Q: My son has a Gmail account and tries to send emails to my Hotmail account but I don’t see his emails. We tested and I can send emails to him and he can receive mine but I don’t get his emails. My other sons have Gmail accounts and I don’t have this problem. Do you have any idea why, as we are befuddled by this?

— Denise Laird

A: The first thing to check if you haven’t already is whether his emails might be getting caught in your spam filter.

Next, it’s possible that your son’s messages are being blocked by your mail server because his account has gotten blacklisted as a source of spam. That could happen without your son knowing about it if malware has been using his account.

Check with your son to see if he is getting delivery error messages. If so, he should contact Gmail support.

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Q: I use a WD external hard drive to back up my computer but now because of a problem with the cord, it won’t let me access it any longer. The error message only says I need to format it before I can use it. What I want to know is what is the best way to back up my computer so that I don’t run into this kind of problem? Also, if there is some easy way to retrieve my information from the external hard drive, I would love to know that, too.


— Jolene Dekeyser

A: There are data recovery services that likely can retrieve your data. Just search the internet for “data recovery service” and your city.

Depending on how much data you want to back up, you may want to consider using a cloud service, such as Google Drive, Amazon Cloud or Microsoft OneDrive. Cloud backups offer two big advantages. First, your data is stored where your computer isn’t. If there’s a fire or flood that damages your computer, your data will be safely off-site.

Secondly, you can set up things so that any files you add to specified folders — and any changes you make to those files — will be automatically backed up. In short, you don’t have to remember to do a backup.

All three services offer a certain amount of data storage for free.

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Q: I’m sure there’s a reason (presumably facial recognition) why MSFT decided to place a blue box around the user’s face when you activate either the native camera or any third-party webcam. What I don’t understand is why there is no obvious way to make it go away. I want it gone because I find the framing annoying.


I’ve looked for solutions, but nothing I’ve found so far works.

— Peter Lewis

A: You’re in good company. There are quite a few people wondering how to disable that blue box. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a way to do so, either.

That blue box, by the way, is the camera’s built-in face detection and recognition feature. Using that, the Windows Photo app can automatically detect people in your photographs and link matches in albums. You can turn off that feature by launching the Photos app, clicking on the menu icon, selecting Settings and then scrolling down to the People section. But doing so won’t get rid of the blue box.

Q: I am a very senior citizen and have been wrestling with my AOL email. I have gone to the Geek Squad and to relatives for assistance to no avail to getting my AOL to work. Despite the many fixes I have tried, nothing has been successful. Thoughts?

— Lois Hoell, Bremerton

A: I’m afraid there’s no way I can diagnose the problem without a hands-on look.

So … I suggest you contact Kitsap Computing Seniors (kitsapcomputingseniors.org). It’s a not-for-profit organization providing computer support for people of all ages. And they offer help at two locations in Bremerton.