DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 13, 2015

2014 in Review, Part 2

This week I will continue with the second half of the links we talked about last 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.

  • CNet and Download (both part of CBS Interactive), great reviews, “how tos”, etc. of most everything tech at the first site and good downloads on the other.  
  • Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, three popular free email and information providers.
  • Thunderbird – a very good email application for computer that can incorporate all of the above emails on your desktop.
  • Firefox.com – One of the most popular internet browsers.
  • Coffitivity and Rainy Mood  – fun sites which make soothing noises while you work.  
  • Barnes & Noble Nook – the B&N ereader, Nook.
  • 10,000+ Free eBooks – a place to get free ebooks including the most recent of many for Android only.
  • CCleaner, Defraggler, Recuva and Speccy – four great computer utilities from Piriform.
  • iTunes – media player and controller for all Apple products.
  • Mighty Text – enables you to send and receive text messages from your phone in your browser.  You may also dial your phone from this add-on.  
  • SnagIt  and Screenshot Captor – the first is a paid screen shot application with many features. The captor is a free app that is similar but does not have as many abilities.
  • Livescribe – the home of the Livescribe pen that records your meeting’s audio and syncs the audio to your written text. Not free.
  • Cogi – a phone application which allows you to capture, review & share the highlights of meetings and lectures.
  • Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, Five Guys, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Starbuck’s, Wendy’s are just a few of the many fast-food shops having apps so you can order on your phone. 
  • Calorie King – a site for your computer or phone to get dietary information on all the stuff you order from the aforementioned sites.
  • Realtor.com and Zillow.com – two excellent sites to use if you are buying or selling your home. 
  • Fitbit and Ringly and Water Dancing Droplet Speakers, Spreengs and Shoulderpod are several interesting gadgets you can buy for presents for yourself or others.
  • Ninite – a site that lets you get many applications to quickly install them all at one time without stopping all along the way to ask you questions.
  • AVG or Avast! – two of the better free antivirus applications. 
  • Malwarebytes – the best free app which checks your computer for nasty malware.
  • SpeedTest – you may check the speed you are receiving from your service provider at any time. 
  • Typing Web – if you need typing lessons or a refresher course here is the place to get help.
  • Steam Powered – a few free and many for a cost game site. 
  • PayPal – a very secure site for making online purchases.  

Stay tuned for 2015 and have a very Happy New Year!

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.  

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