DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 18, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 3

For the last two weeks I have shared with you what I believe are some of the best applications you could add on to a Windows 10 computer.  That goes for Windows 7 back up to and including Windows XP.  By-the-way, just in case you have not heard anyone mention it lately you should not be using Windows XP any longer since it is no longer supported by Microsoft.

This week my favorite note taking app(s):  I have two in this category.  The first is already included on Windows 10 and is for detailed notes, OneNote.  OneNote is the app you should use if you are writing a book or important document with a large amount of research.  OneNote is also found online (onenote.com) and is one of the best of the Microsoft programs though often overlooked.  The second one is for quick notes, voice reminders, lists and more from Google.  Google Keep (keep.google.com) is available for most mobile platforms too.  A quick and convenient way to make simple or not so simple notes.

OK, a very good utility I use to uninstall programs I no longer want or need is called Revo Uninstaller.  This application will remove everything necessary from your computer when uninstalling applications.  You can use the regular Windows uninstall program but it may, and usually does, leave a lot of leftover junk behind.  This takes up space on your hard drive and could slow down your system.  Revo will wipe all of the old program off.

Last week I said to use VLC for your audio/visual needs.  For music and videos, it is a great app.  Then I had a reader write and chastise me regarding iTunes (itunes.com).  I know it is hard for many of you who have listened to me over the years to believe but I like iTunes.  Yes, I know it is an Apple product but it is good; however, you really only “need” it if you have other Apple products to connect to.  So in good conscience I suggest you use iTunes if you have an iPhone, etc.

Next for all of you photo bugs out there:  A very good photo editing software which is easy to use and free is Adobe Photoshop Express.  You can download this one from the Windows Store.  It will allow you to make standard contrast, brightness, etc. settings on a picture or automatically correct it for you.  Go to the DoubleClicks.info site and check out a picture I edited.  You may also use it on your iPhone, Android or Windows phones.

Take a look below at the same picture, before and after
a one button click edit with Adobe Photoshop Express.

Original Photo

Edited Photo

Now for watching TV and movies online if you are so inclined:  Netflix.com is the one I go to.  I have tried Hulu.com (with advertisements even though you pay) and Amazon.com (where you may still pay additional per individual shows/movies).  For those reasons I am sticking with Netflix.  Do not forget they all offer specific applications to download and install which offer a better experience than watching on your browser.  Also, you can get quite a few shows from the stations’ websites, most free but some of them (CBS) charge you to watch their shows.

See you next week!

March 15, 2016

Updates

Picture of new Waze mapHere is one update to the last two columns I wrote about Google Maps and Waze for Android devices.  Guess what?  Waze released a new version of its excellent product.  It has a couple of nice new features but mostly it was cosmetic with a few navigational changes.  I believe it looks better, is quicker and well worth the time for the upgrade.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Another update that took place toward the end of 2015 was the Google Chromecast.  This device allows you to view most anything you can watch on your computer on your TV.  Of course, you have to plug it in and do a quick setup.  I had the first version of Chromecast and all was well.  They rolled out the second one and all continued to be well.  Then early this year they did another update which was to work with either the older or newer devices.  It may have been well for some but not me. 

I used an older broken Android phone to "act" as my remote control for our Chromecast.  The phone had not been able to make calls for years.  However, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features functioned perfectly so for those it remained useful. 

After the update the Chromecast app failed.  I could no longer control, start or even make the application run with the old phone.  When I started the application it looked good then a message came up saying it had to restart, over and over again.

I uninstalled it, reinstalled it, rebooted the phone, etc.  You know, all the techie things you should do.  Nothing worked.  I then Googled and found other people with the same or a similar issue.  They suggested downloading the previous version from a now-defunct site.  I did and it all worked well again but within a week or so the new version was pushed back on my phone automatically and it started all over again.

To make all things good once more I installed the new version of Chromecast on my current Android phone and now all is well.  I just do not care for using my phone as my TV remote.

CCleaner main screenNow the Windows 10’s update:  I was basically and still am a W10 supporter with a few caveats you have read from me before now. Here is one more.  

After a recent update Microsoft decided that CCleaner (one of my favorite third party apps) could be a danger to my computer.  So instead of warning me about it and letting me make a decision as to what should be done, guess what?  The programming brains behind W10 decided it should automatically be uninstalled from my system!  All I had to do was reinstall it but what if I had not seen the small warning message when it rebooted?  I would have spent a long time trying to figure out what happened.  W10 can do this to you for a multitude of programs, so be cautious and read all the pop ups.  

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!

September 2, 2014

Piriform Tools, Part 2

Last week I talked about two of Piriform’s excellent tools for keeping your computer in good shape. CCleaner and Defraggler. Today we will look at two others.

imageSpeccy is a very good application from Piriform; however, it is one I rarely use. You should download it and run it anyway just so you can have a list of exactly what your computer is made of. It will give you what you may need to know and way more. Say you want to buy some more RAM for your computer but you are not sure what type to get. If you run Speccy it will show you then name, the type, the size, etc. about the RAM that is currently running so you can accurately match it up. It gives you the temperature your computer’s motherboard is running. Do not panic if you check the temps and they are above 150ºF but less than 200 ºF which is pretty normal. Check out what you have under the hood with Speccy.

imageRecuva is the last Piriform app that we will take a look at again. I mentioned it several weeks ago but I have received many questions regarding this great app. Recuva actually stands for Recover, of course thanks to the Web our youth can no longer spell. What Recuva does is pretty much what its name stands for. It will recover deleted files.

Pretend for instance, that you have just gotten back from your vacation to Gondwanaland. While there you took over 2,000 pictures on your digital camera. You are now back home and put your SD card in your computer to move them to your computer and print a few. Oops, you accidentally delete all the files on the card. Your wife yells at you, you feel bad, there is no way you can go back and take all of the pictures over again.

In steps Recuva to save you from this predicament. Once you install and start it up you will be asked what file types are you trying to recover. All Files is the default but you can specify pictures, music and others. Next it will get you to input where the files are located. Here the default is “I’m not sure,” which is fine; however, it will take much longer if you cannot narrow it down some. You are now ready to begin your search, which depending on the parameters you set up, could take a few seconds to an hour or so.

It is quite good at finding those missing files. Once it is finished you can restore all or some to your computer. It will usually rename to files so you may have to restore them before you can determine which file is which.

As I always mention when using this program, the longer you wait to search for the deleted file the less likely you are to be successful in is recovery. The file can be partially or fully destroyed if the space it occupies is written over by another file. Recuva will “rate” the files found as how successful you may be in recovering it. If you recover a partially recoverable photo you may be missing part of the picture or it could be scrambled.

I hope this detailed look at Recuva helped those of you who wrote.

August 26, 2014

Piriform Tools, Part 1

I recently mentioned the site Piriform.  I received several emails asking about what it offers, so today we will take a look at some of the excellent free utilities they have.

Download CCleanerTheir most well-known tool is CCleaner.  When the company first started out this was their first app and then it stood for, "Crap Cleaner."  Since they are highfalutin now that nomenclature has vanished.  This app will allow you to do several things.  First you can have it run the "Cleaner" to check for unneeded files scattered about your computer. Not files you have created but the pesky ones left over from old installations, junk temporary files, the cached files in your browser(s), etc.  It will scan and make suggestions to remove those files.  It is up to you but I run this every couple of weeks on my constantly used computer and delete everything it suggests.  I have never had any problems; however, as with all apps, use at your own risk.  

It will also clean up your registry files which I (and many other geeks) feel become disorganized over time.  CCleaner will straighten them out keeping your computer’s health and speed up.

Some geeks think this is a waste of time but it has always worked for me.  This app will also uninstall your old applications if you need it to.  I believe it does it a little better than the windows default uninstall program; however, that is also open to debate. It has several other features you can check out.

Download/Learn more about DefragglerNext, Defraggler is the app which replaces your built in Windows Defrag.  Fragmentation occurs (as Windows is designed to do) as files are changed and rewritten to your computer.  Say you open a letter in Word that you have written.  It is opened in RAM memory (not on the hard drive) where you edit it.  After you have finished you saved it, which writes the document back to the hard drive.  When saved it may put it in a different location from where it started leaving "crumbs" (my word) behind. 

In many cases it may also split the file up into pieces, so you have one piece stored in the center of your drive and another on the outside edge.  Over time it will take longer to access all the parts and reassemble them when you want to open the files up later.  This is called a fragged drive.  Defraggler undoes this process and makes things run faster.  Think of it as sleeping at night and waking up to bad hair; Defraggler combs it and makes it neat.

Next week the last two tools from Piriform that I will mention; both of which can come in quite handy when you need them. 

August 19, 2014

Things Wanted, Part 4

I never realized the past three articles would provide me with so much email from readers.  So today I will close out the series with one final shot at discussing things people want to know most from me. 

Ron's Tablet, Google Nexus 7 (2013)One follow up to last week.  I did not recommend the $49 version of various tablets and I listed the reasons.  One person wrote to tell me they had one and it was fantastic.  I am happy for them and for anyone who would like to use one of the more inexpensive tablets.  However, I stand by what I said as far as features, speed, available apps and capabilities.  If it is your first tablet and you are enjoying it please continue.  If you compared it to one of the more expensive models you would be astounded at the difference.  I was also asked for prices of tablets.  In regard to Android only the better ones start around $150 and top out around $600 depending on brand and capabilities.

Wendy and several others have written recently saying something similar to, "I accidentally deleted 1,000 pictures from my SD Card from vacation…can I get them back?"  Well the answer is usually, but not always, no.  Here is how you can try.

The company Piriform has several utilities I have recommended in the past.  First and foremost is CCleaner followed up closely by Defraggler.  The third is Recuva (piriform.com/recuva).  One warning: there are many "fake" Piriform products out there so make sure you always download them from Piriform.com to get the real things. 

Recuva logoRecuva is quite easy to use.  Download it.  Install it.  Run it. It will ask you first what type of files you are looking for; All file types?  Photos?  Music?   Select what you need.  Next it will ask where to look for them.  This is where you can choose your SD card (if plugged into your computer), a specific folder on your computer or my favorite, the Recycle Bin.  Next it will ask where you would like to restore the files.  If you are searching an SD Card I would select somewhere on your computer’s hard drive for the restored files.  Then start it and let it run.  The number of files it has to search for determines how long it will take.  I have found it to be very successful in recovering deleted files for me.

There is an essential caveat that you should be aware of for "undeleting" files.  This is that you do it soon after deleting the file. 

The way windows computers work when you delete a file, it really doesn’t delete it, even when you empty the recycle bin.  The operating system actually puts a mark on the file which tells the system that if this space is needed to store another file, it can be used. 

So the file is there but it will be overwritten if/when needed.  The longer you wait the more chance there is that it will be partially or fully destroyed.  Think of an old cassette tape.  You can record something and then rerecord over it, making the first recording useless.

So if you know you have deleted a file on your SD card, pull that card out of your camera and use another one…now.  Then your chances of getting those beautiful vacation pictures back are greatly increased.  

September 17, 2013

Recycle Bin

imageI talked to a young lady recently about how she used her Recycle Bin.  As if you did not know, the Recycle Bin is the trashcan icon on your Windows desktop.  It is usually located on the lower right or upper left corner of the screen.  It displays as empty or full.  When full, whether it has one file in it or one million it will look the same.  

She told me that she uses her recycle bin for storage of files that she may need one day…WHAT? WAIT!  The recycle bin is designed for discarding files, not as a place to keep them.

There are many ways your recycle bin could be emptied. Then you would have no files left.  Consider if your hard drive were to self-destruct and you took it to be repaired. They would not be trying to save your recycle bin but your My Documents folder where all of your files you may one day need should be stored.  I would even unenthusiastically recommend that if you think you may use a file again you should create a folder on your desktop and store those files there.  But your Documents folder is the preferred and safest method for the majority of users.

I also recommend backing up your important documents somewhere.  That way when the inevitable hard drive crash comes you will have the important documents safe somewhere else.  I always recommend Dropbox (bit.ly/use-DropBox — caps count in that URL and if you use this link you get some extra storage).  That is where I keep all of my backups.  With it being free for up to 2 GB of storage most users will be covered.

Another question I get about deleting items from the Recycle Bin revolve around people needing a file they accidentally deleted.  Oops.

Several things dictate what you should try.  The easiest is if your deleted file is still in your Recycle Bin.  Just open your bin by double clicking on it, search for the file, right click on it and choose, "Restore."  It will reappear in the exact location, i.e. folder it was in when you deleted it.  Done.

However, if you have deleted it by using the, "Empty Recycle Bin" command on your bin, you could have problems getting the file back.  You may be in luck if your Recycle Bin has not been emptied for a long period of time.  There is no specific time and it really depends on how often you use your computer.  Basically when you delete a file it really is not deleted from your computer.  The file is marked so that the computer sees it and it is still on the hard drive.  The mark tells the operating system that if it needs that space on the drive to store something else it is available and can be used.  If the file you need has been used, or rewritten, you may be out of luck.

There is a tool I have used to save my life in these situations many times.  You will not know whether or not you can get it back until you try.  The app is called, "Recuva" and it is found online at piriform.com/recuva.  This application is free for the basic model which is probably all you need.

Once you run Recuva your find your file is fully useable.  There are other apps out there like this one, but Recuva has always worked well for me.

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