DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 11, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 2

Last week we looked at several programs I recommend to be good additions to a Windows system.  They are either better than what comes on a PC or those applications may not usually be found on a new computer.  Of course, the apps are free…you know me. From the responses I have received you want more.  So here are some additional applications for you.

You need a good cleaner and CCleaner (piriform.com) is great.  I have previously written about it in length so go check those older articles.   CCleaner can speed up a slow computer and get it to start faster while cleaning up unneeded files. Well worth the $0.00’s. 

ccleaner

Oh boy, now a biggie…antivirus software.  There are several good ones to pick from. Avast (avast.com) and AVG (avg.com) always come to my mind first.  They are closely followed by Avira (avira.com), Bitdefender (bitdefender.com) and Panda (pandasecurity.com).  Take your pick.  They are good and all have a free and paid version.  You may even choose to stick with "Windows Defender" which comes pre-installed on your computer.  It is really pretty good.  Just make sure you run one of them, but only one at a time or they can interfere with each other.  

Avast! site          AVG logo          Avira logo     

Bitdefender logo          Panda logo

Another good protection app you need is Malwarebytes (malwarebytes.com) which takes care of threats.  The free version needs to be run manually by you; whereas, the paid version runs automatically.

Malwarebytes logo

How about the best video/audio player?  There is only one and it will run on most anything you own, PC, iPhone, Android, etc. and that is VLC (videolan.org).  The great thing about this app other than dependability and quality is that it can play every video or audio format you can put on it.  That includes DVDs as well as Blu-Ray discs. 

VideoLAN (VLC) logo
 
Now to online storage or cloud storage.  There is really only one name in this area that I prefer, Dropbox (dropbox.com).  It is solid, works flawlessly and also allows for quite a bit of storage space.  There are others but for free, Dropbox does it for me.  You have files that are important to you and Dropbox is dependable, enough said.

Dropbox logo

Now email apps.  I personally like online email, mainly Gmail; however, you as well as a large percentage of people like an app to take care of email.  Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) from Mozilla, the Firefox browser people is excellent.  It is reliable, high quality and easy to set up if you pay attention to the instructions.  I would also say the built in email program in Windows 10 is a good basic email app but there are not many advanced features.  Also, with the Windows app you will be on your own setting up your email. 

Thunderbird logo

Next week a few more. 

August 4, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:52 am

For the past two weeks I have answered questions which I regularly receive from readers.  There have been more emails so this week is part three of answers I have given and what I have suggested.

Many people ask, “What is the best browser to use on a PC?”  This is an extremely hard question for me to answer.  I cannot really tell you what is best for you.  The reason is that they are all very similar with some having add-ons that the others may not.  It is really a matter of preference.  Currently the top three on the market, in order of popularity, are Chrome, Firefox and MSIE (Microsoft Internet Explorer).

Chrome - Firefox - MSIE logos

My current favorite is Chrome, made and maintained by Google.  I just like the way it works and the Extensions (add-ons) available. Extensions give the browser additional capabilities that are not there by default.  I also use Chrome for my Android tablet and phone.  However, this again is personal preference.  I used Firefox exclusively up until a couple of years ago and it would still be my second choice.  When Windows 10 comes out MSIE will go away to be replaced by “Microsoft Edge” and then my preference may change.  Pick one, try it out and if you like it keep it, if not install one of the others.  The only one you cannot uninstall on a PC is MISE as it is basically part of the operating system and needed to run your computer. Microsoft Edge logoNext, “How can I password protect a zipped file in Windows 7 or 8.1?”  Quick answer is you cannot.  With Windows XP you could but not in the following two versions.  Why did they remove that capability…who knows?  Longer answer is that you need to download a third party app.  For the uninitiated a zip file is a file that can contains one or more files combined together which makes them smaller and easier to handle.  I use a zipped file to keep my past tax returns in; therefore, the reason for a password to keep prying eyes out.

The third party app for zipping files I recommend and regularly use is 7-Zip (7-zip.org).  I used to swear by WinZip but it is about $30 for the better version, compared to free, so there is no comparison IMHO.  There are many others but this one has been around for quite a while and is trustworthy from what I have determined.  The size savings can be significant depending on the types of files zipped.  I just tested the theory on a variety of file types, mostly text files.

Zipped file imageI zipped the 52 document files of my 2014 columns at a size of 850kb into one file of 716kb.  I also password protected them all in about five seconds.  I can then delete the original files and have only one smaller file.  As long as I do not forget the password I can retrieve them in another five seconds either minutes or years later having all of the original files.  You may zip any type of file including pictures, text, spreadsheets, videos, etc.  However, they compress at different size savings.  Text files give you the greatest compression with pictures and videos usually the least.

Let me know if you appreciate this series of email answers and I will run a few more next time.

I will be having some upcoming columns about Windows 10; however, I will wait a week or so for you to start formulating your questions and sending them to me.

June 3, 2014

Try a New Browser

Last week I talked about an issue that was happening with Google’s Chromecast and Chrome browser related to Android tablets and phones.  I stated there, "…you could always try various browsers from time-to-time and find out what you may like.  It is easy to change back at any time."  When I wrote that I did not realize it would generate so much interest.  I received numerous emails asking if it is so easy, how is it done?

So here we go.

MSIE LogoAll windows computers come with Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) built in as the default browser.  Keep in mind that whether you use that browser or not DO NOT try to uninstall it.  It is hard to do but if you get it off of your computer some other things on your computer will not work correctly or not at all.  That browser is tied to other areas of the Microsoft operating system.

The other most popular browsers are, in order of usage, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, (already on your Windows system) Safari (created by Apple – available for both iOS & Windows devices) and Opera.  This information is from 2012 through today, according to W3Schools.com which tracks this data.  In 2011 Chrome and Firefox were swapped. 

Google Chrome                    Apple Safari                    Opera

So let us pretend that you want to try out Chrome and stop using MSIE for a little while.  Go to the site referenced above.  Click the download button and the application will start to download.  Depending on your settings it may ask if you want to run the application and you may also click, "Yes."  If you download it, find the downloaded file and double click it to start the installation.  If you chose to "run" the application you will now be at the installation screen.

It will ask you if you want to make it your default browser.  This means that if you click the check box for it to be default all of your links will open in Chrome after the installation completes instead of MSIE. 

Each of the others will install pretty much the same way.  You could even install all of these browsers at the same time.  Then you will have to choose which one you want to be the default browser. 

Choosing which browser is your default is easy in Windows 7 and 8. You just need to do a quick search.  In W7 click the start button and type, "default programs" and in W8 use the search feature and do the same. To get to search press the Windows key and tap the "S" key.  You may need to select "Set your default programs."  Once in the default program screen your default applications will be listed on the left side.  Find the current default browser and click on it once.  Then, "Choose defaults for this program" and you will see all of the current settings for the default browser.  To change it, choose the other browser you want to use from all of the choices provided.

Set your default programs

In Windows 7 it is sometimes easier to go into the Options of any browser and choose it to make it the default.  This will work with Windows 8 too with the exception of MSIE.

Happy surfing!

July 31, 2012

Got Software To Install? Try Ninite

In a column last year, I mentioned in passing an application that has come to my attention (through my own research and a few emails from readers). Today, we will take a look at a delightful little program named, “Ninite,” found online at ninite.com.
 
This is a freeware offering from the developer and, of course, the developer is also offering a pro version for a fee. I would not worry too much about the pro version, which appears to be geared toward users who have multiple computers to take care of, which usually isn’t the case for individuals like you and me.
 
SNAGHTML3a45b7If you go over to the Ninite, you can choose programs you want installed on your computer. This is especially useful if you get a new computer and know of several applications that you want to install. This will keep you from having to print out a list of all the programs currently on your computer.
 
Not all of the world’s programs are on the site, but the ones you hear about most often are available. At last count (and, yes, I really did count them) there were 91 applications listed.
 
If you want one that is not on the site, you are out of luck …  this time. However, you can ask for the missing app to be added to the list and it may be there next time you visit.
 
imageTo get your combined installation file, check off each application that you would like to install. After you have finished selecting the proper applications, click the “Get Installer” button. The next screen will ask if you want to share your experience online (Facebook or Twitter) or sign up for their newsletter. After that, you get a popup (depending on your computer’s settings) that asks you to download your new file.
 
Once you download the file (one single, executable file) make sure you know where it is so you can easily find it later. Double click the file and the installs will begin. The applications will automatically be installed onto your new computer. Ninite includes an installation list and, as it installs, shows you each application so you can easily keep up with the progress.
 
Since I just received a new work computer and had to set it up, I learned one thing that was very interesting: The installs go much quicker using Ninite than they do individually. I installed 24 of the 91 available applications. I did not time the installation process, but the “feels like” index was basically … really fast (yeah, a high-end computer engineering term).
 
When I wrote about Ninite in days-gone-by, I mentioned something that I did not like about it at that time. When I ran the installation file, it would install some applications in an older version than the one I was using and I could get on each individual program’s homepage.
 
I would now like to tell you, “Not so any longer.” I got the most recent versions of every application I chose and they installed smoothly and with absolutely no problems.
 
Ninite is truly a great app and I highly recommend it if you need something like this!

August 24, 2010

RSS Feeds

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:56 am

I receive many emails with questions regarding RSS feeds, so it must be time to revisit them.

RSS means (pick one) “RDF Site Summary”, “Rich Site Summary”, or more commonly “Really Simple Syndication”.  There may be others out there.  I have no idea what the problem is with picking one name for this feature.   “Really Simple Syndication” seems to be the most popular.

How would you like to get regular revisions on sites you often visit without having to go there each time you want to check for new updates or “news feeds”?  That is RSS.  You can receive the site’s latest information whether text, audio, video or just about any other form of media in RSS feeds.

There are basically two steps for using RSS.

First you need a RSS Reader which allows you to read the news feeds.  Be aware…there are millions!  Try Google’s Reader and see what you get.  If you have a BlackBerry, as I do, you can use Viigo.com.  A good basic freebie is Bloglines.  You can also use Mozilla’s Firefox or Thunderbird.  The possibilities are endless.  The last one I will mention is “FeedReader” which is an old favorite of mine.  Just pick one out, and try it. If you like it, keep using it. If not, toss it since they are all free.

FeedReader is a good choice for a new person just starting out with RSS.  This is because it has several categories where “Feeds” are already set up.  You can play with them and see how they work before adding your own.  Also FeedReader looks a lot like a regular email program so you don’t have to get used to a new GUI (Graphical Use Interface).  Again, there are a multitude of readers out there — try them and find one you like.

All readers work very similarly, some just have more “buttons and bells”.  Usually you click on the category that you want to read, say “Sports, Baseball” and a list of recent news items will be made available.  Click on the item/feed you wish to read (there will be a sentence or two describing it) and enjoy.

Next, a site must be configured for a RSS “feed”.  You don’t have anything to do with that, it is done by the web site.

clip_image002RSS feeds are usually very easy to spot.  Go to almost any news site and look for the standard RSS logo.  It is usually an orange square with rounded edges. There is a dot in the lower left corner with two arches pointing to the NE corner.  Give RSS feeds a try and you can stay up-to-date with many of your favorite sites.  I don’t use the RSS logo on my page.  It simply says, “Entries RSS“.

Click the orange link. When the page opens choose the area you like and copy the URL into your reader’s new feed area.  Experiment because you can add and delete feeds at will.

There are “feeds” for everything. Just find the orange emblem and try it.  Try one of my favorites at the Weather Channel.

August 10, 2010

Email Apps

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:08 am

Thanks for the emails I received regarding the last column about “Secure P@55w0rdz“.  Most of you commented on the spelling I used in that word.  That is somewhat standard usage by geeks.  I’m glad you enjoyed it.  Apparently it caused a few of you to increase your passwords’ difficultly level which is a good thing.  Several of you asked how to rate the strength of your password. Here is a site at Microsoft where you can check yours out, http://bit.ly/cG2pw0.

On to today… I received many questions about programs to read and send email.  Today we will look at some of the most popular free ones.  Don’t forget, “Ron likes free best!”, so that is all I will discuss today.

My old favorite was Microsoft Outlook Express; however, since companies always like to change things – they did.  With the dawn of Windows 7, OE was done away with and replaced by Windows Live Mail, explore.live.com/windows-live-mail.  This is a good email program but MS has something I like even better.  If you do not want to add another program to your computer, MS has an online version which includes even more.  There you will find email which does not require a download called Windows Live.  You can get to it the old way at hotmail.com or the new way at mail.live.com.  They go to the same site.

Next on my list is Thunderbird which is located at Mozilla.com.  If that address looks familiar to you it is because they are also the company which created Firefox (a great browser you could try while there).  Thunderbird has all the bells and whistles too, but make sure you only use IMAP in the setup if you know what it is.  I personally don’t care for IMAP but that’s just me.  To find out more about IMAP go to bit.ly/bYXOtk.

In my opinion those are the best for Windows users.  I would also like to mention that if you use Google’s Gmail account, they made a big change just this week.  Now Gmail is a little off topic since it is online only (although it can be added to the other two programs).  However, if you have multiple Gmail accounts you should use this new feature.

Log into your favorite Gmail account because this will be set to default.  Now, go to Settings / Accounts and Import / Google Account Settings and change “Multiple sign in” to on.  Then add your other Gmail accounts, follow the directions and you will like it.  After that you will be able to switch back and forth between those accounts without having to log off and back on.  Nice feature Gmail…thanks!

June 15, 2010

Firefox Add-ons, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 3:02 am

I received many emails asking me more about Firefox Add-ons after last week’s column.  So today we are going to look at a few more.  Keep those emails coming since I want to write about what interests you!

If you have any questions about basic Firefox Add-ons you need to read last week’s column about "Invisible Hand" and "Tabloc" online at the DNR or at the DoubleClicks.info site.   

"Forecastbar Enhanced" is another helpful add-on.  It allows you to set your location, via zip code, to get your local weather forecasts.  The forecasts are from Accuweather.com.  Other than the current weather forecasts, radar images, etc., you can display it in different locations in FF.  I keep mine in the status bar at the bottom of the Firefox window, which is the default.  You can also set it up to show forecasts for several days in the future. 

The next one I would like to share with you is called, "FoxTab".  "FoxTab" will allow you to set the sites you most often visit.  It will allow you to add any site to your top site "list" and quickly go to it at another time.  It enables a screen preview of "My Top Sites" in several great GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) which you can pick from.  Not only is it useful, it also looks good.  Once you bring your top site window up by clicking a button on your toolbar, you click on the site you want to go to and it pops right up.  Yes, this is like your favorites but in a slick new format.

The last one I will mention today is for you Gmail users.  It is called, "Gmail Manager".  This add-on allows you to set your Gmail account to be visible in your status bar, showing your unread emails.  By clicking on the account it will open your Gmail account in Firefox as if you had logged into Gmail.com yourself.  Then you can deal with your emails as you normally would.  It is set to a default of checking for new emails every 15 minutes but you can adjust that, along with other settings in the options for this add-on.  It will also allow you to keep track of multiple Gmail accounts at the same time.  Of course, that is for you geeks who, like me have more than one Gmail account.

Have fun trying these out and remember they are all free.  If you don’t like them you can easily uninstall them. 

Let me know if you would like to see some more next week…I have about 20 add-ons that I use in Firefox.

June 8, 2010

Firefox Add-ons

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:53 am

I get many questions about Firefox Add-ons and have not written about them for the past several years.  So today I will discuss two of my favorite Add-ons.

Add-ons "add" more features to this great browser and if you haven’t used FF you should download it and try it out at mozilla.com.  Add-ons can get extra info from the browser that can be really helpful and save time. 

imageGetting to Add-ons is simple.  While in FF, click on Tools | Add-ons and a window will open  revealing those currently installed.  Next, click the Get Add-ons tab and they will supply a few suggestions or you may search for others.  To search for others type in the name of the Add-on you need in the search box.  Double click on the one you want to try out and it will install.  You must restart Firefox for it to start working.

The first one I would like to suggest was built for those of you who like online shopping.  "Invisible Hand" is really a cost saver.  Once you install it, (without having to make any setting changes) it sits quietly in the background and you can forget about it. 

I was looking for a SanDisk® Cruzer® 32GB Flash Drive at an office supply site.  Within 15 seconds of reading about the drive; a bar popped up at the top of the page.  It gave me the exact item at three other sites.  You are thinking, "Well, terrific! That is no big deal."

However, the terrific part is that it lists the other three prices.  The site I looked at had the drive on sale for $139.99.  The other suggested sites had it for $58.90, $64.84 and $79.99, respectively.  It also does the math for you and says you could save $81.09!  Then (if I had $60 extra to spend) I could click the link and purchase it elsewhere.  And did I mention that all Add-ons are free?

Firefox has tabbed browsing as do all modern browsers.  When you look up something on Google or Bing you get a list of sites to check out.  When you click the link it usually replaces the search page with the link you clicked.  Then to view the other list items you have to click your back button to see them. 

With "Tabloc" running you can set it up so that when you double click a tab it locks in place.  This causes all other links on that page to open in a new tab.  Just view the other site you choose and click back on the existing search tab to check others.  This will significantly decrease your searching time.  Tabloc has other neat settings too, so explore the "options".

Last time I wrote about Add-ons I received overwhelming requests for more.  If that happens again I will talk about more next week.

January 12, 2010

2009 Links in Review, Part 2

Today we get to see part two of the 2009, Double Click review.  Sit back, relax and browse the web for the sites that interest you.  As always, if you prefer clicking to typing please visit the DoubleClicks.info site and read the column later the same day it is published in the paper and actually click the links.

Here they are in their order of their appearance with short descriptions if needed.

  • WalMart.com and Costco.com, these need no explanation; although, I wrote about their specific ability to print your vacation photos online.
  • Picnik.com, an online photo editing program.
  • Picasa, a site where you can download a photo organizational tool to edit and store digital pictures but you can also upload them to Picasa online to create photo albums.  (Our vacation photos shortened, http://bit.ly/lJgaF)
  • Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows, an excellent blog about MS Windows products.
  • MSNBC news & information site
  • CrossWalk, a Christian study, blog, information site, etc.
  • RonDoyle.wordpress.com, my boring blog which is pretty much in no way related to my columns.
  • WordPress.com & WordPress.org, two sites for creating your own blog (There are differences between the two.)
  • Hulu.com, an online site where you can view movies and many current TV shows for free.
  • Firefox (mozilla.com), today’s best internet browser (in my opinion).
  • Microsoft Office 2007 discount (TheUltimateSteal.com), the entire MS Office program for students at a much discounted price of $59.95 (as of the date I wrote this…it may not last long).
  • Bing.com, Microsoft’s new online search engine.
  • Google Earth, a great mapping application.
  • MMTaskbar, extend your task bar across multiple monitors.
  • Desk Drive, allows a desktop icon to appear when you plug in an external drive, including thumb drives.
  • MS Live Workspace & Google Docs, two similar but different free online file storage sites.
  • Google Chrome, Google’s internet browser.
  • Evony, free online role playing game.
  • Gutenberg.org, Audible.com & Podiobooks.com, three online books sites which have text and/or audio books for free and/or a price.
  • Medicalert.org.
  • Go to My PC, a site that allows you to login to your home/work computer from another location.
  • Team Viewer, similar to above but free and not as stable.

I hope you have found the two "Year in Review" columns helpful!  Don’t forget to keep those emails coming in 2010.

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