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Ask How-To Geek: Blocking Text Messages, Prioritizing Wi-Fi Connections, and Revitalizing a Windows 6 Phone

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You’ve got questions and we’ve got answers. Today we highlight how to block unwanted and spam text messages, how to teach Windows 7 to prioritize Wi-Fi connections, and how to revitalize your aging Windows Mobile phone.

Blocking Unwanted Text Messages

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Dear How-To Geek,

I occasionally get unwanted text messages from a variety of sources: old SMS notification lists I can’t figure out how to unsubscribe from, random spammy ringtone purchases requests that are probably my fault from past lapses in judgment on my phone, and that kind of stuff. Unlike my email inbox there seems to be no easy or obvious way to filter these text messages? What can I do? For what it’s worth I’m not as much worried about getting billed for texts I don’t want (I’ve got a pretty hefty SMS plan) but I don’t like getting alerts for messages I don’t want to read!

Texts from the S.S. Spamalot

Dear Spamalot,

Surely many readers, and several of us on staff, can relate to your situation. There are several things you can do to deal with spam and unwanted text messages. You block them at the provider level, assuming that your cellular provider has such measures in place. You can also block them at the handset level if you have a phone like the iPhone or an Android phone that allows you install third-party SMS applications. Check out our guide to blocking annoying text messages here for step by step instructions to accomplishing both ends and get back to enjoying only relevant and wanted text messages.

Prioritizing Windows 7 Wi-Fi Connectivity

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Dear How-To Geek,

At work my laptop can see dozens of Wi-Fi access points. Those for my company, those for the bakery below us, those for the coffee shop across the street, and so on. Often times Windows will automatically connect to one of these many Wi-Fi points before it connects to my company’s hot spots. Also, even when it connects to my company’s network it often picks a Wi-Fi node that I end up changing anyway (knowing that the particular node is kind of flaky or weak where I spend most of my day in the office). Is there anything I can to do make Windows pick one over the other? My work laptop is running Windows 7.

Wi-Fi Jumping in Georgia

Dear Wi-Fi,

You’re in luck. You won’t need to install any extra software or do any crazy hacking to achieve your goal. Windows supports Wi-Fi prioritization right out of the box. You need to do two things to make your Wi-Fi utopia come about. First you need to jump into the Network and Sharing center to manage your wireless networks and assign priority to the hotspots in your office and then you need to turn off the automatic connection feature for the free wi-fi spots from the bakery and coffee shop. Read how to do both of these things here. Once you’ve prioritized the Wi-Fi nodes you want to use and  turned off the automatic connection of the ones you don’t it should be smooth sailing in Wi-Fi land.

Revitalizing an Old Windows Mobile Phone

Dear How-To Geek,

I’m rocking a Windows 6 mobile phone. It’s not in my budget to upgrade the actual phone and the upgrades through my phone provider and service provider have long since dried up. What can I do to update and modernize my phone a little? I know you can’t magically turn a 3-year-old Windows Mobile 6 phone into a brand new Windows 7 phone, but I’m open for anything! Help!

Technobummin’ in Nebraska

Dear Technobummin’,

Around here we know all too well the push to try to keep phones cutting edge. Carriers are so quick to abandon upgrades on phones in favor of encouraging consumers to buy entirely new handsets! Fortunately you’re not alone in your desire to squeeze life out of your old phone. You can do several things to freshen up your phone including installing Custom ROMs, install some new and popular apps that replicate the experience of working with a more modern phone, and even (if you’re feeling adventurous) installed Android on your Windows Mobile device. Check out all these options and how to enable them here.


Have a question you want to put before the How-To Geek staff? Shoot us an email atask@howtogeek.com and then keep an eye out for a solution in the Ask How-To Geek column.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/28/11

Comments (2)

  1. xxx

    NO SPAM- National Do Not Call Registry
    https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx

  2. Xps

    I’ve got a growing list of over 20 recent numbers from telemarketers and I am on the DNC registry. I even verified it recently to be sure. Whether or not that list helps is up in the air, but it certainly hasn’t stopped these sort of phone calls and text messages. For each number, I look it up online to find many recent complaints by people who also claim to be on the DNC registry. I can use my carrier’s web-based spam controls, but cannot block those 5-digit numbers. They did have an option to disable Internet-based text messages, so the spam texts have ceased (at least so far). It’s a bummer because I don’t sign up for anything with my cell phone or have it listed on social network profiles.

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