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!

October 21, 2014

What To Do With That Screenshot

Last week I told you about several applications which would enable you to take screenshots from your computer.  They were SnagIt, Snipping Tool and Screenshot Captor.  Those reviews led to several emails I received from readers so we will take a look at a couple of their questions.

Someone asked why they would need a screenshot.  Well, many people may not; however, many others would desire this ability.  It basically allows you to take a picture of anything you see on your computer.

I will pretend that you are looking at a new piece of furniture online that you would like to show your spouse.  You could email them the link to the site but you could also just send a picture (that way the price is hidden…you sneak).  Once you take the "picture" of the chair or whatever you can save it or edit it in your screenshot program.  When you are ready you can insert it into an email and send it on its way.

Say you are going to do a presentation using a paper handout.  You can include screenshots of anything which appears on your computer and is related to what you are promoting.  You can add text, pointers and other graphics to make it more professional.  Also, the same can be done with any slideshow software like Microsoft PowerPoint.  You can make some very good looking and professional "shows." 

Next, I received an email asking about which file type should be used for saving pictures. In many cases it is not vital to the average presentation.  That being said there are a basic few to pick from.  Basically today the standard is JPG which is a lossy format.  This means that it cuts some of the pixels out when edited or losses resolution to some extent.  A lossy format is not as clear and sharp the more you enlarge them.  For finer resolution you can use a lossless format type. 

The most common lossless formats are PNG or TIF which have better resolution but larger file sizes.  You may see GIF occasionally but this is a very lossy format and not good except when you need a small graphic.  Since GIFs have such a small file size they are often used on websites so the sites will load faster…less information to download to your computer.

My opinion is that if I plan to print it or enlarge it I prefer JPG or PNG.  Yes, JPG is lossy but unless you make them very large or edit them a lot they will look very good.  For emailing to friends and presentations go with any format; however, JPG is usually the winner for me.  With a JPG containing up to 16.7 million individual colors it looks pretty good most of the time.

It is different for photography as RAW and TIF (or TIFF) are the highest color quality and resolution.  But we are not looking at that.

According to research, January, 2014 marked the first time that mobile internet usage exceeded PC usage by approximately five percent.  So friends you send screenshots and photos to, could very likely be looking at them on their phones or tablets, and resolution may not matter at all.

October 14, 2014

Need Screenshots?

Amy wrote recently and asked what tool I use for screenshots on my site and in training manuals I have written.  I told her I wrote about that five or so years ago, but it may be time to review.

First, what is a screenshot?  A screenshot is pretty much defined by its name.  It is what you make when you get a picture of your computer screen to use in a document, email or whatever else you may need one for. 

For the past many years I have used an application by Tech Smith (techsmith.com) called, "SnagIt" which is an excellent screenshot tool.  However, it currently costs $49.95.  Those of you who have followed my columns know that money is something I do not easily part with.  So that tells you what I think of SnagIt…great application worth the money if you often need a tool like this. 

SnagIt has many features not always found in similar programs.  You can add watermarks, callouts, create transparent backgrounds, text, draw on graphics, edit photos from other places and more.  This is an excellent application, especially for business.

Next, on my list is "Snipping Tool" which is automatically built into Windows 7 and 8.  This is a great application for getting a screenshot then saving it and emailing or using it in a document. 

To get it running click your start button, type "Snipping" without the quotes and then click "Snipping Tool" which is your first choice.    

Snipping Tool menuDo not be alarmed as most likely everything on your screen will go gray.  Also, a small "tool" will open.  Click on the "New" button to make the colors come back.  The graying is what happens when you are getting ready to copy a screenshot or snip it.

To create a screenshot I recommend first clicking on the down arrow by "New" and choosing what shaped area you wish to copy.  Your choices are self-explanatory with the possible exception of "Free-form Snip" which means you draw the scissors icon around the screen and it copies what you surround. 

Once you snip something the tool box opens with the area you copied.  You can save it, copy it to your clipboard, email it, draw or highlight the graphic etc.  This is not a full featured screenshot program; however, it does give you the basics.  

If you need to keep a screenshot save it to your computer.  Make sure when using the snipping tool you first save a shot before you create another.  If you do not save it when you grab the next one the first will vanish.

One last item to mention if you want more features that the snipping tool has.  It is called "Screenshot Captor" (screenshot-captor.en.softonic.com) and is very positively rated by users. 

Screenshot CaptorI will warn you that you need to watch each screen while installing the application.  It will try to change your search engine and other things.  Make sure you choose "Custom Install" and uncheck everything you see.  Nothing there is nefarious but it is pain to change back to the way it was.  This application has most of the features SnagIt does but it is free.  You must register it during the first 10 days with an email address or it will stop working as it should. 

Good luck in your new screenshot career. 

June 29, 2010

Stop Computer Frustration

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:41 am

Your computer continues to start up slower than you remember it doing when you bought it.  You may have already run Disk Cleanup, Error-checking and Defragmentation but things still frustrate you about its operation.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have some "anti-frustration" software on your side?

It may just be here now!  Soluto created by a new software company in Israel has been available since the end of May, 2010.

What Soluto currently does is relatively simple.  It monitors your computer’s start up boot sequence and suggests ways to speed it up.  I run Windows 7 which already runs pretty fast but as you will see below it still sped my computer up.  Some people have reported going from more than seven to less than two minutes to start their computers

After you install Soluto it will ask you to restart your computer so that it can begin gathering information.  Once rebooted the software will give you a graphic of all the programs that start in the background, some of which you may have no idea are even there.  They are then rated as to those you cannot remove from the boot, those you may not want to remove from the boot sequence and the "no-brainers" which should be removed.  It gives you details on each program so that you can decide what to do.

On my notebook it advised me that it took 2:40 to complete the start up with 82 programs starting.  The number one, no-brainer it suggested to remove was Snagit.  When I hover over the advice window it tells me what Snagit does and that I could choose to either delay or pause it.  If delayed, a program will start up after everything else is finished when you are using your computer.  If paused, a program will start when I manually start the program as it may not need to run all the time in the background.  I chose "pause" so now it runs only when I need to use it. 

I ended up removing all but one of the "no-brainers" and several others that were suggested.  My computer now boots in 1:53 minutes with only 67 applications running when it starts.  Many of them also took up RAM running in the background so now I should get a slight increase in overall speed, but not so much that I notice.

If your computer hangs up or frustrates you while Soluto is running you can right click on its icon and choose, "My PC just frustrated me".  It will then see if it can figure out what bugged you, look for a fix and send that info to the Soluto database.

Soluto is brand new software and is still improving.  It will continue to run as a background service which watches your PC while it is running.  It will be analyzing any frustrations that hit your system and trying to figure out "why" by comparing information they continue to gather from other users.  Over time Soluto may be able to suggest solutions you can resolve with just a few mouse clicks. 

After you have rebooted a few times you may want to hide the Soluto graphics from showing on your desktop.  If so, right click on the Soluto icon and uncheck "Live Boot Progress".  If you want to see it again later just recheck it.

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