A reader told us about his unbearably slow, 7-year-old laptop. He wondered if he could make it like new again. Yes, he can.
His first idea was converting it to a Linux system. It sounded good, but he had problems. So he asked us whether he could still get Windows 10 for free. Sure, we said, though we secretly thought it might slow down his PC even more. Why not restore the laptop to its original factory condition, we asked? It had a super-fast Intel i7 processor. He said it used to be great.
His computer is a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro with Windows 8.1. When he tried to do a PC reset, he got the message: "The system doesn't have all the files to re-install the system." "Without the installation files for Win 8.0," he said, "I'm sunk as far as either a reset or refresh."
We pointed him to an article at Forbes.com on getting Windows 10 free. Following those instructions, he installed it. Then came a genius move. He uninstalled every program on his laptop except Office 365. Free of all that junk, the old laptop now runs as quickly as it originally did.
If you want to try installing Windows 10 on an old machine, don't be tempted by ads telling you to buy it. Another reader said he's seen ads for a paid version. Just Google "How to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free." You'll get the Forbes article.
BUYING AND SELLING
Facebook.com/marketplace is an eBay competitor we've never noticed before. You can buy or sell your stuff here. A Samsung Galaxy Fit, a fitness tracker that normally costs $100, was going for $40 even though it had never been used. We saw a Google Pixel 2 phone, originally $649, for $130. Most of the ads you'll see will be from your own neighborhood or within an hour away.
TUNE YOUR FACE
Facetune Video is a new app for improving your appearance in videos. It whitens your teeth, smooths wrinkles, enlarges your eyes, darkens your eyebrows: Heck, you might as well make a new person. Joy didn't notice much difference in her wrinkles, but she did get a warmer glow. That is until she went overboard with the smoother and wound up looking like she'd dumped a load of beige cream over her face.The whole process is automatic, though you can adjust the effects using a slider on screen. Choose a video, then tap the controls you want to try, like "Touch up." If you change your mind, you can revert to your original appearance.
We tried the iPad/iPhone version since it's not yet available for Android. It's $70 for a lifetime purchase, $36 a year or $8 for month-to-month. They give you a skimpy three-day free trial, but you can keep all the videos you improve, unlike with some services.
Facetune2 does almost the same things for photos as Facetune Video does for videos, with a few extras. For example, you can change the background, adding a bluer sky or a dreamier sunset. It's $5 a month or $24 a year. Both apps are from Lightricks at Facetuneapp.com.
If you're often passing your phone to others to show off photos, you might want to hide some from prying eyes. For the iPhone, there's a "hide" option in the Photos app. For Android, there's Archive.
To use the iPhone version, find the photo or video you want to hide. Then tap the arrow pointing up. Scroll down till you see the word "Hide." Tap it and the photo moves into the Archive album. Of course, anyone who knows there are photos in the Archive album might think to snoop in there. To get more protection, use the iPhone's Notes app. Add the photo to a note by tapping the camera icon after you start the note. Lock it by tapping the picture of a lock.
On your Android phone, select all the photos you wish to hide from your photo gallery by pressing on them until you see a check mark next to each one. Then tap the three vertical dots and choose Archive. That places it in a photo album of the same name. Alternatively, you could use the free app LockMyPix. It was the best of three we tried. One of them, Keepsafe, caused all our photos to disappear from the gallery, and they did not come back when we deleted the app.
A reader noticed a strange file on his computer called "s.yimg." He was receiving unresponsive messages with a reference to it. After a little internet research, he found opinions about this bug ranging from "harmful" to "very harmful." Afterwards, he noticed minor changes in the way his PC operates.
We went to Forums.Malwarebytes.org and typed "s.yimg" in the search bar. The solution turned out to be downloading the free AdwCleaner, which removes adware. We didn't think AdwCleaner was necessary on our computer, because we already have Malwarebytes Premium, but it found three "potentially unwanted programs," and we clicked to have them removed. It also uninstalls preinstalled software if you wish. We chose that option too, so we won't continue to be bugged by HP. Such software is often called bloatware.
Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.