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Monday, January 30, 2012

1210. Set Passcode on Mobile Devices

If you lose your mobile device you want to protect the sensitive information.
For IPhones and IPads all you have to do is go into the Settings section and under the General topic choose Passcode Lock.  Here you can set your passcode, and you can turn it on or off. Now when you want to access your iPad or iPhone you will need to enter the passcode.  You will be able to answer calls or dial Emergency numbers without knowing the code, but you cannot access any of the other features.

You can also set restrictions to using applications in the Restrictions area.The Auto-Lock section allows you to adjust the time it takes for the phone to go into the sleep mode.

For Android phone as well as Blackberries and Windows phones there are similar features.  On the Android phone tap the Menu button on the home screen, then choose Settings/Security, Screen Lock. (The exact words may change from phone to phone).  We recommend all smart phone users secure their devices.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Loading photos onto my computer from a digital camera

I know there are a lot of digital cameras available, but is there a standard process to follow when loading the photos from the camera onto a computer?

Power Surges Freeze Computer, Data is Lost

We get power surges and outages that cause my computer to freeze and I can lose data. I use a power strip but it doesn’t always help. What can I do? (Tell them what causes the surges, if you are sure you know the answer, then tell them about the UPS, where to get them and what to expect to pay.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

1209. Delete Multiple Emails on iPhone/iPad

My father recently complained about having to delete emails from his iPhone one at a time. I chuckled, because I knew exactly what he was complaining about--you have to swipe on each email, and then tap Delete to delete the email.
There is, of course, a better way, but it's not obvious.
This is really a limitation of those little screens on phones where they have to hide features, and this is one of those that isn’t easily discoverable.  If you are on your IPhone or iPad and are looking at your email, in the upper right-hand corner of the screen there is a button labelled Edit. (You would think that clicking this button would edit your email, until you tried it. You would be wrong.)
Clicking this button actually puts you in a mode where you can select a number of emails at once by checking each one (tapping on it) .  When you are done, you can click that same button, which is now labelled Delete and all the selected emails go away at once. That's not an obvious trick, but it's certainly easier than swiping and tapping Delete for each individual email.

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1208. Reinstall Windows Application On New Machine/After Reformat

Personally, I reformat my Windows 7 machine regularly. As a developer, I tend to install beta products, and just try out almost any application. This means that occasionally, I need to start fresh. This requires some discipline (I store no data at all on my C: drive--there's a lot written about how to avoid this, but in general, I partition my physical drive into multiple logical drives and store all data on drive D:). In this scenario, I need some simple way to install all my standard applications on the new installation of Windows.
But as a normal person, you may occasionally purchase a new computer, and need to install all your standard applications on the new computer. I don't know about you, but at least 80% of the applications I run come from the Web. I use Picasa, NotePad++, EverNote, DropBox, Adobe Reader, and lots more applications that I need to install from the Web.
If I need to install these one by one, it takes way too much time.
Instead, I use a great service called Allmyapps ( .  This service currently only works only on Windows  PC’s but it really helps.  Once you set up an account you can tell it which applications you are most likely to use on your computer. When you need to re-install them, you instruct AllMyApps to install your entire set. It downloads the most current version of each application, and installs each application for you. It's a tremendous time saver.
There are similar services that may work better for you. is popular, and provides a similar service for Windows users. On the Mac, I'm not aware of any similar services, but the Mac App Store and the third-party app Bodega track apps you have purchased or installed for you (but in each case, you must install your applications manually). You may also find the popular MacUpdate service helpful.

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1206. Keeping Track of Random Bits of Information

Computers are perfect for keeping track of lots of information, but some people use their monitors as hosts for stacks of yellow sticky notes. If you're one of those people who have sticky notes pasted all over your computer, there is a better way.

A better solution might be to take advantage of your computer, remove those sticky notes from the monitor, and store the information on the computer itself.

If you are on a PC and have a copy of Microsoft Office, we recommend a Microsoft product called OneNote that is part of Microsoft Office ( ). It is not free. (Microsoft recently released a iOS version of OneNote that allows you to view and minimally edit your OneNote notes from an iPhone.)

On the Mac, you might find the product called Notebook from Circus Ponies ( useful. It’s not free either.

If you're interested in a free product that works on any computer or mobile device, you might want to check out my personal favorite: EverNote ( EverNote is provided as both a Web Service and a client application, and it is free.  It is a service that allows you to create virtual notebooks and as many notes inside them as you like. You can store images, text, receipts, PDF files, and notes of all kinds and what's more, they’re synced to the internet so they are available on any computer you want to look at them on including your phone, laptop, and desktop computer.

My favorite cool feature? If you add an image to a note, once you synchronize it to the Web, the EverNote service searches the image for text, and you can then search through your notes for the text in the image! It's a feature you have to try out to believe, but it works great. Check out EverNote for your note storage needs.

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1205. Synchronize Content Between Computers

Synchronize Content Between Computers

I have multiple computers (one at work, and one at home) and I’d like to keep data synchronized between the two computers. In the old days, I would have used a floppy disk to copy stuff and carry it with me. I don’t even have a floppy drive any more (and the IT guys at work don’t even know what they are)! What’s the best “modern” solution to synchronizing data between my computers?

There are as many answers as there are computers. Some people just use a USB key and copy files from one to the other manually: that’s affectionately called "sneaker net". If your computers are located in the same facility, you can easily network your computers and manually copy files. If the computers are in separate facilities, networking is a bit more trouble, but can be doing using a technology called Virtual Private Network (or VPN)—setting this up would require someone with a bit of networking experience.

You can also use software that synchronizes folders on schedule or on demand. My favorites include Beyond Compare (for Windows computers,, and ChronoSync (for Mac computers,

Using these software packages, you could synchronize folders with a portable device (USB key or external hard drive) at one end, and then synchronize again at the other end. Synchronizing is faster than simply copying the files, as it precludes copying files that haven’t changed since the last time you synchronized.

But we think the best solution for keeping files synchronized between computers is a free service called DropBox. It's both a Web service (that is, a service hosted on the Web) and a client application. You aren’t required to install anything on your computer, but DropBox can’t automatically synchronize files unless you do. (DropBox does far more than simply synchronize files—it also allows you to share files with friends, family, and coworkers. Once you upload a file to your DropBox account, you can share it with anyone simply by sending a link to the file. Pretty sweet!)

DropBox not only synchronizes your files between computers; it also backs them up to the Web where they are securely stored. DropBox also keeps backups of multiple revisions of files, so if you inadvertently change a file, you can go back to a previous version. It is a great service, and for 2 GB of storage, it’s free. You can pay more for more storage but certainly it is the best of its kind and it’s a product that we can't work without. (You can also get more free storage by convincing friends to also sign up—kind of like Tupperware!)
Click this link to sign up (and by doing so, you and I will both get an extra 1/2 GB of storage space!):

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1207. Getting Rid of Electronic Equipment

I have a bunch of electronic equipment that I’d like to get rid of. Some is certainly usable and sellable, and some is just old junk. How can I get rid of this stuff? I have user laser printer cartridges, mice, computers, a laptop or two. It’s just taking up space in my garage.

If you think the item has some value, you can start by trying to sell it. The following Web sites can help:
  • ( provides the simplest means of selling items, but you can only sell things that they already have a listing for--that is, items that have part numbers and SKU's. But if you're trying to sell a name-brand item, it doesn't get any easier. Ken has sold many items this way. He’s not getting rich off the profits, but it does help recycle used stuff and books.)
If you can't sell, you can try recycling. Our local dump does e-waste recycling, Some schools use e-waste recycling as a fund raiser for the schools once or twice a year, and this is an excellent opportunity to clear your garage and help a school.

On a daily basis, if you just want to drop off something and get rid of it, like a printer cartridge, printer, monitor, or computer, Rod’s Computer Service at 146 Scandling Ave in Grass Valley can take care of that for you. They have a contract to handle e-waste and can take anything that is part of a computer system and recycle it for you. We take stuff there all the time. (There are other recycling centers as well—Rod’s just happens to be the one we use, and the location is really convenient.)

Whatever you do, do not put electronic waste into your normal trash collection. Not only are you throwing money away, you're also polluting the trash stream—electronic equipment is full of harmful chemicals and materials. Contemplate selling or recycling appropriately!

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1212. Using WWW in your browser address

Early in the internet you had to always use the www in from of the domain name to access the web site. Today most browsers allow you to type only the domain name, like

No http:// or www is required.  You still need to type the .com or .net.

However, there is a shortcut that will work.  If you just type the domain name (such as nctechtips) in the URL address and hold the Ctrl (Command, on the Mac) key and press Enter, you do not need to explicitly type the .com at the end.
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1211. Email address other than your ISP's

Stuck with your ISP’s Email Address

When I signed up for Internet service with Comcast, they gave me an email address and I’ve been using it ever since. I’m now leaving Comcast for another provider, and the new provider is offering me an email address. Clearly, I’m going to have to tell people about my new address, but I really don’t want to ever have to do this again. How can I avoid this problem?

Funny, we’re always surprised to find out that people stick with the email service their ISP (Internet Service Provider) gives them, when they’re in the business of providing internet service, not email. Sure, you can use the email that Comcast, or HughesNet, or any other ISP gives you, but it’s never a good idea. Yes, it’s true: It’s never a good idea. As you’ve seen, if you ever change ISP’s, you’re stuck telling everyone you know about the new address. Listen carefully: You do not need to use the email address that your ISP provides. You probably shouldn’t use the email address that your ISP provides. There are plenty of free email providers that do a great job, and none is tied to a particular ISP.

Check out free services like Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail (we like Gmail best). You can browse to their web sites and sign up for free email addresses. You can request any email address, although short names (like, or are already taken. Even full names (like Ken's email,’s not excited about posting his email address here) are often already taken. Most services will offer you several options, based on your name (like To sign up for these free services, follow these links:
·                     Gmail:
·                     Hotmail:
·                     Yahoo:
Note that some services, like Gmail, provide a means of migrating your old mail to your new email account, offering to send emails out to all your contacts, and forwarding your old mail to your new address. This seems like the best solution, to us!

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1214. Preprocess email

I organize my files carefully into folder, and I’d like to do something similar with my email. I see how to create folders in my email client, but want to automatically route emails to various folders based on the project they’re associated with. How can I do that?

If you receive email that you want to keep, but you want it to be routed to another folder besides your Inbox so that you can organize the messages, all you need to do is set up an email rule. (Almost every email system supports some sort of rule-based email organization, and even if your server does not, many email client applications add their own email rules.)
These rules and filters can be based on a number of different criterion, including the email sender, or perhaps if you were specifically in the TO or CC address. You can create rules that filter email based upon words or phrases in the subject or body of the email. The email can then be routed, deleted, or saved in other folders.
You can often apply rules when you send the email, as well, so you could, for example, have the email you send to a friend automatically stored in a specific folder after being sent.
All of the features of these rules are based upon your email provider and the email client you use. Examine the help information for your email system to determine what the email system can do.
Be aware that if you set up a rule in client software (like Outlook, Thunderbird, or Entourage), and if you work on multiple computers, you will need to create that rule on all your computers—it’s possible that the client will supply a rule import/export feature to make this process simpler. If you use multiple computers, you may find it more useful to set up rules on the email server (Gmail, Windows Live Mail, and Yahoo all support this feature, as do most other email servers). That way, the rules you create apply on the server, before you retrieve your email, and the rules apply for all your computers.

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1215. Change the Windows Shutdown Menu Action

I’m using Windows 7 and know that I can use the Windows Start menu to shut down my computer (there’s irony in that configuration, isn’t there?) but I generally want to Sleep, rather than Shut Down. I found that I can click the little arrow and see other options besides Shut Down, but since I always want to Sleep, it would be easier if Sleep was the default option. Is that possible?

This is a very simple thing to change on your Windows 7 system, and if I remember correctly, there are similar options for Windows Vista and XP. To set this up, rather than clicking on the Start button, right-click instead. This action opens a dialog box that has three Tabs: Taskbar, Start Menu, and Toolbars. Select the Start Menu tab. You’ll see an option to alter the Power Button Action—the default should either be Shut Down (or whatever you last selected for this option, if you already altered it). Click on the down-arrow to display the list of options, and select the action that you’d like as the default, such as Sleep. Click OK to accept your choice.
Now when you go to the Start button, your new choice will appear to the right of the Search box along with the arrow giving you the other choices. This should solve your problem and save you those extra keystrokes.

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