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I help several folks with computer "stuff" who are not advanced computer users who have rising concerns about privacy and security. Since I get the same questions repeatedly I made this page as a simple list of basic things everyone needs to be aware of for safe computing. I'm not going to go into much detail because 1) it makes most people's eyes glaze over and 2) there are a multitude of sites that have comprehensive info on these topics and I really don't feel like reinventing the wheel.

A word about cookies. For the most part they are harmless. In many cases they are extremely useful (enabling you, for instance, to access a site repeatedly with the same options remembered from visit to visit). In some cases you must allow them for certain Web sites to work properly (notably online shopping where the cookie helps keep track of your "shopping cart" as you browse the site). In my opinion there is far too much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) on this topic. Much ado about nothing. At any rate, you can set preferences in every major browser to manage how cookies are dealt with.

Which I guess brings me to my final point: DON'T BE OVERLY PARANOID. A healthy dose of skepticism is good. Just surf defensively (like you drive) without having anxiety attacks.

windows help files - January 2007

Windows Compiled HTML Help files (with the extension .chm) are the most common form of help provided with Windows programs. Just do a global search of your hard drive(s) for *.chm and you'll see what I mean: The search I just did found 649 .chm files.

The one supreme gripe I have about these help files is that they usually don't have any way to adjust the font size. The author could put that control in but most don't. I'm running 1920 x 1080 on dual 22" LCD panels. The default font size for the help files is uncomfortable to read. However, after a quick search on Google I found an easy answer.

Open a .chm file. It should now have larger fonts.

A better way is to download either of these utilities:

By using one of those instead of changing your IE browser setting you won't over-ride Web pages' font specs.

frozen Windows print spooler

Ever try to cancel a print job in Windows' print spooler? And it won't cancel? And then the queue is frozen so you can't print anything at all?

This used to drive me insane because the only apparent solution was to reboot the whole system. Well, here's a simple answer: Restart the “Print Spooler” service.

Open Control Panel and double-click "Administrative Tools. " Then click "Services." Scroll down and find "Print Spooler." Right-click it and select "Stop." Once it's stopped, right-click and select "Start.


I have a few other tips and handy utilities on this page.

This page last changed: July 24, 2015 - 01:51 PM USA Eastern Time

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