Commentary

Q. I signed a lease with my friend. She now is getting married and wants her name removed from the lease. Even though my credit is good and I can afford the rent, the landlord will not remove her name. What can we do to get her name off the lease? She is having trouble renting another apartment.

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Almost all newly manufactured PCs have a 64-bit processor and are loaded with the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Processors and operating systems at 64 bits have the potential to process information much faster than the older 32-bit operating systems and processors, but much of the software available is still written to run on 32-bit machines. While almost all 32-bit software will run on 64-bit machines, performance is sacrificed for the benefit of compatibility and the cost savings of only writing a program once that can run on both systems.

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I have written a lot of columns about computer security and the threats that many of us face when using our computers. While we might be subject to a variety of threats at home or in our offices, including hackers, crackers, viruses, worms, Trojans and other varieties of malware, the threat landscape can substantially increased when using a public WiFi or other network, or even allowing someone else to use our computers. With the U.S.

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Q. I am considering using layaway for some of my Christmas shopping. I noticed many large stores now offer this service. I was wondering what happens if I change my mind and don’t finish paying. Legally, how much money may the store keep?

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Most users of Windows 7 and Vista simply use the Microsoft default settings for almost everything on their computers. In my experience, they are likely unaware that there are a myriad of customizable settings in Windows that can be used to improve performance, enhance security, change appearance, speed the boot process, and otherwise control just about anything that Windows can do.

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Q. I recently moved into a new apartment. The apartment pays a referral fee. I told them my friend referred me. My friend actually did not refer me, but I knew he lived in the complex. When I told my friend he was going to get the money, he agreed to split it with me. Now he refuses to share. Can I take him to small claims court?

A. In my opinion, you do not have any basis for a lawsuit. Your friend promised to give you a gift. He simply agreed to share his money with you. Such promises are not enforceable.

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The regular readers of this column know by now that my husband, Ted, and I love to fish here on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. I don’t care if we are in the open Gulf of Mexico, on the beautiful Intracoastal Canal, Galveston Bay, Rollover Pass, or along a secluded little inlet. I love it all. There’s nothing more relaxing or healing to me than being on the water.

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I recently found out that Google’s infinitely popular YouTube video service now offers over a thousand full-length movies for free. Many other full-length movies are also available on YouTube for a fee, typically about $3, but I found enough of a selection of free movies to keep me well entertained for many hours.

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Q. My checkbook was stolen during a break-in of my home. Before the thief cashed any checks, I closed the account. A collection agency is now asking me to pay some of the checks that bounced. Do I have any liability?

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Recently, the president of a local nonprofit community service organization asked me to review a proposal she had received from one of the prominent, heavily advertised, online backup services. The quote to provide automated backup services for all of the computers in the organization (about 10 computers) for a year was nearly $500. I informed her that while the price received was appropriate for the level and quality of service offered, there were better prices available from competitive services.

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