Commentary

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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Q. My ex-wife and I signed a note to buy a car. Our divorce decree clearly says she keeps the car and she is obligated to pay the note. She has stopped paying and now the bank is asking me to pay because I also signed the note. What are my legal obligations?

A. Basically, a divorce decree is between the parties to the divorce. It does not affect existing creditors. In other words, you and your ex-wife have agreed that she will pay the note. As far as the bank is concerned, however, you both still owe the money.

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The regular gun season on deer opens Saturday, Nov. 5. You know as well as I do that the opener will be here in a flash, and with that in mind I’ve put together a top five list of things to do before one of the most anticipated hunting days in Texas is here and gone.

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Some time ago, I wrote about sources of free academic classes and free college textbooks. Since writing that column, the selection of free courses and textbooks have grown exponentially. Three of the major providers of free academic resources are Khan Academy, Flat World Knowledge, and Apple’s iTunes University.

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Q. I co-signed for my ex-boyfriend’s truck. He recently filed bankruptcy and included the truck. The lender now says I have to pay. Doesn’t bankruptcy mean you don’t have to pay?

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