Welcome back to Tech-Knowledgy, where your tech question are answered. I continue to get many great questions from readers and am posting the questions and answers below so others can learn and/or respond. Post your tech questions in the Comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q . Sometimes when I’m watching a movie or downloading a large file on my computer, my computer thinks I’m not there and a screen saver comes up or the computer goes into hibernate. It’s really frustrating to come back after hours and find that the file didn’t download because my computer went to sleep. Is there an easy way to download large files without having to babysit my computer?
A. I know exactly what you’re talking about. That happened to me when I was trying to download a tv series off of iTunes over a slow Internet connection. You can change your settings so your computer never has a screen saver or goes into hibernate, but you asked for an easy way to fool your computer into thinking you’re not idle. The easiest way I have found is to take an optical mouse (the kind with the light at the bottom, not a roller ball) and put it over an analogue watch with a second hand. The constantly moving second hand activates the mouse and fools the computer into thinking the mouse is moving and that you’re using the computer.
Q. I like watching movies on my laptop, but I’m confused about streaming versus downloading movies. If I’m going on a plane and want to watch a movie on my laptop, what are my choices?
A. Streaming a movie means you can start watching the video almost instantly, as soon as the computer starts receiving the video from the Internet. Netflix and YouTube, among others, use streaming so you can watch video on your computer without having to download files. The advantages to streaming are that you don’t have to wait for a large video file to download and you don’t have to store large video files on your computer or an external hard drive. The disadvantage is that you have to be connected to the Internet, so streaming video on an airplane isn’t an option. (Some airlines are offering Wi-Fi on certain flights, but the data speed is too slow for streaming video.) Also, stuttering can occur if your Internet connection is slow.
Downloading videos means you transfer the video file onto your computer. Depending on the quality of the video, these files can be quite large, approximately 1GB for an hour of non-HD video. The videos can take quite a while to download, depending on the speed of your Internet connection, and can take up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive. But the good news is that once the video is downloaded you can watch it anywhere, no Internet connection is required.
Amazon and iTunes offer video downloads for sale and for rent. Renting a video means that after you download the file, you have 30 days to watch it and you must finish watching the video 24 hours after you start watching it. The rental restrictions are annoying, but renting a video is much less expensive than buying one.
For a plane trip, you could either download movies to watch or pack some dvd’s in your laptop bag (assuming your laptop has a dvd player). Have a fun trip!
Q. I love all the new touch screen devices out there, like iPhones and iPads. My problem is that I have long fingernails. I have tried using my husband’s iPhone but tapping with my nails doesn’t register. I’ve had long nails my whole life and get compliments on them all the time. Do I have to choose between having long nails or having a touch screen device?
A. Good news! You can have both long nails and a touch screen device. Even people without long nails can find using touch screens challenging so manufacturers have come out with stylus pens you can use with these devices. Amazon.com has many listed for sale with over four star ratings, in the $10 range. Some even have a choice of color. Here is a link to the list of stylus pens for sale on Amazon: Amazon stylus pens.
Q. Help! I’m seriously addicted to Angry Birds. I play all the time and it’s gotten even worse since the new update came out this week with 15 new levels and a Golden Egg. How can I quit?
A. Angry Birds is a fun and addictive game, but you have to be careful that playing it doesn’t take time away from other important matters, such as reading The Wonder of Tech. No worries, The Wonder of Tech has you covered. I have found a fool-proof way for you to rid yourself of your Angry Birds addiction:
No, that wasn’t a real question (except for the recent update to Angry Birds with 15 new levels and the Golden Egg – that part was real.). The Wonder of Tech just wanted to give you a giggle for the weekend. Enjoy!