DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

June 6, 2017

Belarc Advisor

Filed under: Columns — Ron @ 5:57 am

I was answering a question for a reader last week and mentioned an application I have used before.  She needed several pieces of information regarding her computer for a possible upgrade.  I never advise people how to upgrade a computer but I was more than happy to show her where to find the needed information.    

All of the information she required is available on every computer if you know where to dig it out; however, there is a much easier way to get it.  Enter Belarc Advisor found at belarc.com

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I reviewed all of my columns from the past 16 years and guess what?  I had never shared with you any information regarding this great application.  I have never even mentioned it in an associated article.  I could not believe it as great as this application is…if you need it.  If you do not need it you may not want to install it; however, it is fun to run once and see what is in your computer; hardware, software, network, and more. 

First you download the application, then double-click the downloaded file just like usual.  Then you run through the standards "I Agree," "check for updates to the program before proceeding," and then it will start.  The "Belarc Analysis" screen is what you will see running for a while.  It depends on what you have on your computer and its speed as to how long it will take.  One of mine took about 2 minutes to complete and another one took less than 30 seconds. 

Belarc Analysis

Once the analysis completes your default browser will open with all of your system’s obtainable information shown.  You will most likely have to scroll down as it will take multiple pages to give you all the facts and figures.  You can choose to print it if you wish and note that this file will remain locally on your computer so you can retrieve it if you need the info again.  Of course, you could also run the program again to get updated data. 

Here are just a few things you can discover about your computer.  Computer name, operating system version, computer manufacturer, type and how much memory, hard drive information, printer, all types of adapters, all of your software installed, some licensing information, and much more.

Belarc results

With this information you can not only see who to contact for an inoperable memory stick, what type of memory to purchase, and/or how much new memory your computer can take.  Most anything you would need to know about your computer can be found with Belarc Advisor. 

That being said, there is one thing that may or may not be found from BA and that is your Windows Operating System Product Key.  This is a 25 digit "license" number that Microsoft has on each copy of Windows which is specific for that installation.  If you ever rebuild or reinstall windows on your computer you may need that number to be officially licensed.  However, it is not easily available for you to find. 

Belarc Advisor will sometimes be able to provide that number, sometimes only the last 5 digits and sometimes none of them.  I recommend one of many applications which can get that information for you.  It is called "Show Key Plus" and it is usually quite effective for Product Key retrieval.  You can read more and download it from "The Windows Club" (rd.dblclx.com/2s20YC0). 

May 30, 2017

Sorry DoubleClicks.info does not run on Memorial Day this year (Sadness ensues)

Filed under: Columns — Ron @ 5:54 pm

May 23, 2017

Free Alternatives to MS Office and More!

Filed under: Columns — Ron @ 6:53 am

I get emails fairly often with this question, "I cannot afford to purchase Microsoft Office for the big dollars they charge.  What else is available?" 

Well that is an easy question to answer.  There are free alternatives out there and some are just as good as MS Office.  I also tell them that MS 2016 is available at a monthly charge of $6.99 to $9.99 per month.  It is also offered at $99.00 per year (at least when I wrote about this).  Those are the prices directly from the Microsoft store but you may be able to find other prices out there.  

Back to the particular question; the answer is LibreOffice (libreoffice.com).  It is a quality Office replacement with all of the functionality a regular person needs.  It may not have all of the utilities required by a very advanced user.  However, it is excellent and that is hard for a MS fan boy like me to say.   

There are other free alternatives out there too, not just for Office but for most every other program that you may use as well.  If you are looking for a free alternative software that is close to the quality, or in some cases surpasses the quality of the original program visit AlternativeTo.net

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AlternativeTo has free substitute applications for Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android and other operating systems. 

If you go to the site and search for the software you are looking to replace it will give you a list of alternates.  They will be listed, however not in any logical way that I have figured out, i.e. not alphabetically or by number of votes, etc.  So scroll down the list and look at the ones with the higher votes. 

For an example when I searched for "Microsoft Office Suite" it resulted in a list of 36 alternative applications.  The most popular were LibreOffice and Google Drive, 1762 and 1820 votes respectively.  I guess the cloud lovers or collaborative editors out there like Google Drive for those two features but I have always found LO to be much more cooperative for me.  The next closest vote was for "Apache OpenOffice" with 694 votes/recommendations, which in my opinion is another good alternative. 

Say you are looking for a new browser; (although I would only choose Google Chrome) search for Google Chrome and get 129 alternatives.  Even though Chrome is free you can search for any replacement software.

Think of the ones you pay for now and use AlternativeTo.net to save some money.  If you try one alternative software application and do not like it, uninstall it, go back find another and test that one.  Say you are not happy with Dropbox and want to try an alternative.  I searched for Dropbox and found there are 235 alternatives listed at this time. 

Here are a few apps that I have replaced with their free alternatives.  Visio with LucidChart.com, Windows Live Writer to Open Live Writer, WinZip replaced by 7-Zip, Adobe Photoshop has been replaced by GIMP and many more. 

May 16, 2017

Stalking Your Friends in a Good Way

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:06 am

Google has been letting their developers develop and I am glad.  They have come out with some great apps since 1998 when Google was founded.  Stop and think about that for a minute.  A company less than 20 years old and most everyone knows of it.  Did you realize that in 2002, the American Dialect Society chose it as the most useful word of the year?  In 2006 the Oxford English Dictionary as well as the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary added it as a verb.  "Have you googled that?" is an actual, correctly structured question.  I think that is pretty significant.  But enough of my fan-boy infatuation – back to the story. 

They recently took an excellent app that most of us have used and added a feature that made it even better.  That app is Google Maps which is available in every platform.  It has apps for all of the smart phones made; Android, iPhone, Windows Phone even Blackberries have the app.  Along with the apps any platform that can access the internet can use maps.google.com and get the features too. 

The feature that has been added is called "Share Location" and has the "New" icon next to it, since it has just recently became available to the public.  Clicking on this feature will give you information; however, to set it up you must have a mobile device.  Go to this link (rd.dblclx.com/2q6A0pi) to see how to set it up on your device.  Before you start you need to check several things.  You both need a Gmail account, also they must be in your Google Contacts and of course, you must both have Google Maps installed on your device. 

Menu ItemsHow long to shareClick the Menu button in the map application then "Share Location" and click "Add People."  Now, select how long you want to share your location with them.  You get to choose from one hour, other increments and finally, "Until you turn this off."  That last one is for my family.  Once you have selected everyone you wish click, Share.

They will get a message that you want to share your location with them.  If they accept they can then choose to share their location with you if they wish.

After everyone has accepted once they log into Google Maps on their device or computer, click the menu button, Location Sharing and see a map with those that are sharing their location with you.   You can click on their name to get an update and a more localized map location on them.

Shared People with Ron

You may think that is a little creepy.  I told my friends about how my wife and I share our locations with each other and that is what they said.  But we like it.  That way she can check and see how close I am to home when coming in from work.  No calls need to be made to find out when I will be there.

Think too if you have a teenager, or the other end of the spectrum, an older grandparent.  If you want to keep up with their whereabouts this is an easy unobtrusive way to do so.  

If you are going to visit someone who may live far away you can share your location with them during your trip by using the "Share trip progress" feature. 

Creepy or not I think it is a great new feature from Google.

May 9, 2017

Web Page Saver and More

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:38 am

For years now I have not had enough time to read all of the interesting things I run into online.  And also, years ago, I wrote about a new app called Pocket (getpocket.com).  Pocket allows you to save webpages from your Chrome browser to view later.  To read them you return to the GetPocket.com site, open the website and read on.

However, over the past couple of years, others have taken the Pocket offering and improved on it.  One of those I have successfully started using is called Annotary. 

Before you install the extension in Chrome go to Annotary.com and sign up for a free account.  This site is where your webpages will be stored and you can come back to visit them at any time.  Then, just as with Pocket, go to the Chrome browser store and look up "Annotary," then finally install the extension like any other.

You will now have a new icon on your Chrome’s extension bar with an "a" in a yellow box.  This is your Annotary icon. Annotary icon

Now surf the web and work, read or research away.  You find an incredibly long, detailed discussion you would like to read but you do not have the time.  You can then click your Annotary icon and save the page to read later at Annotary.com.

However, there is much more you can do with that page.  You can use an electronic highlighter which comes built in.  You can highlight most anything on the page and then add a note regarding your thoughts on the article.   I really appreciate and enjoy using this note taking feature.  When I am reviewing articles for items to write about I use it to add my thoughts about the things I read and want to share with you. 

I make "Collections" for each topic I am researching.  Collections are what Annotary calls a group you create in your site where you can place what you are reading.  The default is Miscellaneous; however, you can create as many as you wish, they are almost like folders. 

Ron's Annotary Public Page

One thing that is not spelled out very clearly in their information is that the default collection setting is public, not private.   So, anyone can read you pages saved, when they visit the main Annotary site.  However, you can easily open a collection and mark them private so no one but you can see them.  Be aware that the default setting is Public so unless you change that setting everyone can see your saved pages. 

You can also share your pages with others and they can add comments to your pages too.  There are many good uses for this app for me for research.  There are also others that are similar to it but this is the one I have settled on.

Give Annotary a try.  Now I have to get back to Pocket and review all those articles I forgot about over the years and maybe move some of them to Annotary. 

May 2, 2017

April 25, 2017

Schemes, Part 5

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:44 am

As I told you last week this group of schemes are used on one specific part of our population.  Seniors, baby boomers and post baby boomers.  They even have titles.  I have found examples of these all over the net and my dad even experienced one of these years ago.

Counterfeit Prescriptions
Because prescription prices are high like all other medical costs seniors and others shop around online for less expensive prescriptions.  They are easy to find online.  This is where you may get ripped off twice.  Many times, the scam artists are selling bogus or inferior drugs.  Then you have wasted your money and your health declines.

Which one is the fake?

Funeral Scam
Some criminals read the obituaries every day and some may even attend funerals of seniors.  They will find as much information as they can about the survivor, especially contact information.  Then a week or so later the widowed person will get a call saying that their spouse owed them some money and they were supposed to collect it and now they are gone.  They get the bereaved to pay unwarranted charges. This is usually perpetrated in person.

Loving Grandparent Trick
A grandparent will get a call from a young person pretending to be their grandchild.  They may speak unclearly so that the senior thinks it is their grandchild with a cold.  They get the senior say the kid’s name and then work it further.  The final outcome is that they need the grandparent to mail them money at college, someone’s home, or have it wired to their account directly.

Grandma is so good to me.

Internet fraud
These scams include a call from someone claiming to be from a large computer company asking for permission to access the senior’s computer remotely to resolve a service issue or virus.   The bad guy then accesses saved data on the computer, such as names, addresses, account numbers, and other personal information. They use the information to apply for loans, credit cards, or to steal the senior’s identity.

Medicare/Medicaid fraud
Medicare’s universal coverage makes it easy for perpetrators to pose (either on the phone, in person, or via email) as Medicare representatives and ask seniors to provide personal information which they can then use to set up accounts or apply for credit cards.

Nigerian fraud
You know you have heard of this one, maybe even seen it in your inbox.  In one of the most common financial frauds of all time, a senior citizen receives a letter, an email, or a fax from a foreign “dignitary.” The correspondence promises huge monetary rewards in exchange for helping an official from a foreign country out of an embarrassing legal problem. All the senior needs to do, the correspondence states, is to send a small amount of money (in comparison to what he/she will receive in turn) to help out the foreign dignitary. Of course, the victim never receives any rich reward and loses the money that is sent.

Service scams
You receive a telephone call from what seems to be a legitimate company. There are problems with your account and the company simply needs to verify some information. The caller seems to already have information about you so you feel comfortable sharing additional information, such as your account number, to help the company correct the problems with your service.

So, be careful out there, no matter what your age!

April 18, 2017

Schemes, Part 4

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:09 am

There is another scam that you may have heard of floating around the internet.  It is not a joke and is not to be ignored if it happens to you.

You may be working on your computer and get a phone call.  The caller may tell you they are from Microsoft, or some other tech entity, and see that you have a virus infecting your computer.  This virus could cause you the loss of all of your important information.  This scheme may not only come to you in the form of a phone call but also via email or a popup on a website. 

They will say they can send you a link so they can run the "fix" on your computer and you will not have any problems.  They may instead ask that you give them permission to log onto your computer to fix the problem.  It is free of charge and guaranteed to work providing you and your files with needed security.  They will sound so sincere that it is hard to believe later when the trap is sprung. 

It is not true.  Neither Microsoft nor any other big company watches your computer for viruses or problems of any sort.  Hang up immediately!  If not, you will be granting them permission to log into your computer from some other country (most likely) and install their "fix." 

The fix will actually install a virus that will activate days or weeks later.  It will infect your files and lock them down so that you cannot open them.  Think of it, your financial data, tax returns, photographs, etc. all no longer useable.  It could do more than this but that is the standard operation.  You will be informed to call the original "Microsoft" company back to have this corrected.  This time it is still not the reputable company you expect.  It will not be free either.  It will cost you several hundred dollars to gain back control of your own files.  Be careful.    

Next, one that really is not tech related but I feel I should mention. (CBS did as well, a month or so ago.)  You get a call from an unknown number.  You answer it and they say something to you that provides them with you saying, "Yes."  You think you are not that silly.  How about this?  You answer your phone and someone says, "Can you hear me?"  You reply, "Yes."  Then they have you.  They will use that as you agreeing to sign up for magazines, a loan, or a five-year supply of whatever. 

Watch out for phone scams

When you shop at real stores by phone they will many times tell you they will record your approval of what they offer as a legally binding agreement.  This is what the scammers do too; however, you have no idea what you said, “yes” to – until you get the bill. 

Next week we will look at some scams which are not always committed by technology or in normal ways.  However, they are always directed at only one specific part of the population.

April 11, 2017

Schemes, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:49 am

For the past two weeks, we have looked at several of the ways we are being schemed and scammed out of our money. Today we will continue that journey looking at some other devious ways we are being bombarded by online purchases.

  1. Shop with reputable, well-known online retailers.  Do not shop at a site you have never heard of or where you do not have a friend or two who has successfully shopped there before.  In addition, read ALL of the information concerning your purchase in each screen.  Next, print the “receipt” page that is shown at the end of every online transaction, you may need it for returns later.
  2. Check for a little lock-like icon somewhere in your browser’s window (near the URL) when shopping.  Also, verify the URL of the site.  It should start with, “https” since the letter “s” at the end stands for secure.  They both indicate you are on a secure site which is a MUST.  Information submitted here is only readable by the receiver.image
  3. As I have stated last week and many other times, NEVER EVER click a link in an e-mail to order something.  I don’t care how proper the e-mail looks, no matter whom it is from, do not do it.  Always type in the address (URL) of the site you wish to purchase from.
  4. Get an email address to use only for online purchases and nothing else!  Do not give it to friends or relatives, do not sign up for anything else with it, do not post it online in Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard or anywhere else.  Other than online purchases you only use it with Netflix, Amazon, PayPal, your cable provider, etc.  I gave you reasons before so I will not repeat them here.
  5. Whenever possible use PayPal.com to purchase online items.  PayPal is in the business of making safe and secure online transactions and they are good at it.  They have built in security you cannot get on your own.  Google “PayPal security center” to see what they offer to protect you.  You may be surprised.
  6. This one is a pain but it is strongly recommended by me and other nerds.  Open a new account at your current local bank.  Open it with the full intention of never putting more in it than whatever you may spend on an impulse online purchase.  I usually keep about $25-$50 in mine.  It is the one that I connect to my PayPal account.  I only use the debit card connected to that account for any non-PayPal online purchases.  That way if someone hacks it they can never get more than that amount. If I am going to purchase something for more than the amount I have in there I transfer it in from my home checking or savings account.

 

Be safe out there. Unfortunately, not everyone is as nice as you.  Make no mistake – they want your money.

April 4, 2017

Schemes, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:45 am

Today on Part 2 of looking at different schemes that are knocking on our phones, emails, and even doors we will look at a couple which have hit me recently.  I am no different from you, so if I am getting them some of you are too.  So here are your alerts, warnings and call to be cautious.

How about those offers from Netflix you just received?  I got this one yesterday.  At first glance it appears to be from Netflix.  The logo is in the upper right of the email so it must be official.  The email explains that if I do not click the “Click here to verify your account” button and fill in the blanks it asks for my Netflix account will be closed.

However, let me tell you several other things about this “scary” email.  The first thing I noticed is that there are some typos.  The salutation is, “hello,” all lowercase. ALERT!  Some of the grammar sounds strange like, “…will result in suspension Netflix.”  Notice the missing parts of speech and similar sentences with comparable bad grammar. ALERT!

Next, there were two links in the email.  One was “Netflix Support.”  I did not click this link as I have warned you about many times here; however, you can hover a link with no ill effects.  When I hovered over that link it popped up and was actually the Netflix Help site. GOOD.  Then I hovered the “Click here…” link mentioned earlier.  When it revealed itself, it was for some strange site in France. ALERT!

imageThe final straw for this email trying to get my login information, or worse, is where they sent it.  It came to my most commonly used email address. ALERT!  The one I used online all the time, for this site, for logins to blogs, RSS feeds, etc.  It can easily be found online.  I buy nothing with that email address.  I use a completely different email for purchases online.  And this includes Netflix.  They fell into my trap and sent it to an account that has had no dealings with Netflix.  That is a guarantee that it was a scheme/spam.  I have advised you before to get one email address for buying online ONLY. Do it if you have not done so yet.

I have given you several alerts that you can easily check in an email…use them!  Most importantly…NEVER, EVER click links in emails that ask you to login to validate, verify or check something online.  If you are concerned that it may be an actual email from a company, open your browser and log into the actual site like “netflix.com.”  While there you will be alerted if you actually need to validate something for them.  Note that this is a rare occurrence.  I have been contacted by sites like this before but only because someone tried unsuccessfully to get into my account.  They emailed to let me know that I should change my password.

By the way, I received two emails from Amazon over the past two weeks.  They were even worse than this one.  One of them spelled Amazon as “Amozan.”  Spelling errors will not be found in actual emails from large companies.

Amazon pays people to check emails before are sent out.

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