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Saturday, July 12, 2014

1507. Anti-virus and Firewalls Block Access

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

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

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

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

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

1506. Allowing an Application to Access the Internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1505. Wireless Network Slow, Wired Network Faster

The weirdest thing happened to me yesterday.  I was transferring a very large file from one computer to another on my network and it took forever.  I have both a wired and a wireless connection on my computer, so I tried turning off the wireless network. Suddenly it started transferring way faster.  What's going on here?
Most users don’t normally have both a wired and a wireless connection simultaneously, although this can happen if your computer includes both options and you both connect an Ethernet cable while connected to a wireless network.
Normally Windows (and OS X, on a Mac) will use the "best" connection available.  But sometimes it will get this wrong and choose the wireless connection over the wired connection. In almost every case, a wireless connection will be significantly slower in transferring information than a wired connection.
Although Windows and OS X both attempt to manage this for you automatically, you can step in and take control over the order of your connections in both operating systems. In Windows, open the Control Panel, and select Network and Sharing Center. Click Change Adapter Settings, click the Alt key to display the menu, choose the Advanced menu, and then the select the Advanced Settings menu. In the Advanced Settings, you’ll see a list of available connections: Ensure that the wired connection appears above the wireless connection, and if not, move it up. Click OK to save the settings.
On a Mac, run the System Preferences application, and select the Network settings. . In the Network settings, beneath the list of interfaces on the left side of the window, click the gear icon, and select Set Service Order. In the Service Order window, drag the wired interface above the wireless interface. Click OK, and then Apply.

In both Windows and OS X, selecting the wired network interface should provide you with better throughput, if it’s available.

1504 Modify the Send To Menu

I’m using Windows 7, and often right-click on files and count on the Send To menu item to send files to various places (to a particular folder, to a printer, and so on). The problem is that there are several shortcuts on the menu that I never use, and others I’d like to add (for example, I’d like to be able to send files to a particular folder of my own choosing). Is there some way to customize the Send To menu?
This one is quite simple, once you know the trick. The Send To menu gets its items from the contents of a single, particular folder on your computer, and you can alter the contents of this folder to change what you see in the Send To menu. Although the particular folder is “buried” as part of your Windows special folders, you can easily view and modify its contents. To display the folder, first press Windows Key + R, type shell:sendto and press Enter. This action displays the folder that contains the SendTo menu’s shortcuts.
Once you have displayed the folder, try right-clicking on one of the items and selecting Send To from the context menu. You should see, in addition to items for all your local drives, the exact same items you see in the folder you just opened. In other words, the SendTo menu displays the shortcuts you find in the SendTo special folder. If you delete an item from the SendTo folder, it will also disappear from the SendTo menu.
To create a new shortcut, you have many options. For example, you can simply right-click in the empty space within the folder, and select New and then Shortcut. Windows displays a dialog box that allows you to step through the information you must supply to create a shortcut. Alternately, if you have a shortcut already created for the location to which you want to send content, you can simply drag it into the special SendTo folder.
For more information about this technique, check out the online article here:

1503. Large inbox, Slow Outlook

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

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

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

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

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

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

1502 - Record problem steps for support.

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

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

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

Problem Steps Recorder or PSR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tool itself is available from TechNet:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

1501. Clearing Windows Hard Drive Space

My Windows hard drive is filling up, and Windows seems to run slower and slower. Do you have any suggestions for how I can safely clear out some hard drive space?

It's true. Windows requires some space to do its housekeeping tasks and as your hard drive fills up Windowes gets very slow.  

You need to keep at least 10% of your hard drive free so Windows can do its work. There are tricks you can follow to clean off space from your hard drive but you can't just delete big files because Windows may need those.

I found an article recently that you can go through so you can safely clear space off your hard drive. See below. 

Another tools that is useful and is mentioned below is program called Windirstat and it's free. You can download it and it shows you exactly what files are on your hard drive and comparatively shows their sizes. Some you can look for the big ones wasting space and get rid of them.  

But be careful because you can't delete Windows file because Windows won't run.

1500. Wireless iPhone Charging

I have a smart phone and I'm sort of interested in wireless charging options. Is there a standard for this? How can it work with a phone that doesn't normally support it?

We are all really tired about carrying around wires to charge things and wouldn't it be great if there was one single standard if you could just drop your phone onto some sort of platform and it would automatically charge,

The fact is over time there have been numbers of different standards and they are kind of centering in on some that may eventually win.

As a matter of fact Starbucks have been putting in wireless charging stations in some of their stores. This is a program going across the country and it uses powermats from Duracell. So if you buy into that standard everything is great and some phones already support this internally.

But you can easily buy a case that surrounds your iPhone or other phone and allows it to charge by just dropping the phone on this Powermat. 

There are other conflicting standards one called IQI (pronounced I-CHI) and they provide cases and other device so cases to drop them onto a chargibg stand so you don't have to plug them in or carry a wire.

But until thisd settles out I;m not sure I want to buy into a standard. At this point it looks like Starbucks is working hard to make the Duracell Powermat become the defacto standard.

1499. Find seldom-used accounts and reset passwords

I know that I've signed up for a bunch of accounts at all sorts of online services over the years. Because of this Heartbleed bug thing, I'd like to be able to close some of the accounts, and reset passwords in others. How can I track all of the various accounts that I don't remember signing up for?

I'm going to try not to be smug here but I have been using LastPass as my password manager and it provided me with a list of all of the sites effected by the Heartbleed security bug. Which was a bug that all of the sites used to secure your connection as you log in.

If you are not using LastPass though there is a easy way to this. In your email client or on the web do a search for "confirm your email". It's amazing on how many sites use that same set of words to confirm your email address. Then you get a list of all of your emails you got back and use that a s a list to work through to change passwords or close accounts.

This is a time consuming process but it doesn't require much brain power so you can probably do it while watching TV or eating dinner or something. I will confess that I have spent many hours the past few weeks doing exdactly this. It has been very productive but a little dull.

1498. Turn off iOS badges

I hate all those number badges on my apps on my iPhones home screen. I don't need my calendar app to display a little red circle indicating the current date. How can I turn off these badges on icons?

It's taking all of my will power, here it is you just don't need any stinking badges. That was bad. In any case you can control what badges appear on your icon's home screen by going to the notification center. And for each of the applications you can turn off the display of that badge.

It's in the settings app on your iPhone. Below is an article that explains this pretty carefully.  

They make me nuts.. Every time I see one of these circles I go crazy. I need to calm down. So can you by reading the article below.

1497. Google Chromecast compared to everything else

I've heard about Google's Chromecast device. How is it different from all the other home streaming video options? If I have a smart TV, should I even look at it?

There are so many words in this question that might require definition for some people.

First of all a home streaming device is some sort of box or connection that allows you to stream video from online sources such as HULU, UTUBE, Amazon, or Netflix. 

A lot of TV's have this built in now. These are called Smart TV's.  

Most of these devices cost about $100.00 including Amazon's FireTV, Apple's Apple TV, and Roku's streaming device.  

Google's Chromecast is only $35.00 so you are thinking wow that must be a great bargain, but it actually does a lot less. On the other hand if you are invested in the Google universe it actually makes a lot of sense.

If you use Apple products a lot then the Apple products make sense.

If you use neither and you want the best streaming box out there there is the Roku 3 streaming box.  

It you have a smart TV most likely you have everything built in into the TV already.

1496. Microsoft office on Mac vs. Windows

How does Microsoft Office on the Mac compare to Microsoft Office on Windows? I was thinking about moving to a Mac but need to make sure I can still edit Word and Excel documents. Will I have trouble moving my documents?
In general, if you have used Microsoft documents in Windows you can easily move to Microsoft Office on the Mac and instantly feel relatively comfortable. (We’re assuming you’re using Office 2010 or later on Windows, and Office 2011 on the Mac.) As with everything the devil is in the details.  Word and Excel on the Mac are quite similar to their Windows counterparts.  PowerPoint is less so. Outlook, on the other hand, is quite different.  We found an article that compares the two very carefully.  Check out this link for the details:
In addition, Microsoft almost always updates the Windows version before the Mac version.  The current Windows version is Office 2013, and the Mac version dates back to Office 2011. We’re expecting an updated Windows for Mac in late 2014 or early 2015, but there’s no way to know when that will actually happen.

Finally, here’s an simple, and (if we may say so ourselves) important suggestion: Rather than relying on the client-based, Windows or Mac-specific versions, why not try out the online version of Office, which works on pretty much any platform, and works consistently across all its supported platforms? Open a browser and browse to, and check out Office Online. It’s free, and unless you use fancy features of Word or Excel, it should work fine for you. You’ll need a Microsoft account to use it, but you probably already have one (a Hotmail or email address will do). Check it out!