By Richard Sherman
Senior Wire 

Here's how to investigate that slow connection

Ask Mr. Modem


Q. I’m using high-speed Internet over a phone line. It works okay, but on occasion it goes so slow that most sites never finish downloading. Is this a provider problem?

A. I would start your investigation with your Internet service provider, and initially determine what connection speed range you should have. Your provider’s website will have that information or you can call their customer service department. With that information in hand, run several speed tests using a site such as, or

Connection speeds can vary greatly throughout the day and night, so conduct tests at varying times over several days. If your average upload and download speeds fall below what you should be receiving, contact your provider’s tech support. In that way you will have evidence to support your assertion that the connection speeds you are receiving are not what were represented and your provider can investigate from there.

Q. I received a message from Yahoo! Mail telling me that I’m running out of storage space and that I need to provide my password so they can increase my capacity. You’ve warned us about anybody that asks for our passwords, so I’m suspicious. Is this for real or what?

A. Your suspicion is justified. I’m glad you remembered what I so frequently yammer about: Never provide your password or voluntarily confirm any other personal or account information when requested to do so by email. No legitimate organization or service will ever ask you for that information. Just delete the message you received and don’t give it another thought.

Q. In my old version of Firefox I was able to bookmark a site to a folder. But now if I click the star, it doesn’t allow me to select a folder. I have to move it into a folder after the fact by opening all bookmarks. Is there an easier way?

A. In the current Firefox, you can instantly create a bookmark by selecting the star icon at the top right of the browser. When the star turns blue, your bookmark is created, so tap or click the star again. (Medical Tip: When you turn blue, call 9-1-1.) You will see options to edit the bookmark. You can also drop it into an existing folder using the drop-down menu, or create a new folder.

Q. When I installed the latest version of Microsoft Office on my Windows 8 computer, all my favorite keystroke combinations, such as ALT + F + V for Print Preview are gone. Now I have to use the mouse or touchpad, click in the corners, scroll here and there – it drives me crazy. Any suggestions?

A. The good news is that most of your favorite keyboard commands are still present, but have been changed. Why? Because it would obviously make too much sense to leave them as they were. Your beloved Print Preview is now ALT + CTRL + I.

Accessing a list of all keyboard commands is as simple as clicking the question mark in the upper right of the page. Word Help will open. Type “keyboard shortcut” and you will find a complete listing. I tested a bunch of them out under both Windows 7 and Windows 8 and didn’t run into any problems, so I think you will be very pleased with the results.

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

Ba Ba Dum

Ba Ba Dum is a language game that lets you practice your vocabulary in one of 11 different languages, including my native Svenska. When you arrive at the site, click Play to begin and select the language you want to practice by clicking the country’s flag graphic. For a real challenge, you can practice in a randomized assortment of languages. In the top-right corner you will see your score. There are two numbers: Your cumulative score and the score for the language you are currently playing. This site presents a fun way to practice vocabulary in different languages.

Crossword Puzzles

If you’re a crossword puzzle enthusiast, this is an online treasure trove of puzzles. With a repository containing more than 32,000 crosswords, you are guaranteed endless hours of entertainment or escapism.

Pica Pic

Created by Hipopotam, this site features a digitalized collection of handheld games. These games triggered a wave of nostalgia for me. I can still remember playing my Little Mermaid game on the school bus and almost being beaten to death. Good times, indeed. Use the menu at the bottom to select a game and use the arrows at the left and right of the screen to scroll back and forth. A down arrow shows which game is currently selected. If you mouse over the game, a Play button appears. If you want to play that game, click it to begin. This will enlarge the game and display its controls. The games feature the same sounds as if you were playing the original handheld version.


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