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Saturday, July 12, 2014

1507. Anti-virus and Firewalls Block Access

I am using a wireless sound system in my house and you need to connect the speakers to your computer using the software they supply and although it had been working. Yesterday I upgraded the software and it stopped working. Somethings wrong and I can't find it. Can you make any suggestions?

This problem is usually your firewall or your anti-virus software. Because it was working and an upgrade caused it to stop I would simply turn off your anti-virus software temporarily and try your applications again. If the application still does not work it is probably your firewall and look for our tip on firewalls blocking ports.

If the application works when you turn off the anti-virus software you need to tell the anti-virus software to allow this application to run.

How you do this with each anti-virus system will be different so look up in the help system for your anti-virus system on how to allow an application to run without interference from the anti-virus software.

Don't forget to turn your anti-virus software back on when you have finished.  




1506. Allowing an Application to Access the Internet

I installed an application yesterday that needs to access the internet. No matter what I did on Windows it couldn't get a connection out. What have I done wrong?

Ken it is unlikely you did anything wrong to create this problem. Although in most other cases it clearly was your fault.

Applications sometimes use special "ports" to communicate to the outside world. Think of them like highways. And because there are many highways to get to places it is important to use the correct highway number. Or in computer land we call these "ports". If the application doesn't install correctly it may not tell your firewall to open the port and the applications does not work.  

The way to test to see if this is the problem simply turn off your firewall and test the system. If your application works then this tip will solve your problem. 

You will need to tell the firewall in your computer to manually open the highway port for your application. Open the Windows firewall. Click on the Exceptions Tab. Then Add a Program. If your program appears in the list, simply choose it and click OK. If not you have to search for the program to find it and then add it to the list.

For details on how to do this do a search for Adding a program to the Windows firewall. If you have other systems providing your firewall service (like your Spam service) you may need to look up those instructions.  

This can be a tricky problem to resolved but sometimes it is the only option.. You should complain to your application developer. They should have done what is needed to allow this to work correctly without you spending the extra time.

1505. Wireless Network Slow, Wired Network Faster

The weirdest thing happened to me yesterday. I transferring a very large file from one computer to another on my network and it took forever. Maybe it was using the wireless network so I turned it off. Suddenly it started transferring way faster. What's going on here?

This is not normally a problem unless you have a laptop with a wireless connection and you plug in a wired Ethernet connection when working at your desk. Normally Windows will use the "best" connection available. But sometimes it will get this wrong and choose the wireless connection over the wired connection.

If this happens you can tell Windows the best option.

1. Go to your Control Panel
2. Select the Networks Connections
3. Click on "Change Adapter Settings
4. Then choose the Advanced Menu, and Advanced Settings menu.

You will see a list of the network connections that represent the order for Windows to select the connection. So you can now choose the Wired connection and move it to the top of the list. Save these settings and now when those options are available it will chose the connection in the order you set.

Things should run much better now.

http://lifehacker.com/force-windows-to-use-your-wired-connection-instead-of-w-482614663


1504 Modify the Send To Menu

In Windows 7 and 8 I often right click on files and things and use the Send-To menu to send things to various places. But I don't use many of the ones that are there and want to use my own. Is there some way to customize the "Send to" menu?

Actually there is and it is very easy.

Simply Open the Run Dialog box by pressing the Windows Key + R, or GoTo the Start Menu and then type "shell:sendto" and hit enter. This will open the folder where all of those shortcuts exist. All you need to do is to add your shortcut for the application or folder and save.

So now if you want to keep files in a special place you can create the shortcut to this location and add this shortcut to the sendto menu. Now when you right click to the sendto menu you will have your special location on the menu list.

This works in XP, Vista, Win 7 & 8.

To make it easier to add something to the "sendto" menu in the future, add a shortcut to the sendto shortcuts of a shortcut to the sendto folder itself. Think about this for awhile. It really does work.

http://lifehacker.com/5984868/how-to-customize-the-send-to-menu-in-windows-8


1503. Large inbox, Slow Outlook

This is a really weird one. Let's play "stump the chump". Whenever I start up Outlook it runs incredibly slowly. Like clickjing on an email takes 30 seconds. After an hour or so things seem to run fine. What's going on or how can I fix this irritating behavior?

As usual there isn't one single answer to solve this problem. But if you keep a very large INBOX like thousands of messages and you use POP as your access protocol and keep messages on the server you have three strikes against you and need to consider changes.  

1. Check to find out if your email provider supports other receive protocols than POP. Like IMAP or EAS (Exchange Active Sync).

2. Clean up your INBOX. Having any more than 50 messages in the INBOX can make it very difficult to manage and the larger the INBOX the more extra work the email client has to do especially when you start up.

3. Organize your email. Think of your email account like a file cabinet. In the cabinet you have Drawers very much like folders, and in folders you can have sub folders. And finally those sub folders have documents (messages). If you organize your email you may just be able to find that message you received 2 month ago from the IRS.

Try these few suggestions and Outlook will run faster (especially when it starts up) and you will have a much better organization of your emails.There are many other tips to make Outlook run better. Do a search and see of some of these help.

http://lifehacker.com/5344262/complete-guide-to-making-outlook-faster-than-molasses  

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-tips-for-troubleshooting-outlook-problems/  

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-tips-for-speeding-up-outlook/

1502 - Record problem steps for support.

My father often calls me with problems he is having on his computer and wants to show them to me. Is there some way he can record the steps he is going thru so I can just look at them to see what he is actually doing?

Well Ken of course there is. You wouldn't ask me if we didn't have a good answer.


I ran across this Windows feature by accident. It is called

Problem Steps Recorder or PSR.

PSR allows to to start a "recording" session on your Windows computer.  You can use Problem Steps Recorder to automatically capture the steps you take on a computer, including a text description of where you clicked and a picture of the screen during each click (called a screen shot). Once you capture these steps, you can save them to a file that can be used by a support professional or someone else helping you with a computer problem.

Any characters you type are not captured but you get a comment feature that allows you to put and key information into the recording.

To start just go to the Start Menu and type psr as a command,A dialog will pop up with options. Click Start Record,  then go through the steps to reproduce the problem when finished click Stop Record and then Save As.

You can pause the recording and start it back up if you need and you can add comments where necessary.

Give this a try and I think you will find it very useful.  This is not as good as getting remote support but is very helpful when you do not have a remote support option.  For more details search for "Problem steps recorder".

PSR works on Windows 7 and 8.  If you have Vista or XP you can download a tool from Microsoft.  See our website for details.

The tool itself is available from TechNet:http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.03.utilityspotlight2.aspx?pr=blog

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/how-do-i-use-problem-steps-recorder

Monday, May 26, 2014

1495. Distinct Passwords Required

It seems that I have a ton of sites I visit that require passwords, and it may be that I’ve been lazy about selecting passwords for those sites, using the same password on a lot of them. I’ve heard that this isn’t a good idea, and the recent Heartbleed scare really made me rethink my policies. I’d like to create unique passwords for each site, honestly, but I don’t have the time or patience to both create and remember all the unique passwords. Surely there must be a tool or web site that can make this easier?
We could not possibly stress enough how important it is for you to maintain unique passwords, different for every Web site that you visit, and we’re certainly glad you’ve asked this vital question. We’ve written previously about password manager applications, that is, applications that can maintain all your passwords and fill them in on sites, as necessary. Using one of these applications, you need only remember a single password to log into the password manager—it does the rest of the work, maintaining the passwords and logging you into each site you visit for which you’ve stored a password using the application. The four most popular password-managing applications are LastPass (http://www.lastpass.com), 1Password (http://www.agilebits.com), Dashlane (http://www.dashlane.com), and PasswordBox (http://www.passwordbox.com). You can find a comparative review of these products from Wall Street Journal here: http://goo.gl/xtO16V. Another favorite, although not rated as highly, is RoboForm (http://www.roboform.com). We’ve tried all these applications over the past few years. Specifically, Ken recently spent a month with Dashlane after several months with LastPass. His opinion? Dashlane is certainly more attractive and easier to manage, but LastPass seems less intrusive and (once you get the hang of living with it), more reliable. All these products are available for Windows, Mac, and mobile platforms, although Windows Phone isn’t supported by all the products.
All the password managers provide browser add-ins, so they can intercede when you create a new password, or need to log into a site. Each application provides a means of storing passwords, and each provides a means of filling online forms with information such as your name, email address, credit card information, and so on. Once you set up the information in these tools, you should (in theory) never need to drag out your credit card when making an online purchase; you shouldn’t even have to type your address when purchasing from a new vendor.
But the question at hand was aimed at creating new, safe passwords. All these tools, of course, include functionality to help you create and manage unique passwords for every site. Having tried them both, Ken can verify that both LastPass and Dashlane provide a means of analyzing your existing passwords, and can tell you how many sites you have set up that share the same password. They can also indicate the strength of your passwords (the longer and more complex the password, the stronger it is). All the password manager applications provide a means of creating a new, randomly generated password for any site, and once you let the application create the new password, it can store it and supply it the next time you log into the site.
Ken recently embarked on a quest to replace all his existing “simple” passwords with new, random, complex passwords. He started the quest using Dashlane, and for the most part, the process worked reasonably well. Problems occurred at times when DashLane attempted to replace an existing password with a new one in its own storage—many times, Ken ended up with duplicate entries for the same site, leading to some serious confusion. He continues the task currently with LastPass, and is finding the number of misfires less than with DashLane. Your experiences may differ, of course.

In any case, if you find that you use the same password on multiple sites, it’s time to consider changing your ways. Most importantly, on your email and bank account(s), make sure that you use a unique password for each site. In other words, for email and banks, make sure you select a password that’s difficult to guess, and is significantly different for each site. (And never consider using one of the passwords listed on this description of the 25 most popular passwords: http://goo.gl/mzjBWy). Check out LastPass, DashLane, 1Password, or one of the other available password managers. Plan time to grow accustomed to the way the application works—it will certainly be intrusive and bothersome at first, but it will save you time, and most likely, your online identity, if you use it correctly.