Q: My wife and I “cut the cable” over a year ago and have been pretty satisfied using Windows Media Center, (which allows a user to watch and record TV programs on a PC equipped with an internal or attached TV tuner). But recently the program guide stopped downloading and I can’t get it back. I’ve read online that this has happened to many others. What can I do?

Michael Kehoe, Minneapolis


A: There’s a fix for your problem, but the future of the Media Center ­software is in doubt.

Some Media Center users experienced an interruption in TV guide updates in late July because Microsoft changed the way it encoded the guide data. For a workaround solution that involves temporarily turning off the Windows Media Center or resetting the TV tuner, see tinyurl.com/os9by7h.

On Windows Vista and Windows 7, guide updates sometimes don’t work if the PC is set to download them automatically. Causes can include a bad Internet connection, a server problem or a lack of new guide information. So switch to manual guide updates. For Windows Vista see tinyurl.com/ppn7y4c and click “To change the download method”: for Windows 7 see tinyurl.com/ppc2oy8 and read the “To change settings” section.

But the future of the Windows Media Center software is questionable. It was first introduced in 2002, long before TV programs could be streamed from the Internet. In the age of streaming, Media Center’s over-the-air TV reception isn’t widely used, Microsoft says.

As a result it isn’t included in Windows 10, which debuts at the end of July (see tinyurl.com/kl7yvge). Media Center already had ceased to be free with Windows 8.1. To get it, you had to download additional software that could cost up $100 (see tinyurl.com/ct9l3qh). It’s unclear how long Microsoft will continue providing TV guide updates for Media Center on earlier versions of Windows.


Q: I purchased a new Dell laptop and put it in my upstairs office. Unlike the Dell laptop I had before, this one has trouble getting an adequate Wi-Fi signal from my wireless router that’s located downstairs, only 30 feet away. The Wi-Fi signal is apparently weakened by passing through the walls and floor, and at best I’m getting about one-fourth the speed upstairs that I get downstairs. What can I do? (I can’t run cable from the router downstairs to the PC upstairs.)

Greg Haupt, Minneapolis


A: A home’s construction and building materials can drastically affect a Wi-Fi signal’s strength as it passes through walls and ceilings. But because your previous Dell PC was able to receive a strong Wi-Fi signal upstairs, I think the new PC has a less-capable built-in Wi-Fi antenna.

Add an external USB Wi-Fi adapter ($10 and up), which probably will have a better antenna. For an overview of the adapters, see tinyurl.com/nwtha4e.


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 650 3rd Av. S., Suite 1300, ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.