About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 10, 2015

November 5, 2013

Should I Remove It?

We are getting to that time of year again when people are thinking about buying a new PC for themselves or someone else.  Have no fear; this column is not about "How to find the best $5,000 computer for $14.95."  I stopped writing those articles several years ago since I stopped getting emails requesting them.  I think everyone is fairly familiar with getting a new computer.  But of course, if I get countless inquiries before Christmas I would be happy to write another one.

OK, onto today’s topic.  So you get a new computer and guess what?  Every single computer you purchase new from a computer company comes with bloatware, crapware, crudware or one of its many other names.  If you have no idea what they are read on.  Bloatware is basically all of the applications which come on your new computer and those installed over time that really do not do you much good.

For instance, if you are like me you have a favorite "free" antivirus program.  When you get a new computer it will almost certainly come preinstalled with one of the big name apps.  You go ahead and register for this program, since it is free.  The problem is that it will not be free after the free "test" period is complete.  Say in three to six months you have forgotten all about that application, but you get a warning telling you that it has expired and to be protected online you need to purchase it for the next year.  I am not saying that it is a bad app but you may not need it and may also be uneasy about deleting the program. 

There can be ten or even more of these types of applications installed on a new system.  The computer manufacturers receive a fee for putting these on their new systems, so that is why they are there. 

There are many ways to remove them.  My favorite if you are techie enough is to wipe the computer clean (yes, format the drive) and reinstall a clean copy of the operating system.  I DO NOT suggest that for everyone, just for geeks who already know this.  Next, if you know which applications are unnecessary, in Windows 7 go to "Control Panel" and then "Programs & Features" and individually delete them.  OK, for Windows XP, "Control Panel" then "Add or Remove Programs." Then in Windows 8, CP again and next "Uninstall or Change a Program."  OK, there are just too many Windows OS and since "7" is the most popular I will stick with it from now on.

imageYou may also get one of the many programs that will help you with this process.  The one I like most is a free application called, "Should I Remove It?" ( This is a neat little utility you can easily install and use.  Once you download the app it will install a shortcut on your desktop.  Double click the shortcut and the program will start and run for a minute or so looking for applications.

It has a database built from user input like yours.  Each program listed may or may not be crudware but you can scroll through the list and check.  Click on the program’s name see the percentage of people who uninstall it, check into it or choose, "What is it?" or "Uninstall."

"Uninstall" is self-explanatory but the other button will open your browser with information they have gathered about the application and other users’ thoughts regarding the app.  If after reviewing the information you decide you do not need it, click "Uninstall" and it will uninstall it using your windows uninstall program.

This is a very slick little application which actually uses user experiences to help you make a decision. 

March 12, 2013

Where Do You Want to Send It?

I often receive questions about how to change the "Send To" items which are found when you right click a file and scroll down to "Send To."   Some people feel there are too many items; others believe there are too few. Then there are those who don’t see the particular one they would prefer.  You may find some of these listed as options: Compressed (zipped) Folder, Desktop (create shortcut), Mail Recipient, My Documents, CD Drive or Fax Recipient (in my opinion the least used/useful of any).  The "Send To" feature has been around since Windows 95.  I previously wrote about it in XP days; however, it has significantly changed.

First, you need to decide what you want to do.  In this example we will plan two things; first a removal from the list, then we will add an item.

remove Fax RecipientWe will remove the "Fax Recipient" item from the list.  I have never met anyone who has a use for it and I bet you do not either. 

For real fun hold down your shift key and right click on a file.  While still holding the shift key go to the "Send To" link and see what you get…yes, everything Microsoft thinks you may possibly want.  In my opinion, there are way too many options.





You will need to find out where the links to these items are stored on your computer.  The hard way is to go to "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo."  Before you stop reading let me tell you the easy way to get there.  Click the Start button in the lower left corner of your desktop and type, "shell:sendto" without spaces and without the quotes.  After pressing the Enter key a folder will open with all of your default "Send To" areas.

Next, the really easy part awaits you.  To remove an item like "Fax Recipient" you right click the item and choose delete.  You may delete it the way you normally delete files…whatever makes you happy.  Immediately after you delete it from the list, try right clicking on a file again, scroll down to "Send To" and you will notice the item you delete will be gone.

For our added item we will add the "My Pictures" folder since you may find it very convenient to add pictures directly to that folder. 

Path for PhotosGo to the, "shell:sendto" folder again.  Yes, the same place you were before.  Right-click in an empty area of that folder and select "New" and "Shortcut."  Next to the textbox that states, "Type the location of the item," click the "Browse" button.  To find the pictures folder, click your username, scroll down and click on "My Pictures," then OK.  For the final step you can use the name entered for you.  In this case, "My Pictures" or you can change the name to whatever you want. To finish it off, click "OK." 

If you accidentally delete one of the items and want it back, open your "Recycle Bin." Find the one you removed, right click it and choose "Restore."  It will be added back to the list.

March 5, 2013

What are Those Hard to Read Characters for Anyway?

I receive questions about those goofy, hard to read letters which are found on many websites from time-to-time.  They are known as “Captchas.”  Yes, a nonsensical word, unless you are a geek. It actually stands for the word, “capture.”  Now that you just repeated them both in your mind, you are nodding – you get it!

imageWhen captchas first started out you usually found one “word” which you had to retype in a text box in order to proceed to the next step on a site.  I use the word “word” loosely since when the captcha craze first started out it was a combination of letters and usually did not spell an actual word.  Today they have advanced to multiple words or letter/number combos like “ck1U8iuX7” and appear slanted or wavy.

At first it was easy, but then with the addition of numbers, caps and slants things became a little more difficult.  Was that a numeral one (1) or the lowercase letter “l?” Is that a twisted capital “X” or lowercase?  So, to help out with that they added a reload button, which is basically one curved arrow chasing another.  If you clicked that button it would give you another word, sometimes to your advantage and sometimes not.

Later it was decided to add another button to “speak” the word.  The icon is usually represented by a small speaker for you to click.  I have tried these on occasion and I just LOL (Laugh-Out-Loud, for you non texting folks).  I cannot understand anything.  To me it sounds like static with a voice lightly speaking in the background; worthless.

OK, now you understand what they are but you still need to know the why of captcha.

Captchas were created to keep internet robots (sometimes called net-bots) from signing up for accounts on websites.  Basically I could offer the first one hundred people who join my website a free copy of my book (example only – I have no book).  A net-bot could immediately log onto my site and register hundreds of fake users in a matter of seconds; thereby, locking out real humans.

The captcha process is called a “challenge-response test.” This basically means that in order to make sure you are a real human it gives you a test that a computer cannot pass.  As we can see from above the “challenge” to you is to decipher the words you see in the graphic box and the “response” is for you to reenter that pattern of characters into a textbox.  If you pass the test you go to the next step, if not you can try another set of characters until you get it correct.

I use a captcha program called, “reCAPTCHA” which is owned by Google.  Google states that they are displaying over 100 million captchas every day with this service.

Captchas are a pain but it is all about internet security, so embrace it.

To try it out and see if you can pass the test by going to and click the “Contact Ron” link in the upper left of the page under “Pages.”  If you want to LOL hit the speaker and hear the hint.  And for another reCaptcha try this one.

January 21, 2013

2013-01-21 WSVA Show Notes

Today we covered the technology news of the days, sites you can visit and use along with HGTV shows, the Kardashians and even…yes, Paris Hilton.  What those last ones you may wonder.  To find out check out the podcast from today.

Tech News
Structural Shift in PC Market
Worldwide PC shipments dropped 4.9% in the fourth quarter pointing to a structural shift rather than just a weak economy, according to new data from technology research firm Gartner Inc. (IT)

"Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by "cannibalizing" PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC."

Apple Rumored to be developing a new "Have to Have" Gadget
The idea of a smartwatch is nothing new; we’ve seen plenty of wrist-borne accessories designed to work alongside smartphones, and even some running smartphone platforms themselves. Pebble, with its e-ink screen, looks like it will be quite nice (if it ever actually ships), especially for iOS users. What about an official Apple smartwatch, though? You can wear an iPod on a wrist strap, but that’s not quite the same thing. Well, Apple might just have a full-blown smartwatch project in the works, at least according to some new rumors out of Asia.

Supposedly, Apple and Intel have been working together on this smartwatch, which would feature a 1.5-inch OLED display. The watch would talk to your iPhone over a low-power Bluetooth connection.

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.)

Remember 1981 and Indiana Jones? Do you also remember Activision’s Atari 2600? Finally, how about Pitfall and Pitfall Harry? I remember it well as I spent many hours trying to avoid the jaws of the alligators on my Atari system.

The graphics are significantly better that the old sprites and game play from the last century and now you can play it on your phone!

Escape the wrath of an angry volcano while collecting ancient treasures in PITFALL!, an adrenaline-fueled, free-running adventure set in a deadly jungle with twists and turns that will always keep you on your toes.

Interesting article about the original.

USB Pet Rock
USB Pet Rock!
It’s back, it’s bold it’s beautiful! Just like the original up updated for the current times.

About.Me is a free service that lets you create a beautiful one-page website that’s all about you and your interests. Upload a photo, write a short bio, and add your favorite social networks to show the world the big picture of you. We’ve focused on enabling you to:

Quickly build a personal web page that points visitors to your content from around the web. It is like an online business card.

Check out mine at or my personal one I made myself.

Futuristic A-Frame Glasses Will Adjust to Fit Any Face
For some, the task of finding a pair of glasses or sunglasses is an epic task. Not only do you have to find a pair that compliments the shape of your face, but they also have to fit your face. With that in mind, designer Ron Arad designed the A-Frame line of glasses that can expand and contract to sit comfortably on any face address the latter issue.

Wonder Page
Wonderpage is a new visual, private & social bookmarking tool, it also serves perfectly as browser start-up page with super sweet bookmark grid display.

It gives you a thumbnail of each webpage you "bookmark" so that you can make this your home page on your browser and get to the places you visit regularly online very quickly.

At this site enter the date, time, phone number and message; then your phone will…

  • Set a wake-up call at a specific time.
  • Remind yourself of important events.
  • Remember to take medication on time.
  • Escape from a boring date or meeting.
  • Remind child or spouse to do chores.
  • Set reminders for tasks and follow-ups.

My Space
Justin Timberlake is the one that is bringing back MySpace.

Will it succeed this time around? Who knows, but Justin is making a stab at it. It is very different, check it out and see if you think it will make it against Twitter, Facebook and all the other social networks.

That is all for this month. Take a look around, let me know your thoughts about all the links and info today.

Have a great month until Jim and I see you next month on February 18th.



October 25, 2011

Windows 7 Taskbar Tricks

Cassie from Winchester wrote and asked me about Windows 7 and how to pin tasks to the taskbar.  She went on to ask about Jump Lists.  I was surprised in that these are very beneficial for Windows 7 users and I had not written about them before.  I remember when W7 first came out and everyone in the world was writing about it.  I decided not to discuss it at length since not many people had it at that time.  Since time has passed I figure many of you are now using W7 and would like some tips. 

First, what is pinning a task?  If you look at the bottom of the W7 screen you will see a Taskbar which is almost identical to the previous versions.  The taskbar has several programs "pinned" to it when you first get your computer such as Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer.  You can add or remove any program on your computer to the taskbar as you wish.  

Taskbar Bubble When you hover your mouse over these icons you will get diverse notices at different times.  If the program is not opened you will get a text "bubble" showing the name of the program. 
If you hover your mouse pointer over the icons when the program is running (this presupposes the graphics capability of your computer is older) you will get a text bubble.  This bubble shows the name of the file or the website name which is currently open in the program.  If there are several "pages" open in that application you will see a list of the names.  To go to any of them just click the one you want to see and it will open to the top of your screen.  

Thumbnail viewHowever, if you have a newer computer with a better graphics card, you will get a "thumbnail" of the page that is open in the program.  If you have multiple pages open you will see a thumbnail of each one, depending on the program.  As before, click on the one you wish to see.  I currently have three sites open in my browser so I see three thumbnails. 

Next, if you knew about the previous tricks, have you tried right clicking on an opened Taskbar optionsprogram’s icon?  I will use Microsoft Word for my example.  When I right click on the Word icon a "jump list" pops up.  Each program may show a few choices but they are basically the same.  In this example, mine shows Recent, (shows the last documents I have opened in Word)  and three options for that program.  The options are usually the name of the program which will open another "session" of that program, "Unpin {or Pin} this program from taskbar" which will remove (unpin) or add (pin) the program’s icon from the taskbar, (obviously) and "Close window" which allows you to close the program from the taskbar.   

Oops, I just ran out of room.  Next week, we’ll look at how to add programs to the taskbar and talk more about jump lists.

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