Installing Windows 11; Last minute gifts; Keeping devices connected
Bob's Tech Talk
December 1, 2021 | View PDF
Q. I was able to install Windows 11 on my PC. What should I do now?
A. Move that Start button back where it belongs! The Start button has been at the bottom left of my screen for decades, and that is where I think it belongs. To move it, right-click the Task Bar, and choose Taskbar Settings -> Behaviors -> Alignment -> Left.
Next, open Windows Settings and double check the privacy settings. They should be unchanged if this is an upgrade install, but a quick review is an ounce of prevention.
There are also new options in the Accessibility -> Visual Effects section of Settings. Two of them will tone down some of the Windows 11 design choices: enable always-visible scrollbars and disable animation effects.
Windows 11 has beefed up Widgets since Windows 10. Widgets provide quick access to information that is important to you. To make the most of it, configure it with the Widgets you find useful, and deactivate the rest.
The Action Center on previous versions of Windows is now known as the Notification Center, and it can be accessed from the Date and Time icon on the Task Bar.
If there is a tip you think other readers should know, please send me an email.
Q. I need a last-minute gift suggestion for a family member. I prefer a tech gadget that will have an impact.
A. One of the challenges of tech gadget gifting is finding something that fits into the recipient’s lifestyle. Often you have to know details about the devices they already own to find something that fits.
Device compatibility is a minefield of options that no sane person can navigate alone, so tech gifts are often safest in the form of a gift card. Just be sure to get the right one. For an Android user, a Google Play Store card is a good choice. If they own an iPhone or iPad, try an Apple gift card.
But gift cards have downsides, especially if you do not know which device they own.
There is one gift this year that I think will be special. Apple’s new HomePod mini paired with the new Apple Music Voice Plan. ($99 plus $4.99 a month).
The HomePod mini is a speaker with two requirements: household Wi-Fi and a source of music.
While the HomePod mini will work with different music sources, that gets complex. Add the Apple Music Voice Plan instead, which enables the HomePod to play 90 million songs, along with hundreds of playlists to suit every occasion, just by asking.
No commercials, no data collection. Just music. If I had grandchildren of my own, that is what I would get them this year.
Q. We are moving next month. I do not know how I will ever properly re-connect all the cables and devices we use. Help!
A. The number of wires we have in our lives has exploded in the last decade. Whether moving a TV from one room to another, or relocating a house full of products to a new home, the best approach is to label everything first.
There are specialized labels designed just for wires. A quick internet search for “wire label stickers” will turn up dozens of options to help you label every device you own.
Here are a few specific strategies to consider. The most important is to label every cable with the name of the device it matches.
Color coding is handy for devices that have more than one cord. Consider a typical television. At minimum it will have a power cord and a signal cable, but it could easily have a half-dozen or more connections that use the same style connector. In this case, add a color to each wire’s label, then add a tiny label with the same color to the device near where the cable plugs in.
Moves are always stressful and making labels for all your wires may seem like just more work. But the payoff will be well worth the effort.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Hard to Find Ebooks
Arc Manor is a small publisher with an extensive eBook catalog that includes science fiction, fantasy, and romance.
This store looks industrial at first glance, but they carry a number of useful products for residential organizing projects.
The original Santa tracker is still the best. The site opens on December 1.
Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.