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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.