DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 26, 2016

Retraction – Sort Of

Back last year in November I wrote about something I had received a lot of email requests about.  If you remember or were one of the writers it was regarding an application that could replace Google Calendar Sync.

Google Calendar Sync was a great application for those people who use a Google calendar as well as an Outlook calendar.  Usually that would be a combo between home and work accounts.  I recommended a new application I had discovered, used for the past year or so and found to be a good replacement for Google’s app.  It is called, "Calendar Sync +" (calendarsyncplus.codeplex.com) and is still a good app; however, I have found one that is even better.

As many of you may be aware last week I lost my job of the past 17 years due to a Reduction in Force of approximately ten percent of the employees.  This led me to find new ways to use Google and Outlook together.

Someone recommended a program to me called, "GO Contact Sync Mod." (googlesyncmod.sourceforge.net)  I have tried it and it is excellent.  It syncs calendar appointments very similarly to the one I mentioned before; however, it has one major difference.  As you can see from the title it also will sync your Contacts.  It will also sync Notes but that is not something that I have ever used. 

If you choose to give it a try the site will give you instructions. You basically start it and fill in a couple of blanks.  You start by entering your Gmail address in the upper left quadrant of the page.

The next thing you will need to decide is how you want it to sync the data.  There are five options.  Basically those options are for you to decide which way the sync flows (to which calendar) and which wins in case of differences.  Check the site for details and be careful as some of these settings could cause complications with your calendars if not done correctly.

Toward the end you need to enter your time zone to get everything accurate.  Then how many months in the past and in the future you wish to sync.  The last couple of items are pretty self-explanatory, one being if you want it to run automatically or not. 

If you try this out please let me know if it has been as useful for you as it has for me.  (Also, let me know of any positions that I may be able to fill.)

Ron's setup of GO Contact Sync Mod

November 10, 2015

Calendar Sync +

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:24 am

I have written before about Google having rolled out many very good applications over time. I have also remarked that unfortunately they also kill many very good applications off when they should not. I have listed several of my favorites in earlier columns so I will not again. If you are interested read this for a history lesson.

Deceased Google Calendar Sync sign inSince I have received many emails from readers since 2013 when Google did away with “Google Calendar Sync” asking what to do, I have something to mention today.

Google Calendar Sync was a great app which allowed users of Microsoft Outlook to sync their work calendar with their personal Google calendar. That way they could keep track of their appointments no matter where they were. Many people do not want to put their personal calendar (Google) in with their work calendar (usually Outlook). That way they can keep their personal appointments away from the possibly prying eyes of coworkers.

You could set GCS to sync from one calendar to the other or make them both match.

I have had people ask me over time for a replacement for that application. But after searching for a long time, since I used it all the time too, I thought all was lost. I had even tried a few paid apps and found they did not function as well as Google’s product. The free ones were pretty much useless.

Calendar Sync+ syncing screenOver a month ago I read an article about Calendar Sync + which was apparently created in February of this year. It sounded just like what we have been waiting for and I have been trying it out since that day.

I am here to tell you that the Google replacement has arrived and it works as well as and does more than Google did.

Calendar Sync + is available at calendarsyncplus.codeplex.com.

Calendar Sync+ Preferences/Setup screenThey have very good installation instructions. Click on the Documentation tab and read on. You basically first choose which way you want it to sync; from Outlook to Google, from Google to Outlook or both ways. Next, you choose a range of time; the entire calendar for 10 years, specific number of days in the past and future, or a date range. I went for the second one and told it to get 31 days in the past and 365 days in the future. Then you select calendars, log into your Google calendar and you are pretty much done. You can also sync it on a schedule or manually. It is all up to you.

I used it first on Windows 8.1 and now on Windows 10 without any problems. I have purposely tried to break it and could not. I need to enter the date this article will be published but in which calendar…oh yeah, it does not matter any longer!


 

Here is a video I did for you to see how to setup Calendar Sync+ if you are interested.  Feel free to give me constructive criticisms on the video.  I have not done many so appreciate your comments on how they could be better next time.




 

 

March 10, 2015

January 13, 2015

2014 in Review, Part 2

This week I will continue with the second half of the links we talked about last year at DoubleClicks.info.

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with bit.ly.  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • CNet and Download (both part of CBS Interactive), great reviews, “how tos”, etc. of most everything tech at the first site and good downloads on the other.  
  • Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, three popular free email and information providers.
  • Thunderbird – a very good email application for computer that can incorporate all of the above emails on your desktop.
  • Firefox.com – One of the most popular internet browsers.
  • Coffitivity and Rainy Mood  – fun sites which make soothing noises while you work.  
  • Barnes & Noble Nook – the B&N ereader, Nook.
  • 10,000+ Free eBooks – a place to get free ebooks including the most recent of many for Android only.
  • CCleaner, Defraggler, Recuva and Speccy – four great computer utilities from Piriform.
  • iTunes – media player and controller for all Apple products.
  • Mighty Text – enables you to send and receive text messages from your phone in your browser.  You may also dial your phone from this add-on.  
  • SnagIt  and Screenshot Captor – the first is a paid screen shot application with many features. The captor is a free app that is similar but does not have as many abilities.
  • Livescribe – the home of the Livescribe pen that records your meeting’s audio and syncs the audio to your written text. Not free.
  • Cogi – a phone application which allows you to capture, review & share the highlights of meetings and lectures.
  • Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, Five Guys, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Starbuck’s, Wendy’s are just a few of the many fast-food shops having apps so you can order on your phone. 
  • Calorie King – a site for your computer or phone to get dietary information on all the stuff you order from the aforementioned sites.
  • Realtor.com and Zillow.com – two excellent sites to use if you are buying or selling your home. 
  • Fitbit and Ringly and Water Dancing Droplet Speakers, Spreengs and Shoulderpod are several interesting gadgets you can buy for presents for yourself or others.
  • Ninite – a site that lets you get many applications to quickly install them all at one time without stopping all along the way to ask you questions.
  • AVG or Avast! – two of the better free antivirus applications. 
  • Malwarebytes – the best free app which checks your computer for nasty malware.
  • SpeedTest – you may check the speed you are receiving from your service provider at any time. 
  • Typing Web – if you need typing lessons or a refresher course here is the place to get help.
  • Steam Powered – a few free and many for a cost game site. 
  • PayPal – a very secure site for making online purchases.  

Stay tuned for 2015 and have a very Happy New Year!

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!

April 29, 2014

Online Docs May Be the Answer

Last week we looked at the confusion regarding the many choices with Microsoft Office.  I said I would have another solution for Lindsey and you this week.   

imageHere are two more good options.  Office Live or OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) depending on where you read about it or Google Drive (drive.google.com or just get there from any Google product you are logged into.)  Either of these are very good online solutions.  There are many ways to get Office Live.  I suggest using Live.com.  There you can sign up for a free Outlook.com email account which gives you access to everything you need.  You can also sign up with Yahoo! or Gmail accounts; although I have not experimented with those.  If you already signed in to other MS devices like a Windows PC, tablet, phone, Xbox Live, Outlook.com, or OneDrive, use that account to sign in.  Once there you can view and use your email, address book, calendar, online drive Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. To get to these click the labeled down arrow in the upper-left corner of the window.  Any of the files created can be stored in OneDrive so that you can retrieve them from any online computer.  They are all saved in the default MS Office formats so you can easily share them via email, etc.

imageVery similar products are available with a Google/Gmail account.  Setup a free account or you can use one you already have. Once logged in click the "Apps" button in the upper-right corner that looks like a small tic-tac-toe pattern, and then select "Drive."  You have a create button on this screen where you may choose from Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form and several others depending on what you normally use with Google.  The files you create here are saved on your Google Drive for later retrieval just as in Live.com.

Even though I am a Google fan boy, Google is not quite friendly to Microsoft Office file types.  That being said they work with MS products; they just take an extra step or two.  There are several ways to do this but they all require you to download the file to your local computer.  I suggest finding your file in the file list, right click on it and choose download.  You will be presented with a choice of what file type you want to use, so choose "Microsoft Word. (.docx) You will then have it in your downloaded files to share as a standard Word doc.

Another note regarding Google docs.  When right clicked you may also choose to "Share" the file.  If you choose email as an attachment you once again can choose the file format and MS Word is one of the choices.

Now the final note.  OneNote is a terrific app available only with the Microsoft suite.  If you are interested let me know via email and I will share that with you in the future.

There are many other options and features in both Microsoft and Google online offerings.  Lindsey chose to try both and make a final decision later.  How about you?

April 22, 2014

2013 or 365 That is the Question

As time goes by I realize that many companies, unfortunately Microsoft included, strive to keep the customer confused.  I received a question last week from Lindsey saying she had just gotten a new computer and wanted to know which MS Office to get.  She had Office 97 on her previous computer and yes, Windows XP.  Now she has Windows 8.1 and no Office Suite yet.

She wanted to make sure the old documents would still work with the rest of the world.  She does some occasional consulting work and needs to make sure her work is MS Office compatible.  First off, congratulations to her for switching to a new computer with 8.1.  Secondly, congrats on wanting to upgrade the office suite.

My first suggestion was Libre Office (libreoffice.org) since that is free and fully compatible with all MS Office modules.  Libre Office is quite compatible with Office 97 as far as the mechanics of how it works.  However, she, as many, is more comfortable spending the money and staying in the Microsoft world.image Now comes the confusion.  As she read online she found out there are basically three versions of MS Office now available in the world.  All of which will present her with a learning curve since her old version and the new ones are not similar.  I am going to be very general from here on out since I do not want to write about the versioning for the next year.  Visit office.microsoft.com for all the details.

image First there is the standard of the line, MS Office 2013 which is installed locally on a computer.  This is essentially the original Office that has evolved over the e-years.  There are also a couple of versions there from around $140 to $450.  The price depends on what you get with it.  The base model for Students has Word, Excel PowerPoint and OneNote.  The high end one, 2013 Professional Plus is mainly for larger businesses.  It has all of the above plus Outlook, Publisher, Access, Infopath, Lync and Office Web Apps.  Most of these the normal home and office user will never need.  These are onetime prices and included upgrades within the 2013 version.  Then you need to buy the next version if you want to stay on top.  You will be licensed to install 2013 on one computer.

image Next is MS Office 365, a cloud version.  Wow!  Let more confusion roll.  Two versions are available, Personal and Home.  These both have monthly fees (yes, you can also pay annually).  Personal is currently $6.99/month and can be used on one PC or Mac, plus one iPad or Windows tablet.  Home is $9.99/month and can be run on up to five PCs or Macs plus five iPads or Windows tablets.  They both include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher, 20 GB of OneDrive storage (formerly SkyDrive) and 60 minutes per month of Skype calls.  There are a few other items that are not that significant.  The Home version is basically for your home if you have multiple computers or a small office.

Stay tuned for next week when I come up with a better answer…the one Lindsey decided on…which includes none of the above.

March 19, 2013

Google, Are You Kidding Me?

I have always been a big fan, supporter, promoter, etc. of Google.  That is until recently and here is why they are starting to work their way off of my radar. 

Google is performing what is termed "Spring Cleaning" on several of their products.  They shut down services/apps which they do not believe are being supported by users.  Two that were announced last year were Google Calendar Sync which basically ended December 14, 2012 and iGoogle which is scheduled to shut down on November 1, 2013.

Google Calendar Sync Option ScreenPersonally, I used those two extensively, especially Calendar Sync.  Calendar Sync performed an extremely important function for me.  It matched up my Outlook calendar at work to my personal Google calendar online.  Using this syncing process then allowed me to share my Google calendar with my wife so she could keep up with when I was going on trips, meetings after work, etc.  I could also choose to share it with anyone else I chose. 

It was a painless process since you set it up once and never look back.  It automatically "synced" the two calendars immediately when changes were made.  Since the Google calendar is online you can get to it anywhere you have a computer.

It was a very good application for the seven or eight years I had it Google.  Of course, they do say if you are currently using it you may continue…on that computer.  I conclude that means, "Once you have a new computer Calendar Sync is kaput!"

iGoogle was bad news to many people, too.  This was basically a Google home page you could use on your browser.  You could arrange "widgets" to show weather, local movie listings, news articles from specific sites, maps/directions, games, etc.  It essentially served as a geek’s morning paper where you could get the news you really wanted to read. 

Now this week Google made another announcement concerning spring cleaning.  Another of my beloved apps and many other peoples’… (According to the uproar online) Google Reader bites the dust.  Google Reader will be gone as of July 1, 2013.  Gee, Google, thanks for the big advance notice!  If you want to sign a petition to keep GR around visit: http://chn.ge/ZeVrkp and cast your vote.  You may join the other over 114, 500 people who had signed up within four days after the announcement was made.

Google Reader is and was in my opinion one of the best RSS Feed readers around.  We have talked before about RSS (Real Simple Syndication) so I will not belabor it.  Nevertheless, here it is in a nutshell.  It allows you to link to sites which offer RSS feeds (most sties) and get updates whenever they add comments or any content to the site. 

Google Reader logoGoogle Reader is simple to set up, is easy to use and has a very clean and user friendly interface.  I just recommended it to a group I spoke to a couple of weeks ago because it is so easy to use.

There are many other readers out there which have been recommended to be good replacements for Reader.  I have tried numerous quantities of them.  I will not mention those which failed my examination totally; however, there are two which are OK.  I need to state: they are still not as clean as Google Reader.  I would say the first runner-up is "feedly" (feedly.com) and at this point in my research, the closest one is "Newsblur" (newsblur.com).  Let me know as you continue the hunt for the best replacement.

Thanks, Google.

August 7, 2012

July 17, 2012

Google Calendar Sync

After last week’s column about Google’s calendar I could not believe the number of emails I received.  The great majority of them were asking about tying that calendar to others, mainly Outlook for people who use Microsoft products in the office.  I wrote about this several years ago but the response deserves it again, along with some updates.

It would be really brainy to combine calendars in Gmail and Microsoft Outlook and someone has.  I believe they have done a very good job of it, too!

For instance, I use Outlook for my main business email application and have for many years.  For the majority of my personal email I use Gmail.com.  Many great features serve to recommend Gmail.  To see what I have recommended, read a few of my most recent articles at DoubleClicks.info

OK, now back to the calendars.  I use Outlook’s calendar for all of my appointments and scheduling both for work and home.  Whether it is a meeting at work or a doctor’s appointment I post it there so that I will be alerted/alarmed/reminded at a time of my choosing.  I also use an Android phone which will sync to my Outlook calendar.  If you have a smart phone you need to check with your cell provider or phone manufacturer to find out how to do this (if you don’t already know.)

However, when I am online on a computer without Outlook on it or surfing the net and don’t want to start up Outlook, it would be good to be able to use my calendar.  In steps a free application, Google Calendar Sync (bit.ly/google-cal-sync).  Once installed GCS will allow your two separate calendars to communicate with each other and to "sync."

It is fairly easy to set up.  Follow the instructions on the site and you will be up and running in no time.  There are basically three settings you need to apply.  First, your Gmail account name and password (to access your online calendar) need to be entered.  Next, you will need to enter how you want to sync the two calendars (see the next paragraph) and how often you wish to sync them during the day.

Link OptionsThe Sync Options have three choices.  First, would you like to sync the calendars both ways so that if you make a change on one it is updated on the other?  The next way syncs the changes from your Gmail calendar up to your Outlook calendar.  The final way is to sync all of your Outlook appointments to your Gmail calendar, which is the option I use.

I run this application on several computers and they are all tied to my main calendar in Outlook.  Please note: currently Google Calendar Sync is only compatible with Microsoft Outlook versions 2003, 2007, 2010 and operating systems Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

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