When buying gift cards, make sure you aren’t charged sales tax.

gift-cardsGift cards like these are very popular as birthday, anniversary, and holiday gifts, and for good reason: They virtually guarantee that your money will end up buying something the recipient will like.

If you plan to buy gift cards to give away as gifts (or even to purchase something for yourself), make sure the cashier doesn’t try to charge you sales tax on the purchase of the card. [Continue Reading]

Great news: You might be able to buy Windows 10 on a USB Flash Drive

Windows-10-logoIf you have ever installed Windows from an optical disc, you surely know how slow the process is. That’s because by their very nature, even the fastest optical drive is a slug compared to virtually any form of solid state storage.

We have been able to download Windows over the Internet for some time now, but before we could use the software we still had to burn the ISO image onto either a DVD or USB Flash Drive.

Regardless of which type of media we chose to use for our installation medium, it was still a hassle getting the software onto onto it. And if we chose to put it on a DVD, actually installing Windows onto a PC was still as slow as molasses on a cold winter day.

Well, it appears that we just might have a much simpler and faster option for installing Windows beginning with the official release of Windows 10. [Continue Reading]

Review: MSI 17.3-Inch GE72 APACHE Gaming Laptop

msi-17-3-inch-ge72-apache-gaming-laptop-angle-viewToday’s top-selling gaming laptops can hold their own against many of the most powerful desktop PCs. It seems that their CPUs get faster, their RAM gets bigger and their graphics cards get more powerful by the day.

While the fantastic MSI 17.3″ GE72 APACHE Gaming Laptop isn’t the most powerful laptop your money can buy, it is definitely one of the most powerful laptops you can buy without having to sell the farm or take out a mortgage in order to pay for it.

Although this computer is billed as a “gaming laptop”, it also makes a fantastic general purpose computer or business PC thanks to features like these at such a reasonable price: [Continue Reading]

Q&A: Why do I get an erroneous “Out of Ink” error when using refilled ink cartridges?

canon-ink-catridgesQuestion from Alice S.:  I went to buy new ink cartridges for my Canon MP495 printer, and while searching for the right cartridges I happened to notice that the store also sells refilled ink cartridges.

The prices of the refills were about half the price of new ones so I decided to give them a try. When I got home I installed the refilled cartridges and began printing several documents that I really need to get printed.

At first everything was fine, but after a few pages had been printed an error message popped up on the screen telling me the printer was out of ink and that I needed to order more. I know that both cartridges have plenty of ink, so why is the computer telling me otherwise?

Rick’s answer:  [Continue Reading]

Step-by-step instructions for performing a factory reset on dozens of popular smart phones

reset-hard-logoToday’s smart phones are actually small, but powerful hand-held computers that are subject to all the annoyances and dangers that can afflict their larger cousins like laptops and desktop PCs.

Indeed, phones often become bloated with unnecessary apps and corrupted files. And unfortunately, they can even become infected with malware.

Fantastic apps like Lookout Mobile Security and Clean Master can help keep your phone free of malware, bloatware and other junk, but phones can still occasionally get so messed up and unstable that they become virtually unusable. And in extreme instances, they even lock up completely.

When situations like these arise, the best (and sometimes only) option is to simply do a factory reset on the phone and start over from scratch. But what if you don’t know how to do a factory reset on your particular phone? [Continue Reading]

Q&A: How can I make my PC’s blinking cursor easier to see when I’m typing?

windows-8-1Question from Oliver G.:  I just replaced my old desktop computer with a brand new Dell laptop with Windows 8.1. I like the new computer ok, but I’m having one problem that I hope you can help me solve.

Whenever I’m typing something into Notepad (I use Notepad a LOT), I have a hard time seeing the blinking cursor. Sadly, my eyes just aren’t what they used to be. I guess that just goes with the territory when you’re in your 70’s.

Anyway, what I’d like to know is can I do anything to make the cursor bigger so that it’ll be easier for this old geezer to see?

Rick’s answer:  [Continue Reading]

How to automatically save an extra 3% on everything you buy from Amazon

amazon-rewards-visaIt’s no secret that Amazon provides one of the best shopping experiences you’ll ever find if you shop online, but there are plenty of little-known tricks that can make your shopping experience even better. And I’m going to tell you about one of them right now.

Did you know there’s an easy way to get 3% cash back on everything you buy on Amazon? And this is in addition to the already low prices you’ll pay for your items in the first place!

Well, it’s true, and it couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is pay for your Amazon purchases with the free Amazon Rewards Visa Card.

But the savings don’t stop with the 3% cash back you’ll earn while shopping at Amazon! [Continue Reading]

Q&A: Should I replace the fan in my computer’s power supply or just replace the entire thing?

corsair-psuQuestion from Dave H.:  Hi Rick. About 18 months ago I bought the parts and built a computer by following a guide I found on Youtube. It works great and I love it.

But now the fan in the power supply has started making a loud clunking sound and I can see it wobble when it spins. The fan has obviously gone bad.

My question is can I replace the bad fan in the power supply or should I just replace the entire thing. It wasn’t a cheap power supply (approx. $125) and I’m hoping I can just replace the fan and save some money. I’ll take your advice though whatever it turns out to be because I don’t want to ruin anything else inside the PC.

Rick’s answer:  [Continue Reading]