Search This Blog- Enter the tip # or a keyword(s)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

1825. Message app

Richard asks: On my iPhone, I recently got a text message from my wife with a photo of our dog, but the notification disappeared before I could see the image. A friend told me to open the Messages app to view the message, but I can't find it. How can I see this photo?

I wonder what percentage of the world's texts contain photos of family pets. In any case if you can't see the notification one option of course is to pull down from the top edge of your phone and that should show you all the recent notifications.

If it's no longer there you need to open the messages app and look there. Now the messages app should be easy to find on your phone, but if it's buried somewhere it may have gone to a different screen than the first home screen. So you can swipe to the right or to the left to look at other screens until you find the messages app.

If you still can't find it you should be able to use Spotlight search to locate the app. To do that swipe down on your home screen not from the top edge, but sort of from the middle. That brings up Spotlight search type messages or just the first few letters of messages and it should locate the app for you.

You might make note if it's inside a folder because you can put apps inside folders and the name of the folder will appear in the spotlight search results. Then you'll know for next time where the app is. In the case using Spotlight search you can tap on the icon and open the messages app to look at the lovely photo of your family dog.

1824. Beeping Dishwasher

Last week, I decided that I needed to figure out how to turn off the incredibly irritating beep that my dishwasher plays when it's done with its wash cycle. I have always hated this feature, but it finally just made me crazy. The problem is that I can't find my user manual. I'm guessing you don't know how to turn off my dishwasher's beep, but do you know how I can get a replacement manual on the internet?

Sometimes we get questions from readers and listeners sometimes the questions come from our own lives and this time this is something that made me absolutely crazy. My dishwasher plays an irritating beep every few minutes once it finishes its cycle like the dishes are going to explode if you don't take them out of the washing machine.

In any case I couldn't find my manual and I needed to find one online. OK that's not really the truth I save every manual, scan it, put in than ever know but that's another story.

If you can't find your manual there are websites online that make it easy to find such things the best one I found was a website called Safe manuals. There's a hyphen in there so it's

The reason it's called Safe is there's a lot of websites that say they will give you manuals but what they give you is malware. It's a really bad deal so look at and you might be able to find the manual you need.

Another one I found without a hyphen. Both of those are available. They provide free manuals and you should be able to find what you need by searching on their site.;,

1826. Photos with ID

I understand that if a friend takes a photo that includes me in it, and then she posts that photo on Facebook, she can tag me in the photo. I get the concept, but I don’t always like being tagged in other peoples’ photos. Is there some way to untag myself once I’ve been tagged in a photo?

We often feel like telling the world that once you have a Facebook account (and even if you don’t), all real privacy has been lost to social media. (The sky is falling! The sky is falling!) Maybe it’s not that bad, but certainly, once you’re on Facebook and you’ve made posts, commented on others’ posts, have posted photos, and have been tagged in others’ photos, you’re an easy target for anyone wishing to find out more about you than you perhaps wanted known to strangers.

Admit it—you’ve done a little Facebook stalking, haven’t you? That is, searched to find information on an acquaintance, or someone you’ve heard something about? Wait, what? It’s only us? We don’t think so. For the uninitiated, once you post a photo on Facebook, you can “tag” individuals in the photo by hovering over the person’s face with your mouse, and filling in the name in the box that appears underneath the face. If the person is a Facebook member, typing the name converts to a link to the person’s profile, so viewers can click the link to be taken to the profile associated with the photo.

Once you’ve opened the Pandora’s Box that is online social media, there’s no easy way to completely close it, but do have some control over how your name is used in photos. If you find that you’ve been tagged in a photo you’d rather not have your boss, your mother, or anyone else see, you can untag yourself. First, find the photo on Facebook. Then, hover your mouse over the link that identifies you in the photo. A little box pops up, with information about you and a link to your wall/profile.

At the top, next to the information about the person that tagged you, you’ll find a link with the text “Remove tag.” Click this link, and Facebook will remove the link to you in the photo. Fixing up all the photos showing you in various states of embarrassment could take a while, but at least you have that option. (Or you could just be in compromising situations to begin with!) Of course, we’re guessing that if you were truly concerned about your privacy, you wouldn’t be active on Facebook to begin with! (Of course, removing your tag from the photo doesn’t remove your image from the photo: If you really want the image to disappear, you’ll need to ask your friend to remove it. Good luck!)

1823. MacBook Pro serial number

I recently needed support for my 2012 MacBook Pro, and in order to set up an appointment with Apple’s support engineers at the Apple Store, I needed to supply my Mac’s serial number. I had no clue where to find it. Can you help?

Whenever you need to communicate with Apple’s support technicians, they’re going to need to know your serial number, so they can confirm your support availability, and so they can find out more about your computer. (Given a Mac’s serial number, Apple can determine the original configuration of the computer, and can better provide support for you.) Without that serial number, you’re not going to get far.

If you can boot your Mac, you can easily grab the serial number: Select the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen, and then select About This Mac. This action displays a dialog box with information about your computer, including its serial number. You can select the serial number, and then copy/paste it wherever you need it. If you can’t boot the Mac, things are a bit more difficult. You should be able to find the serial number printed on the body of the Mac, somewhere.

For most laptops, you’ll find it with the copyright information on the back of the computer. Get out your magnifying glass—the text is very small—but it’s there. If the type has worn off, or if you simply can’t read it, you’ll have to dig deeper. If you have the original box your machine came in (you kept that box, didn’t you?) it’s printed on the box itself. If you don’t physically have the Mac, you may still be able to find the serial number. If you signed into your computer with your Apple ID, you tied your computer’s serial number to your Apple ID account, and you should be able to find information about it by logging into the Apple ID account web site ([]). If you enabled the Find My Mac feature on the Mac, you should be able to log into your iCloud account ( and find the serial number there. Hopefully, one of these options will help you get the information you need.

1822. Twitter regret - options?

I use Twitter to help promote my business, and I have, on occasion posted tweets that I later regretted. Are tweets permanent, or can I delete them?

Although neither of us uses Twitter for much, and we’re not big fans of the 140-character messaging format, we can see how Twitter can be a useful marketing tool for some people. We won’t even start to discuss it as a political platform. As you, and our Twitterer-in-chief, have found, sometimes you just say things in public you wish you hadn’t.

Luckily, Twitter makes it possible to “take back” your tweets. To undo an error, you start by logging into your Twitter account in a Web browser. Find the tweet you want to delete, and click the downward-facing arrow on the right side of the tweet. From the drop-down menu that appears, select the Delete Tweet option. That’s it! It’s gone. Well, maybe it’s gone. If anyone has captured your tweet using a screen capture tool (one keystroke away in both Windows and Mac), it’s permanent—they can easily post the image of your tweet wherever they like. Check any news Web site, and you’ll see this happens often.

In other words: If you don’t want your tweets to appear in your mother’s news feed, don’t tweet them. Nothing on the public Web can be irreversibly deleted, at least, not in the world of social media.

1821. TV Streaming

Friends keep telling me about great TV shows that I MUST watch, and that the show is available online. The problem is, I don’t know where to find these shows. I do have accounts at Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, but don’t know where to start. I guess I could search each one, but that seems silly. Isn’t there an equivalent of TV Guide for online streaming resources?

We have to agree: There has never been, in our lifetimes, more insanely great content available for our viewing. Sometimes, it seems that there’s too much. One of us watches far too much online content from each of these services (“The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Fargo”, “The Leftovers”, “Better Call Saul”, “Veep”, “Last Week Tonight”, and many more, each week. Too much TV!) And it can be difficult figuring out where to find any given show, and whether a particular movie is available online, as well.

If you own either a Roku or Apple TV set-top box, things are getting better. You can use the Search function in either to search for any particular content. (Yes, we know—other set-top boxes provide the same, or similar functionality.) If you want to do your searching before you head for the TV, however, or if you watch online content from your phone, tablet, or computer, that doesn’t help much. We’ve recently run across a truly useful streaming content indexing service, at

This free service allows you to search across all major content services for any movie or TV show in which you’re interested. You’ll find out if it’s available for free on any service, and if not, how much it will cost to rent or buy the content. If you’re interested in watching content online, check out—it succeeds handily at its goal. On the other hand, perhaps we all watch too much content, and a little fresh air would be good. Take a walk. Just don’t watch an episode of “Game of Thrones” while you’re walking!

1832. Third party software keyboards

I am a terrible typist on my iPhone. I know there is a built in keyboard. I know there are other options. I don't know how to do it.What are my options?are keyboard options.

There are many software keyboard options that you can get for your iPhone. If you go to the Apple store search for keyboards. The built in keyboard does many special things like allowing you to slide to other characters so you don't have to switch between Caps and numbers each time.

But other keyboards allow you to do many special things like sliding across letter to spell a word without lifting your finger. It really works. I installed the Google keyboard. It was free as many other are. Besides the actual tricks on the keyboard, the Google keyboard has voice translation. It is very accurate. I can speak fast and freely and it produces almost error free translation

Saves me typing and trying to spell.I am a worse speller than a typist. Installing the keyboard can be tricky so follow the instructions. Give a couple keyboards a try to see which best suits your needs.

1831. Don't just pull the plug

My friend has his computer plugged into a switched power outlet. At the end of the day he simply turns the switch off. Thi seems wrong. Is he harming his computer by doing this?

DO NOT just pull the plug. Computers should not have the power just turned off. It may not have saved information. Many programs do extra things when they are shut down.

You should always do a software shutdown of your computer. This applies to your Mac or PC. I even shutdown my programs first although most programs will be shutdown properly by the operating system.

On the Mac click the Apple icon and select Shutdown. On the PC click the Windows icon, and select shutdown. Wait until it complete the shutdown and then you can turn the power off.

If you have a battery UPS and it has a cable connected to the computer, the UPS will notify the computer to do a nice shutdown before the battery power runs out. Do a controlled shutdown and buy a UPS for your computer.

1830. Not Secure Web site message

Why does my Google Chrome browser showing me a "not secure" message when I connect to a web site. Places that I have been visiting before are now insecure?

In January an update to Google Chrome started to display NOT Secure in front of a URL address. This was not that way before the update. Nothing has changed on the site it is just a way to warn you that the site is not protecting any content.

You should never enter passwords if the site is not secure or pass any private information. Before this change and on other browsers the way you can tell if the site is secure you would see the HTTP or HTTPS in front of the actual domain address. This is identifying that it is a HTTP site not HTTPS. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and the ending S stands for Secure.

No matter which browser you use remember to check this information be fore entering private or sensitive information. NO S don't enter the data. The S indicates the data will be encrypted on your computer sent over the internet then un-encrypted at the other end.

1829. Backup options

We always talk about malware and how backups are the only real way to protect yourself. Can you take some time to clarify.

Well as you know there are thousands of bad people trying to destroy your computer with malware. I frankly don't fully understand the motive. Ransomware makes sense, at least they can get money.

In any case there are only a handful of companies trying to provide software to protect against the many bad people. So no matter what antivirus software you will get attacked and the backup is your only real protection. This will also protect you in case of disk failure. You want to have an image backup. This is a complete copy of your computer disk. Not just your documents and pictures.

Windows 10 has builtin software and for about $50 you can purchase image backup software called Reflect or Acronis for PC's and Carbon Copy Cloner for a Mac. And yes bad things can happen to your Mac.

All you need besides the software is a USB hard drive for about $50. TimeMachine for the Mac and basic backup of files on the PC is not enough.

Also make sure you have your documents and pictures backup to the cloud. There are many free services OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud and more. Use the Image backup and offsite cloud backup to insure you can recover your computer from bad people and hardware/software failure. Backup, backup, and backup again.

And don't forget to test your backups to make sure they are working and you know what you have to do to recover your system. You will thank us later.

1828. More Scams

The amount of scams are increasing. What can you do to protect yourself? I recently got a call from someone saying they were Microsoft support saying something was wrong with my computer and they wanted to connect to my computer to fix the problem. I started to get out my CC and then I realized something was wrong. Should I let someone connect to my computer.
Bells should go off immediately. First Microsoft would never call you out of the blue. No legitimate support group would. When this happens just hang up. If you ever get a pop up on your computer saying you have a virus, NEVER call the number on the screen. These are scams. Don't call them, hang up if they call you. DO NOT give them CC information. And never ever let a stranger connect to your computer. Unless you know where this person lives you will regret it. If they connect they can leave bad things on your computer. In my support business I have a need to help people by connecting remotely. But my clients know where I eat. Please do not let this happen to you. Never ever let someone you don't know or can't confirm they are legitimate connect to your computer. PERIOD!!!!!!

1827. Link to bad URL

How can I protect myself from going to a bad link? I got an email from Fedex saying my package was being delivered. There was a link. Then I realized I had no package coming from Fedex. Is there a way of telling where I will go if I click on a link?

Hover your mouse over every link you are going to click. Yes it is a pain. But if you are going to click on a link in an email or on the web, hover your mouse over the link before you click on it. You will see the actual URL that you will link to . The link or underlined link may be hiding the real link. By hovering over it you can see what the real URL is. If it is different or hinky don't click the link. Be very carefull. It is scary out there.'

Thursday, May 18, 2017

1801. Dealing with CloudBleed

I heard some scary stuff about another online breach, code-named CloudBleed. What's up with this? Do I need to do anything to deal with it?

When I first heard about cloud bleed a few days ago my heart just stopped. 

The answer is yes you need to be worried and you need to do something. The whole thing is based on a technology called Cloud Flare which is a tool that a lot of websites use to expose data that makes it possible for the Web site to do its job, but it's supposed to keep your credentials well secret. 

The problem is there is a bug in Cloud Flare that expose that information to the public world and a lot of passwords have been exposed and compromised. This bug this problem affects thousands of websites and you probably need to change your password on a number of different websites. 

Some of the affected sites include Yelp and other very big and famous websites. We have a link on our website which doesn't use Cloud Flare or I hope and it doesn't matter because you're not signing into it but in any case there is a link there which has an article which both lists all the websites that have been compromised and has a link to a website you can use to check and see if any particular website has been compromised.

I would say you're better off just changing every password you have but I know that's not possible so check out the link at our site and look to see if your sites that you use have been compromised and if so make sure you change your password on that site and please don't reuse the same password on multiple sites use a unique password on every public website.

1807. Hover taskbar icons

I hover my mouse over the icons on my taskbar. The thumbnail little windows open for 1 second and is hard to select one. Is there some way to have them stay open longer?

This will modify the Windows Registry. Making an error in doing this can cause Windows to not run. DO NOT do this without backing up your registry or if you are not experienced.

Today we are sharing a small registry trick which can be used to adjust the live preview delay time. You can set the delay time to 1000 milliseconds (or 1 second) to get the live previews faster.

So here we start the tutorial:

1. Type regedit in RUN or Start Menu Searchbox and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:


3. In right-side pane, create a new DWORD value ThumbnailLivePreviewHoverTime
4. Now you'll need to set its value to your desired delay time. Double-click on it and select "Base" as Decimal and enter the desired value. Remember the value should be given in milliseconds. Set the value to 1000 for best experience.

1806. Share email folder

How can I share an email folder with another Office 365 user.

  1. Right-click on your Mailbox name (e.g., Mailbox-Doe, Jane) and select Properties for "Mailbox - Doe, Jane".
  2. Select the Permissions tab.
  3. Select the Add button.
  4. Select the person you wish to give permission to from the address list and press the Add button.
  5. Press the OK button. 
  6. Click on the person's name and select the appropriate permissions from 'Permission Level:' drop down list (e.g., Owner, Contributor...). Reviewer rights are recommended at the Mailbox level. The option "Folder Visible" must be selected. 
  7. Click the OK button. 
  8. To share additional folders/subfolders, right-click on the folder or subfolder you wish to share and follow steps 2-7 above.
  9. To access another person's mailbox: Choose File | Account Settings.
  10. Select your Office 365 account and click the Change button.
  11. Click the More Settings button.
  12. Click the Advanced button.
  13. Under Mailboxes, 'Open these additional mailboxes:' click on the Add button and type the person's name in the window (e.g., Jane Doe), and click the OK button.
  14. Click the OK button.
  15. Ciick the Next buton.
  16. Click the Finish button.
  17. Restart Outlook.

1804. Signing into your email using Outlook error

I have been using Outlook 2016 for over a year. Now when I try to start Outlook I get a message say it can't start because the sign in value is bad. How can I get my email?

This can be a simple problem that is "your password expired" and you have to sign in using a browser to change it. This problem will not be "understood" by Outlook and may present itself as some other problem.

Given it is not an expired password, the other error may be the result of an corruption problem with the Outlook Profile that contains the account information you entered when you initially started Outlook. To fix this you want to Open the Control Panel, and look for the Mail icon. This will allow you to make a new profile and eliminate the corrupt profile.

Another option is to delete the old profile do a search for the Outlook version profile location using your search engine.

Or visit our blog for links.

1803. Surge Protectors. Any good?

We just had a major power outage and used the power strips surge protector. Two computers will not power up. And the printer is not working.

Now what?

The first thing is to get the power back and then go through the steps to determine why the printer will not start up.

I wouldn't put a lot of faith in the cheap surge protector that you bought and I wouldn't hold my breath hoping for getting the manufacturer to pay for a fix or a new printer. The main reason for our tip is to recommend you invest in a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). They offer much more protection from a power surge and additionally provide you with some time to manually or automatically shut down your computer. The can be bought for under $100 and if you want more battery power time you can spend more for more time before shutting down.

In any case they offer far better protection than from the $10 surge protectors that I have found to not work very well. Printers however are not that important to keep running on the battery so I would connect the printer to the non battery plug available on most UPS's. They provide the equivalent to a surge protector.

But are usually much more protecting than a cheap surge protector strip. Protect your computer and electronic equipment from power failures. Ken your not still holding your breath for that new printer?

1820. Winmail.dat extra file

What is this Winmail.dat file in some emails?

It seems like if you send an email with an attachment from Outlook 2013 or 2016 and your address is a address people receiving the email may get an attachment called winmail.dat and it can't be opened.

Most often the receiver is using MacMail.

You can prevent some of the problems by doing these steps.

  1. Click File in Outlook.
  2. Select Options.
  3. Go to the Mail category.
  4. Make sure HTML or Plain Text is selected for Compose messages in this format: under Compose messages.
  5. Now make sure Convert to HTML format or Convert to Plain Text format is selected for When sending messages in Rich Text format to Internet recipients: under Message format.
  6. Click OK.

But if you have an email address and use Outlook Mail on the Web account, winmail.dat attachments may be sent to people in your address book no matter what your Outlook options are set to. This is an issue with Outlook and Outlook Mail on the Web, and you will need for Microsoft to update the applications to for it to be resolved. So use another mail client other that the web bases client.

1819. Windows 10 activation

I always change computers and it is a pain to have to re-activate the Windows 10 license. Is there any other option?

Yes. The aniversary update allows you to connect your license to your MS account. This way if you change computers you can easily activate your Windows 10 license on your new computer.

Usually if you change the hard drive or the processor/motherboard Windows license is no longer valid. We always recommend doing an image copy of your computer when making changes. But if you have to replace your hard drive and you restore the image the license needs reactivation and you have to go through Microsoft hassles to do this.

Now with the Anniversary update if you use your MS account to sign in it is automatic. If you use a local account you need to go into settings and set things up. It is easy to do and worth the initial time. See the details on our web site or do a simple search on assigning your Windows 10 license to your MS account.

1818. Contractions made easy

I am not a good typist and on my iPhone I am terrible. One thing that always hate is going back and forth between alpha, and special characters. Have any suggestions?

One issue I always have trouble with is entering contractions. like we'll or it's because I have to go to the special characters screen.

Well instead all you need to do is add an extra last character. If you want to type we're all you need to do is add an extra last character. So type weree and it will make it we're. For it's type itss, and for we'll type welll.

This is just one of the great ways to make your typing easier on the iPhone. Another tip if you are typing a password with alphanumeric when you want to type a number click the numeric key and don't lift your finger just slide up to the number and release your finger. It will type the number and go back to the alpha key entries.

Sadly I never took a typing class so even if I am at a regular keyboard I have trouble typing. I still use three fingers on each hand and have to look at the keys most of the time.

1817. Computer Time

The clock on my Windows 10 computer is never correct. What can I do to make it accurate?

First check the battery in your computer. If this is run down it can cause some time errors. To determine if your onboard battery is low, turn the power off on your computer and restart it. If the battery is low you will see a warning when it initially starts.

You can usually get a new battery at most drug and food stores that carry camera and other specialty batteries. They are usually under $5. You do have to open your computer to replace the battery. If you do a search for battery replacement and you computer make/model you can find the instructions.

Also you can make your computer set it's time to the "world" time clocks. This will force your computer to always check the time and will keep the clock accurate. Do a search for setting your computer clock to internet time and you will find the simple instructions.

Here is a link

1816. Windows 10 upddates

I hear about the Windows 10 Anniversary and Creators update and all of the features. How can I determine if I have the upgrade and how can I get it if I don't?

Hold your Windows Key + R and type "winver" in the open windows and click OK. Version 1507 is the base, 1511 is the Novermber update, Anniversary is 1607, and Creators is 1703.

The first 2 digits is the year they were released and the next two digits the month. . You probably want to get the latest. You need to download it and upgrade.

Starting April 17 the Creators edition was available. Your copy of Windows will get eventually upgraded in a phased approach. Newer computers first. If you want it now go to .

You can download and update in place or create a USB thumb drive. Remember Backup an image first!!

1815. Simple web site editor

I have a simple Web site that uses HTML. Is there a good tool to help me manage this kind of web site?

Yes. There are tools available. Most of your Web hosting sites like, Network Solutions, Verio and the others have tools available to build some OK web sites. These tools have limitations but for basic sites they can do a good job.

Most of these web hosting sites also make available Word Press sites. Word Press is a fairly simple to use tool that can build some impressive web sites. is a web hosting site that also provides web tools. You do not need to know anything about HTML.

I think Sierra Stages uses Weebly to host their site. If you really want to be adventuresome there are two tools called spelled and These tools allow you to edit and build some very simple and complex web sites giving you an HTML editor that provides visual reflection of the site.

If you inherit an old web site in HTML these tools can make the maintenance of HTML a lot easier.

1814. Help Family Members Help Themselves

I seem to be destined to be the tech support guy for my family. My parents, siblings, and even distant relatives contact me looking for help. Most of the time, I simply perform a Google search for them and send them the results. It takes all my self control not to just say “Google is your friend,” and let them do the work. Do you have any suggestions on subtle (or not-so-subtle) ways I can show them how to find the answers themselves, rather than depending on me to search for them?
Oh, my. Do we feel your pain! We have spent our adult lives acting as lookup/search servers for our families and less-tech-oriented friends. Unlike you, however, we have often sent response emails including the link to perform the Google search along with the “Google is your friend” response. Some acquaintances might even have taken offense at the passive aggressive sarcasm.
So why not take it even further? Rather than doing the lookup for them and leaving the aggression passive aggressive, why not be even more explicit? The Internet, in its infinite wisdom, provides just the right tool for us unwilling family tech support specialists: (Let Me Google That For You, get it?). This site allows you to specify the search, and it creates an animated tutorial that shows neophytes exactly how to use a search engine to find the answers they seek. You send them the link that provides, and when the family members click the link, the site walks them through the steps of using a search engine to perform the search for them. You have lots of options: You can select a specific search engine, the domain to search (Web, images, videos, maps, and so on), and whether to include a very basic tutorial on how Web browsers work, in general (for the seriously technically impaired). You provide the specific search text they should enter, and ask the site to generate a link you can send in your response.

Give it a try: Go to, enter search text, generate the link, and browse to that link. You’ll be amused, we promise. Then send the link as a response to a request for support. Your family members will either thank you, laugh at you, or get angry at your sarcastic response. No matter what, you’re likely to get fewer tech support queries in the future, and you’ll have actually provided a useful response!

1813. Missing Font Scam

I was recently browsing the Web, and one page I displayed popped up a message that included the text "The 'HoeflerText' font wasn't found.” I clicked the button the message offered, and Chrome downloaded something, but now I’m worried that I downloaded something I shouldn’t have. Did I do something wrong?
Oops. You got bit by an ugly bit of malware, and we can only recommend that you take precautionary measures to clean your computer. This is a scam that currently targets Windows computers only, and only affects the Google Chrome browser. The malware rewrites the contents of the Web page so that it’s illegible, pops up a message directing the hapless user to download a missing font, and in downloading the specified file, installs malware on the local computer. This generally happens on compromised sites created using the extremely popular Wordpress site-creation software (and therefore could potentially affect millions of public Web sites). The real problem is that the error (an unreadable Web page) looks totally real, and the proposed solution looks credible.

Here’s the takeaway: Don’t ever download anything from a site that you don’t know and trust. If a site seems to require a font that you don’t have on your computer, just assume that it’s a scam, and say “no.”

1812. Google Personalized Ads

I know I’ve signed a “deal with the Devil” when I agree to use Google tools. I know that they track everything I do when using their search engine, and they scan every email that I send and receive using Gmail for their own nefarious purposes. What makes me nuts is when I’m browsing the Web and Google shows ads that relate to things I’m interested in, and things I’ve recently searched for. It’s just too creepy. Is there any way to turn this feature off?
We’re with you. We hate (really hate) seeing ads that track what we’ve recently searched for online. It’s scary and unpleasant. Unfortunately, there’s no way around ads on the Web—someone’s got to pay for all the free services (like Google’s search engine and email), but seeing them ostentatiously track what we’re doing online is just like a slap in the face; a little public pushdown reminding us that Google’s in charge.
So you can’t turn off the ads altogether, but Google does graciously allow you to allow them to serve ads that aren’t directly related to your online behavior. Turning this feature on requires a little effort, but it’s not too difficult.
First, in a browser, log into your Gmail account. Click the icon in the upper-right corner, and select My Account. In the Personal Info & Privacy section, select Ads Settings, then click Manage Ads Settings. Locate the Ads Personalization option, and toggle it off. That’s it!
It may take a while (a long while, perhaps) for personalized ads to slowly disappear. As Google states, you’ll still see ads, they’ll just be of less use to you. You’ll no longer be able to block or mute some ads. Ads may be based on the subject of the Web page you’re viewing, and topics saved in your Ads Settings will be removed.

All in all, you suffer through ads no matter how this setting is configured; by disabling personalized ads, you pay a price a different way. You can try it and choose for yourself. We have turned off personalized ads, just because it feels a tiny bit cleaner. Now to convince Facebook to stop showing us ads from the item we’ve just searched for on! That’s just plain scary!

1811. Messages Interface in iOS

I have a new iPhone 7, and I’m having a weird problem with using the Messages app. It used to work such that after I typed a message, I pressed the send button and the text sent. Now, I see a secondary screen that asks if I want to send the message with the options titled Slam, Loud, Gentle, or Invisible Ink. The screen also shows options at the top titled Bubble and Screen. What’s up with this stupid stuff? I don’t want to do anything except send my message. Can I turn this off?
Clearly, Apple feels that Messages is used mostly by teens who like the option to send messages using fun effects, such as having the text slam into place on the receiving end. And they’re probably right. But us more mature folks simply want to use the messaging features without any fancy visual additions. You can, of course, but you’ve missed one important difference between older phones and the iPhone 7 (actually, this feature appeared in the iPhone 6 Plus).
The new feature is 3D Touch: If you press harder on the screen, different things happen. This feature is awesome in some situations—it makes it simple to press hard on an icon on the screen, and have a menu of options you’re most likely going to want to accomplish pop up. For example, hard press on the Mail icon, and you’ll get options that include New Message, making it quick and easy to create a new message without waiting for the Mail app to load.
The problem is that 3D Touch is getting in your way. Rather than just tapping the Send button, you’re pressing it too hard, so it goes into its 3D Touch mode. This mode is, as you’ve guessed, the mode you’re seeing, with all the frivolous messaging options you’ve complained about. The answer is simple: Touch the button, don’t press it. That will solve the problem.

If you want to turn off the feature, we’re sorry to say that there isn’t an option. You can disable the effects on incoming messages (Settings->General->Accessibility->Reduce Motion->Reduce Motion (turn the setting on). Turn off Auto-play Message Effects. But you’ll still see the options for messages you send. Really, the answer is to be gentler as you type. Hopefully, Apple will provide some way to avoid the option altogether when sending texts, but it’s not there yet.

1810. Spam Mobile Phone Calls

I seem to be getting an increasing number of spam calls on my mobile phone. It’s not like I pay for each call, so it’s not the cost that matters, its the intrusion on my privacy and the energy wasted in dealing with the calls. Is there any sane way to block these calls?
We’ve certainly discussed this issue previously here, but there is new news in this area. The simplest solution is to not answer any call with blocked caller ID, or caller ID that you don’t recognize. If you don’t know them, they can leave voicemail, right? The problem is that this solution won’t work for everyone—some folks can’t simply disregard calls, as they might be important personal or business calls.
We’ve mentioned it before, but if you have a modern version of Android or iOS, you can install the Hiya app. This free application maintains a database of fraudulent numbers, and alerts you when a call from one comes in. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s free and it works most of the time. There are better solutions, but they cost money: For example, the Nomorobo app, currently available only for iOS, costs $1.99 per month. This app does a better job than Hiya, we’ve been told, and may be worth the monthly cost if you’re getting too many irritating spam calls.

If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you’re in luck! (We know that not many readers are T-Mobile customers, as T-Mobile has little presence in Nevada County. Ken uses their service, and is quite happy with the price and features they offer.) Starting in April 2017, T-Mobile is offering free spam call ID and blocking. The call ID feature pops up an alert when you get a call from a known spammer; the call block feature totally blocks those calls, so you never even know you got them. You do need to manually enable the feature, so if you’re using T-Mobile (or MetroPCS, their cheaper brand), you can dial #664# to enable Scam ID, #662# to enable Scam Block, #632# to disable Scam Block, and #787# to check Scam Block enabled status. These are solid, useful features, and we’re glad that at least one carrier is providing them—maybe they’ll shame the other three big US carriers into including similar functionality!

1809. Delete a Facebook Post

Last week, I posted on Facebook and then a few days later, realized that I really shouldn’t have posted the information. I couldn’t find a way to delete the posting, and now I’m in trouble. Did I miss something obvious? Can you, in fact, delete a Facebook posting?

We are not fans of Facebook (old guys, as a rule, don’t “get” social media) but we can see your concern! It was a big darned deal with Ken’s niece announced she was pregnant on Facebook, before telling her parents! Yikes. That was ugly!

What we learned there is that there is such a thing as “too much sharing,” and yes, you can (and often should) delete Facebook posts. The answer is really quite simple, and it’s consistent across all Facebook platforms. If you locate an post you’ve made, click the down-arrow in the upper-right corner of the message. From the drop-down menu that appears, select the Delete option. Once you do that, your post will be deleted from your Timeline and from any of your friends’ feeds. If your friends shared your post, it will no longer be available online. There’s nothing you can if people copied/pasted your post, however. Good luck with that!

We’re wondering if it’s time for Ms. Online Manners to have a word about what’s appropriate to be posted on Facebook (or other public media). There’s no guide for what’s acceptable or even reasonable, so we’ll stay out of it. Think twice, however, about posting life-altering events (marriages, pregnancies, and so on) without telling your immediate family IRL (in real life) first. They’ll appreciate the notice.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

1797. What is a good password - repeat

IThe current strories about using good passwords is still critical. Please give us the tip again on what constitutes a good versus bad password?

We've gone on over and over the years about how one should use a password manager to ensure that you don't repeat passwords from one site to another, and I'm sure maybe one person in the world actually does this. 

We try but it's difficult to succeed.  But the fact is there are many passwords that are super popular and you should never consider using them.  We have a link on our website to one list of such passwords including the most popular - one two three four five six.  The second most popular, the word "password".  I like the one - "Let me in".  It's a great password.  Don't use it.  Don't use any of the popular passwords. 

Instead you want to mixture of upper and lower case letters numbers and symbols, if your website accepts symbols.  In addition many websites and programs allow you to include spaces in your passwords.  So that you can include phrases.  Not just single words.  Making it more difficult for a password hacker to get into your account. 

Whatever you do, make sure you don't use any of that passwords we post on our website, and come up with creative solutions for creating pass phrases.  Instead of passwords.

1805. High Data usage

I got a notice that my cell phone carrier was charging for additional data storage. I never use this. All my data usage is turned off. How/what is causing this?

iPad/Mac uses iPhone personal Hotspot even if you have Hotspot turned off. If your cell provider allows you to have a personal Hotspot and your data usage is being used yet you have the Hotspot turned off and all your devices have cell data turned off there are some providers that will force the Hotspot to be turned on and use it for data.

Lets say your iPad says to use Wi-Fi and it is signed into the same iCloud account as your iPhone. The iPad will force a connection to your iPhone and turn on Hotspot functions and then connect to your iPhone hotspot. There doesn't seem to be a way to turn off this "feature". Except to not have the iPad or other device log into the iCloud account.

1808. Used Computers - Where?

Help out beautiful Nevada County. Doug I hear you can find some great used computers, monitors for great prices. Where can I get some of these Bargains?

The Nevada County warehouse at 49 and Bloomfield has many used computers, monitors, switches and other computer related goodies that they no longer use and you can go there on Friday's from 12-1 and buy them. Bring a check or cash and give the place a look. The computers do not have an operating system, but they have plenty of life left in them. I have gotten a number of them and they all seem great. They have office furniture and other things. Visit the warehouse and see if you can find something you need.

1802. Use a Very Old Laptop

I have a very old laptop that’s just sitting in a closet that’s basically valueless in terms of resale value. I’d love to be able to use it in the kitchen for basic Web browsing, watching videos, and streaming music, but it’s just too old to run any modern version of Windows. Is there anything I can do with it?

Well, join the club! We each have a stack of old laptops (I seem to collect them like baseball cards), and we, too, were looking for something to do with them. One day, the answer appeared in our Inbox: A friend sent a link describing how you can install a very light-weight, Linux-based operating system on an old laptop, and it’s trivial to install and configure. The operating system was originally built for the Raspberry Pi, a tiny, $35 computer that a lot of hobbyists have adopted for home-based projects. Given the information in the article, you can easily download the operating system, copy it to a USB stick, and either run it from the USB device or install it on the laptop’s hard drive: []. If you have any interest in experimenting with the old computer, and have an hour to kill, it’s certainly worth a try. It’s free, simple, and might breathe some new life into that ancient laptop! If you have a little more interest, you can also dig into installing a full copy of Linux on the laptop. Linux tends to run on lighter-weight hardware than does Windows, and it, too, is free. You can find more information about installing Linux here: [].

1800. Work Safely in Public

I do a lot of my consulting work in public places, and confess that when it’s convenient, I’ll stop in the local coffee shop to catch up on email, pay bills, check to see if I’ve been paid yet, and more. The problem is that I’m getting worried about using public WiFi networks for my private data. Am I right to worry, and if so, what can I do about it?

You should not, ever, use a public network to conduct private business. It is all too easy for folks looking to do you harm to snoop on your WiFi traffic, sniff out passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive data, and otherwise steal from you. So what’s the answer? Should you just never use public WiFi for anything except texting and innocuous emailing? That’s not necessarily so, but you’ll need some help to make public WiFi use safe. The answer is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), a software tool that basically provides you a private network over public infrastructure. Unless your company provides a private VPN for your use, you'l need to find a commercially available VPN, and turn it on whenever you’re working, using the Web, in public. There are, to be honest, a zillion options for commercial VPN vendors, and some are more trustworthy than others. Remember: the VPN vendor is routing all your public Web traffic through their servers, so if you sign up with a VPN vendor that’s less than reputable, it’s possible that you’re just as vulnerable (or more) than you were without them. Our current favorite is a vendor and product named TunnelBear. (VPN’s create a logical “tunnel” for your data through the public internet transport, hence the name.) Their prices are great and they’re rock solid and reliable. TunnelBear has VPN hookup software available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS. Most importantly (besides being safe), TunnelBear is super easy to use, and won’t get in your way. And their cute little bear animations help out in easing the installation and use of what could otherwise be a complex tool. Check out for more information.

1799. Easy Way to Check Internet Connection Speed

I live in a rural area, and pay dearly for Internet service that is, at best, somewhat unreliable. I pay a lot (did I mention that?) and want to make sure that if I’m not getting the speed offered by my ISP, I can let them know. I know about some Web pages that can test this for me, but I was hoping to find an application I can run from my Mac desktop. Can you recommend something?

One of our favorite sites for checking Internet speed is , or the Flash-free version at And yes, you can use the Web-based tool, but if you check often, it can be a drag to have to open a browser, or a new tab in an open browser, browse to the correct site, and run the test. Taking all of this into account,’s creators, the company named Ookla, created apps for both Windows 10 and Mac OS X. These apps run on the desktop, provide the same information as the Web apps, and also make it easy to share the results via several different transports, including email, from within the apps. The Windows 10 app is available from the Windows Store . Search in the Windows Store for Speedtest by Ookla. The Mac OS X application is available in the Mac App Store—again, search for Speedtest by Ookla. The Windows app works like any other application; the Mac app runs from the menu bar. In each case, start the app, click the Go button, and await the results. Once you get your (hopefully, adequate) results, click the Share button (looks like a rectangle with an upwards arrow) at the top of the window, and select the mechanism by which you want to share your results. This isn't an essential app, but if you find yourself checking your speed regularly, it's really useful.

1798. Create a List of All Installed Applications

I’m running Windows 10, and recently bought a new computer. I’d like to be able to create a list of all the applications installed on my current computer, so I can easily install them again on the new computer. Some of the applications come from the Internet, and some I install from DVDs. Is there some application that can create this list for me?

This is a question we deal with ourselves with some regularity. Every time we set up a new computer, we need to install a base set of applications, and don’t want to forget something important. There are a number of ways to get a list of installed applications in Windows, but there’s one really simple, free way to get what you need. The trick is to make use of a great, free application that we have discussed in previous tips: CCleaner . Besides providing great tools for cleaning the contents of your Windows installation, CCleaner also provides a great uninstall tool—it can easily uninstall any application that you have installed. As part of the uninstallation tool, CCleaner provides an option to save the list of installed applications to a text file. Select Tools, then Uninstall, then, in the lower-right corner, select Save to text file. Given that text file, you’re all set—you know what applications are installed on the current computer, and you can use that list to install the same set of applications on the new computer. Beware: If you’re creating the list because you’re reformatting the current computer, remember that reformatting will erase the list you’ve just created! Make sure you save it to a USB stick, or print it out before formatting, so you can use it when re-installing all the necessary applications.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

1787. Computer Virus scam

We got an email from a listener recently, and it was very upsetting. Can you tell the story and provide some information?

So here's the tale of woe. This person had gone to visit a website, a normal website, but instead of getting to the website what they saw instead was a dialog box that said "Call this number you've been infected with a virus". 

They called the number, they gave their credit card to the person on the other end of the phone who told them they would fix the problem and then, granted remote access to their computer to this stranger. 

First of all all the red flags should go up at this point you should never give your credit card number to someone you call over the phone unless you know who they are and certainly you should never give a credit card number to anyone who calls you over the phone. In addition you should never grant remote access to your computer to anyone unless you know them well. 

In this case the person they gave remote access rights to just actually did infect their computer with a virus. Until that point all they had done is lost money. Now they were actually infected with the virus that was put there by this criminal at the other end of the phone. 

The moral of the story is if you see a dialog box that says "you've been infected call this number to get fixed" just turn your computer off, end of story. When you boot it back up everything should be fine. Don't fall for this scam. Don't call anyone, don't give me your credit card number. Don't give them remote access just turn off your computer.

1788. Router slowing down?

My home network's router works pretty well, most of the time. Occasionally, it seems to run really slowly and a reboot fixes the problem. Is there an easy way I can cause it to reboot at a regular interval, perhaps during the night when no one is accessing the internet?

In a perfect world, this wouldn't be necessary your router wouldn't get slow and it wouldn't need a reboot. But it's just a little computer and like any other computer can get itself into a state when it might need to be rebooted. 

You would think there would be something built into the router software that would say reboot me every day or two but there's not not in any home router I've ever seen. 

The alternative is really simple you go to the hardware store you get one of those electric lamp timers that has little buttons you can choose to indicate when you wanted to be on and off and you just set it to be off for a few minutes once a day by moving the pegs the right way. It seems like a really low tech solution but it really works.

That way if your router is off for a few minutes every day it comes back on it reboots, and it gets a chance to reset itself so that it never turns out to be slow because it needs to be rebooted.