About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 20, 2014

2014-01-20 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome to the show for January 2014 and Happy New Year to you and yours!  Below are links to the sites we talked about today and here is the podcast if you missed part of the show.

Have fun looking around.

Tech News
Tablet ownership in U.S. surges
Thirty five percent of Americans own a tablet and 24 percent own and e-reader, according to the latest study from Pew Internet Research.Pew documented a big jump in tablet ownership. In November 2012, 25 percent of Americans owned a tablet {September 2013, 35 percent}. The findings illustrate the democratization of tablet computing and the impact on lower-cost models beyond the larger version of the iPad.

This article sums up the tablet and e-reader ownership breakdown for Americans 16 years old and up. It’s also worth noting that previous Pew studies on tablet ownership in the U.S. started at age 18 and up.

Chromebooks Enjoy 21% of Notebook Sales in 2013
According to NPD (a major national market research company), Chromebook sales hit a total of 1.76 million units between January and November of this year, which is quite a bit of a jump from the 400,000 units that made it out in 2012. In total, NPD’s figures indicate that Chromebooks jumped from virtually nothing in 2012 to 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013.A recent press release from Amazon itself confirms that Chromebooks took two of the top three spots for “holiday best sellers” – specifically, a Samsung Chromebook and an Acer Chromebook.

Spiders force Toyota to recall 800,000 vehicles
Toyota has announced a voluntary recall of some 803,000 cars due to airbags inadvertently deploying — and the blame appears to be spiders inside the air conditioning units. Toyota’s recall notice states that some 2012 and 2013 Camry, Venza, and Avalon vehicles are experiencing problems with their air conditioning condenser unit housing — apparently, condensation and water has been leaking into the airbag control module. In most cases, that’s just causing the airbag warning light to turn on, but a few times the driver side airbag has deployed without warning.However, according to CNN, the cause of the leak is rather unsettling if you suffer from arachnophobia. Spiders and their webs are apparently responsible for clogging the air conditioner drainage tubes, causing the water spillover onto the airbag control module.

To provide better service in alerting the American people to unsafe, hazardous or defective products, six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create — a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.

The Door Lock of the Future is Here
Kwikset Kevo
Kwikset has rolled out the Kevo lock. A door lock that receives a signal from your Smartphone (iPhones only right this minute) or a coded key fob and can open when you touch the lock. If you forget your phone it will open with a regular key that you can find buried somewhere on your key chain.

Check out the video and see what you think, especially with a $219 price tag.

Get the best route, every day, with real–time help from other drivers.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

Free available to most all types of phone OS’s.

Free Backup Software
Cobian backup,
Allway Sync,
Two good free backup applications for making sure you do not loose your important files.

Browser History
Check Browser History for all Browsers
Sometimes you may want to make a return visit to a website that you saw a day or 20 ago. You may use multiple browsers like many people and do not want to go view the history in each browser. With this app from you can check the histories of all of your browser at the same time and get a report of what has been seen.

If you have cut off your History feature on your browser you will not be able to retrieve this information.

Your Fingerprint may be your new Password
Biometric Scan Comes to Android 2014
The FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) has claimed in a new technology news statement, that the first Android handsets with biometric scanners will be released in the first half of next year, to help to remove the dependency on traditional app and web passwords.

This technology news was meant to be available for any web-based service or manufacturer so that traditional text-based passwords can be replaced with these biometric alternatives. Michael Barrett, the PayPal chief information security officer, and the president of FIDO, has explained that the increasing support and power of the group has meant that it will become possible for the mobile internet to become considerably safer to use in a very short period of time. That way, swiping a finger across the smartphone will be all that is required for the access of an individual’s own online accounts, but that they will remain safe from being accessed by anyone else.

If I Die
This website provides a way for you to write and store letters to your friends. Each letter, when finished, will be stored securely and encrypted with a special password of your choosing. No one will be able to read any of your letters while you’re still alive.

A couple of “safegaurds” are in place to keep them from firing off by mistake.

New ‘Bond gadget’ set to let us breathe under water Bond-like rebreather
It is the James Bond gadget on everyone’s wishlist.

A South Korean designer has taken inspiration from the movie spy’s “rebreather”, which allows the user to breathe under water.

Clipped on a diving face mask, the Triton device acts like a fish gill to extract oxygen from water so that the user can keep breathing while under the sea.

That is all for today.  See you again next month on Monday, February 17.

Keep those cards and letter emails coming!

December 31, 2013

The End of an Era

It was born at the end of 2001.  It was greatly received as most everyone who experienced it loved it much better than many of its predecessors.  It entered our computing lives at that time and continued on in new computers into 2010.  It was supposed to disappear from our screens several years ago.  However, due to its popularity and the love of the masses it has lasted for all of this time.  However, the sad news is that it will officially RIP on the eleventh of April, 2014.   

What the heck am I talking about?  Give yourself a minute and guess before you look down.

I am referring to Windows XP.  Yes, as of April, 2014 it will no longer be supported by Microsoft.  It terms of computers 13 years is quite old.  I do not know how to convert it to human years for a comparison. But I can tell you that is a long, long time for an operating system to remain in operation.

Windows XP logo

I encourage you to not think badly of Microsoft for doing this to you.  All operating systems have had an end of life built into them, so this is nothing new.  For instance, Windows 7 support ends January, 2020 and Windows 8, "End of Extended Support" date is January, 2023.  They do not necessarily just do this for the money since software needs to be modernized on occasion in order to keep up with advances in technology.  Computers upgrade and have new features and components which the operating systems must be able to use efficiently so they fade away. 

What does this mean if you are still using Windows XP on your computer?   First, I would suggest that you should have changed to Windows 7 a while back.  If not it will now be easiest to get Windows 8.  Seven is still available in very limited places.  Many new computer manufacturers have downgrade rights which allow you to roll back to Windows 7 Pro.  You need to investigate if that is what you want before a new computer purchase.  Next it means that even if you are running the latest security updates of your antivirus software you could still get viruses.  Windows itself updates to fight viruses but since it will be out of support it will update no more.  You could also be at a security disadvantage if you use MS Internet Explorer as your browser since the newest versions will not run on XP.   

In my opinion one of the worst things to happen to XP lovers who have not upgraded to Windows 7 is Windows 8.  The change from XP to Seven was significant but you could figure it out fairly quickly.  However, the differences in the GUI (Graphical User Interface or the way it looks and operates) is MAJOR from XP to Eight.  You will be lost for quite a while if you skipped Windows 7.

Windows 7 & 8 logo I do not believe the end of extended support will change for XP but these dates are not in stone.  XP has already been extended several times.  Vista was only supported from 2007 through 2011 so you do not always get a long time span. 

I have recently installed Windows 8.1 on one of my computers so next year you will start hearing more about it…until at least 2023.  

February 19, 2013

Program Installations with a Twist, Part 1

This column was brought about by a group of us geeks discussing the current Windows operating systems.  Of course, this included the Windows Registry and the way applications are now installed on a Windows based computer.  Basically there was a consensus that we would like to do away with the registry and the way applications are set up.

Windows RegistryFirst, we need a very simple definition of the registry.  The registry is a component of Windows which sets up all hardware, software, and any attached devices in a large database with information about each of those items.  Basically, the registry contains settings for everything on and in your computer.  When you open an application the registry is pinged and all the data pertaining to that app is loaded into the program to help it run quicker and be more stable than in the past. 

Now let’s talk about installations of today’s applications.  Back in the day, a program installed all of its related elements into one folder.  For instance, if you installed a program named, "Double Click anagrams" it would be installed in a folder named something like, "DCAna."  Then when you wanted to delete the program from your computer all you had to do was delete that specific folder and you were done.

Today when you install a program, most often it will install many files for that application in one folder. (C:\Program Files\Program Name) makes some additions to the registry, then adds configuration files, DLL files and other library files all over your hard drive.  When you uninstall these applications using the Windows 7, "Programs and Features" module it attempts to uninstall all of them, but unfortunately sometimes misses some of them.  This creates a problem I had not heard of before but was informed about, "cruft." Crufts are the junk files left behind when an install is not totally successful.   

I think it could be nice to go back to the old days and take the easy way out to delete applications…completely and cleanly. 

In steps, "Portable Applications." I wrote about them over three years ago coming from a different angle.   

Sometimes today when you install a new program, usually one you download, you may have the option of installing it normally or in a portable version.  If you choose to install it as a portable version or get a program specifically designed to be a portable application, you can defeat the "cruft-monster."

Portable apps are entirely autonomous. When you install them, you pick one folder where you want it installed.  Once installed in that location you will find that program and all of its related files in that one, and ONLY ONE folder.  It puts absolutely no files anywhere else on your system and it runs as well as the original file which installed everywhere on your system.  They are completely self-contained which means that 1: you can move the folder to any other location on your computer or copy it to another computer and it works and 2: if you do not like the program, you can delete the folder it is in and it is gone…totally.

We will talk more about portable applications next week.

January 15, 2013

2012 Sites in Review, Part 2

As I stated last week, I annually provide links to all of the sites we have visited throughout the previous year at

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Google Calendar – This one comes with Gmail but it could be used as a good online calendar with many advanced features.
  • Microsoft – Everything Microsoft, software, hardware, Office, solutions, templates, etc.
  • Ninite – Pick your apps and click Get Installer to install all of your chosen apps in one step for your new/rebuilt Windows computer automatically.
  • Hotmail (slowly becoming Outlook), Gmail & Yahoo mail – The most popular online email services…including many other features.
  • OpenDNS -  Keeps your internet access safe and secure especially for families.
  • – A free site where you can learn about web coding, even if you are just starting out.
  • – If you want to buy it online you can most likely find it here.
  • Google Play – Where all of the "approved" Android apps are found.
  • Google, DropBox, PayPal – These are several of the many sites that offer Two-factor authentication for your security.
  •,, – The three local places around the web where you can read or listen to information from me, Double Clicks.
  • Ubuntu – A free operating system you can install on your computer to totally replace Windows. 
  • Sound Hound – The site for the iOS and Android app which identifies songs by "listening" to them.
  • Password Generator – Go there to get a randomly created password. Be careful since they will be totally unmemorable.  
  • Password Security – Check the strength of your password according to Microsoft.
  • Leet Speak Translator – Do not worry if you have no idea what this is.  Just find my article on it and learn about it first.
  • LastPass – One of the highest rated places for keeping your many, many passwords online.
  • KeePass – Ron’s highest rated applications for keeping your many, many passwords locally.
  • DameWare, Go to Assist, PC Anywhere, LogMeIn – Some of the more popular and more recommended support applications which allow you to log into another user’s system to help them.
  • Join Me -  The same as above but free and very easy to use.
  • Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Carbonite – These all provide online cloud storage for your important files.  Some are free and some are not.  I recommended Dropbox and Carbonite in my column.

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 news, on the radio and on the web! 

May 22, 2012

Gmail Labels

Last week we looked at Gmail’s General Settings.  As a result of your emails, today we move on to Gmail Labels.

You get to Labels the same way you got to General Settings last week.  You must first be logged into your Gmail account (  Then look to the upper right corner and hover the little "gear" icon.  It should say "Settings". If not, keep hovering until you find it.  Now click it, then "Settings."  Finally, click on the second tab, "Labels."


I think Gmail received a lot of grief because of calling them labels instead of folders because when they first created them no one understood…except for us geeks.  My guess is that in recent times Google has added, "Folders" to their icons at the top of the screen where you can "put" an email to calm everyone down.

The difference between folders in Gmail and other apps is that if you label it from your inbox, it will also have an "Inbox" label and stay in your inbox.  However, when you move it to a folder, it is removed from your inbox.  But guess what, if you move it back from the "folder" you still need to remove the label…too confusing for me, so I suggest playing in Gmail and using the one you like the best.

The only thing I don’t like about Labels (which is my own learning situation) is that if you delete an email with a label of Jokes and it is also marked with the Family label it is deleted from everywhere, not just from that label.  You should remove the label to get it "out of the folder" by selecting the email, clicking the label icon and unchecking the label you want to remove.

November 15, 2011

More to Thrive On

The column about my Toshiba Thrive from last week generated several intriguing emails. 

First, "I am looking for a Tablet PC and want to know if you can tell me more about yours?"  Well, I can but I only have so much space in the columns.  You can really find all you need online starting at and Googling for the "Toshiba Thrive."   I will, however go on to talk about a couple of things I did not mention last week.

imageIt has an amazing recharging capability. The specifications said it will recharge a totally discharged battery in an hour.  Well come on folks!  Do I look like I was born yesterday?  I am not new to this stuff and I found that pretty hard to believe.  So I tested it out.  I ran my battery down to less than a 10% charge.  I plugged it in for exactly one hour and checked it.  The charge was up to 89%.  No, that is not 100% but close enough for me.  It only took a few more minutes to make it to 100%.  Just think about it, your battery is low and you have 20 minutes to spare. Charge it for those 20 minutes and you may have 25% or more of your battery capacity back.  That is amazing compared to other charging experiences I have had.

imageI mentioned the full size USB port last week and someone wanted to know if it would also hold a SD Card.  The answer is of course. Yes, there is a slot for one of those also.  There is also an HDMI slot (to connect to a video device like TV to deliver digital quality.) You could not ask for much more on a tablet.  Oh but wait, there is one more thing you do not find on many other tablet PCs, if any at all.  The Thrive has a replaceable battery.  That means you can order a new battery if needed and put it in yourself.  With others you have to pay a geek to do it and maybe send it away for a few weeks.

The other emails said that I had mentioned, "Swype" and they wanted to know if I had misspelled "Wipes".  Swype is a great Android program which allows you to significantly increase your "typing" speed on your phone or any Android device.  You simply slide your finger from one letter in a word to another and it predicts the word you are typing.  It is amazingly accurate and if you have an Android device and you want to try it out this free app, go to

The last item for today is Skype ( and no, I have not just misspelled Swype. They are two totally different programs. The really basic description of Skype is that it allows you to call phones and other computers via the internet.  It also has the built-in capability to have video along with your audio.  That allows you to talk to and see the boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, grand kids, etc. no matter where they may be located on the globe.  It is a free computer-to-computer service but for phone calls check out the rules on their site.

Have fun computing this week and keep those emails coming!  I love to hear from all of my readers and answer your great questions.

July 12, 2011

CCleaner & InPrivate Browsing

Donna S. from Shenandoah wrote and asked a couple of good questions.  They first thing she wanted to know was which files she should delete when working in her browser under Options.

In your browser’s Options when deleting temporary/old files (settings vary per browser), there is one that I don’t delete.  That is the one that has to do with deleting saved passwords.  Note that it is labeled slightly different in the various browsers but you will be able to figure it out from the title.  For more experienced users you may choose differently, but that is OK, to each their own.  I like to keep the “recorded” passwords in particular so that the individual sites will not need me to remember the passwords and retype them the next time I visit a site.  This is only true if you allow your browser to remember your sites’ passwords.

After saying all of that I have a better recommendation.  I am surprised, but it appears as though I have never mentioned this application before and I have been using it for many imageyears.  The app is called “Ccleaner” ( and according to the site, “Historically the software was originally called “Crap Cleaner”, but this was shortened to CCleaner to prevent any offense and to allow corporations to use it.”  So there you go for your “inside info”.

CCleaner will run through your programs and delete all of the unneeded files.  Now be warned that it is removing files from your computer which could cause problems; however, after using it for years, I have never, ever had any issues caused by CCleaner.

Once, you install it, run the CLEANER at the top, left side and after it completes run REGISTRY.  I always use the default settings and delete all of the suggested things that will come up in the list.  It will clean your browser (which must be closed for CCleaner to run) and your computers “junk” files too.  They ask for $24.95 for priority support, but as of now I have never had a reason to get support, so I suggest the freebie.

imageDonna also asked about what “InPrivate Browsing” which she saw while looking around her browser.  It is also labeled as, “Private Browsing” in FireFox and “Incognito Windows” in Google Chrome; however, it is the same thing.

The InPrivate browser settings are jokingly called by many geeks the “Porn Browser Mode”.  Basically, InPrivate and its other nomenclatures, will not leave a trace of where a person has gone on the internet.  Then if someone else checks their computer they can’t see what sites they have visited in the past.  Although you should be aware that your internet service provider can provide that information if needed,  InPrivate only keeps your history off of your local computer.

February 2, 2010

Help with Application Updates

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:22 am

I got an email from a reader in Mt. Crawford over a month ago asking an excellent question.  They wanted to know if there was a way to keep all of their programs up to date, keeping the latest version always on their system.

In talking back and forth with them we came to the conclusion that there should be something on the market that was similar to “Windows Update”.  WU comes with all versions of Microsoft windows as all of my readers should know.  It allows you to check and see if there are any new versions of your MS products that need updating.  If there are, it allows you to update them so that you can stay ahead of the curve.

After a little Googling and searching I found a program called Secunia-PSI.  I have no idea what “Secunia” means but PSI is for “Personal Software Inspector”.  This program does almost everything the reader wanted.  I have been testing it for a little over a month and it seems to work very well.

Visit Secunia-PSIYou can go to to read about and download the personal edition of the application.  There are actually three different versions of Secunia.  They are OSI (Online), PSI (Personal) and CSI (Corporate).  I tried the OSI and it was adequate but does not look for as many programs as the PSI and CSI versions.  The CSI version is really for the corporate environment and home users do not need it.  All three are here:

All versions are free but I recommend downloading/installing the PSI version which seems to  be very thorough.  You will find it in the middle of the three on the page recommended above.

The default setting for Secunia runs in the background all the time checking your computer’s software for updates.  I leave it like that on my desktop since I have loads of memory. However, for my netbook I just run it once a week or so.

I pride myself in always keeping all of my software up to date, so let’s take a look at how my three computers faired after being scanned by Secunia.

My netbook scored 100% as all of my software was up-to-date, yeah!

My notebook didn’t do as well.  There were four applications that weren’t up to standards.  But I still did better than 15% of users in Virginia; Secunia gives you this info if you register the product.  (free)

Now my pride and joy, my desktop computer…oops, I had 11 applications that were not where they should be.  I spent about an hour uninstalling some old versions which Secunia advised me to do, before I updated them.  I also downloaded some of the new versions from the links provided by Secunia.  And I learned a valuable lesson, as the bible says, “Pride goes before destruction.”

Now, let’s look at  a couple of drawbacks.  It indicated that all three browsers on my system were insecure and needed updates.  They are MSIE, Firefox and Google Chrome.  Come on, give me a break!  They were all updated and as secure as possible.  I guess it wanted me to uninstall all three of them. Of course, then my surfing the net time would be cut down considerably.  I decided to ignore those threats.  You can always make rules to ignore certain warnings.

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