About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 29, 2016

Windows 10, Ready or Not

Over the past few weeks I have received some emails from people saying they are getting warnings on their computers regarding the Windows 10 upgrade.  No, this is not a new virus, a Trojan or any sort of malware hitting the scene.  Our friend – Microsoft.

Many of you who have not converted to Windows 10 yet are getting popups from time-to-time from Microsoft.  It has already been downloaded to most Windows 7 and 8.x computers.  Yes, there is a very high probability that it is lurking in a hidden location waiting to get its command to run.  If you choose to install it by clicking the popup, then you will have it after a couple of restarts.  But what if you choose to never click the OK button?

When MS released W10 for general consumption in July, 2015, they said it would be free for all users of Windows 7 and 8.x.  It was and so far, according to one statistics site I read, about 14.8% of all desktop and notebook computers are running W10.  For comparison it also stated Windows 7 is 46.8%, Windows 8.1 is 11.4% and OS X (Apple) is 9.33%.  They also stated at release time that after one year you would have to pay for W10 if you wanted it on your computer.

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"Now things have apparently changed.  I have read of some people who woke up to find Windows 10 on their computers.  The issue is that when they went to bed the night before they had Windows 7.  I do not know how true that is but I do know that people are getting continual “warnings” about having to install W10.

So it sounds like sooner or later you will get Windows 10.  I do not know if they will auto-install it without your input or allow you to choose “OK,” but I believe you will have it sooner or later.  Oh and MS says the update to W10 is for our own safety.  Yeah right, that was what all the new versions were supposedly for.

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"On to one other related issue.  I received an email from a reader who choose to bite the bullet and install Windows 10 recently.  They immediately had issues connecting to their Wi-Fi and asked me what they could do.  I had not heard this before and looked online…there were many out there with this issue along with a plethora of fixes.  Since I had no experience with this I suggested he go to a local computer shop.  He did and found out that many W10 upgraded computers had this issue.  I found online where it could be related to older drivers on computers but sometimes updating them did not work either.

I am surprised that my computers have had no issue with this.  I have a 2009 desktop, a 2006 and a 2010 notebook and none of them have experienced this issue.  But be warned if you have an older system you could lose Wi-Fi.  I have read on a few sites which say your best bet if that happens and a computer repair shop cannot get you fixed is to toss it and buy a new computer.

Thanks, Microsoft, for the mandatory Windows 10 upgrades, especially if it stops us from getting online.  Very useful feature…not!

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"

One of many Windows 10 Upgrade "Reminders"

September 8, 2015

Windows 10, Part 3

Cortana?  Is it a name to be loved or feared?

Cortana is the “Siri”-like and “OK, Google” personal voice search feature found now in Windows 10 for PC.  It was previously available the first part of 2015 for Windows 8.1 Phones.  If you read last week’s article on linked and/ local accounts this continues that train of thought.  So go check it out if you missed it.

If you set up W10 with a linked account Cortana (or “Hey Cortana” as it is also called) will work just fine.  If you choose to go the route of a local account, which I suggest to most, Cortana will not show up.

Cortana getting you to link your accountIf you choose a linked account you will need to run an easy setup.  After your upgrade to W10 click in the Search box located at the left side of the Taskbar on the bottom of your screen.  The Search window will come up and you will then click on the notebook icon, third from the top on the left.  Then Settings.  In the next screen you will see “Hey Cortana. Let Cortana respond to ‘Hey Cortana’.” Click the button to the “On” position if it is not already on. Then, if you have a microphone on your computer you can just say, “Hey Cortana” and give it a command.

There are many things Cortana can do so I will not list them all here, but you could try some.  Like, “Hey Cortana, search for Windows 10 help.”  You can also set alarms, search for directions, open programs, send email or try, “Hey Cortana, help” for a list of commands.


June 15, 2015

2015-06-15 Show Notes

Welcome back to the podcast and show notes for today.  Remember the third Monday of each month at 9 am on WSVA radio you can find myself and Jim Britt talking tech.

Below are some of the things we mentioned on the show.  Use the links to go directly to the site.

Tech News
Windows 10 Free – you heard it right!

Microsoft is making Windows 10 free to licensed/registered Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users.

  • You must download and install in first year after release.
  • Year starts, July 29, 2015.
  • Licensed to that specific machine for the life of the machine (not clear on what happens if you rebuild it in the future.)
  • Rumored to also be free to people with an unlicensed copy, but that remains to be seen.

I have tested it out and some findings are…

  • For those that loved Windows 7, you will most likely like this.
  • For those that hated Windows 8.1, you will most likely like this.
  • The much hated Metro screen is gone and just showing up a little in the Start Menu but can be rearranged, in the test version I had you could not totally remove it but no one knows for sure about final version.
  • MSIE is gone now you get Microsoft Edge.
  • Cortana has arrived in all platforms. Named after Cortana, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series. Now Cortana is your personal digital assistant. (Think Siri or OK Google, but not quite as smart yet.)

Microsoft to Introduce $149 Windows 10 Notebooks

Despite a lackluster start, Chromebooks are becoming relatively popular in the super-budget end of the portable market. This has worried Microsoft for some time. After all, with a Google-centric experience, not to mention an operating system in the form of Chrome OS, there’s little if anything to be gained here by Microsoft and everything to lose. That’s why it’s targeting the Chromebook specifically, with a most likely Windows 10-based $149 laptop.

I am using my Chromebook now and it does most everything I need…not all but I guess 95% of everything I do…not at work. The prices are killing lots of other “low cost” notebooks. Say, $150 compared to $350.

Ron’s Windows App Recommendation
FileHippo App Manager
Application Updater
The App Manager does what, “Windows Update” does for the Windows Operating system. The difference is that FileHippo has created this for many of the other applications on your computer.Go to the link above and click the green, “Download Latest Version” button and install.

Portable Apps is the world’s most popular portable software solution allowing you to take your favorite software with you. A fully open source and free platform, it works on any portable storage device (USB flash drive, memory card, portable hard drive, etc), cloud drive (DropBox, Google Drive, etc), or installed locally. With millions of users all over the world and a full collection of open source software as well as compatible freeware and commercial software and partners in the software and hardware industry, is the most complete solution for life on the go.

The only article I have ever written that the papers refused to PRINT next…

God Mode
This is a longstanding trick for Windows computers and although. I have not tried it in Windows 10; however, I hear it works in all versions of Microsoft OS’s back to Vista (only some versions of Vista).

Basically when you follow these directions you can adjust anything in Windows OS in one place. You do not have to go to each area of the Control Panel to get to them.

Be warned that you can mess stuff up, so I suggest only Geeks use this
(which they probably already know about this) or calm, self-controlled normal people.

    To create the God Mode function do the following in order.

  1. Pick a place to put it, I like my desktop.
  2. Copy the following not including quotation marks, “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}“.
    • “GodMode may be changed to anything you want to title the folder. That is the title the geeks-of-yore named it, I call mine Super User (spaces are OK too.)
  3. Right click and chose, “New/Folder”.
  4. Paste the copied text as the blank folder’s name.
  5. Click off of the newly made folder, which will change it’s icon.
  6. Double click the new “app” to launch it and take a look.
  7. Again, read carefully and only change what you intend to, one at a time and test after making more changes.

If you want to create it and look, just don’t change any items. Then when you are done all you need to do is delete the folder. GodMode Window

That is all for this month. I hope to see you back here next time, July 19, 2015 at 9am. Ron

December 31, 2013

The End of an Era

It was born at the end of 2001.  It was greatly received as most everyone who experienced it loved it much better than many of its predecessors.  It entered our computing lives at that time and continued on in new computers into 2010.  It was supposed to disappear from our screens several years ago.  However, due to its popularity and the love of the masses it has lasted for all of this time.  However, the sad news is that it will officially RIP on the eleventh of April, 2014.   

What the heck am I talking about?  Give yourself a minute and guess before you look down.

I am referring to Windows XP.  Yes, as of April, 2014 it will no longer be supported by Microsoft.  It terms of computers 13 years is quite old.  I do not know how to convert it to human years for a comparison. But I can tell you that is a long, long time for an operating system to remain in operation.

Windows XP logo

I encourage you to not think badly of Microsoft for doing this to you.  All operating systems have had an end of life built into them, so this is nothing new.  For instance, Windows 7 support ends January, 2020 and Windows 8, "End of Extended Support" date is January, 2023.  They do not necessarily just do this for the money since software needs to be modernized on occasion in order to keep up with advances in technology.  Computers upgrade and have new features and components which the operating systems must be able to use efficiently so they fade away. 

What does this mean if you are still using Windows XP on your computer?   First, I would suggest that you should have changed to Windows 7 a while back.  If not it will now be easiest to get Windows 8.  Seven is still available in very limited places.  Many new computer manufacturers have downgrade rights which allow you to roll back to Windows 7 Pro.  You need to investigate if that is what you want before a new computer purchase.  Next it means that even if you are running the latest security updates of your antivirus software you could still get viruses.  Windows itself updates to fight viruses but since it will be out of support it will update no more.  You could also be at a security disadvantage if you use MS Internet Explorer as your browser since the newest versions will not run on XP.   

In my opinion one of the worst things to happen to XP lovers who have not upgraded to Windows 7 is Windows 8.  The change from XP to Seven was significant but you could figure it out fairly quickly.  However, the differences in the GUI (Graphical User Interface or the way it looks and operates) is MAJOR from XP to Eight.  You will be lost for quite a while if you skipped Windows 7.

Windows 7 & 8 logo I do not believe the end of extended support will change for XP but these dates are not in stone.  XP has already been extended several times.  Vista was only supported from 2007 through 2011 so you do not always get a long time span. 

I have recently installed Windows 8.1 on one of my computers so next year you will start hearing more about it…until at least 2023.  

February 15, 2013

Change Your Account Picture-Windows 7

September 18, 2012

Create Your Own Windows 7 Theme

Last week generated many comments about Windows 7’s hidden themes, of which many of you were apparently unaware.  My tease at the end of that column generated more email from you about creating your own themes.  So to make you happy here is how you can create your very own personalized theme and how to share it with others.

Start where you normally choose a theme.  Right click a blank area of the desktop and select, "Personalize."  Click on one of your current themes, which will select it and make it active.  Selecting an existing theme and editing it is much easier than creating one from scratch, so that is what we will do.  You may have an “Unsaved Theme” which you can easily use too.

Ron's Castle BackgoundsFirst let us select all the pictures you want to use for your background wallpapers.  Click on the "Desktop Background" link on the lower left.  I would advise that if you have not already you should put all the pictures/graphics you want to use as wallpaper together in one folder.  This makes it much easier for the next step.  "Browse" to the folder containing your pictures.  Click each one you want to make part of this theme.  When done click on, "Save changes."

Next try the "Window Color" link to the right of the background link you used previously.  Choose your new color from all of your windows borders.  This one makes me yawn but I am sure that some of you will really like it.  Just like before when you are done click, "Save changes."

Sonata Scheme chosen and Asterisk sound highlightedNext, choose, "Sounds."  You have many choices here and the easiest is to use the "Sound Scheme" dropdown and choose one you like.  I like "Sonata."  These are the sounds your computer makes when specific things happen, like email arriving, starting up and shutting down your computer, or when an error occurs.  You know the little beeps and bops that occur while you are on your computer and you don’t know where they come from.  To hear them, click on the sound you want to hear and click the, "Test" button.

If you are really into it, you may choose each individual sound from your computer’s sound files.  If you are really, really into it (and know how) you can create your own sounds or even record your voice saying things like, "You’ve got mail."  Once you are finished click, "OK."

Now choose a "Screen Saver."  I will not go into that at all since I am sure the huge majority of you have done that many times before.

Once you are finished designing your own Windows Theme you need to save it.  All you do is right click on the now unsaved theme you created and choose, "Save theme", give it a name, click Save and that is all there is.  It will appear as one of, "My Themes."

Ron's Castle ThemeIf you think your theme is one someone else may appreciate you can save it and email it to them.  To do this, right click on the theme and select, "Save theme for sharing."  As before, give it a name. This will save it to your My Documents folder as a themepack.  All you have to do is email that themepack to your friend.  When they receive it they need to save it to their computer and double click it.  They will then be using your theme.  Keep in mind that if they do not have the same sound files and screen savers installed on their computers they will have the windows defaults instead…but hey, the wallpaper pictures are where it’s at anyway!

August 14, 2012

June 26, 2012

Multiple Monitors

I had a question come in from Kelly this week about using more than one monitor on their computer.  So what about more than one monitor on your computer is it possible?

It is very possible starting with Windows XP Microsoft made it fairly simple to have two monitors, IF you have the available ports for monitors on your computer.  There is some hardware out there that I have read about allowing you to add up to 64 monitors but it is costly.  Windows 7 is the same if not better as it has a couple of additional settings.  Once again your computer (mother board and video card) has to be able to handle multiple monitors.

I have three monitors connected to my work system and it has been a huge improvement to many of the things I work on during the day.  Since I am usually working in the least with Microsoft Word Document, using Outlook for my email and at least one other program I am working with, I can have each open on the computer in tandem.  I know that is not such a big deal because anyone can do that.  However, with the three monitors I can see all of them in full screen at the same time, no "alt + tab" is required to move between them. 

Also your system will remember where each program was when it last ran.  That means that if you closed your game program in the left monitor it will there when it next starts.  Also, it knows where it was if you restart your computer, so it is always in the same place.

That last paragraph reminds me of something else.  You don’t have to set up two monitors as left and right, Windows will allow you to set them that way or as a top and bottom monitor.  I have never been, or seen, a situation where you would want to set one over the other, but I am sure somewhere out there someone has.  I have seen people use a 3 x 3 pattern before but that is a little too much for even a geek like me.

You can also drag files from one window to the other without the edges of the monitors getting in the way.  When you drag them from one to the other they just slide on over, no boundaries.  You have to experience it to see just how productive this can be.

For those of you who love gazillions of icons visible on your desktop, you could now double-load them.  Think of it, a gazillion on the right monitor and another gazillion on the left! 

To set them up, shut your computer off, disconnect the power and plug in the new monitor into your video card and the wall.  Then start up the computer and monitors.  Your computer should find both monitors but the first time on only one may work.  You will have to right-click on the desktop and go the display window to get to the settings.  Then play with the settings to finish up the setup.

Try it out if your system will handle the additional monitor I guarantee you will like it.

March 19, 2012

2012-03-19 WSVA Show Notes

Here you go the show notes from Monday, March 19, along with the podcast.  Enjoy to fun and games and let me know what you think.

Have fun with your new iPods if you an owner of the “new” iPod.

Tech News
The newest iPad is out
I don’t need to say much just Google for ipadand seen the bazillions of articles. There is one I read where a lady got in line several days before they went on sale (she was #3 in line) and sold her place to a guy for $5,000. Proof that some people are truly insane.Windows 8 Consumer Preview
The next Windows Operating System, cleverly named, “Windows 8” has a consumer preview available to anyone who wants to give it a whirl. This is ONLY for you if you are geeky enough to install it virtually on an existing computer or you have a computer you don’t mind installing it on and then running W8 as your main system.

I have been using it for a week or so and so far I’m not that impressed…unless it is on a tablet PC. For a notebook or desktop I would stick with W7 at least as it stands now.

It bothers me that their online video shows media galore, email and not much else. Why don’t they push some office compatibility.

Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(this app can be found on the android market from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
Moon ReaderIn my opinion this is the best book reader out there for non-DRM (Digital Rights Management [copyright protection]) e-books. Read thousands of ebooks for free, supports online ebook libraries.

  • Read local books with smooth scroll and tons of innovation.
  • Support txt, html, epub, umd, fb2, chm, zip or OPDS, key features:
  • Full visual options: line space, font scale, bold, italic, shadow, justified alignment, alpha colors, fading edge etc.
  • 10+ themes embedded, includes Day & Night mode switcher.

Save your Smartphone from becoming a Dumbphone (or any other electronic device) when they get dropped in water.

Water damage has threatened our devices for far too long. Liquipel protects every feature of your device with a revolutionary waterproof shield.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

At this point in time to use it you must request an invite to the program. Without a “membership” you can only browse a little of the content.

True Crypt
If you carry around free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Thanks for looking, listening and I hope to see you back next month, Monday, April 16 @ 10:00o am on WSVA Radio with Jim Britt.

August 9, 2011

Resuscitating the Quick Launch Toolbar in Windows 7

Last week I wrote about two Menu Applications for Windows operating systems.  I specifically mentioned Windows Vista and 7 but those two apps will work on most any of them.  They were “Desktop Sidebar” and “RocketDock“.  Check last week’s Double Click for more details.

I also mentioned bringing the Windows’ “Quick Launch Toolbar” that many of you, just like me, miss in the newest versions of the Windows operating systems.  I received several emails from readers saying they were really looking forward to this information, so here we go!

imageThe Quick Launch Toolbar was a really great app and was available up until Windows 7.  Yes, even though you may not have realized it you could restart it in Vista by right clicking on the taskbar.

However, in Windows 7 the QLT is hidden so that you have to really hunt for it and once found you will need to set it up.  I am going to save you from a time consuming hunt.

image1)  Unlock your taskbar (This isn’t necessary but makes it much easier set up.)

2)  Right click on the taskbar and choose “Toolbars” then “New Toolbar…”

3)  A browser window will open up waiting for you to enter a location of the toolbar items you want to enter.

SNAGHTML31dc35e4)  Use the following for the Quick Launch Toolbar:

C:\Users\REPLACE THIS WITH YOUR USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch


imageAfter entering the above folder path the QLT will immediately appear all the way over on the right side of your taskbar.  To move it to the left, click on the dotted lines and drag the toolbar all the way to the left (yellow arrow in graphic).  Warning: this is about the trickiest part of the set up.

imageThen remove all the text you will see all on the new Quick Launch Toolbar.  To do this, 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.

Once you have it located and looking the way you want it to look I suggest checking the “Lock the taskbar” checkbox.

In case you do not remember how to use your old favorite all you have to do is drag shortcuts to the QLT.   Then the programs will be added to the toolbar and will now, “launch quickly”.  The icons may also be rearranged to your heart’s content by dragging them around the QLT.

Enjoy having your Quick Launch Toolbar back home again!

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