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Originally published April 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM | Page modified April 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM

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Making decade-old machine work with new gadgets

Special to The Seattle Times

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Q. I bought a Dell computer in 2002 (yes, 2002) that I am still using. I recently bought a digital camera (Canon PowerShot SX150 IS), and I was wondering if you know if there is any way to upload pictures to this ancient computer.

With the help of the extremely nice Microsoft person, I tried to figure out where to plug in the other end of the cord from the camera, but I could not find a compatible slot/port. The Microsoft person said it would not be on the so-called tower that is on the floor near the computer.

I looked everywhere else. Is my computer just too old to accommodate a digital upload? Sorry to be such a Luddite. The last guy who came to work on my computer said to give it a decent burial and buy a new one, but I haven’t yet.

— Katie Pratt

A. The important things for me to know would be which slots you have on your computer and which version of Windows you’re using.

But I’ll hazard a guess anyway. Even in 2002, most computers had USB ports, and that’s how you’d connect your camera to your computer. And it’s likely that even Windows XP, which is my guess on what you’re using, will recognize the camera when you connect it and will allow you to move files over to the computer using Windows Explorer. It’s even likely the software that comes with your camera will work on the computer.

Also, you can simply remove the storage card from your camera — it’s most likely an SD card — and plug it directly into the computer. If your computer doesn’t have such a slot, you can buy an inexpensive card reader.

But, yes, it may be time to update your computer. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you can get for the money now.

Q. I just got a new ultrabook to use in my studio, and I love the computer. The only problem is that I can’t find a wireless signal I can use. I have wireless Internet at home. Do I need to subscribe to another service, or is there some other way to use my existing service?

— Abby Jackson, Seattle

A. I’m afraid this is one of those areas where businesses aren’t yet doing what would be rational for consumers. Yes, if you want to obey the law, you’ll need to subscribe to another service. Probably your best (legal) option is to use your cellphone-service provider, which will sell or rent an adapter that will work with your computer.

If you wonder why I keep referring to “legal” options, it’s that there is downloadable software that allows you to connect your laptop to the Internet using your cellphone as a modem.

Unfortunately, doing so violates the terms of service of all cell services that I know of. They want you to pay extra.

Q: My wife’s 2-year-old HP laptop came with Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9. About three months ago, IE started to close unexpectedly every night it was used. Restarting it from the Task Bar usually failed. I could find no way to stop the problem, so I updated to IE10.

The problem persisted with the message of “Internet Explorer not responding and must close.” A couple of times a pop-up window appeared that indicated Windows was searching for a solution but none was found. I have disabled the IE add-ons but it did not help. Any ideas?

A. I have had similar experiences with Internet Explorer. And I haven’t been able to find the culprit as yet.

My suggestion would be to try a different browser, especially since it won’t cost you dime. You might actually like it better, too.

Actually, I run IE9, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome on most of my computers. I find that each of the browsers has compatibility issues with some sites and applications.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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