DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

May 10, 2016

Disappointment

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:33 am

Dollar sign

I have purchased a few items from online stores over the years.  I have become quite disappointed with one of the online stores I have used.

I received an email from one of the major online tech stores recently that seemed to be too good to be true.  It had the usual good prices on many devices and of course several notebook computers.  One of them popped right off the page at me. 

It was an extremely high-end 2-in-1 flipbook.  The keyboard and monitor on the notebook fold backward until they are flat together.  This means that you have a regular notebook with a full keyboard or a Windows 10 tablet depending on how it is folded. 

The most amazing part of the email was that it was listed for $200.  I knew it was worth more.  After checking online, the closest price I could find for the identical model was $1,100.  So I thought I would buy one.    

I clicked the email link, got to the site, scrolled down the page and there it was in all its glory.  I read the full write up and I was excited by the possibilities…yeah, I am a geek.  $900 off retail!

I continued on with the adventure by selecting the computer and putting it in my shopping cart.  I got to the shopping cart and guess what?  The price went from $200 to $645.  Now that is still a great price with  $455 savings but a lot more than "my" price.  The $200 worked for me but the new price once in the shopping cart, nope. 

Not being one to give up easily I got screen shots of all the items: The email, the webpage right on up to the shopping cart showing where the price started and where it ended.

To me it was a clear demonstration of the old "bait and switch" technique.  I thought it would be fine and their upper management would surely see the error of their ways, giving it to me for the "proper" price.

I called the company’s support number and was handed off to a manager.  After giving them my story they asked if I could provide a document and I was ready with my screenshots.  Pure proof.  So I emailed it to them as requested.  They said they would get back to me in a few days. 

The next afternoon I clicked the same email link to check the online price.  That computer was not even listed any longer.  I had kept it in my shopping cart so I went there and it said that the item was sold out and I could no longer purchase it for any price. 

Well after two weeks, several calls and emails they told me they were sorry for the inconvenience but to help me out they gave me a $25 discount on my next purchase.  WOW, thanks a lot for the equal trade.

I spoke to a lawyer friend of mine about the bait and switch. He said that basically when you click an email you get what you get and you have no recourse.  It has been tested in the courts.  So, yeah, after a few hours work I got $25.

October 6, 2015

Windows 10, Part 7

Today we will see how to change the Windows 10 default browser.

I hear many people do not want to use the new Microsoft Edge browser (the replacement for MS Internet Explorer).  I have read online how hard it is to install the default browser either Google Chrome or Firefox, the two more popular browsers.  Well in my opinion it really is not hard.  I have tried it with both and when I installed them they asked if they could be the default choice and I answered yes after each install.  Now, my default is Chrome but it worked with both.

After the install when I chose either for the default the system took me to the “Defaults apps” location to change it.  If you missed it or want to change any of your default applications, say VLC as your media player it is simple.  Click the Start button and type “Default apps” then click on “Default app settings” and scroll to the one you wish to change.  For this example, click on “Music player” and choose the one you wish to use.  Now all of your music will open in whatever app you choose.  Mine for music and video is “VLC Player.”  You can change your browser and other apps there.  VLC can be downloaded from “rd.dblclx.com/1LTJDOH” which is my link, so you cannot go wrong.  The following video shows you how to do this (no sound).

I talked about the pluses and minuses of using Cortana, and I personally chose not to.  There is another step you can perform to shut it all the way down.  So to erase Cortana’s data it may have on you and also turn her off, go to “All Settings”, (found by clicking the lined link next to your time/date on the right of the taskbar) “Privacy”, “Speech, inking & typing”, and click the gray button that says “Stop getting to know me.” If the item says, “Turn off”, click it.  If it says, “Turn on”, click out of it as it is already off.

Speaking of Solitaire, OK I was not, but pretend for me.  You now get a large number of Solitaire games with W10.  The Microsoft Solitaire Collection has the standard version “Klondike” along with Spider, Free Cell, Pyramid and TriPeaks.

These are all free; however, you get advertisements for other Microsoft products, for instance, Xbox and the plethora of games it has.  You will also have to log in with your Microsoft account if you want to save your scores for others to see.  But if you say no to the login a time or two you can play to your heart’s content alone…it is called solitaire for a reason, you know. There are daily challenges and more to come in Solitaire like leader boards, but again you must log in to get the MS money credits.

Windows 10 Solitaire

July 21, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 1

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

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

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

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


Ron's Samsung Chromebook

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

July 14, 2015

Chromebook Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Office Live           Google Docs

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

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

image                    image

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

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

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

June 16, 2015

Decrapify Your Computer

Last week I mentioned a friend whose computer was struggling through a major malware and viral infection.  I had several readers write to ask, what was done to resolve it and even more importantly how to stop a reoccurrence of the same problems. 

To resolve it I installed Avast! for antivirus protection and Malwarebytes to remove the malware.  I had to run each several times to get rid of all but a couple of nasty ones. 
For those last two or three I had to search the net to find solutions since I had never heard of them.  I found the solutions, ran them and those problems were gone, too.  This was not a quick process.  The first run of Avast! took several hours and Malwarebytes took a couple of overnight runs.  But finally all was well.

I will also say that a huge majority of their problems came from trial antivirus expiring and nothing replacing it, plus many coupon saving apps which were putting on all the malware to get usernames and passwords along with surfing habits.  Fortunately they did not do any banking online or they would have been broke, too.

Next, on a new computer the first thing you should do is to install the two applications mentioned above or pay for the free/trial antivirus provided by the manufacturer and add  Malwarebytes. 

Next, you need to remove the PUPs from your new computer.  (Potentially Unwanted Programs, and yes that is an actual term.)  These are the "junk" programs on new computers that you do not use and will likely never have a need for. 

For the past many years I have built my own computers so I only install what I need; however, in the olden days I used an application called, "PCDecrapifier."  I reinstalled it today to test it out and it still works well. It will remove the majority of your PUPs and bloatware / crapware; however, you may still have some left. For those remaining you should uninstall them upon discovery as you would any application. 

PC Decrapifier logo

PCDecrapifier is a standalone app, which means no installation other than running the downloaded executable.  When you are done all you do is remove the Decrapifier file you downloaded and ran earlier.  It will request if you would like to create a restore point.  I doubt you will need to worry about it but I suggest that you do this.  I recommend you create a restore point anytime you install any new application.

Last today I have several steps for installing new software from day one on.  Start by reviewing the program you are looking to install on your favorite search engine.  See if anyone mentions any "security" issues about it.  Throw out the top 10% of lovers and haters of the application and you will have realistic opinions.  Next, when you install it, if there is a "Custom" install choose that over the default which asks you no questions.  The reason is even some reputable programs have "add on" programs that go with them.  For instance some install Google Chrome along with the real app you mean to install.  In my opinion that is not bad since I am a big supporter of Chrome; however, some apps install PUPs.  A custom install will allow you to choose exactly what is installed so you can "uncheck" any PUPs you see. 

April 26, 2015

Windows 10 – Microsoft Windows

Filed under: Tech Info — Tags: , , , , , — Ron @ 10:07 am

See what’s coming with Windows 10, the next release of Windows that’s being built based on the feedback of millions of people.
Source: Windows 10 – Microsoft Windows
 

 

 

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.  

March 17, 2015

"Hi, this is Ron from Windows"

I have a couple of scams to inform you of today that could cost you time, effort and lots of money.  One is computer related, the other financial. 

Many people have reported getting calls from someone saying something similar to, "Hello this is Ron (fill in any name) from Windows, we see that your computer is reporting errors and we need to help you." 

First red flag on this is that no one from "Windows" would contact you since there is no company named Windows.  Secondly, you would most likely think it was Microsoft; however, they would never call you out of the blue with a problem.  Unless it is due to some very unusual circumstances, Microsoft does not even have your phone number. 

If you continue with the call, as apparently many people have, they will help you. The problem is that their "help" is quite harmful.  I have read of some people being directed by the caller to install software on their computer in order to give them access to run a special update.  Never, ever let some stranger talk you into installing anything on your computer…on any occasion! 

That will give them access to your computer after they supposedly help you.  Then you will have problems with your computer and a different foreign voice will contact you in the future saying for $$$ they can fix this issue.  

Fraud image
The other issue being reported is they have installed a key logger program on your computer.  A key logger has the ability to record every keystroke you make and send it to someone else-without you knowing a thing.  This can include all of your user names and passwords.  You know what happens to your bank accounts after they get that info. 

Bottom-line is if you get a call from someone representing themselves as a person wanting to fix your computer, hang-up.  Then if you wish you can report them to "The Internet Crime Complaint Center" (IC3) at "ic3.gov/complaint."  The IC3 is co-sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

Next, you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS.  They inform you that you owe taxes and if you do not pay immediately you will be criminally prosecuted.  Usually they require the payment to be made through a prepaid debit card. 

You may laugh and think, "What knucklehead would do that since the IRS never cold calls anyone about anything."  But since October, 2013 more than 3,000 people fell for this scam and made the crooks $15.5 million.  The top five states taken so far, per Timothy Camus, deputy inspector general for investigations at the agency that oversees the IRS are: California ($3.84 million), New York ($1.35 million), Texas ($795,884), Florida ($760,000) and Virginia ($648,363).

If the IRS calls you, hang up.

March 3, 2015

Google Tricks, Part 3

Google Logo

For the last couple of weeks I have told you about some interesting Google tricks you can do, some helpful, others fun.  Your interest in emails has shown me that you would like a couple more of their tricks, so here we go.  Remember always start on the main Google.com page for these to work.  Most will anyway but they will definitely work from the main page.

Pretend that you are researching some item on Google, say bananas.  You search using Google.com as usual with, "banana farms" and find many links with information.  Many of the sites reference, "Chiquita" but you do not want any more information on that company.  To weed out that company type, "banana farms -Chiquita".  The results will have removed, "Chiquita" from most all of the searches.  The use of a minus sign filters your searches by removing the following word.

You may want to get information is a particular format, say a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show which contains the phrase you are looking for.  Search Google this way.  Type, " ‘space the final frontier’ filetype:ppt" in the search box.  Two things to remember.  First thing is that you need to put regular quotes around the phrase you are searching and no space between the colon and the file type after it.  You could also search for graphics using, "jpg" extension; however, it is better to use the Google image search for that.  Other extensions you may search for are Word files (doc and docx), Excel (xls and xlsx), Portable Document Format (pdf), PowerPoint as stated previously (ppt), Text (txt), Open Document Format (odf) and many more from various programs.  

What can you do if you remember reading an article on a site in the past and need to "refind" that article?  Google allows you to search a site for keywords.  For instance you remember an app I wrote about called "Ninite" and want to find it.  You could go directly to my site and search for it or you could go to Google.  In Google type, "ninite site: www.doubleclicks.info" search and you will find several times I have mentioned it online.  Capitalization does not matter; however, spacing is very important.  You must have a space between the term you are searching for and after the colon or you search may fail. 

Two last items are more of a set up and not a trick.  First, if you like the "I’m Feeling Lucky" link in Google and now it is gone most likely you have somehow turned on "Instant predictions."  To go back to the "old" way go to Google.com page, look in the lower right corner and click, "Settings," "Search settings." Finally under "Google Instant predictions" click the "Never show instant results" button.  While there you can also try, "Advanced search."

Try searching with your voice if you have not before.  From Google.com click the gray microphone to the right of the search box.  You will see when it is ready, then just talk away.  This will only work if you have a mic on your computer and it is on/working.

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