It has been a few weeks since I tried to answer a few questions, and they are piling up. Let's get right to the pile.
Question: I have been watching flat-panel monitor pricing dropping, and I am ready to buy one. I am not sure if my computer has enough power to make a larger display work. Do I need a special PC to make a 22-inch monitor work?
Answer: No, but to get the most benefit out of a 22-inch monitor, see if you have a DVI output on your computer for video. You can Google the port to see what they look like. If you do, use that and the corresponding cable. If not, you can still use a large monitor, but the picture won't be quite as sharp. If you find the picture not to your liking, you can always add a good business-grade video card for $50 or so. Most 22-inch monitors are going for $229 these days, sometimes less.
Question: Is there a software program that will work out or fix a laptop battery so it provides a longer charge? Mine lasts about 15 minutes and it used to last many hours.
Answer: You can run your laptop's discharge program, if there is one, but it won't fix a problem like that, which is either a bad cell or just a worn-out battery. Generally laptops come with a couple of battery options: a lighter, cheaper battery for road warriors who are interested in weight, and a heavier battery that lasts longer for those that need longer life. So you should look for the longer-life battery. You may consider eBay, which has some killer prices on laptop batteries. Just watch out for "as-is" used batteries, or you may be buying your own back.
Question: My "enter" key does not work very well (I think I spilled a little Coke under it). Can I pry the key off and just replace the one key? This is a Dell Inspiron laptop.
Answer: For the sake of all geekdom, no. Prying off the key won't really solve your problem. Instead, buy yourself a new keyboard (less than 20 bucks from Dell or on eBay) and replace it. If you are at all handy, you can replace it in about 10 minutes. Unplug your computer and take out the battery first. If you don't think you can replace it, find a 14-year-old with small fingers and a Phillips screwdriver and a Rockstar energy drink.
Question: I downloaded the AVG Free Edition like you said and it wasn't free. They wanted a fee for it. Where can you get the free version?
James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm, and tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is [email protected].