DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 15, 2016

Updates

Picture of new Waze mapHere is one update to the last two columns I wrote about Google Maps and Waze for Android devices.  Guess what?  Waze released a new version of its excellent product.  It has a couple of nice new features but mostly it was cosmetic with a few navigational changes.  I believe it looks better, is quicker and well worth the time for the upgrade.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Another update that took place toward the end of 2015 was the Google Chromecast.  This device allows you to view most anything you can watch on your computer on your TV.  Of course, you have to plug it in and do a quick setup.  I had the first version of Chromecast and all was well.  They rolled out the second one and all continued to be well.  Then early this year they did another update which was to work with either the older or newer devices.  It may have been well for some but not me. 

I used an older broken Android phone to "act" as my remote control for our Chromecast.  The phone had not been able to make calls for years.  However, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features functioned perfectly so for those it remained useful. 

After the update the Chromecast app failed.  I could no longer control, start or even make the application run with the old phone.  When I started the application it looked good then a message came up saying it had to restart, over and over again.

I uninstalled it, reinstalled it, rebooted the phone, etc.  You know, all the techie things you should do.  Nothing worked.  I then Googled and found other people with the same or a similar issue.  They suggested downloading the previous version from a now-defunct site.  I did and it all worked well again but within a week or so the new version was pushed back on my phone automatically and it started all over again.

To make all things good once more I installed the new version of Chromecast on my current Android phone and now all is well.  I just do not care for using my phone as my TV remote.

CCleaner main screenNow the Windows 10’s update:  I was basically and still am a W10 supporter with a few caveats you have read from me before now. Here is one more.  

After a recent update Microsoft decided that CCleaner (one of my favorite third party apps) could be a danger to my computer.  So instead of warning me about it and letting me make a decision as to what should be done, guess what?  The programming brains behind W10 decided it should automatically be uninstalled from my system!  All I had to do was reinstall it but what if I had not seen the small warning message when it rebooted?  I would have spent a long time trying to figure out what happened.  W10 can do this to you for a multitude of programs, so be cautious and read all the pop ups.  

December 29, 2015

New Computer Suggestions

Now that Christmas is over and you have a new Windows 10 computer, what should you do?

I suggest the first thing you do out of the box is run a windows update.  It may be running a second after you boot up the computer; however, check to make sure.

Windows KeyIt is quite easy to run an update.  You can click the start menu button (or press the Windows key) and type, "windows update." Next, click the "Check for updates" link.  It has a gear icon to identify the correct link.  Yes, there are other ways to get to that point; however, this is the easiest way.

 

Now, if it is there, click the "Check for Updates" box.  If it is not showing, it means that the system is already running an update.  Then you can relax and go back to what you were doing.

Check for Updates screenshot

I do have one word of advice.  I just experienced the update titled, "Windows 10 Version 1511."  This was a very large update and you may get it with a new computer or your existing Windows 10 computer if you have not already.  This one will take possibly an hour or more to complete.  Once it completed on my system it told me that several applications had been removed by Microsoft as they are not needed. 

Now wait just a minute, MS!  This is my computer and you need to calm down a bit.  I hope they stop this foolishness…soon.  The main one it removed is one of the ones I use regularly, the CCleaner utility.  After researching a bit I found that many people have been bothered by this.  To correct it you must reinstall the applications removed.  Then it will be fine until possibly the next update.

Next, as I have advised you in the past, be cautious of the "free" antivirus that came with your computer.  No, nothing is bad about the software at all but you need to be aware that "free" may not really be free.

Your antivirus software is probably excellent; however, you only get somewhere from a month to 90 days or so before it expires.  At that time you will get notices to renew your license. This means you have to pay to keep it active.  You would be surprised at the number of emails I get where people ignore those warnings and let their antivirus expire.  Then they email me with all sorts of problems, i.e., viruses running loose on their systems. 

I personally uninstall the "free" antivirus and get a free one that does not expire and leave me exposed.  However, you may want to keep your freebie until the point it notifies you of its expiration.  At that point either pay their fees or uninstall it and get a real free antivirus application.

Personally, I don’t advise paying because I hate giving money for things I can get free.  Currently I am using the Avast! Software but there are others out there that are also good.

September 2, 2014

Piriform Tools, Part 2

Last week I talked about two of Piriform’s excellent tools for keeping your computer in good shape. CCleaner and Defraggler. Today we will look at two others.

imageSpeccy is a very good application from Piriform; however, it is one I rarely use. You should download it and run it anyway just so you can have a list of exactly what your computer is made of. It will give you what you may need to know and way more. Say you want to buy some more RAM for your computer but you are not sure what type to get. If you run Speccy it will show you then name, the type, the size, etc. about the RAM that is currently running so you can accurately match it up. It gives you the temperature your computer’s motherboard is running. Do not panic if you check the temps and they are above 150ºF but less than 200 ºF which is pretty normal. Check out what you have under the hood with Speccy.

imageRecuva is the last Piriform app that we will take a look at again. I mentioned it several weeks ago but I have received many questions regarding this great app. Recuva actually stands for Recover, of course thanks to the Web our youth can no longer spell. What Recuva does is pretty much what its name stands for. It will recover deleted files.

Pretend for instance, that you have just gotten back from your vacation to Gondwanaland. While there you took over 2,000 pictures on your digital camera. You are now back home and put your SD card in your computer to move them to your computer and print a few. Oops, you accidentally delete all the files on the card. Your wife yells at you, you feel bad, there is no way you can go back and take all of the pictures over again.

In steps Recuva to save you from this predicament. Once you install and start it up you will be asked what file types are you trying to recover. All Files is the default but you can specify pictures, music and others. Next it will get you to input where the files are located. Here the default is “I’m not sure,” which is fine; however, it will take much longer if you cannot narrow it down some. You are now ready to begin your search, which depending on the parameters you set up, could take a few seconds to an hour or so.

It is quite good at finding those missing files. Once it is finished you can restore all or some to your computer. It will usually rename to files so you may have to restore them before you can determine which file is which.

As I always mention when using this program, the longer you wait to search for the deleted file the less likely you are to be successful in is recovery. The file can be partially or fully destroyed if the space it occupies is written over by another file. Recuva will “rate” the files found as how successful you may be in recovering it. If you recover a partially recoverable photo you may be missing part of the picture or it could be scrambled.

I hope this detailed look at Recuva helped those of you who wrote.

August 26, 2014

Piriform Tools, Part 1

I recently mentioned the site Piriform.  I received several emails asking about what it offers, so today we will take a look at some of the excellent free utilities they have.

Download CCleanerTheir most well-known tool is CCleaner.  When the company first started out this was their first app and then it stood for, "Crap Cleaner."  Since they are highfalutin now that nomenclature has vanished.  This app will allow you to do several things.  First you can have it run the "Cleaner" to check for unneeded files scattered about your computer. Not files you have created but the pesky ones left over from old installations, junk temporary files, the cached files in your browser(s), etc.  It will scan and make suggestions to remove those files.  It is up to you but I run this every couple of weeks on my constantly used computer and delete everything it suggests.  I have never had any problems; however, as with all apps, use at your own risk.  

It will also clean up your registry files which I (and many other geeks) feel become disorganized over time.  CCleaner will straighten them out keeping your computer’s health and speed up.

Some geeks think this is a waste of time but it has always worked for me.  This app will also uninstall your old applications if you need it to.  I believe it does it a little better than the windows default uninstall program; however, that is also open to debate. It has several other features you can check out.

Download/Learn more about DefragglerNext, Defraggler is the app which replaces your built in Windows Defrag.  Fragmentation occurs (as Windows is designed to do) as files are changed and rewritten to your computer.  Say you open a letter in Word that you have written.  It is opened in RAM memory (not on the hard drive) where you edit it.  After you have finished you saved it, which writes the document back to the hard drive.  When saved it may put it in a different location from where it started leaving "crumbs" (my word) behind. 

In many cases it may also split the file up into pieces, so you have one piece stored in the center of your drive and another on the outside edge.  Over time it will take longer to access all the parts and reassemble them when you want to open the files up later.  This is called a fragged drive.  Defraggler undoes this process and makes things run faster.  Think of it as sleeping at night and waking up to bad hair; Defraggler combs it and makes it neat.

Next week the last two tools from Piriform that I will mention; both of which can come in quite handy when you need them. 

August 19, 2014

Things Wanted, Part 4

I never realized the past three articles would provide me with so much email from readers.  So today I will close out the series with one final shot at discussing things people want to know most from me. 

Ron's Tablet, Google Nexus 7 (2013)One follow up to last week.  I did not recommend the $49 version of various tablets and I listed the reasons.  One person wrote to tell me they had one and it was fantastic.  I am happy for them and for anyone who would like to use one of the more inexpensive tablets.  However, I stand by what I said as far as features, speed, available apps and capabilities.  If it is your first tablet and you are enjoying it please continue.  If you compared it to one of the more expensive models you would be astounded at the difference.  I was also asked for prices of tablets.  In regard to Android only the better ones start around $150 and top out around $600 depending on brand and capabilities.

Wendy and several others have written recently saying something similar to, "I accidentally deleted 1,000 pictures from my SD Card from vacation…can I get them back?"  Well the answer is usually, but not always, no.  Here is how you can try.

The company Piriform has several utilities I have recommended in the past.  First and foremost is CCleaner followed up closely by Defraggler.  The third is Recuva (piriform.com/recuva).  One warning: there are many "fake" Piriform products out there so make sure you always download them from Piriform.com to get the real things. 

Recuva logoRecuva is quite easy to use.  Download it.  Install it.  Run it. It will ask you first what type of files you are looking for; All file types?  Photos?  Music?   Select what you need.  Next it will ask where to look for them.  This is where you can choose your SD card (if plugged into your computer), a specific folder on your computer or my favorite, the Recycle Bin.  Next it will ask where you would like to restore the files.  If you are searching an SD Card I would select somewhere on your computer’s hard drive for the restored files.  Then start it and let it run.  The number of files it has to search for determines how long it will take.  I have found it to be very successful in recovering deleted files for me.

There is an essential caveat that you should be aware of for "undeleting" files.  This is that you do it soon after deleting the file. 

The way windows computers work when you delete a file, it really doesn’t delete it, even when you empty the recycle bin.  The operating system actually puts a mark on the file which tells the system that if this space is needed to store another file, it can be used. 

So the file is there but it will be overwritten if/when needed.  The longer you wait the more chance there is that it will be partially or fully destroyed.  Think of an old cassette tape.  You can record something and then rerecord over it, making the first recording useless.

So if you know you have deleted a file on your SD card, pull that card out of your camera and use another one…now.  Then your chances of getting those beautiful vacation pictures back are greatly increased.  

July 12, 2011

CCleaner & InPrivate Browsing

Donna S. from Shenandoah wrote and asked a couple of good questions.  They first thing she wanted to know was which files she should delete when working in her browser under Options.

In your browser’s Options when deleting temporary/old files (settings vary per browser), there is one that I don’t delete.  That is the one that has to do with deleting saved passwords.  Note that it is labeled slightly different in the various browsers but you will be able to figure it out from the title.  For more experienced users you may choose differently, but that is OK, to each their own.  I like to keep the “recorded” passwords in particular so that the individual sites will not need me to remember the passwords and retype them the next time I visit a site.  This is only true if you allow your browser to remember your sites’ passwords.

After saying all of that I have a better recommendation.  I am surprised, but it appears as though I have never mentioned this application before and I have been using it for many imageyears.  The app is called “Ccleaner” (ccleaner.com) and according to the site, “Historically the software was originally called “Crap Cleaner”, but this was shortened to CCleaner to prevent any offense and to allow corporations to use it.”  So there you go for your “inside info”.

CCleaner will run through your programs and delete all of the unneeded files.  Now be warned that it is removing files from your computer which could cause problems; however, after using it for years, I have never, ever had any issues caused by CCleaner.

Once, you install it, run the CLEANER at the top, left side and after it completes run REGISTRY.  I always use the default settings and delete all of the suggested things that will come up in the list.  It will clean your browser (which must be closed for CCleaner to run) and your computers “junk” files too.  They ask for $24.95 for priority support, but as of now I have never had a reason to get support, so I suggest the freebie.

imageDonna also asked about what “InPrivate Browsing” which she saw while looking around her browser.  It is also labeled as, “Private Browsing” in FireFox and “Incognito Windows” in Google Chrome; however, it is the same thing.

The InPrivate browser settings are jokingly called by many geeks the “Porn Browser Mode”.  Basically, InPrivate and its other nomenclatures, will not leave a trace of where a person has gone on the internet.  Then if someone else checks their computer they can’t see what sites they have visited in the past.  Although you should be aware that your internet service provider can provide that information if needed,  InPrivate only keeps your history off of your local computer.

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