If Your Windows 8.1 Computer Is Not Adjusting For Daylight Saving Time

When Daylight Saving Time occurred on March 8th, I noticed when I turned on my computer that it did not adjust for Daylight Saving Time. I did not realize, until this experience, that trying to set the time on my Windows 81. computer was a pain in the butt and figured that this experience may end up helping someone else out. I know I am losing my touch from being out of the IT field for awhile, but this was crazy and I can understand why people, not completely familiar with computers, would get frustrated.

I initially, as first thought, went to the taskbar tray, clicked on the time (then clicked on “Change date and time setting), then clicked on the “Change date and time” button  and manually set the time to account for the time change. Several days later, on a reboot, I noticed that the time reverted again back an hour. On this occasion I went into the time settings, by clicking on the time in the taskbar tray (then clicked on “Change date and time setting), then clicked on the “Internet Time” tab and I noticed that when I manually performed a sync with one of the online internet servers, after I manually set the time, the time would automatically go back an hour.

I eventually found the solution; and that being once you go into the “Date and Time” settings either by clicking on the time in the taskbar tray or through the Control Panel, you want to click on the “Change time zone” button and make sure you have the “Automatically adjust clock for Daylight Saving Time” box with a check mark inside of it. Once I did that my time adjusted accordingly for my time zone. I have no idea how and why that box was unchecked; when, in my mind that should be checked by default (or I am starting to have one of those senior moments).

Windows 8.1 Time Settings

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Google Cloud Print – Make Your Home And Work Printers Available To You From Anywhere

If you use the Google Chrome Browser, did you know there is a built in feature (called Cloud Print) that will allow you to set up your home (or work) based printer so that you can print to that printer from any web based device (such as your smartphone, tablet, Chromebook, etc…)? This is a really handy feature when you are out and about and would like to generate a printed hard-copy of a document. Once you have Google Cloud Print setup, Cloud Print gives you the ability to store and manage (keep a history) of your print jobs.

Google Cloud Print

Google Cloud Print works with all printers, but for the best printing experience we recommend that you use a Cloud Ready printer. You can connect a printer to your Google Cloud Print account in seconds, and immediately start printing to it.

cloud printerConnect a Cloud Ready printer

If your printer is Cloud Ready, follow your manufacturer’s provided instructions or see setup information for Cloud Ready printers.

classic printerConnect a classic printer

 To connect your classic printer, enable the Google Cloud Print connector using a Windows or Mac computer that’s connected to the printer. You’ll need Google Chrome to be installed on the computer. If you’re using Windows XP, make sure you also have the Microsoft XML paper specification pack installed.

If you are like me, you most likely have a classic printer. The instructions to install a classic printer is as follows:

Once Google Chrome is installed, follow the steps below to enable the Google Cloud Print connector in Google Chrome.

  1. Turn your printer on.
  2. Log in to your user account on the Windows or Mac computer.
  3. Open Google Chrome.
  4. Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  5. Select Settings.
  6. Click Show advanced settings.
  7. Scroll down to the “Google Cloud Print” section. Click Add printers.
  8. If prompted, sign in with your Google Account.

Geek Squeak – Ask Leo Answers The Question “Do I need a computer memory upgrade?”

Upgrading the memory in your computer is one of the best upgrades you can make; however, it is necessary to know that there are limitations in regards to what operating system you are running and whether it is a 32 bit vs. a 64 bit operating system. Get the answer on this at Ask Leo – Do I need a computer memory upgrade?

Ask Leo Answers The Question "Do I need a computer memory upgrade?"

I’ve said it before: upgrading your computer’s RAM memory is one of the most cost-effective ways of increasing its performance.

However, it’s not a silver bullet. Whether or not it will actually help you depends on many things. And of course, whether or not you actuallycanadd more memory is something we also need to look at… Read More @ Ask Leo

See The Site “Ask Leo” and Other Tech Sites

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Today’s Geek Squeaks – September 10, 2013

A summary of Today’s Geek Squeaks:

Squeak #1: Connecting a computer to a big screen TV is pretty straight forward these days; however, when surfing the web on a TV, the standard web browser is not really optimized for that purpose. There is a solution in a browser called Kylo (see below);

Squeak #2: If you are using Windows 8 and you come across and iso file, did you know you can view the contents of the iso file and even burn the iso file to disc with what is already built into Windows 8? Let Simple Help show you how in a very nicely composed tutorial (see below);

Squeak #3: When we purchase a computer these days, the sound hardware components are typically built into the motherboard. The sound may sound good, but you do not know what good is until you go with a sound card (that you can install). To shoot you in the right direction, and to teach you a few things, make sure you read the article below from Dom’s Tech & Computer Blog (see below); AND

Squeak #4: Today’s featured geek product is one of the sound cards that Dom’s Tech & Computer Blog is recommending. It is the Creative Sound Blaster Z (see below)…

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Plan on seeing  a lot more of Geek Squeaks’, featuring a round-up of tech products, news, software, apps, wallpapers, articles, you name it;  from my favorite tech web sites… I just plain love tech!

See An Endless Stream Of Geek Squeaks’ [ HERE ]


Kylo – The Web Browser For Your TV

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Kylo’s wide-open interface is designed specifically to fit your TV screen. It’s not just a blown-up web browser. Kylo lets you enjoy your favorite content fast. Don’t waste time hunting through lists of links and unreadable text. See what you want to see!… GET IT HERE


How to Open or Burn an .ISO File in Windows 8

@ Simple Help

image

This very brief tutorial will show you how to open up and view the contents of an .iso file – or burn the .iso to CD/DVD – in Windows 8. The best part – all the software you need is included with Windows 8 itself… READ MORE


Best Gaming Sound Card – The Top 5!

@ Dom’s Computer & Tech Blog

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Most motherboards today come with an on-board sound card. Many people, however, don’t realize how much a dedicated sound card can really improve sound quality… READ MORE


Creative Sound Blaster Z SBX PCIE Gaming Sound Card with Beamforming Microphone

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The Sound Blaster Z is an ideal all-round solution for your PC gaming and entertainment needs. It comes complete with the Sound Blaster beamforming microphone for crystal clear voice communication… CHECK IT OUT HERE


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FREE Online Windows 8 Tutorials

If you are new to Windows 8 and rate yourself as the average computer user, then you may find Windows 8, in its’ present form, a challenge. When I make the statement, “in its’ present form”, I’m referring to the upgrade that will soon take place that will bring Windows 8 back down to earth where the average computer person resides. Windows 8 is a really good operating system; it has been the new graphical user interface and missing start menu that has thrown people off. In reality, not a big deal; however, Microsoft realized that they were shooting for the moon and may have advanced the user interface a little bit too far, too fast.  The Windows 8 upgrade, last I read, is to correct these issues and make it so that people can be eased into the future proposed changes.

GCFLearnFree.org

In the meantime, if you just purchased a computer with Windows 8, I really encourage you to take some time and watch (and read) these tutorials, which are all FREE from GCFLearnFree.org

All About Windows 8

1: Exploring Windows 8

2: Upgrading to Windows 8

Using Windows 8

3: Getting Started with Windows 8

4: Using SkyDrive with Windows 8

5: Using the Search Feature

6: Personalizing Your Start Screen

Working With the Desktop

7: Getting Started with the Desktop

8: Managing Your Files and Folders

9: Personalizing Your Desktop

Windows 8 Apps

10: Using the People App

11: Using the Mail App

12: Internet Explorer

13: The Music and Video Apps

14: Downloading Apps from the Windows Store

Changing Your Computer’s Settings

15: Managing User Accounts and Parental Controls

16: Opening Your Files with Different Apps

17: Security and Maintenance


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Create A Desktop Shortcut To Your Windows 8 Apps and Software

What many of you do not know is that I often use the blog to document tips, that I come across, for my own future reference. Today’s post is a good example of this. Recently I discovered that I can create a Windows 8 desktop shortcut that will launch the Windows 8 GUI (graphical user interface) menu for all of the apps and software that I have installed on my computer.

As you well know, if you are a Windows 8 user, there is no Start Menu. This shortcut, in essence, will go to serve the same purpose of the Start Menu; however, in appearance it does not look like the Start Menu you have been accustomed to. The good about this is, that once you click the shortcut and you get to the apps screen, you can simply start typing to search for the app or software program you are looking for. For example, let’s say I want to launch the calculator that is built into windows. I simply click on the shortcut that will launch the Windows 8 GUI menu or apps screen, then start typing calculator and very quickly the tile to launch the calculator will appear.

To create this desktop shortcut, here is what you have to do:

Right click on desktop and click New -> Shortcut

A dialog box will appear prompting for a location of the item.  Copy and Paste the following into the dialog box, then click Next:

%windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{2559a1f8-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}

App Menu Shortcut

After you click on Next, another dialog box will launch prompting you to give the shortcut a name. In this case, I named the shortcut Windows 8 Apps.  After you enter the name for the shortcut, click on Finish.

App Menu Shortcut

Click on your newly created shortcut, to launch the Windows 8 Apps Screen (menu)…

App Menu Shortcut

What I am finding, by using this shortcut technique, I am using the Windows 8 GUI menu (or apps screen) on a regular basis.

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Free Tax Software, TurboTax, and e-Filing | April is here…

Seagate 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive SATA 6Gbps 64MB Cache 2.5-Inch

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Four Ways To Easily Get To The NEW and IMPROVED Windows 8 Task Manager

The NEW and IMPROVED Task Manager that we find in Windows 8 was designed in such a way to not overwhelm the end user and can be quite useful, especially when you need to shut down a task (or program) that is not playing well with your computer. When you first open the Task Manager in Windows 8, you are going to initially find a very basic interface (see below) that will only show what tasks (or programs) are currently active. This basic interface was an on purpose design, with the idea that it makes it easy for the non-technical type of person to get to the task manager, review and shut down  tasks (or programs) quickly, then get out.

Task Manager - Basic Interface

To get to the more expanded (advanced) options to the Task Manager, you will need to click on “More Details”, which in turn will give you what you see in the screenshot below.

Task Manager - Advanced Interface

The expanded view is more for the technically inclined individual; however, I encourage new visitors to the Task Manager to not be afraid and go for the tour. You will find tabs for the processes running on your computer, performance gauges, Windows 8 App History, the programs starting up on your computer (which you can disable for troubleshooting purposes), Users, Details (on the programs and processes that are running), and Services.  I especially like the Details tab where if I see a process or program that is running that I am not sure of, I can right click on that process or program and perform a Google search to see what exactly the program or process is. So you see, the Task Manager has come a long way and can be used as a great troubleshooting tool.

Now that I have briefly covered the Task Manager, here are four ways to open the Task Manager up in Windows 8?

  1. At the Windows 8 Start Screen, simply start typing “Task Manager”.  You will see the screen populate with a “Task Manager tile.  Click on the tile…
  2. From the Windows 8 Start Screen or the Windows 8 Desktop use the hotkey Ctrl – Shift – Esc on your keyboard.
  3. At the desktop level, move your mouse pointer to the bottom left corner of the screen until you see the Start Screen Button appear. When the button appears, right mouse click on the button and select Task Manager from the menu.  Also note the other options on that menu.
  4. Believe it or not, this is the one I use the most. I guess it is because I have used it from day one when Windows was born. It is what I call the “three finger salute”.  Hit the Ctrl – Alt – Del keys simultaneously on the keyboard. You will be taken to the solid colored screen (usually blue by default) where you can select Task Manager.  To come out of that screen, simply Esc on the keyboard.

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Two Options to Boot Windows 8 To The Desktop

Typically when you boot Windows 8 you will land either on the Lock (or Login) Screen or the Start Screen; depending on how you have Windows 8 configured. To get to the desktop, you have to click on the Desktop tile on the Windows 8 Start Screen. This change has really thrown a lot of folks off of their game.

Windows 8

There are couple of ways to fix this so that you will land on your desktop, instead of landing on the Start Screen. One option is to download (and buy) Start8 by Stardock. The advantages of this option is that there is a configuration setting in Start8 that will allow you to boot to the desktop; PLUS, Start8 creates a Start Menu (which is a missing component in Windows 8). So this option is really a win-win option, all the way around. There are many other third party options out there, but I lay my trust in Stardock’s reputation.

The other option that I came across is by WinAero. This option is a more techie type option that requires a little work on your part; however, this option does not require you to install any third party software. It modifies system policy and allows to Explorer to read the registry key which controls Metro behavior. If you think you may be interested in this option, [click here]. WinAero also has some other Windows 8 utilities that you may be interested in, as well.

In summary, I am thinking that Microsoft will eventually get this right by giving us an option to restore the Start menu and by giving us an option to boot to the desktop. Microsoft reminds me of many of the smart (intelligent) people I know. They are smart, but they lack common sense.

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The Easy Way To Close A Windows 8 App

As I mentioned in an earlier article, I never had any “hands-on” experience with Windows 8 until it was officially released by Microsoft back in October. I intentionally did this so that I would have that first time user experience (and challenge); like most of you will have.

As I continue to “find my way” there was one thing I started to wonder about. Was there a way to easily close a Windows 8 app once I opened it? In reality, in the scheme and design of things when it comes to Windows 8, you will find that it really does not matter; however, I wanted to know. I eventually found the answer that works for me on my desktop computer and find myself doing this all of the time now.

When you are working from the “Start Screen” (see screenshot of my Start Screen below) and click on an app, the app will open maximized on your screen and you will immediately notice that there is no close button or minimize button.

Start Screen

What you have to do, is this:  When the app is open move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen. When the cursor reaches the top of the screen a “hand” will appear (see cropped screenshot below). When the “hand” is visible on the screen, hold down the left button on your mouse, drag to the bottom of the screen, and the app will disappear (and close). As you are performing the dragging action, visually you will see the app shrink down from full screen to a much smaller screen (or window). Once you teach yourself to do this, I will guarantee it will become second nature to you when you want to close an app.

Close App

Note:  The cropped screenshot you see above is a Windows 8 app called SmartCalc.

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Access Any File You Need From Your PC From Anywhere With The NEW SkyDrive

A hot news item this week in the world of computers and information technology has been the re-design of Microsoft’s SkyDrive from its’ standard file management interface to the more metro look (that is the defacto Windows 8 GUI). If you have a Hotmail (or Outlook.com) account, then you can easily get access to SkyDrive. I highly recommend you take advantage of SkyDrive, because Microsoft is really getting this right.

With SkyDrive, you get 7 GB of free storage with SkyDrive—that’s enough for over 20,000 Office documents or 7,000 photos. For most people, this is plenty of space. But if 7 GB isn’t enough, you can add even more storage for a low yearly fee.

image

It was not the metro look that captured my attention or that you can now upload and store any type of file; instead, it is a very powerful feature in SkyDrive that allows you to remotely access your files and folders on your Windows (or Mac) computer from anywhere you have internet access. For example, if I am at work and I need a document file from my computer at home, I simply log onto SkyDrive account where I am able to see my entire file/folder/drive(s) structure on my computer at home. This sort of reminds me when I used to manage network attached storage devices (NAS), with the end user interface being quite similar to this.

As long as your home computer is “on” and is running the SkyDrive software, you can access any file you need from your home computer—from anywhere.

In fact, you can browse through files just like you would if you were sitting in front of that PC. Want to show someone a photo on that home PC? You can view photo slide shows and videos on that PC from any browser, from any computer.

Fetch files from your Windows PC from anywhere

Here’s how it works, straight from the horses’ mouth:

  1. Download SkyDrive for Windows.
  2. Make sure you leave the box checked during setup that will allow you to “Fetch your files from anywhere.” (You can also choose this later by clicking the SkyDrive icon (SkyDrive icon) in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar, and clicking Settings. On the General tab, under Fetch files, select Make files on this PC available to me on my other devices, and then click OK.)
  3. Open your browser and sign in to SkyDrive.com.
  4. Your PCs that have SkyDrive for Windows installed will appear in the Computers menu. Choose the computer that has the file you want, and you can view, print, or download the file you forgot.

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iPAD – A Possible Solution For When You Cannot View The Contents Of Your Email

Yesterday, was a first with me that taught me that I need to be now thinking outside the box; the Windows OS box that is…  A friend of mine, in his 80’s, asked if I could help him with an email problem he was experiencing on his computer. What I was expecting was a computer sitting on or under his desk or a notebook computer, but what I found was that this well seasoned friend of mine was using an iPad.  I was like, hmm, hmm, and hmm… ; where do you turn this thing on at (just kidding). I actually had an iPad in my hands a few times, so I did at least know where the home button was located.

image

The problem he was facing was that the email client suddenly had stopped displaying the contents of any of his emails. The left side of the email client showed the email titles; however, when you finger tapped an actual email, it was no longer showing the content of the email on the right side of the window. After navigating around in the settings and confirming the settings were properly set, etc…, I came to the conclusion that this was a bug in the email app that was causing it to hang and wasn’t releasing itself from memory.

If you remember, several days back I posted the article All It Took Was Unplugging The Computer and Plugging It Back In as a potential fix to many computer problems. With this thinking in mind, I told my friend, “Let’s try this… We will completely shutdown the iPad, count to 10, then restart it”. What I soon learned is that he had never completely shutdown the iPad since he owned it.

Note: Folks, these tablets (iPads, Androids, etc…) are like giant smartphones and if you ever owned a smartphone (or cell phone) you soon learn that you need to completely power down the unit on occasions and reboot it.  What this does is refresh the operating system and releases any memory resident programs or issues that have been cached.

Sure enough, after restarting the iPad and it came back to life, I went back to the email client and voila’ problem solved.  My friend was back in business and could now read his email.

After praising my friend, who is in his 80’s, for knowing more about an iPad than I did, I went home and did some further research on this specific problem and found it is quite a common problem. As a result, to help other iPad owners, here are some of the solutions you can try if you are unable to view the contents of your email:

Solution #1:  Completely power down the iPad.  Hold in on the hold  button (which I called the power button) that is at the top right corner of the iPad. A red slider will appear.  Slide the slider to the right to power the iPad “off”.  Count to 10, then restart the iPad.

Solution #2: You can perform what is similar to ctrl+alt+del on your computer by holding both the sleep and home buttons together (for approximately 10 seconds) until you see the Apple Logo.  Ignore the red slider.  The iPad will reboot.

Solution #3:  Simply double click the home button, press and hold the mail icon and tap when the red dash appears to refresh or (kill) the app.

Again, I am not an iPad expert and these solutions may vary from generation to generation of iPad. Also, for anyone that is into computers and information technology, be aware that you now have the tablets on your plate to deal with.

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All It Took Was Unplugging The Computer and Plugging It Back In

A tech (and gardening friend) of mine (Puterguy) sent me this story (actually as a comment on the blog), that compelled me to share his experience with you in hope that it will help someone else.

image

Rick: I ran into another first today. I wasn’t sure where to post it so network monitoring sounded kinda close.

Story: The computer was not connecting to the the server and showing a disconnected or low signal.

My first thought was the CAT5 wire was shorting somewhere or a bad network port. After testing the line AND plugging into another CAT5 port that I knew was working, it still failed to connect. I rebooted the computer and the BIOS was set to check for LAN boot and there was a message which said something about Ethernet boot corrupted. Right away I am thinking “bad network card or BIOS corrupted”. I left it boot and logged in to still find the same symptoms. I turned the computer off and started to disconnect everything to swap out the Ethernet card BUT noticed the light on the Ethernet card on. Since the card was “wake on LAN”, I decided to pull the power cord to sorta reboot the Ethernet card. I plugged the computer back in, hit the power button, and TADA, no more issues.

All it took was unplugging the computer and plugging it back in (long story short)…

Be sure to check out Puterguys blog [ click here ] which is a gardening and tech blog mix…  Very unique!

image

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Read Your Browser’s History File With These NirSoft Utilities

imageDid you know that when you visit a site on the internet, your web browser archives the site address? This archival process is commonly referred to as the browser history. The main purpose of the history is that if you forget the site address of a site you may have visited, you can go into the history to find the site. I really do not know many home-based computer users who actually do this; but, it is important to know that it does exist. This is especially helpful to know, if you have children or teenagers accessing the internet.

The browser history can tell a story about a person’s browsing habits and patterns, to include the time and date when a site was visited.  If you are at work and your workplace is strict on what you are accessing on the internet (and when), just remember your tracks can be easily traced. It is not uncommon for an employer, on the server side, to capture what sites a person has visited (and when) on the internet; even if you dump the browser’s history file.

On the basic level of things, like at home, and you have a need to know and you need a quick way of grabbing the browsing history on a Windows based computer, I highly recommend the utilities by NirSoft that specifically specialize in reading the history file of the most popular browsers out there. Simply download any of these, unzip, run and watch the magic.

Internet History View

Mozilla Firefox History View

Google Chrome History View

Safari History View

With each of these utilities, you can easily export the history data to text/HTML/Xml file.

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Access Your Box (Cloud Storage) Files Directly From Windows Explorer

Recently I posted an article about Box, an online file storage (and sharing) service. The article, “Log Into Your Box Account From Your Android Device and Get 50 GBs of FREE Online Storage” provided instruction on taking advantage of an offer that Box was promoting for Android users. I definitely took advantage of this offer and got my 50GBs of space.

Box

So far, my experience using Box as an online file storage option, has been an excellent experience. The only thing that I was missing with this service was the ability to access my online files directly from my desktop. To do that would require signing up for one of the paid options to download their desktop software.

From experience, I knew there had to be another method to access these files and it was not long that I came across an article at Instant Fundas (titled: How to Access Box.net Files From Windows Explorer?) , that provided a solution. Not only did this article provide a solution, it also taught me something new about a HTTP protocol extension called WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) that allows users to create, move, or change files directly on a server. Guess what? Box offers WebDAV support, giving me a FREE  solution to my problem. After following the instructions as Instant Fundas, I can now access my Box files directly from Windows Explorer.

If you are currently a Box subscriber, I encourage you to visit Instant Fundas to get step-by-step instructions on how to set this up. It worked great for me and just may be the solution you are looking for, as well.

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A Tech Support Care Package For Parents

Helping our parents or older friends break through that barrier that they think they are dumb about technology can be a tough call; when in fact they are on the same level as everyone else.  Yes, the new generation coming up is being exposed to technology like never before but that does not make them any smarter. In fact, as we progress in this age of digital technology, we are actually dumbing ourselves and our kids down to the point that someday our dependence on technology will become so strong that if it suddenly all turned “off”, we will be like zombies.

Ok, enough of Ramblin’ Rick’s theory on the digital technology age…  Today I wandered onto a site, brought to you by Google, called “Send Your Parents A Tech Support Care Package” that may be helpful in getting your parents (or older friends) to break through that fear barrier of using their computers.

Send Your Parents A Tech Support Care Package

Send Your Parents A Tech Support Care Package is at a very basic level and does not contain everything you need to know, but there are some interesting video tutorials that are quite good.  You will find four categories that offer an array of videos:

THE BASICS
WORLD WIDE WEB
COMMUNICATION
MEDIA
FINDING INFORMATION

What you do is fill out the form on the site, select your category and topic, choose some choice words, and send the tutorial instruction to Mom and Dad.

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Remember To Use The F3 Key When Browsing

While making my rounds on the tech blogs, I was reading an article at Guiding Tech and in that article was a side tip informing people about using the F3 key in Google Chrome.

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To expand on that tip, the F3 key is typically used to invoke a search (for text) in your web browser; whether it be Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. I am pretty certain the F3 key is a standard key used in just about any browser to invoke a text search on a web page. For example, let’s say you pull up a news site and you are looking for an article (or text) related to a specific topic. Simply hit the F3 key and you will be presented with a search box to type in what you are looking for. Once you enter the text and hit “Enter” on the keyboard, every instance of the text on the web page will be highlighted.  Usually there are up and down arrows to navigate through each instance of the text on the page. I found that Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome do the best job in highlighting the text; whereas, Internet Explorer you can lose track of where the highlighted text is located.

Using the F3 key is especially helpful when viewing a list or very long web page and will definitely save you time. When I saw that tip on Guiding Tech, I thought I need to get that tip out there.  This is one key that I definitely recommend remembering…

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USB Connectors – Remember Seams Down

Today I stumbled across a tip that will not only help you, but will definitely help me. It is so simple, I do not know why I  had never taken the time to really examine the issue.

The issue is the flat USB connectors that we find on your flash drives and USB cables. I have numerous USB ports that I use to connect my external devices, but when it comes the time to plug them in, it seems I never can make that connection with ease. My luck is that I usually have the connector upside down and I end up pushing and prodding.

To remedy this issue, the site “Apartment Therapy” has posted the obvious solution… READ MORE

Just Remember, – when making that connection:

 HORIZONTAL CONNECTIONSEAMS DOWN

AND

 VERTICAL CONNECTIONSEAMS LEFT

USB Connector

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Save A File As A PDF File In Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010

Years ago when I was working as a Computer Information Specialist, where you had to be the “jack of all trades and master of none” , I was often called upon to find ways to convert Microsoft Office files to the Adobe PDF file format. I often had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it done. Today, that has all changed… There are PDF converters everywhere; AND, to make it even easier the newer generations of Microsoft Office (2007 and 2010) now have an option available where you can save an Office file as a PDF file. To no surprise (to me), most people using Office 2007 and 2010 are unaware of the PDF “save as” option and end up expending a lot of their time looking for solution.

image

The PDF file format is an excellent way to share a file and retain the original format that deters others from making changes to the content of the file. The PDF file format has been around for many years and is widely accepted (as a standard) worldwide with many agencies and organizations. Numerous viewers are available that make it possible for anyone to view a PDF file.

To save a file in Microsoft Office 2007 (to include, Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, Publisher, Visio and Word) you generally can get to the PDF option by clicking on the Microsoft Office button, point to the arrow next to Save As, and then click PDF.  You will have to give the file a name.  Depending on what Microsoft product you are using, the Office button may not be an available feature. Typically in that case go to the File Menu to perform a similar action as already described. Best way to learn, with whatever Microsoft product you use, is just do it and you will (learn) and will find the option I am referring to.  If you are totally lost, [click here] for more detailed instructions.

To save a file in Microsoft Office 2010 (to include, Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, Publisher, Project, Visio and Word) you generally can get to the PDF option by clicking on the File Tab, click Save As, and in the Save as type list, click PDF (*.pdf). Again, you will have to give the file a name.  If you need further instruction (with more detail), [click here].

Please keep in mind that when you save a file in Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010, using the PDF format, you will not be able reopen that file in Microsoft Office to edit the file. Typically, what I do first is save the file as a native Microsoft file (as the original working document). Then if I want to distribute the file as a PDF, I will bring up the original and save it to the PDF format.  In the end, I have my original version of the document (which I can edit) and the PDF version of the document (which cannot be edited).

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Bookmarks4Techs News Clip –
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Extend the Lifespan of the Windows 8 Developer Preview or the Windows 8 Server Developer Preview

This post applies to anyone who has been using the pre-release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview or the Windows 8 Server Developer Preview…

Windows 8 Update

You can extend the lifespan (or usage) of these products to January 15, 2013 by performing a Windows Update. Following the install of this update, Windows 8 will automatically try to reactivate after a restart and will continue restarting until an activation is successful. If you fail to perform the update you will receive notice on your desktop, 14 days prior to expiration, alerting you that the pre-release version will expire.

You can read in more detail about the expiration of these products and the steps to take to extend their lifespan by visiting Microsoft Support [click here] .

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How To Insert An Image As A Watermark In Microsoft Word 2010

Recently I posted an article, “Get It While You Can – Microsoft Office Starter 2010”, describing how you can get the Starter Edition of Microsoft Word 2010 and how the Starter Edition of MS-Word will serve to meet your needs in the department of word processing. Folks, I have been using the Starter Edition on a regular basis and I have yet come to a situation where I needed a feature that is in the full version (which costs a lot of money).  I am sure I may run into the wall with this, but I have not yet.

As a result of finally getting the opportunity to play around with MS-Word 2010, I decided today to put up a post on how you can take an image (or picture) and insert it as a watermark in your document. These same steps can be used to insert a normal text based watermark, as well.

If you are unfamiliar with watermarks…  Watermarks are faint imprints on the background of the document to designate the status of the document. For example, one of the most common watermarks that I have seen and used is the “DRAFT” watermark to indicate that a document is in the draft mode.

Screenshot - DRAFT Watermark

Other common watermarks used are “Confidential” and “ASAP”..; BUT, what if you want to use an image as a watermark to brand a document or to decorate the document?

To insert an image as a watermark in Microsoft Word 2010, follow these steps:

1.  Pull up your document in Word.  Click on the Page Layout tab at the top menu, click on Watermark, then at the bottom of the drop down click on Custom Watermark.

Screenshot - Watermark

2.  After you click on Custom Watermark, the Printed Watermark dialog box will appear.  When this box appears, click on Picture Watermark and Select Picture button will become active.  At this point, click on the Select Picture button to retrieve the image (or picture) you desire for the watermark image.

Screenshot - Printed Watermark Dialog box

3.  When retrieving the image (or picture) you desire, make sure you select the Washout check box so that the selected image (or picture) is lightened.  At this point, you can also change the scale of the image.

Once you select a watermark and embed it in the document, it becomes visible throughout the entire document.  If you need to turn “off” or change the watermark, simply follow these steps again.

If you are a Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 user, be sure to check out a related article titled:

Adding a “Watermark” in Microsoft Word 2003 or 2007

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How to Determine What Videos Are Topping The YouTube Charts?

When I visit YouTube I am often looking for the videos that are topping the charts (most popular). This can be a challenge; however, there is an easy way to see what videos are topping the charts for the day, week, month and even all time.

Simply visit youtube.com, but add the word charts to the web address.  It will look like this in your web browser:

 http://youtube.com/charts

YouTube Charts

Not only can you determine what is popular at the moment for the most viewed videos, you can also determine what is topping the charts for the Most Discussed Videos, the Most Liked, the Most Viewed HD Videos, and the Top Favorited.  Hmmm… Is favorited a word?

YouTube Charts

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[GEEK SQUEAKS’] – Angry Birds Online, Wi-Fi Beer Can Booster, Remove Chit Chat, Good Return Policies, and Books for Dummies

Angry Birds
Very popular game where you use a slingshot to launch birds
at pigs stationed on or within various structures.

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Mrintech
Boost Wi-Fi Router’s Signal Strength using Beer/Beverage Can

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Malware Removal Instructions
Remove Chit Chat (Uninstall Guide)

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Lifehacker
The Best and Worst Places to Buy Anything
When You Need a Good Return Policy

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Dummies Books
Popular Book Series That Will Teach You On Just About Anything

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Deal of the Day @ Amazon.com

Computers & Accessories Index

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Great Instructional Videos to Learn the Basics of Windows 7

I am always on the hunt for instructional material for people that use their computers in their homes. With Windows 7, Microsoft has done a pretty good job with providing help and assistance; however, if you are not familiar with computers and Microsoft Windows, then locating these helpful tips can be a chore in itself. Also factor in the point that most people today do not have time to sit and read something that will not hold their attention span and is difficult to understand.

Windows 7 Basics

To resolve this issue, one solution is through video instruction,. I went on the hunt and found a nice array of FREE instructional videos on learning Windows 7 Basics at a website called Mahalo.

Mahalo - Windows 7 Basics

The videos are provided by Sean Hewitt, a Mahalo’s Windows expert.  The videos are very nicely organized and broken down into categories with a listing of videos under each category. The videos themselves are approximately 1-4 minutes or less in duration. When you launch a video, note that below the video window there is also provided easy to understand textual and pictorial descriptions of the material being presented. You can easily move from lesson to lesson following any video you have completed.

Follow this course and you will be able to use some of the more advanced Windows features. The curriculum consists of visual lessons starting at the basics and moving up to advanced. Although each lesson is taught in a manner that anyone can follow, even advanced users are guaranteed to learn some new tricks. The only thing you need for this course is to be ready to learn!

Category topics available are:

Windows 7 Navigation 25:06

System Settings 27:27

Browsing the Internet 31:45

Customize Windows 24:24

Basic Programs 30:28

Windows Media Center 11:32

Advanced Features 22:03

Test Your Knowledge 5:27

To visit, Mahalo and to watch the videos Learn Windows 7 Basics [CLICK HERE]

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[DID YOU KNOW?] – You Can Move The Windows 7 Taskbar to Make Your Workspace More Productive

The Windows Taskbar, which is the bar located at the bottom of screen can be moved to either side of the screen or to the top.

Windows Taskbar

In today’s world of computing where widescreen displays are the status quo, it only makes sense to move the taskbar from the bottom of the screen to one of the sides of the screen. It is a matter of personal preference, as to what side. Regardless, what this does is give you more vertical space to work with. Yes, years ago when we had the square displays, the taskbar at the bottom made a whole lot of sense (provided more horizontal space).

Initially this change will not feel right at all; however, over a period of time, as you adjust to the change, you will find that by moving the taskbar to the side of the screen will result in a much more proportioned and productive workspace.

To make this even better, once you get the taskbar to the side of the screen, set it to “autohide” and then “lock the taskbar” to prevent it from being accidentally moved.  If, in the end, you just cannot adjust to these change, simply move the taskbar back to the bottom of the screen.

So how do you do all of this?

To Move The Taskbar: Left mouse click an empty space on the taskbar, and then hold down the mouse button as you drag the taskbar to one of the four edges of the desktop. When the taskbar is where you want it, release the mouse button.

To AutoHide The Taskbar: Position the mouse pointer on an empty space on the taskbar.  Right Mouse Click, select “Properties”, then checkbox “Lock The Taskbar”, then click on “Apply”, then “OK”.

To Lock The Taskbar: Right mouse click an empty space on the taskbar. If Lock the Taskbar has a check mark next to it, the taskbar is locked. You can unlock it by clicking Lock the Taskbar, which removes the check mark.

These same instructions will work for Windows Vista and Windows XP, with maybe some slight differences; however, the Windows 7 taskbar was specifically engineered to take in account any taskbar changes and adjust them accordingly.

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[Did You Know?] – About the Windows 7 Mouse Shake Feature

There is a feature in Windows 7 that can come in quite handy in those instances where you have multiple windows open and you want to minimize those windows with the exception of the one you are working in.  It is called Aero Shake.

Here is how it works:  Let’s say for example you have four windows open and one of those Windows is Internet Explorer.  You decide you want to focus your attention on Internet Explorer and minimize the other three windows. Instead of minimizing each one separately, simply position the mouse pointer on the top of the Internet Explorer pane, hold down the left mouse button and give the mouse a shake. If you did this correctly, all the windows will minimize to the taskbar with the exception of Internet Explorer. Again, this was example (using Internet Explorer) and will work with any window you have open.

Video Demo of Aero Shake

Video - Aero Shake

Here’s another great tip provided by Tech-for Everyone:
How To Restore The Menu Bar In Vista And Windows 7

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[Did You Know?] You Can Select Multiple Files That Are Not Grouped Together

Have you ever been in your Pictures folder (or another folder) and wanted to copy a select group of pictures (or files) to another folder or destination and they are not grouped together. Most people, in that case, will individually click each picture (or file), right mouse click, select copy, then go to the destination folder and and right mouse click and select paste.  This can be very time consuming if you have numerous files.

There is a much easier way to accomplish the task that I find most people do not use. Using the same scenario, hold down the “Ctrl” key on the keyboard and left mouse click (highlight) the individual files you want to copy.

CTRL

When done, keep the mouse pointer on one of the highlighted files, right mouse click, select copy (or whatever you want to do), then go to the destination folder, and right mouse click and select paste. You can perform other operations, such as cut or delete, using this technique.

The point here is to use the “Ctrl” key to individually select multiple files that are not grouped together to perform whatever operation you desire to perform. The Pictures folder was used as an example only.  This function will work in any file folder and sometimes even in applications, such as Microsoft Word, to select text that is not grouped together in a document, etc…

BONUS TIP:  Tip: Keyboard Shortcuts – Manage Your Windows with Alt

[DID YOU KNOW?] is something NEWhere at What’s On My PC and will be an ongoing project that will give you tidbits or bytes of computer information that I find that is really useful or unique.  If you have anything that you would like to see posted in the future, that may be helpful to others, feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below.

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Putting Your Computer to Sleep

Typically, I turn my PC “on” in the morning and “off” at night; however, during the day when I am not at the PC I will put it to “Sleep”.

To put your computer to sleep, click the Power button on the Start menu or click the arrow next to the Lock button Picture of the Lock button.

image

“Sleep” is a power saving mode that the computer will go into where all current computer activity is paused. Your computer will appear that it is “off” when in sleep mode.

Prior to going into “Sleep” mode the computer saves all open documents and programs to memory so that when you come out of “Sleep” mode, all is the way that had left it.  I do recommend that if you are working on something important that you manually save the document instead of relying on the computer to retain the last saved version of the document (in case a power outage would occur).

The reason I prefer using the “Sleep” mode during my computer idle time, is that I can rapidly resume working by either pressing the “Power Button” on my PC, moving the mouse or  by tapping a key on the keyboard (usually the spacebar).  I don’t have to wait for the computer to boot up when coming out of “Sleep” mode.

Added note is that many PC’s are already configured, through the computer’s power management configuration, to automatically go into “Sleep” after a period of inactivity.  Many notebook PC’s will also go to “Sleep” when the lid is closed and will resume when the lid is opened.

So the next time you are working on your PC and you step away to take a nap, simply give your computer some nap time as well, by using the “Sleep” mode.

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Is Windows Search a True Performance Hog?

Guest Article By:

TuneUp Blog
Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Partner, TuneUp

One of the most persistent myths about Windows is, disabling the Windows Search index will significantly increase PC performance and reduce hard disk activity. The Windows Search index is a particularly handy Windows 7 tool, so it shouldn’t be casually disabled. Let’s dive deeper into this myth and figure out whether it actually works or not.

First, it’s important to know how Windows Search works. After installing Windows or turning on your PC for the first time, Windows Search creates an index of specific files, folders and other items, such as Outlook emails or Start Menu entries, on your hard disk. This index is loaded into the main memory (RAM) of your PC and fuels extremely fast searches. The way this works is, instead of browsing through your entire hard disk or huge folders, Windows Search simply accesses the index and immediately produces results.

Windows Search is especially helpful for multi-taskers, who are always looking for e-mails or files. It’s important to figure out whether you’ll need the feature because the question about its impact on PC performance is complicated. The easy answer is, yes, disabling Windows Search index results in longer search times. But here’s the caveat—this is only the case for folders that are being indexed. These include the entire user folder, all Start Menu entries, offline files, Outlook contacts, appointments and installed e-mails, installed and used OneNote notes, and Internet Explorer history.

What’s kept inside the index need not be a mystery. You can see how much and what is being indexed on your system by going to the Control Panel and typing “Windows Search” into the search bar. Then, click on Indexing Options, and you’ll see an index that could be quite large (depending on how much data is there). But are you still wondering if shutting down the index is worth the performance benefit? I benchmarked this very question on my day-to-day work machine and will share what I found with you.

Putting the Windows Search Index to the Test

For the test, I used a Core 2 Duo with 3.2 GHz, 4 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD hard disk, as well as a lower-end machine with a Core 2 Duo 1.86 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and a much slower 5,400 RPM hard disk. From here on, I’m going to refer to them as the faster notebook and the slower notebook.

The faster notebook had nearly 40,000 items indexed. However, I added all of the folders on all of my hard disks to the Windows Search index. That should give some noticeable results, as more than 300,000 files were added to this machine. The slower notebook had about 20,000 items indexed, which is closer to the amount of files (such as pictures, emails and documents) typical PC users keep on their computers. My comparisons of these two extremes should help you decide whether it’s a good idea to disable the Windows Search index.

First, I wanted to test the Windows Search index activity and added a couple of hundred files to the slower notebook and about 300,000 files to the faster one; this was to see how much these machines struggled with a growing Windows Search index. And, Windows proved itself—while users are working on their machines, the operating system reduces the indexing speed so that it does not impact PCs’ performance. It didn’t matter if I added 500 or 300,000 files; Windows never slowed down in any perceivable manner—even an average CPU consumption of 10% did not noticeably impact the performance. Here’s a quick summary of what I found:

Quick Summary

Comparing the Time to Startup and Shutdown

But does Windows Search have a significant impact on boot-up and shutdown performance? In theory, it should slow these processes because the service and index need to be loaded into main memory.

To test this, I looked at the times with Windows Search enabled and disabled. Both of the machines actually booted just a bit faster with Windows Search disabled. The faster notebook’s shutdown time more noticeably improved, whereas there was no difference in the slower notebook’s shutdown time whether Windows Search was disabled or enabled.

Quick Summary

Moving on with the tests, I similarly found that there was a very slight difference in performance (with Windows Search enabled and disabled) when running a virus scan—an activity which is very intense on the hard disk and CPU. And again, when testing the startup of Microsoft Outlook 2010; and yet again, when trying out the 3D animation performance benchmark Cinebench. Windows Search turned out to not be such a performance hog after all!

For more on the Windows Search benchmarks and specifics on each test run, visit TuneUp’s blog at http://blog.tune-up.com.

Enabling or Disabling: That Is the Question

Following the tests, I believe that Windows Search actually has an effect on performance—although the feature only slows things down a little bit, more so when it comes to lower-end machines. The myth of Windows Search being a real performance hog originated with Windows Vista due to its search performance issues, and probably just continued on with the Windows 7 operating system.

Not sure which way to go: enable or disable the Windows 7 feature? Users should always enable Windows Search if you need to find files, emails, programs and contacts, among other things, once in a while. But if you heavily rely on faster search, don’t touch it. On the other hand, Windows Search should be disabled, if you just use your machine for one purpose only, like as a gaming or as a Windows Media Center-based PC, if you never search for files, or if you just want to squeeze the very last ounce of performance out of your PC.

Have your own conclusions to share about the Windows Search myth? I invite you to email me at tibor.blog (at) tune-up.com or post a comment to the TuneUp Blog about Windows.

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Story of the F11 Computer Fix

DiagnoseI recently was called upon by a friend, to help him fix a computer problem that he described as something that replicated a browser hijacker involving Internet Explorer. I really could not get much out of what was occurring without sitting down at the PC; besides, I hadn’t seen the guy for awhile and I thought, why not, let’s get dirty.

Typically, since my retirement from IT,  I shy away from home based computer problems due to the amount of time that is often involved with minimal payback. It literally can take hours to diagnose and clean a malware infection and worse case scenario is a complete OS reinstall; which oftentimes the end user does not have available the resources (or discs) to perform the reinstall. It literally can be a nightmare…

Armed with my latest arsenal of techie software and recovery utilities, I began working through the diagnostic process in my head, since it had been awhile.  I was even thinking, I have not done this for awhile, do I still have the touch? Anyone who knows me, knows when I do something, I go full tilt (and more) and attempt to be as prepared, as possible.

When I finally got behind the PC, which was a HP Notebook (Vista OS), I questioned my friend further, prior to firing up the notebook and learned that he had the PC for 2 years, performed routine maintenance (such as running a defrag utility, disk cleaner, and virus and malware scans). He was still leading me to believe that Internet Explorer had been hijacked, toolbars missing, new toolbars showing, etc…

You know, by questioning and listening to the end user, you can gain a lot on the computer knowledge level of the user, etc… In this case, his knowledge was just above the normal level (in my ratings scale) for the home based computer user, which was a good thing.  He was even naming the utilities he regularly used such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, SuperAntiSpyware, Microsoft Security Essentials, CCleaner, and Web of Trust; which, he said he learned of these utilities from reading the blog.  I was impressed that this was the same level of protection I was using on my PCs.

I did a test boot of the PC and to be honest it was probably the cleanest and fastest boot time for a home based PC, that was 2 years old, that I have experienced.  As a matter of fact, just based on what was initially occurring and seeing that the desktop was not a vast array of icons, like most PCs that are 2 years old,  I was starting to sense this was not a malware problem, but an end user problem.

In the event this was a malware attack or browser hijack, to be on the safe side, I shut down the PC and disconnected from the internet.  I rebooted, and again nice boot and load time. I opened Internet Explorer, and as soon as it opened, I knew exactly what was wrong.

The browser was set to full screen. The fix, hit the “F11” key and the browser toolbars, menus, etc… reappeared. My friend, was like, WOW! He asked, what caused that to happen? To be honest, he accidentally hit the key or one of his many cats did. I ended up giving him a lesson on how to use the F11 key to go from normal browser view to full screen view. He was very fascinated that you could do that.  As a matter of fact, to my readers, give it a try, when you are in your browser hit the “F11” key to toggle between normal view and full screen view (whether it be Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Opera).

I ended up checking my friend’s PC out and found it to be in great shape (firewall “on”, MS AutoUpdates “On”, Malware Scanners “On”, etc…) I never did have to use any of my techie utilities to burrow down into this notebook. Oh well, it was a good exercise anyway and besides I made a good friend happy.  Simple as this experience was, I thought, why not write about it… Just may be something in here that you may learn about.

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Learn How to Use the Boss Button In Windows 7

When Windows 7 was in beta development I was following and trying to learn every tip that I possibly could learn; however, there was one tip that I completely forgot about (and I bet you may have to).

If you have Windows 7 as your operating system on your computer, look at the taskbar (typically at the bottom of your screen) and on the far right side you will see a shaded rectangular block. That rectangular block is actually a button, called the Show Desktop button or what I call the Boss Button.

Boss Button

What purpose does the Show Desktop button (or Boss Button) serve?

If you have a multitude of Windows open and you want to quickly minimize all of those windows to get to and see the desktop, simply click on the Show Desktop button. If you desire to return to where you were working and open the windows back up, simply click the Show Desktop button again.

Why do I call it the Boss button?

An example: If you are at work and playing solitaire (or whatever other thing you are not suppose to be doing on the computer) and the Boss is coming toward your office, simply click the Show Desktop button (or Boss button) and whatever you have on your screen will instantly disappear and minimize to the taskbar. When the boss leaves, click the Boss button again and continue playing solitaire.

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A FREE Cloud App That Will Save You Money

Have you ever experienced the frustration of printing an article on a web page and ended up printing everything but the article? I feel your pain.  Been there (many times) and done it; and the end result was wasted paper and ink (and money).

To help overcome that frustration, save money and help save a few trees, I encourage you to take a look at the online (cloud app) service called “Print Friendly”. It is a FREE, user friendly service specifically engineered to help you print web pages.

Print Friendly

There are actually two methods to using Print Friendly, with the latter method described below, being the easiest and most efficient.

Method 1:  Whatever webpage you desire to print, copy the web address, go to the Print Friendly web site [ HERE ] and paste (or type) the site into the form box and hit print preview.

Method 2: At the Print Friendly web site [ HERE ] use your mouse to drag the Print Friendly bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmark toolbar. The beauty of this is that any web page you desire to print, simply visit the site where the article is located, then click on the Print Friendly bookmarklet on the toolbar. The web page will be magically converted, ready for printing, right before your eyes.

Using either method will activate the Print Friendly print preview.  At this point you can delete elements (paragraphs, images) prior to actually printing the selection. Other notable features, is that you can save the selection to a PDF file, email the selection or tweet the selection.

Print Friendly

Video – How Print Friendly Works

Video – How Print Friendly Works

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My Mini (HTPC) Media Center Setup Featuring Lenovo, LG and Bose

When I get a thought in my head to do something, I usually follow through; no matter how crazy or indifferent it is.

In this case I was looking to complete a mini media center (HTPC) setup in my living room that would provide full computer access with wireless connectivity to the internet, my main PC and my netbook. In essence my goal was to lay back in the recliner and be able to browse the internet, stream media (and movies) from the internet, play my music and movie collection, play a game or two, check my email, check the blog, etc…  You get the idea.

You are probably wondering why I would want a “mini” media setup instead of a full blown super large screen media setup? Well, here is the problem and the word spelled out is “w-i-f-e”.  See, we have an oak TV cabinet (that is like the foundation of our relationship) that will only accomodate a TV the size of approximately 26” to 30” and no way was anything going to replace the cabinet. Also, I wanted to keep cost to a minimum.

So here is what I did (step-by-step) to create my “lay back in the recliner media center” using the confines of the oak TV cabinet.

The current TV had to go. I replaced it with a LG M2762D-PM Glossy Black 27″ 5ms 1080p HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor with TV Tuner 300 cd/m2 DC 50000:1 [ SEE HERE ] . In short this Monitor/TV has hi-def capability, very good ratings, numerous connections and a nice remote to toggle between TV and computer. This monitor/tv fit nicely into the oak cabinet and connected to an existing DVD/VHS player, that was already in the cabinet.

LG Monitor/TV

I then purchased the Lenovo Ideacentre Q150 Series Nettop [ SEE HERE ] . If you are not familiar with nettops; they are mini computers that are on the same line as a netbook, but smaller.

A nettop is a very small form factor, inexpensive, low-wattage desktop computer designed for basic tasks such as surfing the Internet, accessing web-based applications, document processing, and audio/video playback. – Wikipedia

The Lenovo Ideacentre Q150 sports an Intel ® Atom Dual Core processor D510 (1.66GHz, 1MB L2 Cache), 2 GB DDR2 667 (2GB max), 250 GB, 5400 RPM, HDMI NVIDIA ION Graphics Processor with 512MB graphics, Full HD (1080p) support, Wireless network ready, Handheld wireless multimedia remote with trackball mouse and keyboard Windows 7 Home Premium 32 Bit.

Lenovo Ideacentre Q150

Now comes cool part #1. The Lenovo Ideacentre Q150 shown above can be removed from its’ stand and mounted directly to the rear of the monitor using a bracket included in the package. That is exactly what I did. In essence, I now have an “all-in-one” PC. I then connected the Lenovo Nettop to the HDMI port on the TV for hi-def. Again, everything still fitting nicely in the oak TV cabinet.

Now comes cool part #2. The multimedia remote that you see above is slightly larger than the palm of my hand; yet it is a keyboard and trackball mouse all wrapped up in one.  Took some getting used to, but I love this little bugger.  What a great idea from Lenovo.

Now comes cool part #3. The only thing I did not like about the monitor was the built in speakers. I would rate them as average, but I needed better. No way could I ask “w-i-f-e” for any more money. Then it hit me. We have a Bose Wave Music System that we purchased years ago and the sound from this thing is absolutely awesome (for such a small package). I started exploring this option and found that I could patch the sound from the TV and the Nettop into the Bose. To make it work in the oak TV cabinet, the LG monitor/tv with the attached Lenovo Nettop sat perfectly on top of the Bose; and the black color scheme of the monitor and Bose matched nicely to make it appear as an “all-in-one” system.

image

Now comes cool part #4. I attached an external Western Digital My Passport 250 GB drive to the Lenovo nettop (that I already had) for more storage capacity and setup the nettop to be remotely (and wirelessly) managed from my main desktop computer (using UltraVNC). If you have a network in your home, wireless or hardwired, I highly recommend setting up remote access from a main PC. You can then easily manage your networked PC’s from one location.

Now comes cool part #5. When using a setup such as this from a distance across the room, seeing the text on the screen when browsing the internet or performing other Windows functions can be a chore; especially when your eyes are going south like mine. The solution here was the Windows 7 maginifier tool that can be found under “Ease of Access” on the Windows 7 menu.  The magnifier tool provides the option to magnify the entire screen or just portions of it.

In the end, I am very satisfied with this setup and that it met the specifications, as set forth by “w-i-f-e”. The “w-i-f-e” is quite happy and I think impressed (even though she will not break down and tell me that).

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Windows 7 for Seniors

You are probably looking at the title and questioning, “Did Microsoft develop another operating system called Windows 7 for Seniors?”. The answer is, NO! The title is referring to the Dummies Series of books that have been in production since 1991, when the first one published was “Dos for Dummies”. As a matter of fact I was a fan of that book and actually purchased several after that. Believe it or not, it was those few books that helped drive my interest in computers.

Today there are more than 150 million of these books in print that show you how to do everything (i.e. cook, garden, manage, finances, run a business, plan a trip, exercise, eat right, etc.). If you don’t believe me, [click here] .

For the sake of this article and to help out my senior friends there is a “Windows 7 for Seniors for Dummies” book that I recommend to help you navigate and learn the Windows 7 operating system.

Windows 7 for Seniors

Many people I am associated with have the illusion that our children and grandchildren are the teachers of computers since it is part of their generation. Being someone that has used, taught and managed PC’s, this is far from the truth. If you want to learn the basics and have an edge over your children or grandchildren, the “Windows 7 for Seniors for Dummies” is a good place to start.

Learn to:

  • Use the Windows 7 desktop and create your first documents
  • Connect to the Internet and browse the Web
  • View, edit, and print photos
  • Keep in touch by e-mail and play games online
  • Tour the desktop — learn to use menus, the Start menu button, files, and folders
  • Do it — create notes and letters, connect a printer, download photos from your digital camera, and put music on a CD
  • Have some fun — discover Solitaire and other built-in games, listen to music, and watch a movie
  • Use the accessories — display Gadgets on your desktop, draw with Paint, and use the Calculator
  • To keep or not — install additional programs you want and remove those you don’t need
  • Protect your Windows — learn to use the Action Center, download and install virus protection software, and keep it up to date
  • Have it your way — make your screen easier to see, open files with a single click, and even have your computer read to you
  • The wide, wide Web — shop and explore online and learn to stay safe
  • What’s on the taskbar
  • Directions for creating and saving documents
  • Steps for installing a printer and other peripherals
  • How to connect to the Internet anywhere
  • Backgammon and other games you can play online
  • Guidance on protecting your computer from viruses
  • How to send e-mail attachments
  • Advice on backing up documents and photos

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Is magicJack’s VoIP for you?

magicJack – A device that you plug into your computer’s USB port that enables you to use your broadband internet connection to make FREE local and long distance phone calls. A phone line (standard RJ-11) plugs into the magicJack from a phone. Initial cost is typically around $40 dollars [ CLICK HERE ] the first year, then $20 a year thereafter. There are other pricing packages available, as well.

magicJack

magicJack

Is magicJack’s VoIP for you?

Recently while browsing in the local RadioShack, I could not help overhearing a man and woman asking the salesperson a lot of questions about the magicJack. What they wanted to do was replace the landline phones in their home with a magicJack and this salesperson was laying it on heavy; making it sound like this $20 device was the “ultimate” solution to replacing their landline phone service.

After detecting skepticism from these folks, I could not take it any longer and piped in. I said, “Listen, I have been a magicJack owner for over a year.  It does work; however you need to know this about magicJack”.

  • This device is dependent on the speed and reliability of your broadband connection and your computer. If the broadband connection and/or computer is under heavy load, then expect problems.
  • This device depends on your computer being turned “on”; however, the service does have voicemail which can be forwarded to an email account (in the event the computer is turned “off”).
  • Call quality can vary; however, on my setup the call quality is better than cellular and most of the time as good (sometimes better) than my landline. Again, this varies, based on the factors previously reflected.
  • I have experienced occasional software issues with the magicJack software, which is driven by the magicJack device itself. Often a reboot of the PC will make it behave itself. When you get this thing, get everything plugged in and follow the registration instructions to setup your “new” phone number.

  • This device will not work through the phone jacks in your house. The salesperson was definitely giving that impression. One thing you can do, is purchase a cheap cordless phone and plug the main base into the magicJack.
  • Services included are FREE local and long distance calls, FREE voicemail, FREE call waiting, FREE Caller ID and FREE Directory Assistance.  Again, this all varies based on factors previously reflected; however these services are included.
  • You are going to see thousands of “pros” and thousands of “cons” on this device. For example, [ SEE HERE ] .  All I can tell you is, it works for me.
  • You are going to read where magicJack computers may analyze the phone numbers you call in order to improve the relevance of the ads you see in the magicJack software.  In other words, this could be a privacy concern.
  • You are going to find at the magicJack.com website, it is geared toward marketing; not tech support.

Is magicJack’s VoIP for you?

In this particular case, I set up a “win-win” situation for these folks (the customer) and the salesperson.

Replacing your landline phones in your home with magicJack, is not a good solution; unless you are living on bread alone (which did not appear to be the case here). Using magicJack to supplement other services you have is a good solution. For example, I dumped my long distance and use MagicJack to make my long distance calls, which is really not that many compared to other people. We also have pay-as-you-go cell phones and can use them in a pinch, if necessary.

I then turned to the salesperson and asked, “What is your return policy? AND, If these people buy this and do not like it can they bring it back to YOU? At this point, I really got the look. Once that was out of the way, I told these people, take this home and play with it and play with it a lot.  If it does not suit bring it back to this guy. They ended up buying it!

To my readers, magicJack does work; however it depends on many variables. If you want to play with one, go to Walmart to buy it.  Their return policy is probably the best around. If you can’t wait and want a decent buy, then check [ HERE ] .

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An Easy Way to Backup the Windows Registry

Ah yes, the Windows Registry… In comparison to the human body where our brain is the data storage component that controls our thoughts and bodily processes; the Windows registry is similar in this fashion. Just like the brain, if injury or damage occurs to the registry, the impact can be great and ultimately result in a crash of your computer.

The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores configuration settings and options on Microsoft Windows operating systems. It contains settings for low-level operating system components as well as the applications running on the platform: the kernel, device drivers, services, SAM, user interface and third party applications all make use of the Registry. The registry also provides a means to access counters for profiling system performance. – [Source: Wikipedia]

Now the good to this is that the Windows registry can be backed up (even sections of it) and the backups can be used to restore or heal the registry. I am a big advocate of backing up my registry on my computer; especially when installing or testing software. These backups are also especially helpful in the event of a malware infection where malware will hook into the registry unbeknownst to the user and will ultimately cause havoc.

Backing up and/or restoring the Windows registry is a process that is not an easy process. I know of many techs that even get the jitters when you even talk about the registry.  The Windows Restore function, does try to perform backups of registry changes so that the user can try to recover from a mishap; however, in my opinion this is not the most reliable option.

If you want an easy way to backup your Windows’ Registry, I suggest using ERUNTgui .

ERUNTgui is a graphic user interface for the popular registry backup and restore program “ERUNT” created by Lars Hederer.

ERUNT – current versions 1.1j are still compatible with Windows 7, but as in Vista, they will only work correctly if you turn off User Account Control in Windows’ Control Panel (move the slider to the lowest position).

This utility is pretty easy to use. Simply select, “Backup The Registry” and you will be prompted for a location to save your backup. Once the backup is saved, you can also use ERUNTgui to perform a restore in the event your registry becomes corrupted. There is also an “Optimize the Registry” button; however, if you do try this, make a backup of the registry first.  See, I even get the jitters when I know I am messing with the registry.

ERUNT.gui can also be used as a portable app on your flash drive. I currently have this utility in my tech toolbox and will often use it to make a registry backup on other computers that I know I will be getting down and dirty with.

ERUNTgui

ERUNTgui

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Computer Tutorial Site Based On Pictures

Have you ever heard that saying, “What do I have to do, draw you a picture?”.  Well, when it comes to computers, I say “YES”!

Years ago when I was managing a network where I was the jack of all trades, master of none, I was tasked with getting people onboard with Microsoft Office.  Keep in mind, this was a time when people had just mastered the learning curve for WordPefect, the defacto wordprocessing program at the time.  One thing I learned during this transition was to use good instructions and pictures. As they say, “a picture speaks a thousand words” and it is in those pictorial words that the end user can relate to.

I came across a website, called “In Pictures” tutorials, that does exactly what I liked to do and that was make computer tutorials (or instructions) based on pictures, not words.

In Pictures

The site currently offers up tutorials focused on the Microsoft Office products, Openoffice.org, Web Layout and Web Programming. I do not know if this is an ongoing project or not; but, it is a good “BASIC” resource, to get you started, if you need some assistance in the areas mentioned.

You can get to In Pictures Tutorials [ HERE ] .

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Change the Look of Your Gmail

image If you are a user of Gmail, learn how to change the look of the Gmail interface by using a feature built into Gmail, called “Themes”…

Here is how it works in Ramblin’ Rick’s own words:

1.)  Open up Gmail.

2.)  Top right corner of Gmail, click on “Settings”

3.)  Once you are into the “Settings”, click on “Themes”

4.)  Select (click on) the “Theme” of your choice and the Gmail interface will magically change.

You can even select your own colors under the Themes Settings…

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Boost Your Microsoft Office Skills with Ribbon Hero

Many people, businesses and government agencies have not yet upgraded to Office 2007 or tried out the beta of Office 2010. If you are someone that is a Microsoft Office 2003 user (or earlier version), you most likely will be disconcerted when you upgrade (or use) Office 2007 or Office 2010 (currently in beta). Reason I say this is that the first time I experienced Office 2007, I was immediately thrown off by the new user interface called ribbons that replaces the the traditional menus and toolbars.  In reality, the new ribbon design is a tabbed interface that is more simplified and more fluent with a command structure that is grouped together in a more “common sense” order of relevancy.

image

As with any major software upgrade there is a learning curve. Most of the time we conquer that curve through trial and many errors; OR, we take instruction to learn about the software changes. In an innovative (and different) approach, Microsoft decided to make learning about the ribbon interface a fun thing by teaching people through a game.  The game they came up with, is a prototype called Ribbon Hero. With Ribbon Hero you score points by doing the things you do everyday in Microsoft Office.

image Ribbon Hero is an add-in that you install if you are running Office 2007 or Office 2010.

Ribbon Hero is a game for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel 2007 and 2010, designed to help you boost your Office skills and knowledge. Play games (aka “challenges”), score points, and compete with your friends while improving your productivity with Office.  As a concept test, this add-in is not supported, but is an opportunity for you to try out an idea we are working on and let us know what you think.  For additional challenges and the opportunity to earn more points, download Office 2010 Beta. – Microsoft Office Labs

If this has caught your attention and you are interested in learning more about the “Ribbon User Interface” in Office 2007 (or Office 2010), you can download “Ribbon Hero” from [ HERE ] . The “cool factor” with this game is that you become educated by having fun.

To grasp the concept on how to play Ribbon Hero, I encourage you to watch the video below.

image

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GUEST POST: Starting a Blog the Right Way

Guest Post by Poch Peralta

I encourage you to visit Poch Peralta’s blog, Plato On-Line, to get the scoop on just about anything…  Poch is a regular visitor here at What’s On My PC and recently featured one of my articles on Plato On-Line.  As a courtesy, today I am posting one of Poch’s articles about “Starting a Blog the Right Way”, which was recently featured on the site Million Clues.

Starting a Blog the Right Way

During my first 6 months of blogging, I made a lot of mistakes which is just normal in my humble opinion. Just learning from them made me grateful. And I was lucky I didn’t make the really big ones! (user name, theme). So here is what I learned and my suggestions.

The Right Kick-off

1. Finding the best blog platform or host

Before I found my current host, I left three from which I didn’t get a single comment! So do a research first. Decide if you want a ‘monetized’ or an advertisement-free blog. Some hosts allow monetizing, some don’t. So if you choose to self-host your blog, then it’s better to monetize it to cover your expenses.

2. Choosing your user name (or domain name) carefully.

Some blog platforms do not allow their users to change that so you might be stuck with what you choose. And changing a username is like changing a BRAND name –you’ll probably lose some of your followers who don’t want the change. I suggest you choose one as if it’s a website name because you wouldn’t know if your weblog might someday be a big website. A name which can be ‘verbalized’ is best. See how websurfers turned the proper noun Google into a verb? (It’s just bad that my own would sound bad if verbalized – pochpeed).

3. Choosing your blog Theme

There are specific themes designed for your niche or speciality.

4. Choose your niche carefully

This was my first mistake. At first, I started writing just about everything that floats my boat. Then I learned that you could monetize your blog at least to cover your writing expenses, time and effort. Some professional bloggers even teach that you shouldn’t spend on your blog or site until you’re earning from it. So decide if you want a monetized blog or not –then decide what your blog will be specifically about. Will it be about Technology, Science, Business, etc?

5. Continue search for better blog platforms

Most probably, your first blog host will not be the best.

6. Practice Ethics of blogging/networking

This is the continuing and maybe, the hard part. How do we make sure we’re blogging politically correct?

a. Your content

We have freedom of speech so it’s really up to you what you write even if it’s offensive; which of course I practice but don’t endorse. But if you will write a rant or offensive piece, target specifically so the innocents wouldn’t think they are part of it. You wouldn’t want your followers to think they are part of your target. If you’re after popularity or sales, then you wouldn’t want to offend everyone so be careful what you write.

One way to make sure your piece isn’t offending: have a kind-hearted person or editor read your article then ask if it’s reader-friendly.

b. Your comments

Now this is where most bloggers offend each other the most. I myself have offended through comments without intending to although one or two I admit were careless though innocent; and that is why I’m reluctant to write about this – it would smell hypocrisy. We just really can’t be sure how our words will be interpreted. And that is the reason why we should be extremely careful. Tips:

  1. Never make or reply to an offensive comment when you’re still angry. Most of the time, we will find that it’s not really worth our anger as time passes. What I do is ignore offensive comments if I want someone to stop sending it. You bet it works. We will even sometimes find we can learn something from the offensive comment. The offensive commenter might even become your fan if you befriend the person!
  2. If you think you have made an offensive comment, follow-up at once and apologize before you get a reply. The more time passes, the more damage the comment will do because it spreads.

c. Spamming

This not only apply only to commenting but also to e-mail marketing.  The rule is DON’T SPAM. What do you think your reader will do when the reader learns you spammed him/her? Of course the reader will spread the news which would brand you as a user of your fellowman. I suggest you use a blog host or platform that uses Akismet.

Now there are human spam comments that you really need to spam. Human spam comments are innocent and not dangerous right?

Wrong!

It can be an attempt to steal hits, comments, or hijack your weblog altogether which I have experienced. If comments are not related to the post, it is spam especially if it asks you to click a link. So check the link first before clicking.

A good way to block spam comments manually is this:

Go to your WordPress Dashboard and follow Settings –> Discussion. In the comment blacklist, enter words like porno, gambling, and whatever words, IP’s, and e-mail addresses you think should be banned. Be extra careful who you spam or blacklist!

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Groundhog Day Tip: How to “Zoom In” and “Zoom Out” on those web pages…

Have you ever visited a web site where the text size is to small to read or you are finding that your eyesight (like mine) is going downhill, and reading certain elements varies from page to page?

Here is a “little known and little used” computer tip for you internet users… By holding down the “Ctrl” key and moving your “mouse scroll wheel” you can “zoom in and zoom out” on a web page.  You can also do the same thing, without using the mouse or “Ctrl” key, by hitting the “+” (plus) and “-” (minus) keys on the numeric keypad, located on the right side of your keyboard.  Give it a try! It will not permanently change any default settings. If you find that you need to return to the normal default (original) setting, simply hold down the “CTRL” key and hit “0” (the number zero).

Mouse Wheel to Zoom In and Zoom Out

The “zoom in and zoom out” tip, using the “Ctrl and Mouse Wheel” will also work with other applications as well, with varying results (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, many graphic viewers/editors, pdf readers, etc…).  For example, in Microsoft Word, when working on a mult-page document, you can “zoom out” to the point that it will tile (show all) your pages on the screen.

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Happy Groundhog Day

Be sure to visit Groundhog.org

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