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Friday, April 17, 2015

1585. Edit Microsoft Office Documents Online

I don’t have Microsoft Office installed on my home computer but I sometimes need to be able to create and edit documents. Is there some free way to do that?

Although a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 which allows you to create and work on documents locally is only a small amount of money per month, we understand that not everyone wants to pay that amount of money. 

Microsoft understands this too and provided for free the Microsoft Office online tools. Using these tools you can get most of the features of Microsoft Word, Excel and Power Point without paying a penny and it’s all available on line for free. You can’t do everything you would do with the local applications but most people don’t need to. If you don’t want to use Microsoft’s products there are other tools you can use as well including OpenOffice and a few other free office clones.  We have information about these tools with a link on our website, Check it out if you want to work with office documents online for free.

1583. Delete Files Securely

I’m considering giving my current computer to a friend when I purchase a new one. I am a bit worried about the existing content on the hard drive.  How can I delete the files and other content on this Windows PC so that my friend couldn’t recover any of my information on the hard drive?

Well, if you can’t trust your friend not to steal your content, she’s not much of a friend! Really, just kidding—you should always be aware of the content on your hard drive and who has access to it. In addition, you should be aware of the way Windows deletes files: It doesn’t! When you delete a file, Windows simply marks the file as deleted by changing the first byte of the file content, so Windows knows that you’ve asked it to delete the file. It also releases the space used by the file contents so that future file saves can use the same space on the storage medium (hard drive or solid state drive). The problem lies in the time between when you delete a file and when you reuse the space. You have no way of knowing when a file has been overwritten, and until that time, all its contents are still there, albeit unavailable by normal means (but very available by folks determined to find the content). Normally, this isn’t a problem—it’s your computer, your data, and if it’s still on your hard drive, who cares? (And, in case you need to do so, this means of marking files as deleted makes it possible for file-recovery utilities to do their work. If you have ever needed to recover an accidentally deleted file, you’ll appreciate this!)
The problem occurs when you want to give the hard drive, or the entire computer, away. In that case, you want to ensure that your data is, in fact, gone entirely. You could follow the general prescription: Format the hard drive and reinstall the operating system, and this would indeed remove all your files. This process doesn’t guarantee that all your data is completely removed, however. For that, you’ll need to use one of several tools that can securely remove all the data from your drive. You can find many such tools online—search the Web for “securely delete files Windows” or “securely delete files Mac”.  The following link includes information about performing this operation, and some tools you can use:

1582. Using a Public Computer Safely

When I’m traveling I often find public computers available for my use in hotels and other locations. I feel a little queasy about using computers just sitting there in hotel lobbies and airports. Are there any precautions I should take when using public computers like these?
If we had the option, we’d prefer not to use public computers at all. Sure, they’re sitting there, all tempting and everything, but you’re just asking for trouble if you use one for anything other than casual Web browsing. You have no idea what they’ve been used for previously, and have no idea who has touched it before you got there (and we’re not even considering the germs and stuff)! In the worst-case scenario, someone could have installed a key logging utility that tracks and transmits every keystroke you enter, waiting for you to enter a crucial password and then steal the information that you enter.
Computer viruses spread easily, and can infect a USB drive that you plug in. It’s all too easy to attach a USB drive, get infected with a virus, and then attach that same drive to your own computer and propagate the virus. You’ll probably want to be slightly circumspect about using your USB devices with a public computer.
The only time Ken has used a public computer at a hotel is to print a boarding pass (back in the days when printed boarding passes were “a thing”). Even then, using the public computer was a little worrisome, as you have to enter your airline password to print the boarding pass. We have a few suggestions, if you find that you must use a public computer.
First, you want to ensure that subsequent users of the computer can’t tell where you’ve been, and what data you’ve entered. To make this happen, make sure you use the browser’s “in cognito” or “anonymous” mode, so that the browser doesn’t add any of your browsing history to its stored history, and doesn’t save any cookies. In addition, take a moment and clear the browser’s cache and cookies once you’re done—the steps to do this are specific to the browser, but generally you can find the option to clear these in the Internet options for the specific browser.

There are other precautions you might want to take, as well. For a more complete list, check out the article here:

1581. Sync Windows 8 Settings using OneDrive

I use Windows 8 on my home computer and my work computer and I would like to synchronize my settings such as my desktop background on both computers. Is there a way to do this?

Windows 8 is really configured for just this sort of thing. All the settings you might make on one computer can easily be transferred to another using the built-in sync settings. There is an article on our website that shows you how you can set this up and actually it is turned on by default as long as you log into Windows using your Microsoft account. 

Then, your information will be synchronized using Microsoft’s OneDrive. There are a lot of settings you can change that change what items you will actually synchronize and those are pointed out in the article we point to on our website. So check it out, this is easy to set up and it makes it really nice for moving from one computer to another.

1580, Cancel AOL Internet Service

I've been paying for internet service through AOL for as long as I can remember. The price has gone up and up and up, and this month, they raised it again. What can I do about this?

I’ve been paying for internet service through AOL for as long as I can remember. The price has gone up and up and up. This month they raised it again. What can I do about this?

You are not alone in paying AOL for your service, a lot of people monthly give AOL money. The problem is you are paying for something you’re probably not using. If you are giving AOL money you are actually paying for dial-up connection. If you use anything besides dial-up connection there is no reason to give AOL money at all. If you need the dial up connection that is using your normal telephone line then yes, there is not much you can do about it because there aren’t that many providers now for dial-up internet service. 

But if you have DSL or cable or some other way of connecting to the internet you need to contact AOL immediately and turn off that payment. We have included a link on our website that shows where you can go to do that, but do it right away because you are wasting money giving AOL money unless you are using their dial-up service.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

1586. Dealing with Microsoft Accout Password vs Email Password

I am really confused about my Windows password and my email password. I use my email account to log into Windows but when I use that same password to log into my email it doesn't work. It's as if they are two different accounts. What's going on here?

Well they are two different accounts. Your are just using the one user ID for accessing two different systems.  

With the introduction of Windows 8 this password thing has become even more confusing. If you have a Windows 8 computer or if you have gone to the Windows store you have a new user ID very much like your Apple credentials to access your account at the Apple store. 

But Microsoft has added some new things like that same user that you have to access the Microsoft store can be used to log into your Windows 8 computer. This is a nice feature so if you are logged onto your computer you are automatically able to access the MS store.

If Microsoft is hosting your email using Office 365, then that account can also be used to log into your computer.

You could then change the password at the Store and not change the email password. Now you have two different passwords for the same userID. I recommend if you change one accounts password you change the other. 

All of this gives me more justification to strongly recommend having a good password manager.

But another approach is to have a website you can go to and reset your Microsoft account., but remember to log into your email and change that password.

1587. Resetting Your AppleID Password

I am in rel trouble now. I can't remember my password for my ApplID on my iPhone and iPad. I can't download any applications and I can't get any updates. How can I reset my AppleID and password so I can get back to work using my devices?

Fortunately Apple has thought you might forget your ID Ken and they put together a good solid procedure to gain back your Apple access. We have detail instructions on our website. But I will do a quick walk through.

  1. Go to My Apple ID and select Reset your password.
  2. Enter your Apple ID, then click Next. If you don't remember your Apple ID or email address, choose Forgot your Apple ID.
  3. After you enter your Apple ID, there are three ways you can change your password:

Answer your security questions

  1. Select “Answer security questions,” then click Next.
  2. Select your birth date, then click Next.
  3. Answer your security questions.
  4. Set a new password and select Reset Password.

Use email authentication

  1. Select Email authentication, then click Next. Apple will send the email to your primary or rescue email address.
  2. Open the email and select the link to change your password.
  3. When the My Apple ID page opens, set a new password and select Reset Password.
Use these steps if you didn't get the email or can't find it.

Use two-step verification

  1. Enter your Recovery Key.
  2. Choose a trusted device. We'll send your device a verification code.
  3. Enter the verification code.
  4. Set a new password and select Reset Password.
If you permanently lost your recovery key or access to your trusted device, you can't change your password.

1588. Managing Your Digital Afterlife

I have digital accounts all over the place: Facebook, email, all sorts of accounts. I am getting worried what happens when I meet my ultimate demise. What will my loved ones do with all those accounts?  How can they find out where my bank accounts are, and what the passwords are? What am I supposed to do to help them out?
This seems like an odd problem, but it’s a real one. And it’s an issue you need to deal with, and soon. We’re not just talking about what happens to your Facebook account, but what about all your bank accounts, email accounts, passwords, and more?
Most importantly, someone you care about/who cares about you needs to be able to access your main email account once you’re gone. They’ll need access to at least one of your email accounts (hopefully, your main one) in order to close various accounts, access online accounts, and close things as necessary. Google makes this simple—if you have a Google account, you can specify what you want to have happen in case you haven’t logged into your account for a specified period of time (3 months, for example), through the Inactive Account Manager. If you have a Google account, check out the settings here:
For everything else, we strongly recommend (as we have several times in the past) using a password manager, such as 1Password (, LastPass (, or Dashlane ( Each of these has at least rudimentary support for sharing passwords with a loved one. Ken has been using Dashlane recently, and it includes support for one or more emergency contacts. You can specify that these contacts receive the ability to log into your accounts should something happen to you. The details vary by product, but it’s certainly worth checking them out.
You could, of course, do what most people do—keep a paper list of all your passwords. In that case, you’ll need to work a little harder to get your account information to your digital executor(s) after your death. Using a tool like a password manager, however, makes things a lot simpler, assuming that you’ve set up your emergency contacts before that big software bus in the sky plows you down.

1590. How to Print Directly from iPhone or iPad

I know this is totally a first-world problem, but I often find myself standing there, reading an email on my iPhone, and thinking “Gee, it would be nice if I could print this out so I’d have a copy on paper.” Sure, I could fire up the computer and print the email from there, but that seems so 2010. Is there some easy way to make printing directly from my phone possible?
Yes, if this is your biggest problem, then we’re not really feeling too sorry for you. And yes, you can absolutely make this happen—the difficulty in solving the problem varies, depending on the vintage of your printer, and what operating system you’re running on your phone and on your computer. First of all, note that Apple created a technology specifically to handle this problem back in iOS 4.2.1 (we’re currently on iOS 8.3 or later), and they called the technology AirPrint. Get it? “Printing through the air?”
In order to use AirPrint, you must satisfy a number of simple requirements. Only a small subset of available printers support AirPrint natively (that is, without some help from a computer attached to it), and your iOS device must be connected to the same wireless network as your printer. For complete instructions and a list of supported printers, check out this support page:
If you are in the market for a new printer, and you’d like to use this technology, make sure that the printer explicitly supports AirPrint before you purchase it. If you want to know if your existing printer supports AirPrint, check out the list on the linked support page. If you want to use AirPrint, but you don’t have one of the special printers, don’t despair: There are ways to get AirPrint functionality even if you have an unsupported printer.
If you can’t get AirPrint to work directly with the printer, and you’re a Mac user, check out the excellent application, Printopia ( This is how Ken prints from his iOS devices at home, and it works with any printer. It does require a Mac to be up and running whenever you want to print, but that’s not a difficult requirement. This is an excellent product, and offers extra capabilities that AirPrint alone doesn’t offer. Ken highly recommends it! Printopia isn’t the only solution: Do a quick only search for AirPrint, and you’ll find other options as well.
If you want to use AirPrint and your printer doesn’t support it, and you’re a Windows user, you also have options. No Windows solution supports AirPrint as well as Printopia on the Mac, but you’ll find somewhat technical instructions on this Web site for setting up a means of using AirPrint on Windows: This solution has some strict requirements: You must have iTunes and Bonjour services installed on your PC; the printer must be set up as a shared printer on your PC; and you must have full administrator rights on your PC. Certainly, people have had success with this technique; Ken failed when he tried. If it’s something that’s important to you, however, and you have the urge to tinker with your PC and your network, you can certainly give it a try! (Back up first.)

1591. Control Playback Speed in Windows Media Player

I have been tasked with transcribing some audio files. I know there are tols that can make this go faster but I found that doing it myself was actually easier. On the other hand the person speaking is speaking way to fast for me to keep up. Is there some way using Windows meadia player to slow down the output so I can type at the same speed that she is talking?

Finally Ken an easy one.

I thought at first when I heard this was a tip about the Windows Media Player this would be the shortest minute techtip yet.  How long could it take to talk about the Windows Media Player.  After all it has a start, stop, reverse. Not very much to it.  But then I started to read on everything the Media Player will do,

There is the icon that looks like 4 small squares.  This pops you into two modes.  It is called switch to Now Playing or switch to library.  In the Now playing mode you can right click on open space and chose Enhancements and Play Speed.  A graph will pop up and their you can adjust the speed of the file so now you can transcribe the file without having to always back up.  

There are many other feature like the Graphic Equalizer, There are features like Rip files and much more.  Ken you are so into music I am surprised you haven't said much about this.  Of course you probably would use the Mac to do all of this.  

For the amount of music talent I have I think the Windows Media Player will keep me busy.

Easy to transcribe.