• bratkinson



    Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 114 total)
    • in reply to: Modify and Save Excel 2 spreadsheets with Excel 2016 #2501753

      I’m mildly surprised that Excel 2016 won’t allow you to save, or more importantly, ‘save as’ an Excel 2 file.  But then, that’s Microsoft ‘enforcing’ the end of their support for old products.

      As geekdom indicated above, download the free LibreOffice and open the spreadsheet program and load the Excel 2 spreadsheet.

      Then do a ‘save as’ or whatever it’s called (I don’t OpenOffice on this computer) and it will provide a range of file formats, including several versions of MS Excel.  It may ‘sqwak’ a bit that certain features will be unavailable, etc, but so what?  I’d also change the file name (other than the .XLSX) to make it easy to identify.  Switch over to Excel 2016 and open it.  Shouldn’t be any problem at that point.

    • in reply to: October 2022 Updates causing BSOD #2492639

      I’ve run into that problem a couple of times in the past years doing an upgrade to the next release such as 22H2, and it’s always because of a couple of my manual Windows tweaks to get the best performance I can without impacting any programs I use.

      I primarily go after various Windows services.  Among them Windows Update and Windows Update Medic Service get disabled until I want to apply any monthly or release updates.  I also use WUMGR to block it as well.  Why both?  Because either alone doesn’t always prevent Windows from sneaking updates in through the back door, as in been there, done that and had to fix new problems.  So, in addition to using the ‘disable automatic update’ option, I also click ‘block access to WU servers’ as well.

      Just yesterday, when I wanted to let it upgrade to 22H2, I had to activate them all again.  I think it was the last one, ‘block access to WU servers’ that I missed and it gave me that screen.  The update got up to 88% or so before giving me that screen.

      Also, make sure you’re not locking in a specific release such as 22H1 as I had with registry entries.


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    • in reply to: Currently using Thunderbird email and changing ISP’s… #2487402

      Changing ISPs with Firefox and Thunderbird is easy.

      In Firefox, you may or may not need to change anything.  On the Firefox dropdown menu at the far right top, click ‘settings’.  Scroll down to the bottom and select ‘network settings’.  Click ‘settings’ again.  It’s unlikely you have some kind of ‘special’ proxy needs.  So use either ‘auto detect’ or ‘use system’.  If one doesn’t work, the other likely will.

      For Thunderbird, the first step is to determine what ISP settings are needed for email.  Either log on to T-Mobile and there should be some kind of ’email settings’ page.  Alternatively, Google ‘T-Mobile email settings’ or something like that.  Those settings must be matched exactly in Thunderbird or any other email app you choose to use.

      In Thunderbird, click on ‘settings’ (the little box in upper left corner of screen for newest updates).  Near the bottom of the wide grey column at left, click on ‘account settings’.  Then click on ‘server settings’ also in the wide grey column.  Make adjustments as needed to match those indicated by T-Mobile.

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    • Trying to make this as non-political as possible…

      For a good number of years, it’s well known that US agencies such as CIA, NSA, FBI and other spy agencies have had their ‘fingers’ in other nations’ elections.  These days it’s even easier with Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  Given the level of technology today, it’s very reasonable to presume countries like China and Russia and others are trying to sway US elections as well.  And certainly, the Democrats and Republicans are doing the same here at home.

      Some years ago, I read a quote attributed to either Lenin or Stalin.  Whether or not it’s true, I don’t know.  I paraphrase from fading memory: “I don’t care about the election.  I only care about who counts the votes!”

      Draw your own conclusions about past and upcoming elections in this country.

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    • in reply to: preferred overall backup strategy #2485359

      As a home user, my method has been to put all my drives in slide in/out bays.  2 bays for the SSDs and 2 for the 3TB ‘bulk storage’ drive.  Only 1 bay of each type is in use, except when making/using backups.

      I use AOMEI Backuper to clone the SSD C: drive to an identical SSD weekly.  At end of month, I make an additional clone for offsite storage in the event my house burns down, blows away, etc.  I have a stack of 8 SSDs I rotate for this purpose.  Weekly, I also copy any new or changed ‘my documents’ files (checkbook, etc) to a USB 3.1 thumb drive on my key ring that has house and car keys on it.

      The 3TB HD gets backed up quarterly and stored off site.  Why so rarely?  These days, I do very little add/delete/modify files on the drive.  As a non-professional photographer, I’ll do all photo processing from a shoot keeping everything on the SSD C: drive with daily photo folder backup to the HD.  My thinking is that the backup is nice to have in case I really screw up and erroneously delete something.  However, my editing ‘process’ makes 4 or more folders of all the photos along every stage of processing.  So I can easily go back to a prior stage on one or more images and repeat the editing.  When I’m done editing, I copy the entire C: photo shoot directory to the HD one last time.  I also carry a copy of the whole shooting match on a separate USB thumb drive in my pocket until end of quarter when I know everything is now off site.  I delete the photo shoot folder from my C: drive at that point as well.

      As a ‘performance nut’, I tweak Windows every now and then as well as try out some software.  I usually make an out of cycle clone before starting that process, but I sometimes forget to do it.  So, every now and then when I manage to screw things up, if I didn’t make a backup beforehand, I put the most recent weekly backup in, copy the changed files in ‘my documents’ as well as selected files in C:\<userid>\appdata if needed as well to the to the 1-6 day old backup drive, swap drive positions (less than 1 minute) and reboot, then clone the backup (C:) to the original C:.  When done, I put the backup away and put the clone target back in it’s original boot drive position.  Yes, I could easily make a restore point rather than a clone, but about a year ago, I damaged the restore operation and haven’t chased it down yet.

      I should state, too, that I refuse to use any cloud storage due to distrust of their security as well as additional resources used on my computer from daily power on to power off.

      I should note, too, that at least 12 years ago, I had an internal tape drive and monthly backed entire drives up to tape(s) with a 6 month rotation cycle.  It was way too slow to perform as well as difficult and even slower to recover selected files as well as to recreate a bad C: drive from tape alone.  I switched to an external ‘backup drive’ but after having to upgrade its size twice, I figured out that having several cheaper, but identical SSDs and HDs was much faster and less ‘clunky’ to use.  Switching to slide bays made life far easier and faster.  I took one of those ‘high priced’ external backup drives apart before I gave it to a computer parts recycler friend.  Inside was a hard drive that was last produced 4-5 years before I bought it!  In other words, Seagate, et al, uses unsold drives to put in external backup boxes!

      Everything noted here works for me and is low cost and foolproof.  Whether it works for you is your choice.

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    • in reply to: Huge font size printing from Firefox #2483068

      I give up.  After a couple of months declining Firefox updates not once, but twice at every FF startup (15+ times per day), I give up.

      I’re reinstalled video drivers that came with my older video card.  Changed FF settings prior to update, restored all the Windows services from ‘disabled’ to ‘automatic’ that could have anything to do with video, changed fonts, changed default font scaling to 100% from 120%, I’ve even restored all the device drivers for my motherboard and processor!

      Today was the straw that broke the camels back.  I upgraded to a brand new AMD Radeon 7650 video card and I STILL have the same problem!

      There comes a time when it’s fruitless to fight city hall.  It’s bad enough when Mickeysoft uses some ‘backdoor’ in Windows to update Windows even though WUMGR has it blocked.  It’s clear that the Mozilla team changed something about their screen handling that messed me up.  So, it’s not worth battling any longer.


    • in reply to: Huge font size printing from Firefox #2480724

      Regretably, 105 didn’t fix my problem.  Looks like it’s time to replace my cheapo video card…

      Glad to know your problem was solved.

    • in reply to: Huge font size printing from Firefox #2480712

      Charlie:  It was a previous update that caused this and today I updated to 105 and this problem did not occur.  All printing in Firefox is fit to the page.

      Bratkinson:  May I suggest before you go to all that hassle you try the 105 update and see if it corrected the problem for you as well.

      Hope this helps everyone!

      I’ll give it a shot!  Thanks!

    • in reply to: Huge font size printing from Firefox #2480332

      About a 5-6 weeks ago, when Firefox updated on my main computer, the fonts on the screen were 20% larger than before.  Reducing my default font size from 120% to 100% did little to correct the problem.  Thankfully, I do a full C: drive clone clone every weekand easily recovered as all my drives are in slide bays.

      I openeda trouble ticket at Mozilla and they first asked if I had my default font size set greater than 100, which I had.  So I changed it back to 100, restarted FF, and tried again.  Same results.

      Several of the Mozilla techs wrote me to try this, or try that, all of which failed.  Of course, FF wanted to update every time I started it, so I changed the setting to ‘notify me only’.  I mistakenly told them the update worked without a hitch on my laptop (also win 10 20H2) and that I had disabled about 60 Windows services to keep my overclocked AMD 3800x running at maximum speed.

      After a couple of days, their suggested fixes stopped coming and several days after that, I got an email indicating I was the only one to report such a problem so the urgency/priority was dropped. So now I get not one, but 2 annoying ‘update ready’ popups whenever I start FF that have to be responded to.  It’s been 6 weeks or more since I’ve been refusing the updates.  However, about once every 2-3 weeks, I decide to try it again immediately after cloning my C: drive.  I did it this past Saturday.  Same results, same recovery.

      I’m suspicious that it could be that I have the cheapest used video card I cold find on ebay that supports Directx.  Win 10 forced me to do it about 2 years ago, maybe 3.  I am not a gamer so video speed is of zero concern to me.  Whether I see an image in 0.01 second or 0.05 second makes no difference to me.  I’m guessing that the FF update dropped support for my ancient video card and that is causing my problem as well as that of the OP.  Since windows screen print reads the memory in the video card as well as the driver does the same to put it on the screen, that could be our problem.

      So, fixing the problem is a low priority to me these days as well.  However, I think I’ve just talked myself into getting the correct driver from the video card company web site and try updating with that.  As Windows updates have played havoc with my Realtek mobo audio as well as the older SoundBlaster I now use through the years, I’ve disabled all driver updates that Microsoft wants to stuff down my throat using WUMGR.

      I should add it’s the 104 update.

    • in reply to: Big Brother is controlling your thermostat #2475202

      Like many others, I bought and DYI installed a wifi-connected smart thermostat about 5 years ago and got a nice rebate from the state for it.  Perfect.  But after reading this, I’m glad I kept my old ‘dumb’ thermostat.  If ‘they’ take it over, all I have to do is find where I squirreled it away for safekeeping…

    • in reply to: No Wi Fi Connection to HP C4380 MFD after KB 5016592 #2475201

      Windows updates seem to have problems with ‘knocking off’ Hewlett Packard printers.  About 18 months ago, one of the updates knocked off a friends’ HP combined printer/scanner/fax wifi connected unit.  Like the OP, the dreaded ‘cannot connect’ message came up.  I tried the usual fixes including download and install the current driver from HP as well as deleting the printer, then installing it fresh from the CD that came with it.  Nothing worked.

      The solution?  ‘Roll back’ the update to the recovery point (search for ‘create restore point’ and use ‘restore’ option) hopefully created by Windows before it did the update.  Then, quickly, go to ‘settings’ / ‘update & security’ and repeatedly delay updates until it won’t let you…4 weeks, I think it is.  That will give Microsoft a month to come up with a fix for it.  If it repeats, roll it back again.

      Thankfully, the delay in performing the update again for my friend didn’t cause any problems.

    • in reply to: Router Recommendation #2470531

      I’ve been a loyal Linksys router user ever since I needed to plug in a 2nd computer and be able to use it with a KVM…somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years, give or take.  For me, and for my non-tech-savvy friends I’ve hooked up, I’ve always found that Linksys products have been 100% reliable with 100% uptime.

      However, for my home system, I don’t use the builtin Linksys-supplied firmware, I’ve been using DD-WRT in its place.  Although DD-WRT provides extensive features that I have no idea what they do, I’m able to set it up the way I want with addresses and protocols of my choosing, just like the Linksys software.  My thinking, though, is it provides a secondary defense against a ‘router attack/hack’, especially by less learned hackers.

      I might add that I have a placed printed label taped to the top of my router, away from the ventilation holes that clearly shows the router security information as well as Wifi info for me (mostly) as well as my guests.  That way, forgetful me won’t lose where I wrote down the info.

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    • in reply to: Beware of used printers #2466695

      My luck buying used/refurbed electronics is mostly through ebay and very reputable sellers that sell exclusively computer stuff.  I’ve bought 4 refurb laptops in the past 12 years or so with no problems whatsoever.  The only problems I had with buying used printers is if they leave the ink cartridges in it, 1 in 3 or 4 printers will arrive with ink all over the insides that I have to clean out.  Only once did I end up trashing it (non returnable).

      As an aside…trying to keep the same ‘old’ make/model of printers going gets more expensive by the day.  The two Epson R380 photo printers I’ve been wearing out every 2 years or so (beautiful photo reproduction as well as prints directly to CDs) haven’t been built since 2010 or so.  What I bought new for $165 or so about 2008 now goes for $400 and up ‘new in box’ and $200ish for used on ebay.  That’s not the biggest problem.  The real problem is getting genuine Epson ink for it.  I used to buy brand new, genuine cartridges on ebay from Chinese sellers for under $3! (vs $15ish at Staples)  Nowadays, finding anything other than magenta and cyan for under $12 is rare!  Throw in that the printers reject about 1 out of 20 or so genuine cartridges when inserted.  It’s always been that way.  So, I’m toying with moving to newer printers.  But in looking at ink prices for those, I may just stay with the ‘old reliable’ printers longer than anticipated.

      On the other side of the coin, my luck with Amazon refurbs is poor.  I bought a refurb Epson scanner that worked fine except the bottom of the image was always darker than the upper portions.  This was painfully obvious when scanning slides 4 at a time.  I returned it, and got another refurb, same make/model.  Same problem.  I returned that and bought a refurb Canon scanner.  No problems at all.  I bought a refurb boom-box there to be able to digitize cassette tapes playing them into my computer and it’s been flawless.

      Is it getting worse these days?  Considering the staffing shortages in all industries these days, it’s no wonder that many workers simply push through as many tasks as possible in a day without much caring about how good or bad they get it done.  It’s all about ‘productivity’ and ‘numbers’, not quality these days.


    • I’ve always been leery of providing bank account info and/or credit card info online.  But in todays’ internet world, having my CC info at Walmart.com and Amazon.com greatly simplifies purchases.  The same with ebay and Paypal.  I’m confident they have sizeable teams dedicated to preventing being hacked.  But then, Equifax and other national companies have been hacked as well as some reputable regional companies I’ve purchased from now and then.  Even my brokerage company got hacked some years back.  Thankfully, despite the dozen or so ‘we’ve been hacked’ mails/emails I’ve recieved through the years, only 3 times has my credit cards been mysteriously used on the other side of the country and I immediately got replacement cards.

      So, these days, if I’m making an online purchase somewhere I don’t regularly buy from, such as a magazine subscription or lawnmore parts supplier, I choose to pay them with Paypal rather than exposing my credit card info to a probably-not-so-secure web site.

      At the same time, until I got Covid this past December and was hospitalized for 10 days, I paid all my bills online directly to the creditor from mortgage to credit cards and even my car payment.  The utility bills I paid through my bank to save the stamp.  As I live alone, I still have all my bills come on paper so in case I drop dead, somebody knows what I owe and to whom.

      While laying in that hospital bed, it dawned on me that only I know what to pay, whom to pay, and the various passwords to do it.  I have slightly different passwords for each account and have ‘hints’ as part of the title of the bookmark for that account.  Thankfully, I had just paid all my bills a couple days before going into the hospital, so I didn’t end up being delinquent anywhere.  I also discovered I could not carry on ‘business as usual’ (bills, etc) on my cellphone as I failed to copy all the bookmarks, etc, over there.

      So the first thing I did when I was home and recovered enough, I bought the correct adapter for my USB drive on my key ring that has all my documents and bookmarks on it so it can be plugged into my cell phone.  And after discussing bill payments with one of my tech-savvy friends, he said he pays them all through his bank.  What a great idea!  So, I set up each of the creditors to be able to be paid through my bank.  That worked great, except there’s a one day delay in the payments being made.  However, the mortgage and car payment to be on ‘automatic’ and my bank didn’t offer that option.  So I went to those sites and set up automatic payment on the 1st of the month.  At least if I’m in the hospital around the first of the month, I won’t lose my house or my car.

      For what it’s worth, Equifax, the credit reporting agency, keeps wanting me to set up all my bill payments through them to get an instant 15-20 point credit score boost.  No thanks.  I don’t want to have any company other than my credit card companies, etc, to know my spending habits.

      Also, I don’t ever pay my bills or make online purchases anywhere but on my home computer.  Although I did buy a new laptop computer on an ebay auction 4 years ago while riding Amtrak through New York state.  I always swoop in within 5 seconds of auction closing if it’s something important to me.  The laptop was a super bargain.  I figure the possibility of a wifi hacker reading my transmissions is quite low on the train, and certainly far less than that of an airport, train station, or restaurant…to many possible wifi thieves.

      As for banks being hacked, I believe that they are insured so if some hacker cleans out your account, you should be covered.  Credit card companies getting customers’ card numbers fraudulently used is sort of ‘normal’ for them.

      In short, companies’ computers being hacked has become almost ‘normal’ these days.  Hackers around the world spend their entire waking hours trying to break into computers to steal money or information they can sell for money.

      Bottom line, the world of cash and checks is rapidly disappearing as business on the internet is rapidly ‘taking over’.



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    • in reply to: Which new laptop shoud I invest in? #2462313

      I’ve used two different ‘final methods’ to buy a laptop for myself as well as a not-so-savvy friend.

      My first step was to figure out what specs I’m looking for.  For myself, I wanted a 4 processor/8 thread laptop that would run at 2.4ghz or faster.  The HD size was not an issue as I planned to replace it with a 256GB SSD like I had in my previous laptop (I cloned the HD in my new laptop to SSD, and did not simply move the SSD from old to new).  Amount of RAM was not an issue as I wanted one with the capability of being upgraded to 16GB.  I’m a loyal ASUS customer having built many computers with ASUS mobos and I was looking for my 3rd ASUS laptop for my own, and an ASUS for my friend.

      For my own laptop, I looked primarily to Ebay to find out what model numbers suited my needs and narrowed it down to 2 or 3.  I watched Ebay ‘sold’ prices for the models I was interested in as well as checked what’s available now several times per day to ‘get the feel’ what’s it worth and what is the max I’m willing to pay.  Although I’ve been an AMD processor user since my first PC-XT with an AMD-made 8088 to Intel specs, The ASUS F510UA met my needs although it had an Intel processor.  In my opinion, AMD delivers more bang (speed) for the buck than does Intel.

      As I recall from 3 years ago, an F510UA new was in the $700-900 range depending on retail seller prices such as Amazon and NewEgg, but could be had for $4-500ish on Ebay.  It was too soon in the lifecycle to find any refurbs.  But I did find several ‘open box’ ones going for $275-375.  I grabbed one of those for $325, as I recall.  I was not disappointed at all.  I replaced the HD with a brand new Samsung 860 SSD and bought a matching 8GB stick of RAM for the upgrade.  While I could have put in a ‘stick’ style SSD and left the HD in place, I didn’t need the extra space nor did I want anything to suck down the battery like a spinning HD would.  As of a week ago, I can go 5 hours or more with continuous use, primarily browsing the web, without having to plug it in.  I have no complaints at all.

      As an aside, my 2 prior laptops were ‘refurbs’ from very highly rated Ebay sellers that, after looking at their feedback, sold only computers and computer-related hardware.  Fly by night sellers that sold a ton of everything and only a computer now and then were immediately out of the competition.  In many instances, the seller likely bought a ‘bunch’ of laptops being sold by a major corporation that buys 500 or more new ones then sells off the old ones in lots of maybe 10-100 units to the highest bidder.  The refurb places clean off the hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows (not more than 24 months prior release such as 20H1 would be today).  When I turned them on, it brought up the familiar Welcome screen for a new computer asking name, language, keyboard, etc.  Once all that was done, I went to Windows update and let ‘er rip.  Both of those refurbs had no scratches, cracks, signs of wear, or anything else as I scrutinized the images very closely.  I easily upgraded them with an SSD and more RAM and was not disappointed in either of them.  My current F510UA astounds me every time I boot it up as it boots up faster than my 8 processor/16 thread overclocked 4.6ghz desktop computer by a couple of seconds!

      For my friends’ laptop a year earlier, I wanted a new one, box and all, that I would first install software she wanted and needed to largely mimic what she had on a now-dead XP laptop.  I figured a quad processor and 256 GB HD would be sufficient and I knew she wanted to stay under $400, give or take.  So, I started looking at Walmart and Amazon for ASUS laptops that met my specs.  I found a couple and narrowed it down to 2 or 3 models.  I learned that when a laptop model is being discontinued, Walmart, in particular, will drop the price by 25-30% or so to get it off the shelves.  I checked online what the introduction date was of a couple models and found one that was about 14-15 months prior.

      Knowing retailers have to keep the cash registers ringing, they want old stock off their shelves as quickly as possible.  After maybe 2 weeks of checking Walmart prices on a couple of candidates to become ‘no longer available’, I found one on sale for $375 as I recall.  It had been $700 or so when new, was down to $500 when I started looking, and then dropped to $375.  I swooped in at my local Walmart after verifying it was presently in inventory.  I got there and none were to be found.  So I cornered a clerk and showed him the screen print I did of the item.  He went to one of the computers that could access the website and sure enough, it showed 4 in stock and gave him the Walmart item number.  He then went to the ‘regular’ store computer and discovered 4 were in the back room.  I don’t know if they ever sold the other three, but I scored a victory in my opinion.



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