About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 25, 2015

Windows 10, Part 1

As I mentioned for the last few weeks – today we will start the journey into Windows 10.

Visit Microsoft

It has had plenty of time to be tested.  Microsoft officially announced “Windows 10” (W10) on September 2014.  Then they started public beta testing or “Technical Preview” in October 2014.  If you have been paying any attention you realize that it was released to the public through a free roll out about three weeks ago on July 29, 2015.  It now comes on all new retail Windows computers.  This is supposedly the last version of Windows to come out, no more XP, Vista, 8.1, 7, etc.  W10 will be updated when needed.

Well, have you taken the plunge yet?  I have asked readers who have installed it to send me questions over the past weeks.  I have received many, so thanks!  Keep them cards and letters rollin’ in!

From my own experience, I have applied W10 to all of my computers, except company owned work systems.  That would be four computers I have updated.  There were no real problems.  However, one of my very old “experimental” systems ran very slowly with 10. I need to note that it also ran very slowly with anything past XP.  I ended up removing 10 from that and putting back Ubuntu which I had previously.


March 18, 2014

Windows 8.1, Part 3

W8.1, Part 3

For the past several weeks we have taken a look at Windows 8.1, the latest Operating System out of the gates at Microsoft.

I have been “teasing” you about how you can make it operate more like Windows 7 (my favorite OS yet). I talked about how to find programs and more easily start them. We looked at how you close them down and even how to skip the notorious Start Menu (or Metro Screen) entirely when your computer starts.

Today the big question is finally answered, “How do I get the old Windows 7, ‘Start Button’ which functions properly back on my computer?!” It is fairly easy to do; however, not with Windows 8.1 alone. The old W7 start button and menu that went with it is no longer there. The button that is present in W8.1 does some things but nothing like the previous version. So I would recommend you fix it. I would like to note here that Microsoft is rumored to be coming out with the addition of a “new” W8.1 that will have the functionality of the other but we will not know for sure until it hits.

To get a W7-like start button you will have to install a third-party application and there are way too many to pick from. Keep in mind that some of them cost and some are free…you know what type my favorite will be. All of them are under $10 so you will not need a loan if you decide to buy one.

A couple that I have tried are good and free. StartW8 ( and Classic Shell ( which is slick but has many more options than you will need and a little more difficult to set up.

Start Menu 8 ( then it is found under products) is the free one that I like the most. Download it and double click the file to install Start Menu 8. During the install it will ask if you want to install another Iobit application. It is a good program but you most likely will not need it. Once it finishes the new start menu is there, click it and feel good!

imageThere is also a “Settings” window that opens which allows you to customize the start button and menu in several different ways. I suggest leaving them all as the default, but feel free to take a look at them and try options if you like. The only one I would recommend is to click the “Start Button” menu item and change the button’s icon which is just for fun.

If you keep the default settings it will automatically start every time your start your computer. If you wish to get back to the settings for the Start Menu 8 again, click the start button and then “Settings” and change some more settings. You can also delete the desktop icon for the program since you will not need it any longer.

Have fun now that you have a “good” more user friendly version of Windows 8.

March 11, 2014

Windows 8.1, Part 2

Last week I mentioned that I am no longer "afraid" to use Windows 8.1 and that is only 8.1 not 8, about which I still have reservations.  I also said that you need to learn a few new things and make a few "edits" and changes to Windows 8.1 to make it work better for you.  For the following I will figure that you have set up your system to "skip" the W8.1 start screen. 

So today we will look at a few things I think you need to know before you become an 8.1 professional. 

First thing you will notice is that the desktop looks very similar to Windows 7.  One big difference is that there is no longer the familiar, "Start Button" in the lower left-corner.  This feature has been in all Windows OS since Windows 95.  I believe is there largest mistake with 8/8.1 since it was so easy to use and very well accepted by users.  There is a button that resembles the old one but not so helpful, in my opinion.  When clicked it you take you back and forth between the desktop and the start screen.  More on the start key later along with a way to get the old start key and menu back.

image In using 8.1 you will find that when you try to start programs you may have had to hunt for the program for quite a while.  Hopefully, you found it but possibly not…this operating system is not user friendly.   I have found, for me, that the easiest way to find your program is to press the Windows key on your keyboard and start typing what you are looking for.  For instance, I am now typing in Word and need to open an Excel Spreadsheet.  I press the Windows key and type, "excel" and then press enter.  Excel opens up and is ready to roll – easy.  You can search for folders, files, programs, documents containing specific words, etc.  Yes, if you have the word "Doyle" in one file, type "doyle" in the search menu and it will very, very quickly find the file.  Click it to open it. 

To close the program once you are finished, either click File/Close or click the large "X" in the upper right corner, just as in the "old" days.

Not all programs in 8/8.1 close as I said above.  The ones that do not close that way are usually the "native" Windows 8 programs.  Some of them are hard to find out how to close.  That is why I use a quick short-cut key.  This key combo has worked in all of the past versions of Windows OS.  While in the program you want to close, hold down the Alternate key and tap the F4 key (Atl + F4).  It will either ask you to save the current document if needed or shutdown the application automatically.  Be careful that you do not do this while on the desktop or it will ask to shutdown Windows.image

More to come.

November 19, 2013

Quick Launch Toolbar

When I repeatedly receive the same question, I tend to direct readers to previous columns.

However, this week I received a question from Elizabeth that others have asked about numerous times. Since it seems to be such a common issue, I will again address it, with a few changes and updates.

If you are a Windows 7 or 8 user and miss the Quick Launch Toolbar from the XP days, not all is lost. The Quick Launch Toolbar was an application easily accessible until Windows 7.

With Windows 7 and 8, the Quick Launch Toolbar is still present, but it’s hidden away. Here’s the step-by-step for those of you hoping to find it.

First, unlock your taskbar. Right click on the taskbar and choose “Toolbars” then “New Toolbar.”

A browser window will open up in which you can enter the location of the toolbar items you want to include. Use the following for the Quick Launch Toolbar in Windows 7:  “C:\Users\YOUR USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.”

Windows 8 is slightly different, replace the previous step with, “YOUR USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.”

After entering one of the above folder paths, the Quick Launch Toolbar will immediately appear on the right of your taskbar. To move it to the left, click the dotted lines and drag the toolbar to the left, if you previously unlocked the taskbar. If you skipped this step, the toolbar will not move. That is about the trickiest part of the set up.

Quick Launch Toolbar positioned on Taskbar

If you want to remove the text on the new Quick Launch Toolbar, follow these steps. Right click the dotted lines (at the left edge of the new toolbar) and uncheck “Show Text,” as well as “Show Title,” from the menu.

In case have forgotten how to use your old favorite, simply drag shortcuts to the Quick Launch Toolbar.

Web Folder opened via Quick Launch ToolbarThen, the programs will be added to the toolbar and will now, launch quickly when clicked. The icons may also be rearranged by dragging them around the Quick Launch Toolbar. You may even add folders that you often use to it, which is very hard to do with the taskbar.

I set this up every time I install Windows on a computer. Good luck and let me know how it works for you.

November 19, 2012

2012-11-19 WSVA Show Notes

Well it is all out now, Microsoft Windows 8 & Surface Tablets or notebook if you add the keyboard.  What did Jim and I think about them…and many others too?  Listen in and find out.

Here is some information about those and the others things we discussed today.

Have fun!

Microsoft Windows 8 & Surface?
a) Windows 8, Ron doubts this one.
b) Surface, iffy?

Here are some other Windows items that didn’t work so well:

  • Windows for Pen, was Windows 3.1 with a stylus.
  • Bob, 1995, was a Windows 3.x layer no icons but rooms with animated characters. (Clippy and the dog stayed around for a while.)
  • Pocket PC 2000 eventually became Windows Mobile, similar to Palm Pilot with a stylus.
  • Windows XP Tablets hit in 2002 but didn’t make it.
  • Portable Media Center (a year before iPods) large and not friendly.
  • Origami Ultra Mobile PCs were an early touch screen PC experiment in 2006, with finger touch. Many apps wouldn’t run.
  • Zune, 2006, made to compete with iPods but failed again with less than 2% of the market.
  • KIN, Windows phone, May 2010, for 15-30 year olds a "hip" phone. Verizon stopped selling them in July 2010 (yes, 2 months) due to poor sales.
  • Windows 7 phones, seem to be doing poorly with about 2% of the market, compared to Android (48.5%), iOS (32%), and BlackBerry (11.6%).

Now, the Surface with Windows 8 (which uses the default Zune font), will it sell?

Windows is the number one OS in the world with 83.7% of the market as of October 2012, so they aren’t hurting.

What will become of Windows 8?

Operating System Popularity
2012 Win7 WinXP Mac Linux Vista NT Mobile
October 56.8% 22.1% 9.2% 4.8% 3.0% 1.8% 1.8%

New words added to

    A few samples…mostly geek stuff.

  • Dunbar’s number, n.: a theoretical limit to the number of people with whom any individual is able to sustain a stable or meaningful social relationship (usually considered to be roughly 150).
  • e-cigarette, n.: another term for electronic cigarette.
  • e-learning, n.: learning conducted via electronic media, typically on the Internet.
  • ethical hacker, n.: a person who hacks into a computer network in order to test or evaluate its security, rather than with malicious or criminal intent.
  • lolz, pl. n.: fun, laughter, or amusement.
  • OH, n.: a person’s wife, husband, or partner (used in electronic communication, previously known as "Other Half:).
  • tweeps, pl. n.: a person’s followers on the social networking site Twitter.
  • UI, n.: short for ‘user interface’.
  • user experience, n.: the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or a computer application, esp. in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use (also UX, n.).

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.)
Auto Speaker

This simple application will automatically switch speaker status on\off during a phone call according to phone position. It uses the proximity sensor to know if the phone is near your ear or not.

Say you take a call while in your car, pull your phone away from you ear and lay it on the dash. The headset immediately cuts off and the speaker cuts on, without having to press any buttons and take your eyes off of the road.

As the philanthropic arm of Google, develops technologies to help address global challenges and supports innovative partners through grants, investments and in-kind resources.

We focus on problems where Google’s assets and core capabilities—technology innovation, global presence, making massive amounts of information universally accessible and useful—play strongest and where the solutions we create have the most potential to scale.

Equipping the Saints
A great place to donate your older technology equipment like computers, phones, printers, etc.  Try to make sure they are working pretty well.

Google Nexus 7
A great "do it all" Android tablet with a good price point.

At only 12 oz., this tablet is designed to go wherever you go — and now with up to 32GB of storage, and the ability to connect to most mobile data networks — Nexus 7 is your perfect travel companion.

A no compromise Android tablet. With the latest version of Android, a stunning 7-inch display, powerful quad-core processor, up to 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading, and a staggering 300 hours of standby time, Nexus 7 was built for top of the line grab-and-go performance.

That’s it for this month.  I hope to see and hear you back next month on Monday, December 17 at 10 AM on WSVA Radio.  Listen on the WSVA site and stream it live. 


February 22, 2011

March 9, 2010

Windows 7 Thoughts

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:46 am

I have been written to by several of the "Double Click" readers as to why I have not mentioned Microsoft Windows 7 very often.  The answer is that there are about 50 bazillion other geeks out there, who have written about it relentlessly since it rolled out to the public in October, 2009.  I figured I would let the clamor die down some before I started.

Today I come out of hiding with W7 (get used to the abbreviation, it saves column space). 

I will start with the question that I usually get first. "Do you use W7, yet?"  Yes, I do, everywhere!  I have been testing the pre-launch versions of W7 for about a year now.  I have been using the final version since it launched. 

Check out W7 at MicrosoftAll of my computers run this new Operating System (OS) including my wife’s notebook, save one.  I still run Vista on my home desktop because that computer has more software and data on it than any of the others.  Rebuilding that particular machine will take several days to get "just right". Procrastination wins! 

The next most common question I get is, "Should I switch to W7?"  That really depends on you.  If you are not happy with your current OS (Vista?) and you have the extra money, sure go ahead and make the change.  If you do not have any complaints, why fix it if it ain’t broke? 

That being said, I will as good as guarantee that if you do go to W7 you will like it.  It looks similar to Vista. However, it is much faster since it uses less system resources.  It has many very positive features that you will like.

When conversing about W7 the next question usually is, "What do you like best about the OS?"  My wise guy answer is, "Everything."  However, the primary element I enjoy was also present in Vista; though, it did not function nearly as well…the search feature.

Say for instance I want to run Excel.  I can click the orb (used to be called the start button when it was rectangular) or press the Windows key on my keyboard and just type, "excel".  A menu list is generated with everything on my computer that has "excel" in it.  The Excel program is at the top of the list.  All I do is press the Enter key and Excel starts right up. 

If I know that I have a file with the words, "Windows 7" in it.  I just type it, like I just did, and three files are listed.  Three columns which I wrote; one each in April and June of 2009 and the one you are reading now.

That is a great, efficient and very speedy way to work.  So thanks, Microsoft, for that as well as the additional features we will be talking about in the future.

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