Upgrades can be gifts
Among the swarm of new computer gadgets this year are dozens of new super-light laptops, tablets, mini tablets and smartphones, all of which offer consumers an upgrade to the previous sluggish systems. But there are plenty of practical gifts to substantially improve computing performance without starting over altogether — and that can translate to big savings.
For example, you can give the gift of memory. Boosting random access memory essentially increases a system’s ability to actively run programs.
There is one important piece of advice about selecting memory: Don’t guess. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Using Crucial.com’s Memory Advisor, you can scan your system to learn exactly what you need without having to hunt for serial numbers.
For bigger gift budgets, you can also crank up the speed of a system by purchasing a solid state drive.
— Tyler Dukes,
Raleigh News & Observer
Gaining remote access
Q: I have a 79-year-old sister who is technologically challenged, and it would be beneficial to have remote access to her PC so I could help her out. You recommended a remote-access program to a woman who wanted to help her mother with her computer. I also want to know if I need to load the remote-access program on both my PC and my sister’s.
A: Here’s a link to a previous article about remote access between two PCs via the Internet: http://tinyurl.com/bf64h7y. The free software can be downloaded from the CNET website. CNET’s most widely used remote-access program is TeamViewer, found at http://tinyurl.com/83rxyha. But at the bottom of the CNET page you’ll find a list of other popular remote-access programs. You and your sister will need to download copies of the same program in order for you to remotely access her PC.
— Steve Alexander, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Break time should be OK
Q: My wife is an employee of a large radiology company and works several 12-hour days. On busy days, she is sometimes unable to take any breaks or stop to eat. Is this practice acceptable, or can she put her foot down and just take a lunch break?
A: Generally employees who work more than six hours a day are entitled to at least a half-hour uninterrupted meal break, unless she is the only worker on duty. But since she works for a large company, she probably has plenty of co-workers who can relieve her for what sounds like a much-needed lunch break. So she should insist on a meal break, since she is most likely entitled to one.
— Carrie Mason-Draffen,
Repairing a taillight
Q: I have a 2007 Grand Caravan SXT and the right rear taillight has quit working. The brake, turn and backup lights still work. I have replaced bulbs, checked fuses, swapped left side taillight assemblies with right side to confirm it is not an assembly problem. My conclusion is it must be a broken wire between the front and rear of the car.
A: Or a bad connection somewhere. First, check 15-amp fuse No. 2 in the Integrated Power Module fuse block. It protects the right side circuit in the parking lamp relay. If it’s good, check for a solid ground connection from the terminal in the lamp socket to ground — there should be no resistance. Then check for voltage from the positive terminal in the socket to ground. Assuming no voltage or ground, check the 6-pin connector located behind the right rear taillight assembly in the quarter panel.
— Paul Brand, Minneapolis Star Tribune