Speeding up a slow computer: match abilities.


Byline: Bob and Joy Schwabach

Bob's Windows XP computer was so slow, Joy tried to talk him into restoring it back to its factory settings. Bob wouldn't do it.

Because what it means is you're clearing the hard drive. You're taking it back to the beginning, when the universe was dark. All your files, all your programs, will be gone. Did you back up the files before you reset it to factory specs? No? Too bad. Do you still have the disks to reinstall the old programs? Who does?

Faced with the prospect of living forever slow or committing digital suicide, Bob took drastic measures: He uninstalled Google Chrome and Malwarebytes. Both of these seem to have become too demanding for old computers. So he switched to Firefox as his browser and everything is running fast again, as in the old days when the Earth was young. Joy tried Firefox, too, and also found it clean and fast.

A couple weeks later, we read that PC Magazine named Firefox as the best browser for the Internet. Of course, they were reviewing the latest version, the one Joy installed on her machine. Because Bob has an older operating system, he searched for and got an older version of Firefox to go with it. It's just like fashion: You should have matching outfits. You should also select matching accessories.

Portable Guitar

"JamStik'' looks like half a guitar. OK, maybe a quarter. Actually, it looks like a fat fret stem, the part where you put you fingers down to shorten the strings. It costs $299 and works with your iPad, iPhone or Mac. The sound is interesting, but not like a real guitar. Still, that's OK; a lot of electronic instruments have their own sound, and sometimes we like it that way.

You hold it like you would a regular guitar and strum actual strings. Apple must be pretty confident it will sell, because the company is offering it in 71 of its retail stores. You can also buy it at Jamstik.com. It uses infrared transmitters to sense where your fingers are and includes "Jam Tutor'' for interactive lessons. The JamStik can also be used to control software such as Apple's GarageBand. The best part is you never have to tune it.

Driving App Happy

The engine warning light went on in our 14-year-old minivan, and the dealer said we should add some goop to the gas and that might make the light go off. We're giving you the short take.

Somewhere deep in there, the automatic sensors in the car's computer didn't like the engine exhaust, or the carburetor setting or something like that. This...

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