DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 28, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 2

Last week I mentioned Chromebooks and Antivirus software.  Today in continuing with sharing emails and answers we look at the following questions.

"How often do you run Windows Update, defrag, cleaning, and other computer maintenance?" Wow, huge question with a multitude of answers.  First I suggest for most users you should set windows updates to run automatically.  With Windows 10 your only choice may be to have it automatically update, there are varying reports.  If you now run the update manually they come out on "Patch Tuesday."  Or, the second Tuesday of each month.  So you are good to run your update any time after that.  I would recommend you do it each month for security reasons if no other.

Defragging and cleaning really depend on how often you use your computer.  I have also recommended here before that you use CCleaner (piriform.com) for cleaning/removing old files and refreshing your registry. It is an excellent program.  For defragging I recommend another Piriform product called "Defraggler," found on the same site under "Downloads." 

Piriform logo

The timing for these is really up to you since it depends on how much you use your computer.  For a heavy user like me who can spend eight hours a day at work and then an hour or two several times a week at home, I run them every week or so.  If you only go online once a day to check email and Facebook for an hour, once a month or so is fine.  Longer will not hurt you and the more often you run them the quicker they work.  Defragging takes the longest so if you have never defragged before it could take overnight or more depending on the size of your hard drive.

One word of warning about defragging.  If you have a SSD drive and not a regular "platter" drive you should not run defrag.  It will not kill it; however, I have read reports that they will not last as long if you do. 

Maintenance other than those mentioned above is as follows:  Make sure you run your antivirus software regularly.  If you have a free one, as I told you about last week, you may have to do it manually.  To do so you usually right click on the software’s icon in your notification area and click update.  Applications can vary so check yours and proceed. 

Malwarebytes logoThe other two applications I have talked about before but are quite important are, "Malwarebytes" (malwarebytes.org) Filehippo logoand "FileHippo App Manager" (filehippo.com/download_app_manager).  I have talked about them in detail before but I do not feel like mentioning them again is too much.  The new improved version of FileHippo is even better and easier to use.

See you next week.

July 21, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 1

Today I will look at a few questions I have recently received starting with one regarding last week’s Chromebook article.

I have always thought it funny when you write one thing and get totally different responses.  From the Chromebook discussion last week I received the following two statements.

First is, “[on] your assertion of Chromebooks from $129, implying they are inexpensive – I went to eBay and the 2015 model sells there … and found them at $1,500.00 … a far cry from $129 to $199.”

I went to eBay and the most expensive Chromebook I found there was $1,820, even better.  The same model, the “Google Chromebook Pixel 64GB” was on Amazon for $1,610.  It has a street price of a little less.


Ron's Samsung Chromebook

Ron’s Samsung Notebook,
paid $169 over 18 months ago.

The latest version now sells for $179.
Great notebook and well worth the price.



I did not say that the range of $129 to $199 was the upper or lower limit but in that range you could find a decent computer.  I also found a Windows Notebook far exceeding $1,500.  I found one for over one million but that one comes with a handmade wooden case, encrusted with diamonds and other bling.  (Before anyone gets upset I also found a Chromebook at the same price similarly decorated.) You can find them for whatever you are willing to pay, but I still stand by my original range.

The other was someone who bought a student/relative of theirs a “Chromebook and printer for right around $250.00.”  Congratulations to them on finding a great deal on a computer and printer for that young person.  (Also, proving my point.)

Sometimes I get many questions on how to perform a particular process on my computer.  I get questions asking me what is your favorite program or website you use to do _________.    I will give you a few over the next week or so if your emails show interest in the topic.  If you have questions do not forget to email me.

I may not always have the best plan; however, they work successfully for me.  Remember also that I really like the word, “free” so you may be able to do these things other ways for a cost.

Avast! splat logoOne of the more popular emails I receive is, “What antivirus software do you recommend?”  I currently use Avast! Antivirus (avast.com) on all of my computers, with the exception of work.  Work is controlled by others.  To be honest they are all similar but every year or two I review evaluations of all of the free antivirus software.  I then choose the one that scores the best and appears to have a good “ease of use” factor to me.  You can pay for others as well as Avast! if you wish.  In my opinion some of the “big boys” out there are bloated and slow a machine down too much for me.

Next week we will look at a few more questions and answers

July 20, 2015

2015-07-20 Show Notes

Welcome to the July radio show/podcast!  We had many callers with issues and some answers from me.  You can download or listen to the podcast here

Here are just a couple of the things we talked about today.

Tech News
Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children

Kids working?

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens.

While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.

  • In 2010, “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.”
  • Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the pediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”
  • Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play.
  • Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers. 
       


A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu

MakeUsOf.com
The world is all aflutter about Windows 10 so here is a good intro to the new and improved Start Menu.

Since the release of Windows 95, the Start Menu has been the primary way for users to access their files and applications. Microsoft attempted to move away from this setup with Windows 8, creating a serious backlash. Now the Start Menu is back and better than ever for Windows 10.

However, there have been a few changes since the last time we saw the Start Menu. There’s more functionality and customization options packed in than ever before, but the best way to take advantage of it might not be immediately obvious. Use this guide to get a firm grasp of the basics, and you’ll soon be using the Start Menu like a true Windows 10 expert.


OK, those are the only news stories and Windows 10 info we had a chance to talk about today. Listen to the podcast for the details and what else went on today.

I hope to see you back next month on August 17th.

Ron

July 14, 2015

Chromebook Update

Over time I have received emails asking about Chromebooks.  I wrote about mine when I got it almost two years ago.  Since the emails keep coming there must be interest in them.  This is not hard to imagine since they are a very good deal for many people.

Here is a very quick rundown of  Chromebooks (CB from here on out).  They were created by Google and run the Chrome browser operating system, also by Google as is the Android OS. 

Chromebooks are relatively inexpensive usually from $199 to $400.  Microsoft OS notebooks (Windows 8.1 now) run from about $350 to $1500.  Yes, you can find higher and lower prices on both types.  I saw a very nice CB on sale the other day reduced from $199 to $129. 

Chromebook computerChromebooks resemble notebook computers.  They are slimmer and lighter than a regular windows notebook weighting in at around two pounds.  You may perform any online functions the same with either type of computer.  One big difference with a CB is that everything is done online.  So you do need an internet connection to use it at full efficiency. 

You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet but for it to operate to the fullest degree you need a web connection.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

I can do most personal business work from my CB with only a couple of exceptions.  With the free Office Online app Microsoft released a while back (office.live.com) I can work in Office from my CB.  OK, for you Google fans, yes, you can also use Google Docs but I find Office to be much better…online and off.

Office Live           Google Docs

I cannot do all of my corporate work without logging into my business computer; however, for the average users that is fine since you may not work for a large business.

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, Solid State Drive.  The one I have has a 16 GB drive – the same as my old phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The Cloud is the answer.  I put all of mine on Dropbox (use the following link for more space, "rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox"), Copy.com ("rd.dblclx.com/freeCopy" same deal with that link but more space) or Google Drive which you must have to set up your CB.  Yes a Gmail account is required to use your Chromebook. 

image                    image

One of the questions I often get has something to do with people hearing that Chromebooks are outselling regular notebook computers – is that correct?

Well, OK, they are selling a lot of them and many people (myself included) promote them at every turn.  Still when you consider that over 90% of the world’s PC market is made of the Microsoft operating systems nothing can touch them at this point in time.  The remaining 9-10% are split between Apple, Android, Linux, Chrome and others.  The current percentage for the Chrome OS is slightly over 1% and expected, by some, to be 2% by 2017.

Chromebooks are not killing the competition but are part of it and I hope their use grows.    

July 7, 2015

Windows 10, Part 3

Here are a few more features for Windows 10 that we did not talk about last week. 

First today is "Cortana." You may already be familiar with some of its ancestors, Siri, on the Apple platform and "OK, Google" on Android devices.  It was named after Cortana, for all of you non-gamers out there, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series.

Cortana is your personal digital assistant and is available across all Windows platforms.  This means it will work on your Windows computer, tablet and phones.

Cortana is located in the Taskbar and will take your voice instructions and give you voice notifications.  It can add appointments to your calendar, dictate emails, send those messages, play music when you tell it too, etc. After it alerts you to an appointment it will remain quiet until something else happens it needs to remind you about. Cortana can also be turned off if you do not like using it.

Another interesting new feature is called "Universal Apps."  This will allow you to install an application on your computer, tablet, phone and even Xbox and it will run on all of your platforms exactly the same.  Along with another feature, "Continuum" it will automatically be the correct size including menu buttons, etc. so that the apps will even appear identically presented on all Windows devices.

OK, some cool stuff is coming; however, several things are going away.  One is Windows Media Center.  This means that without a third party application installed you cannot watch a DVD/Blue-Ray on your computer.  It already vanished in W8 but if you were like most people you did not use Windows 8.

Of course, I never liked WMC so I would suggest you install VLC Player (videolan.org – free).  VLC works better, quicker, and can play any type of video file that I have ever thrown at it.  There are many other good video players out there and possibly Microsoft will have one to recommend, but for me it is VLC and has been for many years. 

If you have used Desktop Gadgets in the past they are now gone.  I used them and liked them.  I guess you could substitute the new Live Tiles in W10 for some of them.  If you still want gadgets I suggest you install 8GadgetPack (8gadgetpack.net – free).  I have enjoyed using it on my Windows 8 computer since they were also missing in that version.   

The next piece of semi-bad news for you is that the games are gone from Windows 10 including Solitaire, Hearts and Minesweeper along with the rest.  It really bothers me since Solitaire was put in to the first Windows version only to teach people how to use a mouse.  And era has ended. 

Do not be excessively distraught, you can download the new and improved versions from the new Windows Store if you really miss them.  Then you can get back to goofing off instead of working just as you did in the past.

Let me know when Windows 10 comes out if you have any other questions.  Ones that are helpful to everyone will appear here.

Windows 10 Start Menu

July 1, 2015

Windows 10 Upgrade Info from MS

Filed under: ALERTS,Columns,Tech Info — Tags: , , , , , — Ron @ 11:43 am

Here you go a link to answer many of your questions about the Windows 10 upgrade coming on July 29th…if nothing changes.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-faq

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