Default programs, safe mode and risky downloads

Ask Mr. Modem

Q. Whenever I open Internet Explorer, it asks me if I want it to be my default. Does that mean that it will be my start page?

A. If a program is your default, it means when an action is initiated that requires the use of a third-party application (program), your default program will be the one selected. So if you click a link to a Web site in an email message, for example, if Internet Explorer is your default Web browser, it will open automatically to display the linked Web page.

Your Start page, which is whatever page is displayed when you launch your browser, is designated in your browser’s Settings or Preferences. It will not change if you establish Internet Explorer as your default.

Q. I was reading an article the other day and it mentioned my “OS.” If I have one, I don’t know what it is or where I put it. Can you explain “OS” to us -- okay, to me. I’m probably the only person who doesn’t know what it is.

A. OS is short for “Operating System.” There are lots of operating systems which allow us to actually do things with our computers. Windows is an “OS,” as is Linux, Mac OS-X or iOS, and Google has its Android OS. Whatever flavor you prefer, they all create the environment and command structure within which we can run programs and perhaps more importantly, play Solitaire and Free Cell. None of these life-altering activities would be possible on a computer without an OS or operating system.

Q. Is there a way to determine if a free font is safe to download? The site is and it has a particular font I would like to use. By the way, how does a site make money if they offer free stuff?

A. There really isn’t any way to know if something is absolutely, positively safe prior to downloading, but if a site is well known and enjoys a good reputation, chances are anything downloaded will not contain any malicious critters. If the site is unfamiliar to you, run a Google search to determine what others have to say about it, which can help you determine if a site is problematic or not. In this case, I am familiar with and it is legitimate.

A site like makes money by selling advertisements displayed on the site and from revenue-sharing arrangements with font authors who contribute their fonts in hopes that visitors will find them and, in the case of paid fonts, purchase them.

Q. I installed a computer “booster” program that was supposed to make my computer faster. It didn’t. In fact, it made it much slower, but even worse, I can’t close the program, so I can’t even uninstall it. Please help.

A. Try starting your computer in Safe Mode, then uninstall the program. Safe Mode is a diagnostic mode that allows your computer to function with a minimal number of essential programs running.

To start your computer in Safe Mode, shut down the computer, then turn it on and repeatedly tap the F8 key, once every second, until you see a menu with the option to start in Safe Mode. Use your arrow keys to highlight Safe Mode, then press Enter and wait for Windows to load.

Once your computer is in Safe Mode, click Start and go to the Control Panel where you can uninstall the program as you normally would via Add/Remove programs. If the program still won’t budge, try an industrial-strength uninstaller such as

Mr. Modem’s DME (Don’t Miss ’Em) sites of the month

Little Known Facts Show

This is a family-friendly site that features short stories and vignettes about Americana. Trivia fans can listen to a different radio story each day, plus the site includes fun facts about American presidents, inventions, silly-but-real laws, amusing town names and many other interesting tidbits. Little Known Facts is also a nationally syndicated radio show, heard on more than 500 stations.

Wonder How To

A free, how-to video search engine and directory with an index of more than 170,000 videos. Here you will find videos on everything from how to make a mint julep, to how to survive a knife attack, to how to tie ballet pointe shoes properly. (I’ve tried, but I still can’t get my bows straight.)

World War II in Photos

Originally published as a 20-part series by The Atlantic, this collection of 900 photos profiles the lives of people who served on the front lines as well as those who supported the war effort from home. You can start at the beginning with the Before the War section, then continue chronologically, section by section, through After the War. Photos that may be considered disturbingly graphic are blacked out but can be viewed by clicking them, if you wish.

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