About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

November 1, 2016

Why Revo?

So, after the series of articles on applications I think are good additions to Windows, I received several questions.  A couple of which I will answer today.

The first, and my favorite, was regarding my choice of Revo Uninstaller (  John wrote and wanted to know why I do not like Microsoft’s “Programs and Features.”  He wondered why he should not use that built in Windows application which is found in the Control Panel?

I have a really good reason, at least in my opinion.  First, they are both made to remove or uninstall applications that have been placed on your computer.  You know the drill.  You have heard from a friend or someone like me that you should try the XYZ program.  You install it and find that it is worthless and you no longer want it on your computer taking up space.  So, you need to uninstall it as soon as you can.

Revo Uninstaller Logo

I have found that when you use the built-in Programs and Features the program is indeed uninstalled; however, nowhere near completely.  When you use that program to do an uninstall it can, and most times does, leave behind many unneeded folders and files.  It may also leave many worthless pieces of information in your Windows Registry.  The last part may never give you any issues and you may be unaware of it altogether but it could cause problems over time.

With Revo Uninstaller you direct it as to how deeply to probe for leftover unnecessary files.  I always get it to run in the Advanced mode.  That way it will first run the regular uninstall process that Windows does normally.  However, it will then do a deep scan for any files left over from that procedure and offer to remove them too.  I always take Revo’s suggestions and delete everything.

This makes for a much more thorough and professional cleaning which gives you back free disk space once it is completed.  I have found some uninstalls where there are thousands of left over files to delete.  I have found very few where it does not delete any files but it has happened to me on rare occasions.

I feel that Microsoft should be ashamed of the sloppy junk they leave behind on your system after a regular uninstall.  And before you ask, Revo is free with a “Pro” version that does a few more things.  I have used the free version for years without any issues and some fine cleaning.

Do you love or hate MS?The last question from another reader was, “Why did I slam Windows built in programs in those last articles?”  I really did not slam them but I do believe you can sometimes get better apps to do the same thing from elsewhere.  The MS programs are actually fine; however, if I can increase my gas mileage a little by using a different gas brand why not do it?

September 27, 2016


Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:30 am

OK, OK, I know I am late to the party on this one.  I have used Bluetooth devices off and on for about the past 15 years. That is hard to believe in itself since it seems like it has not been around that long.  However, the telephone company, Ericsson, originally came out with it in 1994.  It was invented to replace RS-232 data cables with a wireless alternative.  It did not quite succeed there but it did in a big way in other areas.  Today it is the standard for wirelessly sending and receiving data over short distances. 

Bluetooth logo

One of the first Bluetooth devices I came into contact with was when I owned a Blackberry phone (yes, I had one of those too.)  The phone had Bluetooth built into it so you could use a headset with it.  You know the disturbing little blue blinking light in many people’s ears, then and today.  I really think it is supposed to be a status symbol of some sort.  The light was designed to help users know things; in standby mode waiting to receive a call (blue flash), fully charged (steady blue), needs charging (steady red), receiving a call (fast blue flash), etc.  But come on folks, once it is in your ear you cannot see the stupid blinking, so it is obviously for others to see.  But enough of that.  

The Blackberry/Bluetooth combo was not that good.  I am not really sure if it was the phone’s fault or the Bluetooth headset.  Regardless it was not a pleasant experience for me.  So ended my dance with Bluetooth for a few years. 

A few years later a friend spoke of one he had bought and how great it was.  So, I figured ok, let me try again.  I got a Motorola H700 Bluetooth headset and it was great.  At one time I even used it in a convertible and I could hear you and visa-versa during a call.  I used it so much that I wore it out and am still using another generation of that one.

Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 In-Ear Bluetooth Wireless EarbudsNext, I got a Bluetooth headset for listening to music from my computer or phone, etc.  Fantastic!  I use earbuds, which I like, and listen to music from my phone, table, wherever BT is available and it sounds great.  

As fate would have it a month ago the radio on my car went to radio heaven after 14 years of service.  I thought oh, gee, this is going to be expensive since I want to have a USB port in the radio.  For less than $100 I got a replacement at one of the big box stores in town – with not only USB but Bluetooth built in. 

I have been amazed to learn what it can do. I can clearly call and be called on my phone through the speaker system, although my wife says it sounds "different."  My audible directions from Waze come through the speakers now, much better than before.  Another surprise for me: (well not really, I saw it in the manual) if I play music or listen to an audiobook on my phone it sends the signal to my radio and I hear it there loud and clear.  When I cut the car off the phone stops playing and then restarts later at the same point. 

WOW, I am a Bluetooth fanboy now!

August 15, 2016

2016-08-15 Show Notes with WSVA

Filed under: WSVA Show Notes — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 11:17 am

Welcome back to the site for the podcast and show notes from today’s show.

Tech News

OK, Google: 160 valuable voice commands for Android

Android has actually had a robust voice command system in place for ages — and the number of things it can do for you is expanding all the time.

In fact, Google may be preparing to unveil a newly rebranded and even more conversational version of its virtual assistant later this year, but you don’t have to wait to start making the most of your mobile device’s listening smarts.

  • Enable/disable [battery saver mode] (and other system features, such as mute)
  • Take a photo/selfie
  • Record a video
  • What time zone is [most any city] in?
  • Do I need an umbrella today?
  • Where’s the closest [bowling alley]? (or most any other business)
  • When’s the sunrise in [anywhere]?
  • Set a timer for [10 minutes]
  • Call [anyone in your Google address book], mobile/home/work
  • When is the sunset tonight?

Nintendo’s NES Classic Targets Gaming Geezers

Nintendo ..recently.. unveiled its latest gaming console: the NES Classic Edition, a mini replica of the original home console that can connect directly to a TV via an HDMI cable.

The system features 30 built-in games from the 8-bit era, including fan favorites such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN and Kirby’s Adventure.

“We wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America.

“The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is ideal for anyone who remembers playing the NES, or who wants to pass on those nostalgic memories to the next generation of gamers,” he added.

The system, which will be available this fall for US$59.99, will ship with a newly designed NES Classic Controller patterned after the original NES controller. It will include an HDMI cable and an AC adapter.

Historical Software
Did you have an old Atari game console or one of the many others from back in the day? Go to this site and play them again, just like when you were a kid.

This collection contains selected historically important software packages from the Internet Archive’s software archives. Through the use of in-browser emulators, it is possible to try out these items and experiment with using them, without the additional burdens of installing emulator software or tracking down the programs. Many of these software products were the first of their kind, or utilized features and approaches that have been copied or recreated on many programs since.

Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)

Google Opinion Rewards

Answer quick surveys and earn Google Play credits with Google Opinion Rewards.

Getting started is easy. Download the app and answer basic questions about yourself. We’ll then send you surveys around once a week, although it may be more or less frequent. You’ll get a notification on your phone when a short and relevant survey is ready for you, and can receive up to $1.00 in Play credits for completing it. Questions can range from, “Which logo is best?” and “Which promotion is most compelling?” to “When do you plan on traveling next?”

Availalbe for Android devices only.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s show. Come back the third Monday of September to find out what is going on in Tech then!


July 21, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 1

Today I will look at a few questions I have recently received starting with one regarding last week’s Chromebook article.

I have always thought it funny when you write one thing and get totally different responses.  From the Chromebook discussion last week I received the following two statements.

First is, “[on] your assertion of Chromebooks from $129, implying they are inexpensive – I went to eBay and the 2015 model sells there … and found them at $1,500.00 … a far cry from $129 to $199.”

I went to eBay and the most expensive Chromebook I found there was $1,820, even better.  The same model, the “Google Chromebook Pixel 64GB” was on Amazon for $1,610.  It has a street price of a little less.

Ron's Samsung Chromebook

Ron’s Samsung Notebook,
paid $169 over 18 months ago.

The latest version now sells for $179.
Great notebook and well worth the price.

I did not say that the range of $129 to $199 was the upper or lower limit but in that range you could find a decent computer.  I also found a Windows Notebook far exceeding $1,500.  I found one for over one million but that one comes with a handmade wooden case, encrusted with diamonds and other bling.  (Before anyone gets upset I also found a Chromebook at the same price similarly decorated.) You can find them for whatever you are willing to pay, but I still stand by my original range.

The other was someone who bought a student/relative of theirs a “Chromebook and printer for right around $250.00.”  Congratulations to them on finding a great deal on a computer and printer for that young person.  (Also, proving my point.)

Sometimes I get many questions on how to perform a particular process on my computer.  I get questions asking me what is your favorite program or website you use to do _________.    I will give you a few over the next week or so if your emails show interest in the topic.  If you have questions do not forget to email me.

I may not always have the best plan; however, they work successfully for me.  Remember also that I really like the word, “free” so you may be able to do these things other ways for a cost.

Avast! splat logoOne of the more popular emails I receive is, “What antivirus software do you recommend?”  I currently use Avast! Antivirus ( on all of my computers, with the exception of work.  Work is controlled by others.  To be honest they are all similar but every year or two I review evaluations of all of the free antivirus software.  I then choose the one that scores the best and appears to have a good “ease of use” factor to me.  You can pay for others as well as Avast! if you wish.  In my opinion some of the “big boys” out there are bloated and slow a machine down too much for me.

Next week we will look at a few more questions and answers

July 20, 2015

2015-07-20 Show Notes

Welcome to the July radio show/podcast!  We had many callers with issues and some answers from me.  You can download or listen to the podcast here

Here are just a couple of the things we talked about today.

Tech News
Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children

Kids working?

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens.

While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.

  • In 2010, “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.”
  • Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the pediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”
  • Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play.
  • Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers. 

A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu
The world is all aflutter about Windows 10 so here is a good intro to the new and improved Start Menu.

Since the release of Windows 95, the Start Menu has been the primary way for users to access their files and applications. Microsoft attempted to move away from this setup with Windows 8, creating a serious backlash. Now the Start Menu is back and better than ever for Windows 10.

However, there have been a few changes since the last time we saw the Start Menu. There’s more functionality and customization options packed in than ever before, but the best way to take advantage of it might not be immediately obvious. Use this guide to get a firm grasp of the basics, and you’ll soon be using the Start Menu like a true Windows 10 expert.

OK, those are the only news stories and Windows 10 info we had a chance to talk about today. Listen to the podcast for the details and what else went on today.

I hope to see you back next month on August 17th.


July 7, 2015

Windows 10, Part 3

Here are a few more features for Windows 10 that we did not talk about last week. 

First today is "Cortana." You may already be familiar with some of its ancestors, Siri, on the Apple platform and "OK, Google" on Android devices.  It was named after Cortana, for all of you non-gamers out there, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series.

Cortana is your personal digital assistant and is available across all Windows platforms.  This means it will work on your Windows computer, tablet and phones.

Cortana is located in the Taskbar and will take your voice instructions and give you voice notifications.  It can add appointments to your calendar, dictate emails, send those messages, play music when you tell it too, etc. After it alerts you to an appointment it will remain quiet until something else happens it needs to remind you about. Cortana can also be turned off if you do not like using it.

Another interesting new feature is called "Universal Apps."  This will allow you to install an application on your computer, tablet, phone and even Xbox and it will run on all of your platforms exactly the same.  Along with another feature, "Continuum" it will automatically be the correct size including menu buttons, etc. so that the apps will even appear identically presented on all Windows devices.

OK, some cool stuff is coming; however, several things are going away.  One is Windows Media Center.  This means that without a third party application installed you cannot watch a DVD/Blue-Ray on your computer.  It already vanished in W8 but if you were like most people you did not use Windows 8.

Of course, I never liked WMC so I would suggest you install VLC Player ( – free).  VLC works better, quicker, and can play any type of video file that I have ever thrown at it.  There are many other good video players out there and possibly Microsoft will have one to recommend, but for me it is VLC and has been for many years. 

If you have used Desktop Gadgets in the past they are now gone.  I used them and liked them.  I guess you could substitute the new Live Tiles in W10 for some of them.  If you still want gadgets I suggest you install 8GadgetPack ( – free).  I have enjoyed using it on my Windows 8 computer since they were also missing in that version.   

The next piece of semi-bad news for you is that the games are gone from Windows 10 including Solitaire, Hearts and Minesweeper along with the rest.  It really bothers me since Solitaire was put in to the first Windows version only to teach people how to use a mouse.  And era has ended. 

Do not be excessively distraught, you can download the new and improved versions from the new Windows Store if you really miss them.  Then you can get back to goofing off instead of working just as you did in the past.

Let me know when Windows 10 comes out if you have any other questions.  Ones that are helpful to everyone will appear here.

Windows 10 Start Menu

June 9, 2015

New Computer Oops

A friend got a new computer last year.  They got a very nice 64-bit, 17 inch HP Notebook.  It had a large hard drive, 6 GB of RAM and lots of free or trial software. One of which was a quite nice and usually expensive antivirus program.

The free software is standard in the market today.  Each manufacturer tries to include Microsoft Office products or some other popular, desirable program that could be costly.  That way you may buy their brand over a competitor’s.  All new computers offer one of the well-known brand names of antivirus software.

BloatwareNew systems also include programs installed that many people never use or need.  These applications are called "Bloatware" or more lovingly "Crapware."  Both words tell you what the computer communities think of them.  More on that next week.

I see a problem with many of the important programs "given" to you with a new computer.  Specifically, those offering you free antivirus protection.  They are not lying.  They give you a full version of one of the big boys’ antivirus software for free (read trial).  However, that being said they also expire after a definite time. 

I do not appreciate this sneaky way companies try to get you to buy their products.  The antivirus software works great for the 30-90 days (or in rare cases six months) then it quits.  This would be like you taking a plane trip to Europe and half way across the Atlantic your free baggage storage expires.  So your bags are jettisoned from the plane. 

Before your trial version totally quits it gives you pop up warnings.  Most people ignore popups since they are usually ads for something to separate you from your money.  Many users do not know what to do anyway.  They may think that they bought their computer with "free" antivirus so the pop up must be from something else.  Some people fall for the ads and purchase the usually overpriced application. 

Now back to my friend’s story. Apparently their pop ups started telling them to purchase the license for the antivirus.  They, as many, many others, did not do so.

They brought their computer to me to see if I could check it out and see why it was doing strange things.  As soon as I tried the first webpage I knew they at least had Malware running rampant.  Pop up ads going crazy is the signal.  Then I checked the antivirus software…it had expired months ago.

After running repair apps for several nights I found that the computer had almost 3,800 malware items running on it along with a couple of hundred viruses.  If you have no antivirus software running this will happen to you too – guaranteed! 

Next week we will look at other things you can do to "fix" your new computer.


June 1, 2015

Early Start on Windows 10

Well today (June 1, 2015) I got the automatic notification that Windows 10 is coming to my machine, for free on July 29, 2015.  That just seems like a long time before hand to start notifying people about it.  But I decided to sign up first thing so we will see how that goes.

Below is what you will see when you are approached by Microsoft to sign up for it.

First your notification that you can sign up, shown by the MS icon below. Notification icon



Next five “sales pitch” screens, after which you can enter your email address to receive an email notification…or not.  That last part leads me to believe that you will get W10 whether you want it or not when it rolls; however, I have read nothing about that.

Do you think you will willingly go to 10 or kicking and screaming?

Screen #1

Screen #2

Screen #3

Screen #4

Screen #5

February 16, 2015

2015-02-16 Show Notes

Here are the Monday morning links and podcast if you missed it live.

Have a great day and see you next time.

Tech News
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for all 7 and 8.1 users

Wondering how much Windows 10 will set you back? In most cases, nothing. Microsoft has announced that the new operating system will be a free upgrade in the first year for everyone using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1. The company sees Windows as a service rather than a product, Terry Myerson explains. Yes, Microsoft is partly following in Apple’s footsteps (OS X upgrades have been free since Maverick), but it’s hard to complain about getting a big update for free.

This sounds too good to be true and I’ve read where this is only for OEM (short for original equipment manufacturer, which is a misleading term for a company that has a special relationship with computer producers. OEMs are manufacturers who resell another company’s product under their own name and branding.) or for everyone.  Only time will tell for sure.
Worst passwords of 2014… …are just as awful as you can imagine

Please sit down. We need to have a talk. It seems some important points about computer safety and security have completely gone over the heads of a certain portion of the population. If you’re one of those people whose passwords look like "9$RxkU#55zx!%winning1," you can go ahead and leave. If your password looks like "1234567890" or "qwerty," it’s time to repent and change your ways.

    Here are the top 10 worst:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. qwerty
  6. 1234567890
  7. 1234
  8. baseball
  9. dragon
  10. football

Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
WPS Office
WPS Office can open almost any document including PDF, TXT and Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This means when you use WPS Office to open a document from email or your favorite cloud service, you can be sure it will look exactly the way it would on your PC.

WPS Office comes loaded with features similar to what you’d find on a PC office solution. This includes advanced text and paragraph formatting options as well as the ability to add and edit images, shapes, tables and charts directly into your presentation or document.

With WPS Office you can share your files through email, Evernote and more. You can also share presentations with others over WIFI or directly to other DLNA compatible devices.

Using WPS Office you can access and edit documents from your favorite cloud drive. When you are done editing, WPS Office will automatically save them back online.

Quad Core Android PC in a Keyboard Computer in a Keyboard
An entire Android computer in a keyboard?!

Hook up your monitor and a mouse, if needed, and you have a computer. $299 is a bit high but if you think you need one, wait a few months.

See you next month, listen online on WSVA, March 16, Monday from 9-10 am.  If you miss the live broadcast come back here and listen a little later in the day…or next depending on my workload.


November 11, 2014

That Really Bugs Me!

Well, I am going to my soapbox this week.  Being a nerd I get questions from people all the time asking for help on different things, which is fine.  I am always happy to give my two cents worth on technical issues.  But sometimes, when I am an unknown in stores, etcetera, I hear some things that really get my goat.

There was an example just this week.  I was in a very large, service oriented company doing personal business.  One of the guys on the phone was dealing with the customer.  He was apparently done with the conversation but the person on the other end was not. 

The employee told the person that his computer just stopped working and he had to reboot it and would call them back later.  He hung up and then dealt with the in store customer next in line.  Oh yeah, he never rebooted the computer since it was working perfectly.  I wonder if he even called them back, but that is just me. 

Blue Screen of DeathWhy blame the computer? It was a Windows 7 system which hardly ever needs a reboot.  I guess it is just a convenient excuse for his lethargy.  Yes, in the old days, computers were prone to the "blue screen of death" but that is no longer the case.

Something else bugs me on occasion.  I often hear people say, "This phone is stupid!"  However, keep in mind that inanimate objects cannot be stupid (personification).  They can be broken or not working as designed but not stupid. 

I have found that in most cases, the owner does not understand the functions of the phone.  It could be that the phone is an older worn out phone and just doesn’t work, but not in most situations.   

For instance, "My phone is just too loud; I can’t even hold it to my ear."  After about one second I hear the problem…they have the speaker on by mistake.  I show them how to resolve it and all is well, until they hit the speaker button during the next call. 

Phone issuesThen there is the old, "Most of the pictures my phone takes are blurry."  Several things can cause this; dirt, hand oil, makeup on the lens, etc.  A dry microfiber cloth will fix the problem.  Also, they may not have the auto flash on or the full time flash.  I always recommend using the flash as it will usually perk up pictures and fill in some shadows.  Without the flash indoors you may get yellow tints from the room lights, blurring, etc. 

How about this one, "That stinking auto correct is always making mistakes."  I have seen this, "Happy Birthday, my dead husband."  Uh, that should have been "dear" not "dead."  And of course this time of year many times Santa becomes Satan.  "Thanks, autocorrect!"  is a common utterance of many.

OK, this is the phone’s fault.  There is really no way around it other than to disable autocorrect on your phone or being very, very, careful before sending that message.

I am now off to eat some humans now…ah, that should have been hummus.

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