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Dude, Where’s My Bud?

I’ve fielded many calls, where someone is frustrated with their new wireless mouse and/or keyboard. It’s not always a simple affair to get such a device working.

For these calls, I have to go over the basics: Are the batteries installed and are they installed in the correct direction? Is there an insulator (paper tab) to remove, so that the battery can activate and power the device? Have you found the device’s On/Off switch and checked that?

After ruling those out, the sticking point is often finding the USB bud. Well, I call it a bud, and others call it a dongle but officially it’s the USB receiver or RF receiver. It looks like this, and you can’t operate the wireless mouse or keyboard without it:

If you’re having trouble finding this bud, here are some pointers:

  • Double-check your packing materials and cardboard inserts. The USB receiver is sometimes attached to its own piece of cardboard, alongside the keyboard. It may even be embedded in the opening tabs of the box itself!
  • Flip over the mouse and look at the underside. Is the bud there, waiting to be pulled out of its slot?
  • Open the battery compartment of the mouse and/or keyboard. Sometimes, the bud is shipped inside the device, in a hidden slot.

Once you find this bud and connect it to any USB port on your computer, I hope you’ll find your mouse or keyboard has come to life!

eBay Alternatives

eBay is the age-old classic auction website. You can get almost anything there through auctions and Buy-It-Now transactions. But eBay may not be your first choice. eBay does have its share of problems, ranging from shady sellers and fraudulent merchandise to an outright scandal that involved top execs. So here are some eBay alternatives:

eBid

Bonanza

ShopGoodwill

That last one might be my favorite right now. It is owned and operated by the non-profit Goodwill of Orange County. Purchasing items on ShopGoodwill support the missions of the GoodWill Industries.

This Is Not a Hearing Test

For a real hearing test, consult a doctor. For a bit of novelty and learning about how your hearing changes as you age, check out this website.

Noise Addicts has posted easily playable sounds at different frequencies on that page. Try them out to see what range of sound you can (still) hear. This “test” is most enjoyable with a roomful of people of varied ages: kids, teens, adults and grandfolk!

F.B. Purity

F.B. Purity is a one-of-a-kind browser extension that can modify Facebook to make it more of what you want. Don’t want to see sponsored posts? Like to hide posts with selfies? F. B. Purity has got you.

Free to install, F. B. Purity is an extension that lodges into your browser on any Windows, Apple or Linux computer (sorry, nothing for mobile devices yet). Once installed, F. B. Purity is fairly subtle and you’ll only see this addition at the top of your feed:

But therein lay all your options. If you click on “F.B. Purity” in that small caption, all of its options open up for you to explore and use. Frankly, the options can be a little overwhelming, but for those willing, you can go through and Hide all kinds of Facebook nonsense, like:

  • Sponsored Posts
  • Game Posts
  • Food Photos
  • Live Videos
  • Questions & Polls

And there are extra features you may want to activate. For example, if you turn on “Deleted Friend Alerts,” F. B. Purity will let you know when someone has unfriended you.

After checking off all your desired options, make sure to click the small Save and Close button!

Disable Hardware Acceleration – A Common Browser Fix

Sometimes a web browser will start acting poorly, lagging as you scroll or refusing to play videos on social media sites. When this happens, you may tempted to blame your ISP. But if other websites and speed tests behave normally, then the ISP is off the hook and we need to look elsewhere.

Often what causes this browser-lagginess is an odd conflict between the computer’s graphics drivers and the web browser. Maybe we could call it a software allergy. In any case, what you can try is to turn off the “Hardware Acceleration” option inside your browser. Once it’s off, restart your browser (or the whole computer) and retry the problematic websites. They may work much better then!

Here’s how to turn this option off for:

Google Chrome

Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

On the left, click System.

In the middle, toggle Off the option labeled Use hardware acceleration when available.

Mozilla Firefox

Click the hamburger menu in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

Scroll to the bottom, looking for the section labelled Performance.

Uncheck the box for Use recommended performance settings.

Uncheck the box for Use hardware acceleration when available.

Microsoft Edge

Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

On the left, click System and performance.

In the middle, toggle Off the option labeled Use hardware acceleration when available.

Antivirus for Very Old Computers

Many people continue to use vintage computers, running operating systems that are past their end-of-support date. While I recommend that these users upgrade to something modern and more secure, I understand when they stick with their classic machines. I don’t judge.

But if those computers are going to hit the internet, they do need antivirus. And as they age, it becomes more difficult to find an antivirus software that is willing to run on a much older OS. Below are some links to free antiviruses that are compatible with bygone OSes, like Vista and El Capitan.

Windows Computers

My favorite free antivirus for older PCs is Microsoft Security Essentials. But Microsoft pulled this from their sites, so use these links to get the 32-bit version or the 64-bit version . It will run on any XP, Vista or Win7 computer.

AVG still offers a free antivirus that works on XP and Vista and Windows 7.

You can also consider Avast Free Antivirus, which is equally compatible.

Apple Computers

There’s some debate on whether Macs need additional antivirus protection. For now, I’ll say: You are at greater risk if you’re using an out-of-date computer, so antivirus becomes more relevant if you’re not running the latest MacOS. If your MacOS is so old to be completely out of service, please get some antivirus ASAP.

AVG offers free antivirus for Macs here, and can install on MacOS 10.13 High Sierra or newer.

Avast offers free antivirus for Macs here, and can install on MacOS 10.11 El Capitan or newer.

The Google Dictionary Browser Extension

The Google Dictionary browser extension makes it easier than ever to learn word definitions. Once you’ve installed this freebie, you can simply double-click any plain-text word on the internet, and immediately see its definition.

I’m sure that this tool is going to save you many clicks and help keep up your reading comprehension. No more opening a second tab, just to go to Dictionary.com!

This extension is free to install into Google Chrome on any computer. And now that Microsoft Edge is built on Chromium, it should install in that browser, as well. Get it free here.

Speed Test Websites

Are you getting the speed you’re paying for? Whether you are troubleshooting or just doing some due diligence, speed test websites are free to use and will measure your current internet connection speed. To check your speed, visit one of these sites:

Speedtest by Ookla

Fast.com by Netflix

Speakeasy Speed Test

TestMy.net

SpeedOf.Me

Xfinity Speed Test

Verizon Internet Speed Test

Speed Test by Cloudflare

Bandwidth Place

It can be useful to test your speed on a variety of sites, as some ISPs respect the results from certain sites more than others. If you can tell tech support, “I got the same speed test result on 3 different sites,” then they may take your situation more seriously.

For best results, run one speed test at a time, when no one else in your household is actively using bandwidth. And consider connecting your test computer to your modem or router with an ethernet cable. You might notice different speed test results over Wi-Fi and cabled connections.

Free Apps for Identifying Plants

Wondering if that volunteer plant in your garden is a weed or not? Curious about that gorgeous tree at the park? I know there’s some of you who won’t rest until you know the exact name of the mystery plant you’ve just spotted. And while it’s so easy to jump on social media to ask, it’s often easier and quicker to use better tools.

Powered by AI and plant photography catalogs, free apps can identify plants for you immediately! Take a picture of a plant using the app, and you’ll get detailed info on the spot. There are many such apps, and here a few reputable ones:

There are also websites for this as well, like Pl@ntNet and Plant.id!

The Microsoft 365 Renewal Scam

This is yet another phishing scam, based on a renewal or subscription you never agreed to:

This email is 100% fiction and fake. There is no purchase or charge. This didn’t come from Microsoft. If you get this message:

  • Do NOT call the number.
  • Do NOT reply to it.
  • Mark it as Spam or Phishing, and delete it.

How to tell it’s a phishing scam? Well, not all are easy to spot, but this one is. Notice that:

  • It was sent from a Gmail address!
  • There are spelling and punctuation errors throughout the message.
  • Even the Microsoft Logo is a bit off.

While this scam message seems laughable, keep in mind that these cybercriminals actually have good reasons for crafting low-quality emails. Bad spelling and other mistakes help narrow down the number of people who will respond and fall for these ploys.

But the next bogus emails could be harder to spot. If you ever have any doubt about your Microsoft 365 subscriptions, just head on over to Office.com . Sign in and go to My Account -> Service & Subscriptions. That’s where you can review everything you’ve bought from Microsoft, as well as prices and renewal dates.

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