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Sunday, December 8, 2013

1429. Closing a running app in iOS 7

I upgraded to iOS 7 on my iPhone, and I can't figure out how to quit a running application. I used to be able to hold down the Start button and then click a little X to close an app, but that doesn't seem to work. What's the trick?

Well there certainly are a lot of user interface changes in iOS 7 and this is one of them. 

In general you really shouldn't need to shut down the running application but sometimes it helps to restart the application if it isn't working quite right. The trick here is to note you need to double click the start button and then once you do that you get a display of all the running applications. You can zoom through them to switch to another running application or ...  here's the trick!  Just flick with your finger to remove a running application.

So you double-click and then flick. And if you're really coordinated you conflict with multiple fingers to quit multiple running applications.

User interface features that require  you to double click before you can use them aren't terribly discoverable.  So just think on your iPhone to quit a running application or to multitask double-click that start button i

Double-click start button, flick an app to close it. Use multiple fingers to close multiple apps at once!

1428.Dual-head USB Cables

Jerry asked: I have an external DVD drive for my computer, and it uses a weird USB cable with two plugs on one end. Why does it have two plugs, and do I need them both?

The answer to that do you need them both question is actually "It Depends".  Let's step back a second. External DVD drives may require more power than a single USB port provides.  

On top of that although USB ports are supposed to provide a standard amount of power. On some computers they don't supply enough power to provide power to your DVD drive. The manufacturers have created these dual head USB cables that hook up to two USB ports so they get double the amount of power. 

On those weird cables you'll see a full straight through cable that provides data and power for the USB drive and there is a little nubby one hanging off of that to plug in and get extra power.  I would try it without the little nubby one and if it works you don't need the extra power. 

On the other hand if it doesn't you can then plug in the second head on the USB cable and get enough power for your external drive. If one side of the cable works you can replace that funny cable with a standard USB cable so you don't have to keep track of an extra dangling bit hanging off the cable.

1427.Adding an External DVD Drive

Kate asked: I bought a thin and light laptop, but I sometimes need to read and write DVDs and CDs. What am I supposed to do? This laptop doesn't have anything like that.

When Doug and I received this question we sort of chuckled thinking what  is she going to want next an Eight track player attached to her computer.

No really people actually do still use CDs and DVDs at this point attached to their computer.  I often have to create CDs to give people music that I've created for them. And for that I use an external DVD drive.

These external DVD drives could also read and write CDs so they are perfect for creating content. You can buy one on Amazon or any local vendor. They are relatively inexpensive and they connect to your computer using the USB port that's on every computer. 

If you need to create DVDs or CDs then you'll need to get an external DVD drive. On our website I've added a link to both a standard DVD and a BlueRay external drive that I found useful. 

External USB DVD: Ken's favorite is (Samsung). If you want Blueray, check this one:

1426.Hide the WIndows 8 Charms Bar

In WIndows 8, every time I move my mouse to the corner, a bunch of icons appear. What are these, and how can I get rid of them?

You asked some good questions but the answer to "should you remove them"  is probably no.

These charms provided by Microsoft make it easy to get to very settings on your computer and then make it easy to do things like power off your computer. So no I'd leave the charms there.  If you ask me.

But if you really do want to get rid of them it's actually pretty easy. Just in the Windows desktop right-click on the taskbar and then select properties from the menu that appears. In the corner navigation area choose the option that turns off the charms that appear when you move your mouse to the upper right hand corner. Once you do that though they no longer appear.  You can still get to them using the window shortcut (Windows Key + C)  but you won't see them when you just move your mouse to the upper right-hand corner.

This is one of those things that I suggest leaving on until you just can't stand it as the charms actually are quite useful for searching and modifying settings in Windows 8.  

1425. Revert to Windows 7 Start Menu in Windows 8

I've set up Windows 8, and upgraded to Windows 8.1, and I really miss the Windows 7 Start menu. Yes, Windows 8.1 has a Start button, but all it does is take me to the full-screen apps. I want a Start menu like I had in Windows 7. Is there some way to get that back?
We generally try to use the newest, “shiniest” features of every operating system, but to be honest, at least one of us (Ken) really misses the Windows 7 Start menu as well. Doug has reconciled himself to liking the new tiled interface, but some habits die hard, and Ken agrees with you—we miss the Start menu.
If you search online, you’ll find a number of different products that promise to return you to Windows 7 happiness and comfort by providing the old standby, the Windows Start menu.
Ken uses a product from Stardock, called Start 8 ( Currently, it costs $4.99 (we think that’s an incredible deal for a really useful product). This application replaces the Windows Start menu and gives you a ton of options for customizing the behavior of the menu, as well. If you miss the Windows start menu, we highly recommend Start8.
Doug, on the other hand, has grown accustomed to the new technology, and likes pressing the Windows key and then just typing the name of the application he wants to run. For example, to start Word, he press the Windows key, then types “Wo” and Enter. That’s enough of the name to help Windows find the right application and start it up.

You know, in the long run, it may be best to take the time to get used to the new paradigm. Ken still thinks that in Windows 8.2, or Windows 9, or whatever, you’ll see the old-style Start menu, or something like, make a re-emergence. That’s all just speculation, of course. If you just want things back the way they used to be, check out Start8. It works well!


1424. Skip the Windows Start Screen

I'm using WIndows 8, but have no use for the big tile-like start screen. Can I get it to start up just like WIndows 7, showing the windows desktop?

It's funny when Microsoft released Windows 8 the original  version they sort of assumed that everyone would like that tiled  start screen and it made at the only option.

There were tools that let you skip it but you had to pay or get something extra to make that happen.  

In Windows 8.1 which we strongly suggest everyone using Windows 8 gets, there's an option that allows you to skip directly to the Windows desktop. To do that you want right click on the Windows 8.1 task bar when you are in the desktop then choose properties and click on the navigation tab and under the start screen section check the checkbox next to "when I sign in or close all apps on the screen go to the desktop instead of start". 

We will have a link to instructions on how to do this on our website but it's easy to do and only requires a single checkbox to start windows up on the desktop instead of the tiled start screen. 

1430. WWW what is it in the URL and do I need it.

The other day I was trying to get to a Web site and I typed the address without the leading “www”. Weird, but I didn’t get to the Web site I was looking for. I retyped it and included the “www,” and it worked fine. I didn’t realize you had to actually include the “www.” What’s going on here?
We guess you may have come across one of the few web sites in the world that don’t behave the same whether you type the “www” or not, but normally, whether you type “” or “”, you should end up at Google’s Web site. The trick here is that the domain name (in this case) is, and the prefix (www) indicates to the “great traffic computer in the sky” exactly which part of Google’s Web site you want to visit. The “www” is an arbitrary name (originally used as an abbreviation for World Wide Web), and there’s nothing special about that set of letters, except that every Web site uses it, by convention. As you may know, in order to browse the Web, your computer must communicate with a server (and there are many of these) that converts domain names to Web addresses. For example, when you browse to, a Domain Name Service (DNS) server converts the request for to an address like, and your browser communicates with the server at that particular Web address. Anyone who manages domain settings can configure any prefix and associate it with any Internet Protocol (IP) address. For example, we tend to use webmail as a prefix for our online e-mail access, so we can browse to something like to retrieve our mail.

Now, back to the original question: Just as www and webmail are valid domain name prefixes, so is nothing at all. Normally, companies configure their domains so that resolves to the same IP address as, but that isn’t a requirement. If you find a site where the two don’t take you to the same place, or where (without www) doesn’t work at all, you might want to let the owners of the Web site know! You, as an end user, shouldn’t have to concern yourself with the difference—in a perfect world, typing or should take you to the same place!

1431. Misspelled web addresses.

Yesterday I was wanting to go to and I typed Amazon wrong. I entered 2 N's at the end. But I still got to Is there some Web magic going on? How did that happen?

Web magic, No. Lot's of money, Yes.  There is a feature in the web domain world that allows you to route your domain name to another name and the person that entered the name would not even know it was re-routed. This feature is probably what was used. Amazon most likely has many if not all of the similar domain names that they can control and route to their web site.

As a business your Brand is very important to you and you must protect it. If you were a competitor to Amazon wouldn't you want people like Ken who can't type to come to your web site? So companies that can afford it will purchase all of the names that people could type that were similar to your name.

I am sure if you happen to have the domain name you could offer it to Amazon and they would pay you much more that the $12 you paid for it.  

For those lucky people that grabbed up any variations of a popular web domain name they can either offer the name to the original company or a competitor that would be happy to get the traffic or you could create your own web site and offer links to companies including the original company. You could make a lot of money from people like Ken who can't type and people like me who can't spell.

1432. Old disk drives. Should I care about the old data on it?

I was think of getting rid of an old computer I had in the office. But I was worried about the contents of the hard drive. Do I need to do anything special with that? Should I format it? Or run some utility to clean it off before I give it away or throw it out?

Yes Ken I strongly recommend you destroy your disk drive before throwing it out or giving it away. Unless I see the drive being destroyed I will personally take a hammer and physically break the drive.  

If I am giving it to a friend I will not only format the drive I will use a utility to physically overwrite the entire drive with binary zeros. Use your favorite search engine to locate a utily to do this. This will insure that whatever data that was on the drive is no longer readable.  

It is not like your friend would use the information, but when they got rid of the drive they may not destroy it and some information could remain on the drive forever. I am paranoid about this. Make sure you safeguard your data.

1433. Losing registration on your web site

Another web mystery for you. I went to a friends web site and had been there many times in the past. But all of a sudden I went there it took me to a site that I didn't all. How is that possible?

The first idea that comes to mind is your friend has changed his business and now is doing this new business. Ken you really need to talk to your friends more often.  

But the more likely the case is your friend didn't update his domain registration and someone else has purchased it. There is a big business out there in "pouching" domain names. This is especially true if the domain has any significant traffic.  

The pouchers will buy up an expiring domain name and then try to sell it back to you or if it has a good traffic count sell it to someone else.  

Be aware of your domain name expiration. Most registrar's like Network Solutions GoDaddy and others allow you to automatically renew your registration and they will bother you month's in advance to re-purchase your expiring domain name.  

Pay attention to this. Your domain name is an asset, treat it as such.

1434. Old computers - any value?

Recently I had a friend hand me an old Dell Netbook that she bought a few years ago that doesn't seem to have much value and she asked if I could sell it for her. Well if I checked online the best price I say was for $12.00. Is there anything else she could do with that computer other than just trashing it?

Old computers can be useful for many things. But sometimes you should just consider it a boat anchor, but don't just through it overboardt, give it to a local charity when they sponsor the electronic waste pickup drive.  Remember to clean off your hard drive securely as we have discuss in another tech tip.

For no additional money you could use the computer as a file or print server, Or an extra backup of your critical applications.  

If you have an iPhone or iPad and your printer does not support direct printing use Apples AirPrint, and connect the printer the the old computer.

I also have one of my old computers that I use for guests. I do not want to share my computer with anyone. This way they can use my spare computer and I don't have to worry about them seeing something I don't want them to see or accidentally deleting something important. 

I know of many people complain that they lent their computer to a friend and now they have some terrible virus.

1435. What is a browser?

I see lots of different browsers on my friends’ computers. I see Safari on the Mac, and Internet Explorer on Windows. I’ve seen friends using Chrome, Firefox, and others on both platforms. What exactly is a browser and why does it exist? And what browser am I using? I don’t know how to tell.
Stop right now, and start up whatever application you use to browse the Web. Where you type the Web address, enter This useful site can tell you which browser you’re currently using, and if your copy is up to date. This is useful information!
To quote from “Internet Explorer is a browser. It’s a piece of software on your computer. It lets you visit webpages and use web applications. It’s important to have the latest version of your browser. Newer browsers save you time, keep you safer, and let you do more online.” Putting it as simply as possible, a Web browser is a piece of software that allows you to view Web pages.
In its simplest format, the World Wide Web consists of millions/billions of documents, created using a text-based language called HTML. In order to view these documents, you need some software that can make a request for a specific page to a specific address: Your request for a page turns into a response, which displays the requested page. It’s (obviously) a lot more complex than that, but you can think of your browser as a means of viewing web pages.
People often confuse their browsers with the content displayed in the browser; That is, they equate their browser with Google or Bing. Others confuse the browser with their computer: A browser is not the Windows PC or Mac. As we said before, a browser is nothing more than a piece of software that runs on your computer that allows you to view and interact with Web pages.
Some browsers are platform-specific (current versions of Internet Explorer run solely on Windows computers, and current versions of Safari run only on Mac computers). Others, like Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and more, run on both platforms, plus Linux. In addition, you’ll find Web browsers on all smart phones and tablets—iPhones and iPads run Safari (although you can install Google Chrome on these devices), and Android phones and tablets run Google Chrome. Each different browser supports browsing the Web, of course, and each provides its own set of unique features and capabilities.
Some folks like the features in one browser, others prefer another. Each browser maintains its own settings, history, bookmarks, cache, and add-ins; if you have trouble with one browser, you can experiment with another. (To find alternate browsers, search the Web for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox). Ken is partial to Chrome, because it easily synchronizes bookmarks and settings across his Mac, PCs, iPhone and iPad. Chrome maintains all these settings across all the platforms on which he browses. Other browsers can do the same thing (Safari uses iCloud, Internet Explorer can use SkyDrive), but Chrome makes it all truly easy.
Which ever browser you choose, make sure you keep it up to date. New security risks find their way to the public weekly, and it’s important to maintain the most secure browser you can—update regularly!