DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 8, 2017

Read to Me

Over several of the past weeks we have talked about talking to your devices.  Whether asking for them to give you directions, the temperature, local movies playing, the time, etc.  We also spoke about dictating to some of your devices and word processors.  For some it could, and does, make it much easier to type documents.  Those articles generated many emails, which I appreciate so keep them coming.  So today we move on to something similar but different.  

Today we look at the other side of the spectrum…getting them to "start" and complete the conversation, sort of.

Microsoft Office online and Office 365 (online) have both come out with a recent addition, "Immersive Reader."  It is also available for the local office clients if you have joined the Office Insider program and have the Windows 10 operating system.  Personally, I have not joined because you get software that is not ready for primetime and may have some issues.  Since I use my computer for day-to-day work I do not want to take any chances.  Although, thinking about it does sound interesting!?

Immersive Reader is part of Microsoft’s Learning Tools for Education.  They are looking for ways to help students who need help in particular areas to get it.  So far it is all free too, thanks MS!  

Immersive Reader has several fascinating features built in. 

You must first get into your Office online account, which is also free.  If you have not created an account it is quite easy.  You can get there via several different URLs but to keep it simple I would use "office.com."  You can use a new or existing MS free email account (outlook.com or live.com) or create one with any email address you already have.  I use an Outlook.com account to keep things straight between MS and my Google accounts. 

Once there open an existing Word (or OneNote so far at this time) and click the "View" button in the ribbon.  A new ribbon will open and one of the first few on the left is the "Immersive Reader" button, so click it.  It will open the file in a different view.  The letters will be larger, to assist people who are vision impaired and they are spaced farther apart than you may be used to which is for those who are dyslexic. 

Immersive Reader button

At the bottom of the screen you will have a Play/Pause button with very short instructions and three icons in the upper right corner, see below.  They are letters, books and a face.  Once you click the play button a pleasant slightly computerized sounding lady will start reading the document and highlighting the words read as it proceeds.  This can help significantly improve many peoples’ reading skills in various areas. 

View of Immersive Reader screen

The icon with letters allows you to increase or decrease the size of fonts and spacing between letters or lines.  The icon of books will let you look at syllables and highlight different parts of speech as it reads…I need this one.  The last icon, the face allows the reader to control the speed of the voice reading back the words.

If you wish to start reading at a different location in the document click the word with your mouse and start it playing again.  The reader will start there and continue. 

Neat addition to office and they will be improving it as time goes by.

December 6, 2016

Malware Bites

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:53 am

I had an interesting email from Jim a couple of weeks ago regarding a column I wrote about my personal computer getting hit by malware.  He said that I mentioned Malwarbytes (malwarebytes.com) but he would like to know more about it.  Well as sometimes happens with emails like this I chuckle to myself and think, "Didn’t they read that when I talked about it a couple of months ago?"  Then I find the article on DoubleClicks.info and send the emailer a link.  That way the can read all about Malwarebytes or whatever else I have talked about.  To be honest I thought that about Jim too. 

Well, guess what?  After a search of my site and all of the columns I have written over the past 15 years I found something.  I found that I have never devoted an entire article to that great utility.  I have mentioned it seven times in passing but never gave it some of the attention it deserved.  So, that is my task today.

First, what is malware?  Malware is another one of those made-up techie words which is a mix of, "MALicious softWARE."  Malware is usually software that is downloaded to your computer that has been created to gain access for information or wreak havoc your computer without you being aware it has happened.  Until it is too late.  Malwarebytes does a great job of removing all of those problems. 

malwarebytesTo setup Malwarebytes you first go to the site and click the "Free Download" button.  Do not fear the cartoonish looking robot is the correct site.  Once it downloads you can go to that file named, "Mbam setup" and double click it as usual.  Then follow the setup instructions basically clicking, "Next" at each step.  You will be done shortly. A desktop icon will be created.  You can click the icon and from the Dashboard click, "Update now" if it does not have a green check mark next to it. Then, the big green, "Scan Now" button. 

You will have some to many items found.  I had not run it on a new computer for about six month, remembered about Malwarebytes and it found over 70 issues on my PC.  Now follow the directions, you can first quarantine all of the items then delete them.  You will then be much safer.  If you have more detailed questions which you very well may after this short run-through visit the site and the Support section.

Malwarebytes.comI suggest you run it every couple of weeks depending on how often you use your computer.  You run it again manually just as you did above.  You can buy the Premium version and it will run automatically in the background after your first manual run.  This is convenient but may not be worth the $25 a year to you. 

Yes, after my past difficulties that I had and thinking things over I even paid for the Premium version of Malwarebytes.  Those of you that follow me realize I do not do that very often.  It is that good.  OK, I also wanted to see the differences between it and the free version, which I will discuss in a future feature.

November 22, 2016

Malware Strikes

Before I start today I will tell you that I run all the security software you normally would on a computer.  I also only run software that I recommend to you when you ask or when I write.  That way I know what you can do for free and how well it works. I have always been satisfied with this arrangement.

Now, back to the story.  I was on my desktop computer and up pops an alert from my antivirus application.  I will not mention the name of it since it is an app that I have been testing for several weeks.  BANG, I had malware!!!

I told it to take care of it by removing the offending malware files as I have done only a couple of times over the years.  Then predictably the warning went away.

After anywhere from 10 seconds to five minutes I get another warning and another and another, etc.  After a dozen or two of them I just let them go to watch what would happen.  I figured my computer was probably already ruined so why worry about it further.

After a hundred or so alerts I ran Malwarebytes to take care of the problem.  That application (which still does a good job in most areas) found them but it could not remove them either.  At this point, I am starting to perspire.

You should turn this on if you have no other antivirus softwareI then shutdown my “now proven worthless” antivirus app and uninstalled it.  I then install a more proven, reputable antivirus app.  After it finished its set up it also found the malware but could do nothing with it either.  I now shutdown this antivirus application and ran Windows Defender.  Always keep in mind that you should run only one antivirus app on your computer at a time.  Also, Windows Defender switches itself off automatically when you install a third party anti-virus app.

Windows Defender is the antivirus application that comes built into Windows 10 and has been available since Windows XP.  For the past years, most geeks say to run a third-party antivirus app in its place since Windows Defender (WD to save space) is not as good as the others.  I trusted the pros as I had never proven it to be good or bad for me.

Windows Defender on Windows 10

The second I started up WD it found the malware and asked if it should remove it.  I responded, “Heck yeah, kill it my new little friend!”  Well not exactly but you know what I mean.

About five minutes later all of the malware was apparently gone and my computer was running smoothly once again. I rebooted it, ran the “dependable” antivirus software again and it said that everything was safe.  I ran Malwarebytes again and it too reported everything as being safe and secure.

Now I have uninstalled all of the antivirus apps and let Windows Defender take over the heavy lifting.  As far as I am concerned that is all I need now along with Malwarebytes.

November 8, 2016

Do You Use Multiple Clouds?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

Floyd wrote this week and asked an excellent question. He has several Cloud storage sites that he often uses.  Floyd has all the most popular ones; Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and Amazon Drive.  Keep in mind there are many more out there.

He wanted to know if there was any way he could log into all of them in one location instead of jumping back and forth logging into each.  One at a time is a hassle if you use the websites.  It is much easier if you just use each one’s local folder on your computer.  But what if you are on someone else’s computer and need to access one of your cloud pictures or files and you are not sure which location you put them in?

Wouldn’t you know, there is something for that and I have been using it often for several years.

It is called MultCloud (multcloud.com be careful there is no “i” in there) and it will allow you to access all of your cloud storage on one website.  To add one of your Cloud storage areas, click “Add Clouds” at the top.  Next, you can choose the service you want to add.  For instance, select Dropbox.  You will next be directed to log in to your Dropbox account.  This will allow MultCloud to access your account and display your folders and files.  Once you complete that your Dropbox folders and files will appear on the website where they may be easily accessed.

You may now add additional cloud storage on other services.  If you are like me you can also add other accounts from the same provider.  In my case I have two Dropbox, three OneDrive and only one Google Drive folders.  That way I have enough room to store all of my documents.  The reason I have extras from the same provider is that they only allow you a limited amount of storage per email address.  Therefore, if you have multiple email accounts you can also have multiple cloud storage accounts with the same company.

MultCloud

Once you have them set up what can you do?  You can download any file in any of the accounts to the PC you are using and edit away.  You can also delete them, upload additional files and folders, etc.

Once you install and set up MultCloud you can access your files remotely from any computer you are using.  What you would have been able to do on your local computer with any of your files you can now do anywhere including but not limited to photos.  If you travel without a computer and need your files this could be a lifesaver.

Go to the site and look around, not only will you find MutlCloud but you may get other ideas regarding other online cloud services you could use.

Just remember my thought regarding “The Cloud.”  It is as secure as its most displeased employee.  If an employee had the skills they could get into your information.  Yes, doubtful but it is possible.  Also, hackers may work on storage sites like these.  So, my advice is never store items with your SSN or any other personal information in it that you have a problem “getting out.”

July 5, 2016

Sorry No Column this Week due to July the 4th

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:40 am

The Daily News Record is not running the column this week so I will not be posting today. 

But you know what?  I already have one ready to go, so come back next week for the latest news.

I hope you had a great Fourth of July!

June 28, 2016

Have You Ever Considered Audiobooks?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:38 am

Have you read any good books lately?  I have and there are millions to choose from.  Today I have a recommendation: any book by Harlan Coben if you like a good mystery.  Start with his first, "Tell No One" and you will be hooked (rd.dblclx.com/28Vh6IA).  However, since I write about Tech, enough of the book reviews.

imageI love to read but I am on the road much of the time and it is really difficult to read while driving.  That being said I highly recommend audiobooks.  There are many services out there including a great one called, "Your Public Library," which has many audiobooks, including CDs and other formats.  The library system also is closely linked to Overdrive.com.  Overdrive’s is a global network founded in 1986 and includes more than 27,000 libraries and schools. Go to their site with a valid participating library card (most libraries participate but you can go to the site and see if yours does or ask your librarian) to check out books.  Once there you may check out eBooks or audiobooks for a fixed period of time, just like your library, for free. 

One of the biggest names in audiobooks is, "Audible" found at Audible.com.  These books are not free but if you are an avid reader of current authors try it out.  They have had a deal on it for quite a while with your first book being free then $14.95/month afterward for one book per month.  You can get most authors in a wide range of categories from adventure to science along with occasionally free mp3s.  The quality of these recordings is excellent.

 image

Another site that I endorse is Podiobooks, Podiobooks.com.  All of the audio books here are free, yes absolutely free.  However, I need to give you a couple of caveats. Most likely you will find authors there you have never heard of before.  These writers are just starting out or have written several books and not been published…yet.  Some of the books are excellent and some are so- so.  You can try any you like.

image

You will have to search for them by the types of books you are interested in.  I have found some excellent books at Podiobooks and some that I listened to for 20 minutes and then gave up.  They are all originally done as weekly/monthly podcasts, read by the authors.  Sign up with your email address to be notified each time another "chapter" has been posted to the site.  However, if you are like me and want an entire book right now, search for the "completed" books, download all of the podcasts at once and listen to them at your convenience.

Most of the books there are read by the author which I enjoy.  Again, like the books, some are excellent and some do not have the greatest voices.  So give it a try.  It is well worth the money!

If you have a long commute or a friend who likes to read but can’t see well enough to read any longer, these sites are a great way to go.

January 5, 2016

2015 Sites in Review, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 10:54 am

Welcome to the 15th year of "Double Click."  It has been a pleasure giving you computer and tech information each week since January, 2002.

Each January I review the sites I wrote about during the previous year.  If the site addresses are too long for print I have shortened them using a branded short domain from Bitly.  Read more about it from the following link if you are interested. The links will be preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers.  Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites.  They are case sensitive so be careful.

Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Secunia, secunia.com – an application updater similar to Windows Update but this is for your individual applications.
  • FileHippo App Manager, rd.dblclx.com/1R6077Y – similar to Secunia but much easier to use.
  • Chrome 54% (rd.dblclx.com/1Uf9jX0), Firefox 15% (firefox.com), Microsoft Internet Explorer 15% (included with all versions of Windows) – these are the three most popular web browsers.
  • Google.com, no explanation needed.
  • Ninite.com, an easy way to build a new computer and get many programs set up with one download and one installation.
  • Internet Crime Complaint Center, ic3.gov/complaint – here is where to go when you need to notify the government about "bad" sites and scams.
  • YouTube for Kids at the Google Play Store, rd.dblclx.com/kidsoutube – where you get all of your Android applications.
  • Avast.com – my favorite antivirus for the current time.
  • Malwarebytes.org – a vital add-on app to go with your antivirus.
  • Facebook.com – you probably are already using this site, if not, do not so you can keep your life.
  • Coffitivity.com, RainyMood.com – two programs that add background noise on your computer which may (or may not) help you concentrate on what you are doing.  I like a real coffee shop myself. 
  • DoubleClicks.info – probably one of the most overlooked but most informative sites on the web for computer questions and answers.  
  • Amazon.com – you know this one but for Christmas alone the Seattle-based company added 3 million new Amazon Prime subscribers only in the third week of December. (A gross income of almost $300 million.)
  • Class-Central.com and Coursera.org (MOOC – Massive Open Online Course
  • Game Oldies, game-oldies.com – you may be able to find your old favorites here whether, GameBoy, Nintendo NES, Atari, etc. Arkanoid was my favorite.
  • Flux, justgetflux.com – this uses your computer’s location and system time to adapt the colors to warmer colors at night and sunlight-like colors during the day (the normal setting). Supposedly better for your brain and eyes.  
  • Kaspersky Software Updater (kaspersky.com/free-tools) SUMo (kcsoftwares.com) Update Notifier (rd.dblclx.com/1O6gKMq) – all good software "updaters" like FileHippo mentioned at the beginning however, I believe FileHippo is the easiest to use and finds many apps.
  • Google Chrome Browser Extensions, rd.dblclx.com/ChromeExtens – this is where you can find many good extensions for the Chrome Browser so it can do more for you.  I listed many in the article from June, 2015.
  • PCDecrapifier, pcdecrapifier.com– this standalone app removes junk programs and PUPs from your system.

This gets us through June of 2015, next week the last six months of 2015 links. Thanks for reading the column and emailing me with your great questions.  I love writing it and hearing from you! 

August 25, 2015

Windows 10, Part 1

As I mentioned for the last few weeks – today we will start the journey into Windows 10.

Visit Microsoft

It has had plenty of time to be tested.  Microsoft officially announced “Windows 10” (W10) on September 2014.  Then they started public beta testing or “Technical Preview” in October 2014.  If you have been paying any attention you realize that it was released to the public through a free roll out about three weeks ago on July 29, 2015.  It now comes on all new retail Windows computers.  This is supposedly the last version of Windows to come out, no more XP, Vista, 8.1, 7, etc.  W10 will be updated when needed.

Well, have you taken the plunge yet?  I have asked readers who have installed it to send me questions over the past weeks.  I have received many, so thanks!  Keep them cards and letters rollin’ in!

From my own experience, I have applied W10 to all of my computers, except company owned work systems.  That would be four computers I have updated.  There were no real problems.  However, one of my very old “experimental” systems ran very slowly with 10. I need to note that it also ran very slowly with anything past XP.  I ended up removing 10 from that and putting back Ubuntu which I had previously.

(more…)

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.

June 30, 2015

Windows 10, Part 2

Last week we looked at Windows 10 requirements and a few other housekeeping tasks regarding getting it for free.  Today a few questions I have received about it for the last several weeks are answered.Windows 10 logo

First, why is it free for the first year?  The main reason seems to be that Microsoft wants everyone using it.  The money they once made on OS sales has continued to drop over recent years.  Apple stopped charging for upgrades to their OS several years ago.  And as always the Linux operating systems, (mainly Ubuntu) have been free since their inception; though used by few. 

They will even be rolling it out to users with pirated (read illegal) copies of those qualifying versions of Windows. However, these versions will still be unregistered. I do not believe there has been any clarification as to what that means for the users.  MS just wants everyone in the world on Windows.

I have been using W10 for a month or so now and have a few thoughts about it.  You will probably wonder if you should opt to get it for free or not.  I would suggest if you are a normal user, i.e., not a geek like me, you may want to wait for month or two after the original roll out.  The main reason being that some things will most likely have to be ironed out during the first few weeks of the OS.  This is standard.  So wait and get it after all the news stories are over.

Next, will you like it?  I think that for those who loved Windows 7, you will most likely appreciate 10 and for those who hated Windows 8.1, you will most probably like this version. 

The much hated Metro screen is gone.  And yes, the Start Menu from W7 is back as in the past, plus it has a few of the "Live Tiles" on the right side.  Those tiles can be rearranged, added, deleted, etc. so you can pretty much do with them as you would like.  In the test version, you could not totally remove them all but rumors abound for the final version in July.

MSIE 11 to MS Edge logosAnother big change is the default web browser.  Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) has been around for 20 years.  When W8 was released MSIE was, and is, at version 11.  However, this all changes with W10, it has been rebuilt from the bottom up and will been known then as "Microsoft Edge."

Edge has "Page Annotation" built-in meaning you can write notes on a web page with your mouse, or finger if you have a touchscreen device, then you can save the graphics and/or send them in emails, Facebook, Tumbler or any other social network. Also, "Reading Mode" is in Edge which allows you to read a web page more like a magazine.  It will remove ads, extraneous graphics and other junk from the page which does not pertain specifically to the article you are reading.  This is available in other browsers now, but Edge is catching the MS browser up with features offered by others in the past. 

Add info to a web page

More to come next week.

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