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There's an old Hollywood joke about the devil going to visit a talent agent and telling him he can put together any movie he wants, with any actors he wants, and no budget limit and the only thing he has to provide in return is his immortal soul. The agent thinks about this for a minute and says: "What's the catch?"

So our Gmail slowed to a crawl, and for a few seconds we couldn't figure out why. But a Google search came back with the answer: It's the cache, stupid. Well, they didn't say stupid, we filled that in ourselves.

All the images that come up when you browse the web are cached, sort of the internet's garage, so that the website will load quicker the next time you go there. Of course you may never go there again, but nonetheless it's all still sitting there. If you go to as many sites as we do -- hundreds -- the sheer weight of the cache starts slowing down your email. It's time for early spring cleaning.

If you're using the Chrome web browser, which is Google's, click the three stacked vertical dots in the upper right of the screen. Then choose "more tools." Then click "clear browsing data." In the Microsoft Edge browser, click the icon called the "hub." It looks like half a star next to stacked lines. Then choose "settings" and "choose what to clear." In Firefox, tap the menu button, then "settings," then "privacy." In Safari, tap the History drop-down menu, scroll to the bottom and hit "clear history."

RIGHT NEIGHBORLY

We remember when Craigslist let you post an ad for free. Now they charge $10 to 75 for job listings and services. It was getting bad for an acquaintance of Joy's, a woman who repeatedly posts job listings at $45 each. We suggested she use NextDoor.com instead. You sign up for your city or area only and posting is free.

Once you're in, you'll get a daily list of links to the latest posts. We saw someone looking for a photographer, others reporting news of roaming dogs, and more offering to do babysitting, plumbing or tax preparation.

MORE ON HAIR CARE

A few readers wrote to tell us they got an error message when they tried Ashampoo's free Meltdown/Spectre checker to find out if their systems had been hacked. Unlike Windows 10 users, Windows 7 users were first asked to download a free Microsoft utility called Windows Management Framework. Doing so gave them an error message. We wrote Ashampoo in Germany and they were apologetic and said they'll fix it. Which brings up something we have mentioned before but not for a long time, and it is that almost every program we have ever run has one or more bugs.

We learned from another reader that we were wrong to mention only Intel chips as being vulnerable. According to Google, which uncovered the problem, AMD and ARM are also potentially vulnerable, as well as the devices and operating systems running on them. In other words, it's everybody's fault.

WATCH OUT

A reader showed us the transcript of a chat she had with a Dell representative concerning which computer to buy. It was enlightening and shows how they can intentionally mislead the ill-informed just to unload the junk in the warehouse.

The rep steered her to a thousand-dollar desktop computer, which in our view is a real dud. It had an i3 (super slow) processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM. For less than half the price, we found a Dell personal computer on Amazon for $425, with a super-fast i7 processor and a magnificent 16 gigabytes of RAM, along with a 2-terabyte drive. It's refurbished, but that often means some company bought a fleet of them and returned a few unopened. We had a problem with that only once, years ago, and they replaced it immediately.

APP HAPPY

The application Burner gives you a disposable phone number to post on a dating site or when you're selling something on eBay and elsewhere. It's free to download to your iPhone or Android phone, and free to use for the first week. After that, prices start at $2 for two weeks.

Sumo Paint is a free online program getting good comments from users and it has a feature that is what many people like best about the expensive Adobe Photoshop. That feature is called layers. You can work on parts of any picture, including text, by isolating them in a separate layer. You can, for example, change a stormy to a sunny sky without changing anything else.

NUMBERS REPORT

LendEDU.com, a marketplace for student loan refinancing, decided to look at savings made by those who drop their cable TV subscriptions, often called "cord cutters." It found:

The average cord-cutter saves $115 a month after axing their cable subscription.

Forty-four percent of cable subscribers are considering dropping it.

In one year, 31 percent of current cable users think they will no longer have cable. Looking ahead three years, 50 percent expect to have dropped it. In five years, 56 percent of current cable users expect to cut it out.

Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at bobschwa@gmail.com and joydee@oncomp.com.

Business on 02/03/2018

Print Headline: If Gmail gums up, clearing your browser's cache helps

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