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Thursday, June 13, 2013

1199. Five shortcuts for Windows 8

With Windows 8 coming out on October 26, if you get it or a new computer with Windows 8 here are 5 shortcuts you will thank us for.

Windows + I - Settings for shut down restart
Alt + Tab - Whats running
Initial Lock Screen - any key
Windows + X = Basic Menu
Windows + Q - Search..
Windows + C = Charms


The new "Metro" interface that will make the new tablet computers work with Windows 8 makes things a little different when using a laptop and desktop. It is new and you may be frustrated but once you get use to it you will like it.



Thursday, June 6, 2013

1334. How to Create One-Click Shutdown and Reboot Shortcuts?

You know Doug this is a stupid little problem, but often on my PC I want to suspend or shutdown my computer and I get tired of digging through the Start Menu to find how to do that.  Is there some way I can create a button or icon I can click on my desktop that I can cause the computer to Sleep, or Restart or Shutdown?  That would help alot.

It is very easy to create a shortcut to do a task on your PC.  The task can be for shutting down your computer or other tasks that you need to repeat over and over again.

If you right click on your desktop, and select New, Shortcut.

When the dialog opens add the shutdown /s /t 0 as  the location.  Then click next.

Then I would give it a Name like "ShutDownPC'  and click finish.

Now you can click on that shortcut on your desktop and your computer will shut down.

ShutDown is the program that Windows will execute, the rest of the command are called switches that allows you to modify the things that will be done. 

the /s says to shutdown, vs. a /r that would tell it to shutdown and restart.

the /t followed by a number says to wait so many seconds before executing the command.

The 'c followed by a message in quotes will be displayed while the command is executed.

When you have a series of commands you will use another technique that incorporates a special file with the extension of .BAT.  We will do a techtip on this soon.

And for you new Windows 8 users this tip is even more useful.  All you need to do once the shortcut has been made simply right button click and select "Pin to Start" and this icon will appear on the Windows 8 start screen.

Have fun.

Create a shortcut and in location type shutdown. 
shutdown -s -t 03 -c “Shutting Down!”
shutdown -r -t 03 -c “Restarting PC!”

Few more switches that you can try by combining this command.

-s : Shuts down the PC.

-l : Logs off the current user.

-t nn : Indicates the duration of delay, in seconds, before performing the action.

-c : “message text”

Displays a message in the System Shutdown window. A maximum of 127 characters can be used. The message must be enclosed in quotation marks.


-f : Forces any running applications to shut down.

-r : Reboots the PC.

1337. Presentation on iPad

I am going to do a presentation at a meeting and all I'm going to take is my iPad.  And then hook the iPad up to the projector.  I need to have my PowerPoint presentation on the iPad and I know I won't have WiFi at the office.  How can I get the presentation on the iPad so I don't need the WiFi at the other end?

The key to the answer is how to get the information to the iPad before you go to the meeting.

I believe one of the best ways to get information to your iPad is by using Dropbox.  There is a Favorites option that will identify certain information in Dropbox to be available even if you are not connected to the internet.

We have had a number of TechTips that talk about getting a DropBox account.  Go to out blog and you will find a link.

Sign up and connect both your computer (PC or Mac) and your iPad, iPhone, or Android device.

Make the files part of your favorites and then copy the files to that folder.

Now check for those files on the smart device while connected to the Internet.  Then disconnect by turning off the Internet service.  Now check to make sure you can open those files. 

Always check before you go into that meeting.  You do not want any surprises.

There are applications like Keynote that will make your PowerPoint presentation more professional.   You can also use iTunes to help copy your files to your iDevices.

Just remember to always test to make sure you have what you need for your important meeting or those pictures you want to show the family.


1338. Blog vs. newsgroup.

Doug I heard you talk about your neighborhood watch group and how you get all of these emails every time someone has a comment. Email is very interruptive.  Is there some way that people can post their responsive somewhere so you can go look at it when you are ready and not have it drop into your inbox every time.


A Blog  or a NewsGroup  should work.  Both are used to distribute information.  Each has some features that may be important.  A Blog requires the members to be a little more active but gives each member more control over notifications.
A Newsgroup can have less active members.   This may be a better way for less internet savvy members.  

I am sure the email lists will also work fine.  However remember to create distribution groups, and send the emails using BCC instead of the TO address field.  This way all of the addresses are not openly published. 
What you don't want is for the group to start replying to all and then there are so many emails being sent the important email is missed.
Technology is a great way to help with community needs.  But use it wisely.

1335. How to Open Multiple Programs with One Click?

My friend Keith asked me how to Open Multiple Programs with One Click and even better how can you make this happen when you start windows.  Can you make those things happen for him?

This is another example of how you can create a file that will execute a series of computer commands to speed up things you do over and over.

Ken - easy to do yes.  Easy to explain in a 60 second tech tip - not so much.

Because the different versions of Windows have different requirements the best thing to know is this is easy to do.

Just go to our blog and follow the instructions. 

Or search the internet for Startup multiple programs in Windows.

Don't forget to specify your Windows release, XP, Vista, Windows 7 or 8. 

This is generally all done using a special file in Windows called a BAT/Batch file.  This file contains commands that tell Windows what to do.

After you create your command file you simply double click on it when you want to run those programs.

If you want them started when Windows starts you just tell Windows to do this at startup.  Search for this additional need and you will be able to do these common repetitive things with no effort.

It is really easy.  I promise.



You will want to create a file on your desktop by right clicking on an open space, choose, New, Text Document, and give it a name that has an extension of .BAT. 

Lets call this OpenMyPrograms.bat.

Use the editor like Notepad to add the commands you want to execute.  In this case you want to start a couple of programs.

In the text file you have open, start the line with a START space and two quote marks and another space. 

Get the paths for the programs you want to start. The easiest way to do this is to right-click on each of the existing shortcuts, choose the Properties option, and then copy the Target path.

The paste the Target path after the last space in the line you created.

Make the last line in your file line with the work exit.

The reason you use the START command is so when your program gets started Windows will continue to your next command.

The Exit command allows your .BAT file to finish.

To start programs at Windows startup will differ with each version of Windows.  The best way to determine how to start programs for your windows system is to go to your favorite search engine and type "start programs in windows 7 at startup"







1339. Professional Time tracking application

So Doug when I am out and about billing hours to my clients which doesn't happen often enough. I need some way to beep track of those hours without a computer.  I have my phone.  Is there some way to track billing hourws and import them into Quickbooks from my phone?

There are a number of applications available to keep track of your time. 

I found that most of them do not interact with QuickBooks which many of us use for our business bookkeeping.

I found QuickTimer Lite and it will import your client information to your smartphone and you can then easily identify your customer and keep track of billing time.

Then when you are ready to bill your customer, it will export the billing to a file and your QuickBooks will use that information the next time you invoice your customer.

This is a great tool for any business that does time billing and it is especuially usefull if you also use QB.

Many of the applications available for free and for a small purchase amount will do the time tracking and some will create the invoices.  So even if you don't use QB, there is an app that makes it easy to bill your clients easily and accurately.



1346. Building Custom Mobile Applications

Tom asked: I need a custom iPhone app for my business. I haven’t been able to find one in the App Store that meets my needs. How can I create one myself? Is this even possible?
Well, of course it’s possible—that’s how all those hundreds of thousands of iPhone apps get into the App Store. That is, developers create them, and submit them to the App Store. You could do the same thing yourself; unless you’re an experienced software developer, we certainly wouldn’t suggest taking this task on. (Of course, it’s certainly possible—Ken has a friend who’s a plastic surgeon, and he had never written any computer programs since college in the 70s. He not only learned to create iPhone apps, he created a very useful application that advertises his particular services and distributed it via the App Store. So it definitely can be done!)
You should start by checking out the App Store for other apps that might fit your needs. That’s the simplest, cheapest, and most expeditious way to find something that might come close to fitting your needs. In addition, not all applications are available in the App Store. In other words, “vertical market” applications are often distributed only within a company, for use by the employees of the company. If another company in the same field as your business has created an app, they might be willing to sell or license it to you. It’s worth consulting with other comparable businesses.
Beware that creating an application from scratch is time-consuming and can be costly. Doug worked with a Windows-based medical application that benefited from the iPad interface, and creating even a rudimentary port of the application to the iPad took experienced developers some 6 person-years of effort. For anything more than a simple application, you could expect to pay $50,000 or more. (On the other hand, creating simple applications is, well, simple, and should cost considerably less.)
There are many companies “out there” the can and will build a mobile application to your specifications. In general, you’ll want to find experienced developers with a track record of creating mobile applications. Search the Web for “Custom Mobile Applications” and check the references carefully! You can pay people to do this for you, but it’s easy to spend more than you might expect, and get less than you had hoped for. As a hint, try searching for “create custom iOS app” and see how many options you find.

You can, of course, teach yourself to build mobile applications, too! It’s a lot of fun, for folks with the right mindset!

1347. What are the .doc and .xls at the end of a file name?

Where are My File Extensions?

I recently upgraded to Windows 8. Why do files no longer include letters after a period at the end of their names? I used to see file names that ended with .doc and .xls, and even longer names like .docx and .xlsx. What does this information mean, and do I need to do about this? And why do I no longer see this part of the file name?
Back in the “old days”, operating systems used a three-letter file extension (like .doc or .xls) to indicate to the operating system an association between the file and the application that you needed to run in order to work with the data file. Every different application that handled data files needed to specify its own distinct three-letter file name extension. For example, Microsoft Word files had a .doc extension, and Excel files had a .xls extension. If two applications attempted to share the same file extension for their data files, confusion was destined to occur. (You can find a possibly too-complete list of standard file extension associations at this site: http://whatis.techtarget.com/file-extension-list). Operating systems for both PCs and Macs shared this functionality.
As time went on, modern operating systems relied less and less on the file extensions, and the number of letters allowed in the file extensions grew, and it became possible to include more than one period in file names. (For example, a file name like MyDataFile.this.is.my.special.data.docx is perfectly legal in current versions of Windows.)
Although Windows and OS X handle file extensions slightly differently, one fact is certain: In a graphical environment, as in any modern operating system, seeing the file extension is far less important than it once was, because both Windows Explorer and Finder display an icon indicating the file type next to the file. In each case, you see an icon corresponding to the default application associated with the data file. In both Windows and OS X, you can change the default association, so that clicking on a file with a particular file extension runs a specific program, which might be different than the default association. (For example, you could convince Windows to run Wordpad, rather than Microsoft Word, when you click a .doc file.)
Most importantly, you can show or hide file extensions on both PCs and Macs. The steps differ, based on the particular version of the operating system. Search the web for “show file extensions” followed by your operating system (Windows 7, or OS X 10.8, for example), and you’ll find the instructions you need.

Finally, you asked why this changed when you installed Windows 8? In your previous operating system had been set to display file extensions, and by default, Windows 8 does not. You can, of course, display them by following the online instructions (both of us are accustomed to seeing file extensions, so always display them in every operating system). 

1348. Interacting with Car Computers

Recently my check engine light came on, and I have no idea why. Is there some way to interface my smart phone or tablet with the car so I can determine what’s wrong and take the appropriate course of action?
Starting in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the EPA required all new cars to include OnBoard Diagnostics (or OBD). This software monitors the status of the engine and the car, and has obviously grown more comprehensive and functional, and the standard was upgraded to OBA II in 1996. (For more information on OBD and the EPA, check out these sites: http://www.epa.gov/obd/questions.htm and http://www.obdii.com/background.html ). If you search the web for “OBD II”, you’ll find a large number of small handheld devices that you can plug into the port that every modern car includes for just this purpose, but unless you’re in the business of working on cars, it’s hardly worth the purchase.
Several companies provide hardware and software combinations that you can use to help diagnose your car. Again, these are totally overkill for the “casual” user, but you can find one such product here: http://www.auterraweb.com/dynoscan.html. This product includes a hardware piece you hook up to the car, and a software piece you run on a Windows PC that interprets information from the hardware. You can find a product that runs on iPhones and Android devices here: http://www.palmerperformance.com/products/dashcommand/index.php. This software again requires a hardware device to connect your handheld device to the car. It’s not expensive, but may be too technical for the casual user.
Ken recently ran across a consumer-oriented device and software combination, available for pre-order at http://www.automatic.com. This simple-to-use device plugs directly into the hardware port on your OBD II-supported car, and transmits information wirelessly to your phone. It’s geared for end-users, not car mechanics, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Being a gadget-focused fellow, he ordered one immediately, although it still hasn’t shipped so we’ll have to reserve comment until he gets a chance to try it out.

Finally, there is another option—many auto parts stores have the OBD readers available, and can at least tell you why your Check Engine light came on, and many will read the car’s settings for free (assuming that you’ll spend money on parts and services to fix whatever the problem is.) AutoZone, for example, provides this service, we hear.

1350. How do I delete things from the Auto-complete features of email systems

Kristen asked about when she started to type a name in her email address she got a number of names. Some were old name and some produced an invalid address. What is this and how can she fix it.

This can happen when using a browser addressing your email and if you use an email program like Outlook or Mac Mail.  

This feature is generally called "auto complete". You start typing the name and a list of similar names popup to choose from.

Sometimes the list contains old names and email addresses or sometimes the list is automatically generated from incoming emails including spam that you would never want to send an email too.

Deleting names from the list will vary depending on the browser/email account, or Outlook, or someother email client.

If you use GMail you need to select Contacts on the left side, 


  1. Log into your Gmail account
  2. Click the down triangle next to Gmail
  3. Select Contacts from the drop down menu
  4. Enter in the contact’s name or email in the search bar and select their record.
  5. Click in the contact’s email address field. Once you click in the textbox, a trash icon shows to the right. You can either edit the address and click Save Now on the top right or click the trash can icon to delete.
  6. If you no longer want the contact record, you can click More and select Delete contact.
I would also set the "Add contacts to auto-complete" option to "I will do it myself".

If you use Outlook, it is a lot easier to remove the item from the auto-complte list. Open a new email and start typing a name, a list will appear and to the right of each name is an X. Simply choose the X and that name will not appear the next time.

Other email systems other than GMail, and other email clients other than Outlook will have different methods. Search the internet or the client's help for the specific instructions.

1340. High-Speed Access Other Than DSL or Cable

I can't get DSL or cable. What are my other options? Dial-up is just too slow.
It’s true—in Nevada County, many areas are too remote for either cable or DSL Internet connections. Ken remembers asking a Comcast representative once if they were ever going to head in his direction, and they just laughed—at his home, the only option seemed to be dialup, when he moved in 7 years ago.
Now, however, there are several viable options. One option is satellite internet access—there are two options available nationally: HughesNet (http://www.hughesnet.com) and WildBlue (http://www.wildblue.com). Ken tried WildBlue in 2006 (at that time, HughesNet’s service was simply terrible, and he vetoed that option). At the time, WildBlue was slow, difficult, and hard to work with. They may be better now. Both HughesNet and WildBlue have recently upgraded their services, and they might be worth checking out, if you have no other options.

A better option for many might be terrestrial fixed wireless, provided by either Central Valley Broadband (the company Ken uses, http://www.calwisp.com) or Smarter Broadband (http://www.smarterbroadband.com/). Both companies have placed wireless transmitters dotting the landscape in Nevada County, and if your home provides direct line of sight to one of their towers, you could be eligible for excellent service, high speeds, and smooth Internet “sailing.” Both companies offer high-speed connections at reasonable prices, and we’ve only spoken with happy customers of both services. Check them both out to determine if either or both is available in your area.



1333. Yahoo changed? What happened?

Yahoo Changed! What Happened?

Carolyn asked: I’ve been using Yahoo! as my home page for years, and today when I turned on my laptop and loaded the browser, everything looked completely different. And, to be honest, Office 365 looked different today than it used to as well. Is my laptop broken?
We can’t tell you how often we get asked, usually by family members: “Suddenly, my computer looks different. Is it broken?” We always chuckle a little, because it never is. The problem is that Carolyn (and perhaps a family member) was using Web-based services, and the user interfaces for these services change regularly. Whether the user interface changed because the vendor wanted to add functionality, or whether the vendor changed the interface in order to simply “spice things up,” the changes can be confusing. The funny thing is, the day before Carolyn asked this question, Ken noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal about the user interface change—it was that big a change!

The fact is, when you rely on an online service, you can be guaranteed that sooner or later, the user interface will change. You need to be willing, at any point, to look around on the screen and locate the information you need. You don’t have any control over where Yahoo, or any other online service, puts the various bits of its online information, so it’s up to you to be flexible, and peruse the screen. We certainly know people that cannot function when a single icon on their screen changes location, much less the entire user interface.  In this case, both Yahoo and Microsoft’s Office 365 had updated their interfaces in the same week, so we guess it could appear that the computer was somehow “broken”, when, in fact, it was just progress. As you well know (and to misquote Heraclitus, that famous Greek philosopher), the only constant in the computer industry is change.


1332. iPhone 5 docking?

Yolanda asked: When I purchased my iPhone 5, Apple didn’t make a stand for the phone. I really miss being able to drop my phone into a dock when I walk in the door. Is there anything available, perhaps from another vendor?
You’re right—it’s great to be able to simply drop the phone into a convenient dock by the back door as you walk into the house, and have it charge (and possibly sync) while you’re not using it. Of course, the iPhone 5 was the first device to use the new Lightning connector (previous Apple devices had used the common 30-pin connector, but the Lightning connector is smaller, stronger, and doesn’t require you to insert the connector in a specific orientation), and there weren’t any docking stands that used the new connector when the phone was released.

Luckily, it’s been more than a year now, and the demand has been high for iPhone 5 docks. There are a lot of them available now, but the one Ken uses is from Belkin. It’s relatively inexpensive (still way more than it seems like it should be), and you can find information about it here: http://goo.gl/scvGbW. There are many others available—search the Web for “iPhone 5 dock stand” and you’ll find others.

1331. How do I clean my keyboard?

How Can I Clean My Keyboard?

My keyboard is filthy. I try not to eat at the computer, but you know how it is. And there's all the cat hair. Is there some way to clean the keyboard? And how can I avoid this in the future?
The obvious answer is to get rid of the cats and don't eat at the keyboard.
Ken’s a cat lover, and he’s well aware that telling you to get rid of a cat to keep your keyboard clean is like asking you to stop breathing. The simple answer is: To clean your keyboard you can use a damp cloth which you just rub on the keys to take off the filth. Really, it works. You probably want to turn your computer off before you do it, to avoid typing all sorts of stuff into your current document. And don’t get water or any liquid into the workings of your keyboard. Nothing good ever comes from liquids meeting electronic equipment face to face.
Ken, being slightly retentive, has found that using rubbing alcohol (most conveniently, in those sterile alcohol pads that people use before getting a shot) works very nicely too. Beware of rubbing too hard and removing the paint that has the letters marked on your keyboard, and just as when using water, ensure that you don’t get alcohol into the workings of your keyboard.
You could, of course, replace your keyboard. This is simple to do if you’re using a desktop computer, but it’s a little more complicated if you’re using a laptop. Note that although your laptop manufacturer might want to charge you an exhorbitant price to replace your laptop keyboard, you can often find third-party keyboards online at http://www.newegg.com or http://www.amazon.com, and they’re usually far cheaper than keyboards from the original manufacturer. If you’re queasy about opening up your laptop to replace the keyboard, any computer professional can do it for you.
Finally, we recently noticed that Logitech, a company that makes peripherals for computers, has released a washable keyboard. You can dump it in the sink and wash it with a few dishes and it comes out perfectly clean and usable again. All the keys are sealed so it's unlikely to get cat hair inside, and it looks pretty good to us.  Ken tried it out at a local store and liked the way it felt.  If you’re interested in a washable keyboard that works well, try out the Logitech washable keyboard, model K310 (http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/washable-keyboard-k310).

1329. How do I copy MP3 files to my CD?

Julie asks: I need to create an audio CD by copying MP3 files to a CD on my mac. I can't figure out how to do it. Can you help?



It should be as simple as just dropping a CD into the CD drive on your computer and then dragging files to it and you get the option to create an audio CD.  But clearly this didn't work for Julie.  I has a program called Toast which allows me to quickly create audio Cds.
But if you don't have a program like that and you just want to use the functionality built into the Mac it's certainly easy and possible. This is another place where as they say "Google is your friend".   I search for "burning CD Mac OS X" and immediately found an article showing exactly how to do it.
I don't want to tell you don't call us the questions because we're happy to answer questions but generally if you can figure out how to pose the question Google or some other search engine will have a simple single answer for you.

1328. I hate Windows 7 Paint. Can I use the one from XP?

Ralph asks: I'm using WIndows 7 and hate the way the menus work in the Paint program. Can i use the one from Windows XP that I used for years?

I will confess and I built a new computer for my friend and since Windows XP isn't available anymore I had to put Windows 7 on his computer.  He used Windows Paint for years for things that to be honest with you Windows Paint was never meant to do.

The fact is that the menus are different in the Windows 7 version of Windows Paint and it does look and feel different.

A part of me wanted to say what you want to return the car because you don't like the radio dial? On the other hand it is significantly different. If you want the old Microsoft paint back you actually can get it.  Is a somewhat complicated process which involves setting permissions on things and removing files adding files but I did get it to work within five minutes from my friend so you could do it too.

We will post the link for this on our blog but you can search for "Windows XP Paint on Windows 7" on the web and you will probably find the same solution that I did.




1358. Easy way to share photos

Easy Way to Share Photos

Jerry asked: I have photos on my phone, and I want to be able to display them on the Web so anyone can look at them. I’ve looked at services like Flicker and Google+, and they’re too complicated for me. Is there some brain-dead simple way to share photos publicly without having to do any work at all?
There are certainly a ton of photo-sharing services out there (not to generalize, but it seems that the millennials feel the need to share every detail of their lives in the public eye, something we baby boomers have a hard time with). Pinterest (pinterest.com) is one of the most popular, and its apps for phones are simple to use. It isn’t really what Jerry was looking for, however—he wants to be able to create online photo albums that his friends and family can peruse, and he doesn’t want to have to upload each photo individually.

We’ve mentioned it our favorite solution here several times in the past, but it continues to do the best job, with the least effort, as far as we’re concerned: Dropbox. Not only does DropBox make it simple to share files, it handles photos specially, automatically creating an online photo album for the photos. You simply create a new folder inside the Photos album in your DropBox folder, and DropBox creates a nice display of the images in the folder as a photo album online. Another great alternative is Copy.com, a newer file-sharing service. Copy.com doesn’t require you to place your photos in a special folder—if it detects that a folder contains photos, it provides a nice user interface for viewing the photos. Both services are free, and using either of the following links gets you some extra free space when you sign up. For DropBox, use http://db.tt/61wCYxV. For Copy.com, use https://copy.com?r=YMHsL9. Both services do a great job displaying photos publicly without any extra effort on your part.

1359. Downgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 7

I need a new computer, and all the new ones come with Windows 8 pre-installed. The particular software I need to run for my work won't run on Windows 8. How can I buy a new computer but get Windows 7 on it?
We’re very surprised that your application that runs on Windows 7 won’t also run on Windows 8—Microsoft tried exceedingly hard to ensure that every Windows 7 application runs the same on Windows 8.
If you really must downgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 7 (or you simply don’t want to use Windows 8), many vendors will allow you to downgrade your Windows 8 license and then install a Windows 7 license when you buy your new computer. It’s worth asking the vendor from whom you are buying the new computer. It may cost extra money (yes, it may cost extra money to get the old operating system), but if you need it, that cost may be worth it.
You can always purchase your own copy of Windows 7, and simply install it on your computer, replacing the installation of Windows 8. The problem is that most copies of Windows 7 that Microsoft sold were upgrade copies, and were meant to replace an existing operating system. If you do go this route, you’ll need to ensure that you purchase a “new installation” version of Windows 7. You might try the copy for sale here: http://goo.gl/3RFA2. If you’re going to attempt this, make sure you replace the hard drive in your computer, or use a separate partition on your existing hard drive, to ensure that you don’t overwrite your installation of Windows 8, in case you decide to return to Windows 8 later. The real problem with installing Windows 7 on a new computer is that it’s possible (and likely) that Windows 7 didn’t provide drivers for all the hardware in the new computer—this has happened to both Doug and Ken in their attempts to help friends downgrade (note that both of us are happily using Windows 8, and actually kind of like it).

Downgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 7 isn’t a task for the computer novice. If this is something you need to tackle, you might benefit from getting help or advice from a professional. No matter what you do, make sure you back up your current system first!

1360. Should I Upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8?


Do you think it’s worth upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8? It seems like a lot of work to perform the upgrade, and I’m not convinced it will get me very much.

Although we like to play with the latest software and hardware we can find, our general attitude for people actually trying to get stuff done is to leave it alone. That is, unless you really need some of the new features in Windows 8, leaving your computer running Windows 7 for now is probably the best alternative. If you feel the need to take advantage of a touch screen, or if you like the full-screen Windows 8 start screen experience, then, by all means, take the plunge. If your computer runs Windows 7, it will most likely run Windows 8 without problem. (If you’re currently running Windows XP or the misbegotten Windows Vista, then if your hardware meets the minimum requirements for Windows 8, we strongly suggest you consider upgrading your operating system—you’ll find the requirements listed here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/system-requirements). 

1362. Android Hotmail sent items folder.

Tish was not seeing email she sent from her Android phone in the Hotmail sent items folder. How can she fix this problem?

The Android has a specific application from Microsoft that you download to support your Hotmail email account. Make sure you use this application.  

Go to http://www.appsapk.com/hotmail/ to get this application. Then you need to go into the "Account Settings" from the application menu, then click "Folders". Then click ‘Refresh Folders’ and select from the list which folders you would like to be synced to receive updates. Here you can confirm that the email you send goes into the proper folder.

There are many other settings when you go into the account settings of your application menu. Check out these options because I think you will find there are many nice tricks with this very custom application from Microsoft.  

If you use Hotmail and have an Android phone it makes using Hotmail a real pleasure.




1363. Generate Random text in Word document.

Sam needs to generate random text in a word document. Is there an easy way to do this?

This is a tip that has been around since MS Office 2000. I always use this feature when I am setting up the page formatting so I can make sure it will look like I expect it to look.  

A simple start is to type =rand() in your document and it will generate 5 paragraphs of text. Depending upon what version of Word you are using what gets generated will differ.  

The original text was "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is generated by =rand.old(1,1) 

BTW this is the shortest valid english sentence that utilizes all 26 letters in the alphabet.  

Do a search on the internet for "generate random text in Word" and you will find the information necessary to create all sorts of random text that you can use for your document formatting needs.




1375. iDevice volume adjustment

I am finding this a little hard to believe but a friend complained that she was using her iPad and couldn't find her volume switch because her cover was covering it up. Is there any alternative way to change the volume, perhaps a software setting?

I had a similar problem. My cover just didn't make it easy to feel the volume switch and since the iPad and iPhone can be held in any position it wasn't consistent to find the hidden volume switch under the cover.

Yes you can do it from the Settings, General, Sounds menus but it is easier and faster to rip off the cover and find the actual switch.

If the device is not locked, simply double-click the home button and then swipe to the left and the volume control will appear.  If it's locked, just double-click the home button

This seems to be the fastest and easiest way to consistently access your volume control.


1370. Mirror Application.

So this is embarrassing.  I went out the other day and had a poppy seed bagel for breakfast in public. And then I realized I am walking around with poppy seeds in my teeth.  I am thinking an app that I could use as a mirror would be really helpful.  Can I find that?

Ken - just don't smile.  The good news it yes you can.  There are a number of free and pay for apps that provide the functionality of a mirror.

I wish I would have thought about some of these great apps.  Some of them are so useful.  And this one is actually very easy to build.  All that was needed was for the application to start the camera.  Simple easy, and very helpful.

So go to your favorite app store that supports your mobile device and search for Mirror.  You will find  number of available options.   I didn't see anything that would make me pay for this application.  But for free it is great.




1371. Defrag - still worth it?

You know - back in the 80's we tended to defrag our hard drives occasionally and I still hear that people are doing this. Are there any reasons to doing it and are there downfalls to doing it.

Ken you keep bringing up these age things. Are you trying to say something about my age?

Defragging is a term that is used to define "tuning" your hard drive. Over time as more and more changes took place on your computer, the data got saved and because of the old technology the system became less and less efficient.

With new file systems and bigger and faster drives the need to "defrag" has become for the most part unnecessary. The Mac had similar issues but for the most part it took care of things without your intervention.

In Windows 8 although there is a program that will help optimize your drives, the specific task to "defrag" is no longer available. The need to defrag has basically gone away.

If you still have Windows XP or an early version of Windows 7 and are experiencing significant performance issues that seem to be disk related you may consider doing a "defrag".

Search for the instructions related to your specific system.

As always you should make sure you have a recent backup of your computer data. This is especially important when you do a "defrag" as this will re-write the information on your computer.

So to answer your question. Defrag with newer computers is not as important as it was before, but always make sure you have a good backup before you do anything like this to your computer.

1372. Computer browser house cleaning.

So Doug I hear that people when they are browsing clear their cache regularly remove all their cookies, clear up everything from their internet browser, and I am wondering. Is that worth it and is that something we should be doing regularly?

This "house cleaning" task is something you should consider. It really depends on how you use your computer.

There are settings in your browser that will maintain your system without you doing anything. You should review these setting to make sure the type of internet access you typically do makes sense with your settings. Search for how to change the settings for the browser you use.

Typical settings will include how long to keep cookies, page and media data. How much cache to use. It will determine if each visit to a web page requires the page to be completely refreshed.

If you do not have specific issues I would leave things alone. Otherwise review these settings and make adjustments based upon your typical usage. You can force the cleanup of this data to start fresh, but when you do this you may need to enter extra data when you initially visit a familiar web site.

There are free and pay for programs that will help you manage some of these items. I personally do not recommend these programs. Be very careful downloading these programs because they can cause unwanted applications to be installed that will create other problems.

My advice is to talk to a friend that has some computer experience to help you with these issues. Don't buy or try any free programs that claim they will magically fix problems.

These issues apply to both the Mac and PC. The newer systems are much better at keeping things "cleaned up".




1373. Lock Your Mobile Device


I see people all the time using their mobile phones and never entering a code to unlock them before they use them. It seems a lot simpler to just start using the device, but it seems like it would be more secure to have an unlock code. Should I bother using the device’s lock feature?

Unequivocally, we suggest that anyone using a portable technology take advantage of any built-in locking mechanism to help prevent information theft. It seems like it would take some unnatural act to extract the device from your hands, but in fact, people lose or leave their devices daily. With that in mind, Ken used to use his iPad without a lock code, and of course, left it on a plane. Amazingly, the airline found and returned his iPad quickly, but not before Ken frantically changed every password for every service he used, knowing that anyone who picked up his iPad would have access to all sorts of private information. You may not think the information on your phone or tablet is sensitive, but think about all of your contact information. Your business associates, friends, and family deserve their privacy.

All modern portable devices offer at least some sort of locking mechanism. If you’re using iOS on an iPhone or iPad, you can select either a simple 4-digit code or a more complex code of any length. We suggest that you consider using the more complex code—the problem with the simple code is that thieves can tell by looking at the screen prompts that you use a 4-digit code, and believe it or not, the grease on your fingers often makes it perfectly clear what the four digits are. Using a more complex code means that a thief has no information about the length of the code. Yes, it may take a while to get used to entering a code each time you use the device, but it’s worth it if the device is lost or stolen. (It’s also worth looking into using the Find My Phone app in iPhones/iPads, or similar features on other devices, which allow you to track the location of your device. Using iOS, you can also use this feature to wipe your device should it be stolen, effectively removing all the content from your device before anyone can access it.)

1374. Mac "Path View"

How To Enable The Path View In Finder? I liked being able to see exactly where my file is located in Windows. Can I do this on my Mac?

To turn on File Path View on your Mac, Open Finder and select View from the menu bar.  

In this menu view you will notice a number of options that have Hide/Show in the option.

You can Hide/show the Path Bar, Status Bar, Sidebar, and Toolbar.  

I would turn these options from hide to show and look at the Finder window to see what your can now see.  

As a new Mac user I would turn everything on and then as you get familiar with the look you can make changes. 

I also always liked to see files extensions in Windows. On the Finder Menu, select Finder, Preferences, Advanced, and check the FileName extensions options. You can also have icons display on your desktop under the Finder. Preferences, General tab.

Bottom line - check out all of the settings in Finder Preferences, and View. There is a bunch of information that may help you with managing your Mac computer and make you feel more comfortble with your old Windows view of life.

1369. Compare computer performance

I was at a computer store and wanted to compare computers to determine which was the fastest. How can I quantitatively compare the performance of multiple computers?


Although this is a somewhat of geeky question, real  people often do need to compare things before they buy them and there is a standard for comparing hardware.  That is GeekBench.  If you to go to their website you'll find software the runs on PCs or Macs or Android or iOS - That is the iPhone or iPad that allows you to quantitatively compare these items and determine which one is the fastest.

Doug and I recently use this to determine the speed of a new computer he was contemplating purchasing. And we found out how it stacked up against other computers that we owe. In any case if you're trying to purchase a new laptop or tablet and want to know how it stands up against other laptops or tablets check out the GeekBench utility. It's free and it will help you determine the relative speed of any computer or tablet or phone that you are thinking about purchasing.






1368. Correcting Email Address Auto-Suggest

Dave asked: In Outlook Express, I was entering an email address and entered it incorrectly. I stopped and re-entered it correctly, but now, when I address an email to the same person, I see suggestions for both email addresses (the right one and the wrong one). How can I remove that incorrect suggestion?
Our first (perhaps too snarky) inclination was to suggest to David that he simply stop using Outlook Express because Microsoft stopped supporting it or supplying it as an application several years ago. But the fact is that this is a problem in just about every email system. Every modern email editor seems to offer suggestions for email addresses based on previous email addresses that you've typed. This is a useful technology, until the email application gets the idea that you want to send email to a faulty email address, and then continues to provide that address as a suggestion. Both Outlook Express and the more recent Microsoft Mail allow you to delete an auto-suggest item as it appears in the list by simply pressing the Delete key, but it’s not that simple: The problem is that both applications don’t record your changes to the auto-suggest list until you actually send the email. You can’t just delete the name and then cancel sending the email. We did find suggested steps to solve the problem online.

To remove an auto-suggested email address, start to compose an email message. Start entering the recipient email address, and choose the email address you don't want to keep by moving up and down through the list of suggestions. Press the delete key to delete the email address you don't want. (Here’s the important part!) Once you have deleted the errant email address, enter a real email address and send the email (send it to yourself, if you like). Without this final step, the application won’t record your auto-suggestion delete. Yes, it seems anti-intuitive, but you must actually send an email to record the change to the auto-suggest list.



1367. Car computer - share with my mobile phone

I know that every modern car has a computer built in that provides information about the car and its status. I can't believe there isn't a gizmo that allows me to retrieve information on my phone from my car, so I can track repair info and driving records. What am I missing?

I don't know that you're really missing anything because it's far as I know there is no such device at this moment. However soon after we record this tip I  believe such a device will become available to the general public. There's a website automatic.com which is selling a gizmo that does exactly what you're talking about.

It hooks up to the computer in your car and it sort of lives in your car's engine and if your phone is nearby it connects with your phone and it updates information in their phone application to give you information on repair records and driving habits and when you see a little red check engine light your car you can give you more information about what that check engine light is complaining about.


It's not very expensive it's currently listed as $70 for presale. It's  not quite out yet but it might be by the time you hear this from automatic.com,  I ordered one for $70 at figures were trying to see what it does.  I'll let you know later how it works out,

1366. Loan Your Mac to a Friend

I need to loan my Mac to a friend, but don't want him to be able to access my personal files. How can I let him use the machine, but not my content?
It’s probably best to keep friends from examining your personal files too closely, and the Mac operating system, OS X, makes this simple. All you need to do is create a new user account on the Mac and tell your friend the credentials to log into that account.
To create a new user account, start System Preferences, and then select to the Users and Groups option. You will need to unlock the settings so that you can make changes and then add a new user. Supply a password for the new user, and then you’re all ready to loan them your Mac.

Your friend will be able to log into the new account you created, but won't be able to access your personal files.  When the new user attempts to do so, the computer will display a get a warning indicating that the files aren’t available for this user. There’s really nothing your friend can do without knowing your password and logging into your account to get into your content. It's very safe, and this mechanism provides a great way to share the computer with other users. (If you’re really paranoid, you might want to consider also encrypting your data, but that’s a topic for a separate tip.)

1365. WiFi access intermittent

Joanne asked: I like to watch Netflix on my phone while I'm at the gym, using their WiFi network. Sometimes when I walk in, the phone simply won't connect up. What's going on?


There are several reasons this might be happening and there are several ways to solve the problem. First of all the simplest solution is just a reboot your phone but that might be a bit drastic. Usually that will solve the problem.

Another option is to remove the network settings for that network. Just delete it or have your phone "forget" the settings and then reapply them. And often that fixes the problem.

If neither of those solves the problem another solution is to politely ask the owner of the network to reset the wireless router. In my case when nothing else works that generally does.


But it means kicking everyone off the network and it's awfully impolite. But one of those solutions ought to fix your problem. If nothing else works you can also try resetting your phone's network settings in general but that forgets all of your wireless networks and means you will have to reapply all of the Wi-Fi password that you had stored in your phone. Try some of these and see if any of them will work for you.

1364. Microsoft Messenger - status?

I've been using Microsoft Messenger for years to chat with my kids, yet now suddenly Microsoft has been telling me that I have to stop using it. What's up? What's going to replace it?


As is usual operating practice in the software business if it works well change it as Microsoft is done here. They purchased Skype a few years back and Skype has been used for many years as a telecommunications product.

Well since it supports chat, why should we have two chat products so they killed off Microsoft Messenger and they're forcing you to use Skype as your messenger product if you want to communicate with other people who used to communicate with using Microsoft Messenger.


So now you'll need a Skype account to communicate with those same people. Luckily you can use the same credentials you used for Microsoft Messenger once you've installed Skype. Of course once you have Skype installed you can also make telephone calls. And they're very high-quality phone calls to other people using Skype, or to land lines, or to mobile phones. Check out Skype at Microsoft website.

1357. Print directly from iPhone

I need to print emails directly from my iPhone. I certainly can't connect a printer directly to the phone, but I read somewhere that there's some way to print content from iOS devices to some printers. What am I missing?


Well I certainly don't want to promote printing of emails from your phone but I'm sure sometimes you really do need to print out your email on hardcopy. 

Apple has built in a feature called AirPrint that allows you to connect your printer wirelessly to your phone but it only works for a very small subset of modern - very modern printers.

Certainly mine doesn't support it. I've had my printer for seven years now and it's still working great.  I can make it work however using a product called PrintTopia. Printopia is an add-in on my Mac which allows me to wirelessly connect my phone or iPad and print from the device.

So if you have a modern printer that supports it check out using AirPrint.  it's an  Apple provided facility.  if you don't check out the product called PrinTopia which allows you to use any connected printer on your Mac as an AirPrint device.


1356. Display Video from iPad on a Computer?


I have video content on my iPad that I’d like to display on my main computer screen. Can I somehow send the video output from the iPad to my computer?
With the latest versions of iOS, Apple has made it extremely easy to stream video from an iPad or iPhone directly to your TV, using the Apple TV component (http://www.apple.com/appletv/). This feature, named AirPlay, makes it easy to either stream content from a phone or tablet to Apple TV, and it also makes it easy to mirror the contents of your device’s screen to the Apple TV. In many applications that display video or play audio content, press on the icon near the bottom of the screen that looks like a little box with an arrow at the bottom, and select your Apple TV device as the recipient of the content. That’s all it takes. (Note that not every iOS application supports AirPlay, and some support only audio over AirPlay.)
Streaming content from your device to your computer isn’t as simple, however—that feature isn’t built in on either a Windows or Mac computer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! If you want to do it, most likely someone before you has expressed the same desire, and software developers have created applications that fill this exact niche.

We don’t know of a free solution, but you can find a relatively inexpensive commercial solution: AirServer (http://www.airserver.com). This utility installs onto a Mac or Windows computer, and acts as a receiver for AirPlay content. Ken tested it recently, and it worked flawlessly, receiving videos from his iPad. Like we said, it’s not free, but it does work well and satisfies this particular need. This excellent product also supports AirPlay mirroring, so that you can display the content from your iPhone or iPad directly on your computer screen, which can be useful for screen sharing, presentations, or any other situation in which you need to see the content of your device’s screen on your computer.