DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 11, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 4

Thanks for all of the emails I have received regarding the last few columns on applications and sites I use.

I will answer a few more questions today.

I am often asked how I check my email accounts.  Since I probably have many more than the average user I may operate a little differently than most folks.  For my main Gmail account I use the Gmail.com website and all is well.

Thunderbird logo

However, since I have email for testing, personal, work, columns, and purchasing I also like to keep them in one place so I only have to check one application.  Now this can all be done through Gmail but I prefer using a better (IMHO) application.  That application is Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) which was created by Mozilla.  Mozilla is the same company that produced the Firefox browser.

Using Thunderbird I can have all of my email accounts in one location with separate inboxes for each.  It was quite easy to set up with only my email addresses and their corresponding passwords.  So if you have Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo mail, etc. you can now view them all in one place with access to many advanced features the web sites do not have.

Evernote logoI get this question often from readers, "If you are out and think of something you want to write down or make a note of for later…where do you put it?"  I could be a wise guy and say take paper and pencil with you and write it down.  But unless you are my buddy Shannon you have a phone with you already so you are set.  There are many applications you can take notes with, Evernote (Evernote.com) being one of the leaders. However, the one I use I believe is even better and much more user friendly.   It is Google Keep (keep.google.com) and you can tell by its name who the company in charge is. 

Google Keep logo

With Keep you can, from your phone, tablet or computer, type in a note, create a list, add a photo, copy from a website and paste it in a note or even leave an audio message.  An audio message will be converted to a test message and both will be saved in Keep.  There are many other features that you should check out.  

Another neat feature is that you can set alarms for individual messages if you wish.  The alarms can be set for a date and time or even a location.  If you need to remember to take out the trash when you get home from work you can set your home location for a message to remind you.  If you need to do something at 10:43 AM next Tuesday, set a note with the alarm. 

We will start looking into Windows 10 toward the end of the month.  Keep sending in those W10 questions.

Windows 10 logo

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!

February 26, 2013

Program Installations with a Twist, Part 2

Last time we discussed Portable Applications for your windows computers.

There are several great things about portable programs.  One being they are independent which means they stand alone.  For instance, when installing them you select only one folder. Once installed, you will find that program and all of its related files in that folder.  This is totally unlike windows installations of today.

Being completely self-contained enables you to move the folder to any other location on your computer or copy it to another computer and it works.  It also works absolutely the same as it did in its previous location.  Also, they give you a brilliant solution to one of life’s larger windows headaches (IMHO).  If you do not like the program, you can delete the folder and it is gone … totally.

So much for the refresher course.  Now we can get onto some of the important info I did not tell you last time.  For instance, what are some of the applications available today as portable applications or programs?  Here is a very short list.  There are many different types of games.  One of my favorites is “Atomic Tanks” and of course, “Sudoku.”  Next, how about a great portable browser-namely Firefox’s latest version.  There is a very good email program, (if you do not check your email at online sites) “Thunderbird.”  Do you need an excellent graphics program which challenges the abilities of other high priced ones?  Try, “Gimp.”  There are many types of RSS-Feed readers and music managers/players.  Have you ever used the full version of VLC for CD and/or DVD playback?  If so and you like it, get the portable version.  Several good chat/IM applications are available so look for them too.

imageThe last three (and there are many, many more) biggies that I will mention today are first, the Office replacements that many know and love, “Libre Office” and “Open Office” are both available.  The final bigwig program is “Skype.”

These programs, which I have tried, run as well as the full blown versions.  I really can’t complain.  Of course it also depends on your computer, but they are worth a try. If you want to give them a shot.

Oh, did I forget to mention that all of these applications are free, yes totally without hidden advertising (at least, that I have run into yet).

One thing before you start downloading all of these programs.  Make sure you have uninstalled the full version before you start playing with the portable version.  If not you may get the computer and yourself confused.

imageFinally, where do you find the portable applications?  Easy, go to “PortableApps.com” and click on the, “Get Apps” link at the top of the page.  There are other sites out there; however, this is one of the first and best.

When you install them where you downloaded the file will be the automatic location of the program, so choose somewhere else.  If you have a portable thumb drive plugged into your computer it will automatically choose to install the program there.  The reason is these programs were actually created to run on thumb drives for portability; hence the name.  Once installed go to the file with the word Portable” on the end of it and double click it.  This starts the application.

If you do not like the program and want to delete it, delete the folder containing the program and you are done, without reboots or any worry about it clogging up your system with useless cruft.

July 31, 2012

Got Software To Install? Try Ninite

In a column last year, I mentioned in passing an application that has come to my attention (through my own research and a few emails from readers). Today, we will take a look at a delightful little program named, “Ninite,” found online at ninite.com.
 
This is a freeware offering from the developer and, of course, the developer is also offering a pro version for a fee. I would not worry too much about the pro version, which appears to be geared toward users who have multiple computers to take care of, which usually isn’t the case for individuals like you and me.
 
SNAGHTML3a45b7If you go over to the Ninite, you can choose programs you want installed on your computer. This is especially useful if you get a new computer and know of several applications that you want to install. This will keep you from having to print out a list of all the programs currently on your computer.
 
Not all of the world’s programs are on the site, but the ones you hear about most often are available. At last count (and, yes, I really did count them) there were 91 applications listed.
 
If you want one that is not on the site, you are out of luck …  this time. However, you can ask for the missing app to be added to the list and it may be there next time you visit.
 
imageTo get your combined installation file, check off each application that you would like to install. After you have finished selecting the proper applications, click the “Get Installer” button. The next screen will ask if you want to share your experience online (Facebook or Twitter) or sign up for their newsletter. After that, you get a popup (depending on your computer’s settings) that asks you to download your new file.
 
Once you download the file (one single, executable file) make sure you know where it is so you can easily find it later. Double click the file and the installs will begin. The applications will automatically be installed onto your new computer. Ninite includes an installation list and, as it installs, shows you each application so you can easily keep up with the progress.
 
Since I just received a new work computer and had to set it up, I learned one thing that was very interesting: The installs go much quicker using Ninite than they do individually. I installed 24 of the 91 available applications. I did not time the installation process, but the “feels like” index was basically … really fast (yeah, a high-end computer engineering term).
 
When I wrote about Ninite in days-gone-by, I mentioned something that I did not like about it at that time. When I ran the installation file, it would install some applications in an older version than the one I was using and I could get on each individual program’s homepage.
 
I would now like to tell you, “Not so any longer.” I got the most recent versions of every application I chose and they installed smoothly and with absolutely no problems.
 
Ninite is truly a great app and I highly recommend it if you need something like this!

December 20, 2011

Christmas Geek Tips

This will be the last you hear from me in the DNR until 2012 so I thought I would give you some Christmas geek tips and sites to tide you over through the holidays.

First, I figure a few of my readers are getting new computers for Christmas.  Yes, from your emails I realize some of you wanted a column about picking new computers.  I only do those every couple of years so you will have to wait on that.  However, I do have a couple of suggestions on applications you should use on your new computer.

What exactly does Decrapifier do?Before you go anywhere online with your new computer MAKE SURE you have an antivirus application working.  After your new computer is online go to pcdecrapifier.com to download Decrapifier.  Geeks call the free apps that come preinstalled on a new computer "Crapware" since most of it is junk and unnecessary.  I will not list them here but there are many.  I even suggest removing the free antivirus app that comes preloaded and getting one those you can get for free.  Most likely the free antivirus software is free for a short period of time.  Then you have to purchase it to keep it going.

Decrapifier scans your system and suggests software you can remove which you most likely do not need.  You can choose which ones to get rid of and keep the ones you like.  Just follow the directions and you will be fine.

After you remove the programs you may never use it is time to install all of your favorites.  You know the apps I am talking about.  For example the applications I always want on my computer are Firefox as my browser, Thunderbird for email, Skype, iTunes, VLC, Microsoft Security Essentials and several others.  I count these as my personal default applications.

imageIf you go over to the Ninite site at ninite.com you can choose programs you want installed on your computer.  Now not all of the programs in the world are on the site, but the major ones you hear about and use are available.  If you want one that is not on the site you are out-of-luck this time.  However, you can ask for the missing app to be added to the list and it may be there next time you visit.  Once your list is complete click the, "Get Installer" link, download it and run it.  The applications will automatically be installed on your new computer.

I have run Ninite several times over the past few years and it works very well.  However, the last time I ran it; one application could not be installed.  So for that one, I had to go to the application’s site and install it there as I did in the "old" days.

OK, I know this is the Christmas column so I cannot leave without giving you the link to Norad so you can follow Santa on his flight later this week.  Surf to the Norad Santa Tracker at noradsanta.org and follow the man.

August 10, 2010

Email Apps

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:08 am

Thanks for the emails I received regarding the last column about “Secure P@55w0rdz“.  Most of you commented on the spelling I used in that word.  That is somewhat standard usage by geeks.  I’m glad you enjoyed it.  Apparently it caused a few of you to increase your passwords’ difficultly level which is a good thing.  Several of you asked how to rate the strength of your password. Here is a site at Microsoft where you can check yours out, http://bit.ly/cG2pw0.

On to today… I received many questions about programs to read and send email.  Today we will look at some of the most popular free ones.  Don’t forget, “Ron likes free best!”, so that is all I will discuss today.

My old favorite was Microsoft Outlook Express; however, since companies always like to change things – they did.  With the dawn of Windows 7, OE was done away with and replaced by Windows Live Mail, explore.live.com/windows-live-mail.  This is a good email program but MS has something I like even better.  If you do not want to add another program to your computer, MS has an online version which includes even more.  There you will find email which does not require a download called Windows Live.  You can get to it the old way at hotmail.com or the new way at mail.live.com.  They go to the same site.

Next on my list is Thunderbird which is located at Mozilla.com.  If that address looks familiar to you it is because they are also the company which created Firefox (a great browser you could try while there).  Thunderbird has all the bells and whistles too, but make sure you only use IMAP in the setup if you know what it is.  I personally don’t care for IMAP but that’s just me.  To find out more about IMAP go to bit.ly/bYXOtk.

In my opinion those are the best for Windows users.  I would also like to mention that if you use Google’s Gmail account, they made a big change just this week.  Now Gmail is a little off topic since it is online only (although it can be added to the other two programs).  However, if you have multiple Gmail accounts you should use this new feature.

Log into your favorite Gmail account because this will be set to default.  Now, go to Settings / Accounts and Import / Google Account Settings and change “Multiple sign in” to on.  Then add your other Gmail accounts, follow the directions and you will like it.  After that you will be able to switch back and forth between those accounts without having to log off and back on.  Nice feature Gmail…thanks!

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