How to attach your PC or laptop to any TV

Andrew Amanda asked how to connect his PC to a TV.

If there’s anything in the computer world that’s become significantly easier over the years, it’s connecting your PC or laptop to a TV. Even vintage TVs—as long as they have an auxiliary input of some sort, whether it be HDMI, DVI, component, or even composite. There may be a digital to RF converter out there somewhere, I just haven’t seen it.

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When cell phone disaster strikes, you have some options

One of the most common and saddest inquiries we get at Answer Line is how to retrieve photos and videos from a phone that’s been stolen, or that’s been dropped in water and no longer works. You may be able to save the phone or its data if you try these steps. 

In case of a dead phone, you can most likely get the data back using a recovery service—at a very steep price. DriveSavers, a longtime player in the data recovery field, charges $700 to $1900 for a 128GB iPhone, depending on the amount of data involved. They’ll check whether it can be recovered for free, but birth and wedding images aside, that’s probably more than most users are willing to pay.

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How Babelsoft Media Preview reveals less-common file types in Explorer

Windows Explorer is great for finding and organizing files, but it’s sadly lacking in preview and thumbnail support for anything other than garden-variety JPEG and AVI files. FLV , OGG, APE, FLAC, PCI and other less-common formats appear as generic application icons without a preview—not exactly optimal when trying organize a varied multimedia collection.

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But where Microsoft has been remiss, Babelsoft has not. The company’s aptly named Media Preview integrates seamlessly into the Windows open preview architecture to provide thumbnails and previews of all those files I mentioned and more. Even better, Babelsoft charges the grand sum of... Nothing. Nada, zip, zilch, zero.  That’s right, the spirit of Linux right here in Microsoft-land.

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How Windows Explorer can help you find duplicate files

One of the most frequent questions at Answer Line is how to easily remove duplicate images. The short answer is a utility. We’ve covered those in the past, and most of the best ones, such as Duplicate Sweeper from Wide Angle Software, will set you back $20. But unless you’re supremely confident in it—and we never are with valuable memories—you pretty much wind up comparing everything anyway.

The thing is, you already have a pretty powerful multimedia browser at your fingertips in Windows Explorer. Why, after all these years, it doesn’t have a 'find duplicates' function, we can’t say. But even without it, it’s perfectly adequate to the task, although it means a bit more work on your part.

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PCs

Why you should cover up your laptop's webcam

Valerie Olson wanted to know if she should cover up her laptop’s webcam to prevent people from spying on her.

As it happens a few high-profile folks have been spotted covering their webcams, including F.B.I. Director James Comey, who said in an interview, “I put a piece of tape over the camera. Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.” He was most likely referring to a photo Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg posted: In the background, his work laptop shows tape applied over the webcam above the display, and the dual mic on the left side.

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Set up your webcam for access from the road

Ann Cherie Davies asked how she and her family can access their IP address while traveling to view their webcams.

If you use cameras that are part of a service such as Netgear’s Arlo, you’re all set—just browse to the website and log on. Otherwise, you’ll need to configure your router and camera for access. Many webcams have a utility that either does it for you, or guides you through the process. If not, you’ll need to do what’s called port forwarding.

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How to stop Windows 10 from rebooting after updates

Tonia Jordan wants her PC to stop rebooting all by itself after Windows updates itself, and I feel her pain. I’ve also had the unpleasant experience in Windows 10 of leaving my PC mid-task only to come back later to find it has rebooted without any warning. And even when Windows 10 gives you a warning that it needs to reboot there’s no way to postpone it anymore, so you have to save your work and let it do its thing. We get that Microsoft wants all its users to update their PCs immediately to keep their systems secure, but forcing a PC to reboot without any user input is not a good user experience. 

Though Microsoft now allows you to set active hours in order to prevent an update during your regular times of use, an update during your off hours will still be followed by an automatic reboot. That can be a problem if you’re one to leave important tasks and windows open overnight. I found what appears to be the solution on the Winaero blog. Note that I haven’t tested it yet, as my system hasn’t had a pending update as of press time, but the blog is legit and the proposed change is easily reversible. 

First, right-click the Start menu and select the Control Panel.

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