About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 20, 2015

2015-07-20 Show Notes

Welcome to the July radio show/podcast!  We had many callers with issues and some answers from me.  You can download or listen to the podcast here

Here are just a couple of the things we talked about today.

Tech News
Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children

Kids working?

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens.

While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.

  • In 2010, “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.”
  • Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the pediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”
  • Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play.
  • Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers. 

A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu
The world is all aflutter about Windows 10 so here is a good intro to the new and improved Start Menu.

Since the release of Windows 95, the Start Menu has been the primary way for users to access their files and applications. Microsoft attempted to move away from this setup with Windows 8, creating a serious backlash. Now the Start Menu is back and better than ever for Windows 10.

However, there have been a few changes since the last time we saw the Start Menu. There’s more functionality and customization options packed in than ever before, but the best way to take advantage of it might not be immediately obvious. Use this guide to get a firm grasp of the basics, and you’ll soon be using the Start Menu like a true Windows 10 expert.

OK, those are the only news stories and Windows 10 info we had a chance to talk about today. Listen to the podcast for the details and what else went on today.

I hope to see you back next month on August 17th.


March 24, 2015

Android is Not Just for Adults Anymore

Over the years I have put age appropriate apps on my Android tablet for my grandkids to play.  Now, while I am a pretty good grandpa, I do not like letting a small child run around the house swinging the devices around their heads and throwing them to each other.  So at a young age they learned that if you are using grandpa’s stuff, sit down and relax.  They have not had a problem doing that…well, ok, they did at first.

They all like to watch fun videos online.  You know, usually it has to do with a cat or a dog doing something cute.  Sometimes another youngster singing a funny song and on-and-on.  I would go with them to and have to preview almost each video.  I do not know if you noticed YouTube videos or not but they sometimes have videos of some things that you may not want young ones to view.  Also, if your kids are at the age where they can read a little the language sometimes supplied by other viewers is reprehensible to say the least.

YouTube for Kids imageYouTube came out with a new app for Android properly named "YouTube Kids."  You may search for it by name at the Google Play Store or use this link, "" and caps count in the link.

YouTube Kids provides kid friendly videos including Sesame Street, Super Simple Songs, Thomas and Friends and many other kid videos.  They have also removed all of the comments so they will not see, read or hear anything that many may consider inappropriate.  IT is a slick little app and this grandpa recommends it.

Pitfall! imageAnother that my eight year old loves is "Pitfall!"  It is a remake of the old Atari game I used to play where Pitfall Harry runs and jumps over collapsing bridges, across waterfalls and under and over outcroppings to get to the end.  That being said the graphics are far, far superior to that of the original which makes it an entirely new game.  I will say that I play this one on occasion too.

There are drawing/painting apps, letter games, piano keyboards, "paper dolls," animal pictures and games and even the talking apps like "Talking Ben the Dog" (do not get that one; it becomes tiring to old people but kids love it).  Most of these apps you can find for free and some are for a small fee.

Kids Math imageFor actual learning and not just games look for "Kids Math." It is just like it sounds; it has some simple "games" for youngsters.  Simple addition, subtraction, sequencing and higher/lower number arranging, with lots of graphics are there.  So they may actually learn something along the way. 

Last but not least, lots of children’s books are also available.

August 14, 2012

March 29, 2011

Protection from the Internet, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:34 am

For the past two weeks we have looked at ways to protect your kids on the internet. Last week I said that today we would look at “Family Safety” which is a part of Windows Live Essentials. So buckle up and hold on.

To install and set up an account for Family Safety on your computer, surf to “” Next, scroll down to Windows Live Essentials, click the link and follow the instructions shown. Be aware that there are about 11 total programs you can install with Live Essentials. Family Safety is just one. So when you install Windows Live Essentials click the link that says, “Choose the programs you want to install.” If not you will get all of the programs. That is not a bad thing since most of the applications in Live Essentials are very good. This is just a reminder to get what you want.

Family SafetyFamily Safety augments the features provided with the standard Parental Controls in Windows, which we talked about previously. Family Safety adds remote management which lets you change your children’s rights online. If you are interested in web activity monitoring reports you can access information on programs your kids have used and websites they have visited. This is all viewed on the Family Safety website from any computer; all access is on the web.

In addition, Family Safety also provides guidance from child organizations (for example, American Academy of Pediatrics) with their suggestions for age appropriate settings and online activities. Keep in mind that they are your kids and you need to make the decisions.

Along with the features mentioned above you can also use, “Contact management,” so you know who your child has been contacting. As the parent you will also have the ability to allow a list of approved contacts for your children. The contact management feature only works with Microsoft services – mainly Hotmail and Messenger. That means that if they are using Google, AOL, Yahoo or any of the other common chat applications, you cannot see with whom they have been communicating.

When you have Family Safety installed on your computer, go to the controls by clicking Start / Control Panel and finally click Parental Controls. Once you are in the Parental Controls section you will see a link for Family Safety options. Check it out and let me know what you think.

I believe that this column will lead us into other Live Essential applications over the coming weeks.

March 22, 2011

Protection from the Internet, Part 2

Last time I told you about where you can set up ways to restrict website access from your home computers.  Microsoft also adds a similar feature in Windows Vista and 7, titled, "Parental Controls."

"Parental Controls" are useful to help manage how and when your children use a computer.  You can set up games they can play, programs they are allowed to run and time limits on computer use.

You need to be an Administrator on the computer in order to perform the following actions.  To access "Parental Controls" in Windows 7 go to the Start button / Control Panel.  Next, select User Accounts.  You will need to set up an account for each child you wish to restrict if one does not already exist.  If your children are equal in age, ability, trustworthiness, etc. you may only need one account with a password.  You will see the settings for the account you are currently using. Make sure it says the account is password protected. You may not want your children accessing your account.

Make sure when you set up the account for your kids, or before setting up Parental Controls on an existing account, you set the account to a Standard user account.  If your child is an Admin on the computer they will have all rights.

Next, click the Set up Parental Controls link at the bottom of the screen.  From the Parental Control screen, select the child’s account you wish to restrict.   Change "Parental Controls" to "On, enforce current settings." You will see links for Time Limits and Games and Program controls.

Using the "Time Limits" link, you can set limits on when the computer can be used. For example, you can have the computer log on from 7 PM to 9 PM every day and then block all access to the user account.

Click the Games link to control what games can be run. You can filter by rating, content or title. This setting only applies to games in Windows 7’s Game Explorer area. If they aren’t there they cannot be affected.

The last link is, "Allow or block specific programs".  Here you can stop access to any programs installed on the computer.  This will take a couple of minutes to set up since it will search your system for all programs which can be affected.  Once the list loads you can check the applications you want to enable that user to run.  Be cautious since some of them are not labeled well and you may allow access to the wrong application.

Windows Live EssentialsNext week we will look at a few more things you can control on your computer using Windows Live Essentials.

March 15, 2011

Protection from the Internet, Part 1

I get emails from people quite often wondering how they can go about protecting people (especially kids & teens) from the darker side of the internet.  I did write about this several years ago but from the number of changes in the e-world, software and number of emails I get; I feel it is time for an update.

I have a very good and free recommendation called OpenDNS.  At the bottom of the main page choose, "For Households" to get directions.  OpenDNS does many things but basically provides a fairly simple method for home users to block objectionable content from their computers.  This works whether it is pornography, alcohol, file sharing networks, video sites, podcasts, or chat rooms, etc.

Filtering LevelYou can choose "High," "Moderate," "Low," "None," or "Custom" as your default setting. These have been created by OpenDNS for you.  My favorite option is, "Custom." Using the custom setting you may choose from over 50 categories to block from your computer.  These include, "Academic Fraud," "Adult Themes," "Photo Sharing," "Games," and "Instant Messaging" just to name just a few.

Custom Filter ChoicesYou also have the option of blocking individual sites.  So if you didn’t want your spouse spending all day long reading the great articles at you could block that site alone…but I know you would not do so…please?!.

OpenDNS is controlled by one password and account. You cannot control it by creating separate accounts for individual users.  This means if you block "weapons" from your computer because you don’t want your kids buying grenade launchers, it will also block you from browsing for a new pocket knife.

They threw in another neat feature.  It is cosmetic but still worth mentioning.  If you try to log into a blocked site you will get a reference page telling you which category blocked it, i.e. "weapons".  The page can be customized by you, the administrator of your network.  Mine has a picture of me glaring at the user and a sentence telling them that they shouldn’t try this site again or I will come after them.  Of course, my wife has a better glare than me (the mom look) and this probably won’t have much effect since the kids are grown and gone.

Also, if you get blocked the reference page has an email form which allows the user to notify the administrator.  They can say that they don’t believe that particular site should be blocked.  Then you may allow its use if you agree.  There are other features you can discover on your own.

I think this is a very useful tool for keeping your kids safe online.  I forgot to mention the price…free!  Next week we will take a look at how Microsoft provides this type of help too.

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