About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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 ( 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" ( Filehippo logoand "FileHippo 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.

February 11, 2014

September 10, 2013

Nexus 7 (Revisited or the New 2013)

Time and technology march on.  A couple of months ago I wrote about the Nexus 7 and how it compared to my first tablet which was a Toshiba Thrive.  Since then they have come out with a new Nexus 7, called…are you ready for this snazzy name? "Nexus 7 (2013)" Yeah, they even use the parenthesis.  I think that is really forward thinking naming; not.  I have also heard non-official references to the Nexus 7.2.

As luck would have it my wife’s Thrive of many years stopped functioning properly and she had used my Nexus 7 some while we were on vacation.  I told her about the new Nexus that just came out and being the wonderful wife she is, she had an idea.  A great idea in my opinion.  She thought I should let her have my old Nexus 7 (about 5 weeks old) and I should get the 2013 version, since geeks should always check out the new equipment.  What a fantastic and brilliant wife!

Image from Google.comSo I got one a couple of weeks ago.  It really is nice, not a tremendous amount better than version one, but nice none-the-less.

The original 7 had the same 7 inch screen and weights 0.75 of a pound. The newer one is, by comparison a light weight at 0.64 lbs.  The screen resolution is higher than the retina display you have heard about in other tablets.  It has a LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and 323 pixels per inch.  To those of us who are half-way normal people that just means that it has a very sharp, clear screen.  Movies run on it very well and it advertises a nine hour Hi-Def video playback.  The most I have run it so far was to watch about four hours of HD videos, including some on Netflix.  That took it down to about 50% battery life left.  I had also played a few games and checked email throughout that time.  That makes me believe in their advertised battery length.

It comes with the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system which is the latest one out there.  Google is constantly fixing and updating as I have had two updates since I got mine.

The 2013 model also has a camera on the front (1.2MP) and back (5 MP auto focus camera with face detection; 1080p video recording @ 30fps), unlike the original which only had the front facing camera.  One problem I had with the original is that it would not work with Skype which I had planned on using.  The new one works fine and I have had a decent video conversation using it. 

I will not get into the processor speed here but it is faster, much quicker than the original which was very good, too.  There is a noticeable difference.  The last thing I would mention is that it has two speakers on the back now instead of one so it is advertised as stereo.  In my opinion, it is like all tablets.  The sound system leaves a lot to be desired if you want to listen to high quality music with the tablet speakers but I think that is the same with any tablet.  However, when using a nice headset or ear buds it is very good indeed.

My opinion is that if you are in the market for a good seven-inch tablet this is the one you should take a serious look at. 

August 27, 2013

Google Keep

Welcome back to another week of Double Click!  I would like to remind you to shoot me an email with your tech/computer questions when you run into them.  I am always glad to hear from you guys any time. 

If you read the column regularly you will know that I have a love/hate relationship with Google.  I love many of their products but I hate it when they have a really good one that they decide to remove from their cadre of apps.

So let me share a little love and hope that Google does not decide to kill it in the next couple of years.  The app/site is called, "Google Keep" and it works really well.  Google even added a very good feature to it this week, so it will be around for a while…well, I guess.

It is presently available for all Android devices.  Sorry iPhoners, it is not an app yet; however, it is available as a website for one and all. 

imageBasically, Google Keep is a note taker/keeper.  I know you have been doing one thing with your phone/tablet (device from here on out) and think of something you need to get to later.  Yes, you could email yourself, write it on a piece of paper or do it the ancient way…remember it.  But with Keep (yes, I shortened that one too) you open the app with a click and add your note.

There are similar apps out there but they are not as simple to use or available everywhere electronically.  Evernote is one of the others I have used.

You can type in a note, create a list, add a photo with or without notes and even leave an audio message.  The speech to text transformation is smooth and fairly accurate but not perfect.  For instance, with audio I recorded the previous sentence and it was all correct, except for "smooth and" which was changed to "moving."

All of your "notes" are added to your Google Drive so you can log into, "" and see your notes there.  Then you may edit, delete or create new ones online.  In just a few seconds they will be available on your device too. 

Tablet ScreenNow let’s discuss the recently added feature. It can mark an existing or new note to alert me at a specific time.  Yeah, neat but not extraordinary.  However, I can also set it to alert me at a specific location, if I have a data or Wi-Fi connection at that time.  For instance, I set an alert the other day to notify me to write a column about, "Google Keep" the next time I went to my favorite coffee shop.  When I arrived here this morning, ding-ding, I received the reminder to write the article.  I don’t even need a brain anymore.  Hmm. 

Think about this, since you can create lists in Keep, how about your grocery list?  Set it to alert you when you get to the grocery store.  When you arrive at the store, there it is, ready to read from your phone or tablet.

Keep in mind this new feature may not be available to you right this second since they are adding this through the end of the month.  So make sure you do your updates.

Yes, I know the brain and paper are probably just as easy but not as cool…

August 20, 2013

Android Factory Reset

Last time we talked about what to do if you could not remember your Android phone’s passcode or pattern.  An email this week stated, "OK, I don’t really use Gmail for much and never log into it."  They then went on to explain that they could not provide adequate information to Google to get their password for a Gmail reset. 

Keep in mind that if you cannot get into email it affects all of your Google account information, from your phone, contacts, Google blogs, etc.  So this is the ultimate "fix" in several ways.

Here are the desperation moves when you cannot in any way gain access to your Android phone.  Hold tight!

First you need to set up a new Google account on your computer.  You can also do this as one of the last steps in resetting your phone but it is easier to complete first online.  Go to and click the upper right link that says, "Create a new account."  Finish it all up and move on to your phone; however, do not forget to add your cell phone number in the security section, see last week for more detail.

Turn off your Android phone (it does not matter that it is still locked).  Do not just put it to sleep but cut it off by holding the power button down for 30 seconds or so.  Depending on the age, version of the OS, and manufacturer it will either ask if you want to turn the power off or it may just shutdown.

Next, and PLEASE listen to this part!  The following steps will wipe out your phone, i.e., all of your email, your apps, your high scores on games, your vacation pictures, etc.  So this is a desperation move ONLY.  You could also use it if you are going to give your phone to someone else and want to get all of your info off of it.  This will not reset the SD Card in the phone.  I would recommend you remove that and reformat it too; however, you may have pictures on it that you can get later.  This depends on your phone and how it was set up.

These following steps will vary by manufacturer so I suggest you contact your phone provider, tell them what has happened and ask how to perform a "Hard Factory Reset" via your phone’s buttons. 

Here is the standard way to "boot" your phone this way.  Hold down the Volume Up and Power buttons simultaneously.  After a few minutes or so your phone’s logo screen will display. (Again your manufacturer will have details for your phone so this is generic).  When it does, release the power button but continue holding the Volume button until the Android System Recovery menu appears.

Android System Recovery Menu (yours may vary)Once at the Android System Recovery menu, select the “wipe data/factory reset” option using the volume keys to move up and down them.  Once it is selected press the power button to start the "wipe."  You will get a confirmation screen.  Choose "Yes" and proceed to strip your phone of all but the essentials which allow it to work.

Reboot System Now screenAfter a few seconds it will finish and you will be presented with the Android System Recovery menu. Again this time choose, "Reboot System Now."

You phone will now reboot back into normal mode and be set up the same way it was when you purchased it and took it out of the box.  Set it up with your new Gmail account which was created earlier and you are on your way again. 

June 18, 2013

March 12, 2013

Where Do You Want to Send It?

I often receive questions about how to change the "Send To" items which are found when you right click a file and scroll down to "Send To."   Some people feel there are too many items; others believe there are too few. Then there are those who don’t see the particular one they would prefer.  You may find some of these listed as options: Compressed (zipped) Folder, Desktop (create shortcut), Mail Recipient, My Documents, CD Drive or Fax Recipient (in my opinion the least used/useful of any).  The "Send To" feature has been around since Windows 95.  I previously wrote about it in XP days; however, it has significantly changed.

First, you need to decide what you want to do.  In this example we will plan two things; first a removal from the list, then we will add an item.

remove Fax RecipientWe will remove the "Fax Recipient" item from the list.  I have never met anyone who has a use for it and I bet you do not either. 

For real fun hold down your shift key and right click on a file.  While still holding the shift key go to the "Send To" link and see what you get…yes, everything Microsoft thinks you may possibly want.  In my opinion, there are way too many options.





You will need to find out where the links to these items are stored on your computer.  The hard way is to go to "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo."  Before you stop reading let me tell you the easy way to get there.  Click the Start button in the lower left corner of your desktop and type, "shell:sendto" without spaces and without the quotes.  After pressing the Enter key a folder will open with all of your default "Send To" areas.

Next, the really easy part awaits you.  To remove an item like "Fax Recipient" you right click the item and choose delete.  You may delete it the way you normally delete files…whatever makes you happy.  Immediately after you delete it from the list, try right clicking on a file again, scroll down to "Send To" and you will notice the item you delete will be gone.

For our added item we will add the "My Pictures" folder since you may find it very convenient to add pictures directly to that folder. 

Path for PhotosGo to the, "shell:sendto" folder again.  Yes, the same place you were before.  Right-click in an empty area of that folder and select "New" and "Shortcut."  Next to the textbox that states, "Type the location of the item," click the "Browse" button.  To find the pictures folder, click your username, scroll down and click on "My Pictures," then OK.  For the final step you can use the name entered for you.  In this case, "My Pictures" or you can change the name to whatever you want. To finish it off, click "OK." 

If you accidentally delete one of the items and want it back, open your "Recycle Bin." Find the one you removed, right click it and choose "Restore."  It will be added back to the list.

January 22, 2013

Select Text…Maybe

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:02 am

Demo of selecting text

I recently received an email from Bev which at first seemed very strange.  She said, "Recently, when I select a portion of text to change it such as bold it, delete it, etc. — the selection won’t hold."  At first I thought it was just in Word and figured that possibly her Word documents were opening in "Read Only" mode.  When you have a file that is "Read Only" it basically means you can read the file fine but you cannot edit it.  This was not her issue since she said that it also happened in email, Word and just about anywhere on her computer when trying to select text.  The problem was intermittent; sometimes she could select text, sometimes not, and other times it was a fight to get it to work at all. 

I believe it all came down to the mouse, but why could a mouse cause this weird issue?  First, it depends on the type of mouse you have.

The older wired mouse with a ball built into the bottom, which is used to track the cursor around the screen, has always caused issues.  Think about it, the little weighted ball rolls around the whole time you use your mouse.  It touches whatever surface you are "mousing" on.  Regardless of whether the surface is very clean or very dirty the mouse ball will get grubby over time.  If a dirty surface, the ball picks up dried up coffee spills, grit, toast crumbs, Disassembled mouseetc.  Even if it is a clean surface you are still going to pick up dust and lint over time.  This collection of grime gets pulled up into the mouse and wraps around the little rolling bars which make the cursor move on your screen.  It is fairly easy to clean by turning the mouse over, turning the ring with arrows in a counterclockwise direction, pulling it off, shaking the ball out and with tweezers or a toothpick removing any junk you can see.  I do not recommend using a q-tip swab since they can add a few more particles to the mechanics.

What if you have a wireless mouse and there is no ball?  Dirt can still get on the little window on the bottom of the mouse, which replaced the ball.  Clean it with a lint free cloth or maybe a slightly damp cloth. 

Sometimes, depending on which type of wireless mouse you have, the surface you are mousing on could cause a problem.  If it is a very shiny or glass surface, try putting a piece of paper under it to see if that improves the action.  Sometimes, though not often, it could also be caused by a heavily patterned surface, so check that also.

However, the biggest issue with the wireless mouse and it not working properly is usually the battery.  Batteries in the newer wireless mice last a long time.  I have a couple that have lasted over a year.  Since they are so dependable we sometimes forget about the batteries.  So when you have a "tracking" problem like sometimes being able to select text and sometimes not…check the battery.  I am pretty sure that will be your problem.

January 15, 2013

2012 Sites in Review, Part 2

As I stated last week, I annually provide links to all of the sites we have visited throughout the previous year at

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Google Calendar – This one comes with Gmail but it could be used as a good online calendar with many advanced features.
  • Microsoft – Everything Microsoft, software, hardware, Office, solutions, templates, etc.
  • Ninite – Pick your apps and click Get Installer to install all of your chosen apps in one step for your new/rebuilt Windows computer automatically.
  • Hotmail (slowly becoming Outlook), Gmail & Yahoo mail – The most popular online email services…including many other features.
  • OpenDNS -  Keeps your internet access safe and secure especially for families.
  • – A free site where you can learn about web coding, even if you are just starting out.
  • – If you want to buy it online you can most likely find it here.
  • Google Play – Where all of the "approved" Android apps are found.
  • Google, DropBox, PayPal – These are several of the many sites that offer Two-factor authentication for your security.
  •,, – The three local places around the web where you can read or listen to information from me, Double Clicks.
  • Ubuntu – A free operating system you can install on your computer to totally replace Windows. 
  • Sound Hound – The site for the iOS and Android app which identifies songs by "listening" to them.
  • Password Generator – Go there to get a randomly created password. Be careful since they will be totally unmemorable.  
  • Password Security – Check the strength of your password according to Microsoft.
  • Leet Speak Translator – Do not worry if you have no idea what this is.  Just find my article on it and learn about it first.
  • LastPass – One of the highest rated places for keeping your many, many passwords online.
  • KeePass – Ron’s highest rated applications for keeping your many, many passwords locally.
  • DameWare, Go to Assist, PC Anywhere, LogMeIn – Some of the more popular and more recommended support applications which allow you to log into another user’s system to help them.
  • Join Me -  The same as above but free and very easy to use.
  • Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Carbonite – These all provide online cloud storage for your important files.  Some are free and some are not.  I recommended Dropbox and Carbonite in my column.

I look forward to continuing the discussions about software, computers, the internet and all sorts of technology this year.  I hope that you, your families and friends have a great 2013 and continue to join me in the news, on the radio and on the web! 

August 7, 2012

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