About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 20, 2011

Christmas Geek Tips

This will be the last you hear from me in the DNR until 2012 so I thought I would give you some Christmas geek tips and sites to tide you over through the holidays.

First, I figure a few of my readers are getting new computers for Christmas.  Yes, from your emails I realize some of you wanted a column about picking new computers.  I only do those every couple of years so you will have to wait on that.  However, I do have a couple of suggestions on applications you should use on your new computer.

What exactly does Decrapifier do?Before you go anywhere online with your new computer MAKE SURE you have an antivirus application working.  After your new computer is online go to to download Decrapifier.  Geeks call the free apps that come preinstalled on a new computer "Crapware" since most of it is junk and unnecessary.  I will not list them here but there are many.  I even suggest removing the free antivirus app that comes preloaded and getting one those you can get for free.  Most likely the free antivirus software is free for a short period of time.  Then you have to purchase it to keep it going.

Decrapifier scans your system and suggests software you can remove which you most likely do not need.  You can choose which ones to get rid of and keep the ones you like.  Just follow the directions and you will be fine.

After you remove the programs you may never use it is time to install all of your favorites.  You know the apps I am talking about.  For example the applications I always want on my computer are Firefox as my browser, Thunderbird for email, Skype, iTunes, VLC, Microsoft Security Essentials and several others.  I count these as my personal default applications.

imageIf you go over to the Ninite site at you can choose programs you want installed on your computer.  Now not all of the programs in the world are on the site, but the major ones you hear about and use are available.  If you want one that is not on the site you are out-of-luck this time.  However, you can ask for the missing app to be added to the list and it may be there next time you visit.  Once your list is complete click the, "Get Installer" link, download it and run it.  The applications will automatically be installed on your new computer.

I have run Ninite several times over the past few years and it works very well.  However, the last time I ran it; one application could not be installed.  So for that one, I had to go to the application’s site and install it there as I did in the "old" days.

OK, I know this is the Christmas column so I cannot leave without giving you the link to Norad so you can follow Santa on his flight later this week.  Surf to the Norad Santa Tracker at and follow the man.

December 19, 2011

2011-12-19 WSVA Show Notes

Hey there, I hope you got a chance to hear us on the show this morning.  But I’m looking out for you.  If you missed it here are the sites, news, etc. we talked about so you can take a look.  Also, below is a link to the podcast if you would like to listen in.

Check out WSVA Online too for even more into and here is today’s podcast.

Have a great month and I hope you will be listening and calling next month, Monday, January 23rd!


Tech News
U.S. agency admits massive data breach with SSNs
The U.S. government failed to tell nearly 32,000 people their Social Security numbers were inadvertently published in an electronic database, documents show.Scripps Howard News Service said it found 31,931 living Americans in a review of three copies of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, available for purchase on the Internet. The database contains names, Social Security numbers and birth dates.If the Social Security Administration’s estimate is accurate, the Social Security numbers of more than 400,000 living Americans have been released since 1980.

President Obama signed the CALM Act on December 15, 2010.
Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act requiring TV broadcasters to ensure that commercials air at a volume no louder than the programs in which they appear. Here are some facts you need to know regarding the CALM Act.

You bought that new computer and now you want to install all the standard applications you had on your old one.

Do you do to each site and download the apps individually or just one run application? Just run Ninite.

You choose from their large list of popular apps. Firefox, Chrome, Skype, Thunderbird, Google Talk, iTunes, VLC, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Dropbox, etc. It creates an executable file for you. You need those apps on a computer and just double click that file to install the ones you chose. Very quick and very smart.

The PC Decrapifier
Is your PC running slow? Even brand new PCs often come with LOTS of pre-installed software that can cause that new machine to come to a crawl. Not to mention all of the annoying pop-ups! Others may have a PC that’s a couple years old and we’re the ones that installed a bunch of junk! It happens to the best of us. We try a bunch of programs over time and forget to remove them.

The PC Decrapifier is here to help! It’s a free tool for you to use that helps remove programs, unnecessary startup items and icons that can slow down your PC. It takes you step by step, giving you recommendations on what to remove, many of which can be removed unattended.

Naughty Codes (from Kathy, Harrisonburg)
It’s fun to be naughty?!

Online stores send out discount codes to SELECT groups of customers, leaving the rest of us to pay full price! To that we say, NO! We find and list ALL of the coupon codes and promotional codes that can be found. If it’s out there, we have it! Be naughty with us by using these codes for added discounts when shopping online.

Internet Phishing Quiz
Think you can outsmart Internet scammers?

Ever wonder how good you are at telling the difference between a legitimate website and one that’s a phishing attempt? Take this quiz to find out.

Touchpad Blocker
Why doesn’t someone invent an application that will prevent your notebook cursor from jumping around the screen when you are typing and your thumb accidentally drags across the touchpad?

They have and it is called Touchpad Blocker.

Touchpad Blocker is a must have software for notebook owners who prefer to use touchpad instead of mouse or other pointing devices. Software helps the user to type text as fast as possible by locking mouse events during a small period after any key were pressed. The touchpad remains enabled all the time!

Waterpowered jetpack turns you into aquatic Aquaman or Flipper.

French water sports champion Franky Zapata’s Flyboard is basically a rotatable platform attached to a long hose and a hydrojet. It can lift the rider 30 feet out of the water while he or she pilots it with secondary, handheld jets.

The Flyboard’s thrust comes out below the user’s feet instead of a jet pack, so it’s more like riding a skateboard. It connects to any personal watercraft (PWC; aka Jet Ski, a brand) with an engine of 100 hp or greater.

For only about $6,500 + you need a Jetski.

VIPER SmartStart
Start your car or truck from most anywhere with your Smartphone. You can get these from somewhere around $200-$400.

I hope you are able to listen and call in next month year
on Monday, the 23rd of January, 2012.

December 13, 2011

What about SSD vs. HDD?

I recently received an email from a reader asking about SSD compared to HDD.  What the heck are those initials…new government agencies?  Not quite.   They stand for "Solid State Disk" (or Solid State Drive or Solid State Disk drive) and "Hard Disc Drive" respectively.

Opened HDD for viewingThe HDD is the hard drive you are most likely using on your computer.  It is generally made up of platters of metal disks stacked on top of each other.  Information is stored on both sides of the platters magnetically.  There is aHDD stacked Platters slight space between each disk with room for a "head" or magnetic reader on an arm which moves back and forth on both sides of each platter to read and write the magnetic info.  If you are old enough, just picture an old record player and a spindle stacked with records with tone arms between each record.  The major differences are size and the fact that an HDD spins at 7,200 rpm instead of 72 rpm. 

Example SSDBut what about the SSDs?  They are more advanced yet much simpler to explain.  SSD is basically another form of device used to store and retrieve data. Instead of metal platters it uses a solid state memory to hold the information.  A big plus is that there are no moving parts, meaning less battery drain and absolutely no noise.

The reader asked if they should switch to SSD and trash their old HDD.  I say not yet, for several reasons. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs.

Advantages of SSD:  Applications run through SSD will run much faster.  SSD devices require less power and no heat is produced.  SSD runs silently because it only uses computer chips, not moving parts. Access speed for reading is faster because it doesn’t have a moving part to run around disks looking for places to read or write data.  Mechanical reliability inside the SSD will be higher – mechanical failure wouldn’t happen as often, if ever.  SSD is shock resistant with no moving parts to break when dropped.  It can operate up to a temperature of about 160°F. HDDs are good up to about 110°F.  SDDs are much lighter in weight and smaller in size than HDDs.

Disadvantages of SSD:  Storage space is tiny compared to HDDs.  There is has been research to design and make a 1 Terabyte SSD, but it is not available yet.  1TB HDDs are readily available.  The write/erase cycle for SSD will not last as long. SSDs can supposedly go for a maximum of 100,000 cycles; whereas a regular HD can go for maybe 1-5 million write cycles.  This means performance of the SSD will decrease over time.  The big issue for me is that the price of SSDs is much higher.  The 1TB drive mentioned above is about $150.  However, a 128GB (about 1/8 the storage size of 1TB) SSD costs a little over $200.

I believe in the future all computers will be using SSDs to replace conventional hard drives.  But first prices and storage sizes have to get closer to the current HDD stats in order to be viable.  If you want to see what the future of SSDs will look like, search online for "Ultrabook."

December 7, 2011

Think you can outsmart Internet scammers?

Filed under: Tech Info — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:53 pm

Take a look at the Spam Test provided by OpenDNS.  See if you can pass by identify real websites compared to spammed sites.

I missed one and I have excuses but see how well you can do and post it here.

December 6, 2011

Swyping and Talking

Today will be the first time I have used my Toshiba Thrive along with the Swype keyboard and the dictation apps to write the entire " Double Click" column.  From the beginning of this article on, except where I use the voice dictation app this is all written with Swype.  I am very sure it will contain typographical errors; however this is an experiment for you and me.  It may even give up (give us) a few laughs. 

FYI: Corrections appear in parenthesis.

4 (For) the following 2 paradisos (two paragraphs) I will only use the voice dictation part of the tablets (tablet’s)s software so I will state (start) speaking now.  t (stray letter)

Speak NowI am now dictating this paragraph (there should be a period here) but (we) will see if it works or not(.) facebook (For me this is an) extreme example of self control  (self-control) cos (because) I really want to type however it won’t let me type(.)  I have to speak (.) how (How) is it going so far (?) This is interesting (Interesting ) because when I was in school I got in trouble all the time in English class for creating run on sentences(.)  now (Now) I have this huge run on sentence.  wow (Wow!)  This will have to be fixed (.)

okay of sudden to get (OK, I have decided to dictate) 1 (one) more paragraph using the words.  Question mark, quote she’s the she’s (words, "period",  "question mark", "Quote", "apostrophe" and "parenthesis.") it (It) didn’t work very well last time is it (very well this last time, did it?)

Check out SwypeOK, at this point I am back to using Swype and feeling much better about it than dictation.  I am going to make a lodgement (judgment) call here and say that for, maybe, a quick sheet more ( short note) or email, the capacity to dictate may be fair.  However, to actual (actually) type something a little longer you need a better way to do so.  From what you’ve read here you can most likely guess my number one choice would be a regular computer keypad (keyboard.)  a (stray letter)

In my opinion, the dictation portion is poor to fair; Swype is good but not fantastic.  I could have gotten Swype to perform better had I taken a couple of extra second(s) to fix the errors and watched as I "typed".  Some of Swypes (Swype’s) errors could be attributed to my fatty (fat) fingers sliding to the wrong characters.  Please note:  Swype does get better with use add it land (as it learns) you’re(your) skills.  I also use Swype with my Android phone and it seems to work much better than this first time with my tablet; however, with my phone I usually type much shorter items with it.

The following sentence will be dictated, less (let’s) see how well it does.

in (In) the words of that famous gloucester for (philosopher) arnold (Arnold) schwarzenegger (Schwarzenegger, ) asta lavista baby ("Hasta la vista, baby.")

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