DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 31, 2015

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

Microsoft Windows logoIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Windows Defender screenFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

Avast! logoSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "Avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at Malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

Malwarebytes logoI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

imageIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Picture of Windows DefenderFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

imageSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

imageI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

February 25, 2014

January 7, 2014

2013 Sites in Review, Part 1

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year since we last talked.  I wanted to say, "Thanks!" to all of you readers who support the "Double Click" column by reading and writing over the past 12 years.  It is very much appreciated.  Please keep it up.  I always enjoy hearing from you.

It is the time of year when I review all of the sites mentioned during the previous year.  As always, have fun remembering, discovering, or rediscovering all the info! 

If the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them using "bit.ly" for print, so the links may not look quite right.  Without further ado…here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Online music streaming sites;  "Slacker Radio" (slacker.com), "Spotify" (spotify.com), "Maestro" (maestro.fm), Last.fm and the one I like best…Pandora (pandora.com).   These are accounts for listening to most any type of music imaginable. 
  • Google Musicmusic.google.com.   Google’s music site is similar to above; however, you can also upload up to 20,000 of your own songs and listen to them online from any device.
  • Daily News-RecordDNROnline.com.  My flagship newspaper, read it often! 
  • Double Clicksdoubleclicks.info.  This column’s site, read it often, too!
  • Portable Appsportableapps.com.  A site where you can get apps that are… well, that’s obvious.  
  • Microsoft Officebit.ly/1kJ3oK4.  You know this one, "The" most popular office suite of programs.
  • Libre Officelibreoffice.org.  One of the two most popular free office suites.
  • Solutosoluto.com.  One of many ways to speed up your computer and keep all of your applications up to date, not just the Microsoft ones. 
  • Lynda.com. A paid online training site for many different applications used today.
  • Microsoft Office Trainingbit.ly/1cBOoM9.  Good free office training.
  • YouTube.com – among millions of other videos you can find excellent Office training videos created by people like you and me.
  • Google.com – the most popular search engine.
  • Gmailgmail.com.  Google’s branded email.
  • A Toy Train in Spacebit.ly/1bHdbc3.  A dad uses a Raspberry Pi computer to take his son’s toy train into space and return with some great video of the ride.
  • Newsblur.com, Feedly.com, TheOldReader.com, Pulse.me and Flipboard.com.  Several of the many popular RSS feed readers to replace the dead and gone Google Reader.  They vary for mobile platforms and web viewing.

Well that takes us through the middle of 2013.  Check out part two of the year in review next week.

October 1, 2013

Android Device Manager

At some point in time after "smart phones" hit the market people starting leaving them on buses, in taxis and had them stolen.  The Chief Information Officers website states that in August, 2013 that approximately 200 cell phones are left in New York City cabs every day.  That adds up to about 73,000 per year.  With the current smartphone average cost of $372 each (September 2013) people are losing over $27 million a year in money.  Keep in mind that is also only in NYC! 

This created a market for security apps for those devices that would allow the phone to be found when those events struck.  There have been and still are some very good ones out there; however, leave it to Google to come out with their own free application made just for this purpose.

Besides finding your "lost" Android devices (phones and tablets both) you have a couple of other options too – more on those later.  Keep in mind that the only stated versioning requirement for your Android device to work with this is that it must be running Google Play services version 3.2.25 or higher.

Google created an automatic rollout of this capability several months ago and was announced, as with most Google rollouts, with very little fanfare.  To see if your device it working with it go to Android.com/devicemanager and log in with your Google account username and password used with that device.  If it is on you will see your device(s) listed. 

If it is not listed you need to start the service on your device.  On your phone or tablet go to your Apps Menu, select Google Settings and then just touch "Android Device Manager", if available.  This is mostly found on >>>>>>>>.  There are two check boxes whose jobs should be obvious.  The one you need to check is labeled, "Remotely locate this device" which permits you to do exactly what it states.  The other one, which I highly recommend is, "Allow remote lock and factory reset."  The last one allows you to wipe your device slick if you know you will not get it back or if you do not want anyone seeing your secret information.  Also, to keep strangers from getting phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, etc. about everyone in your address book.

Location of my phoneThe info for your device once logged onto the site is the name of your device, where and when it was last located and three buttons at the bottom of the small navigation window.  As far as accuracy, when I wrote this column I was at the location shown in the graphic at 2:19 pm.  The map showed me that at that exact time it is on the map about 10 feet from where I am sitting…spooky.

Your choices are to RING your phone, which will ring it, even if the volume is off at full volume for five minutes or until you shut it off on your phone.  Next, you can LOCK your device.  Locking changes the password to get into the device to a different one that only you know.  You can set it back when you retrieve it later.

The final choice is to Erase the device.  This is the last resort and will basically clear off all of your information, apps, data, etc. from the phone and put it back into the "brand new out of the box" mode.

On one of their pages Google also warns you by stating the obvious, "Important: If you believe your device has been stolen, contact law enforcement. Don’t attempt to retrieve the device yourself."  In other words, "Don’t be a superhero!"

July 23, 2013

My New Tablet

Nexus 7About two years ago I wrote in regard to buying my first tablet, a Toshiba Thrive.  Well time has continued on as it usually does and I have come to the point where I needed a replacement.  So I have recently purchased a Nexus 7 by Google.  Yes, I know I have not been extremely nice to Google over the past couple of months but I am not their enemy.

Please do not misunderstand, the Thrive and its successor the Excite are both excellent tablets.  I still believe for the price and features the Excite is one of the best out there.  However, there are two things that I grew to not like as much with the Thrive, its size (form factor) and weight.  It is a 10.1 inch screen and weight in at 1.7 pound.  Almost two pounds does not sound like very much.  However, after you hold it in your hands for a couple of hours reading the latest novel by your favorite author it gets to be a load.  Even when you are switching back and forth from hand-to-hand, throw in a case of carpel tunnel and it just is not that comfortable.

In steps the Google Nexus 7 made by Asus.  The “7” is for the screen size of seven inches and the weight is a mere .75 of a pound.  Also, not that it matters tremendously but the 0.41 inch thickness is amazing in comparison to my Thrive.

I know I am not really comparing apples to apples here since the Thrive has many more features, some of which I feel should have been on the Nexus but did not make the cut.  The Thrive was much thicker; however, that was so that it could have a multitude of access ports one each for USB, HDMI and for SD Card external storage.  The Nexus has, like most other tablets, none of these niceties.  Nevertheless, after using the Thrive for a couple of years I only used the SD Card but never really needed it that often, the others were good features I experimented with but did not use at any other time.  For me the Nexus 7, actually built by Asus, has all that I need which is a tablet I can do all I need with.

Some of the advertised features from Google say that you get over eight hours of HD video playback, ten hours of web browsing or e-reading, and up to 300 hours of standby time.  For the browsing and e-reading I agree that mine has easily gone that long.  Regarding the standby time, I have not officially tested it but it goes for days without worrying about charging.  I have watch two movies on it in a row and had more that 50% of my battery life left, so I can figure that video playback number from the Nexus marketing team is good too.

You can read more of the advertising about the unbelievably lightweight, the fantastic crisp, clear display and all the other great adjectives used to describe the Nexus 7 but my belief is that generally they are correct.  It is a very nice tablet for the smaller form factor.  Also, prices are now dropping for the Nexus 7 since the Nexus 7 version 2 is supposed to be out in the next couple of weeks.

It was recently announced that the Google Play Store has approximately 1,000,000 applications and over 50 billion downloads.  You will not be alone if you own a Nexus or any other of the great Android devices.

June 18, 2013

June 4, 2013

Soluto

Your computer continues to start up slower than you remember it doing when you bought it.  You may have already run Disk Cleanup, Error-checking and Defragmentation but things still frustrate you about its operation.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have some "anti-frustration" software on your side?

Well, there is!  Soluto has been available for several years and I was fortunate enough to have gotten in at the beginning.  And yes, as if you had to ask; it is free. 

Soluto simply monitors your computer’s start up boot sequence and suggests ways to speed it up.  It also comes with a few other neat features.  Your computer may already run pretty fast as mine did but as you will see below it still sped my computer up.  Some people have reported going from more than seven to less than two minutes to boot their computers

After the Soluto install is complete (which can take five or ten minutes depending on your internet connection and computer speed) a browser window will open that says, "The PCs info is on its way…"  This indicates that the application is just about finished installing and it is gathering info about your computer.  When that is done the browser will display information about your computer, including any applications you have that need to be updated.  I suggest that you should always install the latest apps when you can.  It will give you a better program and more security.  You can choose to install all of those programs at once or individually.  I just installed Soluto on a relatively new computer and it found four applications needing updates.  How cool is that? 

imageIt will also give you information about Apps that have "frustrated you" by messing up even if you did not realize they had, information about your internet browser, your antivirus and windows updates and it will list out a lot of helpful info about your hardware.    

The part I like best is what Soluto does after you reboot your computer.  I suggest you do this when Soluto "tells" you to after your recommended installations are finished.

Once rebooted the software will give you a graphic of all the programs that start in the background, some of which you may have no idea are even there.  They are then rated as to those you cannot remove from the boot, those you may not want to remove from the boot sequence and the "no-brainers" which should be removed.  It gives you details on each program so that you can decide what to do.  It even gives you the percentage of other users who choose to get the program out of the boot process.

On my notebook it advised me that it took 2:40 to complete the start up with 82 programs starting.  The number one, no-brainer it suggested removing was Snagit (techsmith.com).  When I hover over the advice window it tells me what Snagit does and that I could choose to either delay or pause it.  If delayed, the program will start up after everything else is finished starting on your computer.  If paused, a program will only start when I manually start the program. 

I ended up removing all but one of the "no-brainers" and several others that were suggested.  My computer now boots in 1:53 minutes with only 67 applications running.

If your computer hangs up or frustrates you while Soluto is running you can right click on its icon and choose, "My PC just frustrated me."  It will then see if it can figure out what bugged you, look for a fix and send that info to the Soluto database to be used to help others.

Soluto is always improving and coming up with new ways to make your computer life easier. 

After you have rebooted a few times you may want to hide the Soluto graphics from showing on your desktop.  If so, right click on the Soluto select Advanced, Show Readiness Monitor, Never Show.

March 26, 2013

Office 2013–Word

3-27-2013 4-34-39 PM

So I made the plunge recently and moved to Microsoft’s latest Office version which is blandly, yet I guess appropriately named "Office 2013." 

So far my evaluation leans toward… "Yawn."  It performs as well as the previous version in most areas I have checked,  looks a little different,  saves to the cloud a little easier,  has a few new buttons and bells, but  still contains all of the office applications you are used to. 

Keep in mind my thoughts here are toward you, the normal user out in the world; not the published authors out there.  Though I have talked with a couple of you who have written books, newspaper articles and blogs, most of my readers are normal people who use Office on occasion, but maybe not for a living.

There are some interesting new features, or "buttons and bells" I will mention.  Today we will talk about Word 2013 and if I receive enough emails from you this week showing interest, I will move on to Excel, PowerPoint and some of the other apps in Office.  Its will be your call.

One change I really appreciate in Word is the new look when you use the "Read Mode." This is a great way to read a large document you have more than a passing interest in.

The read only mode was also present in previous versions of office so that in itself is nothing new; however, it looks much better and is significantly easier to read in this view. 

In the previous versions of the read mode your document changed into a two-page or column-type view.  Now, when you click the small book-like icon on the lower right of the Word screen it pops off of the page at you.  The words appear larger, darker and much clearer than before.  Another feature in this mode, which I accidentally found, was that when you double click on an object; picture, table, etc., it zooms in and becomes larger and even more readable.  This gives you a precise and higher quality view of the object.

Now if you are a PDF (Portable Document Format) user, creator or reader here is one of the best new features of Word 2013.  You can not only open a PDF document in Word but you can also edit it.  Yes, you read that correctly!

3-27-2013 4-34-39 PM

When I first heard this I thought, "Hmm, I bet you can, but I also bet it will not look very good."  Now that I have tried it, I have found that was absolutely incorrect thinking.  I have opened several PDFs in Word and after asking if you want to open it in Word it opens right up as a PDF.

I have edited them by removing words and graphics, adding words and graphics, moving paragraphs (and graphics of course) and saving the file.  They look identical (other than the edits) to the original document.  Even better you can save it as a regular Word file (docx is the default format but other choices work as well) or as a PDF.  This is amazing when I consider all the licensing requirements they must have had to work on with Adobe (the creators of that format) in order to achieve this.  If you get Office 2013 and use PDFs you will grow to love this feature very quickly.

The current retail cost for Office 2013 is $139.99, $219.99 and $399.99 for the "Home and Student", "Home and Business" and "Office Professional" versions respectively.

Let me know if you want to learn more.

January 15, 2013

2012 Sites in Review, Part 2

As I stated last week, I annually provide links to all of the sites we have visited throughout the previous year at DoubleClicks.info.

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with bit.ly.  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Google Calendar – This one comes with Gmail but it could be used as a good online calendar with many advanced features.
  • Microsoft – Everything Microsoft, software, hardware, Office, solutions, templates, etc.
  • Ninite – Pick your apps and click Get Installer to install all of your chosen apps in one step for your new/rebuilt Windows computer automatically.
  • Hotmail (slowly becoming Outlook), Gmail & Yahoo mail – The most popular online email services…including many other features.
  • OpenDNS -  Keeps your internet access safe and secure especially for families.
  • W3Schools.com – A free site where you can learn about web coding, even if you are just starting out.
  • Amazon.com – If you want to buy it online you can most likely find it here.
  • Google Play – Where all of the "approved" Android apps are found.
  • Google, DropBox, PayPal – These are several of the many sites that offer Two-factor authentication for your security.
  • DNROnline.com, DoubleClicks.info, WSVAOnline.com – The three local places around the web where you can read or listen to information from me, Double Clicks.
  • Ubuntu – A free operating system you can install on your computer to totally replace Windows. 
  • Sound Hound – The site for the iOS and Android app which identifies songs by "listening" to them.
  • Password Generator – Go there to get a randomly created password. Be careful since they will be totally unmemorable.  
  • Password Security – Check the strength of your password according to Microsoft.
  • Leet Speak Translator – Do not worry if you have no idea what this is.  Just find my article on it and learn about it first.
  • LastPass – One of the highest rated places for keeping your many, many passwords online.
  • KeePass – Ron’s highest rated applications for keeping your many, many passwords locally.
  • DameWare, Go to Assist, PC Anywhere, LogMeIn – Some of the more popular and more recommended support applications which allow you to log into another user’s system to help them.
  • Join Me -  The same as above but free and very easy to use.
  • Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Carbonite – These all provide online cloud storage for your important files.  Some are free and some are not.  I recommended Dropbox and Carbonite in my column.

I look forward to continuing the discussions about software, computers, the internet and all sorts of technology this year.  I hope that you, your families and friends have a great 2013 and continue to join me in the news, on the radio and on the web! 

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