DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 22, 2016

Another Two Bite the Dust

Google told the world on February 12 it will no longer support, wait are ready for it? 

If you said, "Picasa" you got it right (picasa.google.com).  Now I will not yell too loudly about this one since I was not a big Picasa lover.  It seemed a little convoluted to me; however, many people love(d) Picasa and are very upset to see it go. 

Picasa logoPicasa is/was an image viewer for organizing and editing digital photos.  And yes, it was named after Pablo Picasso and blended with "mi casa" ("my house" in Spanish) and "pic" for pictures.  It was also linked to the cloud so that you could share your photos online with the world…if you wished. It was originally created by a company named Lifescape in 2002.  Google purchased it in mid-2004. 

As of March 16, 2016 it was removed from the web and is no longer "downloadable."  If you downloaded the file before then, you may keep the installation file and install it at any other time. In addition, Google will be archiving Picasa Web Albums data at a later date while encouraging those users to convert to Google Photos instead.  That means that if you still have Picasa you will not be able to upload to the Web Albums in the future since they will be gone.  It also means that Google will not continue to update it for security and other features.  

So, goodbye Picasa, I knew you well… a little bit.  Google is providing a new application called, "Google Photos" (photos.google.com) which rolled out early last summer.  This is the replacement which is lacking a few of Picasa’s features.  One big plus is that if you keep your uploaded photos to HD quality of 16 megapixels (MP) or less per photo, you have unlimited storage.  With higher quality it will use your Google Drive storage limits as did Picasa. 

Copy.com logoNow here is a discontinuation that really bugs me.  A great application that I have supported willingly over the past several years is Copy (copy.com) by Barracuda.  It is similar to Dropbox for storing any files on your computer in the cloud.  It is a great backup solution which would allow a user to start with 15 GB of space (13 GB more that Dropbox).

Well guess what Barracuda announced February 1st?  You guess correctly, it will be shut down as of May 1, 2016.  They commented, "…our business focus has shifted, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Copy and CudaDrive services and allocate those resources elsewhere."  

There is no replacement with that much free space.  Basically Barracuda says put your files somewhere else.  Right this minute I am still a big Dropbox supporter ("rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox" for extra start up storage).  Of course, who knows what the future holds?

July 28, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 2

Last week I mentioned Chromebooks and Antivirus software.  Today in continuing with sharing emails and answers we look at the following questions.

"How often do you run Windows Update, defrag, cleaning, and other computer maintenance?" Wow, huge question with a multitude of answers.  First I suggest for most users you should set windows updates to run automatically.  With Windows 10 your only choice may be to have it automatically update, there are varying reports.  If you now run the update manually they come out on "Patch Tuesday."  Or, the second Tuesday of each month.  So you are good to run your update any time after that.  I would recommend you do it each month for security reasons if no other.

Defragging and cleaning really depend on how often you use your computer.  I have also recommended here before that you use CCleaner (piriform.com) for cleaning/removing old files and refreshing your registry. It is an excellent program.  For defragging I recommend another Piriform product called "Defraggler," found on the same site under "Downloads." 

Piriform logo

The timing for these is really up to you since it depends on how much you use your computer.  For a heavy user like me who can spend eight hours a day at work and then an hour or two several times a week at home, I run them every week or so.  If you only go online once a day to check email and Facebook for an hour, once a month or so is fine.  Longer will not hurt you and the more often you run them the quicker they work.  Defragging takes the longest so if you have never defragged before it could take overnight or more depending on the size of your hard drive.

One word of warning about defragging.  If you have a SSD drive and not a regular "platter" drive you should not run defrag.  It will not kill it; however, I have read reports that they will not last as long if you do. 

Maintenance other than those mentioned above is as follows:  Make sure you run your antivirus software regularly.  If you have a free one, as I told you about last week, you may have to do it manually.  To do so you usually right click on the software’s icon in your notification area and click update.  Applications can vary so check yours and proceed. 

Malwarebytes logoThe other two applications I have talked about before but are quite important are, "Malwarebytes" (malwarebytes.org) Filehippo logoand "FileHippo App Manager" (filehippo.com/download_app_manager).  I have talked about them in detail before but I do not feel like mentioning them again is too much.  The new improved version of FileHippo is even better and easier to use.

See you next week.

January 20, 2015

Updating Your Apps

I know you are all running Windows Update on your PCs.  Well, let me back off a bit on that.  If you have Windows 7 or before you should be running it manually or setting it to run automatically.  Windows 8 on comes with the default for Windows Update to automatically run so you do not have to worry about it.  What it does is check for and install updates to Microsoft Windows and possibly Office (depending on your version and configuration).  That way you are always operating at greatest efficiency and more securely in Windows.

Five years ago someone wrote asking me for ways to make sure all of their non-Microsoft applications were running the latest versions.  I told you about, “Secunia PSI“.  This application scans many of your applications in the background and recommends when updates are available.  It does a pretty good job; however, in my opinion, it is a bit clunky and more difficult to use than one I discovered several months ago.  Search for the old article on DoubleClicks.info if you are interested.

The one I use now is called “FileHippo App Manager” and is smoother and easier to operate. There are a couple of things you should be aware of on the installation.  First is that when you go to the link above there are two green “Download” links.  Use the one in the upper right side of the page which says, “Download latest version.”  As it installs it will ask you some general questions.  I would uncheck, “Run at startup.”  Many programs want to do this but it will slow your computer down.

FileHippo Scan Screen

FileHippo Scan Screen

When it is complete double click the blue icon on your desktop for FileHippo.  A small box will pop up showing it is running.  After a few moments your browser will open with (I’m guessing here) a long list of applications needing updates.  You can click on them one at a time, download them and install their updates.  Once finished you may close your browser and the FileHippo box will still be on your screen.  Click the “X” in the upper right hand corner and it will close.

Sample screen from FileHippo App Manager

Sample screen from FileHippo App Manager

Not every program on your computer is checked by this program.  However, neither Secunia nor the others I have tested in the past get them all.  There are just too many programs for one app to catch every one.

Have fun updating some apps and look forward to getting the final, “Congratulations!  Your computer is up-to-date!” message from FileHippo App Manager.

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!

December 30, 2014

New Computer, Part 2

Last week I told you about Ninite.com for your new computer.  I received several emails asking what other applications I would install on a new Windows computer. 

My first "have to have" application is anti-virus software.  I suggest initially what probably comes free with your new computer. However, after the free six or twelve month trial ends, get a free app.  The one you get with your computer usually goes for a high annual fee.  Download only one of these first: AVG or Avast!. These are the two many other geeks and I use.  Search the sites for the free versions and only get them from those sites.  Viruses may be included in them when they are downloaded elsewhere.   

Do not install more than one antivirus app on your computer at a time or it could cause issues. 

Next, I have a new recommendation, Malwarebytes.  This will help your antivirus software keep you even safer.  The free version is good.  You need to remember to run it yourself every few days.  Malware stands for malicious software that may not destroy things but can really mess with your computer.  I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find you have hundreds of malware items present.  

Now, go to Speed Test and see what actual speeds you are getting from your internet service provider.  If you get less than you should call your provider and get their assistance to correct the issue.  The speed can vary from hour-to-hour but should be close most of the time. 

The next thing I suggest is something you used to have to pay a bundle for, Microsoft Office.  Not any longer.  For the average Office user you can create a new Outlook.com account or use your Hotmail.com account and use Office Online – for free.  There are several ways to get to your office apps but I suggest onedrive.live.com to set up or login to your office products. 

After typing like you did in your new free online Word application you notice that your typing could be improved if you used more than two fingers.  To work on your typing skills and speed take a look at Typing Web and practice.  You can improve your typing for free and maybe have some fun doing so.  

Finally, you should just have some fun.  If you like computer games login for free at Steam Powered.  An account is free as are some of the games; however, some may have a onetime cost or possibly a monthly fee.  I like the free, "Star Trek Online" where I am a commander of a Federation vessel. 

If you want to pay for a game, set up a PayPal account.  It is a very secure online payment system.  I have used it for years and have never had a problem.  I suggest anytime you tie your checking/savings account to anything online you create a separate account from your "home" account.  This is just in case there is ever a security hack.  They can only get a minimal amount of money and it will not affect paying your "real" bills.

Have a Happy 2015!

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