Ask MTE: Run Android Apps on Windows, Limit Internet Access to Kids, Connect PCs to Hotspot And Many More… (Windows, Week 21)

Hello there and welcome back to another segment of Ask a Windows Expert, where MTE’s readers freely ask any question they want about Windows and its operating hardware and a resident expert puts the question under a microscope until an answer pops out of it. We’re literally working around the clock to make sure every question is answered in the most comprehensive manner possible, and we provide support for anyone who still experiences problems when trying out our advice. If you want to put your own question, click the “Ask Our Experts Now!” button on the right side of this page.

A: I guess this question can be rephrased with: If a computer runs an operating system, and an operating system runs programs, what do programs run? Programs run user-level routines.

Routines consist of information that’s exchanged from within a program to perform a function. A function is any sort of action that you perform within a program. For example, when you click “Save” on a document, a routine fires up that creates a file handle. If a file of the same name exists, and you want to overwrite it, the application first opens that file. If no file of the same name exists, it creates a new one. Both operations return a “handle,” or a 32-bit chunk of data that represents that particular file. Now, the program initiates a write sequence and dumps all the necessary data into that handle. The data is then saved into the file.

A: At this point, the computer is trying to tell you that your hard drive is about to go kaput. To pick up the pieces, you should keep your computer off as much as possible. Keeping it on might further damage your hard disk. After this, use a backup application like Norton Ghost to back your data up onto an external hard drive. You can get both from any major computer outlet. Get your hard drive replaced as soon as you can. You’d be lucky if your computer is still under warranty, but this issue usually happens after the warranty expires. Replacing a hard drive might drive up a heavy cost, so this is the time to think about whether you should get a new computer. You don’t want your hard disk to look like this before you have a chance to back up:

winhelp-broken-disk

A: There are many freeware Android emulators, some less stable than others. If you really want an Android emulator that’s been proven to be stable, use BlueStacks. This freeware application will emulate most applications. Keep in mind that you cannot interact on a very high level with some apps that get your location using basic phone protocols since you’re using a PC. Apps that use the Internet might also have limited functionality.

A: If you’re absolutely sure you don’t have any malware infections, then there are two possibilities:

  • Your Hotmail account is compromised and someone is sending emails automatically through your account by actually logging in. Change your password and take any measures possible against this threat. From now on, ensure that you check the address bar of every site you go to. You might slip into a Hotmail login page that’s fake. This will essentially give the page owner your password.
  • Someone manages to spoof your email address into messages from a rogue SMTP server. This eventually gets sorted out if they report the spam but don’t report your emails. There are ways to check if this is the cause. You can ask your friends to see if a different name appears attached to the email address than what you normally use. If they match, change yours, and see if future messages have that name. If they do, your account is compromised. If the names no longer match, you know it’s an SMTP spoof.

A: For a perfect configuration, you’ll need to spend some cash, unfortunately. If you’d like, you can install parental control software on each computer that each child uses. There are software suites that allow you to receive reports of online activity. Care4Teen is an example that I often recommend concerned parents. It’s a non-invasive piece of software that also provides all the controls necessary for you to understand what’s going on in your child’s PC. It even informs you when the child has installed a program that could potentially hide what they’re doing.

If your child is the geeky type, you’ll have to shell out some cash and buy yourself a router with parental controls installed. The iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N Router should handle everything you need. It requires a yearly subscription.

winhelp-hotspot

A: Does the hotspot have a wired port? It would be nice to have the hotspot attached to a main computer via wire. As for networking your computers, this varies from access point to access point. Your wireless hotspot (also known as an access point) can have a completely different function than the ones I’ve set up in some businesses. Have a look at the manual for the default network name, administrative IP address, and default wireless passkey for this particular device. You must set things up through the networking icon on the bottom right-hand side of the taskbar on your PC. After you’ve attempted a setup by following the manual, if you still have problems, come back and leave a comment on this article with your device’s model number so I can walk you through the setup.

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