonus room that is too far away from my router, so I am having a hard time getting a signal. I have tried a better router and a home-line wiring system, and neither worked. Are there options I am missing?

A. By home-line wiring system, I presume you mean the kind that uses your home wiring to transmit an Ethernet signal, often called a Powerline system. If not, you can try that. The obvious answer, which I am sure you have considered, is running some Cat-6 cable from your router to your other computer. I gather that is out.

Two options that come to mind: If you have a cable-TV jack in that room, ask your provider to drop another cable modem there and you can have another router in that room. Some will do it for nothing if you provide the modem, which costs less than US$50.

The other option is a cellular USB modem, which uses high-speed cellular connections. You can get 5 gigs for about $60 a month in most parts of the country. That can get unreasonable if you use that computer a lot.

Q. Can you upgrade Windows Vista 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit?

A. Not without a “custom” upgrade, which means reinstalling your programs, basically starting over. It’s not a bad thing, but please back up your data in a couple places before you do it and run the Windows 7 compatibility checker before you launch the upgrade. Really. I mean it. Run the tool.

Q. What happens at the end of the beta period of Office 2010 if I don’t buy it? Do I lose all of my data?

A. No. You don’t get an offer to buy the program, either. It just stops working, but your data remain intact. You will have to go to a retail outlet to buy the whole product. You will get some warnings before the end of the beta period that the product is expiring. However, any files you created with Office 2010 will remain on your hard drive even if you uninstall Office 2010.

Q. You have recommended Microsoft Security Essentials for an anti-virus product. Does it work with Windows 7? Why doesn’t it just come with Windows if it is so good?

A. It does work with Windows 7, and the governments of various countries filed antitrust actions against Microsoft several years ago in part for bundling applications like Internet Explorer, with its operating system claiming that was an unfair and monopolistic business practice. To add an anti-virus product to Windows I am sure would be tempting those governments to go after them again. Therefore, they make it an optional download.

Q. Every time I start my desktop computer it says something like “loading defaults” and I have to hit the F1 key to continue. Do you know what could be wrong with it? It just hangs there if I don’t.

A. Your CMOS battery is bad. It is a little silver disc on the motherboard. Go to a computer store and ask for a CMOS battery and a can of compressed air. Unplug your PC, open it and you will see the battery. Pry it out and swap in the new one and clean your PC while you are in there.

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer-repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is jim(at)cyberdads.com.

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

OTTAWA — Canadians are generally supportive of current immigration levels, a survey… Continue reading

Quebec announces plan to compensate taxi drivers after Uber’s arrival

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has outlined how it intends to compensate… Continue reading

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

OTTAWA — The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Judge lifts publication ban, revealing details about Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Newly released documents reveal how last week’s deadly attack unfolded… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month