DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

November 5, 2013

Should I Remove It?

We are getting to that time of year again when people are thinking about buying a new PC for themselves or someone else.  Have no fear; this column is not about "How to find the best $5,000 computer for $14.95."  I stopped writing those articles several years ago since I stopped getting emails requesting them.  I think everyone is fairly familiar with getting a new computer.  But of course, if I get countless inquiries before Christmas I would be happy to write another one.

OK, onto today’s topic.  So you get a new computer and guess what?  Every single computer you purchase new from a computer company comes with bloatware, crapware, crudware or one of its many other names.  If you have no idea what they are read on.  Bloatware is basically all of the applications which come on your new computer and those installed over time that really do not do you much good.

For instance, if you are like me you have a favorite "free" antivirus program.  When you get a new computer it will almost certainly come preinstalled with one of the big name apps.  You go ahead and register for this program, since it is free.  The problem is that it will not be free after the free "test" period is complete.  Say in three to six months you have forgotten all about that application, but you get a warning telling you that it has expired and to be protected online you need to purchase it for the next year.  I am not saying that it is a bad app but you may not need it and may also be uneasy about deleting the program. 

There can be ten or even more of these types of applications installed on a new system.  The computer manufacturers receive a fee for putting these on their new systems, so that is why they are there. 

There are many ways to remove them.  My favorite if you are techie enough is to wipe the computer clean (yes, format the drive) and reinstall a clean copy of the operating system.  I DO NOT suggest that for everyone, just for geeks who already know this.  Next, if you know which applications are unnecessary, in Windows 7 go to "Control Panel" and then "Programs & Features" and individually delete them.  OK, for Windows XP, "Control Panel" then "Add or Remove Programs." Then in Windows 8, CP again and next "Uninstall or Change a Program."  OK, there are just too many Windows OS and since "7" is the most popular I will stick with it from now on.

imageYou may also get one of the many programs that will help you with this process.  The one I like most is a free application called, "Should I Remove It?" (shouldiremoveit.com) This is a neat little utility you can easily install and use.  Once you download the app it will install a shortcut on your desktop.  Double click the shortcut and the program will start and run for a minute or so looking for applications.

It has a database built from user input like yours.  Each program listed may or may not be crudware but you can scroll through the list and check.  Click on the program’s name see the percentage of people who uninstall it, check into it or choose, "What is it?" or "Uninstall."

"Uninstall" is self-explanatory but the other button will open your browser with information they have gathered about the application and other users’ thoughts regarding the app.  If after reviewing the information you decide you do not need it, click "Uninstall" and it will uninstall it using your windows uninstall program.

This is a very slick little application which actually uses user experiences to help you make a decision. 

February 26, 2013

Program Installations with a Twist, Part 2

Last time we discussed Portable Applications for your windows computers.

There are several great things about portable programs.  One being they are independent which means they stand alone.  For instance, when installing them you select only one folder. Once installed, you will find that program and all of its related files in that folder.  This is totally unlike windows installations of today.

Being completely self-contained enables you to move the folder to any other location on your computer or copy it to another computer and it works.  It also works absolutely the same as it did in its previous location.  Also, they give you a brilliant solution to one of life’s larger windows headaches (IMHO).  If you do not like the program, you can delete the folder and it is gone … totally.

So much for the refresher course.  Now we can get onto some of the important info I did not tell you last time.  For instance, what are some of the applications available today as portable applications or programs?  Here is a very short list.  There are many different types of games.  One of my favorites is “Atomic Tanks” and of course, “Sudoku.”  Next, how about a great portable browser-namely Firefox’s latest version.  There is a very good email program, (if you do not check your email at online sites) “Thunderbird.”  Do you need an excellent graphics program which challenges the abilities of other high priced ones?  Try, “Gimp.”  There are many types of RSS-Feed readers and music managers/players.  Have you ever used the full version of VLC for CD and/or DVD playback?  If so and you like it, get the portable version.  Several good chat/IM applications are available so look for them too.

imageThe last three (and there are many, many more) biggies that I will mention today are first, the Office replacements that many know and love, “Libre Office” and “Open Office” are both available.  The final bigwig program is “Skype.”

These programs, which I have tried, run as well as the full blown versions.  I really can’t complain.  Of course it also depends on your computer, but they are worth a try. If you want to give them a shot.

Oh, did I forget to mention that all of these applications are free, yes totally without hidden advertising (at least, that I have run into yet).

One thing before you start downloading all of these programs.  Make sure you have uninstalled the full version before you start playing with the portable version.  If not you may get the computer and yourself confused.

imageFinally, where do you find the portable applications?  Easy, go to “PortableApps.com” and click on the, “Get Apps” link at the top of the page.  There are other sites out there; however, this is one of the first and best.

When you install them where you downloaded the file will be the automatic location of the program, so choose somewhere else.  If you have a portable thumb drive plugged into your computer it will automatically choose to install the program there.  The reason is these programs were actually created to run on thumb drives for portability; hence the name.  Once installed go to the file with the word Portable” on the end of it and double click it.  This starts the application.

If you do not like the program and want to delete it, delete the folder containing the program and you are done, without reboots or any worry about it clogging up your system with useless cruft.

June 26, 2012

Multiple Monitors

I had a question come in from Kelly this week about using more than one monitor on their computer.  So what about more than one monitor on your computer is it possible?

It is very possible starting with Windows XP Microsoft made it fairly simple to have two monitors, IF you have the available ports for monitors on your computer.  There is some hardware out there that I have read about allowing you to add up to 64 monitors but it is costly.  Windows 7 is the same if not better as it has a couple of additional settings.  Once again your computer (mother board and video card) has to be able to handle multiple monitors.

I have three monitors connected to my work system and it has been a huge improvement to many of the things I work on during the day.  Since I am usually working in the least with Microsoft Word Document, using Outlook for my email and at least one other program I am working with, I can have each open on the computer in tandem.  I know that is not such a big deal because anyone can do that.  However, with the three monitors I can see all of them in full screen at the same time, no "alt + tab" is required to move between them. 

Also your system will remember where each program was when it last ran.  That means that if you closed your game program in the left monitor it will there when it next starts.  Also, it knows where it was if you restart your computer, so it is always in the same place.

That last paragraph reminds me of something else.  You don’t have to set up two monitors as left and right, Windows will allow you to set them that way or as a top and bottom monitor.  I have never been, or seen, a situation where you would want to set one over the other, but I am sure somewhere out there someone has.  I have seen people use a 3 x 3 pattern before but that is a little too much for even a geek like me.

You can also drag files from one window to the other without the edges of the monitors getting in the way.  When you drag them from one to the other they just slide on over, no boundaries.  You have to experience it to see just how productive this can be.

For those of you who love gazillions of icons visible on your desktop, you could now double-load them.  Think of it, a gazillion on the right monitor and another gazillion on the left! 

To set them up, shut your computer off, disconnect the power and plug in the new monitor into your video card and the wall.  Then start up the computer and monitors.  Your computer should find both monitors but the first time on only one may work.  You will have to right-click on the desktop and go the display window to get to the settings.  Then play with the settings to finish up the setup.

Try it out if your system will handle the additional monitor I guarantee you will like it.

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