About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 16, 2015

2015-03-16 Show Notes

Here are the notes from today’s show. Please enjoy reading, learning and clicking.

Also, the podcast is available for you to listen to 365/24/7 so have at it.

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.)
Gas Buddy (

Get local Gas prices as you need them 
You can get any grade, including diesel and any brand name of gas you use.

You may also check prices online before you leave or on any phone system used today.

Here is the link for Android devices,

Nest Protect Smoke Alarm helps stop burned toast sirens!
It doesn’t just start yelling at you.

Before turning on a loud, howling alarm, Nest Protect gives you an early warning we call Heads-Up. Nest Protect lights up yellow and speaks with a human voice. It tells you where smoke is or when carbon monoxide levels are rising. This gives you an earlier warning if there’s an emergency, or allows you to silence Nest Protect if it’s just a nuisance alarm, like an overly enthusiastic toaster.

No more frantically swinging towels at the smoke alarm to quiet it down. If there’s a nuisance alarm, just stand under Nest Protect and wave your arm to hush the alert. As you wave, your hand should be 2-8 feet away from the alarm.

Laptop Comparison Chart
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place online that you could go to, tell it what you were looking for in a new laptop and it would tell you. Boom! You are done and it is here.

Take a look at "Laptop Comparison Chart" which is totally interactive at finding the notebook you want. Pick it by screen size, weight, hard drive, ram and more.

One page with most every search engine featured.

Music, Google, Flickr, YouTube, Weather Channel, Ebay and many more. It also includes most of the top email sites.

Thanks for listening, reading or whatever!  Come back to WSVA for the next show on April 20 to see what’s new in Tech.

And don’t forget to read the article here or on the Daily News Record every Tuesday.


March 17, 2014

2014-03-17 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome back to another list of the items we talked about during today’s show.  Also, listen here and get the latest podcast of the show today.

Thanks, have fun and make comments about what we do.

First, here are a couple of links we talked about that you may want to use during inclement weather.

Tech News

iPad Mini tops list of most breakable gadgets
In addition to its ease of breaking, the iPad Mini is also the most difficult gadget to repair according to a new study.

iPad Mini owners may want to think twice before using Apple’s small-sized slate without a protective case. A new study has crowned the iOS-powered tablet as the most easily broken gadget when compared against other mobile devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPad Air and Moto X.

Gadget insurer SquareTrade Europe conducted an unscientific study in which a variety of handsets and tablets were dropped from great heights and dunked in water. Each device was given a breakability score after going through stress tests intended to mimic accidents that could occur in everyday life.

How much did cost?
A conservative figure would be $70 million. A more modest figure would be $125 million to $150 million. Or one could embrace the entire project, as outlined by GAO, and declare that it is at least $350 million.

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.)
Google Keep

Quickly capture what’s on your mind and be reminded at the right place or time. Create a checklist, enter a voice note or snap a photo and annotate it. Everything you add is instantly available on all your devices – desktop and mobile.

    With Google Keep you can:

  • Keep track of your thoughts via notes, lists and photos
  • Add reminders to important notes and be reminded through Google Now
  • Have voice notes transcribed automatically
  • Use widgets to capture thoughts quickly
  • Color-code your notes to help find them later
  • Swipe to archive things you no longer need
  • Turn a note into a checklist by adding checkboxes
  • Use your notes from anywhere – they are safely stored in the cloud and available on the web at

And Ron’s favorite, get items to pop up when you are near a specific area or time.

How Secure is My Password
This site could be stealing your password…it’s not, but it easily could be. Be careful where you type your password.

One that Ron uses is rated at 40,000 years to crack.

Email Future Me
Write an email to yourself to be delieverd to you in a month, year, whenever.

Why you ask? I have no idea but here it is. You must reply back to the set up to make sure it is you, so you can’t send them to someone other than you.

See you next month and have a great St. Patrick’s Day!

April 23, 2013

Office 2013-Outlook

Well, not all of the Office 2013 applications have a lot new going for them and Outlook is one of them.  It really has not changed that much.  It is cleaner, which is the Windows 8 "look."  As I stated in the past it is, in my opinion, boring.  As with the other Office apps we have reviewed it is just pale white and even the "themes" do not do much for it.

Where Word and Excel (in particular) have new features going for them, Outlook has few.

Pop up calendar, Outlook 2013The one thing I really like is that when you are in email you can see the other Outlook items, like Calendar, Tasks, etc. at the bottom-left side of the window.  When you hover over the large word "Calendar" while reading email, it shows a calendar of the current month with the current day’s appointments listed.  You can change dates while in this view too, so that could be helpful for quickly finding available appointment dates and times.  Clicking the other large words will go to those areas of Outlook.  I used the word, "large" because they are.  Why did they change that instead of using the small icons they used to use in Outlook?  I have no idea.   But I think they should have left it alone. 

Speaking of hovering and moving around Outlook, it now appears to operate more smoothly.  Instead of just popping items open they sort of flow into view.  Yes, I know that is a little artsy sounding for me, but it looks polished.  Gee, it sounds like I may start going to the Opera and the Ballet…not.   

There is another neat feature in the Calendar; however, it depends on your screen size and resolution as to how much you will see.  When you look at the week view in the calendar you will see today’s current weather forecast above the date.  If enough room is available you will also see the next couple of days’ forecast.  Now the default weather on my system was New York, NY but it was easy to click the link and change it.  Pretty slick, but how much is it needed?  Well, that is up to you.

Outlook 2013 Weather

Another neat feature is that an "X" appears next to an email when you hover over it.  You can click it to delete the email.  Not a big deal since in the olden days you could right click and delete it, but it is convenient.

The bad news is there is one thing in the new Outlook that I really do not appreciate.  In the previous versions of Outlook when you hit the Reply, Reply to All or Forward buttons it opened a new window with that email in it.  Now it opens it in the current location of the email view.  As in the past it is either below the email or beside the email list.  When you hit reply it does not open in a new window, but right where it was in the preview area.  This is very disorienting if you used previous versions.  If you need to go read some info off of another email in your list when you click on it, the one you were replying to closes down.   Now when you go back to your replying email you can click on it and see either the "draft" copy you were working on or the original.  From there you may continue editing.   It just seems like a step backwards and rather clunky to me. 

Outlook 2013 iconI found from emails related to the last few columns many of you are now using Office 2013.  If you are using Outlook 2013 what do you think?  I would like to hear what you like and dislike about Office 2013.

November 6, 2012

Another Windows 8 Article…

Windows 8 BoxWindows 8 is out and according to Microsoft it is, "Vibrant and beautiful."  Well the colors are very nice and it is faster.  It will work with a computer that previously ran Windows 7 and even run better and faster with less hardware requirements which is unusual for a new Operating System.  It also boots much more quickly.  The advertised boot time is about six seconds, but I found that mine was less than 10 seconds. That is still fantastic. 

Let’s take a look at some of the new features. 

Touchscreen is the latest tech feature to come along since the first iPhone rolled and now Windows 8 has it.  This is slick – on a touchscreen enabled computer which you will most likely have to buy since until now very few computers had it.  On the desktop "Tiles" are in and "Icons" are out.  Tiles are larger and are sometimes active. The weather tile updates continuously so you can see it without opening it unless you want to.

Windows 8 has exceptional cloud integration out of the box, meaning you can immediately open and save all of your files on your Microsoft "Sky Drive" off site and not on your hard drive.  This includes all of your Office files and various other types of files.

One thing I believe Microsoft should have done in several past Windows iterations is to include an anti-virus application in the operating system.  Windows 8 now has Windows Defender included in the default installation.  This includes anti-virus, anti-malware and other good features, at no additional charge.

Speaking about the charge…at this time MS is offering a special deal if you purchase Windows 8 before January 31, 2013.  The cost is $39.99 to download it or $69.99 to order the disks.  There are basically only two versions of Windows 8.  They are Windows 8 and the Pro version. Prices quoted are for Windows 8 Pro.  If you are going to buy it I recommend that you go for the Pro and forget the standard version.

You get Internet Explorer 10 with Windows 8 which seems to be quicker and "prettier" than the previous varieties.  When you open it, as with all of the new Windows 8 enabled GUI programs it takes the entire screen and most of your menu items disappear until you right click to bring them up.  This is a good thing; however, it may take some time to get used to the difference.

So if you have heard how horrible it is…well, it really is not.  However, for all the good it has it has several, in my opinion, major problems. 

The learning curve on it is huge.  The normal user will be lost as soon as it is installed. 

Ron's Windows 8 StartThe new GUI is nice.  However, when you use a program that was not designed for that GUI (Firefox for one) you get kicked back to a regular looking Windows 7 desktop…WHAT!?  Yes, Windows 8 has the Windows 7 desktop, which you can get to fairly easily but one major thing is missing, the START button, so you have to finagle your way into programs that used to be right on the start menu.

Some Windows 8 programs can only open in the Windows 7 desktop.  For instance, if you need to use Windows Explorer to copy files from one folder to another you get kicked over to the Windows 7 desktop to open Explorer to copy your files.  Why not stay in the Windows 8 environment?  It almost looks to me as though they did not quite finish developing part of the system. 

imageI think it would make an excellent operating system for a tablet or a PC with touchscreen capabilities; however, if you are not ready to purchase a new computer I do not recommend switching.  I will not but I will run it in a virtual environment to watch for changes and to be able to answer questions from some of you brave souls who do switch.  

September 4, 2012

Windows 7 Tips, Part 2

Last week we took a look at using the control key plus the arrow keys to move your Windows around the screen.  Today we check out a few more Windows 7 tricks.  Remember as you read that ‘W +’ means to hold down the Windows key (the one with the logo to the left of the space key) and the key to the right of the ‘+’.  Just like using the Shift key to capitalize a letter.

I had several emails suggesting other shortcuts with the Windows key and the following which took care of one of my complaints.  I wrote that you could use, ‘W + M.’ This minimizes all opened windows to the taskbar.  My complaint was there is no way to restore them and I was correct.  However, Bobby wrote in saying that if you use the ‘W + D’ keys you can minimize all open windows.  When you try it again they all restore.  Thanks Bobby, now I can die happy.

If you run gadgets on your desktop try the, ‘W + G’ keys.  This will bring your desktop gadgets to the top of all other windows.  They will go away when you click on the window under them.  I find this convenient to check the weather and time, since I use those two gadgets. 

Windows Mobility CenterTry, ‘W + X’ which opens the "Windows Mobility Center."  While there you can adjust several different settings on your computer.  You can play with your monitor’s "Display Brightness." You can also cut your wireless network on and off.

Are you at a location away from home with your notebook and need to walk away for a few seconds?  Use ‘W + L’ to immediately lock your computer.  It protects you since it makes you use your password to get back to your work (if you have previously set one up for your account).

ExplorerOpen your Computer in Explorer and get to your drives, Favorites, Networks and Libraries by using ‘W + E’.  Try it.  You will like it if you usually get there using other more time consuming routes.

This shortcut is one I use often.  Take a look at your Taskbar.  It contains icons which open programs when you click them with your mouse.  You probably have one for "Windows Explorer", "Internet Explorer", and "Media Player."  For the sake of argument, let us say you only have those three and they are in that order.  Number the icons in your head, 1 to 3.  To open "Media Player" (which is number 3 in this example) press, ‘W + 3.’  For "Windows Explorer" use, ‘W + 1’, etc.  This will only work for the first nine icons on the taskbar.

Another Taskbar shortcut combo is, ‘W + T’.  This shortcut will highlight the first icon on the Taskbar whether it is an opened program or not.  Press Enter to activate that program.  Use the right or left arrow keys (by themselves) in order to move between icons.

Since I do a lot of talks, training and presentations with my computer one of my favorites is, ‘W + P’.  This shortcut opens the screen selection control.  From here you can choose to use your computer’s monitor, a connected projector or both.  Choose from "Disconnect Projector", "Duplicate" "Extend" or "Projector Only." This is much easier than in the olden days. Windows key + p

March 20, 2012


Well I have been given a "fan-boy" title.  Since I have been writing about Google’s many products and features for a few weeks I was emailed recently and asked why I was such a Google Fanboy. 

I have used that term before (re: Apple) so figured this time I would look it up and online at Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.  MW said that a fanboy is a boy who is an enthusiastic devotee (as of comics or movies).  OK, I agree I am an enthusiastic devotee of Google and I sometimes wish I were a boy, so "sticks and stones…"  One very interesting thing I found was that the term was first used in 1919.  I wonder what they were fanboys of in those days… possibly the Treaty of Versailles or Lady Astor? 

OK, on to my next "fanboy" item.  Google has created a neat place to keep track of all the latest news, sports, weather, emails and on-and-on.  If you are a Gmail account owner you get this free and can customize it the way you like.  This "place" is called iGoogle (

Go to the site and if you aren’t already logged into your Gmail, log into the site with your Gmail username/email address and password. 

Once logged into your account you get a default setting of iGoogle.  This default changes from time-to-time.  Today I saw four "gadgets"; the Weather for Chicago, current date and time, YouTube Spotlight Videos and CNN’s top stories.  These can all be edited, removed or rearranged on the page.  For instance you could change it from Chicago weather to your local zip code to get current weather happenings.

The Hamster GadgetGadgets are mini windows made by Google users which offer active content and can be placed on your iGoogle page.  They may be placed on any page you own.  Beware!  This is for the more adventurous only!  Check out for samples.

Ron's iGoogle My iGoogle page contains eight gadgets I like.  First is Google Latitude which shows all of my friends’ locations in Google maps if they choose to reveal them to me.  Next is a gadget showing my Gmail, followed by my calendar, RSS news feeds, local weather, movies currently running at my local theaters (with times, etc.), FOX News and last a How to of the Day. 

You can choose from thousands of different gadgets and take that literally…there are currently over 280,000 of them.  To install one you click the gadget link on your page, find one in the new window, open and click Install.  That’s all there is to it.

Now let’s get real, many of them are time wasters like adding a hamster on a wheel to your page or a spider that follows your cursor around. I just have to ask, why?   However, some of them are very beneficial for personal or business uses.

Set up your own iGoogle page and let me know which gadgets you like.

June 15, 2010

Firefox Add-ons, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 3:02 am

I received many emails asking me more about Firefox Add-ons after last week’s column.  So today we are going to look at a few more.  Keep those emails coming since I want to write about what interests you!

If you have any questions about basic Firefox Add-ons you need to read last week’s column about "Invisible Hand" and "Tabloc" online at the DNR or at the site.   

"Forecastbar Enhanced" is another helpful add-on.  It allows you to set your location, via zip code, to get your local weather forecasts.  The forecasts are from  Other than the current weather forecasts, radar images, etc., you can display it in different locations in FF.  I keep mine in the status bar at the bottom of the Firefox window, which is the default.  You can also set it up to show forecasts for several days in the future. 

The next one I would like to share with you is called, "FoxTab".  "FoxTab" will allow you to set the sites you most often visit.  It will allow you to add any site to your top site "list" and quickly go to it at another time.  It enables a screen preview of "My Top Sites" in several great GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) which you can pick from.  Not only is it useful, it also looks good.  Once you bring your top site window up by clicking a button on your toolbar, you click on the site you want to go to and it pops right up.  Yes, this is like your favorites but in a slick new format.

The last one I will mention today is for you Gmail users.  It is called, "Gmail Manager".  This add-on allows you to set your Gmail account to be visible in your status bar, showing your unread emails.  By clicking on the account it will open your Gmail account in Firefox as if you had logged into yourself.  Then you can deal with your emails as you normally would.  It is set to a default of checking for new emails every 15 minutes but you can adjust that, along with other settings in the options for this add-on.  It will also allow you to keep track of multiple Gmail accounts at the same time.  Of course, that is for you geeks who, like me have more than one Gmail account.

Have fun trying these out and remember they are all free.  If you don’t like them you can easily uninstall them. 

Let me know if you would like to see some more next week…I have about 20 add-ons that I use in Firefox.

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