DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 21, 2015

2015-12-21 Christmas Show Notes

Welcome to the Christmas 2015 show mainly giving you ideas for what to pick up around town before Christmas. These are geek-friendly so they may work for you or others. Have fun and listen to the podcast while you are here for even more information


We did get into the first web page ever displayed yesterday, December 20, 1990. It was only seen by local viewers.

The real public site was on August the next year. The original code was never captured for the future; however, here is a very close to exact recreation.

http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html


  • Smart Watches ~$250 (Wearable Tech) LG Watch R – lg.com
    Motorola Moto 360 – Motorola.com
    Pebble – pebble.com


  • Fitness Trackers (Wearable Tech) Fitbit – fitbit.com
    Jawbone, Garmin and many more.


  • Cameras (Point n shoot) or Digital SLRs From $100 to $17,995 (used Mamiya DM56 last year it was $19,995)

  • Tablets Lower Prices may reflect older versions
    • Surface Pads (Microsoft) $900
    • iPads (Apple) $600
    • Androids (anyone except MS and Apple) – $300
      Samsung Galaxy Tablets seem to be the most talked about, depending on whose review you see, but it is also has one of the higher price points.

  • SSD Hard Drive These drives are replacing the regular disk hard drives we have been using since circa 1980.

    They are digital so they boot almost immediately and are much faster and retrieving and storing data.

    Many makes and sizes; however, now you can get good ones on sale starting at around $65 for 248GB.


  • Stop and Grabs

    >>> Thumb Drives

    >>> Surge Suppressors

    >>> Cables

    >>> Bluetooth Keyboards


Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ron

December 8, 2015

Another Christmas Gift

When work, vacation time and life all work together my wife and I like to go camping.  Many times we are camping in areas without electricity.  Now do not misunderstand, since I am writing about camping in December.  We DO NOT camp, other than in a warm hotel, during the winter.  However, it did get me thinking about something that could be a good gift for you to give this year.

We are not totally wilderness campers meaning that if we have cell service we like to have our phones available.  You know – kids, grandkids, aging relatives…use your imagination. So cell phones are good to have with us.  When out camping without electricity sometimes the phones’ batteries give it up.

In comes the gift, a portable “gadget” charger.  There are maybe a million of them out there.  No, I have not counted but there are a plethora at least.  I have tested a couple and then last year about this time I saw one that was highly rated in an ad and on a great sale.

It is called a “Kmashi 15000mAh External Battery Power Bank” and it works quite well.  I bought it last Christmas for us to use, you guessed it, when camping.

Front view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

The Kmashi regularly sells for $59.95 but last year Amazon had a special for the holidays making it $19.99.  At that price and with the excellent reviews I bought one.  There are a couple of less expensive and more expensive versions of the Kmashi that respectively supply less or more power.  A rating higher than 15000mAh power means that instead of charging a device three or four times like mine, it will charge them more times.  A smaller number means the opposite.  This is true for all of these charger types.

I tested mine when I bought it and it took several hours to charge the unit itself but once charged we got about four phones or tablets charged before it needed a recharge.  It has four lights that show you the power remaining on the charger as it works.  That lets you know when it is running out of power.  It also has three ports and an on/off button.  Two of the ports are for inserting your charging cable and then connecting to your phone.  They are regular USB ports and yes, you can charge two devices at one time.  The final port is where you charge the Kmashi itself.


Graphic below is (from left to right) charging port, on/off button
(barely visible), 4 power lights, over under ports to phones/tables, etc.

Controls view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

If you think this is something you or a friend may like, Amazon is offering another deal right now.  Here is a link to the device: rd.dblclx.com/1PG9nRf.  Before you check out of your shopping cart use DNWS3612 as your coupon code.  This code will reduce the price even further to $12.50.  If you are a prime member you will not even need to pay shipping.

Of course, buyer beware, this code worked for us, yes we bought another one for a gift, as of this writing.  But if the code does not work for you, Google for another one.

January 27, 2015

SSD Drive or Not

I have been told by other geeks for a couple of years I need to get SSD (solid-state drive) for my computer.  A SSD is a storage device which uses integrated circuitry to store data on your computer.  In recent years they were called hard drives using electro-magnetic media to store your data.  You know the traditional platter-based hard drives like stacked floppy disks.

The “old” hard drives had to spin rapidly to search for and store data.   SSDs store data electronically, so these processes are much faster.

“Wow!” the geeks said, “They are so much better.”   However, the prices were always a bit out of range for me and I am not the type to fix something if it ain’t broke.

Therein lies my story.  My notebook was running perfectly and gave me no issues for several years.  Several months ago my hard drive went bye-bye.  It did not go quietly into the night but slowly started a downward spiral to death.  This was good – giving me a warning time to prepare.

Over the last couple of years prices on SSDs started way past the $200 mark for small sizes.  However, when I looked this time I found that price had come down and size had gone up.  Before Christmas I discovered a nice one on sale for $69.  It had a good name and reviews so I threw the hammer down and got one.  By-the-way, it really was on sale and not a gimmick.  A friend checked into getting one recently and it was around $120.

OK, I installed it, reinstalled windows and all of the other applications that I needed and guess what?  It was faster, much faster starting up.  I used to have to wait a couple of minutes after powering it on before being able to use my computer.  With the SSD I have figured it goes from off to on in approximately 25-30 seconds.  To me that is amazing.  Also, files open faster, close faster, save faster and the computer shuts down far more quickly.  Basically most everything on the computer works more rapidly.  Windows 7 and 8 run speedier on this drive too.

All around a great investment; however, I need to say more.

Speed is not the most valuable commodity to many of us.  Storage size may be.  My old “platter” drive and the new one both had/have 240GB of storage space.  This was enough for me to use so I was happy.

But I could have paid about the same price and gotten a 1TB internal drive of the “old” type.  It would have been slower but it would have given me approximately 4 times the amount of storage space.

Speed or space, what is most valuable to you?

December 23, 2014

New Computer, Part 1

Several years ago, I wrote about an application for Windows users, called “Ninite,” (ninite.com). If you are getting a new computer for Christmas, birthday, whatever you need to use this application. It is currently available for both Windows and Linux computers.

If you visit the Ninite, you can choose programs you want installed on your computer. Download a file, run it and install your applications. This is especially useful if you get a new computer and know of several applications you want to install. The app keeps users from having to print out a list of all the programs currently on your computer and installing them one by one.

Obviously, not every known program is on the site, but the more useful and desired ones are there. At last count ( yes, I did count them) nearly 100 applications were listed. If one you want is missing, you can request it be added to the list.

To start, check off each application you would like to install from the site’s list. After you have finished selecting the proper applications, click the “Get Installer” button. The next screen will ask if you want to share your experience online (Facebook or Twitter) or sign up for their newsletter. After that, you get a popup — (depending on your computer’s settings — which asks you to download your new installation file.

Once you download the file, make sure you know where it is so you can easily find it later. I suggest always downloading to your desktop, so you know where it is and after you are done, delete it. Double click the file and the installation of all of the applications will begin. The applications will automatically be installed without asking you any installation questions. As Ninite runs, it shows you as it installs each application, so you can easily keep up with the progress.

Ninite installation window

Since I just received a new work computer and had to set it up, I learned one very interesting thing: The installs go much quicker using Ninite than individually. I installed 24 applications. I did not time the installation process, but my guess would be less than five minutes. If I had installed them individually, it would have run well over an hour.

Another interesting aspect of Ninite is that as the programs are installed, it gets the most recent version of each one. That way, you are update-to-date from the beginning.

Ninite Updater is for home users who want to support Ninite. It watches your apps for updates automatically for $9.99/year.

This is a great freeware application for setting up a new computer. There is also a pro version ( for business use with a monthly fee). It has some other features and more programs are available. I found that many are different versions of the same applications. Ninite is truly a great app to use second thing on your new Christmas computer. First is antivirus software

December 16, 2014

Tech Christmas, Part 2

Last week, I suggested a few techie Christmas gifts. Some readers requested a few more; so, they are as follow.

Let’s start on a slightly different foot. This is similar to the musical cards that play songs or prerecorded messages when opened, but it’s a little different. At spreengs.com, users can create their own video card.

Users create their own video, then upload it to the site, at which point it is completed and mailed to recipients. Or, the company can mail users the card, envelope and USB wire, so the video can be uploaded to the card and sent. The first option costs about $5 more. The few that I looked at ranged about $ 20- 40.

447_mifi5510lFor a gift that keeps on giving — for a monthly fee — try a personal Wi- Fi Hotspot. These small devices supply users with highspeed Internet connections. Speeds are fastest with 4G coverage. Sometimes, I use one for work and it usually gets from 7 to 12 mbps download speed, which is enough to watch movies.  Shown here is the Verizon Mi-Fi that I use which works very well with 4G.

Prices vary for the hardware to the monthly charges for the amount of data used. However, before buying one, check if your cellphone has a hotspot capability, as it may be less expensive.

Tablet sales are down about four percent this year; but tablet keyboard sales are up approximately 90 percent. Users can take an old tablet and, add a Bluetooth keyboard, which costs from $20- 50. Users have found that this is much more convenient than typing on a tablet without a keyboard. You can also get a new tablet with a keyboard included; however, the cost will likely be much higher.

Also available are Mighty Purses, a fusion between fashion and technology available at mighty- purse. com. These bags have a lightweight, built- in battery and a cable for phone charging. They are available in a variety of colors and designs. Prices on Amazon. com run approximately $80- 100.

The Shoulderpod S1 (shoulderpod.com) is a $ 34.90 gadget that attaches to most any cellphone, with or without a case, and has three functions. First, it has a camera grip mode that can be attached to the phone and a grip and strap for users’ hands and wrists, respectively. Second, it has a desk mount mode, which allows users to stabilize without a tripod. Third, it has a mount to attach the phone to the tripod.

image

December 9, 2014

Tech Christmas, Part 1

Wearable Tech is one of those technology terms that makes some sense.  It is a technology device that you wear like clothes or jewelry.  However, it does more than just look pretty. 

Here are a couple of the more popular items that seem to be making lots of news (or advertising) this time of year.

First up, how about a pair of video sunglasses?  Wear them while you are at the beach, snow skiing, hunting, etc. and capture good video of what you are seeing.  Take your new glasses home, hook them up to your computer and show it to all of your friends. 

Look around and you can find them from around $30 to $400 a pair.  You next question is, why the large price range?  As with all technology products the costs of specifications add up.  The less expensive pairs have lower "film" speeds, fewer pixels, cheaper lenses, poor battery rates, etc. 

Fitbit choicesAnother popular item this year is wearable fitness products.  One company that seems to do more than some of the others is "Fitbit" (fitbit.com).  Most of the Fitbit products look like a wrist watch without the watch.  The basic models keep track of the number of steps you have taken, distances, calories burned and stairs you go up and down all day.  They say that at night it measures your sleep quality, helps you learn to sleep better and will even wake you in the morning.      

The more advanced Fitbit models can track your pulse, sync information wirelessly to your computer, has GPS tracking and can send you notifications from your phone and other features. 

There are also a plethora of Smart Watches for Android, iPhone and Windows platforms.  Some are rated very good; however, some are rated not so good.  Research online before you purchase one.  They are fun but somewhat expensive.  As always with new technology the prices will drop, but if you are on the tech-cutting-edge you may want to get one now.  It will show you emails, alarms, weather, and most everything your phone will but it is on your arm.  Guess what?  They also show you the time and date. 

RinglyAnother very recent addition to the wearables is, "Ringly" (ringly.com).  It is similar to the Fitbit and Smart Watches but is smaller and does similar tricks; but is mostly for alerts.  Priced from $195 to $260.

Water Dancing Droplet SpeakersFor the more budget conscious how about a pair of Water Dancing Droplet Speakers? (bit.ly/1vnbQQz)  Once your music starts playing, the speakers will send colorful jets of water up and down in time with the beat. The site is in the UK but they are $39 in US dollars. 

 

HFHiCALL Now for one of my favorites which I have been talking about for a couple of years.  Hi-Fun HFHiCALL phone gloves.  These are fairly normal looking gloves with a Bluetooth connection to your phone.  There is an earpiece in the thumb and a microphone in the pinkie finger.  You got it!  Fold your three middle fingers down and talk to the hand.  These run from $39 to $75 depending on the version, color, etc.  The best prices appear to be on Amazon.

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.

November 5, 2013

Should I Remove It?

We are getting to that time of year again when people are thinking about buying a new PC for themselves or someone else.  Have no fear; this column is not about "How to find the best $5,000 computer for $14.95."  I stopped writing those articles several years ago since I stopped getting emails requesting them.  I think everyone is fairly familiar with getting a new computer.  But of course, if I get countless inquiries before Christmas I would be happy to write another one.

OK, onto today’s topic.  So you get a new computer and guess what?  Every single computer you purchase new from a computer company comes with bloatware, crapware, crudware or one of its many other names.  If you have no idea what they are read on.  Bloatware is basically all of the applications which come on your new computer and those installed over time that really do not do you much good.

For instance, if you are like me you have a favorite "free" antivirus program.  When you get a new computer it will almost certainly come preinstalled with one of the big name apps.  You go ahead and register for this program, since it is free.  The problem is that it will not be free after the free "test" period is complete.  Say in three to six months you have forgotten all about that application, but you get a warning telling you that it has expired and to be protected online you need to purchase it for the next year.  I am not saying that it is a bad app but you may not need it and may also be uneasy about deleting the program. 

There can be ten or even more of these types of applications installed on a new system.  The computer manufacturers receive a fee for putting these on their new systems, so that is why they are there. 

There are many ways to remove them.  My favorite if you are techie enough is to wipe the computer clean (yes, format the drive) and reinstall a clean copy of the operating system.  I DO NOT suggest that for everyone, just for geeks who already know this.  Next, if you know which applications are unnecessary, in Windows 7 go to "Control Panel" and then "Programs & Features" and individually delete them.  OK, for Windows XP, "Control Panel" then "Add or Remove Programs." Then in Windows 8, CP again and next "Uninstall or Change a Program."  OK, there are just too many Windows OS and since "7" is the most popular I will stick with it from now on.

imageYou may also get one of the many programs that will help you with this process.  The one I like most is a free application called, "Should I Remove It?" (shouldiremoveit.com) This is a neat little utility you can easily install and use.  Once you download the app it will install a shortcut on your desktop.  Double click the shortcut and the program will start and run for a minute or so looking for applications.

It has a database built from user input like yours.  Each program listed may or may not be crudware but you can scroll through the list and check.  Click on the program’s name see the percentage of people who uninstall it, check into it or choose, "What is it?" or "Uninstall."

"Uninstall" is self-explanatory but the other button will open your browser with information they have gathered about the application and other users’ thoughts regarding the app.  If after reviewing the information you decide you do not need it, click "Uninstall" and it will uninstall it using your windows uninstall program.

This is a very slick little application which actually uses user experiences to help you make a decision. 

December 11, 2012

HTTP vs. HTTPS

This Christmas season I hope you have seen some websites’ URLs that start with "https://" instead of "http://."  That is if you shop online, do banking online, etc. 

Here is a short lesson on what they mean.

The basic one, "http" stands for "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol" which is the main prefix for most websites.  Http allows browsing the internet, linking to sites and other "mapping" online.  It begins most websites’ addresses.  Most sites do not require "http://" to be entered.  So you could go to the address bar in your browser and type either, "http://doubleclicks.info" or "doubleclicks.info," press your enter key and end up at our site. 

The other one, "https" means "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol" with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), or "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure" for short.  This does basically the same thing as "http." However; it also is used to allow safe and secure internet transactions to be sent online.  

To use the secure version you usually need to type, "https://" in the address bar or click a link which directs, or maps, you to it. 

The reason I started with, "I hope you have seen https," recently is if you are purchasing anything online it should be in the site’s URL when you are entering financial information.  For instance, if you bank online, go to your bank’s website and check the address bar when you log onto your account.  When using "https" any info you send via that page is encrypted.  That makes it so no one can read that information except the appropriate party on the receiving end.  It does take a little longer to send securely since it has to encrypt it before passing it along the web.   

ffAnother way to tell if you are using a secured site is to look for a lock in your browser. Usually the lock icon is to the right of the site address or on the left where the icons for sites are usually located.  If you have never noticed it; open your bank’s site and look for the lock.  If you do not bank online try "amazon.com" and click on the "Sign In" or "My Account" links.  Even if you do not have an account, when you go to the sign in page you will see the lock…look closely in your address bar. msie

Many sites automatically use the secure protocol for instance Gmail, Hotmail (and all of its derivatives like Outlook.com, etc.), Amazon and many others.  Some you have to tell you want to use https, so check the sites you visit and see.  You only need to use it when you are entering username, password or account information on a site.  However, you may be able to use it at other sites.
 
I once heard, "You never send a postcard in the mail with your username and password written on it for everyone to see, why do it online?"  That thought has some merit, be careful online. 

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 pcdecrapifier.com 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 ninite.com 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 noradsanta.org and follow the man.

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