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Sunday, February 9, 2014

1453. Siri pops up when not needed?

Sometimes when I’m listening to a voice message on my iPhone, Siri pops up and tries to get involved in the conversation. Why does she do this, and how do I stop this behavior?

We’re going to guess that this unwanted intrusion is caused by two specific issues: First, we assume that you listen to your voice messages by bringing your phone to your ear (and why not?). Second, we assume that you have—either on purpose, or inadvertently—modified the setting on your iPhone that tells Siri to “wake up” when you raise your phone. The combination of these two behaviors will definitely cause the experience you’re having. The solution is simple: Because we guess you probably don’t want to change the way you listen to voice messages (that is, by bringing the phone to your ear), the answer is to tell Siri to take a break. In other words, go to the Settings app on your phone, select the General settings, select the options for Siri, and ensure that the Raise to Speak option is set to Off. Making this one simple change should solve your problem, and get Siri “out of your face”.

1452. Siri Can’t Say My Name. Can I Teach Her?

My name is Allyson, and I go by Ally. Siri, on my phone, refuses to pronounce my name correctly—she always refers to me as “A Lie.” Can I convince her to pronounce my name correctly?
Actually, teaching Siri to pronounce first names correctly is easy. Whenever she “says” a name, you can prompt her with something like “You said that name wrong.” Siri will ask you to say the name correctly, and from then on, she’ll get it right. (We were unable to get Siri to learn pronunciations for last/family names, but people say online that it’s possible. We tried, and failed.)

You can teach Siri a lot more about yourself, as well. You can say “Call my brother,” for example, and if you have not yet indicated who your brother is, Siri will ask you to identify your brother. Once you have done so, she’ll ask if you want her to remember that the particular contact is your brother. Once you’ve set up this relationship, you can then ask her to “Call my brother,” and she’ll know what to do. Before you can set up these relations, however, you’ll need to tell Siri who you are—you can do that in Settings-General-Siri.

1451. Free Software to Access My Home Computer Remotely?

I've been using LogMeIn's free version to remotely access my computer when I'm on the road. All of sudden, the service is no longer free. Can you recommend another similar remote access service that is free?
Funny how that is: Companies offer a free service for a while, but then realize that they actually have to make money in order to survive. LogMeIn is such a service. Lots of people (including us) got used to using it for free, but at one point, they terminated their free options, and now require you to pay for an account in order to be able to access your home computer while you’re on the road. Of course, LogMeIn had other uses as well, including providing remote support (we both provide a lot of remote support—Ken continues to attempt to keep his father from getting inundated with online malware, using remote access software like LogMeIn from across the country).
Although we mourn the loss of LogMeIn’s free service, you have options. You could, of course, continue to use LogMeIn—it will just cost you a little to do so. If your intent is to remotely access your own computer unattended and use LogMeIn, you don’t have any options besides giving them money. On the other hand, if you’re attempting to provide remote support, LogMeIn has a product called ( that offers a free level of service; it’s worth checking out.
If you’re technically astute, you can use the Remote Desktop feature in Windows (RDP), or VNC on the Mac. These products can be tricky to set up and use, but they’re definitely free.
Ken swears by a free service that he uses for helping his family out: TeamViewer ( It’s free for personal use, but requires payment for business use. It’s a great tool, and provides for unattended access (so you can access your own computer remotely, if you’ve set up TeamViewer to allow this), and it’s simple for folks who need support to set up so you can remotely access their computers. If you’re using remote access for personal use, we strongly recommend TeamViewer as a simple-to-use alternative to LogMeIn.

You can also find many other free and paid remote access services. For example, you may hear radio ads for GoToMyPC, which is a fine service—it just doesn’t happen to be free. (The paid levels for GoToMyPC and LogMeIn seem to be comparable.) For personal use, however, check out TeamViewer. It’s simple to use, and it’s free!

1450. How can I filter my search in Google?

I use Google for my online searching, and I seem to get a lot more results than I can use. Sometimes I want to restrict the site for my search (perhaps looking only on, for example) or restrict the file type that contains the results I’m looking for (perhaps looking only for PDF files). Is there some way to get results closer to what I need?

It seems that searching on the Web is a skill that students ought to be taught in school like reading, writing, and arithmetic, at this point. Certainly, if you just make a general search on Google or Bing or any other search engine, you are likely to get thousands of responses, most of which aren’t the least bit helpful.
If your goal is to restrict your search on Google, there’s a simple trick. If you want to search only on a specific site, include the text “site:” followed by the name of the site, like "" as part of your search query. Using syntax that includes “site:” and the name of the site, Google will only search for results on the specified site.

If you only want to find results of a particular file type (like PDF, for example), include text like “file type:PDF” in the search query. Google will restrict the results to only PDF files.

Google provides a ton of tricks you can use when searching. For help getting started with these search tricks, check out this useful site: It may take a little while to internalize Google’s search secrets, but once you do, you’ll find exactly what you’re seeking much more efficiently!

1449. Sync My Email Accounts

I want to be able to check email from multiple devices—I have a home computer, a work computer, and a smart phone, and need the email kept in sync on all those devices. If I delete an email on my phone, I’d love it if it was also deleted on my computers. Even more importantly, if I read an email on my computer, it should appear as read on all the other devices. This really isn’t working for me. Any suggestions?
This is a common problem, and one that we’ve all battled over the years. With the proliferation of mobile devices (Ken uses two computers, a phone, and an iPad daily, and checks email on them all), things just get more and more complicated. Assuming that you’re using a public email provider (like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or, you’re in luck, but getting this configured correctly might take a little effort—the solution is different for each email provider, and for each different email client. If you’re just reading email in a browser, none of these issues apply—you get synchronized email for free. But if you’re using an email client, like Outlook or Mac Mail, then you do need to set up the configuration correctly.
A little background first (and there are some abbreviations coming—watch out!): All the current Web-based email providers support two distinct protocols for retrieving email. The older protocol, POP3, is simpler, but doesn’t support retrieving email on multiple devices well—it wasn’t devised to handle complex synchronizing between multiple clients. The more modern protocol, IMAP, is meant exactly for the kind of synchronicity you desire.
If things aren’t working the way you’d like, most likely, you’ve set up your email clients to use POP3 to retrieve email. To solve the problem, you’ll need to revise your email client’s settings so you are using IMAP. Each Web mail provider supplies Help content to make it easy for you to set things up correctly, depending on the email client. For example, Google provides the following page for Gmail users: Yahoo provides this page:  If you’re using Outlook, you’ll find this page very helpful, as it provides information about most major Web-based email providers: We didn’t cover all the options here, so your best bet is to search the Web for “<Your Email Host> IMAP settings <Your email client>”, as in: “Gmail IMAP Settings Mac Mail”. You’ll easily find the information you need to configure your mail client for IMAP.

Although POP3 still works, we heartily recommend using IMAP for all email clients and all Web mail providers. The flexibility and synchronization features definitely make it worth the time it takes to change existing configurations.

1448. Check hardware to support Windows 8?

I have an older computer, and would like to upgrade to Windows 8.1. How can I tell if my computer will support this latest operating system?

Luckily it is pretty easy to find out. One way to do it would just be to replace the hard drive in your computer saving away your old one putting a new one in installing Windows 8.1 and seeing what happens,

On the other hand you can check ahead of time. The Windows Compatibility Center on Microsoft website will give you information by testing your computer to see what it contains and to see if it will support Windows 8.1. 

It's worth checking out the Microsoft site and search for "Windows compatibility Center".

Windows Compatibility Center:

1459. Windows 8 - Safe mode gone?

Sometimes when my Windows computer wasn't working I used to be able to boot into safe mode and then it wouldn't load all the drivers and I could test things out. But with Windows 8 it's not so easy. I can't just press the F8 key as it's booting. How do I get into safe mode and what's going on here?

Yes things are different in many cases if you want to boot into safe mode with the newer computers and Windows 8.  

If you can boot the computer in normal mode then there are certain ways you can try to boot into safe mode.

  1. Start msconfig.exe and select Boot tab. You can then select Safe Mode and some additional options.
  2. Another method is to press the Power button at the Windows login screen or in the Settings charm.
  3. Then, press and hold the SHIFT key on your keyboard and click Restart. 
    1. Then follow the varies commands. 
    2. Windows asks you to choose an option. 
    3. Press Troubleshoot. In the Troubleshoot screen, press Advanced options. You are informed that you are about to restart in order to change several Windows options, including enabling Safe Mode.
    4. Press Restart
    5. You will then get a screen with up to 9 startup options.  
    6. Choose the safe mode you desire.
  4. Boot from a System Recovery CD/DVD - works only in Windows 8
  5. Boot from a System Recovery Memory Stick - works in Windows 8 & 8.1
  6. Boot from a System Recovery Memory Stick - works in Windows 8 & 8.1

If the computer will not boot into normal mode then there are the following ways.

  1. First you can try to hold down the F8 key. This is the way you usually booted into Safe mode.
  2. If that didn't work try holding the Shift Key and the F8 key.

Some times the only way you can do this is if your have turned OFF the UEFI funtions. This is the new standard for newer computers (especially the tablets). You will need to check with the manufacturer as to how to turn off the UEFI function.

I hope one of the ways suggested has provided the information you need to boot into safe mode. It is something you will probably need to do at least once in your computers life span. Find the procedure for your computer and keep it in a safe place.

You will thank us.

1458. Living the Tablet-Only Lifestyle

Although I have an old laptop, I’d like to use my iPad as my main computer. I don’t really need to do much! I only check email, browse the Web, watch the occasional Netflix video, and use several apps that I know I can find for the iPad. Can I just give up the laptop and use the iPad as my only computer?
There is definitely something to be said for ditching the 3-pound (or more!) laptop and traveling light, carrying only the iPad. Ken has tried it, for short trips, and it generally works fine. When you what to make a tablet (either iPad, Android, or Windows) your only computer, however, you do need to take several items into account, and plan accordingly. We recently had a friend go this route, and she had some issues; we found this useful article to help with the transition, which we’ll summarize here:
First, no matter how good you are at typing on the tablet screen, you’ll need an external keyboard. It’s easy to find cases and folios for the iPad that include keyboards, but for other tablets, you’ll most likely need to use an external Bluetooth keyboard. (Note that pretty much any Bluetooth keyboard will work with any of the tablets, whether in a case, portfolio, or free-standing.) Here’s a link to a very good, inexpensive keyboard:
Most likely, you’ll need some app that provides a means of performing word processing that’s more complex than simple text editing, since almost everyone needs to read and create documents at some point. On Apple devices, you can use the free iWork suite, which includes the excellent Pages program. There are a ton of word-processing apps available for every platform—on Windows, you can use Microsoft Office, which includes Word. Beyond the app, however, the real issue is getting documents onto and off of the tablet; and dealing with online backup and storage. Because tablets are so portable (read between the lines—they’re easily lost or stolen), you must have a reliable means of storing your documents away from the tablet, in some sort of online product. We recommend DropBox and Google Drive: Both work well with tablets as well as phones and desktop/laptop computers. They provide a simple way to ensure that all your documents are backed up, and available on any device. They each provide their own advantages, but both are great products. In any case, do not even consider using a tablet as your only computer without an online backup/storage service like this—sooner or later, you will regret the choice.
Printing documents provides another challenge for tablets—because the devices rarely (if ever) provide a printer port, you’ll need to find a way to print wirelessly. Apple devices provide AirPrint, a protocol for printing wirelessly to printers that support the protocol (and most new printers do). Even if your printer doesn’t support Airprint, there are ways to make any printer work with AirPrint, as long as you’re willing to leave a computer running (with software like AirPrint for Mac running). If you’re using a non-Apple device, Google provides its Cloud Print service, which allows you to print to any connected printer from your device (

The previously mentioned article provides tips on finding apps for video and photo editing, but these seem like less likely candidates for “must-have” functionality, so we’ll leave these to your own research. You’ll find other issues in the article as well, and it’s well worth your time to check it out if you’re planning to ditch your heavy laptop and lighten up with just a tablet.

1457. XP not being dropped?

You know I think we made a big deal here on the radio and in the newspaper column about people needing to get rid of Windows XP and move on to Windows 7 and Windows 8 because Microsoft was pulling support for Windows XP and now I hear that they are sort of backing down on that. Does that mean that people can keep using Windows XP indefinitely?

Ken you are you are right again. Yes we offered some TechTips related to XP support being dropped as of April 2014.

Microsoft has made some changes to their announcement. I would not categorize this as "backing down".

What they have said was they were still dropping support but they would keep offering anti-malware updates until July 2015.  This would allow the anti-malware application to keep up with the latest threats.

We still recommend changing your operating system or purchasing a new computer..  It is so easy for us to spend your money.  But really, your XP computer is probably more that 6 or 7 years old.  It is time.  You have gotten your money's worth.  You will be surprised how much faster the new computers are.  Many of the new application will not work on XP.  Give the new tablet computers a look.  Our local computer stores  will appreciate your business and they have many demo computers available to look at.

There are links on the web site providing you with the specific announcement.

1456. UEFI - What is it?

You know Doug like some other geeky folks I want to reformat my hard drive and re-install Windows and that just worked up until Windows 8. Suddenly I have to deal with this new thing called UEFI and I have to turn it off and deal with it, What is it and how can it effect my installation of Windows on a clean hard drive?

First the acronym Unified Extensible Firmware Interface.

As the computers become more advanced the interface between the computer hardware and the computer Operating System needs to be enhanced. So we now have UEFI vs. the old BIOS interface you have seen for many years.

Some computers support both the UEFI and the BIOS (Basic Input, Output System) interface as this new transition takes place.

So what does it mean to the average computer user?  

For the most part you will not care. But if you decide to re-install your operating system you will need to make sure that the new operating system is supported by UEFI or if you can make the legacy operating system work on the hardware by bypassing the UEFI and using the BIOS system.

My advice if you are considering this is to start by going to the UEFI forum to review things and then check with the computer manufacturer. We know that Windows 8 will run on computers that have UEFI as well as BIOS support. But in the future you will have to check with the hardware and software manufacturer.

This is something that you may want to leave to the experts. After all did you really care that the previous computer you had only supported BIOS? Probably not.

Use you favorite search engine to find articles on UEFI.

1455. Email Spam Filters/White Lists Aren’t Working

I need to receive emails from my bank, and so I set up a “white list” in the email client (Microsoft Outlook) on my computer. The problem is that often, emails from my bank end up in my Spam folder in Outlook. What’s going on? Why isn’t Outlook doing what I asked?
Although we can’t tell you exactly what’s going on without investigating your email specifically, we have a good guess. If you’re using Outlook, most likely you’re retrieving email from an email server like Microsoft Exchange, or, or even Gmail. Each of these email servers provide their own spam filtering, and their own sets of rules that control what they do with email as it arrives. You’ve also set up a white list in the email client, on your computer. When someone sends you an email, it first arrives on your email server, gets processed there, and then, when you ask Outlook to retrieve your email, Outlook performs its own spam filtering. The simplest solution is to add any white lists you want managing your email filtering on the server, not on your client. There are two reasons why this is a better solution than asking Outlook to perform this task. Remember that the email server gets “first dibs” on handling the email. If the server determines that the email is spam (even though you think it isn’t), the server will filter the email and treat it as spam. If you set up the white list on the server, then the email server can correctly classify the email as you intend, before it gets sent down to your email client. Also, if you perform this sort of spam filtering on the server, then every email client you use (including your desktop computer, your phone, and your tablet) all inherit the same email filtering rules. Each of these client applications retrieves email from the same server, and if the server handles filtering, then each client gets the benefit of the server’s spam filters. If you set up a white list in Outlook, only Outlook “sees” the email filtering, and all other clients see the filtering on the server. This can lead to confusing situations in which email appears on one device, but not another.
We suggest that you always attempt to perform any email filtering on your email server. If you’re confused about how to do that, either speak to your email administrator (assuming you have one, if you’re working at a company that handles your email), or search the Web for something like “email white list Exchange server” (substituting your email server as necessary). You’ll always get better results doing as much work as possible on the server

1454. What is Bitcoin?

You know I have been hearing a lot about Bicoin recently and although I try to keep up with the tech trends I really can't get my head around what this is and how it effects me. Do you have any information?

Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency.  Simply put they are Money. And you can send bitcoins over the internet.  Some advantages are you can send them directly to other people.  No banks or middleman.  Therefore fees are lower or non at all.  You can use them in any country.  They can never be frozen.   And they can't be traced.  This has many advantages.

If you have a Bitcoin and somebody else has a product you want to buy you could use your Bitcoin to buy it. IF the other person is willing to accept Bitcoin as payment.

Today there are many merchants that accept Bitcoin as payment in the same way they accept PayPal, or any of the credit cards.  There are exchanges that will exchange Bitcoin for other currencies like the US Dollar, Euros, or British pounds.  As an example the exchange rate for a Bitcoin at this time of recording is 1 Bitcoin is worth $619.00 US dollars.  A 21% drop when an exchange (Mt. Gox) stopped trading Bitcoins.

There are two ways to obtain Bitcoins.  One is to exchange money, goods, or services for Bitcoins.  The other is to "Mine" them, like Gold.  The original architects of the bitcoin (who are unknown) made a decision that there would be a limit of 21 Million bitcoins.  To date about 11 million bitcoins have been mined.  You can buy equipment to mine bitcoins.  It is done with computer hardware and software.  As more and more bitcoins are mined the more difficult it becomes to "mine" it.  Just like gold.

My advice to you Ken is to treat getting involved with Bitcoins the same way you would be involved in trading in very high risk commodity.  Some experts feel Bitcoins will fall 99 percent in value by June.  Others feel the future of commerce are Bitcoins.

Try or use you favorite search engine and type in Bitcoin.  There are many articles available to learn about the Bitcoin.