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The first time we used a MacBook Air, moving our finger on the trackpad caused the screen to jump around like mad. So-called "gestures" can whisk you away to a new place, shutting down whatever you were working on. Recently, a friend complained of this too, so we looked up the solution.

These gestures are amazingly abundant on the Mac and are supposed to offer you alternate ways to interact with your computer. But if you find them as annoying as we do, here's what to do:

First, click on the Apple logo in the upper right of your screen. Then choose "System Preferences." Click "Trackpad." Note the three tabs, including "More Gestures." Click a tab to see what's under that category, and put a checkmark next to anything you don't want. There are 14 of them. Only a programmer would need that many.

MAKING MOVIES

No matter how you look at it, Corel's $100 program, VideoStudio Ultimate, is for serious video tinkerers. It comes with FastFlick, a separate program. FastFlick makes a professional-looking movie out of your photos and video clips in a couple of clicks, using music, frames, transitions and background effects.

Joy made a charming video of family photos through the years. But when she looked at it later, there were adjustments she wanted to make. For instance, she wanted more captions. So she opened up the movie in VideoStudio Ultimate. That's where things got confusing for those of us used to simple, free programs, like Google Photos. VideoStudio Ultimate is really powerful. You can make video run backward, or do the kinds of things you see in professional movies. Among the new features, you can turn a 360-degree image into what's called a "tiny planet." The whole environment turns into a ball with people walking along the outside. Or you can make a rabbit hole, viewing what you would see if you were a rabbit in its burrow.

Fortunately, the program comes with 10 days of free training from StudioBacklot.tv. After that, it's $8 a month. The guy who does this tutorial is fantastic. You could follow him even if you'd never used a computer before, but somehow it's not dumbed down either. In the quick-start video, he shows you a lot of features we never knew were there, like the ability to do screen captures or create your own music from various mixes. This is definitely professional level.

FREE E-BOOKS

A longtime reader tells us that he finds a lot of free mystery and suspense e-books from Barnes & Noble online. He reads them on the free Nook app. By the way, you don't have to own a Barnes & Noble tablet to use it. We installed the Nook app on our Android phone and Joy downloaded an old favorite, David Copperfield and a book about the War of 1812.

The reader finds his freebies by Googling the phrase "Free mystery books Barnes & Noble." He notes that he gets a wider selection than if he goes to Barnes & Noble and types "Free mystery books." We left out the word "mystery" and noticed many categories off to the left, including humor, current events, crime and suspense.

TV ISSUES

A reader told us he recently switched from AT&T U-verse to AT&T DirecTV. DirecTV is cheaper. So we wrote back and said, "How's it going?"

"Since we live in 'Tornado alley,'" he wrote, "I like U-verse because we can follow the storms. With Direct we lose the signal when they are upon us so I have to go out back, look at the sky from my back porch. Been scary a few times." (His house was nearly demolished.)

Besides the signal loss, here's another problem he had with DirecTV: If he changed the channel, it would pause for a few seconds. So he'd hit the button again, and when it finally woke up, it jumped two or three channels. His wife suggested he change the batteries. Bob and the reader both believe this is a universal principle; wives will always suggest changing the batteries. In fact, every time there's a problem with the remote, Joy suggests changing the batteries. So we do it and she swears it works. Bob disagrees. In any event, after several days, the reader wrote, "I had a Eureka moment and unplugged the power to the boxes and counted to 20. Problem solved." Lesson: If in doubt, unplug and replug. We recommend this practice. It teaches the equipment who's boss.

TEEN VS. POP-UPS

Another reader wrote that his phone was plagued with pop-up ads. For three months, he visited the AT&T store to inquire. He shut off all notifications and still got ads. The ads made it almost impossible to carry on a conversation, since they covered the whole screen, and sometimes you had to use the onscreen keypad to tap your choices.

During his last trip to the store, a 15-year-old kid in the store heard his complaint. The AT&T people were telling him there was still one more notification he should turn off, though they couldn't find any. As he was getting ready to leave, the kid asked for his phone. Shortly afterward, he said, "I fixed it." The culprit was a free flashlight app from the Google Play store. The kid told him he didn't need the app, there was a flashlight built in. All the ads were coming from the one app. Problem solved. He was reminded of the quote: "If the product is free, you are the product." Second rule: Look for the nearest 15-year-old kid.

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

Business on 03/02/2019

Print Headline: Getting MacBook back on track with/without gestures

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