About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 6, 2015

2014 Sites in Review, Part 1

Welcome to the beginning of our fourteenth year together with the Double Click column.  Every January we review the sites that we visited in the previous year.  Today is no different.  So as always, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them using the "" app so the links may not look quite right.  Without further ado…here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

Thanks for reading the column and emailing me with your great questions.  I love writing it and hearing from you! 

  • Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and ABC – add ".com" to any of those to view TV shows, movies, video clips, etc.
  • – this Google device allows you to broadcast anything from your Android, iPhone or Windows phones and computers to your TV.
  • – Computers that run the Chrome OS (Google) and have everything you need in the Cloud. 
  • Google Drive/Docs,  – Google’s Office substitute and a good one it is, with this you may not need to purchase Microsoft Office.
  • McAfee – one of the many antivirus applications available for your computer’s protection.
  • Libre Office and Open Office – the two leaders in the free Microsoft Office replacements.  Both are good; however, fall short in some areas. 
  • Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, IxQuick and StartPage – add ".com" to any of these for search engines, the last three do not track your searches but the first three do.
  • Google Location History – this site will show you where you have been in the recent past on Google Maps. 
  • Copy, – free online cloud storage, use the link shown and get 20 GB instead of 15 at
  • Dropbox,, same as above; however, you get 2 GB, many people prefer this to all the other online storage options since it was one of the first.
  • Google Drive and OneDrive, (by Microsoft) – Google’s and Microsoft’s cloud storage sites both at 15GB free. 
  • OneNote, Microsoft’s great note taking application, free online.
  • MultCloud, put all of your cloud storage on one site (notice spelling, no "i").

Tune in next week for the last half of the sites we visited in 2014.

May 13, 2014

January 28, 2014


Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

May 17, 2011

File Encryption

I have had many emails over time about security of thumb drives.  For instance, I sometimes think about what would happen if I accidentally left my thumb drive lying around somewhere. The finder could open my private files on that drive.

That used to be a concern, but for many years I have been using a great free application called TrueCrypt.  There are probably thousands of other file encryption applications out there but I believe this is one of the better ones.  Also, TrueCrypt meets one of my favorite criteria. It is free.


Before I start telling you what this application will do I will warn you of a few things.  It is very, very good at what it does.  It is not one of the easiest programs to set up.  You may have to read a bit to learn how to use it; however, it will be worth the effort.

Once TrueCrypt is set up you will need a password to access the encrypted files on the drive.  This can include external and internal hard drives as well as thumb drives.

One interesting feature is that you can create an encrypted “container”.  The container is set up on a drive somewhere and when opened you may place as many files as will fit in it.  The size of a container is determined by you when it is created. The neat thing is that you may copy this container to any other location and use it as a container there.  For instance, you could copy your important files to this container (it actually acts like a folder) and transport it to another computer via email, thumb drive, etc.  When you take it to the new computer you copy it to that system, open the container and presto-change-o there are your files in a new place.  If you encrypt the entire thumb drive or a portion of your hard drive you can’t move it from place to place.

Also, remember… to use this on a portable drive you must have TrueCrypt running on that computer.  Hmm, what do you do if TrueCrypt is not on the computer you are trying to use?  No problem! When you set up the drive you can install TrueCrypt on that portable device so you may run it from there when using someone else’s computer.

If you have a need to encrypt your files I highly recommend TrueCrypt.  Also, you don’t need to contact me for specifics. There are many ways to set it up and their site is full of helpful information. If you give it a try let me know what you think.

February 24, 2011

Google does it again with Cloud Connect!

If you know me or read my articles and columns you know that I am a Google Lover and so I have to share another one with you.

Read their blog but basically now Microsoft Office (at least Word, Excel and PowerPoint) all work in conjunction with Google Docs.  You can create, store, edit and share them all on Google Docs directly from inside the MS apps.

Give it a try.  I have and so far it has worked great, if that opinion changes either the good or the bad I will let you know here.

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