DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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 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.  

January 14, 2014

2013 Sites 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.

  • Dropboxbit.ly/aszzao.   A very good cloud storage app.  Use the supplied link to sign up and get more space.
  • Kill Diskkilldisk.com.  This application will totally wipe your drive clean so that it is almost impossible to retrieve deleted data.
  • Nexus 7 2013bit.ly/1esugJz.  My current favorite Android tablet. 
  • Hulu.com and Hulu.com/plus.  The very popular free and paid TV movie streaming apps. 
  • Google Musicplay.google.com/music.  Google’s free/paid (depending on what you want) music streaming plus you can upload your own music to it and listen anywhere you have internet connectivity.
  • BGCallwww.vieas.com/en.  A wallpaper changer which was less than adequate at the time I wrote about it.
  • Google Keepgoogle.com/keep.  A very good note taking app where you can add pictures, lists, texts and be alerted by them using the time or location of your mobile device.  I just hope Google does keep this one.
  • Recuvapiriform.com/recuva.  Did you accidentally empty the Recycle Bin and need a file back?  If so try this app which is one of the better ones for recovering deleted files.
  • Facebook.com and Twitter.com.  Two popular social web sites.
  • PayPal.com. A safe place to pay for online purchases.
  • Device ManagerAndroid.com/devicemanager.  How to locate, send an alert or wipe your data from your Android device(s).
  • Ubuntuubuntu.com.  Operating system which operates as well as Windows; however, this one is free. 
  • Join Mejoin.me.  A free application for individuals, which will allow you to log onto someone else’s computer, while they are there.  Great to use for helping and training.
  • Should I Remove Itshouldiremoveit.com.  A free app that will locate and remove unwanted programs including adware, toolbars, bloat-ware, crap-ware and other junk.
  • AniPet Aquariumbit.ly/anifree. A nice live wallpaper for Android devices. Also similar for Windows and OSX is Serene Screen at serenescreen.com. 
  • Glympseglympse.com and Waze.com.  A good and much better GPS navigation app for your mobile devices. 
  • Chromegoogle.com/chrome, Firefoxfirefox.com, Internet Explorer – search at Microsoft.com, Operaopera.com and Safariapple.com/safari.  The five most popular web browsers.
  • OpenOffice (openoffice.org) and LibreOffice (libreoffice.org) are two similar but excellent free replacements for Microsoft Office. 

I look forward to continuing the discussions about software, computers, the internet and all sorts of technology this year.  I hope that you, your families and friends have a great 2013 and continue to join me in the newspaper, on the radio and on the web! 

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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