Rios Computer Associates

Videocams & Farsightedness

I've experimented with videocams and with the inexpensive computer microscopes  (like the Intel Qx3; they go on eBay for about $30-40). I have been able to use these, in conjunction with a large screen, as a "magic mirror".

The screen stays where it is, at a comfortable viewing distance, but as I move the microscope around, I get as detailed a view as I could want; instead of leaning into the mirror, I move the camera or 'scope in close to what I want to see.

This has the advantage of being able to provide a very detailed view anywhereeven the back of my head! Of course, it can be used for anything that you want to see in extreme detail, so it has many other uses besides. It is particularly useful for reading books without straining your eyes or buying one of those expensive magnifiers.

It doesn't need much computing power; pretty much any computer made in the last 6 years would be good enough. And you can get very big screens for not much money; if you have room for the old bulky CRT kind, I have seen people giving away the 21" kind. If you want the new flat-panel types, a top-rated 22" diagonal model can go for around $200.

Even for folks who don't have vision issues, this kind of setup can be
really fascinating and useful!

 

8 Steps to a Healthy Computer

Computer hygiene is important, but the paid-for protection programs are often worse than the ones you can get for free.  We have solved a lot of our clients' computer problems by removing Norton/Symantec programs.

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Macs & Viruses

Have you been told that buying a Mac will avoid problems with viruses? That can be a good temporary solution—until a lot of folks start buying Macs.

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Choosing Secure Passwords

A word about passwords: lots of people tell you to create screwy-looking passwords with uPPer and LowER case and all kinds of strange symbols in them. It turns out that this is bad advice...

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Chain Letters

Almost all messages that you get telling you to 'Forward this to all your friends' are hoaxes. Here are some ways to determine whether you should pass it on or hit 'Delete'.

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Choosing a Laptop

The best approach that I have found in deciding what sort of computer to purchase is to identify the things that are most likely to matter to someone and narrow the search from there.

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Avoiding Malware Sites

The bad guys seem to have an unlimited number of ways to trick people and avoid detection. Do you know how to protect yourself from malicious websites?

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Web Hosting & Authoring

There are lots of places that will host you for just a few bucks a month. The critical question is not cost, but reliability and support.

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Choosing a Credit Card

Regardless of which computer you get, most extended warranties aren't worth the money. But how you pay for the computer matters a lot...

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Affordable Office Suites

Microsoft has dominated the office software market with Microsoft Office, but their software package can be expensive for personal use. Did you know that there are cheaper or free alternatives?

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Videocams & Farsightedness

Comfortable reading is all but impossible when you're farsighted, and computerized magnifers are expensive. Luckily, there is a way to get a cheap makeshift magnifier that works better than the real thing!

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Working with PDF Files

Going backwards from PDF to text is usually somewhat messy, but not impossible. Here are some methods to convert your PDF documents into more accesible formats...

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InfoSelect

The most important program I have, except maybe email, is my Personal Information Manager: InfoSelect.

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Reinstalling Microsoft Office

If your computer on which you have Microsoft Office installed dies, you don't need to buy a new copy; the license for Microsoft Office is transferable. You just need the original CD and the Product Key to install it just as you did originally.

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IMAP: Pros and Cons

IMAP is one of two commonly-used email protocols. I've heard lots of wonderful things about IMAP, but in real life, I have found it has its own share of drawbacks...

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Recovering Data From Failed Hard Drives

In more than 90% of cases of hard drive failure the data is retrievable, but the method used depends on the type of failure. A hard drive can 'die' for several reasons...

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Rios Computer Associates • 930 N Arlington Mill Drive • Arlington • VA • 22205 • 703-536-9190 • service@rios.org