DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

February 2, 2016

I Took One for the Team

It finally happened to me, the tech "professional."  After years of reading, writing, researching, testing and reporting on technology and applications I got in trouble.

When I suggest software to you I have always tested the applications or sites that I recommended before telling you about them.  In testing software applications I test them in a "sandbox."  No, not that kind of sandbox.  

A sandbox for a geek is a place created on a computer which has no or very limited access to other parts of your computer.  The sandbox is like a computer running within your regular computer system but it cannot touch anything on the main system unless you allow it to do so.  Once you are finished with the sandbox you can easily delete the entire thing and be done.  That way you can run untested applications and if they work without any issues you can feel safe about installing it on your main system.  If they negatively affect your sandbox after testing you can delete the entire sandbox and it is all gone.  Safe and sound.  After testing I tell you about the app.

You may then ask, "Why don’t you tell us the bad ones, Ron?"  The reason I do not tell you about the bad apps goes something like this:  I mentioned a popular app one time that tracked when you go on the internet for advertising purposes.  I mentioned the name of the product.  A week later I was contacted by the company’s lawyers "requesting" me to retract my statement. 

I am one little techie who writes part time and I have no legal reps.  So I presented my facts to the attorney with lines of code and proof.  I asked if he wanted me to post the entire findings online and in the next column.  I received an email back stating that was only in the free version; the paid version was clean.  They sent me the paid version to test.  I never heard back from them.  I do not want to play that game again.  

Back to the present.  I installed a new application on my PC…no sandbox, oops.  

After the installation finished I ran the program testing whether it did what it was supposed to do.  It worked pretty well but not well enough for me to recommend.  So I uninstalled it from my PC, not the sandbox. 

I immediately noticed that all of my browsers now opened my homepage tab and a fake Yahoo page.  The page was not related to the real Yahoo but it sure looked good.  I tried all of the known fixes for a browser highjack and it would not go away.  I then searched online and yes, it was a known malware from installation of the program I had tested.  It gave some suggestions on how to possibly resolve it.  I tried them, rebooted and now that computer will no longer start.  Shoot me an email if you wish to know the application that I believe caused the issue. 

I will be working on it this week and give you any results I have next time.  Stay tuned as the adventure continues.  

January 18, 2016

2016-01-18 Show Notes

Welcome back to the show notes from this morning.  The podcast should be ready tomorrow and I will post it here when I know that it is ready.

I hope you had a chance to listen but if not here is a list of a few of the things we mentioned today.

Tech News
Two great online weather apps, in Jim’s and my opinions.  At the least two of the better ones available today.

AccuWeather

WeatherSpark


Judge says Facebook tagging violates protective orders

You don’t have to physically get close to a person or to call and text them to end up violating a protection order. According to Acting Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Susan Capeci, tagging the victim, which sends them a notification, is enough to breach the order and ultimately land the perpetrator in jail. Capeci made the ruling for a case filed against a woman named Maria Gonzalez who was prohibited by law from contacting her sister-in-law. While she didn’t blow up the sister-in-law’s phone or show up uninvited to her house, she reportedly created a Facebook account and tagged her on some status updates.

One called the sister-in-law, Maribel Calderon, "stupid," and the other allegedly read: "You and your family are sad…You guys have to come stronger than that!! I’m way over you guys but I guess not in ya agenda." Protection or protective orders, by the way, are sometimes used interchangeably with restraining orders. There is a distinct difference between the two, though: protective orders are the maximum protection the law can grant to victims of family violence.

Gonzalez has been charged with second-degree criminal contempt for the status updates, which could land her in prison. Her side tried to argue that she wasn’t explicitly banned from contacting Calderon via Facebook. The judge, however, pointed out that Gonzalez was ordered not to contact Calderon via "electronic or any other means."

Continue…


Do I stay or do I go now? Google Maps can tell you.

Now Google can even tell you where to go…and when.

Well, Google Maps has good news for you. If you use Google Maps you can find out whether you should hit the road or put in some gym time while you wait out the grid lock. Get information like ETAs, traffic updates, nearby gas prices and quickest routes to familiar places–like home, work and recently searched destinations–all without entering a destination.

If like me you have preset home and work locations along with having location history enabled you will see ETAs at times when you’re likely to be heading to these destinations. These suggestions are based on location data, time of day and day of week. And if you’re logged in, it will suggest destinations based on recent Google Maps and Google searches when you are in the driving.


Stay Safer Online
Ron’s preference for keeping your computer safe beyond anti-virus applications. 
Malwarebytes
 

A caller also recommended "SpyBot Search and Destroy" which is also excellent for the same purpose. Thanks to Dave (I believe, please correct me if I am wrong) for that tidbit!  
SpyBot Search and Destroy


That is it until next month, February 15, 2016.

Have a great time computing!

Ron Doyle, Double Click

January 5, 2016

2015 Sites in Review, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 10:54 am

Welcome to the 15th year of "Double Click."  It has been a pleasure giving you computer and tech information each week since January, 2002.

Each January I review the sites I wrote about during the previous year.  If the site addresses are too long for print I have shortened them using a branded short domain from Bitly.  Read more about it from the following link if you are interested. The links will be preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers.  Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites.  They are case sensitive so be careful.

Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Secunia, secunia.com – an application updater similar to Windows Update but this is for your individual applications.
  • FileHippo App Manager, rd.dblclx.com/1R6077Y – similar to Secunia but much easier to use.
  • Chrome 54% (rd.dblclx.com/1Uf9jX0), Firefox 15% (firefox.com), Microsoft Internet Explorer 15% (included with all versions of Windows) – these are the three most popular web browsers.
  • Google.com, no explanation needed.
  • Ninite.com, an easy way to build a new computer and get many programs set up with one download and one installation.
  • Internet Crime Complaint Center, ic3.gov/complaint – here is where to go when you need to notify the government about "bad" sites and scams.
  • YouTube for Kids at the Google Play Store, rd.dblclx.com/kidsoutube – where you get all of your Android applications.
  • Avast.com – my favorite antivirus for the current time.
  • Malwarebytes.org – a vital add-on app to go with your antivirus.
  • Facebook.com – you probably are already using this site, if not, do not so you can keep your life.
  • Coffitivity.com, RainyMood.com – two programs that add background noise on your computer which may (or may not) help you concentrate on what you are doing.  I like a real coffee shop myself. 
  • DoubleClicks.info – probably one of the most overlooked but most informative sites on the web for computer questions and answers.  
  • Amazon.com – you know this one but for Christmas alone the Seattle-based company added 3 million new Amazon Prime subscribers only in the third week of December. (A gross income of almost $300 million.)
  • Class-Central.com and Coursera.org (MOOC – Massive Open Online Course
  • Game Oldies, game-oldies.com – you may be able to find your old favorites here whether, GameBoy, Nintendo NES, Atari, etc. Arkanoid was my favorite.
  • Flux, justgetflux.com – this uses your computer’s location and system time to adapt the colors to warmer colors at night and sunlight-like colors during the day (the normal setting). Supposedly better for your brain and eyes.  
  • Kaspersky Software Updater (kaspersky.com/free-tools) SUMo (kcsoftwares.com) Update Notifier (rd.dblclx.com/1O6gKMq) – all good software "updaters" like FileHippo mentioned at the beginning however, I believe FileHippo is the easiest to use and finds many apps.
  • Google Chrome Browser Extensions, rd.dblclx.com/ChromeExtens – this is where you can find many good extensions for the Chrome Browser so it can do more for you.  I listed many in the article from June, 2015.
  • PCDecrapifier, pcdecrapifier.com– this standalone app removes junk programs and PUPs from your system.

This gets us through June of 2015, next week the last six months of 2015 links. Thanks for reading the column and emailing me with your great questions.  I love writing it and hearing from you! 

December 22, 2015

Last Minute Tech Gifts

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:28 am

Do you need a present for a geek right now!  Well, you do not have much time left.  Christmas is in days.  What can you run out and get right now since Amazon does not have enough time to get it to you before the big day?

Here we go on a quick trip of tech gift ideas which do not cost too much.  All of them can be found around town in different stores…if you hurry.

Wrapped Presents

How about a thumb drive for your tech friend to store portable files on?  Or in the case of people whose cars have a USB port in the radio, they can load their music to it and listen as they drive about town.  I have seen and purchased 64 GB ones locally for $9.99.  Depending on how they have compressed the song files that thumb drive could hold an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 songs. They can also be used to store duplicate files from the My Documents or any other folders on their computer. 

ChromecastsNow a suggestion from Google.  If you have a Chromecast you know how well they operate.  They basically give you the ability to broadcast anything to your TV from your phone or computer.  If your friends have a Smart TV you already have many of the features. But if not, all you need is a HDMI port on your TV and you are set.  The retail price is $35.

Next how about a surge suppressor?  You have seen your friend’s desktop computer with everything plugged directly into the wall.  You know that sooner or later there will be a power spike of some sort that ruins his system.  Get a surge suppressor with several outlets and also ports for USB cables.  For anywhere from $12 to $50 you can save them a bundle. 

Everyone can use an additional USB charging cable.  People have phones, MP3 players, watches and many other devices that use them.  They get lost and even wear out over time.  There are many different types of connectors on the other end of the USB cable, so make sure you find the correct one.  Depending on the type I have seen them this week from six dollars to $15. 

How about a Tablet?  If your friend does not have one and wants to try one out now is the time.  How about for you kids and grandkids?  Just do not let them be on it all the time.  I found one for mine at $40.  In this price range the resolution is not that great for reading.  But the kids are playing games and they are fine for gaming.  I did see some quite serviceable ones for $80 that I would easily consider.  Of course, tablets get better and better for up to the $300 range.  These good prices are for Android devices only.  Windows and Apple products will cost significantly more.

Now I have recommended all of these gifts for your friends.  But let us be honest…these can be gifts for you too!  Either way, have a very Merry Christmas! 

December 21, 2015

2015-12-21 Christmas Show Notes

Welcome to the Christmas 2015 show mainly giving you ideas for what to pick up around town before Christmas. These are geek-friendly so they may work for you or others. Have fun and listen to the podcast while you are here for even more information


We did get into the first web page ever displayed yesterday, December 20, 1990. It was only seen by local viewers.

The real public site was on August the next year. The original code was never captured for the future; however, here is a very close to exact recreation.

http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html


  • Smart Watches ~$250 (Wearable Tech) LG Watch R – lg.com
    Motorola Moto 360 – Motorola.com
    Pebble – pebble.com


  • Fitness Trackers (Wearable Tech) Fitbit – fitbit.com
    Jawbone, Garmin and many more.


  • Cameras (Point n shoot) or Digital SLRs From $100 to $17,995 (used Mamiya DM56 last year it was $19,995)

  • Tablets Lower Prices may reflect older versions
    • Surface Pads (Microsoft) $900
    • iPads (Apple) $600
    • Androids (anyone except MS and Apple) – $300
      Samsung Galaxy Tablets seem to be the most talked about, depending on whose review you see, but it is also has one of the higher price points.

  • SSD Hard Drive These drives are replacing the regular disk hard drives we have been using since circa 1980.

    They are digital so they boot almost immediately and are much faster and retrieving and storing data.

    Many makes and sizes; however, now you can get good ones on sale starting at around $65 for 248GB.


  • Stop and Grabs

    >>> Thumb Drives

    >>> Surge Suppressors

    >>> Cables

    >>> Bluetooth Keyboards


Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ron

December 8, 2015

Another Christmas Gift

When work, vacation time and life all work together my wife and I like to go camping.  Many times we are camping in areas without electricity.  Now do not misunderstand, since I am writing about camping in December.  We DO NOT camp, other than in a warm hotel, during the winter.  However, it did get me thinking about something that could be a good gift for you to give this year.

We are not totally wilderness campers meaning that if we have cell service we like to have our phones available.  You know – kids, grandkids, aging relatives…use your imagination. So cell phones are good to have with us.  When out camping without electricity sometimes the phones’ batteries give it up.

In comes the gift, a portable “gadget” charger.  There are maybe a million of them out there.  No, I have not counted but there are a plethora at least.  I have tested a couple and then last year about this time I saw one that was highly rated in an ad and on a great sale.

It is called a “Kmashi 15000mAh External Battery Power Bank” and it works quite well.  I bought it last Christmas for us to use, you guessed it, when camping.

Front view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

The Kmashi regularly sells for $59.95 but last year Amazon had a special for the holidays making it $19.99.  At that price and with the excellent reviews I bought one.  There are a couple of less expensive and more expensive versions of the Kmashi that respectively supply less or more power.  A rating higher than 15000mAh power means that instead of charging a device three or four times like mine, it will charge them more times.  A smaller number means the opposite.  This is true for all of these charger types.

I tested mine when I bought it and it took several hours to charge the unit itself but once charged we got about four phones or tablets charged before it needed a recharge.  It has four lights that show you the power remaining on the charger as it works.  That lets you know when it is running out of power.  It also has three ports and an on/off button.  Two of the ports are for inserting your charging cable and then connecting to your phone.  They are regular USB ports and yes, you can charge two devices at one time.  The final port is where you charge the Kmashi itself.


Graphic below is (from left to right) charging port, on/off button
(barely visible), 4 power lights, over under ports to phones/tables, etc.

Controls view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

If you think this is something you or a friend may like, Amazon is offering another deal right now.  Here is a link to the device: rd.dblclx.com/1PG9nRf.  Before you check out of your shopping cart use DNWS3612 as your coupon code.  This code will reduce the price even further to $12.50.  If you are a prime member you will not even need to pay shipping.

Of course, buyer beware, this code worked for us, yes we bought another one for a gift, as of this writing.  But if the code does not work for you, Google for another one.

October 20, 2015

Windows 10, Part 9–Taskbar

The Taskbar in Windows 10 has some new features some of which we will look at today.

Right click on the start buttonFirst off, right click on your start menu button and get a surprise.  There are more than 15 different windows functions available in a list.  There you will find "Programs and Features" used to uninstall programs and install Windows features.  You will also find "Task Manager" "Control Panel" and "File Explorer" which are some of the more common ones you may use.  To use one left click on that item.

It is easy to add a program to the start menu or the taskbar if you want to.  First click the start button and find the program you wish to "pin", right click it and choose either "Pin to Start" or "Pin to taskbar" according to the location you prefer.  Note that if you choose Start it will appear as a tile on the right side of the menu.  At this point in time you cannot list it on the left side as a text link. 

If you wish to remove a pinned item in either area all you do is right click on the icon or tile and choose, "Unpin…" 

The last taskbar element we will look at is how to hide or display which program icons you want to appear on the right side of the taskbar when they are running.  They are in the notification area next to the time.  Some items like Volume or Network (to see if you are online or not) you may always want to see.  Others like, Bluetooth devices, your security software or "Microsoft Office Document Cache" you may never care about seeing in the taskbar.

To adjust these icons you will need to get into the settings area.  Using, "Ron’s easy way" click the start button, type "notifications" then click on "Notifications & actions settings."  Once there look to the middle of the screen click the text link that states "Select which icons appear on the taskbar."  Then for the ones you want to see click the on/off switch for the application to either on or off to see them.  Once you change one it will immediately appear of vanish from the right side of the taskbar.  If you want to see all programs currently running you can click "Always show all icons in the notification area" to on.  Play with them and see what suits your needs. 

If you miss the "Quick Launch" toolbar from Windows XP, as I do, you can add it back into Windows 10.  It is easy to do.

  1. Right click on the taskbar and make sure it is unlocked. 
  2. Right click on the taskbar again, choose "Toolbars" then "New Toolbar…"
  3. Enter, "C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch" (without the quotes) and click "Select folder."
  1. Replace "Username" with your login username for windows. 

After completing this the Quick Launch Toolbar will immediately appear on the right side of your taskbar.  If the taskbar is still unlocked you can move it by clicking on the dotted lines and dragging the toolbar where you want it to remain.  If not unlocked you cannot move it. 

Right click on Quick Launch toolbar to remove text and titleTo remove the text on Quick Launch, right click on the dotted lines (at the left edge of the new toolbar) and uncheck "Show Text" as well as "Show Title" from the menu.  Drag programs and folders into QL as you wish. 

Below, screenshot before Text and Title are UNchecked.image

 

Below, screenshot after they have been unchecked.
image

October 13, 2015

Windows 10, Part 8 – Personalization

Windows 10, Part 8 – Personalization

Today we look at personalizing Windows 10 so that it looks and acts the way you want and not the way it arrives.

To start with, how about using another picture or one of your own pictures as your desktop wallpaper?  Things have changed a bit regarding this.  The pictures Microsoft has preloaded are very high quality so let me tell you how to use those first.

You can get there several ways.  From this point on I will give you Ron’s quick way to move around. Just keep in mind that there are several other ways to get to the same place.

To change the background graphic simply right-click on your current desktop picture and click "Personalize."  Now you are in the Personalization Settings menus and the "Background" tab will be selected on the left.  If not click "Background."  

Personalization options

 

Background settings windowYou will see the Preview at the top showing you approximately what your windows theme looks like now.  Below it you will see "Background" and the picture will be below it.  Click one of the MS included pictures below it to change the current wallpaper.  Once you have the one you like simply close the settings window.  Correct, there is no save button.  

To add your own photograph as the wallpaper/background – underneath the MS pictures you will see the word "Browse."  Once the browse button is clicked you will need to navigate to the correct folder which holds the picture you wish to use.  Once found click the graphic you choose and select "Choose picture." 

The last setting is to select the "Choose a fit" option which adjusts the way the graphics fill the screen.  I usually use the "Fit" or "Fill" route but I recommend you play with them until you are happy with the results.  

To try some other wallpaper options go back under the Preview and click the Picture dropdown.  There you will have "Solid Color" or "Slideshow."  Solid color is self-explanatory and many people prefer this.  The slideshow is similar to picking an individual picture; however, instead of selecting one graphic you need to select a folder that contains the pictures you want to use.  Do not open the photo containing folder but only select it, then choose "Choose a folder."  Your pictures will cycle through on your desktop.

While you are in the personalization settings look to the left.  Use "Colors" to change the colors of menus and taskbar, etc. 

"Lock screen" is used to change the picture of your login window. It works just like the background settings without the slideshow choice.   You can also choose to show your appointments and emails on the lock screen along with several other apps.  I do not use this as I do not want my personal information displayed if I walk away from my computer. There are several other minor settings here also.  Next, "Themes" work as they did in days gone by so I won’t explain anything.  Only difference is the look of the menus.

Lastly, under personalization is "Start" where it allows you to pick what you do and do not want to use on your Start Menu.  The only one I avoid is "Use Start full screen" but if you tried it and cannot get out try click the start button and the menu will fill your entire screen then start typing "settings", then press enter, click "Personalization" and finally "Start" then click it off.

September 29, 2015

Windows 10, Part 6

Last week we looked at the new Start Menu in Windows 10.  If you read it you know that we only looked at the left side.  Today we venture on to the right side of the menu system in W10.

The right side of the start menu may send shivers of fear down your spine.  If it does you were almost certainly a former Windows 8 or 8.1 user.  It looks awfully familiar to the “Metro” window of those happy days gone by.

Right side of Ron's Start menuThe right side shows you “Tiles” some of which are live/active and some are not.  For instance, it will come with the default live news and weather tiles.  The news will provide a constantly changing “tile” which updates news during the time you are on your computer.  The weather tile will do the same thing with the weather.  This is of course, when you have started the menu.

You must first set up the weather by clicking on the tile to open it and set your location.  I used my zip code and it found everything very quickly.

The regular, non-live tiles have an icon and the name of the program they connect to.  When you click them the program opens.  These are pretty much the same as the old Windows 7 menu that had text links which opened the specific programs.

You can move the tiles around on the start menu, change their sizes to small, medium, wide and large depending on what the tile allows.  You can also group the tiles.  The default is the group with the news and weather titled, “Life at a glance.”

You can also change the size of the menu.  To do this move your mouse to the top or side edge of the menu and when you see the double headed arrow, click and drag.  Doing so will make the menu larger or smaller as you would like. If you would like, you can go to All Settings, Personalization, Start and cut on “Use Start full screen.”  The menu will then cover your desktop.

If you want to add any program to the start menu all you need to do is find the program in the All Apps area, right click it and then click, “Pin to start.”  In just a second it will appear in the start menu and you may then proceed to size and/or move it as you wish.

Now on to, “The reason Ron really does not like the new menu.”  My reason is I like the old menu since I could add my five or 10 apps to the top of the menu bar and get to them quickly.  In my opinion more quickly than I can in the new W10 menu.  I have started using it; however, I just do not appreciate not being able to put items on the left side of the menu as I want them placed.

I have solved this for myself by adding those particular apps to the right side as tiles and setting them at the small tile size.  I do not like the wasted space when compared to text links but it is doable.

One last thing you can do if you really do not want the new menu is to install IObit’sStart Menu 8” (rd.dblclx.com/1LShmDO).  It brings a very similar Windows 7 start menu back to you and worked well on Windows 10 and 8.1 when I tried it out.

Personally I decided to stick with the W10 menu and get used to it, which is working for me so far. Iobit's Start Menu 8 sample

September 22, 2015

Windows 10, Part 5

Starting today we will look at some of the new features found in Windows 10.  The most anticipated addition to Windows 10 (over 8.1) is the Start Menu.  The start menu has had a big change between W8.1 and W10; however, not so great between W7 and W10.  

The start menu is accessed through the Windows button on the left end of the taskbar as it has been for past generations of Windows.  You can also press the actual Windows key on your keyboard to pop up the menu.

There are two major sections of the new menu, left and right…easy so far. 

Ron's current Windows 10 Start MenuThe left side which is a list area has several sections.  From the top down they are User info, "Most used" apps and "Recently added" apps along with several system settings and search.

User info shows your icon and username for your account if you set it up when you installed Windows 10.  If you click it you get, "Change account settings" "Lock" and "Sign out."   Of course, you can use the keyboard combination of Windows key + L to lock your system.  However, in my opinion it should be in the bottom section near Power.  This is where it always was in the past. 

"Most used" and "Recently added" links’ uses are obvious for your applications.  However, unlike previous versions of windows, you cannot add apps you want to have in that side anywhere or in any way.  There have been many complaints about this online so keep your fingers crossed for a "new" old feature.  

The system settings labeled at the lower left have the defaults of File Explorer, Settings, Power and All apps.  File explorer has not changed much from the previous versions.  Settings is basically the old "Control Panel" with a modern new look. You may click the start button and type, "control panel" and still get to the old one if you prefer.  

When you click the Power link/button, Sleep, Shut down or Restart are found.  These have the same uses as previous versions with a new location.

Next you will find "All apps." This is where all your applications are found.  This was named "All Programs" in W7.

If you click All apps you will get an alphabetized list of all the applications installed on your computer.  Use your mouse, touch screen or up/down arrows to scroll the list.  Click on the application you want to run and it runs.  Another quick way to use the new applications list is to click on any the labeled letters in the list. When you do this a table of all letters will appear. To open Excel, for example, click on E and you will jump to all of the applications on your computer which start with E.  Then click the application name for it to open. 

If you cannot see all of the letters move your mouse to the top edge of the start menu.  When you see a double ended arrow click and drag up/down to resize the menu as needed.

Next week we look at the right side and tiles.

 Click a letter to find apps that start with that letter.        Click a letter to jump to alphabet

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