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Technology

Would a cheap refurbished laptop run Photoshop?

Yuri needs a laptop to run Adobe Creative Suite but is short of funds. Could he get an old machine that will do the job?

I’m a graphic designer with a long-term health condition that regularly puts me in hospital. At home I work on a desktop, but when I’m on the ward, I’m forced to use my partner’s laptop. I need a PC that can run the Adobe Creative Suite, including 3D in Photoshop when necessary, support a second monitor and store large files. It also has to be pretty solid as it will travel to and from hospital often. Times are tough financially, but last week you suggested refurbs. Can you recommend a laptop that would suit me? Yuri

Last week’s answer covered desktop PCs, which become available as refurbs after they have been retired from corporate use after three or four years. There are even more refurbished laptops, which can do sterling work for people who don’t need the latest and greatest specifications.

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How can I control my child’s social media use?

Julia has a problem with her 14-year-old son’s use of Instagram and Gmail and would like to take control of his accounts

Why do social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc deem children ‘adults’ in the vast and dangerous world of technology? My 14-year-old is engaging in a toxic relationship with a girl on Instagram. I am not allowed access to his account as it is protected by their user privacy protection agreement. How can a mother have their child’s account removed?

Earlier, I helped my son create a Gmail account for school purposes. I was not aware back then that there was something called Google Family Link. He used the account without any problems for years, but he has changed the password. There is explicit content in his emails that I need to get access to. As with Instagram, I cannot contact anyone at Google via phone, live chat etc, and helpful links keep sending me around in circles. How can I take back the account I created? Julia

The British government sets a minimum age for some things, such as drinking, driving and voting. It doesn’t have a minimum age for online activities. According to Ofcom (2015), 67% of five to seven year olds, 91% of eight to 11 year olds and 98% of 12 to 15 year olds use online services, and there are “walled garden” services – Moshi Monsters, Disney Club Penguin, CBeebies – that target much younger users than your son.

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Will I be able to do more work with three screens?

Having more screen space makes people more productive, but it’s not necessarily best distributed over multiple monitors

Will I be able to do more work with three monitors? Jean

Research shows that people can get more work done if they have more screen area available, and using multiple monitors is a simple way to double or triple your workspace. However, that doesn’t mean having three screens is the best option for you or anyone else. The final decision depends on the way you work, the programs you run, the amount of desk space you have available, and how much you are willing to spend.

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What can I do to protect my PC from the Meltdown and Spectre flaws?

John has an old Sony Vaio PC that seems unlikely to receive a firmware update. Should he replace it?

My Microsoft Surface Book is protected against the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws, but my Sony Vaio Pro remains vulnerable to Spectre. Both laptops run Windows 10 and have been updated via Windows Update. The Surface Book’s BIOS has also been updated by Microsoft, but there is no BIOS update for the Vaio – and, I suspect, for millions of other machines.

What is the risk of continuing to run the Vaio with this known critical vulnerability? Is there another way to mitigate it? Or, in the end, do thousands of people have to dump otherwise good machines and buy new ones? John Piatt

It’s too soon to say. Bear in mind that, so far, there are no known exploits for these vulnerabilities, so the current level of risk is low. Companies will try to defend against threats as and when they appear. In the short term, we’ll just have to see how well that goes.

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How can I remove unwanted apps from Windows 10?

Tony hates apps such as Cortana, Edge, Xbox, Groove and would like to uninstall them. But should he?


I am not a power user. I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which has plenty of features I don’t need, and I hate Cortana, Edge, Xbox, Groove etc. I noticed that one of the Windows 10 tuners you reviewed last week “removes unwanted programs”. Would it work for these? Tony

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