Mr. Modem: Simple install can make an authentic difference

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem’s sites of the week

Little Known Facts Show

This is a family-friendly site that features short stories and vignettes about Americana. Trivia fans can listen to a different radio story each day, plus the site includes fun facts about American presidents, inventions, silly-but-real laws, amusing town names and many other interesting tidbits. Little Known Facts is also a nationally syndicated radio show.



Have you ever watched a movie and thought, “I can write something better than this drivel”? You’re probably right. Using the Plot-O-Matic (patent pending), select your characters and the plot elements you would like to include in your movie. When you’re satisfied with your choices, click “Lights! Camera! Action!”


Wonder How To

A free, how-to video search engine and directory with an index of more than 170,000 videos. Here you will find videos on everything from how to make a mint julep, how to survive a knife attack and even how to tie ballet shoes properly. (I’ve tried, but I still can’t get my bows straight.)

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Why do I keep getting the message that my Windows 7 is not genuine? It came installed on a new computer I bought last year.

Windows 7 includes a Windows Genuine Advantage checker which verifies that your copy of Windows is legally licensed. However, sometimes an error occurs which causes Windows to forget that it is registered. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is an easy fix for this.

The first step is to look for the Windows Authenticity label on the exterior of your computer. This label will contain your Windows 7 product key number. If you have the original Windows 7 installation DVD, the product key will appear on a sticker affixed to the back of the plastic DVD case.

Once you have noted the product key, click the Start button and in the Search field type: Activate Windows.

You can then enter your product key and proceed with activation. Once activated, you will receive an “Activation was Successful” message and you should no longer be pestered with the message that your Windows is not genuine. (Of all the nerve!)

If you don’t have a sticker on your computer or the original installation DVD, the plot thickens. Your Windows key is stored in the Registry, but it is encrypted and not readable, making retrieval rather difficult. Fortunately, there are several free programs that can help.

One that I have used in the past is the free Belarc Advisor at While the Belarc Advisor will reveal all kinds of information about your computer, it can also retrieve product keys for many software programs, including Windows. Once you install it, go into its Help area, where all basic functions, features and how to use them are explained.

It’s been awhile since I asked a really stupid question, so I’m probably overdue. I was reading an article the other day and it mentioned my OS. If I have one, I don’t know what it is or where I put it. Can you explain OS to us — OK, to me. I’m probably the only person on the planet who doesn’t know what it is.

OS is short for Operating System, which is software that allows us to do things with our computers. Windows is an OS, as is Linux, Mac OS-X or iOS and Google has its Android operating system. Whatever flavor you prefer, they all do pretty much the same thing: They create the environment and command structure within which we can run programs and perhaps more importantly, play Solitaire and Free Cell. I prefer Scrabble, but none of these life-altering activities would be possible on a computer without an OS.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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