Refurbished computer a smart buy

From Wikiteer

For those of you wondering where the Computing Q&A column is this morning, look no further. Times change, and after more than 15 years, so has this column's title. When we started in 1997, a majority of the questions involved personal computers and software. Today, it's all about the Internet, mobile phones, tablets and digital entertainment. Don't worry, you can still get answers to PC problems; in fact, that's the gist of today's first item. But I'm open to questions about any technology that affects your life, from your home network to the microchip in your dog. And the best thing about this Tech Support is that it's not offshore! Q: My 7-year-old Windows XP computer suddenly died on me. It kept turning itself off right after startup, and now it won't even turn on. Do you think there's any way to fix it, and if not, what's the least expensive way to replace it? Do you think a refurbished computer might a good idea? A: Seven years is a long life for a computer, and the thing probably would cost more to fix than it's worth. So a replacement is in order - and a refurbished computer is not only a good idea, it's a great idea. Walmart sells refurbished Dell PCs starting at less than $200. For around $225, you can get a desktop with Windows 7 Home Premium (which in my opinion is more consumer-friendly than Windows 8, especially for someone used to Windows XP). In its former life it probably was a corporate PC, but I wouldn't hold that against it. It has a dual-core processor that's more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks such as e-mail and the Internet. It comes with a keyboard and mouse, and you can use the monitor you already have. The warranty is only for 90 days, but you can buy three years of extended coverage from Walmart for $36. The computer is available online at Have it shipped to your nearest Walmart store, where you can pick it up in a few days with no shipping charge. Q: I want to find phone numbers, (and, if possible, e-mail addresses) for old friends scattered across the country. There's no dearth of online services that advertise "free" telephone information, but they invariably send me to sites like Intelius that charge for the information. Whatever happened to the good old telephone directory, and are there any Internet sites that offer such information for free? A: Telephone companies stopped printing white-page directories of residential phone numbers a few years ago. But even by then, personal information of the kind you seek had become a money-making commodity online. Today, companies like Intelius ( make a living by peddling personal information, primarily for background checks. A $10 search can turn up a person's full name, age, address, names of relatives and landline phone number, but e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers are hard to find, even for Intelius. Rather than spend money and be disappointed with the results, I'd look to social media to track down your old friends. Search for them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and if you find them, you can hook up directly through the network. Q: A local computer software guru advised my small business to buy Microsoft Office 2010 because Microsoft is ceasing technical support for Office 2003 - which we have now. He didn't recommend the recently released 2013 version of Office, which he said is available only as a cloud-based service. I found Office 2010 on eBay for around $80, but that seems pretty cheap, so I'm wondering if the software is authentic (I'm told Microsoft won't support it if it isn't). What do you think? A: I think your guru should go to a Tibetan monastery for some guru lessons because he's got a few things wrong. First, Microsoft won't stop supporting Office 2003 until April 2014. Second, although Microsoft is pushing the new cloud-based version of Office (Office 365), it's also still offering a software version (Office 2013). And third, Microsoft no longer sells Office 2010, so retail copies are hard to find. As for your question, $80 is way too cheap for a business version of Microsoft Office. It's possible someone wants to sell an authentic copy that they never opened, but it's also possible the software is counterfeit. If you really want to move beyond Office 2003, consider Office 365 or Google Apps for Business, which also is cloud-based, or try a free office suite like Apache Open Office (formerly from Oracle, and originally from Sun Microsystems). Read more: Calculatoare sh

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