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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

1615. Confusing Chrome Error Messages

I was using Chrome the other day and got this very strange error message, it said, “He’s dead Jim.” I’m guessing this is some reference to Star Trek, but I have no idea what they are talking about. What’s going on?

You are right, “He’s dead Jim” came from Star Trek and was used whenever someone or something stopped working or died. 

Specifically, this is a Chrome message and what it is telling you is you really don’t have enough memory or there’s computers relying on more memory for the apps to run or you stop processing using Chrome’s Task Manager and Assistant Task Manager or Command Line Tool. 

I know all of the listeners feel so much better now that they know this. Go to our website and get some more information about the “He’s dead Jim” message from your Chrome browser.

Really bad message from Google.

1614. Keep Work and Home Email Separate in Outlook Using Profiles

I use Outlook for my email on a Windows computer, and I use it for both home and work emails. When I’m working, I really don’t want to see (or be distracted by) my home emails. When I’m done working, I only want to see my home emails. Is there some way to completely separate my home and work emails?
In order to separate your home and work emails, one solution would be to use Outlook only for work (or home) emails, and use another application or a browser, for the emails you want to segregate. But, of course, that wasn’t your question—you’d like to use Outlook for both. And there’s no reason why you can’t!
Outlook provides the capability of creating multiple separate profiles, where each profile can retrieve email from one or more different email accounts. Therefore, you could set up one Outlook profile for your work email account, and a separate Outlook profile for your home email account. Right now, if you’re getting both work and home emails at the same time, you’ve set up a single profile that includes both email accounts—by default, when you set up Outlook for the first time, you create a default profile, although that part of the setup process isn’t explicitly explained as you set things up. The default profile is called, as you might guess, Default, but you can create profiles with any name you like, and you can choose which profile to load as you start Outlook.
The trick, then, is to create two new Outlook profiles: One for work, and one for home. To do this, start the Control Panel application in Windows, and find the Mail applet. (An “applet” is one of the application installed to run from within Control Panel. Really.) In the Mail applet, select the option to add a new profile, and follow the prompts to set up one account. When you’re done, use the Mail applet to create the second profile. Make sure to select the option to have Outlook prompt for a profile when it starts up—otherwise, you won’t get the option to select the active profile.

For more information about working with Outlook profiles, check out this useful Microsoft support article:

1613. Unintended Characters in Word Documents

I received a Word document in an email from a young person and I noticed it had a bunch of funny looking “J” characters scattered throughout it. I’m sure they didn’t type that character so what is going on, why am I seeing these funky characters?

You may even be sending these “J” characters without knowing it. The problem is related to Office programs and a missing font called Wing Dings. 

Actually, some Microsoft engineer decided to render that colon with the little parenthesis, that smiley face, as a smiley rendered in a specific font face when composing rich text documents or HTML email. All of that being said, if they person getting your email or if you don’t support rich text or HTML you may be seeing the “J” characters. 

Know that the person sending is usually being nice and accept them. To correct this in Outlook go to your File, Options, Mail, Spelling and Auto Correct and then click the Auto Correct Options. Set the Auto Correct to replace that colon, right parenthesis with a smiley face.

1612. Sync Windows Desktop in the Cloud

Like most people I put what I’m currently working on, on my Windows desktop. I would like some way to have these files backed up regularly so that if something goes wrong I can always get back to the previous version. Is there some way to automatically backup my Windows desktop so that I have a safe, stored version offline?

Yes, we don’t want to play favorites, so we are going to mention the idea we recommend and some of the options you have to implement the idea. 

First thing, we strongly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to back up your critical files like your desk top documents, pictures and videos offline. Like anything that you do store offline however you want to make sure it is secure and protected. 

Today there are many services like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, ZumoDrive, DriveHQ and most of these are free but you might need some extra storage that you may have to pay for. If you have a Windows 8 computer you are going to get 1 TeraByte of OneDrive data free from Microsoft. This is also available if you get the latest Office products. 

We recommend that you get a service no matter what it is and use it because this type of service is even available for your Mac. Whatever the service you decide on it is easy to set up, each one is going to have a little different instructions but most people can set things up without help. Another benefit is if you have multiple computers or if you want to sync your data with your smartphone most services include this capability.

1611. Using WPS to Configure a Wireless Network Painlessly

I recently purchased a new wireless router, and have no idea how to set up my own wireless network. I have neighbors close by, so I need some sort of security (I don’t want them freeloading on my Internet connection), and I have multiple computers, mobile devices, wireless printers, and other devices to add to the wireless network. Is there some easy way to make this happen?
Setting up the network isn’t really the problem—if you’re not terribly worried about the specific password and SSID (that is, the network name), you can simply plug in the new wireless router and let it “do its thing.” It will provide a default SSID and password; given the documentation for the device, you can simply enter that information into each wireless client device (laptop, mobile phone, tablet, and so on) and everyone should be connected and happy.
You can, of course, follow the instructions that come with your wireless router to change the SSID and/or password, and most likely, you should: It’s really easy to find the default passwords for all of the standard wireless routers with a simple online search, and an intrepid neighbor could quickly log into your router and make changes to your settings (and lock you out) unless you do. (Ken admits to having logged into a public wireless router that was misbehaving at one point, given the easy-to-find default password, and fixing some settings surreptitiously, in his younger days.) Best to take a few moments and set up a non-default SSID and password for your new wireless router: Ask for help from a friend or professional if you don’t care to dig into it yourself.

But back to the original question: How to set up wireless clients in a simple way. Normally, you have to manually enter the SSID and password for your wireless network on each device that you wish to connect to the network. There is an easier way, for most modern wireless routers. Take a moment and look at your wireless router. Most likely, you’ll find a small round button labelled WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). To use this simplified method of adding devices to your network, start by pressing the WPS button. This action allows the router to automatically discover new devices. Then, go to each device you want to add to the network, start following the steps particular to that device to add it to the wireless network, and allow the magic of WPS to automatically configure the wireless network’s password. (This is also a great way to add guests to your wireless network without having to explicitly tell them your wireless network password, in case you’re worried about security—of course, in that case, one must wonder why they’re a guest at your home, but that’s a different story.)

1610. Restart a Stuck iPhone

I was around town with my iPhone recently and all of a sudden the screen froze, nothing I did would cause the phone to un-stick. I took the SIM card out, I tried pressing the power button, what am I missing, is there some way to do a hard reset on the phone?

People sometimes don’t think of their phone like a computer and often you have to reboot and reset your PC and yes even your Mac. Well, some smartphones aren’t any different and the term reset can mean different things. In the iPhone you have your basic restart, your simple reset or sometimes you have to reset, erase and start over, but not normally. 

The basic restart most of you have done, you hold the on and off button when the slider appears you slide it to the right and the phone goes off and then you hold it again and the phone can start, you see the Apple icon. This does not fix the problem, what you have to do is what they call is a hard reset, it requires that you are going to restart the phone and clear memory but don’t worry no data is going to be lost. 

Hold down the on and off button and at the same time press the home button, that center button on the bottom of your screen. Hold them while the black screen appears and you may see the slider, finally the Apple icon will appear and the phone is going to restart. This usually solves the problem. 
If this doesn’t solve the problem you may need to refresh the phone. Because you will lose data we recommend that you get some help with this step. Yes, you can call Apple or actually email us.

1625. Sharing Large Pictures in Outlook

I sometimes want to email photos to friends using Outlook. When I drag and drop them into an email message I don’t have the option to re-size the photos and they get sent at their original resolution. Is there some trick to allowing me to re-size the photos when I email them so I’m not sending huge attachments?

There are some other options. This is good because many email systems do have restrictions on the size of files you can email and people can’t receive some large files as well. Instead of dragging and dropping pictures you can use Explorer to locate pictures, right button select those pictures, then select the Send To menu option with the mail recipient, then you can easily select from a pull down the kind of density of these pictures. You will then open your email client with the pictures attached so you can complete sending the email.

There are other techniques depending upon what email client you use. Do a search in your favorite search engine and you will find many ways to send attachments with smaller sizes.

1626. Retrieve Sent Email

I can’t be alone with this problem, it happens to me all the time, I click the send button in an email and then, and just then I say, I didn’t want to send that email. There must be some way to retrieve a sent email or un-send an email. Any suggestions?

Fortunately Gmail has some un-send functions that are built into the browser so when using Gmail you have a tool already there. There also is an un-send add-in for Gmail called Boomerang for Gmail. 

For Outlook you can add a delay option to individual emails in the Delivery Option menu. If you want to do this delay for all emails in Outlook you need to install an add-in called Easy Email Merge, there is a link for this on our website. If you are real adventuresome, you might try setting your own rules in Outlook to delay emailing all mail. 

By the way, those rules that you can set up in Outlook are very powerful for both receiving and sending emails so that you can route inbound emails that have certain addresses. 

There are all sorts of capabilities in the rules for Outlook. Take look if you want to add some special features added to your Outlook.

1627. Use an Out-of-Date Phone as a Security Camera

I have an old iPhone that I’m not using anymore and it’s so old I don’t think I can even sell it. It has a camera, I should be able to use it for something; I think I would like to use it as a security camera in my home so I can watch my cats when I’m out of the house. Is there any way to do this?

Your Smart phone and your Android can be used for something other than just a paperweight. The best idea is to use it as a security camera. 

There are applications out there for free that allow you to do this but most of them require versions 5 or 6 of the iPhone. 

Other uses of older phones include bug tracking, another tool that you can make your phone into is the ability to actually control your home computer or audio system or you can make it into a really smart alarm clock. So, don’t throw out your old smart phone. 

1638. View Multiple Email Accounts Concurrently

I use Yahoo email for both my personal and business emails, and I have two separate accounts. I view my email in a browser, and I’d love to be able to have two browser tabs open, one for each account. As it is, I need to log into one account, view my email, close the window, reopen the browser, log into the other account, and view that email. What a pain! Is there a better way?
You have several options. The simplest option is to use an email client application, like Outlook, Microsoft Mail (Windows only), Thunderbird, or Mac Mail (Mac only), among many others. Each of these applications downloads your email to your computer so that you can read and respond to email while offline, and each supports interacting with multiple email accounts simultaneously. You can have each of these applications respond from the email account to which the email message was sent, and you can set up different signatures for each of the accounts. If you’re willing to install and use an email application, you have lots of options that will satisfy your needs.
If you really want the ability to handle your email in a browser, things get more complicated. One simple option is to use different browsers for your different accounts (for example, Google Chrome for personal email, and Internet Explorer for business email). You can log into each account individually in the individual browsers.
The difficulty comes when you try to use a single browser for multiple accounts on a single server, but most modern browsers supply a technique you can use to make this possible. The name for the solution varies depending on the browser, but look for terms like “incognito” or “private” mode. For each browser, you can open a new window in this private mode, and the browser handles each as a separate instance, with settings hidden from the other windows. Using this technique, you can log into multiple accounts on the same email server concurrently.

Our vote: Use an email client. It’s simple, productive, and almost always free.  

1637. Finding the Right Backup Battery for Your Computer

We both know the pain of intermittent power outages, and we both have generators in place for just this purpose; even with an automated transfer switch, there’s still always at least a short time where your home has no power before the generator “kicks in.”  Because we both run desktop computers all day for various purposes, we’re strong proponents of having and using a battery backup on every computer. In addition, we ensure that our connections to the outside world (that is, Internet modems, network switches and wireless routers) are all plugged into backup batteries as well.
To make it clear: Not only do backup batteries provide a handy means of ensuring that your equipment can stay running (albeit for a limited time) when the power is out, all the commercially available backup batteries that we’ve seen also act as excellent surge suppressors, as well. Therefore, using a backup battery not only provides juice when the power is out, they provide the security that comes with serious protection from electrical surges.
How do you determine the best backup battery for you? Keep in mind that the more power your devices need, the larger the battery you’ll need. High-power devices, like printers, should really never be plugged into a battery backup. Modems, network switches, and other infrastructure devices use very little power; monitors use a lot more. Most desktop computers fall somewhere in-between. The size of the battery backup you purchase needs to reflect the number of devices you want to keep powered, and the length of time you need them to run when the power goes out. If your goal is to keep the power up long enough to save your current work and shut down, you won’t need more than a few minutes of power.
You can do the math, calculating how much power all your devices draw, and then match the size of the backup battery to your needs exactly, or you can use an online tool to help you, like the one provided by the popular vendor, APC: Our suggestion: Spend a little more, and get a little more power than you think you might need. That way, should you add a new device to your setup, you won’t overload the backup battery.
It’s worth noting a few more details about backup batteries. Although you technically don’t need a backup battery to supply power to a laptop (which has its own battery), plugging a laptop into a backup battery will, at least, provide excellent surge protection. You could, in the case of a power outage, continue to charge the laptop from the power stored in the backup battery. Some backup battery devices include a USB connector so that you can connect the device to your computer. Given this connection, you can install software on the computer that will cleanly and safely shut down your computer in case of an unattended power outage.

We both favor backup batteries from APC ( but CyberPower ( is also an excellent vendor. For more information (probably more than you would ever want) on selecting a backup battery, check out this article: Please don’t expect that any backup battery will keep you computing for hours, but a reasonably priced battery can keep you working until the power comes back on. It’s a tool that every home computer user should own and use.

1636. Remote backup

Remote backup

With the internet we have many new options to store important data offsite in case of catostrofic loss of your computer and it's data.  

Some people simply use two backup drives and rotate them weekly. Then take the oldest drive and take it offsite or stor it in a fireproof safe. But your cloud is your friend for this type of problem. There are free options like Dropbox, OneDrive and others, as well as products like Carbonite. They all give you the ability to specify what data you want to backup offsite. Some of these options will continouisly do the backup and some will wait until you schedule the backup.  

In any case take advantage of these options. Additional benifits are many of the products will save multiple versions of your files. So if you make changes to that 30 page spreadsheet and make major errors all you need to do is go to the offsite storage location and restore an older version of your file.  

Please look into these options and take advantage of these offsite storage functions.

1635. Disk Failure

Another disk drive failure event. This is something to focus on with our winter months coming on (yes power failure). How can you protect yourself from catastrophic disk failure?

Ken - this is another backup tip isn't it.  

Yes it is. Backups are critical. Yes you can get cloud backup systems like Carbonite, Dropbox, and OneDrive and those can provide a compete drive replacement option. But are you ready to wait 4-5 days and pay $500.00 to get that drive replacement? Probably not.  

So as a solution to the 5 days and $500.00 cost spend about $125.00 now and have a solution that you can use to recover your drive in 1-2 hours. Yes you can even do the recovery, But if you need technical help you can find that help locally.  

Think of it like insurance $125 to give you piece of mind and maybe free recovery or another $150 to hire someone. Give this some thought and read the details in our blog on how to protect yourself from total data loss.

1634. Nice computer just not enough space for anything.

A friend bought a new "super light weight" laptop for $200+. And now for $179.00. The problem is it just has so many space problems she it spending a whole bunch of time with technical support, it is just not worth it. Is there anything she can do? It is past the 30 day return policy.

Most of these new inexpensive computers do not have the ability to upgrade the main disk storage drive. If it does then the easiest option is to replace the original drive with the new larger storage capacity drive. If this is not possible many of these computers have alternative storage media. This can include Micro Ultra storage.  

These "drives are the size of your finger nail and you can interchange them. These drives are now able to contain 128GB and more. Make sure you check to make sure your computer can handle these large capacities. Our friends computer could handle 64GB drive and it is simple to install. Just plug it in. Then you want to make sure you point your USER files to store them on this drive so that you can free up space on your built in drive.  

Depending on the size of your user files this may be all you need to do. If you still need more space the easiest is to remove the Hybernate file. This is a file that stores complete images of your computer for hybernation. Most people never use this function. I recommend you turn Hybernation off. Do a simple search on turning off hybernation and you will get the simple instructions. So for a Micro disk for under $50 you can free up the congestion on your computer.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

xxxx. Restoring back to Windows 7, 8, 8.1 , Vista, or XP from Windows 10

We will do an official tip on this next time but if you gave up and caved to the FREE Windows 10 upgrade and do not like it,  You can easily go back to your previous OS.   If you haven't taken our advise to using the Image backup functions of Macrium's Reflect or Acronis's True Image there is a built in RESTORE feature in the Windows 10 upgrade.

If for some reason and you were not able to select the Restore functions then you may have issues.  But I kknow you have followed our recommendations and did do the IMAGE backup.

If not here you are:

Have you tried to Restore?  Go to the Settings, Update & Security, Recovery, and chose an option. 

Or give these some review.  Good luck.  I had to have two out of 14 systems go back.  There wasn’t any problem, they just didn’t like it.  Most with Tablets or Touch Screens love it.   I like it regardless.  Tablets better than other. 


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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Email today from Murph at Yahoo

I tried to replay to you but your email address was wrong.  Send the email agian.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

1623. Control Windows 10 Spying

I’m using Windows 10 and I read somewhere that Windows spies on everything that I am doing. It’s not like I’m doing anything I don’t want everyone to know about but it bugs me to know that Microsoft is keeping track of every window that I open and when I start every application. Is there some setting that I can change to make this a little less obtrusive.

You are right, Windows 10 is spying on almost everything you do but here is how to opt out. If you ever read all of the disclaimers you would think they were spying on everything. Other companies do the same. As invasive as it is, Microsoft does allow Windows 10 users to opt out of all of the features that you might consider to be invasions of privacy. So, go to your settings and privacy, yes there are thirteen screens of things you can remove, read through them and turn off anything that seems worrisome. On the general page are the important ones, you can determine what certain applications can access. You may want to turn off Cortana, the voice activated assistant like Siri on the iPhone. I decided to keep that option but everything that you say after Cortana is kept for research purposes. Siri does this as well. Spend some time reviewing this when you upgrade to Windows 10.  

1622. Windows 10 Security Settings

I upgraded to Windows 10 and I like it so far but I have been reading in the press about a bunch of security settings that I need to examine for Windows 10 to make sure it is set up correctly for me. I went to the security settings and they made may head spin, there were something like thirteen different screens of information. Do you have some way to summarize these or something I can look at to make it easier to understand what I need to do?

The good news is there are many things you can do to control the security in Windows 10, however when you do the initial install you may be taken aback by some of them. There is fine print and you should review it so you can decide what security you can turn on or off. You can control details about things like location, tracking, advertising, browser history, creating a Microsoft account and using Cortana, the Microsoft assistant like Siri on the iPhone. The good news is you can control all of these settings unlike some other systems. So while you are installing Windows 10 or after you install it, you can change all of the settings in the settings section. The sections that are most important are personalization, privacy, accounts and updating security. As an example, in the privacy section you can change what applications have access to your location. We recommend you spend some extra time in your sections area of Windows 10 and take advantage of all of the options that will make your system safe and secure.

1621.Delete Windows 7 or 8 after Upgrading to Windows 10

I upgraded to Windows 10 and I find that my old operating system Windows 7 is taking up a huge amount of space on my hard drive. Can I delete that to reclaim some space?

By default, Microsoft leaves the old operating system in a hidden folder so that you have the option to restore your computer back to its previous state if you find that you don’t like Windows 10. Amazing considering I’m sure Microsoft believes that everyone will love Windows 10. But the fact is you have the option of restoring your old version whether it be Windows 7 or Windows 8 because that huge folder exists. Once you have used Windows 10 for a while you may decide to get rid of that old stuff so you can reclaim the space. To do that, start the disk cleanup utility, you can do that just by selecting the start button or the Windows button in Windows and typing disk cleanup. This will give you the option to remove old operating system files. Once you do that however, be assured that you won’t be able to restore your computer to an earlier operating system unless you have a complete backup of the original state of your computer before you installed Windows 10. But once you are ready to pull the plug, go for it and you will get back 7GB or more of space.    

1620. Disable Bing Search in Windows 10

I’ve got Windows 10 installed and when I perform a search in the start menu the results include everything in the world coming from a full Bing search. I don’t care much for Bing and all I really want to do is find stuff on my computer. Can I disable this extra search result information that isn’t helpful for me?

I found this confusing as well. I’m used to just using the start menu to find things on my own computer and suddenly I’m finding things all over the world which have no relationship with what I’m looking for. I have good news and bad news about disabling this search however. Yes, you can disable it, the bad news it you have to disable Cortana at the same time. Some people love her some people hate her but she is a voice assistance that is supposedly able to help you while using your computer. She sort of an invisible clippy, as it were. In any case, if you want to disable the Bing search you have to first disable Cortana in the settings and once you disable her, you have an option to also disable the Bing search as part of your start menu search button. Not the best solution but at this point it is the only way to get rid of that extraneous information. 

1618. Digitize Your Vinyls

I have a bunch of old vinyl records that I would like to digitize so I can listen to them when I’m on the road. How can I do this?

You think it would be just as easy as plugging something in from the record player to your computer to digitize your vinyl record collection but it’s not quite that simple. The output from the needle on a record player that is reading the grooves off the vinyl requires a preamp, someway of amplifying that vibration into something a computer can understand, so you need to have a preamp between the needle and your computer. This is a pretty cheap little piece of hardware, it’s very easy to find them at your local Radio Shack, if you still have a local Radio Shack. In any case, once you find your preamp you need some way to connect it to your computer. Most computers have an audio in-jack and you can connect up that way. Then you need some sort of software to do the recording. My favorite is Audacity, it’s a free program for both PC and Mac and it allows you to easily digitize the output coming from that preamp. There are record players that have a USB connection that bypass the need for the external preamp and you might find one of those easier to use. In addition, you might find it easiest to send your records out to a service to be done for you, but you can do it yourself. For more information on this process, check the link on our website. 

1619. Delete iPhone Backups

I store my iPhone and iPad backups in my iCloud account, and recently, I’ve noticed that my iCloud storage is almost full—sometimes, I can’t back up at all. What can I do without giving Apple money for more space?
We’re strong proponents of backing everything up, all the time. So congratulations to you for making the effort. Should you lose or break one of your devices, it should be relatively painless to restore all your data from your online backup.
The problem is that your free iCloud account only provides you with 5GB of data storage space, and that’s really not enough for many situations. (Note that although 5GB is free, 50GB costs only $1 per month, and that should be plenty to back up your entire family’s set of iOS devices! You can also get 200GB of storage for $3 per month. There are certainly cheaper plans out there, but Apple makes it so easy to back up its devices to iCloud storage, it’s worth considering the $1 plan if you’re running out of space in the free account.)

Although 5GB may or may not be enough space, it’s quite possible that you have backups stored in your iCloud account that you don’t need: Perhaps you upgraded your device and your old backup is still hanging out there, wasting space! It’s easy to remove extraneous backups to recover space, however: On your device, select Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, and examine the list of backups. If you find any that you don’t need, select the item, and tap on Delete Backup. These backups are quite large, and deleting one can help you clear out a great deal of space online!

1617. What to Do If Your Mac Won’t Boot

Recently, I tried to start up my MacBook Pro and it simply wouldn’t boot. All I saw was a grey screen. I can’t afford to lose all my work! Can I do anything with the computer?
This is really scary, isn’t it? It’s happened to a lot of Mac users, and a lot of them think the only alternative is to get a new computer! Fortunately, the solution usually isn’t nearly that drastic, and the answer might be really simple.
The Mac stores settings that can get “confused” and cause the computer to be unable to boot. It’s easy to reset two of these sets of settings, the PRAM (Parameter Random-Access Memory) and SMC (System Management Controller). Resetting each of these requires holding a specific set of keys as you boot the computer, but the steps are slightly different for laptops with and without removable batteries—rather than quote the steps here, we’ll refer you to a useful article that describes what to do in case your computer won’t boot. Rather than panicking, check out the steps listed here: Doug and Ken have both used these steps to revive seemingly dead Macs in the past—the steps just might work for you, as well! (If all else fails, think about calling Apple support, or visiting a local Apple store for more specific help with your computer. Don’t give up yet until you do!)

1624. Installing Windows 10 Upgrade On Your Own

I’m currently running Windows 7 on my home computer, and I keep seeing reminders to upgrade to Windows 10 in the system tray. I’d like to try out the new operating system, but I’m afraid something will go wrong as part of the upgrade process. Do I need to enlist professional help to perform this upgrade? Can I trust Microsoft to get it right the first time?
It would be great if we could honestly say “Microsoft got this right, and there’s no chance anything will go wrong as part of your upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10,” but any sane person knows that such a statement would be incorrect in a large number of cases. No matter how much effort Microsoft put into making the the Windows 10 upgrade as foolproof as possible, everyone’s computer is set up differently, and there’s always the possibility that something will go wrong along the way. We’ve upgraded a large number of installations, and for the most part, they’ve all gone without a hitch. Each of us has failed at least once, however, and it’s best to be prepared for that eventuality.
Please note that it’s quite possible that even though you haven’t asked Microsoft to do so, Windows Update has already downloaded the Windows 10 update. Using this approach, the upgrade can proceed quickly. The files are most likely sitting there on your hard drive, awaiting you to initiate the update. Don’t do it yet, however!
Before you start the update process from Windows XP, Windows 7, or Windows 8/8.1, you should make a complete backup of your computer (Even better: clone your computer’s hard drive to an external hard drive, remove the current hard drive, and boot from the new copy of your hard drive. This requires some extra hardware, however, and might be best left to a professional.) Whether you back up or clone/replace, we suggest the free utility, Macrium Reflect ( for the task. Please, don’t even consider an operating system upgrade without performing this backup, and testing the backup, first.
Once you have a complete system backup, you’re ready to go. You can begin the upgrade process, and most likely, it will succeed without a hitch. In the unlikely event that the upgrade fails for some reason, Microsoft has put a fail-safe plan in effect: You can easily toss the upgrade and go back to your original Windows installation. During the upgrade process, Microsoft stores your original installation of Windows in a safe place on your hard drive, so that it can “roll back” the upgrade in the case of a failure.

Given a complete image backup of your computer, there’s no reason to delay the upgrade to Windows 10. We both like the new operating system a lot, and it seems to work far more smoothly than did Windows 8.1 on our computers. (Ken has Windows 10 running on a 2005-era laptop, and it’s completely happy there! No need for new hardware!) Just remember that in the case of a failure, you can always roll back to your original Windows installation.

1616. Room for iOS 9 Upgrade on iPhone

When I attempted the upgrade from iOS 7 to iOS 8 on my 16GB iPhone, the upgrade failed because I didn’t have enough free space. I completely reset my phone at that point to allow for the upgrade, losing all my photos and other information. Now I’d like to upgrade from iOS 8 to iOS 9, but I really don’t want to go through this drill again. Is there some way to ensure that I can upgrade without resetting my phone?
It’s true—the upgrade from iOS 7 to iOS 8 required a lot of free space on the phone, and that space is hard to come by on a 16 GB iPhone. Luckily, the upgrade to iOS 9 should require a good deal less space than the upgrade to iOS 8 did, and you may be able to perform the “over the air” upgrade without removing any contents from your phone. A simple alternative, however, is to perform the upgrade via iTunes on your computer. Connect your phone to your computer, fire up the current version of iTunes, and let iTunes download and install the new software. This takes up far less space on the phone, as you don’t need room for the downloaded upgrade in addition to the entire operating system, in that case.
On the other hand, if space is that tight on your device, you might want to invest some time in clearing off some real estate. Photos, messages, videos, and other content can take up a lot of space on your phone, and occasionally, it’s best to clear out unwanted items so you have room for the latest photos of your cats. You can find many techniques for clearing space on your phone (one of our favorites is to store your photos with an online service that automatically sweeps new photos to the service’s space, like DropBox, and deletes them from your phone). For more information on explicit solutions and techniques for clearing your device, see the article here: ht

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

1609. Saving and Restoring Windows Application Settings

I’ve been having some serious slow down problems with my PC and a friend suggested I simply reinstall Windows as a means of cleaning up the mess on my computer. I’m okay with that but I hate to lose all those application settings. Every time I reformatted and reinstalled Windows I spend days resetting my application settings afterwards. Is there some way to save all those settings and restore them after my Windows reset?

Wiping your hard drive and reinstalling Windows can be a daunting process especially if you do it yourself. Even if you get the help of a professional doing that work that person isn’t going to reset all of your settings in all your applications that you lost when you reformatted your hard drive and reinstalled Windows. To do that, you have actually go to each application and reset your settings, for example, in Microsoft Word you might have stored away your initials and they would be gone once you have reformatted your hard drive. 

We ran across a new application recently that might save you some time, it’s called CloneApp and you will find a link to it on our website. This is a new application the purports to be able to save settings for most Windows applications. We tried it out for Microsoft Office, it seemed to work. We saved the settings to an external drive, reformatted the hard drive, reinstalled Office and restored the settings from that external hard drive. It’s a new application, we can’t guarantee that it will work in every case but it’s worth giving it a try. Check out CloneApp on the web and there is a link on our website.

1608. Plug-in Power Chime on Mac

When I plug in my iPhone or iPad, the device makes a little chiming noise so I know I just gave it power. I would love it if my MacBook Air did the same thing when I plugged it in. Is there a setting somewhere that could make this happen?
We agree—there is something comforting about that chime; when you hear it, you know you have successfully plugged in the device, and you know it’s charging away. This is such a common request that it has become the default behavior on the new, super-thin MacBook released in 2015. When you plug in that little computer, it chimes, so you know you did the deed.
Ken recently wanted the same behavior on his MacBook Pro, and so he did some research. He wasn’t alone in his search, and found a number of articles describing how to enable this feature, even though it’s not the default behavior of any older Macs, and there’s no obvious setting in the user interface of OS X to enable it.
In order to enable the chime, you must use the Terminal application (that is, the command line application that communicates directly with the operating system). This can be a little scary for first-time users, but if you follow the instructions in the following article, everything should seem simple:

In essence, turning on the power connection chime involves copying and pasting a single line of text and then pressing Return in the Terminal application. Clearly, backing up your computer before you attempt this change is a good idea, but because there’s very little chance you could possibly do any damage of any kind, it’s not essential. (The worst that might happen is that you type the command wrong, or paste only a portion of it—in that case, the command simply won’t work.) The article listed previously shows you how to enable the feature, and also how to disable it later if you find you don’t like it. Check out the article to see how to enable this useful Mac OS X feature that isn’t otherwise available:

1607. Creating Smart Folders on the Mac

Creating Smart Folders on a Mac

On my Mac, I end up searching for the same types of files over and over. Is there some way to set up a saved search so I don’t have to repeat the same steps every time I want to find these specific types of files?
This is a common problem; it’s so common, in fact, Apple included the ability to create saved searches as part of the built-in behavior of Finder. Imagine that you create Microsoft Word documents as part of your job, and you store them in multiple folders, based on the client you’re working for. At some point, perhaps you want to find all the Microsoft Word documents, no matter what folder each is stored in. Rather than dig through each of the folders where you might have stored a Word document, you can instead create a Smart Folder—that is, a saved search that displays all the files that meet the criteria you specify (in this case, files created by Microsoft Word).
To create a new Smart Folder, in Finder, select File, then New Smart Folder from the menu. Specify a search criterion (you could use “.docx”, without the quotes, to search for Microsoft Word document files). Click the Save button, give the saved search a name and the named search appears in the Finder sidebar. Selecting that Smart Folder displays all the files that match the criterion you specified, so next time you need to look at all the Word documents, you don’t need to take any extra steps.
The great part about a smart folder is that Finder shows you all the matching files as if they were all in the same folder, even though they’re not. It’s easy to manipulate groups of the documents as if they were in the same folder, and it’s easy to find them all later. Using a Smart Folder, you can organize your files however you like, yet still find them as a group later.
Note that deleting the smart folder will not delete the files: Remember, a Smart Folder is simply a saved search, not an actual folder. You can, however, use a Smart Folder to delete multiple files—select all the files you want to delete (or move, or print) and you can act on those files, even though they’re stored in separate folders.

For more information about creating saved searches and Smart Folders, check out this link:

1606. What Does Google Know About Me?

It bugs me that Google seems to know so much about me and my online activities. Is there some way to examine the information they’re storing about me?
Of course, it’s easy to joke about this, and ponder the type of browsing history you might have that you wouldn’t want Google (or your mother, perhaps) to know about, but the fact is that Google does track a great deal of information about each of us and our online activities. If you don’t have or use a Google account, there’s less information that they can use, but for those of us who have Gmail accounts and use them daily, storing bookmarks, searching the Web, viewing videos on YouTube, and using other Google sites and applications, it’s pretty clear that Google knows a lot about us.

If you want to limit the storage of this information, and perhaps clear out an embarrassing YouTube search, should anyone ever get information about your account, Google does provide tools that make this easy. Assuming you have an active Google or Gmail account, browse to This site provides an account page that allows you to look at things like your account history and your ad settings. You can control your content, you can perform a privacy checkup to turn on and off various features, and you can try out the security checkup to make sure your passwords that you use with Google are all strong passwords. You’ll find a ton of useful information at this site, and if you give it a little time, you can even weed out searches and other online activities. For more information about the tools available at, check out this article: 

1605. Creating Screen Shots on the Mac

I need to email a picture of a portion of my computer screen to include as part of an article I’m writing. How can I do that on a Mac?
Taking a screen capture of all or a portion of the screen is a common need when creating documents, and you have a ton of options on both Mac OS X and Windows. You can download and install a software package (such as our favorite, SnagIt,, which is not free),  but on a Mac, this is completely unnecessary unless you need fancy and specific features.
Mac OS X includes a built-in application for capturing all or part of the screen, named screencapture. You can access this utility from the keyboard or from the Terminal window. For example, to capture the entire screen and save it to a file on the desktop, press Command+Shift+3. To capture a portion of the screen to a file on the desktop, press Command+Shift+4. Add the Control key to those shortcuts, and you save the screen capture to the clipboard, rather than to a file.
Mac OS X also includes an application, in the Applications/Utilities folder, named Grab. If it’s easier for you, you can simply run that application, and use the menu items it provides to take screen captures.

If you don’t like the default keyboard shortcuts for capturing from the screen, you can open the System Preferences application, select the Keyboard settings, select the Shortcuts option, and then select the Screen Shots category. Here, you can modify any or all the keyboard shortcuts for capturing from the screen. For more information about capturing all or a portion of the screen, check out these useful articles:, and

1604. Scientific and Programmer Calculators on the Mac

I need a scientific calculator on my Mac and I prefer not to have to buy an application. The built-in calculator application is awfully wimpy. What do you suggest?
Yes, at face value the built-in calculator application on the Mac looks similar to something you might get for two dollars from your local drug store. But the fact is, it has a lot more power than what you see by default. If you look at the View menu, you will find that it also supports Scientific and Programmer’s calculators, and you can switch between modes either by using the menu or by pressing Cmd+1, Cmd+2, or Cmd+3 keyboard shortcuts for each of the various modes.
In addition, if you are stuck in 1977 and need reverse Polish notation, you can get that on the calculator as well. We haven’t needed RPN since, well, forever, so this isn’t a big feature for us, but maybe you love it. It’s there.

Although the Mac’s calculator looks like a little simple application, the built-in calculator app on the Mac is full featured and precludes the need for purchasing a 3rd-party product.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

1615. Chrome message - He's dead, Jim.?

I was using Chrome the other day and got this very strange error message.  It said "He's dead, Jim".  I assume this has something to do with Star Trek but have no idea.  What is going on?

Ken you are right again.

“He’s dead, Jim!” came from
"Star Trek and was used whenever someone or something stopped working or died."
  • Specifically:
  • 1. You don’t have enough memory available to run the tab. Computers rely on memory to run apps, extensions, and programs. Low memory can cause them to run slowly or stop working. 
  • 2. You stopped a process using Google Chrome's Task Manager, the system's task manager, or a command line tool.
I know now that all of our listeners feel so much better that they know this.

1614. Outlook Mail Profiles and You

I use a single copy of Microsoft Outlook both at home and at work, and I’d like to have my home and work email stored, displayed, and used separately—that is, I don’t want to see my work email at the same time as my home email, and vice versa. Is there some way I can segregate the two parts of my life and email?

Outlook definitely has you covered—it provides for distinct email profiles that allow you to work with specific email accounts. You can easily switch between profiles at the time you start Outlook, and you can set one or other of your profiles to be the default profile (that is, the profile Outlook loads at startup if you don’t specific a different one). A given profile can retrieve and display email from a single email account, or from multiple email accounts. For example, imagine that you have an Exchange email account for work, and both Gmail and Yahoo email accounts for home. One Outlook profile could interact with the Exchange email account, and the other could interact with both the Gmail and Yahoo email accounts. 

Check out this link for more details on how to set up profiles for Outlook.

1613. What’s up with All the “J” Characters in My Email?

I use Gmail for my email, and noticed that many of the emails that I receive from the young people I interact with include odd “J” characters in places that don’t make any sense. Are they all just terrible typists? And if so, why just a “J” character out of place?
This is a common problem, and it’s not just your young friends that are typing incorrectly. The real problem stems from the fact that they’re using Outlook to craft their emails (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Some engineer/designer at Microsoft thought it might be helpful if the email editor in Outlook (and all of Microsoft Office, actually) would change the combination of characters that people often use as a common emoticon (that is, a character or group of characters that represent an emotion or intent, graphically, in text communications), the “:)” symbols with an actual smiley-face character (funny, Microsoft Word from Office 2016 just made the same correction as Ken typed this text). The smiley-face character might represent what the author of your email intended to insert into the text, but its appearance in your email relies on the installation of a particular font (WingDings) that may or may not be installed on your computer. If it’s not installed, instead of the cute smiley face, you’ll see a “J” character. Even if the font is installed, the transition from the Microsoft source to your email can often change the character so that it appears as a “J”.

What can you do? The simplest solution is to make a mental replacement, understanding that the intent of the “J” was to add a pleasant emoticon to the message. If it really bothers you, however, you can suggest that the author make the change suggested in this article: The suggested fix is to remove the auto-correct replacements that Microsoft installs by default, so that typing “:)” doesn’t insert a smiley-face character. This isn’t a huge problem, especially once you know what’s going on!

1612. Sync Windows desktop in the cloud.

I want to have my computers backed up in the cloud. Are there special things I need to do so my desktop, Documents, music folders are in the cloud and on my computer. How can I have a safe backup of my desktop and documents offline.

The quick answer is yes. We do not want to play favorites so we will mention the idea we recommend and some of the options you have to implement the idea.

First thing is we strongly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to backup your critical files like your desktop and document, pictures, videos offline. It is so easy to do now. Like anything that you store offline (on the internet) you want to make sure it is secure and protected.

Today there are many services like Dropbox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, ZumaDrive, DriveHQ. Most are free but if you need "extra" store you may have to pay. If you have a Windows 8+ computer you get 1TB OneDrive from Microsoft for free. This is also available if you get the latest Office products.

We recommend that you get a service no matter what and use it. You can even get this type of service on your Mac.

Whatever the service you decide on it is very easy to set up the process. Each one will have their own instructions but most people can set things up without help.

Another benefit with this is if you have multiple computers or if you want to sync your data with your smartphone most services include this capability.

1611. Simpler Wi-Fi Network Setup

I recently needed to set up a new Wi-Fi network in our home, and was totally confused by all the settings and options. Is there a simpler way to set up a home Wi-Fi network?
Yes, the number of settings and options can seem totally daunting when you first try to set up your home Wi-Fi network. Whether you use a modem/Wi-Fi combination from your ISP, or you use a separate Wi-Fi router, every Wi-Fi vendor has made an attempt to simplify the process, with varying results. Some vendors require you to log into a specific Web address. Others ask you to insert a CD (although these are getting rarer, as fewer computers include CD/DVD drives these days). Either way, even the simplest software requires you to answer questions for which you may not have answers.
Although there’s no way around answering some of those questions, you can simplify the process a little—setting up the network, adding wireless devices, and configuring security can be made simpler through the use of WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). Most modern Wi-Fi routers include a WPS button, allowing you to set up your network with just a push of the button (at least, that’s the goal—we’ve never actually set up a network this way, but that’s the promise, anyway).
Before you even consider WPS as a means of setting up your network, you should be aware that the technology WPS uses can be hacked, and therefore, if you live in a dense area, or are concerned about security (that is, you’re nervous about a dedicated hacker breaking into your network—a casual user wouldn’t be able to break in), you should consider not using WPS. On the other hand, in a less-dense area where it’s unlikely that a neighborhood hacker is going to try and break into your network, WPS should work fine.
Each Wi-Fi router implements WPS slightly differently, so you’ll need to investigate the documentation included with the router to determine how you can activate and use WPS. Doing so generally involves pressing the button, and then using the WPS feature on your devices to connect them to the network. Assuming that both the router and your devices support WPS, you should be all set.

To be honest, neither of us has ever used WPS, and probably never will. We’re happy to dig into the settings of the router, and find it generally pretty simple to supply a unique Wi-Fi SSID (the text string that identifies your Wi-Fi network to all devices attached to the network) and password. In addition, most routers supply tons of other options that you can modify, including things like the ability to limit access times, share devices, and more. On the other hand, for a quick and dirty setup, nothing beats WPS. For more information about WPS, check out this article:

1610. iPhone Stuck

My iPhone is dead.  I just charged it.  Screen is blank.  Tried to power it on.  Nothing.  I pulled the Sim card.  Still nothing.  What can I do?

People sometime don't think of their phone like a computer.  Often you have to reboot or reset your PC and yes even your Mac.  Well your smartphone's aren't any different.  

The term reset can mean different things.  Basic restart, simple reset or sometimes erasing everything and starting over.

The basic restart most of you have done.  Hold the on/off button, when the slider appears to start slide it to the right.  Then hold the on/off button again and the apple icon appears and the phone starts.  This did not fix the problem Ken just complained about.  

The hard reset requires will restart the phone and clears memory.  Don't worry no data is lost.  Hold down the on/off button and at the same time press the Home button in the center bottom of the screen.  Hold them for the blank screen and even when you see the slider.  Finally the apple will appear and the phone will restart.  

If this doesn't solve the problem you may need to refresh the phone.  Because you will lose data we recommend you get some help with this step.  Yes call Apple or email us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

1603.. Binkiland?

  A friend called and complained that their instance of Internet Explorer was "Blinking" no matter what web page they went to.  Clearly something was wrong.  Do you have any suggestions on what to look for and how to fix it?

Well this was a strange one. As it turns out this was the result of Malware or Virus.

After visiting a web site the computer got infected with what is being called Binkiland.  What you do not want to do is to go to any web site with this as part of the name. Once infected you open up your browser and without even typing in a URL you are re-directed to Binkiland and your browser will start to blink.  In some cases you can get control and stop the blinking but sooner or later it will start to blink again.

Basically opening your browser you lose control over the computer.  We have a link on our site but if you already have the virus how can you go to the link?

Use a un-infected computer to go to the link and it will take you to a Symantec site to download tools that will allow you to remove the infection.  We are not promoting Symantec and we are sure other anti-virus vendors have fixes.

I was lucky enough to boot to safe mode with networking and in safe mode the infection did not stop me from getting the tools to remove the virus.

Hopefully if you can avoid the need to get a fix.  Have good anti-virus malware software and stay away from high-risk sites.

1602. Save Downloaded Versions of Applications

I just bought a new computer and wanted to re-install the applications on it. One of the apps I use requires a specific version of the app. Unfortunately the web site only has the latest version of the app and that will not work for me. What can I do?

Sometimes you just can't get old versions from the manufacturer.  

There are some web sites that have old versions of software that you can download. We have a link on our web site. You can search for OLD VERSIONS of software.

Some of these web sites charge you to download the old versions. I don't know if that is even legal. Some of these sites are also in the high risk web site for malware category.  

These bad people think that if you can't keep track of your own applications then you somehow deserve a virus. I really don't like these people.

But to avoid this problem in the future start a procedure that you follow every time you install a new application. Whenever you start a download normally you have an option to Run or Save the download. Make sure you always click on the Save, and to be safer click on the arrow to the right of the Save and chose Save As.

I have a special folder that I have that I use to save all of my installs. So when I Save As I point to this folder.

If you just chose Save, Windows will Save the file in the Download default folder. Yes you have one. I always have my own folder so I can make sure I back it up. I usually have sub folders based on manufacturer and version numbers.

After the file is downloaded it will then allow you to Run the install.

If you are still installing apps from the DVD's then make sure you keep those or copy the DVD to your Download folder.

Now you can install old versions without risking getting a virus from some web site.