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December 21, 2015

2015-12-21 Christmas Show Notes

Welcome to the Christmas 2015 show mainly giving you ideas for what to pick up around town before Christmas. These are geek-friendly so they may work for you or others. Have fun and listen to the podcast while you are here for even more information


We did get into the first web page ever displayed yesterday, December 20, 1990. It was only seen by local viewers.

The real public site was on August the next year. The original code was never captured for the future; however, here is a very close to exact recreation.

http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html


  • Smart Watches ~$250 (Wearable Tech) LG Watch R – lg.com
    Motorola Moto 360 – Motorola.com
    Pebble – pebble.com


  • Fitness Trackers (Wearable Tech) Fitbit – fitbit.com
    Jawbone, Garmin and many more.


  • Cameras (Point n shoot) or Digital SLRs From $100 to $17,995 (used Mamiya DM56 last year it was $19,995)

  • Tablets Lower Prices may reflect older versions
    • Surface Pads (Microsoft) $900
    • iPads (Apple) $600
    • Androids (anyone except MS and Apple) – $300
      Samsung Galaxy Tablets seem to be the most talked about, depending on whose review you see, but it is also has one of the higher price points.

  • SSD Hard Drive These drives are replacing the regular disk hard drives we have been using since circa 1980.

    They are digital so they boot almost immediately and are much faster and retrieving and storing data.

    Many makes and sizes; however, now you can get good ones on sale starting at around $65 for 248GB.


  • Stop and Grabs

    >>> Thumb Drives

    >>> Surge Suppressors

    >>> Cables

    >>> Bluetooth Keyboards


Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ron

December 30, 2014

New Computer, Part 2

Last week I told you about Ninite.com for your new computer.  I received several emails asking what other applications I would install on a new Windows computer. 

My first "have to have" application is anti-virus software.  I suggest initially what probably comes free with your new computer. However, after the free six or twelve month trial ends, get a free app.  The one you get with your computer usually goes for a high annual fee.  Download only one of these first: AVG or Avast!. These are the two many other geeks and I use.  Search the sites for the free versions and only get them from those sites.  Viruses may be included in them when they are downloaded elsewhere.   

Do not install more than one antivirus app on your computer at a time or it could cause issues. 

Next, I have a new recommendation, Malwarebytes.  This will help your antivirus software keep you even safer.  The free version is good.  You need to remember to run it yourself every few days.  Malware stands for malicious software that may not destroy things but can really mess with your computer.  I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find you have hundreds of malware items present.  

Now, go to Speed Test and see what actual speeds you are getting from your internet service provider.  If you get less than you should call your provider and get their assistance to correct the issue.  The speed can vary from hour-to-hour but should be close most of the time. 

The next thing I suggest is something you used to have to pay a bundle for, Microsoft Office.  Not any longer.  For the average Office user you can create a new Outlook.com account or use your Hotmail.com account and use Office Online – for free.  There are several ways to get to your office apps but I suggest onedrive.live.com to set up or login to your office products. 

After typing like you did in your new free online Word application you notice that your typing could be improved if you used more than two fingers.  To work on your typing skills and speed take a look at Typing Web and practice.  You can improve your typing for free and maybe have some fun doing so.  

Finally, you should just have some fun.  If you like computer games login for free at Steam Powered.  An account is free as are some of the games; however, some may have a onetime cost or possibly a monthly fee.  I like the free, "Star Trek Online" where I am a commander of a Federation vessel. 

If you want to pay for a game, set up a PayPal account.  It is a very secure online payment system.  I have used it for years and have never had a problem.  I suggest anytime you tie your checking/savings account to anything online you create a separate account from your "home" account.  This is just in case there is ever a security hack.  They can only get a minimal amount of money and it will not affect paying your "real" bills.

Have a Happy 2015!

September 30, 2014

Oops!

I have always been very careful when working on building a new computer.  There are certain things you must do; however, I missed one a couple of weeks ago.  (Geek confession coming up.)

Someone came to me and basically said since I am a geek and obviously quite knowledgeable with computers would I totally rebuild theirs.  I do not usually do things like this any longer.   Not that I do not enjoy building new computers; I actually very much enjoy doing so.  However, over years of being in the business I have found that if I do this, I end up owning all of the problems that arise with that system for evermore.  No matter what happens, no matter how many years down the road they come back to me for "free" help.  In one case it was so bad I got calls and emails for six months after the build.  If they were something that I caused…no problem I was more than happy to fix them.  However, the overwhelming number of times it was the user causing issues.

This was a person I know and trust and a good friend so I did it anyway.

He gave me a list of the applications he wanted installed, and original licensed discs for the programs that he still had.  Time for a warning to all of you who want to rebuild a computer or get a new one:  Make sure you have the original discs for licensed programs or it could be costly.  For instance, your Windows installation disc, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc. 

He also included all of his email account usernames and passwords, so that I could set up his accounts.  Another warning here, I do not recommend you do this unless you absolutely, positively, totally trust the installer.

As always you start with the operating system, Windows 8.1, a full reformat of the hard drive, etc. 

For Microsoft Office versions there has always been a small issue when you perform a reinstall.  In the olden days you had to speak with a live customer service rep for 30 – 45 minutes to get an approval.  They had to make sure that you did not have an illegal copy.  Today you call an 800 number and punch buttons for several minutes and get an OK.  Then you type in more numbers in your computer and you are approved.

Next, the multitude of upgrades.

After about five or six hours I was almost done.  For a while I tested, updating some more apps as necessary.  Another Windows update or so and done.  He was going to install his only data files when I got it back to him so I did not have to upload those.  I was finally finished, no big deal…until…

Strange things started happening in the browser.  Homepages changing, popups flying and then my brain finally kicked in; I had not installed any antivirus.  I now had several viruses running on a brand new computer.  One was trying to take over the system entirely.

I could have resolved them one-by-one; however, on a brand new system that is not the way I would do it.  So the rebuild began.

Guess what I installed before I got online this time?  You better have guessed right – his antivirus software and all was right with the world… another five to six hours later.

What a jerk I am; however, I hope you learned something from my mistake!

September 16, 2014

Good News and a Warning

A few weeks back I wrote about an application you could use to retrieve deleted files from a computer’s drive, SD Card, etc.  This was really highlighted when I got an email from Tom in Harrisonburg, about his adventure with that application, Recuva

It began with, "I took a deep breath, downloaded, installed and ran Recuva on my wife’s defunct mini-SDHC card from her phone…"  Tom went on to tell me that Recuva fully recovered about 90%, over 600 photographs and eight videos.  These had been taken on her phone and then the card failed.  Now the grandkid photos were back.

He was so impressed he bought the Pro version.  I like hearing good news from all of you, so let me know if you read something that helps you out. 

Now a warning for all of you Android phone users.  If you sell, give away or toss your phone/tablet in the trash there are two things you should do first.  Number one is to remove your SD card if you have one installed.  It may contain many things about your system, possibly pictures you have taken, downloaded files, sites you visit, etc.  Next, you must perform a "factory reset" of your device.   

FYI, here is the way to do a factory reset.  Note: devices may vary slightly.  Go to Settings, select Privacy and then "Factory data reset."  You will get a big warning about setting your phone back to the way you got it out of the box when you bought it.  It may give you the choice to also wipe your SD card.  Choose, "OK" and it will be wiped clean. 

Until recently I would say you are now safe to get rid of the phone/tablet.  But new information has come to my attention.  It is now known that some disreputable people have been known to get old phones and recover information.  They run software like Recuva or other similar "rescue" apps and get a lot of information back from the erased system. 

You think,"That is fine, my pictures are of me fully clothed unlike some recent celebrities."  But what about your email username and password?  Or you bank account login, a personal letter you wrote, your Dropbox account and on-and-on?  Your personal data could be retrieved.

Locked filesThere is a safe way to get around this problem many geeks suggest implementing.  You add one new procedure to your Android device before you execute the factory reset.  Encrypt your device.  Encryption basically scrambles your device’s data with a cryptographic key so that only you can access it with a great password.  That way it cannot be accessed without that encryption key.  You can do this on your device at any time; however, it has a couple of drawbacks.  It can cause battery drain, it can also slow down your device and if you decide you do not like your phone encrypted it cannot be undone without a factory reset.  That causes a loss of all data.

Look under Settings and then Security to encrypt your phone/tablet.  Once encrypted you may then run a factory reset and if someone looks into recovering your data they end up with a recovered scrambled mess.  Your information will be safe.  

August 26, 2014

Piriform Tools, Part 1

I recently mentioned the site Piriform.  I received several emails asking about what it offers, so today we will take a look at some of the excellent free utilities they have.

Download CCleanerTheir most well-known tool is CCleaner.  When the company first started out this was their first app and then it stood for, "Crap Cleaner."  Since they are highfalutin now that nomenclature has vanished.  This app will allow you to do several things.  First you can have it run the "Cleaner" to check for unneeded files scattered about your computer. Not files you have created but the pesky ones left over from old installations, junk temporary files, the cached files in your browser(s), etc.  It will scan and make suggestions to remove those files.  It is up to you but I run this every couple of weeks on my constantly used computer and delete everything it suggests.  I have never had any problems; however, as with all apps, use at your own risk.  

It will also clean up your registry files which I (and many other geeks) feel become disorganized over time.  CCleaner will straighten them out keeping your computer’s health and speed up.

Some geeks think this is a waste of time but it has always worked for me.  This app will also uninstall your old applications if you need it to.  I believe it does it a little better than the windows default uninstall program; however, that is also open to debate. It has several other features you can check out.

Download/Learn more about DefragglerNext, Defraggler is the app which replaces your built in Windows Defrag.  Fragmentation occurs (as Windows is designed to do) as files are changed and rewritten to your computer.  Say you open a letter in Word that you have written.  It is opened in RAM memory (not on the hard drive) where you edit it.  After you have finished you saved it, which writes the document back to the hard drive.  When saved it may put it in a different location from where it started leaving "crumbs" (my word) behind. 

In many cases it may also split the file up into pieces, so you have one piece stored in the center of your drive and another on the outside edge.  Over time it will take longer to access all the parts and reassemble them when you want to open the files up later.  This is called a fragged drive.  Defraggler undoes this process and makes things run faster.  Think of it as sleeping at night and waking up to bad hair; Defraggler combs it and makes it neat.

Next week the last two tools from Piriform that I will mention; both of which can come in quite handy when you need them. 

April 21, 2014

2014-04-21 WSVA Show Notes

Today we had the April show on WSVA, 550AM.  If you have 40 minutes to learn some new tech info and listen to Jim Britt and I having fun…take a listen here.  A few calls, a few issues, a few news items and a lot more.  Enjoy the links we talked about below.

Tech News
Heartbleed Explained
If you’re an IT professional, gadget blogger or token geek in your circle of friends, chances are, you’ve been hounded relentlessly over the past couple of days about "this Heartbleed thing."

"Do I need to update my antivirus?"

"Can I login to my bank account now?"

"Google already fixed it, right?"

We’ve heard them all, but the answers aren’t all that clear or simple. In an attempt to take the pressure off — it is the weekend after all — we’ve put together a primer that should answer all of those questions and a few more. Next time someone asks you about that "Heartbleed thing," just shoot them in our direction.


Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
SnapSeed

Snapseed is the only photo app you’ll want to use every day. It makes any photograph extraordinary with a fun, high-quality photo experience right at your fingertips. Anyone can enhance, transform, and share their photos with ease using incredibly advanced features from the leader in digital photography software. Built-in Google+ capabilities make it even more powerful to share your images with your friends and family.


Links mentioned:
"Play Some Music"
EndGadget
Sometimes, having your entire music collection in your pocket can be a bit overwhelming. When there are hundreds (or in our case, thousands) of tracks at your disposal, where do you even begin to listen? To help thwart that paralysis of choice, Google is going to do the guessing for you with its latest tweak to Search. From Google Now or the search bar, simply say the magic words "play some music" and your Android device will start playing a random Play Music "I’m feeling lucky" mix that’s based on recent listening habits.


  • Rent an MBA abcnews.go.com
    The best business brains can now be hired on the cheap and by the hour. Two new websites make it possible for companies and individuals to get consulting help from young MBAs newly minted from such top business schools as Harvard and Wharton.

    The same 35-hour consulting job for which a traditional, blue chip firm might charge $20,000 might cost as little as $1,500 on these sites. That’s, in part, because the participating MBAs typically are ones still in school or just starting out on their careers; it’s also because the websites don’t carry the same overhead as traditional consulting firms.


    Have a great afternoon and let me know what you would like to hear about on the show next month, Monday, May 18th.

    Ron

  • January 28, 2014

    Chromebook

    Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

    After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

    Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

    This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

    The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

    imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

    Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

    Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

    imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

    I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

    December 17, 2013

    Android Browsers

    Last week I wrote about the browser I favor most.  I received many emails from folks telling me their thoughts on the matter.  Thanks for the emails as I always appreciate hearing from you!  There was a repeated theme from those emails regarding my favorite Android browser.  This demonstrated to me that you readers know me pretty well since no one mentioned iPhones or iPads.

    So, today I will look at some Android browsers I prefer. 

    The default browser which comes with the Android phones and tablets is pretty good all on its own.  So I do not recommend replacing it unless you have enough geek in you to want to play with it.  Also, it is interesting to note the most popular windows browsers are all available for Android. There is one notable exception which is the Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer. 

    If you enjoy Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari on your PC my next suggestion would be you should try the same one on your Android device.  There are some similarities with the same named browser between the two platforms; however, they are different in some respects. 

    I think the best feature in matching browser between PC and Android is that you can link them.  For instance, if you are using Firefox on your PC and then install it on your tablet you can "sync" them with each other.  You can automatically get all of your saved passwords, browsing history and other items.  These will be synced between the two so that you have everything available and up-to-date between them.  The other browsers mentioned above all have some sort of the comparable syncing capabilities.  

    imageBear in mind that as I stated last week the "best" browser for you matches your comfort level and personal preference.  So, in my opinion the best Android browser is the Dolphin browser.  Before you go to the Android store let me give you two tips.  There are two Dolphin browsers available, one is the HD version and the other is the Mini.  They are made for tablets and phones respectively. It has been my experience that the Mini works well on tablets; however, it lacks some of the "extras" you get on the HD version.      

    SonarOne reason I enjoy Dolphin is that it works very well and is pretty easy to use.  It also has two neat features called "sonar" and "gestures."  With sonar you can speak commands to Dolphin and it will carry out most of them very well.  For instance, you can say, "Find the closest pizza shop" and it does a good job, depending on your devices’ settings.  It isn’t perfect since I tried, "Who is Robin Doyle" and it gave me a list of "Robert" Doyles. 

     

    GesturesGestures are interesting too.  If you start them you can draw on your screen and particular actions will occur in the browser.  For instance, if you draw a "G" on the screen it will immediately open Google.com.  Another is a "Y" for YouTube.com and there are others.  If you have questions about how to use or set up your own Gestures, draw a large question mark.

     

    imageAlso, you may want to install the Dolphin "Jet Pack" after you start using the browser.  It is said to speed it up and give you more features; although I am comfortable using it with or without this add-on.

    Using Dolphin is a slightly new browser experience.   I think it is worth trying if you like learning a few new tricks.

    Let me know which phone/tablet browsers you prefer.

    December 11, 2013

    2013-12-11 WSVA Show Notes

    Hey there I hope you are ready for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Today we discussed some presents you may want to put under the tree in a week or so.

    You can listen to the podcast here and check the actual links below.

    I hope your families are able to get together and enjoy the Season!

    Ron

    Christmas 2013
    Most popular items this year are predicted to be Tablets, with starting prices


    You can get free eBooks for Android.


    Popular Gadgets

    • AR.Drone2, quad-copter with video you can watch and record it on your phone. Has a front and a bottom camera. $370.
    • OtterBox, this is the ultimate protective case shop anywhere around. Whether you have a phone, tablet, headset or just need a different sized INDESTRUCTABLE case.
    • PowerUp Electric Paper Airplane Conversion kit can help a paper airplane stay airborne for at least 30 seconds. Of course, you’ll need to fold the paper into a plane yourself, the “engine” is just $16.99.

    How to find better pricesUse your smartphones and their perspective App Stores to look for:

    • Amazon Price Check
    • BuyVia
    • Consumr
    • RedLaser
    • The Find

    Some have scanners, some you can order from the stores, some check local advertisements, etc. Try them out.


    Geek and Gadget Online Stores

    • Dude I Want That, one of a kind products. This site also has a Gift Guide arranged by categories.
    • ThinkGeek, Ron’s favorite geek, junk store. Of course, tons of Doctor Who items.

    July 16, 2013

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