DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 19, 2017

Meetings in Email

Before I start today’s topic I will answer emails I have received this from a couple of readers.  “Are you going to write about which computer I should purchase for Christmas?”  Sorry, but no for a couple of reasons.

First, I stopped doing this several years ago because they always sounded the same.  Next, it is fairly easy; purchase a good brand with the biggest numbers you can afford.  By, “numbers” I mean hard drive size, amount of RAM, number of ports, most pixels on the monitor, etc.   Third, due to the dates of the holidays this year, this is my last column until the second week of 2018 so there is no time.

I will answer this, to the outrage of many, “If money were no object what computer would you buy right now?”  If the first part of that statement were true, I would get the latest Microsoft Surface Pro version available.  I have used older versions (two years old) and they are very good.  That being said, some of them have a higher price tag than an Apple system which started out too high to begin with.

Now onto my last article of 2017.  I use calendars much of the time.  I, as many, use Outlook’s calendar at work.  For my personal use I am dependent on Google’s Calendar which is excellent.

No matter the calendar you use I have a recommendation which you may not have tried yet.  That is meeting invites.  Say you are having a party, meeting, lunch, whatever where you would like to invite other people.  We will also pretend you know all of their email addresses.  You can pretty easily set up an appointment with those individuals.  The following is for Google’s Calendar app but they all work much the same way.

Click in the date on your calendar and a new appointment will open.  A small window will open where you may add the title, edit the date, begin and end times for the meeting, but then click “More.”  Here you get to the details which are all optional.  The required information you have already entered so you could have hit “Save” before “More.”

New Appointment Start

You can set the new screen to repeat if it is weekly, monthly, etc.  Next you can add the location.  If you input an address in the location it is helpful for people who accept the invite if they use Google Maps or Waze for their travels.  It will pop up in those apps to warn them when they need to leave to get there on time.  Conferencing will allow you to use Google Hangouts to chat with people at the appointed time.  Add a note to the invite.

On the right is the really vital add in “Guests.”  Here you can enter the people’s names, if they are in your contacts list or email addresses if not.  Then when you Save the invite it will ask you to send the guests the invitation.  When they receive the emailed invite they can Accept, Decline or Tentatively accept the meeting.  You will be notified of their response which will be kept in the meeting information in your calendar.  That way you can check their intentions at any time.

 

Also, if you set notifications everyone who accepts an invite will be notified at the appointed time you have set.

Reviewing your appointments is easy too.  Open your calendar and click on the date to see all of the information.

Reviewing your meeting

December 5, 2017

Syncing Outlook & Google Calendars

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:08 am

I wrote about one of Google’s great apps called, “Google Calendar Sync” in 2012.  Then in 2013 they did away with it.  It was an easy to use add-on for Google that made it easy to sync between your Outlook (usually work related) and Google calendars.  That way you could have your business appointments in Outlook sent down to your private Google calendar to have everything available in one place.  Then you would not have your doctor’s appointment in your work calendar, etc.  You could also sync in the other direction or both at the same time.  Great app!  Check here “rd.dblclx.com/2AhTpJ8” (caps count in all of these shortened URLs) for a list of the many Discontinued Google Products.

In 2015 I wrote about a good replacement, “Calendar Sync +” which did the same thing but was sometimes quite difficult to coordinate.  I used it until about a year ago.  It is still available and you can read about it at “rd.dblclx.com/1MlSy85” from my old article.

At that time a friend referred me to “GO Contact Sync Mod” at “rd.dblclx.com/GOSyncMod” which I liked better.  As a matter of fact, I still use that application.  From the title you would think it would only sync your Contacts but not so.  However, it also syncs your calendars.

Once installed it will sit quietly in your taskbar’s notification area unless you have not set it to “Run Program at Startup.”  That setting only starts the program but not the actual process of syncing.  There are several items needed to successfully set up GCSM.  First, set up your Gmail address which you have to also enter the password.  Next, set “Sync Profile” to my computer.  The next checkboxes are whatever you choose and are self-explanatory. I check both “Sync” and “Prompt Deletion” settings so that all deleted items are matched up.  That way I get a warning in case something is being incorrectly deleted (has not happened yet).  Now decide if I want to also “Sync Contacts” which will pull all of your Google Contacts into Outlook for you, or visa-versa.  I personally do not use that at work, but I do at home.

GO Contact Sync Mod screen

Yes, last week I said I no longer use Outlook which is true.  However, there is also a version of GCSM for Thunderbird which also works well.

The final step is to decide how you want it to sync.  In other words, sync both ways between Outlook and Google or only in one direction so that one of them has everything.  You can also decide which app wins if GCSM cannot figure it out (rarely after the first couple of runs).

There are more setup details on the Go Contact Sync Mod site at “rd.dblclx.com/GoSyncSetUp” if you care to check.

There are other alternatives on the web but for now this is the one that works best for me.  Of course, in another couple of years I may be writing about a better option as I have done this time.

November 28, 2017

Thunderbird

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:26 am

Nope, I am not referring to a car, a new superhero movie or a cheap wine.  I am however talking about one of the better applications out there.  It is cross platform meaning it is available for Linux, Windows and Mac computer operating systems. However, at this time it is not available for iPhones or Android devices but we never know what the future holds.

OK, what is it for?  It is an exceptional email program. Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) was created by the people behind Mozilla’s Firefox browser.  Both of which are under constant development now.  Thunderbird developers took a break for a while but they are now back at it.

Visit Thunderbird

The current version, v.52.x has most of what Outlook has but one large difference, it is free.  One caveat to mention here.  If you are using Outlook for business with and Exchange Server do not consider using Thunderbird.  At this point it will not work.  But for users that have not bought Outlook or Office (in any of its many versions) I think Thunderbird will satisfy your email needs.

In my initial testing I found that it easily performed most of Outlook’s functions.  It has many plugins which are also free to add and you do not need the Windows Store to them.  The plugins give you added abilities you may not have, "out of the box."  Plugins have various uses, from different dictionaries, change colors of backgrounds, add different scrollbars and one of my favorites, "Provider for Google Calendar."  That addon/extension allows syncing between Google calendars and the calendar now built into Thunderbird.  So, you are always up-to-date on your appointments.  In older versions of Thunderbird is was much harder to make that happen.   

Thunderbird has options that I prefer over other email applications.  One of them is a view setting. It is called, "Unread Folders – Compact view."  This gives you a one-line view of each email account (if you have multiple accounts as I do) but only the accounts that have email you have not read.  To get it all you need to do is click the dropdown menu above your mail folders and choose it, easy.  

Even though it uses more memory than Outlook it has run well for me.  Thunderbird has also not slowed down my systems or locked up/frozen from time-to-time.  This has occurred in Outlook for me…sometimes often.  It also has an excellent spam filter that can learn as you go.  It allowed me to install all of my email addresses including free Outlook.com, Hotmail (Hotmail has been replaced by Outlook.com), Gmail, personal domains and a friend tells me that iCloud addresses will also work. Consequently, I believe that most any email should work – other than some work accounts due to security. 

I now enjoy Thunderbird on all of my personal systems.  The only issue I have had is that I cannot us it on my work PC.  The antivirus on that PC marks it as some sort of problem file and wipes out my passwords in Thunderbird.  Not a biggie if you only have one account.  To overcome the issue, you need to enter the account’s password when Thunderbird starts. However, when you have many email accounts it becomes unwieldy. 

All around a great application!  You should give Mozilla’s other application, the Firefox browser a shot too as it is also a cut above (rd.dblclx.com/2iHBvaX).

Firefox Browser

November 7, 2017

Wait, Stop That Email

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:16 am

I know I have been writing about Google products for the last couple of months.  Since they are the number one free email provider in the world that makes sense…for me anyway.  Today we will talk about one that many have asked me about over the years… the “oops” button (my lingo). Not just for Google’s Gmail but Microsoft’s (Hotmail, Live and Outlook.com) as well.  They are respectively, the first and second most popular free email services online.

Pretend you just sent your boss an email telling him you have had it.  As you hit “Send” you freak out and know you should not have done it.  What can you do?  Well you could start packing up your office in a box.

You may also have the option of recalling that email.  It is available in both Gmail and Outlook.com accounts.  It is also available in the Outlook application that you or your office may use.  Today we will talk about the online versions.  If you need to know how to use it in Outlook application check with your support team.  I agree Microsoft has overused the word “Outlook” in too many areas that are email related but different products.

In both Outlook.com and Gmail you have the ability to not recall exactly but to cancel an email delivery.

In Gmail click the menu gear on the upper right corner of your screen then click Settings, shown below.

Settings Control for Gmail

You should be at the General tab, if not select that one.  Scroll down to the fifth item “Undo Send” and look to the right.  There you will find two controls.  First you check “Enable Undo Send” then select the amount of time you want to have to make the decision to stop an email.  The minimum is 10 seconds with a maximum of 30.  Once done scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the “Save changes” button.

Undo Send settings

Now when you send an email from Gmail you will have a 30 second chance to stop the email.  You will have a menu bar appear at the top of the Gmail window which says, “Your message has been sent. Undo View message.”  Click “Undo” and the message will be stopped and opened up.  If you close it you will find it in your drafts folder.  There you can edit it to resend or delete it as you wish.

To set this up in Outlook, click the menu gear icon.  Choose Options at the bottom of the list.  On the left under Mail/Automatic Processing click “Undo send.”  There you will have the same two settings called “Let me cancel messages I’ve sent for:” and the time.  The times are the same as Gmail, 10 to 30 seconds.

Outlook settings                                                                Set up Undo Send in Outlook

At the time of this writing the feature was not available in Yahoo mail, the third most popular free email.  I am surprised at this; however, they all have their pluses and minuses. I read in one of the Yahoo support forums that you save your “questionable” email as a draft and consider sending it before you actually do.  Come on now…really?

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.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: