About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 7, 2017

Surface Pro

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:54 am

I am testing a new type of computer, at least for me.  They first came into the public view in early to mid-2013 depending on where on the globe you are located.  You know the one as the marketing for this “new” computer was worldwide and abundant.  You know all the happy people dancing around to a “snappy” tune, and flipping/closing their small computers in rhythm like they were in a euphoric trance.  Yeah, you have it now, the Microsoft Windows based, “Surface Pro.”

First was the Surface, next the Surface Pro, then a 2, and 3 which has progressed into the current Surface Pro 4.  Of course, that is not all Microsoft now has. The Surface Book, Hub and in December, 2016 the Surface Studio rolled out.

First what is different about it?  It is smaller than a usual notebook, more the size of a tablet with a very thin keyboard.  Approximately 11″ x 7″ x 0.6″.  When the keyboard is attached, it is closer to an inch thick.  There is a foldout section on the back to provide a stand to keep it upright with a couple of positions.  You need that “wedge” to support the actual screen/computer as the keyboard is only a hinge with no support like you may be used to with a regular notebook.

Surface Pro 2

Surface Pro 2

The keyboard is slightly smaller than some other brands of notebooks but not significantly.  It also includes a touchpad – similar to all the others.  I choose to use a wireless USB mouse with this one which functions well.  I have been typing on it regularly for a couple of days.  I am having no problem hitting the correct keys – other than caused by my regularly average typing.  (Hallelujah, for auto-spell checking in word processors!)

You have three keyboard options.  First, you can use the keyboard like any other notebook and type on it.  Next, you can fold the keyboard over to become the back surface of the notebook. It then becomes a tablet.  When in tablet mode your screen rotates when tilted like any other tablet and you can use the touchscreen.  Finally, you may choose to detach the keyboard all-the-way and have a Windows tablet.

It has good response and speed although nowhere near as quick as some larger notebooks I have used.  I have been using spreadsheets, word processing, web browsing, email, a very few online games (no pc games or Steam) and everything works as it should.

I cannot really find a lot to nitpick about with this nice little notebook/tablet combo.

Well, OK, there is one major issue for me, the price.  For the top of the line Surface Pro 4 today you may figure about $1,400.  Oh wait, that does not include a keyboard which may be had for an additional $55 – $130.  I am currently testing an older (2014) Surface Pro 2 which again I find to be a very decent system.  The price on one of these is around $550 and again that is without a keyboard.  I pulled these prices off of Amazon so you may be able to find others elsewhere.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

My problem is at that price I can find two equally decent regular notebooks or tablets (with Bluetooth keyboards included.  If money were no object, sure, I would not mind owning one.  However, not currently for me.



August 9, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:18 am

If you have not heard, Microsoft has discontinued the free upgrade to Windows 10.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update

For those of you that waited due to, “Oops, I forgot” I am sorry for your loss.  Loss of $119 at least.  For those of you that will never give up because of all the issues with Windows 10 — I am also sorry.  Not for the $119 loss, since you knew that would come but sorry that you will not get to enjoy it…until you purchase a new PC.

Of course, you are not alone.  MS shoots to have everyone on Windows 10 but the reality is different.  Looking at all computers in use around the world, W10 is on 21.13% while Windows 7 is still in the lead with 47.01%.  If you care, the breakdown continues as W8.x at 9.17%, XP is 10.34% and finally Mac is in last place of the big boys at 4.69%.  The others that total to 100% are Linux and “Others” that are not used very often.  So basically about one out of every five PCs are running Windows 10 as of August 1st.

All that being said on August 2nd, Microsoft began rolling out the “Windows 10 Anniversary Update”, woohoo!  It is also known as the 1607 update (for the anniversary of 07/16).  It included many changes most of which are on the backend where you will not notice much.  There were some interface changes but minimal.

One change you will notice right off is that the Start Menu has changed.  The entire list of applications now starts directly under the Recently Added and Suggested apps.  From there you can scroll down or you may still click on one of the letter labels to choose the app you want.

The Action Center button has moved to the right side of the time in the Taskbar instead of being on the left as it was before…I have no idea why.  An interesting change which I entirely approve of is if you have set up your email and calendar in Windows 10, including Gmail, when you click the time on the taskbar you will see your scheduled agenda under the time, date and calendar.

Also, if you are an Edge browser user there has been a major change.  You can now add extensions like Google Chrome, Firefox and other browsers have had for a long time. Extensions allow you to do other things with your browser other than surf the net.  Like Adblock, Evernote, Pinterest and others.  Although, there are not many they are being created often now.  When Windows 10 started a year ago there were basically none.

You will be invited to download and install the Anniversary Update when you have your next Windows update.  Mine hit on August 4th so it installed it two days after the rollout.  It was flawless but I would plan on a couple of hours to complete the download and installation, which includes several reboots.  All of it is automatic once you start the first reboot.

Good luck for all you PC users out there whether XP, 7, 8.1 or 10. I hope no one is still dealing with Vista or Millennium!

July 18, 2016

2016-07-18 Show Notes with WSVA

Filed under: WSVA Show Notes — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 12:17 pm

Lots of talk today so check out the podcast if you missed it. Not many links but lots of information…and of course Jim kicks me around about my reading list (which I have to admit he was correct).

Tech News

Facebook cloning scam can steal your identity

If you’ve noticed people you thought were already your friends suddenly requesting to add you on Facebook, watch out: it could be a scam.

According to multiple reports, a roughly month-long fraud has plagued the social network and stolen vital personal information from users. It goes like this: a scammer re-creates someone’s Facebook profile using their default photo, other pictures and “about” section. Then that individual sends friend requests to the targeted person’s friends list.

By adding your new “friend,” you could instead be letting a stranger get access to your personal information.

Not only that, but the person can also pose as you by recreating your profile, and send messages to your friends and plan get-togethers or ask for money.

Some experts recommend thoroughly scanning a user’s profile before adding them as a friend. Also, making your friends list accessible to only other friends can limit a scammer’s access.

If you notice a request by the name of someone you’re already friends with, you can notify that friend that they’ve potentially been hacked.

Windows 10, It’s Now or Never

Microsoft says after July 30, 2016 Windows 10 will no longer be free. $119!


That is all for today, come back in August on the 15th and join in.


May 24, 2016

Windows 10, Improve Performance

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

OK, if you are a regular reader, you know I like Windows 10; however, it is not perfect.  I finally got tired of one little nag which has bugged me for a while.  I feel that it must be annoying some of you as well so here is all about it – according to Ron.

Every now and then when I boot up a Windows 10 computer I get a notification that says, “Disable apps to help improve performance.”  It goes on to tell me I have three or more apps that start automatically and might be slowing down my computer.

Action Center - Disable Apps

Well heck, no one wants to have their computer start slowly.  So, like most of you, I click the “X” to the right of the warning and ignore that nag.  After a month or two of this on my super-duper amped up computer I realized I wanted this resolved.

I found several programs which were supposed to fix this.  They work by letting you choose the programs that slow the boot down and tell them to start seconds, minutes, or even hours after your computer has finished starting/booting.  The application I chose is called “Startup Delayer” (  It gives you a list of all the programs in your startup application list and you can delay their start.  Warning, DO NOT CHOOSE to delay your antivirus which will always be a RAM hog but you want it to run when your system starts.

First you must find out which apps are possibly slowing down your computer’s startup.  To do this use the Task Manager. There are many ways to open the Task Manager but the easiest is to hold down the Control and Shift keys then tap the Escape key.  (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) Once it is opened click on the Startup tab at the top.  Then click on the “Startup Impact” label until High shows at the top.  The High impact apps are the ones that may be slowing down your boot time.

Task Manager

Startup Delayer is easy to use and now you know how to determine what may be slowing you down.

Startup Delayer screenshot

There is one other way I have found without getting another new app but it is slightly tricky.  This only works while you are receiving the “Disable apps” message previously mentioned.  If you have not gotten it when you start your computer it will not work…only while you are receiving that message.

Right click on start menu and choose "Control Panel"Open the “Control Panel” (right click the start menu then Control Panel on the list) then go to “Security and Maintenance.”  Now click the arrow to the right of the word “Maintenance” and underneath you will see Security and Maintenancea link “Turn off messages about startup apps.”  Click those words and the nags will go away.


Those apps will continue to “possibly” slow down your computer’s start time but you will not be bugged by the message.  I do not think that the amount of slowing caused by these is worth worrying about, but that is your call.

May 17, 2016

Microsoft Took Control

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:19 am

A few weeks ago I wrote a series of articles about some Windows 10 tips.  I like Windows 10 just fine; although, I realize some of you out there do not.  But that is fine.   Choices and variety are usually good.

However, after a recent Windows 10 update I found something I was really annoyed with (I am too laid back to get mad, but I was close.)

I opened a link to a website after the update and the Microsoft Edge browser had replaced Google Chrome as my default browser.

No big deal since I am a geek and know how to "fix" Windows stuff when it happens.  So I went to set up Chrome as my default browser again.

Click on the Windows start icon on the lower left then type, "Default app settings."  You should perform that step after your computer has been on for a few minutes.  I have sometimes found that the search does not function well until all of your start up programs have finished.  Click the link to the default app settings at the top.  A new window will open where you will scroll down on the right to "Web browser" and the click "Choose a default." If anything but the preferred browser is shown in that icon you may change it to the browser you want to use when you click on any link.  You may have a grey "+" box which indicates no default is set.

Default apps

This has been the prescribed method to change most all default settings for the recent OS versions.  For instance, I use VLC (VideoLAN) for all of my music and video playing so both of those are set up there. 

But as I stated the last update(s) changed that.  You can set default apps for all except your browser now.  Microsoft took that away from you to make the world use MS Edge.  I do not care for Edge, along with many others. 

Here is the secret way to correct this issue which I found after Googling for quite a while.    While in the default app settings area scroll down a little more and click on "Set defaults by app."  This is where you set them up in older versions of Windows.  It is actually in your Control Panel.


Finally scroll down the list on the left of all of your applications.  Click the one you want to set as the default and then on the right click "Set this program as default."

Default apps

That "old way" overwrites the settings Microsoft has used to block other browsers from becoming the default in the latest updates for Windows 10.  

One last thought for you Windows 10 haters.  I read this article recently about what will happen after the July 29th cutoff date for getting the free Windows 10 upgrade. Please remember that capitalization counts, "". 

May 16, 2016

2016-05-16 Show Notes with WSVA

Welcome back to today’s Show with WSVA, Jim Britt and me, Ron Doyle.  For those of you that missed it live, here is the podcast for your listening pleasure.

Here are a few of the things we talked about today.  More questions?  No worries contact me here.

Tech News

Microsoft is removing its nagging Windows 10 upgrade notifications soon“Details are still being finalized, but on July 29th the Get Windows 10 app that facilitates the easy upgrade to Windows 10 will be disabled and eventually removed from PCs worldwide. Just as it took time to ramp up and roll out the Get Windows 10 app, it will take time to ramp it down.”

10-year-old boy hacks Instagram and wins $10,000 rewardA 10-year-old hacker from Finland won $10,000 from Facebook after alerting the tech giant to a security flaw in its photo-sharing service, Instagram.

The boy, who lives in Helsinki and was identified only as Jani, found he could delete other people’s comments from Instagram using malicious code, according to Finnish newspaper, Iltalehti.

He alerted the service to this flaw and was paid $10,000 as a reward. Instagram said the vulnerability had been fixed.

Facebook operates a “bug bounty” program that rewards those who report vulnerabilities in its services, including Instagram. Facebook has rewarded more than $4.3 million to more than 800 people under the program since it launched in 2011.Jani plans to spend his money on a new bicycle and a football. According to Facebook’s own rules, he is too young to have an Instagram account, for which the recommended minimum age is 13.

Beverly Hills is creating its own fleet of self-driving carsPicture the streets of Beverly Hills and you probably imagine seas of ultra-luxurious cars piloted by celebrities or their chauffeurs. However, you may have to get used to a new sight in the future: hordes of vehicles with no drivers at all.

The city’s council has voted to produce a fleet of self-driving cars that would provide on-demand shuttle service around town. The system would lean on a city-wide fiber optic network, already in the design stages, to keep these driverless rides talking to the neighborhood and each other.

The first phase of the resolution would have Beverly Hills forming partnerships with autonomy-minded car brands like Google and Tesla, so this would be more of a collaboration than a from-scratch project.

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.)
This is one of my all time favorite Google Apps, “Google Keep“.

Quickly capture what’s on your mind and get a reminder later at the right place or time. Speak a voice memo on the go and have it automatically transcribed. Grab a photo of a poster, receipt or document and easily organize or find it later in search. Google Keep makes it easy to capture a thought or list for yourself, and share it with friends and family.

Available everywhere.


Ron actually bought this online
Ipow Universal One Touch Installation CD Slot Smartphone Car Mount Holder Cradle

  • Stretchable clamp/bracket can hold up to 3.5 inch wide, rubber pad on clamp can protect your phone not damaged.
  • CD car mount is designed to fit vehicle’s cd slot.
  • Full 360 degree rotation with two ball joints and tilt it for multiple angles – Vertically or Horizontally. Allows you to find that perfect viewing angle with one hand.
  • Easy installation,no need tools to mount your Smartphones front and center in your car and play CD simultaneously.
  • The mount securely keeps your smartphone where you need it most without obstructing your view; Always keep it stay in place.


That is the show for now, please come back on June 20, 2016 for the next one.

Keep those emailed questions coming.  I love to answer them and who knows, you may see your question on the DNR or hear about it on WSVA!

Thanks for listening and reading,

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

April 26, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 4

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:50 am

This is most likely the last week for Windows 10 tips so grab ’em while you can. It has been fun sharing questions from emails with you about W10 but next week on to an adventure I recently had.

Today I want to talk about the ribbon.  The ribbon first appeared in Microsoft Office 2007.  Basically the ribbon is a wide menu area at the top of the application window below the title bar.  I have never really understood this since it takes up more room and is just as intricate to navigate as the old dropdown menu system.  However, MS did not ever ask my opinion.

To see it in action open File Explorer (same as last week, not Internet Explorer but the folder button in the taskbar near the start menu button).  Explorer will open a window showing Desktop, Documents and many other things depending on your settings.

Notice at the top you will see tabs labeled Home, Share and View.  If you click them, you will see the ribbon below them with commands, which work in that particular area.  Since I commented that the ribbon takes up a lot of space on the screen here is how to “hide” it until you need it again.  Double click on any one of the tabs, say Home for example.  It will appear to fold up and hide and only show the tabs.  To see it and use the commands under it click it once and it will appear again.  Click anywhere off of it and the ribbon will hide again.

File Explorer Window

If you try this and decide you want to have the ribbon on full time like it was, double click a tab again and it will go back to the default setting.  This works on any application having the ribbon like most Microsoft Office products.

The search box is there from older versions but in W10 it is more useful and much quicker.  Pretend for a minute that you have over 1,300 columns you have written over the past 15 years (a real example from my files).  Now suppose you wrote a column on Chromecast sometime during that period.  You can type Chromecast in the search box in the upper right corner and press enter.  In less than a second you get eight results.

Suppose you now want to narrow it down to Google Chromecast so you search for that but you still get the same eight documents.  Put quotation marks around it like this, “Google Chromecast” and press enter.  I find only one document out of all 1,300 that has that exact phrase very, very quickly.  Is there a particular type of file you want to find, say an old PowerPoint presentation you made 5 years ago?  Search for .ppt (the extension for PowerPoint presentation) and find 200 of them you wrote.  Sort by modified date and you are done.

Search File Explorer

OK, I just realized I have at least one more Windows 10 tip from emails, so forget what I said in the beginning of this article…they keep on coming.

April 19, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 3

The last two articles concerning Windows 10 tips have garnered many emails.  Today a few more.  If you remain interested keep those email questions coming in and I will tell more!

Today I will look at a few features of Windows Explorer since I had recent questions regarding it over the past weeks.

First off, Windows Explorer is not Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) which is the Microsoft internet browser that has been around for a long time.  That was replaced by Microsoft Edge. But back to Windows Explorer which is now most often referred to as File Explorer.


File Explorer is easy to get to and is used to browse and find any folders or files on your computer.  To open it look at the taskbar at the bottom of the monitor to the right of the Windows start menu button and you will see a folder with maybe a blue bar on the bottom.  To open Explorer click that folder and there it is.  Another even easier way to open Explorer is to press the Windows button (on your keyboard, the one to the left of your spacebar with the windows logo on it) with the “E” key and Explorer will pop open on your screen.  There are other ways to get it open but those two are the easiest.

Once it is open there will be some folders on the left and right sides.  On the right you may find Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music and possibly more or less.  How many folders and what they are will depend on how your computer was set up, if you have changed anything or if any programs have put their own folders there.

On the left side is the “Quick access” menu where you can add things quickly to find in another easy area…more about that later.

Pin to Quick accessLet us say that you want add your “O-Check Column” folder which is under “Documents” on your computer to the Quick Access area on the left.  Browse to the O-Check Column folder on the right and when you find O-Check Column, right click the folder.  Now click “Pin to Quick access.”  The columns folder will appear at the bottom of Quick access.  You may have to scroll up a bit to see everything clearly.  If you wish to move the new folder – click and drag it up to where you like it located.


Right click on Ron's File ExplorerNow that we have added the O-Check Column folder to QA what can you do with it?  Well, close down your Explorer window.  Right click on the File Explorer icon on your taskbar (not left click) and the items in your Quick access area of File Explorer will appear starting at the top and going down in the order you put them earlier.  Click on the one you want to immediately open that folder.

These are your most used or Favorite folders that you may need to access often.  I have the Pictures folder there also with my Columns so I can get to either very quickly.

More next week.

April 12, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 2

After the column last week I received quite a few emails asking for a few more Windows 10 tips.  Keep in mind that you can email me your questions and I will always answer back. Give me time, and you may see yours appearing here one week.  Keep them coming!

As funny as it may sound to you many people have asked me how to change the colors in Windows 10.  They apparently do not like the default settings.  It is quite easy to do and you have many options you can play with.

Go to Settings by both clicking the start menu and typing “Settings” or click on the box icon with lines in the lower right of your task bar next to the time and click “All Settings.”  Once that window opens click on “Personalization.”

Choose Settings then Personalization

Now click “Colors” on the left and try it out.  You can choose your own accent color.  Scroll down and click on the other two settings for showing that color on the taskbar, start menu and others.  I like the automatically pick the color from your background option and it works well.  Of course, that gives us another setting to play with, your background.

Play with your color setting here - this view is set to pull colors from your wallpaper

In that same area on the left click “Background.”  You can choose a slideshow which works quite well.  You can choose a folder full of your favorite images (you will need to browse to where it is located) and they will display one after the other at the time interval you select.  One note here… if you choose a folder on Dropbox or another online storage area it will not work very well so make sure the graphics are in a local folder on your C Drive.  If you have one picture of your kids or a photograph you are proud of choose “Picture” from the dropdown.  You can also choose a Solid Color which I find pretty boring.

If you choose the color to be picked automatically it will change with each new background picture when it loads.  There are other settings you can play with in this area too.  The only warning here is under “Start.”  Be careful of the “Use Start full screen” which will make your start menu button open a start screen which fills your entire window with the start choices.  You can try them one at a time and cut them off if you do not care for the changes in this area of Windows 10.

Some people are confused on how to shut down the computer and just log off or lock it.  For locking the computer nothing has changed over the last few operating systems. Hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and press the letter “L” and you are locked.  Sign out and locked have changed in the menu area.  Click the start button, click your user name at the very top and then select either “Change account settings,” “Lock,” or “Sign out.”

  Change account settings, Lock, or Sign out                            Sleep, Shut down, or Restart

Shut down is under the start menu again but go to either “Sleep,” “Shut down” or “Restart” under the “Power” link at the bottom.  More next week upon your request.

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