DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

June 23, 2015

Windows 10

For a while now I have put off installing Windows 10 which also led to me not writing about it; however, this has now changed.

I installed the "Windows 10 Insider Preview" several months ago and have been putting it through some paces.

Windows 10 logo

Windows 10 will be given away free to people who have a computer with specific Windows Operating Systems on them.  If your computer has Windows 7.1 SP1, 8.1 (Windows phones too) then you will get the free upgrade.  If you are running 8, upgrade for free to 8.1 and you will be covered. 

The version of the OS you have affects which version of W10 you will receive.  If you have Windows 7 "Starter," "Home Basic" or "Home Premium" versions you will get W10 "Home."  If Windows 7 "Professional" or "Ultimate" you get W10 "Pro."  For W8.1 you get W10 "Home" edition.  For 8.1 "Pro," "Pro Student" and "Pro WMC" you will get W10 "Pro."

Your computer must meet the following minimum criteria.  A 1GHz, for 32-bit computers 1GB of RAM or for 64-bit 2GB, 20GB of space on the hard drive, and at least a DirectX 9 graphics card and a 1024 x 600 pixel display.  Basically most any modern computer today will meet those requirements.  Even my nine year old Netbook could run W10. 

Next, why is it called W10 when W8.1 was the one before?  Well first off a short history of their naming conventions. They started with "Windows 1" through "Windows 3," then Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, W7, W8, W8.1 and now W10.  They are not very orderly in their naming.  I have heard reasons such as possible programming confusion between the "9" in W9 and the nines in Windows 95 and 98.  Although, that sounds unlikely to me; I guess it could be possible. 

I have also read that the Japanese consider nine to be unlucky because in Japanese the word for nine sounds similar to the word for "pain" or "anguish" and MS did not want them to feel uncomfortable about Windows.  The bottom line is, only a few at MS know the real reason and right now they are not sharing. 

Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade iconNow if you qualify and want Windows 10 for free you must download and install it within a year of its official release date.  At this moment the date for release is July 29, 2015.  If you have a qualifying computer you will see a small Windows icon on your taskbar near the time.  To get W10 click the icon (shown in the graphic on right). 

You will be asked to enter your email address if you want to receive notifications of its arrival and several advertisements about how great it will be.  You do not have to enter your email but you do have to click the, "Reserve your free upgrade" link.  It will then be downloaded sometime around Wednesday, July 29. 

June 1, 2015

Early Start on Windows 10

Well today (June 1, 2015) I got the automatic notification that Windows 10 is coming to my machine, for free on July 29, 2015.  That just seems like a long time before hand to start notifying people about it.  But I decided to sign up first thing so we will see how that goes.

Below is what you will see when you are approached by Microsoft to sign up for it.

First your notification that you can sign up, shown by the MS icon below. Notification icon

 

 

Next five “sales pitch” screens, after which you can enter your email address to receive an email notification…or not.  That last part leads me to believe that you will get W10 whether you want it or not when it rolls; however, I have read nothing about that.

Do you think you will willingly go to 10 or kicking and screaming?

Screen #1

Screen #2

Screen #3

Screen #4

Screen #5

April 21, 2015

Online Classes

There are many great online training sites for all sorts of careers and/or hobbies.  Some are quite expensive and some are, well, my favorite…free.

You are most likely already aware that all colleges and universities offer online courses.  You can earn many degrees online today.  Some people take courses at local universities and also take others online from the same or cooperating schools.  The possibilities are endless as far as subject matter.  Just for fun I searched for, "knitting free online classes" and found many sites.

Now, be careful as you search for your classes.  Make sure they are provided by a reputable source.  As you will see below many higher education organizations participate. 

If you find a free course, start one, give it a try and see if it provides what you are looking for.  If it is educational, enjoyable and you are getting something out of it, stick around for the next.  If you do not find value from the first class, quit and find another. 

Mooc graphicA couple of locations I will mention are Class-Central.com and Cousera.org.  They carry most any course you can think of.  They are both part of the MOOC system and have some big name universities participating with them.  I would give you a list of them but there are hundreds around the world.  A couple you may have heard of are the California Institute of Technology, Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon University, Microsoft (one of my favorites), University of Virginia and many, many, many more.

There are schools from all around the world, community colleges, technical centers and other types of educational facilities. 

Courses can be found in Business, Science, Art, Math, Programming, Humanities, Biology, Education, Psychology and (once again) many, many, many more. 

I used an acronym you may have never heard above, "MOOC" what is it?  MOOC stands for, "Massive Open Online Course" which is an online course designed to be used by huge numbers of people.  They are provided through your browser on the web.  They may be in a lecture, document, interactive training and other formats including combinations of all. Many include class discussion with other participants. 

You can supposedly get college credits at some of these; however, be warned, I have not been able to verify this.  Do not plan on getting a degree from a real university with these classes until you check it out very carefully.

Mooc-List logoFinally if you cannot find the facility or the course you want go to the MOOC list site, mooc-list.com.  You can search a huge collection full of everything you can think of.  There are other MOOC related sites and schools out there so look around, find one and get some education. 

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!

October 14, 2014

Need Screenshots?

Amy wrote recently and asked what tool I use for screenshots on my site and in training manuals I have written.  I told her I wrote about that five or so years ago, but it may be time to review.

First, what is a screenshot?  A screenshot is pretty much defined by its name.  It is what you make when you get a picture of your computer screen to use in a document, email or whatever else you may need one for. 

For the past many years I have used an application by Tech Smith (techsmith.com) called, "SnagIt" which is an excellent screenshot tool.  However, it currently costs $49.95.  Those of you who have followed my columns know that money is something I do not easily part with.  So that tells you what I think of SnagIt…great application worth the money if you often need a tool like this. 

SnagIt has many features not always found in similar programs.  You can add watermarks, callouts, create transparent backgrounds, text, draw on graphics, edit photos from other places and more.  This is an excellent application, especially for business.

Next, on my list is "Snipping Tool" which is automatically built into Windows 7 and 8.  This is a great application for getting a screenshot then saving it and emailing or using it in a document. 

To get it running click your start button, type "Snipping" without the quotes and then click "Snipping Tool" which is your first choice.    

Snipping Tool menuDo not be alarmed as most likely everything on your screen will go gray.  Also, a small "tool" will open.  Click on the "New" button to make the colors come back.  The graying is what happens when you are getting ready to copy a screenshot or snip it.

To create a screenshot I recommend first clicking on the down arrow by "New" and choosing what shaped area you wish to copy.  Your choices are self-explanatory with the possible exception of "Free-form Snip" which means you draw the scissors icon around the screen and it copies what you surround. 

Once you snip something the tool box opens with the area you copied.  You can save it, copy it to your clipboard, email it, draw or highlight the graphic etc.  This is not a full featured screenshot program; however, it does give you the basics.  

If you need to keep a screenshot save it to your computer.  Make sure when using the snipping tool you first save a shot before you create another.  If you do not save it when you grab the next one the first will vanish.

One last item to mention if you want more features that the snipping tool has.  It is called "Screenshot Captor" (screenshot-captor.en.softonic.com) and is very positively rated by users. 

Screenshot CaptorI will warn you that you need to watch each screen while installing the application.  It will try to change your search engine and other things.  Make sure you choose "Custom Install" and uncheck everything you see.  Nothing there is nefarious but it is pain to change back to the way it was.  This application has most of the features SnagIt does but it is free.  You must register it during the first 10 days with an email address or it will stop working as it should. 

Good luck in your new screenshot career. 

August 12, 2014

Things Wanted, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:07 am

Following the past two weeks’ columns, I’ve received many responses.

So, I thought I would continue the series addressing common suggestions I offer regarding questions I frequently receive.

For instance, I am often asked, “Which is the best e-reader app?”

I use Android tablets and phones, but my suggestion holds true for most all systems.

10,000 FreeNook AppThe two that I use on my tablet and phone are “Nook” (bn.com/nook) and 10,000+ Free eBooks Reader (eprint-studio.com, Android only).

I still use Nook because the Barnes & Noble Nook eReader was my first reader/tablet. I have several books through Nook that I cannot read on other devices; so, I stick with it.

The reason for my suggestion of 10,000+ Free eBooks Reader should be obvious: It offers free eBooks. Users have likely heard that before and been disappointed, but I’m not talking about classics, boring books or poor sellers.

All of the latest books are available free of charge, a service I believe the company is able to provide by charging for a small advertisement that pops up at random times while you read.

I can handle that just fine, given the positives.

For instance, I read several serialized novels. One Wednesday, I heard that the latest in the series had been released and I wanted to read it.

The next Monday, I checked the app and found the title in full, high quality.

Another question I frequently field is, “Which is the best tablet?”

Nexus 7 (2013)While that question is far too broad, I will say that I am partial to Android tablets. Throughout the years, I’ve owned a couple, and I currently use a Google Nexus 7.

It worked flawlessly until very recently but more about that in a couple of weeks.

So, which is the best tablet? It depends, but  I recommend finding a brand name and searching for reviews for a specific model.

I do not suggest the $49 tablets advertised at the local grocery stores. They are slow, don’t allow users to download many apps, have poor battery life and the touch screens will often have problems.

August 5, 2014

Things Wanted, Part 2

I received quite a few emails following last week’s column.

First, with regard to Thunderbird – the email client mentioned – several users said they enjoy it and have been using it for some time. David suggested another similar program, "Windows Live Mail," by Microsoft.

Next, several readers chimed in with questions regarding the appeal of  Coffitivity and Rainy Mood  but others enjoyed each site.

Once upon a time, I was a staunch supporter of Google Drive and Google Docs; however, with Outlook.com – the free cloud version of MS Office – I believe Microsoft’s outdone Google.

Since much of the business world relies on Microsoft-formatted files, Outlook uses MS as its default format.  Also, Outlook.com is the place to be for free Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps in the cloud.

Users must have or create a Hotmail.com or Outlook.com account, which allows them access to the aforementioned apps and  OneDrive cloud storage of 15 GB. While not as full-bodied as the commercial versions, the apps are useful for everyday and they work with most every tablet and phone, too.

OneDrive - Outlook.com logo

Another frequent question I receive is, "Ron, which is the best Cloud Storage and how safe is it?"

New ones appear constantly and most offer a starter amount of storage, which is usually between two and five GB.

For users hoping to keep storage completely removed from Office applications, I offer the following suggestions.

Dropbox logoI’ve long used Dropbox, which I find very dependable. If you use bit.ly/use-DropBox, you’ll be offered extra storage. A few reported hacker scares have arisen, but little came of them and the situations were quickly resolved.

New users are offered 2 GB free to start and more may be earned in different ways.

Copy.com logoMy current favorite is Copy.com – use bit.ly/roncopy for 20 GB free – which has a few more options, though some may seem confusing.

In terms of security: If something is online, it can be hacked. That includes bank accounts, though those chances are more slim, due to protocols and regulations. 

Storage sites like are more likely to be targeted, which is why I don’t use them for anything more than photos and files without personal information, such as routing or social security numbers. 

If you find this column helpful, let me know.

December 10, 2013

My Favored Browser

Apparently there are a few of you getting new computers for Christmas.  (Do not let the kids read this if they do not know about it.)  I have received many questions about what to do to set them up.  I have several suggestions; however, one of the best I have written about before.  If you missed Ninite, go to DoubleClicks.info and search for "Ninite" to read all about it. 

The next most popular question I get is something like, "I can’t afford to pay the $99.99/year for Office 365 or $399.99 for Office Professional."  In my opinion there is one very clear answer, "Libre Office."  If you have not read my information regarding it before go to the site and search for "libre."

Finally, there is the question I don’t believe I have tackled before.  The question is usually stated as, "Ron, what is the best browser for me to use?"  The answer is easy, "I have no idea, thanks for asking."

Now on to a slightly more helpful answer, since for you personally, I have no idea what you would favor.  There are many excellent browsers out there and they all have some features which may be better or worse than one of the others.  To me it is sort of like brands of cars.  One person would say that a particular car manufacturer has the only good cars available…the best in the world.  The next person will tell you why they hate those cars with good reasons.  It is all a matter of personal taste and preference.

So the following is my personal opinion concerning browsers.  Keep in mind that when I started out on the internet, the browser everyone wanted was called, "Netscape" and would cost you around $50.  Now owned by AOL, it has pretty much disappeared from the scene and is free.  All browsers are now free so the cost barriers are gone.

Here are the top five in use today in alpha order.  I have included a short description, my opinion and the percentage of people using this on average this year as of the end of October.  

image

  • Chrome, "Get a fast, free web browser, one browser for your computer, phone and tablet."  You can tell who owns this puppy by the link.  I think this is an excellent browser and my #2 favorite.  It is fast and does allow you to have the same bookmarks, etc. between your devices. 52.08%
  • Firefox, "Different by Design, Proudly non-profit, Innovating for you, Fast, Flexible, Secure." OK, this is my favorite, again it is a preference since I am used to it and have been using it for years.  It has more "plug-ins" than the others which are added features allowing you to do different tasks online.  28.49%
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer, included with each and every Windows computer sold and must be left on your computer for other things to work properly.  I use this for work only as our company makes all of its software for MSIE only; however, with some Firefox plugins I can make most things work on FF instead.  12.55%
  • Opera, advertised as the smallest and fastest browser in the world!  For me this is an OK browser but just doesn’t have the snap and pizazz of others.  1.73%
  • Safari, you can tell by the URL who owns it.  My opinion on this one is the same as Opera, so again personal preference.  3.95%

The top three here have always been the top three by percentage for many years; however, they have jumped back and forth in order for a few years.  Google’s Chrome browser is excellent and if you do not have a preference yet, try it or any of the others and form you own opinion.  They are all able to do what you need, so enjoy the variety.

October 29, 2013

Get Help, Join Me

Last week we looked at "Windows Remote Assistance" to see how you could give or receive help with your computer issues.  It works well but as I said there are drawbacks in that you need to be going from a Windows to a Windows computer and could not link with a Mac or Ubuntu (Linux) system.  Today we will look at "Join Me."

There are many programs which do pretty much the same thing.  Some of the more popular applications are "DameWare," "Go to Assist," "PC Anywhere," "LogMeIn" (the parent company of Join.me) and many, many others.  Some of these charge (a lot compared to free) for their services and others are free.  However, I do not believe any are as easy as Join.Me. 

First, the person who needs someone to log onto their computer for help needs to start the process.  It is easy since all you do is open your browser and type in "Join.me" in the address bar.  It will automatically add "https://" (the "s" means a Secure site) and take you to the site.

join.meNow, if this is the first time you have used it go to "Share," "Basic" and click the large orange arrow button.  This will start downloading the small executable file to your computer.  Once the download has finished, find the file and double click it to start "Join.me."  Your browser may also choose to "Run" the file if your browser allows it which is fine. 

 

join.meOnce installed and running you can click the "Share" button and a nine digit code will be generated for you.  It will show something similar to, "join.me/252-743-655." The nine digit number varies each time you use it.  Now give the helping person the nine digit number or email them the generated link.

If you email them the link they can click the link in the email and be instantly logged onto your desktop.  If you read them the number, via phone as most often happens, they log into Join.me just as you did.  But this time they choose the "Join" the meeting after they add the nine digits.  They finally click the green arrow and they are in.  They will go to your machine and you can both see what is going on with your computer.  Do not worry about anyone else using the code.  Once you end the session and close "Join.me" someone else would need a new code, generated only by you, to get into your computer.

You have full control and the "helper" can only view your computer unless you allow them further access.  If you wish to give them permission to actually "drive" your computer go to the meeting tools (pointer) button and click, "share mouse control."  When they are finished take it back.  Easy.

It includes many other neat features such as allowing the people you invite to have voice chats over the Internet using their free VOIP, text chat between all the members in the meeting, transferring files to each other and more. 

There are always updates and changes to this and every other app.  They recently added a couple you may find helpful…if you are a helper.  If you have an Android phone/tablet or an iPhone/iPad you can only view someone’s computer from them.  You cannot share your screen to get help.  It also depends on which version of either OS you have.  For Apple products it must be the latest version and depending on what you need to do it could cost you.  For Android, free…ah, my favorite word.

October 1, 2013

Android Device Manager

At some point in time after "smart phones" hit the market people starting leaving them on buses, in taxis and had them stolen.  The Chief Information Officers website states that in August, 2013 that approximately 200 cell phones are left in New York City cabs every day.  That adds up to about 73,000 per year.  With the current smartphone average cost of $372 each (September 2013) people are losing over $27 million a year in money.  Keep in mind that is also only in NYC! 

This created a market for security apps for those devices that would allow the phone to be found when those events struck.  There have been and still are some very good ones out there; however, leave it to Google to come out with their own free application made just for this purpose.

Besides finding your "lost" Android devices (phones and tablets both) you have a couple of other options too – more on those later.  Keep in mind that the only stated versioning requirement for your Android device to work with this is that it must be running Google Play services version 3.2.25 or higher.

Google created an automatic rollout of this capability several months ago and was announced, as with most Google rollouts, with very little fanfare.  To see if your device it working with it go to Android.com/devicemanager and log in with your Google account username and password used with that device.  If it is on you will see your device(s) listed. 

If it is not listed you need to start the service on your device.  On your phone or tablet go to your Apps Menu, select Google Settings and then just touch "Android Device Manager", if available.  This is mostly found on >>>>>>>>.  There are two check boxes whose jobs should be obvious.  The one you need to check is labeled, "Remotely locate this device" which permits you to do exactly what it states.  The other one, which I highly recommend is, "Allow remote lock and factory reset."  The last one allows you to wipe your device slick if you know you will not get it back or if you do not want anyone seeing your secret information.  Also, to keep strangers from getting phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, etc. about everyone in your address book.

Location of my phoneThe info for your device once logged onto the site is the name of your device, where and when it was last located and three buttons at the bottom of the small navigation window.  As far as accuracy, when I wrote this column I was at the location shown in the graphic at 2:19 pm.  The map showed me that at that exact time it is on the map about 10 feet from where I am sitting…spooky.

Your choices are to RING your phone, which will ring it, even if the volume is off at full volume for five minutes or until you shut it off on your phone.  Next, you can LOCK your device.  Locking changes the password to get into the device to a different one that only you know.  You can set it back when you retrieve it later.

The final choice is to Erase the device.  This is the last resort and will basically clear off all of your information, apps, data, etc. from the phone and put it back into the "brand new out of the box" mode.

On one of their pages Google also warns you by stating the obvious, "Important: If you believe your device has been stolen, contact law enforcement. Don’t attempt to retrieve the device yourself."  In other words, "Don’t be a superhero!"

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: