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John Torro, Times Correspondent

John Torro

John is the Solutions columnist for the Times. John started out in the computer industry in 1978 by writing Assembler language programs on punch cards, long before Windows made computing attainable for normal people with mouse clicks and icons. Over the course of his career, John has been a software developer and a systems and network manager for various mainframe and mini computers as well as Windows servers.

John stresses "common sense computing" and urges his readers to keep their systems simple, safe and streamlined in an effort to avoid aggravation.

John is a native New Yorker but has lived in Palm Harbor since 1981. John is married and has three grown children. He is passionate about sports and enjoys all types of music as well as playing and collecting guitars.


  1. Solutions column: How to solve popup warning messages


    Every time I try to watch a video (except YouTube) I get this message: " is requesting permission to store info on your computer." When I click deny, the video stops. What can I do to get rid of this?

    That is a message warning that a third-party company is requesting to store information (probably Flash storage) on your PC. It's not a problem. The Flash Global Storage Settings panel is where the defaults for this and other settings are kept. You can manage these Flash settings by clicking Start, Settings, Control Panel, Flash Player. There is a setting in the website storage panel for "Never ask again." Check it and try playing the video again. Another alternative is updating to the latest Internet Explorer version 11. It has built-in Flash functionality, so there's no need to bother with Flash Global settings....

  2. Solutions column: Advice for screen saver settings


    I was wondering how to change screen saver settings to keep my screen from powering down after a few moments of idleness. I must move the mouse to bring the screen up, whether to view the monitor or hear music.

    I am using Windows 7. The help section indicated changing the power settings, which I am not sure how to access.

    There could be two different things at play here. First is the screen saver settings that determine how long to wait before sending the monitor into power save mode. The other is the actual selective powering off of components — this might interfere with your sound drivers and speakers. Right-click anywhere on your desktop and select "Personalize." Click "Screen Saver." Set the screen saver to "(None)." This will disable the timer settings that might kick in and interfere with current drivers/processing. From that screen, click the "Change power settings" link. On the left, click the "Choose when to turn off the display" link. There will be three settings each for "On Battery" and "Plugged in." Change the "Plugged in" settings to "Never" for "Dim the Display," "Turn off the display" and "Put the computer to sleep." Do the same for the "On Battery" settings if you want this same behavior while on battery power, though this will drain the battery supply quickly. While you're in that same window, click "Change Advanced power settings." Scroll down and expand the USB settings. Change the USB selective suspend setting "ti Disabled." Click "OK" and then "Save Changes."...

  3. Solutions: Give Windows 10 a whirl, but proceed with caution

    Personal Tech

    I am now using Windows 8.1, but I would like to have your opinion about Window 10. Is it worth to download? What is your idea?

    Since it is still in beta, download it only if you have a spare PC that you can wipe and load at any point, and then again when the retail version is released. But if you do, definitely take it out for a test drive. Microsoft has done a great job in bringing the PC interface up to date while still retaining the usability we all came to know and love previous to Windows 8. From what we've seen so far, Windows 10 will be the answer for the problematic Windows 8 interface and can be centered around mouse and keyboard navigation rather than the confusing tiles of Windows 8. One of the best things is that it will finally return the Start button with the traditional programs menu along with the power off/shutdown button right there. You no longer will need to know the "secret handshake" simply to power off your PC....

  4. Solutions column: tips for email and solving website access problems


    I use Microsoft Outlook 2010 for email. There are 50 or so contacts in my address book. I get mail from all but one. When I go to that email is there.

    Go to Options (either through Tools or File depending on Outlook version) and check the Security tab as well as the 'Blocked Senders' tab if present. Check to see if those emails are being sent to the Junk mail folder. If so, something in the content or name of the recipient is triggering the filter. Turn off the Junk email filter and have that contact try sending a new email. If it gets through, then you know it is the Junk filter that's blocking it. You may be able to add that contact to a 'Safe Senders' table if present....

  5. Solutions for problems with an old computer, getting to a website


    A website I visit frequently won't let me get in if I type the address from either AOL or Internet Explorer. It does go to the sign-in window but when I type my user name and password, it all just sits there, not even telling me the name and/or password are wrong. However, I have it in a link in an email from the company. If I click that link (email is AOL) it goes right to the sign-in window, I type user name and password and — BINGO. I have checked the spelling in IE against the link numerous times. It's always correct. What am I doing wrong? ...

  6. Solutions column: Dealing with viruses, malware


    Last week I found a virus on my laptop. While it was active, every time I went from one Web page to another, it would contain a spurious popup identifying itself as a financial assistance ad. I used Malwarebytes to quarantine the virus. Apparently every time I had gotten that fake ad popup, it saved a DLL file. Malwarebytes also quarantined several hundred similar DLL files. I don't get the fake ads anymore, but apparently my computer keeps trying to open those missing DLL files. I keep getting a popup message from my computer called "RunDLL" and containing the following: "There was a problem starting C:\Users\Owner|AppData|Local|ARCADE~1\...~1.DLL The specified module could not be found." Obviously I don't want RunDLL to open any of those files. How do I get the computer to stop trying?...

  7. Solutions column: tips for disk cleanup and problematic links


    I have 1.86 GB free of 17.0 GB on my computer recovery drive (D:). Do I need to perform a disk cleanup? I have Windows 7 operating system.

    No need for a disk cleanup, this is a normal state for your Recovery drive (D). You should not be attempting to store any of your data or programs there. I'm assuming that your C drive has at least 20 percent free space, so you are good. Aside from Disk Cleanup, compressing folders that contain data that you mostly read (and not write to) is a good way to save extra space. You can do this on a drive level, but I recommend just doing it on a selective folder level when free space is running low and disk cleanup doesn't free up enough space. Right-click the folder, choose Properties and then the Advanced button. Then you'll see the "Compress contents to save disk space" option. Reading compressed data is actually faster since the read heads have to travel less to pick up the data. The decompression takes place in memory where it is many magnitudes faster than disk (think jet plane versus a bicycle) assuming you have sufficient memory. Text documents are great candidates for compression; binary files (pictures, programs) not so much....

  8. Solutions: Dealing with advertising on email

    Personal Tech

    I have an HP Pavilion notebook with Windows 7, IE11 and Roadrunner for email. My problem is Bright House is allowing ads on my email login form and also my email menu listings in-box. Bright House says it can't block the ads, that I need a third-party ad blocker program. I have the ad-blocker box unchecked in my Internet options. What do you recommend I do?

    Check with Bright House to see if there are any options. Maybe there is an account level service change available that eliminates the ads. I would suspect that something like this would not be free. Unfortunately, the ads are a fact of life for most free Web services. Personally, I don't like Web email and use it as a last resort. I use Windows Live mail. It gives me much better control of my email data, better organizing, instantaneous search results and, of course, no ads. If I need to access through the Web, I can always go to my ISP's Web mail service and/or Hotmail (now for my other accounts. I would not look into ad-elimination add-ons. There is no way they can be 100 percent effective, and I bet they would cause other issues down the line. If you Google ''email hosting," you will be presented with a list of companies that offer email services for a monthly subscription, presumably ad-free. That seems like a lot of trouble to go through, plus you'll probably need to get a new email address. My recommendation is to look into Windows Live Mail....

  9. Solutions: What to do if you download unwanted programs on your PC


    How can I get rid of notice at startup (not always) "Run DLL There was a problem starting c:\Users\M\AppData\Loca\lPLAYTO~1\Updater.dll The specified module could not be found"? I click OK and everything opens. I have gone to Programs and Playtopus shows, but no action, and I can't delete the listing. Also, every so often I get this message that Windows has stopped working. A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available. It closes and reopens, and everything works okay....

  10. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware a proven product


    After overcoming many doubts, I followed your advice and ran Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This provided a pleasurable Internet experience. No more irritating popups or screen lockups. After several weeks I bought a $25 one-year subscription. You always recommend the free trial but I would like to hear your comment on the paid subscription.

    I'm glad that worked out for you. You may also think about reinstalling whichever antivirus you were using. Some malware/viruses, once activated, will disable your antivirus to avoid detection. Though your system is clean now, make sure your antivirus is active and running without issues....

  11. Solutions: AutoRuns program does not detect unnecessary processes


    I was fired up after reading your response about slow PCs. I downloaded AutoRuns and was shown over 150 line items and did not know what to do. Here is one line item:

    vsmraid VIA RAID DRIVER FOR AMD-X86-64 VIA Technologies Inc.,Ltd c:\windows\system32\drivers\vsmraid.sys 1/30/2009 9:18 PM.

    Does not the program identify unnecessary items? Who has time to research?...

  12. Solutions: How to speed up a computer that is slow to boot


    I have a Dell Inspiron 14R (N4110), Service Tag 7RX9YP1, Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium, SP1, 8 GB RAM (max, I think), Intel i3-2310M at 2.1 gigahertz. It's 3 years old. It used to be quite responsive and boot quickly, but now it is very slow to boot and a lot of operations are running. I have installed and do need: AutoCAD, Sketchup, Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Revit. Can you recommend the best tools to clean up and tune up the PC back close to its original state? I have Norton 360 installed but its Tune-Up appears not to help much....

  13. Solutions: Worries about 'free' malware program


    Per your advice, I have used Malwarebytes and Spybot (both free) successfully for years. Once every three to four weeks, I update them and have had no problems. This week when I updated Malware, the format was different, and I ended up with a "Free Trial." That scared me, so I turned it off. I am 86 years old and struggling to keep up with new technology. I need your help to get back on the right track with Malware. ...

  14. Microsoft's email change is confusing


    I have a Toshiba laptop running Windows 7, and when I click on your column, I used to use the file button on the top of the page, and when the email link is shown, I used to hit it and my email addresses came up so that I could forward your column to my sons-in-law. Now when I click on file and the email link, nothing shows. Can you help me? I have taken it to a computer service that did nothing but tell me to copy and paste, etc. I can use Windows XP to do this, and it works okay, but it is a desktop, and I don't take it with me....

  15. Solutions: Windows 8 upgrade is optional

    Personal Finance

    I have Windows 8 on my new computer. I do not want to upgrade to 8.1, as I heard it is a mega download and because I do not have a touchscreen. Is there any advantage to Windows 8.1 over 8 if you do not have a touchscreen? I use my computer for emails and Web surfing.

    Actually, the Windows 8.1 update contained several mouse and keyboard improvements. There is a power button right on the Start screen that lets you more easily power down or enter sleep mode — no more searching for the "magic Charm" spot to click Settings just to power down. There are also some new right-click options on Tiles. The most useful change for me was the Title Bar for full-screen apps that now allows you to minimize or close the window without having to ''grab'' the top of the window and drag it to the bottom. Much more civilized. If you're happy and working on 8, there are no other compelling reasons to upgrade. Eventually, you will need to, but for now, you sound like you're in a good place computerwise. And like I always say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."...