About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 8, 2015

Windows 10, Part 3

Cortana?  Is it a name to be loved or feared?

Cortana is the “Siri”-like and “OK, Google” personal voice search feature found now in Windows 10 for PC.  It was previously available the first part of 2015 for Windows 8.1 Phones.  If you read last week’s article on linked and/ local accounts this continues that train of thought.  So go check it out if you missed it.

If you set up W10 with a linked account Cortana (or “Hey Cortana” as it is also called) will work just fine.  If you choose to go the route of a local account, which I suggest to most, Cortana will not show up.

Cortana getting you to link your accountIf you choose a linked account you will need to run an easy setup.  After your upgrade to W10 click in the Search box located at the left side of the Taskbar on the bottom of your screen.  The Search window will come up and you will then click on the notebook icon, third from the top on the left.  Then Settings.  In the next screen you will see “Hey Cortana. Let Cortana respond to ‘Hey Cortana’.” Click the button to the “On” position if it is not already on. Then, if you have a microphone on your computer you can just say, “Hey Cortana” and give it a command.

There are many things Cortana can do so I will not list them all here, but you could try some.  Like, “Hey Cortana, search for Windows 10 help.”  You can also set alarms, search for directions, open programs, send email or try, “Hey Cortana, help” for a list of commands.


July 7, 2015

Windows 10, Part 3

Here are a few more features for Windows 10 that we did not talk about last week. 

First today is "Cortana." You may already be familiar with some of its ancestors, Siri, on the Apple platform and "OK, Google" on Android devices.  It was named after Cortana, for all of you non-gamers out there, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series.

Cortana is your personal digital assistant and is available across all Windows platforms.  This means it will work on your Windows computer, tablet and phones.

Cortana is located in the Taskbar and will take your voice instructions and give you voice notifications.  It can add appointments to your calendar, dictate emails, send those messages, play music when you tell it too, etc. After it alerts you to an appointment it will remain quiet until something else happens it needs to remind you about. Cortana can also be turned off if you do not like using it.

Another interesting new feature is called "Universal Apps."  This will allow you to install an application on your computer, tablet, phone and even Xbox and it will run on all of your platforms exactly the same.  Along with another feature, "Continuum" it will automatically be the correct size including menu buttons, etc. so that the apps will even appear identically presented on all Windows devices.

OK, some cool stuff is coming; however, several things are going away.  One is Windows Media Center.  This means that without a third party application installed you cannot watch a DVD/Blue-Ray on your computer.  It already vanished in W8 but if you were like most people you did not use Windows 8.

Of course, I never liked WMC so I would suggest you install VLC Player ( – free).  VLC works better, quicker, and can play any type of video file that I have ever thrown at it.  There are many other good video players out there and possibly Microsoft will have one to recommend, but for me it is VLC and has been for many years. 

If you have used Desktop Gadgets in the past they are now gone.  I used them and liked them.  I guess you could substitute the new Live Tiles in W10 for some of them.  If you still want gadgets I suggest you install 8GadgetPack ( – free).  I have enjoyed using it on my Windows 8 computer since they were also missing in that version.   

The next piece of semi-bad news for you is that the games are gone from Windows 10 including Solitaire, Hearts and Minesweeper along with the rest.  It really bothers me since Solitaire was put in to the first Windows version only to teach people how to use a mouse.  And era has ended. 

Do not be excessively distraught, you can download the new and improved versions from the new Windows Store if you really miss them.  Then you can get back to goofing off instead of working just as you did in the past.

Let me know when Windows 10 comes out if you have any other questions.  Ones that are helpful to everyone will appear here.

Windows 10 Start Menu

June 15, 2015

2015-06-15 Show Notes

Welcome back to the podcast and show notes for today.  Remember the third Monday of each month at 9 am on WSVA radio you can find myself and Jim Britt talking tech.

Below are some of the things we mentioned on the show.  Use the links to go directly to the site.

Tech News
Windows 10 Free – you heard it right!

Microsoft is making Windows 10 free to licensed/registered Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users.

  • You must download and install in first year after release.
  • Year starts, July 29, 2015.
  • Licensed to that specific machine for the life of the machine (not clear on what happens if you rebuild it in the future.)
  • Rumored to also be free to people with an unlicensed copy, but that remains to be seen.

I have tested it out and some findings are…

  • For those that loved Windows 7, you will most likely like this.
  • For those that hated Windows 8.1, you will most likely like this.
  • The much hated Metro screen is gone and just showing up a little in the Start Menu but can be rearranged, in the test version I had you could not totally remove it but no one knows for sure about final version.
  • MSIE is gone now you get Microsoft Edge.
  • Cortana has arrived in all platforms. Named after Cortana, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series. Now Cortana is your personal digital assistant. (Think Siri or OK Google, but not quite as smart yet.)

Microsoft to Introduce $149 Windows 10 Notebooks

Despite a lackluster start, Chromebooks are becoming relatively popular in the super-budget end of the portable market. This has worried Microsoft for some time. After all, with a Google-centric experience, not to mention an operating system in the form of Chrome OS, there’s little if anything to be gained here by Microsoft and everything to lose. That’s why it’s targeting the Chromebook specifically, with a most likely Windows 10-based $149 laptop.

I am using my Chromebook now and it does most everything I need…not all but I guess 95% of everything I do…not at work. The prices are killing lots of other “low cost” notebooks. Say, $150 compared to $350.

Ron’s Windows App Recommendation
FileHippo App Manager
Application Updater
The App Manager does what, “Windows Update” does for the Windows Operating system. The difference is that FileHippo has created this for many of the other applications on your computer.Go to the link above and click the green, “Download Latest Version” button and install.

Portable Apps is the world’s most popular portable software solution allowing you to take your favorite software with you. A fully open source and free platform, it works on any portable storage device (USB flash drive, memory card, portable hard drive, etc), cloud drive (DropBox, Google Drive, etc), or installed locally. With millions of users all over the world and a full collection of open source software as well as compatible freeware and commercial software and partners in the software and hardware industry, is the most complete solution for life on the go.

The only article I have ever written that the papers refused to PRINT next…

God Mode
This is a longstanding trick for Windows computers and although. I have not tried it in Windows 10; however, I hear it works in all versions of Microsoft OS’s back to Vista (only some versions of Vista).

Basically when you follow these directions you can adjust anything in Windows OS in one place. You do not have to go to each area of the Control Panel to get to them.

Be warned that you can mess stuff up, so I suggest only Geeks use this
(which they probably already know about this) or calm, self-controlled normal people.

    To create the God Mode function do the following in order.

  1. Pick a place to put it, I like my desktop.
  2. Copy the following not including quotation marks, “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}“.
    • “GodMode may be changed to anything you want to title the folder. That is the title the geeks-of-yore named it, I call mine Super User (spaces are OK too.)
  3. Right click and chose, “New/Folder”.
  4. Paste the copied text as the blank folder’s name.
  5. Click off of the newly made folder, which will change it’s icon.
  6. Double click the new “app” to launch it and take a look.
  7. Again, read carefully and only change what you intend to, one at a time and test after making more changes.

If you want to create it and look, just don’t change any items. Then when you are done all you need to do is delete the folder. GodMode Window

That is all for this month. I hope to see you back here next time, July 19, 2015 at 9am. Ron

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