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Steve Alexander

Columnist/Reporter | Technology
phone: 612-673-4553
Steve Alexander follows consumer and business technology trends, and writes a weekly question and answer column for consumers.
Recent content from Steve Alexander

Getting a Wi-Fi signal from the house to the garage

Q: I have a work space in my new garage, but I can’t get access to my house Wi-Fi network from there. This is happening…

How to fix a slow video from the Internet

Q: During basketball season I was trying to stream a game, but the action was jerky, as if something were slowing it down. I’ve been…

What to do about the hassle when e-mails convert PDF attachments

Q: I’m part of a group of 80 people who every week receive an e-mail with an Adobe PDF file attachment. But when I receive…

Alexander: Sporadic Internet connection? Here's how to fix it

Q: Our five-year-old HP desktop PC frequently loses its Comcast Internet connection, and we get the error message “You are not connected to a network.”…

Alexander: How Windows protects files from accidental deletion

Q: To streamline my PC’s storage of programs and data, I wanted to erase 100 gigabytes of what I considered junk files, some of them…

Alexander: How to conceal your contact list when sending a group e-mail

Q: I’m switching e-mail addresses from to, and I’d like to tell all my contacts with one e-mail. Is there a way to…

Alexander: How a single small component can ruin a PC

Q: When we lost our Internet connection, we took our 2006 Dell Dimension E510 PC to two repair shops. Both said the PC’s main circuit…

Alexander: How cable cord-cutters can use DVRs

Q: We’re ready to cut the cable TV cord and rely on over-the-air broadcast TV along with online video streaming services. But what kind of…

Alexander: How to take your contacts along when switching e-mail

Q: I can’t send e-mail messages from my Microsoft Windows Live Mail program anymore, and my computer support people can’t figure out how to fix…

Alexander: How spam e-mailers hide their identities

Q: Lately I’ve been receiving spam (unwanted junk) e-mails that come from invalid e-mail addresses. As a result, my security software won’t let me add…

Alexander: How small organizations can make big backups

Q: I coordinate the St. Paul Classic, a large bike tour, and we are deciding how to back up our mailing list of 42,000 names…

Alexander: A photo can be damaged, but not its thumbnail

Q: I have photos that are perfect that I’ve stored on my computer, an external drive and flash drives. But when I view the photos,…

Alexander: Listeners don't always get stereo on the Internet

Q: I listen to Internet radio at night with my Toshiba PC, using Auvio earphones. I recently noticed that I’m not getting stereo anymore on…

Alexander: Reader feedback on testing your hard drive and making backups

It’s been a good week for reader feedback. Here’s what some had to say about last week’s column on PC disk drives.Readers Don Kleven of…

Alexander: Solutions for a hard drive using more storage space than it should

Q: The hard drive on my Windows 7 PC is inexplicably using more storage space than before, even though I haven’t added any new programs.…

Alexander: Recovering data from a Windows 98 PC

Q: I’m trying to retrieve and print documents from an old Windows 98 PC, but I’m not sure how to do it. The PC has…

Alexander: Fixing a PC upgrade that went wrong

Q: After reading your columns about problems with Windows 8 PCs that automatically upgraded to Windows 8.1 (see and, I checked the Dell…

Alexander: What to do when an iPod conks out

Q: When my iMac quit working (the hard disk was beyond recovery), I tried to copy the music from my older 8-gigabyte iPod to my…

Alexander: Full drive warning is false alarm

Q: I’m worried that my Dell PC’s 320-gigabyte hard drive is running out of storage space. I keep getting warnings that nearly all of “backup/recovery…

Alexander: Connecting an external hard drive to your home network

Q: I’ve been using a “Western Digital My Book Live” external hard drive in my home network. But after buying a new wireless router, I…

Alexander: Surprise from Windows dims laptop screen

Q: A few weeks ago, my Windows 8 laptop unexpectedly started loading Windows 8.1, and there was no way I could stop it. Since then,…

Alexander: Beware of pop-up messages that offer software

Q: I downloaded a new software driver that a pop-up message said I needed. Because the message contained the Microsoft logo (it was from a…

Alexander: Fixing a PC zapped during a power failure

Q: My daughter’s Windows 7 PC was left on during a power outage, and since then we haven’t been able to start it up properly.…

Alexander: Nexus 7 tablet choked on Google's Lollipop

Q: I recently upgraded my two-year-old Asus Nexus 7 tablet computer to version 5 of the Android operating system. About the same time, I bought…

Alexander: Silencing Web ads that play automatically

Q: What can I do about random audio advertisements that I’ve been receiving on my computer for several months? At first, I just pressed the…

Alexander: 'Snipping' a still photo from a video

Q: I have a homemade movie on DVD. Is there a way I can pause the video on my PC and save the image to…

Alexander: Transferring music files to a new PC

Q: I have ripped (copied) more than 400 music CDs to my Windows Vista PC using Windows Media Player. From the PC, I could transfer…

Alexander: Using old software on Windows 8.1

Q: For years, I used a mu­tu­al fund data­base program called Value Line Mu­tu­al Funds Survey for Windows. When I re­placed my Windows XP PC…

Alexander: Why I still recommend Windows 7

Q: More than once in your column I have noticed that you recommend that a person get a PC with Windows 7 installed. I am…

Alexander: Data rescue is costly if drive fails

Q: I want to recover my photos from a 2-terabyte (2,000 gigabyte) PC hard drive that isn’t working properly. I can’t do it myself because…

Alexander: Apple's new OS update causes iPhone, iPad glitches

Q: After Apple recently upgraded the iOS operating software for its mobile devices, my iPad 2 began having trouble connecting to my favorite websites via…

Alexander: When PC deletes e-mails, but iPhone won't

Q: I read your column about how two devices sharing an e-mail address also share the deletion of messages ( I have just the opposite…

Alexander: Are Apple apps stored in the cloud or iCloud?

Q: When Apple introduced its iOS 8 operating system in September, I think it caused problems on my iPad. I need to delete two apps…

Alexander: With Web-based e-mail, each device shares same messages

Q: I was wondering why some of my Yahoo e-mails show up on either my home laptop or my iPod Touch, but not on both.…

Alexander: Should you click links in e-mails?

Q: You hit on one of my favorite annoyances by advising your readers never to click on links contained in e-mail messages (see…

Alexander: Moving photos from your phone to a computer

Q: My wife and I took vacation photos this summer on an iPhone, Samsung phone, iPad and digital camera. We are now trying to combine…
June 24: Clinton Group’s rebels capture ValueVision

June 24: Clinton Group’s rebels capture ValueVision

CEO resigns, handing control of the company to dissidents who won half of the board seats.

Alexander: Fixing a PC despite a blank screen

Q: The screen has turned black on my wife’s all-in-one PC, a desktop model on which the screen and computer are single unit. Only the…

Alexander: How to mass delete files, photos on mobile devices

Q: We have Samsung phones and an iPad. Why do these devices not have a way to “select all” for deleting old e-mails, pictures and…

Alexander: Why your PC can't find your e-mail

Q: When I click on an e-mail address on a website, I get the message “could not perform this operation because the default mail client…

Alexander: Ransomware fix is now available

This is how fast things change in technology: Some advice I gave two weeks ago is obsolete. It involved “ransomware,” a type of malicious software…

Alexander: Firefox slow? Don't blame your PC

Q: I use the Mozilla Firefox browser on an older desktop PC. Lately I’ve noticed that the browser has been slowing down when it loads…

Steve Alexander: How to access Microsoft e-mail while traveling

Q: Your article about people being shut out of their Microsoft e-mail while traveling hit home recently. I was at a hotel for a West…

Steve Alexander: Saving the world from spam

Q: I’ve recently received hundreds of spam (junk e-mail) messages. I use my e-mail program to mark them as spam, then delete them. But I…
July 10: 5 Rainbow Foods stores get new names

July 10: 5 Rainbow Foods stores get new names

Three Twin Cities grocery stores have been renamed Cub Foods, and two are now Byerly’s.

Alexander: Can your smart TV get a virus?

Q: I recently bought a smart TV. Can it get infected by a computer virus? If so, can it be protected against viruses? Atef Hanna,…

Alexander: Treat your iPhone like a camera

Q: I have an iPhone 5 and I’m trying to move the photos I took with it to my PC. But I can’t open the…

Mankato-based Enventis acquired by Illinois firm in $350M deal

Growing out of roots in local phone service, firms will be an 11-state broadband operator.

Alexander: A hidden conflict halts her e-mail

Q: I’ve been having difficulty with Yahoo e-mail. While I’m usually able to reply to an e-mail, I can’t compose or forward a message. Instead…
Medtronic discloses 2 data breaches, says no patient data accessed

Medtronic discloses 2 data breaches, says no patient data accessed

Company says hackers accessed its computer systems on two occasions, but that no data was stolen – though some was lost.

ValueVision confirms that dissidents gained half its board seats

Results uphold Clinton Group claims that it won four board seats, but not the six it sought.
With the JamStik, you can make your own iPad music

With the JamStik, you can make your own iPad music

Zivix aims to be instrumental in blending guitar-like playing with iPad portability.

ValueVision board scrambled

Dissidents said they won 4 of 8 board seats in effort to oust CEO and reshape the unprofitable TV and Internet shopping firm.
Techne acquires chemical analysis firm ProteinSimple for $300 million

Techne acquires chemical analysis firm ProteinSimple for $300 million

The deal will complement Techne’s protein and antibody manufacturing operations.

Alexander: E-mail safety plan locks out users

Q: I recently returned to Australia after six weeks of traveling to Thailand, England and Scotland. I didn’t take my laptop along on this trip…

Alexander: If your desktop's date is off, its days are likely numbered

Q: I’ve had my Gateway desktop PC, model GT5620, for six or seven years. I noticed a few days ago that the screen was displaying…
CenturyLink's new Shakopee data center will keep 'the cloud' safe

CenturyLink's new Shakopee data center will keep 'the cloud' safe

CenturyLink’s new Shakopee data center is the first in Minnesota to offer super-redundant “Tier 3” dependability to corporate customers.

Alexander: Her files are locked; who has the key?

Q: A local repair shop fixed my PC after it was attacked by a virus, but a few days later I noticed that I couldn’t…
St. Jude acquires remaining shares of CardioMEMS for $375M

St. Jude acquires remaining shares of CardioMEMS for $375M

The deal follows CardioMEMS’ product receiving regulatory approval for a sensor that is implanted in the pulmonary artery.

Alexander: Is it worth it to upgrade an old computer?

Q: My IT department claims it should be a simple matter to upgrade my older iMac to the new Mavericks operating system. I bought the…

More layoffs for Hutchinson Technology workers

The firm will cut 100 of its 2,500 jobs amid a troubled disk-drive market.

Donaldson Co. shares drop after 3Q results miss, outlook changed

New fiscal year guidance, results for quarter are below Wall Street’s expectations.

Alexander: Computers get old fast, so we have to be smart

Q: When I bought a new HP printer earlier this year, I discovered that its software wasn’t compatible with my Macintosh “Leopard” operating system. Our…
Valspar beats Wall Street's 2Q earnings expectations

Valspar beats Wall Street's 2Q earnings expectations

The firm’s paint and coatings businesses showed a strong increase in sales.
Code42 taps's treasurer as its new CFO

Code42 taps's treasurer as its new CFO

Jason Bristow will leave the “Everything Store” to join the Minneapolis software firm.
AT&T introduces more realistic sound for smartphone calls

AT&T introduces more realistic sound for smartphone calls

HD Voice routs the calls over 4G data networks. It’s available next week but requires a new phone.

Corporations must elevate IT experts, U speaker says

Computer security professionals need more authority to prevent breaches, a national official said.

Alexander: Spam filters work, but not well enough

Q: I am inundated with spam, and receive as many as 50 to 75 junk e-mails per day. I have used spam filtering software, tried…
3M, the corporate inventor, surpasses 100,000 patents worldwide

3M, the corporate inventor, surpasses 100,000 patents worldwide

3M’s portfolio growth coincides with a global patent-application surge.

Workers at Worthington pork plant authorizes strike

Food and commercial workers union says JBS should offer more to its 1,800 plant employees.
Medtronic settles some bone graft claims for $22M; others pending

Medtronic settles some bone graft claims for $22M; others pending

The med-tech firm will pay $22 million, and it’s setting aside up to $140 million more for other expected settlements.

Endo settles mesh lawsuits for $830M

The company, parent of Minnetonka-based American Medical Systems, took the first step to end litigation that investors feared could cost billions.
Inspire Medical Systems wins FDA approval for sleep apnea treatment

Inspire Medical Systems wins FDA approval for sleep apnea treatment

The Maple Grove company’s device shocks a nerve to keep airways from closing during sleep.

Imation 1Q loss exceeds Wall Street expectations

In the midst of turnaround efforts, revenue dropped 20.3 percent in the quarter.

Digital River 1Q adjusted profit beats expectations

But the e-commerce firm, which has grappled with up and down results, is predicting a loss in the second quarter.
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