About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 4, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 1

I am asked quite often what programs I would set up on a new computer.  I usually answer these email inquiries individually.  However, today I thought I would start a series of articles regarding the apps I get quizzed on most often.

This is in reference to applications I like better than those supplied with Windows computers.  They are not necessarily the best programs to accomplish their assigned tasks but the ones I like best.  You may certainly go to or email me and share your opinions.  Also, these are all free…you know me.

Ninite logo

When you get a new computer go straight to Ninite offers almost 90 applications that you can add to Windows in one visit.  You click check box next to the program you want to install and when finished download the resulting executable file.  Run it and all of the programs you chose will be installed to your computer.  It will take a while depending on how many you choose but it is quicker than going to each site, downloading a file and then installing each individually.  Most of the programs I will talk about here may be found at Ninite.  It has always worked flawlessly for me.

Next on my list is a browser since both of the versions of MSIE (Edge included as one) are OK browsers but not the best.  I choose Google Chrome for my favorite and run it as my default browser (  My second vote would be for Firefox. (

Google Chrome Browser logo                             Mozilla Firefox Browser logo

Now the biggie?!  Do I recommend Microsoft Office? If so which version and if not what office application do I use?  Tough question as I use Microsoft Office 2016 on my main computer.  It is an excellent office suite.  However, when that license expires, and another charge is levied by MS for its continuation (i.e., cloud versions) or whatever else may financially "get" me, I will switch.  I will happily switch to Libre Office ( which is an Open Source application. (translation = free) 

LibreOffice logo                            Microsoft Office 2016/365 logo

Libre Office is equal to the MS Office Suite is most respects for the largest majority of users.  The main difference between the two is that LO uses a menu driven system like MS Office did up until version 2007 where it switched to the Ribbon.  By-the-way, after almost 10 years of using the Ribbon in Office I still think the menu system was better.  But back to Libre Office as a great replacement for the best known office suite.   For a very detailed comparison between LO and MO go here

The last one for this week is what PDF viewer do I favor?  The most well-known is Adobe Acrobat (; however, you basically may only view PDF files using that application.  If you need to create or edit them, you need to pay for the application.  Guess what?  Libre Office, as well as Microsoft Office, can view, edit and create PDF files.  So if you have one of them you have no need for another application that does less.

Adobe Acrobat logo

Next we will look at some utilities, a great video player, video chat and more!

February 10, 2015

Bookmark Toolbars

Bookmarks are a great way to keep track of sites you wish to go back to on occasion while online.  If you have not ever used them you should.  Bookmarks have been around since the Mosaic browser started them in 1993.  Do not worry if you have not heard of Mosaic.   It has been gone since it officially stopped production in January, 1997.

The three most popular browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE), Google Chrome and Firefox.  There are other modern browsers which also have bookmarks.  Sometimes they are known by a different name like MSIE calls them "Favorites."


My preference is Chrome.  That is just my opinion since they are all good and all sometimes have issues.  There is no scientific opinion here, just my fondness of Chrome.  You can try them all for a month or so, then use the one you like best or alternate between them.  The choice is yours.

I have a suggestion for you if you depend on your bookmarks as I do.  Instead of saving them in a slightly obscure place, put them in your "Bookmarks Toolbar" and "Favorites Bar" in MSIE.

Once it is in your browser the toolbar is very easy to use.  You can add links, (bookmarks) remove, edit or rearrange their position on the bar.

Here is how you set it up in each of these browsers.

  • Chrome – click the menu button, (three bars in the upper right corner) Bookmarks, Show bookmarks bar.
  • Firefox – click the similar menu button as Chrome, look at the bottom, click "Show/Hide Toolbars" then click "Bookmarks toolbar."
  • MSIE – easier to set up that others; just right click on the title bar (the area above the menus that is mostly blank, some call it the top border) and click on "Favorites bar."  If it has a check mark, as the other browsers, it is already on.    

Once displayed at the top of the browser you can add a site to the bar by clicking on the URL’s icon, which is located to the left of the site address.  Now simply drag it to the bar in the location between other links as you like. 

Once you have multiple links in the bar you may want to rearrange them.  Click and drag it to its new location.  To delete one, right click it and choose, "Delete."

I like to put my bookmarks in related folders within the bar.  For instance I have a folder with Android related links and one for Research to name a couple.  To add a folder right click on any of your bookmarks and choose, "New folder."  Next, you can drag links into the folder and finally drag the folder to a new location if you wish.

Part of Ron's Bookmarks Toolbar

Lastly, you can change the link name since sometimes they are quite long and take up a lot of space.  Right click on the link you want to change and choose either "Edit" or "Properties" depending on which browser you use.  Then where the name is shown just change it, click ok and you are done.  

Enjoy your bookmarks and make sure you put as your first link!

February 26, 2013

Program Installations with a Twist, Part 2

Last time we discussed Portable Applications for your windows computers.

There are several great things about portable programs.  One being they are independent which means they stand alone.  For instance, when installing them you select only one folder. Once installed, you will find that program and all of its related files in that folder.  This is totally unlike windows installations of today.

Being completely self-contained enables you to move the folder to any other location on your computer or copy it to another computer and it works.  It also works absolutely the same as it did in its previous location.  Also, they give you a brilliant solution to one of life’s larger windows headaches (IMHO).  If you do not like the program, you can delete the folder and it is gone … totally.

So much for the refresher course.  Now we can get onto some of the important info I did not tell you last time.  For instance, what are some of the applications available today as portable applications or programs?  Here is a very short list.  There are many different types of games.  One of my favorites is “Atomic Tanks” and of course, “Sudoku.”  Next, how about a great portable browser-namely Firefox’s latest version.  There is a very good email program, (if you do not check your email at online sites) “Thunderbird.”  Do you need an excellent graphics program which challenges the abilities of other high priced ones?  Try, “Gimp.”  There are many types of RSS-Feed readers and music managers/players.  Have you ever used the full version of VLC for CD and/or DVD playback?  If so and you like it, get the portable version.  Several good chat/IM applications are available so look for them too.

imageThe last three (and there are many, many more) biggies that I will mention today are first, the Office replacements that many know and love, “Libre Office” and “Open Office” are both available.  The final bigwig program is “Skype.”

These programs, which I have tried, run as well as the full blown versions.  I really can’t complain.  Of course it also depends on your computer, but they are worth a try. If you want to give them a shot.

Oh, did I forget to mention that all of these applications are free, yes totally without hidden advertising (at least, that I have run into yet).

One thing before you start downloading all of these programs.  Make sure you have uninstalled the full version before you start playing with the portable version.  If not you may get the computer and yourself confused.

imageFinally, where do you find the portable applications?  Easy, go to “” and click on the, “Get Apps” link at the top of the page.  There are other sites out there; however, this is one of the first and best.

When you install them where you downloaded the file will be the automatic location of the program, so choose somewhere else.  If you have a portable thumb drive plugged into your computer it will automatically choose to install the program there.  The reason is these programs were actually created to run on thumb drives for portability; hence the name.  Once installed go to the file with the word Portable” on the end of it and double click it.  This starts the application.

If you do not like the program and want to delete it, delete the folder containing the program and you are done, without reboots or any worry about it clogging up your system with useless cruft.

February 12, 2013

Browser Tricks, Part 2

Last time we looked at a couple of browser tricks. The column was well received so today we’ll look at a few more.

For quite a long while now you have not needed to type www. or .com in most web addresses/URLs.  If you type only the main domain name, dnronline in your browser’s address bar, and press the Ctrl/Enter keys your browser will automatically fill in the www. and .com.

Here are many more Ctrl key combos and how they work in most browsers.  Try them in your browser to check them out.

These are the same as above; Shift/Enter gives you the .net address.  Then there is Ctrl/Shift/Enter which yields the .org addresses.  Add the Alt key to any of the three above and the pages will be opened in a new tab in your browser.

Do you ever have a hard time seeing the text or even a graphic on a web page?  If so try Ctrl/+ key combo.  It will make the page larger.  Try it several times and oops, too large?  Just use the Ctrl/- keys to make the page smaller. Finally when you want to return to the normal or default size, use Ctrl/0. (That is the zero character not a capital O letter.)

Here are some more shortened definitions; Ctrl/T – new tab, Ctrl/N – new window, Ctrl/Tab – view the next tab, Ctrl/Shift/Tab- view the previous tab, Ctrl/Left Click or middle click on a link – opens the linked page in new tab, Ctrl/F – search for text on the page, Ctrl/R or the F5 key – refresh web page you are on, Ctrl/I – open your favorites, Ctrl/D – save a web page to your Favorites and for the last Control key combo today (yes, there are more) Ctrl/H to see the pages your browser has visited in the past (History).

Even though I capitalized all the letters above you only need to use lower case characters. I used capitals because they are sometimes easier to distinguish here.

Here are a few more easy ones for you to check out.  To move to the top of the page you are viewing, press your Home key. You can then press the End key to get to the very bottom of a page. 

Try the backspace key if you have been browsing multiple pages in a tab, it will go back one page.  Then you can use the Shift/Backspace keys to move forward a page.  Yes, these are the same as your back and forward buttons on your browser, just a different way to maneuver about.

If you are reading a large article and want more reading room and less buttons, try the F11 key.  That is the actual key and not a combo.  To bring the buttons and toolbars back press F11 again.

Type "?" in your URL/address bar and press enter. It will quickly take you to your default search engine.

This trick is not a browser trick but a Google trick which is a single site search.  If you want to search only one site on the internet for text, use this trick.  You enter the search term(s) with double quote marks around it, then a space and finally the word, "site:" along with the site address.  In this example you are looking for this column on the site.  Go to as usual and enter, "browser tricks"  For this trick and only this one you must include the double-quotes around the text you are searching for or your results may not be accurate.  

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