DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 22, 2015

Last Minute Tech Gifts

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:28 am

Do you need a present for a geek right now!  Well, you do not have much time left.  Christmas is in days.  What can you run out and get right now since Amazon does not have enough time to get it to you before the big day?

Here we go on a quick trip of tech gift ideas which do not cost too much.  All of them can be found around town in different stores…if you hurry.

Wrapped Presents

How about a thumb drive for your tech friend to store portable files on?  Or in the case of people whose cars have a USB port in the radio, they can load their music to it and listen as they drive about town.  I have seen and purchased 64 GB ones locally for $9.99.  Depending on how they have compressed the song files that thumb drive could hold an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 songs. They can also be used to store duplicate files from the My Documents or any other folders on their computer. 

ChromecastsNow a suggestion from Google.  If you have a Chromecast you know how well they operate.  They basically give you the ability to broadcast anything to your TV from your phone or computer.  If your friends have a Smart TV you already have many of the features. But if not, all you need is a HDMI port on your TV and you are set.  The retail price is $35.

Next how about a surge suppressor?  You have seen your friend’s desktop computer with everything plugged directly into the wall.  You know that sooner or later there will be a power spike of some sort that ruins his system.  Get a surge suppressor with several outlets and also ports for USB cables.  For anywhere from $12 to $50 you can save them a bundle. 

Everyone can use an additional USB charging cable.  People have phones, MP3 players, watches and many other devices that use them.  They get lost and even wear out over time.  There are many different types of connectors on the other end of the USB cable, so make sure you find the correct one.  Depending on the type I have seen them this week from six dollars to $15. 

How about a Tablet?  If your friend does not have one and wants to try one out now is the time.  How about for you kids and grandkids?  Just do not let them be on it all the time.  I found one for mine at $40.  In this price range the resolution is not that great for reading.  But the kids are playing games and they are fine for gaming.  I did see some quite serviceable ones for $80 that I would easily consider.  Of course, tablets get better and better for up to the $300 range.  These good prices are for Android devices only.  Windows and Apple products will cost significantly more.

Now I have recommended all of these gifts for your friends.  But let us be honest…these can be gifts for you too!  Either way, have a very Merry Christmas! 

September 4, 2012

Windows 7 Tips, Part 2

Last week we took a look at using the control key plus the arrow keys to move your Windows around the screen.  Today we check out a few more Windows 7 tricks.  Remember as you read that ‘W +’ means to hold down the Windows key (the one with the logo to the left of the space key) and the key to the right of the ‘+’.  Just like using the Shift key to capitalize a letter.

I had several emails suggesting other shortcuts with the Windows key and the following which took care of one of my complaints.  I wrote that you could use, ‘W + M.’ This minimizes all opened windows to the taskbar.  My complaint was there is no way to restore them and I was correct.  However, Bobby wrote in saying that if you use the ‘W + D’ keys you can minimize all open windows.  When you try it again they all restore.  Thanks Bobby, now I can die happy.

If you run gadgets on your desktop try the, ‘W + G’ keys.  This will bring your desktop gadgets to the top of all other windows.  They will go away when you click on the window under them.  I find this convenient to check the weather and time, since I use those two gadgets. 

Windows Mobility CenterTry, ‘W + X’ which opens the "Windows Mobility Center."  While there you can adjust several different settings on your computer.  You can play with your monitor’s "Display Brightness." You can also cut your wireless network on and off.

Are you at a location away from home with your notebook and need to walk away for a few seconds?  Use ‘W + L’ to immediately lock your computer.  It protects you since it makes you use your password to get back to your work (if you have previously set one up for your account).

ExplorerOpen your Computer in Explorer and get to your drives, Favorites, Networks and Libraries by using ‘W + E’.  Try it.  You will like it if you usually get there using other more time consuming routes.

This shortcut is one I use often.  Take a look at your Taskbar.  It contains icons which open programs when you click them with your mouse.  You probably have one for "Windows Explorer", "Internet Explorer", and "Media Player."  For the sake of argument, let us say you only have those three and they are in that order.  Number the icons in your head, 1 to 3.  To open "Media Player" (which is number 3 in this example) press, ‘W + 3.’  For "Windows Explorer" use, ‘W + 1’, etc.  This will only work for the first nine icons on the taskbar.

Another Taskbar shortcut combo is, ‘W + T’.  This shortcut will highlight the first icon on the Taskbar whether it is an opened program or not.  Press Enter to activate that program.  Use the right or left arrow keys (by themselves) in order to move between icons.

Since I do a lot of talks, training and presentations with my computer one of my favorites is, ‘W + P’.  This shortcut opens the screen selection control.  From here you can choose to use your computer’s monitor, a connected projector or both.  Choose from "Disconnect Projector", "Duplicate" "Extend" or "Projector Only." This is much easier than in the olden days. Windows key + p

August 30, 2011

Stumble Upon It

Thanks for the emails regarding last week’s column.  I always appreciate hearing from you readers.  So, thanks for reading Double Click!

This week I am going to talk about an interesting site that I put off using for several years.  There was really nothing wrong with it but I just didn’t "get it".  I was told by a friend how they used it to discover new things in areas of interest and enjoy winding down at the end of the day by stumbling upon different sites.

StumbleUponThe site is, you guessed it, simply named Stumble Upon (stumbleupon.com).  The way Stumble Upon works is you begin by creating a free account with an email address and password.  They also allow you to "relate" it to your Facebook account so that you use the same sign-in for both.  I don’t like doing that so I have a separate account. 

You then proceed to manage your interests in Stumble Upon.  They have some categories set up to guide you through the process. Once you are done you can start stumbling.  My interests are currently set at things like Gadgets, Technology, Internet, Christianity, Programming, Movies, Photography and TV to name a few.

To stumble you start from your Stumble Upon homepage and click the large golden button labeled, "Stumble Your Interests".  It also adds a toolbar to the top of the browser.  Do not worry.  It is only temporary while you are stumbling.  If you wish to add a "full time" Stumble Upon toolbar you can, but the choice is yours.  I don’t want extra toolbars so I don’t choose that option. 

It then takes you to other sites dealing with one or more of your interests.  The toolbar also allows you to "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" the site depending on how you like it.  You may also share the site with Twitter, Facebook, email and others if you wish.

I do like to stumble upon sites using this on occasion.  It is really great when you find a site that you are interested in; however, I have found that I have about a 50/50 chance of getting a site that actually interests me.  If you don’t like it or don’t care you don’t have to rate it and can just click your, "Stumble!" button to continue on to the next suggestion.

You can also choose to share your interesting sites with your followers…yes, think Facebook or Twitter-like on that one.  There are many other options on the site you may want to experiment with, try it out and let me know how you like stumbling through cyberspace.

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