DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 12, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:48 am

Last week I started a look at some of my favorite Chrome browser extensions.  We started with "Behind the Overlay."  To learn how to install them check out last week’s column.

Today we will start with one for your security.  We all keep reading about protecting your privacy while online and I agree that is important.  When you are in a coffee shop, fast food joint, airport, basically anywhere that offers free Wi-Fi you could be giving away information.  If you are at one of those places and visit your bank’s site to check your balance, etc. you could be giving away your username and password.  A VPN protects your data while on that Wi-Fi connection.  For more info search Google for, "What is VPN?"  However, many of the VPN applications cost money and some of the free ones are questionable.  One of the many solutions is to install "Hotspot Shield."  It is free with an upgradable premium version and it easily adds the extension to your browser. 

Hotspot Shield

Like all the other VPN apps it basically provides a "pipeline" to reroute everything from your computer to a secure server where no one else can see what goes on.  It can also show you in a different location.  That way you could watch a TV show in England that you may not get in the U.S.  They also provide an application for your computer if you wish.  I am using it now in a coffee shop and it shows my computer as being in the Netherlands.  I am actually in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  You can use it without signing up for anything; however, you will get ads and requests to rate it, etc. 

Next one of the few that is still in my favorite extension list is, "IE Tab."  I wrote a separate article about this in February of this year, so go check that out for lots of details.  But here is a quick review.  "IE Tab" allows you to view those pesky websites that will only allow you to use the Microsoft Internet Explorer or EDGE browsers to view their sites.  This is fairly old-school developing but it is still around.  Use "IE Tab" and you can enter the sites you want to view correctly in Chrome.  It works well.

IE Tab

The final ones for today are "Invisible Hand" and "Honey."  (Yes, I said I would list these extensions alphabetically last week but these are similar and I like IH most so it is first.)  They are both shopping extensions that work well to save you money online.  Invisible Hand works by popping up when you are looking at buying something on a site.  It will be searching the web in the background for the same item at a better price.  When/if it finds it, you can click the suggested link and go to the other site.  Be careful as I have noticed that it does not always include shipping or free shipping in its calculations. 

Invisible Hand

"Honey" works a differently.  When you are on the checkout screen on the site you are purchasing your product from Honey goes to work.   It quickly scans the web looking for discount coupons that may help you out.  It has worked sometimes for me and occasionally it does not; however, it is worth installing it to save some money. 

August 16, 2016

Live Writer by Any Other Name

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:47 am

Several years ago I wrote an article about a specific piece of software which was for a specific group of people.  I did not think it would be very popular; however, I received a large number of emails regarding that software. 

There have been some major changes regarding "Windows Live Writer" so I thought it was time to revisit this great app…or the lack thereof.

Windows Live Writer was part of a Microsoft Suite of products called "Windows Live Essentials" and all components could be installed with one file.  Microsoft created Live Writer for posting to your own blog many years ago.  If you are a blog owner who uses a WordPress site I highly recommended this for you.  It is much easier to create pages, posts, etc. for your WordPress site using Live Writer.

However, just like Google, in 2012 Microsoft decided to no longer support any of the Essentials programs.  So I guess they were not so essential.

You can still find it on the Microsoft site for download; but it is exactly the same as it was in 2012.  The web changes a lot and so should the way you maintain your site.  Other than possible security issues with old software you may not be able to perform some new functions. 

WordPress is a content management system for building websites.  I use it on all of mine, including DoubleClicks.info.  It is so popular that as of a few months ago it was found that WP is used by 59.5% of all the websites who use content management systems.  This is 26.6% of all websites.  That is a lot of websites!

So you can still get Live Writer but it is outdated, what to do? 

This post in Open Live WriterEnter the new kid on the block "Open Live Writer."  Open LW was created from the original LW code.  Several Microsoft employees who loved LW got together.  They asked for, got permission from MS to proceed and took over development for LW.  They then changed the name to Open Live Writer.  Since December, 2015, you can now get this free application from OpenLiveWriter.org.

It is every bit as good as the original which seems obvious since it started life as the same application.  It is actually getting much better than the original since the developers really care about improving it.  They have added several new features but to be honest the one I like the best is a Spell Checker which MS put off for years.

So if you do not have your own WordPress site you can skip through this article pretty quickly.  But if you do you should definitely use Open Live Writer as, IMHO it is much better than the default editor in WordPress.

Happy posting!

May 19, 2015

PC Spring Cleaning, Part 3

The last two weeks we looked at some of the ways you need to physically clean your computer for spring or any other time of the year.

Today we will clean your computer’s software.

First, make sure that you are regularly checking your Operating Systems upgrades, i.e. HaWindows 7, 8.1, etc.  Yes, you may have it set to automatically run updates; however, you need to make sure you have the latest every now and then.  Check your update settings by going to Start and typing, "Windows Update," then clicking the "Change Settings."  Check the appropriate choices.  They will make sense to you.  If not, Google for a description.  Mine is set to check for important updates, but let me choose to download and install, give me recommended updates and finally, give me updates for other MS updates.  I am comfortable with those choices but you may not be. Change them and nothing will hurt you, unless you never update.

Windows Update

The funny thing is there is no choice to download and install optional updates.  To get all offered updates for your devices, occasionally check Windows Update for all available updates, including optional updates. I always install those too; however, that is your choice.  This is why you should manually run Windows Updates monthly.  I also suggest you do this after the second week of the month due to, "Patch Tuesday."  Patch Tuesday occurs on the second, and sometimes fourth, Tuesday of each month in North America.  This is when Microsoft sends out all of the items for download to your system for updates.  Wait until after that time and you will get them all.

All of your other software is harder to update but you should take a stab at it on occasion.  You could check most every application you have on your computer by opening the app, going to "Help" then either "Check for Updates" or "About" which is where they are usually found.  Then run the recommended update.

There are also several applications you can get to check your other applications’ updates.  However, none of them are perfect.  I regularly compare several of the main ones and usually get varying results.

  • FileHippo App Manager (filehippo.com) – the one I use most often and is quick and easy. Use the "Download our free app manager" link only.Kaspersky Software Updater (kaspersky.com/free-tools) – good and can be set to run on a schedule of your choosing.
  • Secunia PSI (secunia.com/psi) – I have used this the longest, if you run the scan manually it takes a good while. It also appears to search more apps than the others.
  • SUMo (kcsoftwares.com) – finds many apps; however is the hardest to use of all I have tested.
  • Update Notifier (cleansofts.org) – a simple one but still finds many. Check settings to not get beta updates. 

I ran all of these as well as a couple of others today.  I got varying results and none of them match.  So I guess you could run all of them for better coverage.  I alternate between FileHippo (quick and thorough) and Secunia (slow but very thorough) but they both find apps the other one misses…go figure.

FileHippo

Secunia-PSI

February 15, 2013

Change Your Account Picture-Windows 7



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