DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 10, 2017

2016 Sites in Review, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:06 am

Welcome to the start of the 16th year of "Double Click."  Thanks so much for reading the hundreds of articles that I have spun up over this time.  Thanks also for the emails I continue to receive regarding every one.  It is very much appreciated so keep them coming. 

This January (as every year) I will be reviewing the sites I wrote about during the previous year.  If the site addresses are too long for print I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app.  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.  If you visit DoubleClicks.info you can click the links and go directly to the sites.

So, here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Instance Mail, InstanceMail.com – a place to get a temporary email address, use once and toss it.
  • GO Contact Sync Mod, googlesyncmod.sourceforge.net – the best Google/Outlook Calendar syncing program I can find since the demise of the original Google app.
  • Dropbox, rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox – yes, that same old name I talk about every year.  But if you want to store files online (the Cloud) this is my recommendation.
  • Preventing Windows 10 Updates, rd.dblclx.com/1XpVqHN – MS changes their pages often, this is now for preventing driver updates but was originally for stopping W10 from updating.
  • Google Maps, maps.google.com – the name says it all for this great map app. 
  • Waze, waze.com – the name does not say it all for this one but in my opinion, it is an even better map application than Google Maps; even though they are both owned by Google.
  • Two apps that disappeared in 2016, Google’s Picasa photo editor/viewer and Copy.com a competitor to Dropbox, both are greatly missed.
  • VideoLAN, videolan.org – the best free video player application out there.  I recommend it over the built-in video viewer in Windows 10.
  • What if you do not upgrade, rd.dblclx.com/stopW10 – one of the guesses made as to what would happen if you did not take the Windows 10 free upgrade?  In reality nothing much, you can still get it but you will not be continually bothered by pop ups nagging you to do so.
  • Startup Delayer, rd.dblclx.com/startupdelayer – you can use this app to delay apps which start in the background when you power up your computer.  It could make it boot much more quickly.
  • KeePass, keepass.info and LastPass, lastpass.com – These are both good password keepers or vaults.  I use Keepass for my main password vault; however, LastPass seems an easier choice for many and has many extra features. 
  • Avast!, avast.com – one of my past favorite free (and paid version also) antivirus applications.
  • Avast Clear, rd.dblclx.com/avastuninstaller – this is a link to software you may need if you try to totally uninstall Avast from your computer. Sometimes any of the antivirus apps can be hard to uninstall.
  • Audible, audible.com and Podiobooks, podiobooks.com – these are two audiobook sites for those of you who may have a longer trip to work than most, or are traveling on a trip.  They give you the opportunity to listen to a book.  Audible, not for free, has the most recent titles out.  Podiobooks has authors who have not yet been discovered so you may find a great unheard of author.

See you next week for the last half of 2016 in review. 

December 20, 2016

Facebook Safety – Part 1

I have a few suggestions this week of a few steps you may want to take to make your Facebook account a little more secure.  Just think if someone took over your Facebook account which has been known to happen to people in recent times.  To your friends, it may appear that you have starting posting very inappropriate comments and/or pictures on your account. 

First, I will be giving these settings as they are on a computer.  Yes, you may also get to these settings from a tablet or phone.  However, it is my belief that it is much easier to make settings and entries from a larger screen, the choice is yours.  Also, note that some of these settings may be slightly different on different devices.

Privacy ShortcutsGo ahead and open up Facebook in your browser of choice.  In the upper right corner look for the lock with three lines next to it.  When you hover over it you will see "Privacy Shortcuts." Click it.   There are basically three settings you can work with under "Privacy Checkup." 

Privacy Checkup

First, Posts.  Here you should choose who you want to be able to view your posts.  You can easily choose between the Public, your Friends (you have friended in FB) and Only yourself.  Why you would choose only you could see your posts I have no idea, but it is available.  Next, are Apps.  If you have ever used FB to log into a game it will be listed here. So, if you stopped playing a particular game or no longer wanted to be associated with it you can again choose who can see your scores.  I set it for just me or the "Only Me" option. 

Privacy Checkup Options

The next option is for your Profile which is very important.  Here you can decide who to allow to see very personal things.  First your phone number may be listed here if you gave it to FB when you set up the account.  If you did add your number here you can choose who can see it.  Again, that is either the public, your friends on FB or yourself…yeah go figure on that last one.  As with  all of the choices you can customize it to allow separate groups to see your information, not just the general three choices.  Other items in your Profile area are Email, Birthday and Hometown and who gets to see them. 

Last you can click either Finish Up which is self-explanatory or My About Page.  Clicking on the My About Page link will show you what people can see from your Profile in Facebook.  You can make other adjustments from there if you see changes that need to be edited. 

More next week and have a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

November 15, 2016

Take a Chill Pill Folks

I have decided to not mention you know…that which has been going on in our country lately that shall not be named.  To relieve some of the stress out there I have decided to give you a few fun sites to visit on the web that may put a smile on your face.

Visit the AkinatorFirst off is one of my favorites, “Akinator” found at en.akinator.com.  To use the site, think of a character, alive, dead, fictional historical, etc.  The only requirement is that they are known to the general public.  Fill in your age, why I have no idea, think about your character and start answering questions.  Today I tried Abraham Lincoln and Peter Pan.  Akinator got them both in (a guess here) less than 15 answers. Give it a try and do not worry.  Although it may seem like it, it is not magic or mindreading but a really well done algorithm   and database combination.  Just the miracle of computing quickly.

Next is one that may be useful for some of you but I think funny, MyFridgeFood.com.  Go to the site and check off the items you have in your refrigerator.  Now click the, “Find Recipes” button and you have a list of dinners to make.  To be honest I tried it and occasionally it will add a general item I did not list, but still interesting.

How about Rock-Paper-Scissors-Game.com.  The name says it all, click the one you want and keep a running total.

How about a handy app that will clean the inside of your computer’s monitor?  Try sanger.dk.

Do you like to shop on Amazon.com and sometimes run out of ideas for gifts?  Go to WeirdOrConfusing.com.  Every click of the. “Please” button will take you to Amazon to show you something – you guessed it, weird or confusing.  How about trying to bounce a few cats at cat-bounce.com.

SNAGHTML1c00a3ef

Try PointerPointer.com and no matter where you hold your mouse pointer someone will find it and point at it.  Now that everyone is pointing your way show them some art. Go to ThisIsSand.com and make some sand art.  It will give you a few easy instructions when you enter the site, make sure to read them on your first visit.  Now create!

image

Would you like to watch a movie by a cozy fire but you do not have a fireplace, try TheInternetFireplace.com.  How about seeing if you can tell where a picture was taken?  Go to GeoGuessr.com and with Google Maps try the single player mode.  The closest I got was about 700 miles.

There are always funny cat videos on YouTube.com, but I am sure many of you have already seen them all.

Finally, and only try hmpg.net last.  Warning only use this site if you are absolutely finished.  Now I bet for a little while you have forgotten all of that stress.

October 25, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 4

Well I need to start with an “Oops” this week.  Last week’s article included an incorrect statement and if you looked for the software in the link provided you would not find Revo Uninstaller.  I stated incorrectly that Revo was by the same company as CCleaner.  This is not correct and I even knew better but my fingers were out of control as I typed.  Of course, I could have been checking to see if you were reading closely…some of you were.

Revo Uninstaller can be found at RevoUninstaller.com; whereas, CCleaner is still found at Piriform.com.  I apologize.

One more useful utility is WinDirStat (windirstat.net).  We will all one day read a message on our PC that says something like, “You are running out of disk space.”  You have cleaned out all the files you can find and still need more space.  Run WinDirStat and it will give you a colorful graphical interface letting you know where your files are located all by size.  So with some clicking and determination you can hunt down and remove worthless files you no longer need.  PLEASE be careful as you could also delete something quite important too.

Below is a WinDirStat representation of all the files on my computer. I can hover my mouse over an area to see information about those files down to an individual file.

WinDirStat Representation of Ron's Files

This will be the last article in this series regarding apps you may want/need to add to a Windows PC.  That being the case I will close with a look at a couple of fun applications.

Windows 10 Games...these are FREE

There are many games made by Microsoft for Windows 10.  But of course, Solitaire which Microsoft came out with over 26 years ago, is the original with the Windows Operating System.  It was originally created to make people more comfortable with two new things that were spreading across the world.  The PC and the Mouse.  It went on fairly unchanged until Windows 8 changed it by requiring you to purchase it to remove ads.  It has become bigger, brighter, and has more versions of the game.  Microsoft has many, many games that you can try out in Windows 10 by going to rd.dblclx.com/2evl0en.

 

SteamNext up, if you like video games you already know about Steam but if not here you go.  Visit Steampowered.com to see the hundreds of games available.  Many of them you have never heard of and many you may have played in the past (Counter Strike, Half-Life, Far Cry) on a game system or PC.  There are all types of games available too, adventure, roleplaying, racing, sports strategy and more.  Prices of games range from free to $25.  There are also a few game creation tools available if you are the inventive type.  New games roll out from Steam too.  Maybe you can meet me online sometime playing, “Star Trek Online” (a freebie of course). To play Steam games you must download a large application to run the games and then each individual game so make sure you have time to wait when you first set it up.

duolingo.comIf games are not your “thing” how about learning a new language with Duolingo?  You can use it either online at Duolingo.com or download it as an application to Windows (Android and iPhones too).  To be honest I have tried it out but do not use it regularly since I do not have the time or want to take the effort to learn a new language now.  But when I do I will definitely use Duolingo to do so.

August 30, 2016

Now You Can Delete That File

It hit me the other day that I have been remiss in sharing a great application with you.  I have been using it for well over five years and have never mentioned it.  So here we go today.

If you have used a Windows PC regularly for more than a few weeks you have run into this issue.  You know the frustrating feeling you get when you go to delete a file, group of files or a folder and you cannot.  You will get some type of notification telling you that it cannot be deleted.  You can right click, delete or try selecting it and pressing your delete key or even dragging it directly to the recycle bin, but it just does not matter.

Sometimes the notice will inform you that another program is using it, there is a sharing violation, etcetera.  You can try my old standby trick to delete them.  Wait for a few minutes and try to delete them again.  Sometimes, but rarely, this will work.

This is usually caused by some other program using the file for some known or unknown reason.  For instance, I have had the issue when working on a Word file typing a document.  I did not need the file and went to delete it from my computer.  It gave the notification that it was being used by another application.  I searched and found, yes, I left it open in Word and did not close the file.  In that case it makes sense and once I close the Word program, the file is released and then can be deleted.

However, way too often for me, I cannot figure out what has the file under its control.  I can look and search and cannot find why the stinking file will not go away!

Now for the application I mentioned earlier.  It is appropriately enough named “Unlocker.” It does just that.  If you have a file/folder that needs to be removed and you cannot delete it, Unlocker will.    After it is installed you will have a new command available when you right click on a file that says, “Unlocker.”  Click it and choose between “No Action,” “Delete,” “Rename” or “Move.”  Choose the one you want to use, usually Delete, and click OK.  It will work for a few seconds and either delete it or ask you if you would like it deleted the next time you start your computer.

You can download it from MajorGeeks here, “rd.dblclx.com/unlocker192.”  Oh, did I mention that it is free?  So it will not delete any money from you.

image          image

 

 

 

 

image

July 26, 2016

Make Money with Google?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:37 am

Well, after the turmoil I created worrying you about Google watching you online last week, today you can get’em back! 

I thought today I would show you how to make some money off of Google.  Now be warned.  You will not be able to quit your job or buy a new car but you can make a couple of bucks when you have a minute to kill.

Google Opinion Rewards logoI started using Google Opinion Rewards about two weeks ago (rd.dblclx.com/GoogleOpinions).  I saw a write up on it from an RSS feed about Google which I receive every day.  I thought hmm, sounds like fun. So I gave it a try.

The way it works is occasionally you will get a survey on your Android device, sorry not for any other devices at this time.  For me the survey is usually about something I have never heard of.  I got one asking if I had read a specific magazine in the past week.  Easy answer since I had never heard of the magazine.  It then asked only two more follow up questions.  When I finished it added $0.34 to my Google account. Of course, it is not money to spend anywhere but at the Google Play store for apps, books and movies provided by Google.

The surveys are very consistent never having more than five or six questions and many have less than that.  Being so short you can take one in much less than a minute.  The app write-up says you will get one or more a week.  I got seven the first week, a few more the second week and this week (two days in) I have gotten none. 

Google Opinion RewardsThe questions also interested me concerning the article I wrote last week.  If you did not see it and are interested find last week’s newspaper or visit DoubleClicks.info.  One question I was asked sounded something like, "Have you been to a Honda, Ford, GM or Nissan dealership recently?"  Interestingly, three days before I had been to one of those dealers to have my car repaired.  I responded affirmatively and then it wanted to know how many days before I had gone.  The options were all less than a week except the last one which was, "More than 1 week."

From the information I told you about last week we know that Google knows where I went from my phone.  They previously knew I was at the dealership via that device.  My thought was, "Interesting, they are checking to see if I am honestly taking the survey or not."  They have not asked anything about how much I paid or what something cost.  They are very general questions.

Now what you have all been waiting for…how much money has Ron made with this thing?  OK, first the least money I have made for a survey was $0.10.  The most I made was $0.63.  And the total for the twelve days I have received surveys was an astounding – are you ready for it?  $6.89, which is not that much, but hey, it is technology, it is fun and it is not Pokémon. 

June 14, 2016

Avast, me Hearties!

Although I have been and still am a fan of the Avast! antivirus application (avast.com) I recently stumbled onto something interesting. 

I have always used the free version of Avast and it has worked quite well.  Since it is free you do get popups occasionally suggesting you try to better clean up your computer.  If you click the link it takes you to the upgrade page.  This is fine with me too since the paid version is good and they deserve pay for their application.  I appreciate the great freeware version but if someone wishes to pay I say, go for it.

image

The paid versions of Avast run from approximately $35 to $50 annually.  They also have other products available but those are the ones you should look at to replace the free version. 

Now back to my story.  Avast regularly offers popups which encourage you to try the Premium version.  One day they had one that offered the Premium version for free for a specific period of time.  I clicked it since they are a very reputable company. I thought it would be good to try the best product…especially for free. 

When the time limit expired I thought it would go back to the free version; however, it did not.  It basically said if I wanted to keep using it I had to pay my annual fee.  Then it told me I was no longer protected and should re-up for the premium version.  I went online to see what others thought and many had the same issue. 

So I thought OK, this will be a pain but I will uninstall it and then reinstall the free version again.  And make sure that the next time I get it running I WILL NOT try out the temporary premium version.

After I did that and the free new shiny version was running it still told me I had to upgrade.  It kept the old information and, yes, wanted my money.  I hated to have to go to another antivirus application so I kept looking for a fix.

I found a solution online and it was actually on the Avast site.  I know that some of you have tried or will try the free premium version so here is the fix.  It is called, "avastclear."  This is a short link to get to the page, rd.dblclx.com/avastuninstaller.  If you follow the instructions on the page all will be well.  The final step is to restart your computer.  I suggest after that you download the free version and happily reinstall it and live happily ever after.

There is really only one thing to do that you may be unused to per step 2 from Avast’s instructions; you must start in "Safe Mode."  You may try to restart your computer and press F8 at the correct moment; however, I have an easier way.  Hold down the Shift key and click Restart at the login screen or while in Windows while clicking the star button, Power and Restart. You will get a new screen when it starts.  Choose the following menus on each screen as follows:  Troubleshoot, Advanced options, Startup Settings, Continue and finally choose "4." 

Then find the downloaded "avastclear" and continue following the instructions from Avast.

Safe Mode startup screenSafe Mode startup screen

May 24, 2016

Windows 10, Improve Performance

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

OK, if you are a regular reader, you know I like Windows 10; however, it is not perfect.  I finally got tired of one little nag which has bugged me for a while.  I feel that it must be annoying some of you as well so here is all about it – according to Ron.

Every now and then when I boot up a Windows 10 computer I get a notification that says, “Disable apps to help improve performance.”  It goes on to tell me I have three or more apps that start automatically and might be slowing down my computer.

Action Center - Disable Apps

Well heck, no one wants to have their computer start slowly.  So, like most of you, I click the “X” to the right of the warning and ignore that nag.  After a month or two of this on my super-duper amped up computer I realized I wanted this resolved.

I found several programs which were supposed to fix this.  They work by letting you choose the programs that slow the boot down and tell them to start seconds, minutes, or even hours after your computer has finished starting/booting.  The application I chose is called “Startup Delayer” (rd.dblclx.com/startupdelayer).  It gives you a list of all the programs in your startup application list and you can delay their start.  Warning, DO NOT CHOOSE to delay your antivirus which will always be a RAM hog but you want it to run when your system starts.

First you must find out which apps are possibly slowing down your computer’s startup.  To do this use the Task Manager. There are many ways to open the Task Manager but the easiest is to hold down the Control and Shift keys then tap the Escape key.  (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) Once it is opened click on the Startup tab at the top.  Then click on the “Startup Impact” label until High shows at the top.  The High impact apps are the ones that may be slowing down your boot time.

Task Manager

Startup Delayer is easy to use and now you know how to determine what may be slowing you down.

Startup Delayer screenshot

There is one other way I have found without getting another new app but it is slightly tricky.  This only works while you are receiving the “Disable apps” message previously mentioned.  If you have not gotten it when you start your computer it will not work…only while you are receiving that message.

Right click on start menu and choose "Control Panel"Open the “Control Panel” (right click the start menu then Control Panel on the list) then go to “Security and Maintenance.”  Now click the arrow to the right of the word “Maintenance” and underneath you will see Security and Maintenancea link “Turn off messages about startup apps.”  Click those words and the nags will go away.

 

Those apps will continue to “possibly” slow down your computer’s start time but you will not be bugged by the message.  I do not think that the amount of slowing caused by these is worth worrying about, but that is your call.

March 29, 2016

Windows 10, Ready or Not

Over the past few weeks I have received some emails from people saying they are getting warnings on their computers regarding the Windows 10 upgrade.  No, this is not a new virus, a Trojan or any sort of malware hitting the scene.  Our friend – Microsoft.

Many of you who have not converted to Windows 10 yet are getting popups from time-to-time from Microsoft.  It has already been downloaded to most Windows 7 and 8.x computers.  Yes, there is a very high probability that it is lurking in a hidden location waiting to get its command to run.  If you choose to install it by clicking the popup, then you will have it after a couple of restarts.  But what if you choose to never click the OK button?

When MS released W10 for general consumption in July, 2015, they said it would be free for all users of Windows 7 and 8.x.  It was and so far, according to one statistics site I read, about 14.8% of all desktop and notebook computers are running W10.  For comparison it also stated Windows 7 is 46.8%, Windows 8.1 is 11.4% and OS X (Apple) is 9.33%.  They also stated at release time that after one year you would have to pay for W10 if you wanted it on your computer.

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"Now things have apparently changed.  I have read of some people who woke up to find Windows 10 on their computers.  The issue is that when they went to bed the night before they had Windows 7.  I do not know how true that is but I do know that people are getting continual “warnings” about having to install W10.

So it sounds like sooner or later you will get Windows 10.  I do not know if they will auto-install it without your input or allow you to choose “OK,” but I believe you will have it sooner or later.  Oh and MS says the update to W10 is for our own safety.  Yeah right, that was what all the new versions were supposedly for.

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"On to one other related issue.  I received an email from a reader who choose to bite the bullet and install Windows 10 recently.  They immediately had issues connecting to their Wi-Fi and asked me what they could do.  I had not heard this before and looked online…there were many out there with this issue along with a plethora of fixes.  Since I had no experience with this I suggested he go to a local computer shop.  He did and found out that many W10 upgraded computers had this issue.  I found online where it could be related to older drivers on computers but sometimes updating them did not work either.

I am surprised that my computers have had no issue with this.  I have a 2009 desktop, a 2006 and a 2010 notebook and none of them have experienced this issue.  But be warned if you have an older system you could lose Wi-Fi.  I have read on a few sites which say your best bet if that happens and a computer repair shop cannot get you fixed is to toss it and buy a new computer.

Thanks, Microsoft, for the mandatory Windows 10 upgrades, especially if it stops us from getting online.  Very useful feature…not!

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"

March 8, 2016

Map Follow Up

Last week’s column generated a lot of email questions and comments.  I did not realize there were a lot of Google Maps and Waze users out there.  Some people had never heard of Waze and now are trying it out.  Let me know how you like or dislike it as you experiment. 

One person brought to my attention that there do not appear to be many Waze users.  My experience has been that it depends on where you are traveling.  There are many more Wazers in big cities and fewer in the smaller areas. 

Wazers at nightFor the uninitiated, Waze shows small icons for other Waze users on the map.  You can see when other Wazers are nearby.  However, if you search for it online you find that Wazers on the map do not update in real time.  Their icons and Waze username may be delayed by five minutes or more.  They appear to sit still until you drive past them and they vanish off of the bottom of the map.  They may also vanish and reappear later in a different location.  I have read this is done for several of reasons.  One is that it would take considerably more bandwidth to provide live updates.  Another is they do not want you to be distracted from your driving as you look around trying to figure out which is the other Waze driver.  Also, since it is not live, people cannot be stalked using Waze.

 

Several wrote about what I have recently heard called the "lazy" search.  Say you are out of the area and want seafood for dinner.  In both Google Maps and Waze you can search "seafood restaurant" and find a list of seafood serving places to eat.  The reason I say, "serving" and not "seafood restaurants" is that it may be a burger joint that also has a fish sandwich, so buyer beware.  You can also search for a type of place near another place.  For instance, "steak restaurant" near XYZ Hotel" and you would get a good local listing around your hotel.  Pretend you went to a place to eat years ago and all you can remember is it was near 17th Street.  Try search for a "restaurant near 17th Street" and chances are very good that you will find it quickly, if it is still open.  Another neat feature a reader gave me; when searching for places like the above if you scroll down you can find Filters.  You can filter by "currently open," "ratings" and several others when available.

Pizza

Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA

Burger Joints, near me

Search for, “Pizza, Charlottesville, VA”

Search for, “Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA”

Search for, “Burger Joints” near me.

Waze

Google

Waze

Sabrina wrote about a feature I had not known about before.  If you watched people in the olden days use a map, some would hold it with North always point up.  Others would twist and turn the map along the way so they were always looking the way they were moving.  Well Google Maps allows this too.  See what happens if you tap the compass icon on your map while you are driving.  There you go, either North always up or you are diving the way you are looking (the default setting).

Have fun but please pay more attention to the road than your maps!

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: