About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

May 3, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 5

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:49 am

Two last Windows 10 tips today. 

When you upgrade your operating system (OS) it has a setting to roll back to your previous version of Windows.  So if you did not like W10 you can roll back to your former Windows 7 or 8 operating system.  I personally have only known a couple of people to do this and it was successful; however, I do not recommend it.

Once you have advanced to W10 and have the ability to roll it back to the previous version you will have a lot of hard drive space taken up by the old OS.  If you have decided you like W10 you can delete that data from your system.  It is about 20 GB of space used up for nothing if you do not intend to move back to the old world.

Start/Disk CleanupTo get that space back start by clicking the start button and type, "Disk Cleanup", click it and choose your C drive.  A window will start saying that it is calculating how much space you will save after it finishes.  This may take several minutes depending on the size of your hard drive and the number of applications on your computer.  Be patient.

Disk Cleanup

The next window has a list of items it can clean and will tell you the total savings you will get after it runs.  I advise you to check them all to get maximum effect.  Now click the button on the lower left labeled "Clean up system files" which is where the restore data you want to remove is located.  The "Disk Cleanup" window will return and it will run through the original process again; however, it may not take as long to complete.

Clean up system files

After it has ended make sure all of the check boxes are checked again.  Then notice you now have one that says, "Previous Windows installation(s)" which is larger than the others.  That is unless you have a full Recycle Bin.  On my computer it was about 17 GB but yours could be larger or smaller. 

Click OK and let it go.  Once done you will have a fairly good chunk of your hard drive space back.  Be sure that you do not intend to roll back to your previous version of Windows before you click OK.  Once you do so the old version is gone.  

And now for the absolutely best feature in Windows 10. (Well, OK in my opinion.)  In previous versions of windows when you have multiple windows opened at the same time you could only scroll the active window.  You know if you were browsing a recipe online in your browser and typing it into a text document.  Then if you wanted to scroll down the page in your browser while you were typing you had to click the browser window to make it active in order to do so.  No longer.

All you do now is hover your mouse over the window and scroll.  Wherever the mouse is becomes the active window without clicking.  If your cursor was in your text document, you may even continue typing while scrolling in another application.  That is very useful to me.

Settings for this are available going to Start and typing, “Mouse and touchpad settings” and shown below.  This is only if you are interested in looking or need to change the settings.

Hover Scroll

February 24, 2015

Google Tricks, Part 2

Last week we looked at several of Google’s "tricks." Harold, from Broadway, VA was the first to ask about more Google tricks from the many emails I received. So today we will look at a few more useful Google features of which you may be aware.

If you are like me you never truly understood how to relate metric measurements with good old USA measurements.  The U.S. customary system was created from English units which were in use in the British Empire before America’s independence. Unfortunately, the British system of measures was refurbished in 1824 which gave us the Imperial system.  In Google, type what you need to convert like this, "14 inches to centimeters" or meters and then vice versa.  You will get accurate info right away.  You can do volume too, like "liters to quarts," etc.

How about finding the definition of a tricky word?  Go to Google and type, "define: jentacular" and do not forget the colon.  Now you know…and now you can go look to see what it is.

Would you like to know where your package is located or when it will arrive?  Try Google by typing the tracking number into the search box.  Google will track Fed-Ex, UPS and USPS to name a few.

Do you have problems with math?  Google again with the formula, even very complicated ones.  Do not forget your parenthesis if needed.

Now here is a neat one I recently discovered.  Try, "set timer to 3:04pm" or "set timer to 6 minutes 32 seconds."  Minimize the window and go about your work, with your volume on.  This works great on your computer, tablet or phone.  You will know when to stop boiling your eggs. 

Want to know when you favorite TV Show is on next, try "NCIS episodes." 

Check NCIS episodes

This one is slick.  Do you have a picture and you want to find a similar photo?  Have the picture on your computer or in the browser.  Go to Google and look up anything and then click the "Images" link.  Then click and drag your photo up to the Google search area and drop it.  I tried a picture of my house and it found similar houses including my actual house from the real estate listing!   


Here is one with individual parts but you can limit it to just one or two items.  Try this search, "lyrics ‘imagine all the * for today’ " and on this one do not use the starting and ending parenthesis and change the singles to doubles.  First off, "lyrics" will just look for lyrics, obvious.  The quoted, "imaging all the * for today" will find all the lyrics for "Imagine."  The asterisk is a wild card and will find any characters in that section of text which are missing from your search.  So even if you do not know all the words you can still find things.

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.


September 30, 2014


I have always been very careful when working on building a new computer.  There are certain things you must do; however, I missed one a couple of weeks ago.  (Geek confession coming up.)

Someone came to me and basically said since I am a geek and obviously quite knowledgeable with computers would I totally rebuild theirs.  I do not usually do things like this any longer.   Not that I do not enjoy building new computers; I actually very much enjoy doing so.  However, over years of being in the business I have found that if I do this, I end up owning all of the problems that arise with that system for evermore.  No matter what happens, no matter how many years down the road they come back to me for "free" help.  In one case it was so bad I got calls and emails for six months after the build.  If they were something that I caused…no problem I was more than happy to fix them.  However, the overwhelming number of times it was the user causing issues.

This was a person I know and trust and a good friend so I did it anyway.

He gave me a list of the applications he wanted installed, and original licensed discs for the programs that he still had.  Time for a warning to all of you who want to rebuild a computer or get a new one:  Make sure you have the original discs for licensed programs or it could be costly.  For instance, your Windows installation disc, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc. 

He also included all of his email account usernames and passwords, so that I could set up his accounts.  Another warning here, I do not recommend you do this unless you absolutely, positively, totally trust the installer.

As always you start with the operating system, Windows 8.1, a full reformat of the hard drive, etc. 

For Microsoft Office versions there has always been a small issue when you perform a reinstall.  In the olden days you had to speak with a live customer service rep for 30 – 45 minutes to get an approval.  They had to make sure that you did not have an illegal copy.  Today you call an 800 number and punch buttons for several minutes and get an OK.  Then you type in more numbers in your computer and you are approved.

Next, the multitude of upgrades.

After about five or six hours I was almost done.  For a while I tested, updating some more apps as necessary.  Another Windows update or so and done.  He was going to install his only data files when I got it back to him so I did not have to upload those.  I was finally finished, no big deal…until…

Strange things started happening in the browser.  Homepages changing, popups flying and then my brain finally kicked in; I had not installed any antivirus.  I now had several viruses running on a brand new computer.  One was trying to take over the system entirely.

I could have resolved them one-by-one; however, on a brand new system that is not the way I would do it.  So the rebuild began.

Guess what I installed before I got online this time?  You better have guessed right – his antivirus software and all was right with the world… another five to six hours later.

What a jerk I am; however, I hope you learned something from my mistake!

January 28, 2014


Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

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

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.

  •   A very good cloud storage app.  Use the supplied link to sign up and get more space.
  • Kill  This application will totally wipe your drive clean so that it is almost impossible to retrieve deleted data.
  • Nexus 7  My current favorite Android tablet. 
  • and  The very popular free and paid TV movie streaming apps. 
  • Google  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.
  •  A wallpaper changer which was less than adequate at the time I wrote about it.
  • Google  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.
  •  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.
  • and  Two popular social web sites.
  • A safe place to pay for online purchases.
  • Device  How to locate, send an alert or wipe your data from your Android device(s).
  •  Operating system which operates as well as Windows; however, this one is free. 
  • Join  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  A free app that will locate and remove unwanted programs including adware, toolbars, bloat-ware, crap-ware and other junk.
  • AniPet A nice live wallpaper for Android devices. Also similar for Windows and OSX is Serene Screen at 
  • and  A good and much better GPS navigation app for your mobile devices. 
  •,, Internet Explorer – search at, and  The five most popular web browsers.
  • OpenOffice ( and LibreOffice ( 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! 

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