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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.

1601. Clipboard Managers for Windows

I know we have spoken previously about clip board manages for Macs, but does the same thing apply to Windows?

When I work in Windows I often want to keep a list of items I want to paste and I need to go back and get something I pasted previously and paste again. I need a clip board manager for Windows. Can you point me at some?

I struggled with this problem for years. Always wanted to do multiple pastes of copied items. Finally installed one of the products and am very glad I did.

Ditto, Yankee Clipper III, xNeat Clipboard Manager.

Ditto does everything. It has history of current session, search, groupings, you can save items across multiple boots, and you can sync these copies across multiple computers. I found the options a little overwhelming, offering far more than I will ever need.
Yank Clipper III Gives you ability to save items across boots, print items, have the list stay at the top of your window and more.

xNeat Clipboard Manager has the basics. Copy, Paste, up to 99 items.

I like all three. You only need 1 probably. Go to our site and follow the link to look at all three.

1600. Remove Clutter using Outlook's Clutter feature

I get a ton of email daily, and outside of the standard spam, which gets handled reasonably well by spam filters, most of it is stuff I don’t need to handle right away—information from friends, recipes, sales from local stores, and so on. It would be great if there was some way to automatically move these emails into another location, so I could focus on the important stuff.
This question comes to us as if written by a Microsoft marketing person! If you’re using any of the Microsoft email services (,,, or Office 365), you have access to a great, relatively new feature named (appropriately) Clutter. These email services all provide the ability to sweep “clutter” from your inbox into a separate folder, again appropriately named Clutter. Note that the Clutter folder is meant for things other than spam or dangerous spam/phishing-related emails—it’s for legitimate email that simply isn’t urgent.
Microsoft makes it simple to manage your Clutter folder, as well. If you find an email in your Inbox folder that isn’t important, move it to the Clutter folder, and the mail engine will classify emails like that one as Clutter from then. The converse works as well: If an email ends up in the Clutter folder but it’s important, move it to the Inbox and future similar emails will remain in your Inbox folder.
Note that this feature works only with Microsoft’s email products. Google/Gmail provides a similar, if not quite as mature, feature using automatic labelling. If you want to clear your inbox from all the clutter, however, Microsoft makes this the easiest. Of course, and the rest of Microsoft’s online email services are free.
For more information on configuring and using Microsoft’s Clutter folder, check out this article:

1599. Unsubscribe from Emails the Right Way

I get a lot of emails from subscription lists that I know I didn’t subscribe to. When I click the link in the email to unsubscribe, I still get emails from the same list, and it seems like I get even more. What’s going on?
First of all, The CAN-SPAM Act 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003), was intended to make it easy to avoid getting unintended emails—it did nothing of the kind, since we all know that a huge percentage of emails are unwanted. There are really two issues here, however—unsubscribing from email lists that you legitimately joined, and unsubscribing from email lists from which you have never subscribed.
Legitimate email lists should always provide a means of removing your name from their list, generally by an “unsubscribe” link in the email. (Some lists ask you to respond to the email with specific text in the subject—those lists are most likely maintained manually.) Some email providers and client software make it easy to unsubscribe from these lists by providing an unsubscribe link in the software—click the link, and the software takes care of unsubscribing you. Read carefully: You should only use unsubscribe links, or software’s unsubscribe tool, for lists that you know are legitimate, and that you subscribed to yourself.
If you unsubscribe from a list that you never heard of, or from an email that seems suspicious, it’s likely that your efforts to unsubscribe will simply confirm the validity of your email address to a potential scammer. If you receive an unwanted, unrecognized email, your best bet is to simply delete it. If you receive multiple/regular unwanted emails from the same source, you can often use your email software to create a rule that will automatically delete the email (Gmail and both make this particularly easy). In general, it’s best to simply ignore/delete/don’t touch any email that seems suspicious, or comes from an unknown sender. For more information on unsubscribing from email lists, see this article:

1598. Stop Making Accidental Smartphone Calls?

You know this happens to me all of the time and if you say it doesn't happen to you I don't believe you. Oh I see you called. Why did you call me? And I don't have a recollection of them calling.

Some people call these butt calls, I call them pocket calls. How can I avoid doing that so I don't embarrass myself again?

Ken, I am not sure I can help you to not embarrass yourself again. But stopping you from making butt calls maybe.

I know you have an iPhone, so getting the Android application called "Call Confirm" for $.99 that requires a confirmation step to call won't work for you.

iPhones - No luck. The closest I found was Call Guard, a $0.99 app that does the opposite--preventing you from hanging up on someone during a call. Not sure I understand.  How can you end a call?  OK that's $.99 I won't spend.

iPhone you can minimize making butt calls by doing one of the following.
1. After a call is made simply hang-up and then click the power button.  Yes you have to actually click another button.
2. Click the Voicemail key on lower-right.  Worse that happens you pick up a voicemail.  
3. If the calls are not right after a call was made and are at random, you can set the pass code so after a short time the phone will be locked.

See our link on the web site for more details.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

1596. Speeding up Mac Booting?

My Mac takes what feels like forever to boot up—it’s certainly slower than it used to be. Is there anything I can do to speed up this process, and let me get to work quicker?
One suggestion would be to simply not reboot your Mac often, because it rarely needs to be rebooted—certainly, there’s no need to shut down every night. On the other hand, that doesn’t answer your question.
There are several steps you can take to speed up the booting process of a Mac. First, and most helpful, would be to replace your hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD). Doing so can make a huge difference not only in the boot speed, but in the performance of your computer, in general. The good news is that SSD prices are dropping rapidly (although they’re still more expensive than standard, spinning hard drives); the bad news is that if you have a relatively “modern” Mac, it already includes an SSD. In addition, modern Mac laptops aren’t configured to be user-serviceable, and you won’t be able to replace the hard drive yourself. One easy way to check is turn the laptop over and look for screws on the bottom. If you find screws, you can replace the hard drive. If you don’t see screws, you have a modern laptop and already have an SSD installed.
If you do already have an SSD, or if you want to consider alternatives, consider the excellent guide to accelerating Mac startup, here: In addition to suggesting that you replace your spinning hard drive with an SSD, the article makes other suggestions, such as removing extra programs that start at boot time from your user account. To do that, load System Preferences, select Users & Groups, select your own user name from the list of users, select Login Items, and then delete items that you don’t need startup with your computer. This, too, can save measurable startup time.

For the best “bang for your buck,” replace a spinning hard drive with an SSD. For more tips on speeding up your Mac’s startup, check out the full article:

1597. Teaching Kids to Code using Kodu

I would like to give my kids a step up learning to create computer programs. It seems like this is going to be an important skill to their generation. Do you have any suggestions on how to catch their interest?
Back in the dark ages (that is, the 1980’s, when Ken was learning to program—we don’t even want to discuss what decade Doug learned in), he began coding using a tool named Karel the Robot. This simulator took the form of managing the behavior of a software-based robot (named Karel, right?), using the concepts of computer programming to make the robot handle simple tasks. You can still find support for learning via Karel the Robot online (, but it’s no more kid-friendly or attractive than it was 35 years ago.
Today’s kids need something a little more suited to their own tastes, focusing on visual games and simulations that seem like fun, in order to motivate them to write their own computer code.  If you do a little research, you’ll find a number of visual introductions to programming meant for children, as young as 6 or 7 years old. For the youngest set, check out Daisy the Dinosaur (, an iPad app that allows kids to manipulate Daisy through challenges that require them to investigate loops, if-then decisions, and other programming constructs. If you’re a Logo fan from way back (writing programs to move a little triangle, perhaps imagining that it was, in fact, a turtle), you’ll appreciate Move the Turtle (for iPhone/iPad, This app allows children (or any programming beginner) to solve tasks using programming constructs and a cute animated turtle.
For the slightly older kids, check out two very well respected tools: Hopscotch (iPad, and Scratch (web-based, These learning tools are more robust, offer more features and capabilities, and can take the pre-teens through some practical programming skills. Microsoft has entered this arena, as well, with its Kodu tool ( You might find this Microsoft Research-based tool interesting and useful.
If you start researching kids and coding, you’ll find a ton of resources. We ran across a nice summary article ( Start there for more information on the various learning tools.

We firmly believe that although your children might not grow up to be programmers by trade, the skills they learn in making the computer handle tasks can help them in many professional areas—take the time to get them interested at a young age, and they’ll develop skills they can use forever. Then you can let them teach you a little!

1595. Edit Microsoft Office Documents Online?

I want to be able to view Microsoft Office files when I’m sitting at someone else’s computer but I don’t need to edit them. Is there some free way to just view the files?

The scenario is someone emails you a Microsoft Word file, you need to open it while using your web email client at someone else’s desk and then you want to view the file but they don’t have Microsoft Office installed. So, the question is, how do you view the file?

There is no easy way to download Microsoft Word installed on their computer to open the file. There are several online solutions, the simplest is to use Microsoft Office online but there are other alternatives as well. We have are article on our website that points out some of the many free Microsoft Office and PDF viewers that you can use that don’t intrude on a computer’s installations. You can also go to Microsoft Office online and search for it online and then you can open any Microsoft Office document without having to install anything at all.I don’t have Microsoft Office installed on my home computer, but sometimes I need to be able to create and edit Office documents that I bring home from work. Is there some free way that I can do this?
The simplest solution would be for your company to purchase an Office 365 license for you to use at home, so you could install the necessary Microsoft Office applications there, as well; that may not be possible or wanted. You could also look into one of the many free Microsoft Office “clones”, like Open Office ( These sorts of applications work well enough, but they’re not Microsoft Office, and can cause their own level of hassles.
We can recommend two free options that have worked extremely well for us. First, look into Microsoft Office Online ( This free service allows you to work with all the standard Office document formats, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This is an excellent, free, powerful tool that certainly solves your needs. There’s only one serious limitation: You really do need to have a free Microsoft account (or a Microsoft work or school account) in order to sign in and access your documents. Once you have signed in, you can create new documents, or load documents that you have previously stored in OneDrive or DropBox. There’s no option to load or save documents from or to your local computer’s storage. Working with the Office Online applications on the Web feels much like using the latest versions of the desktop applications. If you can live with these restrictions, Office Online is a really wonderful, free option for you to use without restrictions or cost.
If you have a Google account, you may find it easier to use the equally powerful (and free) Google Documents application to create and edit Microsoft Office documents. Log in with your Google account at, and you can upload documents from your local computer (or create new documents online and download them) and edit them as if you had Microsoft Office installed. The user interface isn’t quite as familiar to Microsoft Office users as that of Office Online, but Google Documents is an excellent online application, and you can easily work with your Office documents there.

Although the simplest solution is to have a local copy of the Microsoft Office applications, you can take advantage of either Microsoft Office Online or Google Documents to edit your documents, for free. All you need is an Internet connection and a browser!

If you want to be able to view Microsoft Office files when you are sitting at someone else’s computer but don’t need to edit them. Is there some free way to just view the files?

The scenario is someone emails you a Microsoft Word file, you need to open it while using your web email client at someone else’s desk and then you want to view the file but they don’t have Microsoft Office installed. So, the question is, how do you view the file?

There is no easy way to download Microsoft Word installed on their computer to open the file. There are several online solutions, the simplest is to use Microsoft Office online but there are other alternatives as well. We have are article on our website that points out some of the many free Microsoft Office and PDF viewers that you can use that don’t intrude on a computer’s installations. You can also go to Microsoft Office online and search for it online and then you can open any Microsoft Office document without having to install anything at all.

1594. The Future is Here: Live Language Translation?

The Future is Here: Live Language Translation

I often need to speak to vendors on other countries, and although they speak halting English, it seems like it would be so much easier to have some live translation facility. I may be dreaming, but I would love if I could find some way to be able to speak English, and have software automatically convert this to another language (for my German business partners, for example). Is this still the stuff of science fiction?
We’ve talked before here about language translation software, like Google Translate, that allows you to speak to it in English, and then it converts what you’ve said into another language. This is a great learning tool for learning another language, and it can help in conversation, but it certainly doesn’t do what you’re asking—it doesn’t make it possible to have a live conversation in which the two participants speak different languages.
There are several efforts currently to make this possible, but one that you’re likely to want to try is provided by Microsoft, as part of its Skype software. Skype Translator (as it’s called) isn’t for everyone—it currently only runs on Windows 8 or Windows 10, and it’s not nearly ready for “prime time”—but it could be useful to give the preview version a look. You can find more information here: Using the translator involves installing and configuring Microsoft’s Skype software, and using it to handle your conversation. In theory, once configured correctly, it could perform live language translation for you. It’s worth a look, if this is something that’s important to you.

We certainly haven’t tried it out (we both barely speak English, much less some other language, so it might actually be of benefit), and we’d love to hear of your exploits using Skype Translator, if you get it working. Yes, this is technology that isn’t quite there yet, but Skype Translator may be a good start.

1593. Removing Web Ads?

I’m suddenly seeing a ton of ads interspersed through most of my webpages that I visit. They all seem to be based on recent Google searches I made or things I purchased on line. Is my computer haunted, how can I get rid of these ads?

A lot of the questions we ask and answer here are based on our own experiences and this has been driving me crazy. I’ll buy something on and then see it advertised on every webpage I visit and those ads look like part of the webpage so you click in them by accident and you find yourself totally in the wrong place. There is an answer however. All modern browsers support the concept of add-ins or plug-ins that modify their behavior. There is a plug-in or two available for every modern browser called Adblock or another one called Adblock Plus and they both do basically the same thing and that is blocking ads from appearing from within the browser as you look at webpages. You will need to enable add-ins or plug-ins and you will need to install the Adblock or Adblock Plus plug-in. Once you have done that the ads no longer appear. You will need to look at the documentation for your browser to see how to add plug-ins to the browser but if you are using anything like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari or Opera you can use the Adblock or Adblock Plus plug-in. For more information see the link on our website.

1592. Search without Being Tracked?

I heard that Google and Bing and Yahoo all track my online activity when I perform an online search. I’m doing anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to know about but I don’t want to be tracked. What options do I have?

It’s true when you use an online search engine, those search engines always keep track of what you are looking at so they can sell that information to advertisers. There is no free lunch out there, someone has to pay for that free service and you pay for it by allowing them to use your information for advertising. With Bing and Google and Yahoo, that is just the way it is. If you want to avoid that however you can use a different search engine. It’s really easy to select in any browser the default search engine you want to use when you type a search query. The one I’m currently using is DuckDuckGo which is a free online search that promises not to track what you look for and never to track what you look for. It’s easy to change your default search engine no matter which browser you use so look on our website for more information on how to do that.