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Steve Alexander is a technology writer for Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Steve Alexander is a technology writer for Minneapolis Star Tribune. (Duane Braley/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Q: We installed a Netgear Wi-Fi range extender in our two-story home. At first, it worked well with my Windows 10 PC, but on the third day the laptop screen went mostly dark - I could see only the mouse arrow moving. What can I do?

–– Jose Gonzalez, Baton Rouge, La.

A: The problem could be caused by the range extender, which retransmits the Wi-Fi signal to make it reach farther; a PC networking problem; or a Windows 10 software conflict.

First, try rebooting your home network. Turn off the wireless router and all Wi-Fi devices connected to it, and then turn everything back on.

If that doesn't solve the problem, check the Wi-Fi signal strength. The "router link" light on the range extender shows the signal strength between the extender and the router; the "client link" light shows the strength between the extender and your laptop. Green is for best, amber is for good and red is for poor. Based on signal strength, you may need to move the range extender closer to the router, or the laptop closer to the range extender, or both.

To check for PC networking or software conflict problems, disconnect the PC from Wi-Fi. If it starts normally, reconnect to Wi-Fi and check out "things to try first" and "run the network troubleshooter."

Q: Google Maps used to show speed-limit information on my phone, but then it stopped offering that feature. But when I recently visited California's Silicon Valley, the speed limit was displayed on Google Maps again. When I left, the feature disappeared. What's going on?

–– Kenny Maxwell, Prairieville, La.

A: The speed-limit feature was introduced to Google Maps in 2016, but only for users of the Android phone or Android Auto (a car dashboard app.) Google later withdrew the feature from widespread use, but continued to test it around San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro. (Google never explained why it withdrew the feature, but some experts believe that accurate data wasn't available in some areas.)

Here's a workaround: The non-Google phone apps Velociraptor (free with in-app purchases) and Amphebia (free trial period and in-app purchases) can overlay the speed limits on Google Maps in some areas of the country.

Q: Google's Chrome browser has been giving me "not responding" messages on my Windows 7 PC that has 2 gigabytes of RAM (computer chip memory.) The delays, lasting from 15 seconds to a minute, occur when I switch to a minimized website "tab" that's been idle. What's wrong?

–– Tom Olson, Golden Valley, Minn.

A: A security update to Google Chrome this year increased the amount of RAM memory needed to use the browser. While the exact increase in RAM use wasn't disclosed, my guess is that your PC's 2 gigabytes of RAM are no longer enough to handle multiple browser tabs. Your options are to open fewer tabs, use a different browser, add RAM to your PC or replace your computer with one that has more RAM.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers may write to him at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; email: steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Please include a full name, city and phone number.

Visit Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

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