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home : features : features March 26, 2015

4/14/2012 9:59:00 PM
Medical websites that could save your life

Q: My spouse appears to have developed a serious medical condition. I want to learn more the condition and particularly whether new research is identifying effective treatments. Can I get that information online?

A: There are some excellent websites that present new medical research, but, since most illnesses are complex, it is usually helpful to start with those that present basic information. Websites like and are examples. In addition to basic background, these sites describe some of the new research on common medical conditions.

A few other sites offer brief summaries of new research. Examples are and, which offer summaries written for the general public rather than medical experts. Another site that addresses conditions more common among older adults is The government also offers sites describing recent medical research such as

In reviewing these sites, we should suggest that the reader avoid relying excessively on any one research study or summary. The complexity of most illnesses leads to one study providing certain conclusions while another that involved different people or procedures can result in somewhat contradictory results. As a result, it is helpful to look for patterns between several studies and to look for interpretations of the results from people knowledgeable about the topic. In the long run, the benefit of reviewing such information is to develop a better grasp of what otherwise feels like a complex monster. A full understanding of such research normally requires years of preparation, but a modest understanding can lead to feeling prepared to ask appropriate questions and better interpret the information provided by medical professionals.

Preparing this response has led to some interesting discussions. As a result, the Prescott Computer Society will devote the last part of its meeting next Saturday to providing more detail and encouraging questions and comments from those in attendance. That meeting will be at the Prescott Library from 1 to 3 p.m.

Q: My tower computer is six years old and it's beginning to give me some problems. Boot-up is slow, applications take longer to load and it occasionally locks and needs a reboot. What would you suggest for a replacement? I just need something for everyday use.

A: The trend today is toward laptop computers, so I suggest you consider that. There are several reasons why a laptop might be your best bet. First, it will take up a lot less space than your current tower computer. That will probably lead to fewer messy cables behind your computer desk as well. Just about everything you need will be built into the laptop.

Your first thought may be that you don't need the computer for travel, and that's fine. Many of the laptops available from HP, Dell, Toshiba and others are not really built for travel anyway - they are too big and heavy to be lugged about comfortably. The laptop you choose should have plenty of memory (I suggest 4GB+) and a large hard drive, generally 500GB and up - probably bigger than what is in your 6 year old tower system. It will also have at least a DVD/CD reader and probably a DVD writer as well. Screen size can be 15" to 17", but if you have a desktop flat screen monitor you may be able to attach that as well - check the type of output on the laptop vs. what the monitor requires. The laptop will have USB ports to attach your external backup hard drive (you should have that for sure) plus your printer. If your printer has an old-fashioned printer connection, then you'll probably have to replace that anyway, because Windows 7 on the laptop may not support it.

Costco, Sam's Club, Staples, OfficeMax and Best Buy all have good selections of laptops. And of course many are available if you are an online shopper. Prices generally range from $500 on up, and even at $500 you may find what you need. I suggest you get an extended warranty with a laptop - repairs can be more expensive.

The Prescott Computer Society (PCS) is a PC-based users group located in Prescott. We have several entertaining and educational meetings each month to show you how to get the most out of your computer. For further information, visit Email questions for future columns to

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