Tech-Friendly: Java, DuckDuckGo, wireless home phone follow-up and your comments

By Paul Gorski

I recently urged readers to apply security updates to Oracle Java and Adobe Flash on their computers if either or both were already installed (“Tech-Friendly: Install Java and Flash security updates now,” Jan. 16-22 issue). I’ve already had one reader write and thank me for the alert. She had a tech-savvy relative install the update for her.

My goal for that article was getting the Java and Flash updates applied to older Windows installations, but newer Windows, MacOS and Linux systems should also make sure all security updates for Java and Flash are applied.

Again, don’t install Java if not already installed — you may never need it. For example, newer Apple Macintosh computers do not ship with Java installed. If you need Java, the program or website requiring it will let you know.

Another reader commented about “Tech-Friendly: Ditch Google for DuckDuckGo for ad-free, private Internet searches,” Jan. 2-8 issue. “Hal” commented online that is no longer ad-free. The ads Hal refers to are non-graphical “sponsored links” from Microsoft’s Bing ad service.

By default, may place one of these sponsored links at the top of your search results, but offers personal privacy settings that allow you to disable all ads. Go to, then choose “Layout,” and there you may disable all ads. I apologize for that omission in my original article.

I’ve had a few weeks to use my new wireless home phone service, as mentioned in “Tech-Friendly: Unlimited nationwide home phone service for $20 per month,” Dec. 19-25, 2012, issue, and I like it. Quick reminder: this service allows you to use a regular handset phone with wireless/cellular phone service. A couple items to note …

If your landline (or other phone number) transfer doesn’t work the first time, try, try again until the transfer is completed. You may have to ask your landline (or other carrier) to unlock or unprotect your number from unauthorized transfers.

Since working out my own number transfer problems, the service works, but when calls come in, my phone has a “wobbly” ring at first, but then rings normally. That might just be my handset phone base station and not the AT&T service. Other than that, the service works well.

One reader wrote me with questions about the home wireless solution. After investigating it some more, our reader will be switching to the wireless plan, and will be using the money saved to travel to visit family. Glad to be of service.

I feel it is important to acknowledge your comments, questions and concerns. Please feel free to comment online or send me your comments via e-mail,, or send your own letter to the editor. Thank you.

Paul Gorski ( has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

From the Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2013, issue

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