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Saturday, April 14, 2018

1909. Get postal mail information.

My mailbox is down the road from my house, and some days, I just don’t feel like going out to check the mail. It would be so cool if there was some way to receive an email that would notify me of what’s in my mailbox, so I wouldn’t have to trek down there if there wasn’t mail to pick up. Am I just dreaming?

We both have long walks to a mailbox as well it's just too much work to trudge down to the mailbox to find nothing there. Although a little more exercise probably wouldn't hurt either of us.

Luckily the U.S. Postal Service makes this easy. They have a new service named "informed delivery" which you can find .

Once you set it up and it's free you get an email every day with a photo of what's going to appear in your mailbox. The U.S. Postal Service doesn't open your mail it just photos the outside as it marks it for delivery. The package list is also available and it includes tracking information. Informed delivery isn't available for everyone or everywhere but it certainly works great for me personally and I would recommend it highly I get in the mail every morning with information about what's going to appear in my mailbox. So I know whether or not I should make the trek

1905. Convert Phone audio to stereo

Over the years, I’ve subscribed to a number of email lists that I’d prefer to no longer hear from. I get far too much political and sales emails. I know I could unsubscribe from each manually, but is there some tool I can use to take care of this for me?

This question hits close to home because I am also in the nearly one hundred percent deaf in one ear because of a sudden hearing loss in my forties.

So I feel your pain on this. Listening to stereo audio and headphones is a pain because some dialogue is in the wrong ear and you can't hear it. All modern smartphones include an option to combine both stereo channels into a single channel sending the same information to both ears. To find this look for your devices accessibility settings. Look at the option there to convert audio to mono.

On I O. S. select settings, then general, then accessibility, then turn on Mono audio. That's all you have to do.

I tried it on an Android phone and there was a similar setting under accessibility. If you need to use it with just one earpiece or you want both your pieces to play the same audio This trick is for you.

1910. Facebook privacy issues

Retrieve Facebook Data

I’ve heard a lot about Facebook and its use (or misuse) of my personal data. I’m a little uncomfortable posting anything, liking anything, or even responding to anything there, because of this data use. What do you recommend we do to safeguard our information?
Clearly, Doug and Ken are not Facebook fans. It’s possible/probable that we’re too old to really “get” social media, but we try. We really do. And Ken even bought into it for a while and posted a lot of personal stuff on Facebook. He “liked” a lot of things, posted personal information, enjoyed getting birthday greetings on the special day, posted notices about important life events, and more. But no longer.
As it has become clear that the folks at Facebook have no idea how to control the data that we post online, it’s also clear to us that Facebook is not a good place to post personal information. For example, if some nefarious character was looking for information about you, that person might start by looking at Facebook to retrieve your birthdate; given that information, the crook could start digging into other online records to find important personal information that identifies you.
So what do we suggest? Well, perhaps we’re a bit too paranoid, but we’d start by deleting all personal information, such as your birthday, school, work, and marital status. (And yes, we’ve done this.) Although this action doesn’t help with prior data scraping from Facebook, it makes it impossible for future information gathering to happen.
To get start, in a Web browser, head to, and click the little triangle in upper-right corner of the Facebook page. Select Settings. Look for your personal settings to remove all the personal info. In addition, in the Apps settings, turn off all Websites, Apps, and Games (and don't use them). Yes, we know that farm game was fun, but is it worth distributing even a tiny bit of information to those folks bent on stealing information about you from Facebook?
In the Security and Login section, make sure all information is available only to you, or to friends.
Finally, although it won’t help with data breaches, it’s useful to know what Facebook “knows” about you. Under the General settings, select Download a Copy of your Facebook data. You'll get two emails: One to confirm that Facebook is preparing your data, and another to let you know when the download is ready. In the second email, click the link to download your data. In the downloaded data, click on the index.html file to load it in a browser--this shows what Facebook knows about you. This information includes anything you’ve posted online, any photos you have uploaded, and more. If you uploaded a lot of data, the download can be quite large, so be prepared to wait. You may be surprised at how much Facebook has on you.
If you love Facebook, feel free to stay involved. But please, take a moment and clean up your security settings and remove any non-essential information. Do it before the next big data breach.

1908. Disk storage full - Windows? Delete System32 Folder?

Delete System32 Folder?

My computer’s storage is getting nearly full, and I thought I would clear some space by removing stuff I don’t need. I ran across a very large folder named System32—it’s just chock full of stuff that I didn’t put there. Can I remove it to regain the space it’s consuming?
Should you delete the System32 folder in Windows? Here are two simple answers: a) You shouldn’t, and b) You can’t. The System32 folder contains a ton of internal files and programs that Windows needs in order to operate. If you try to delete it, or its contents, you'll get warnings and errors indicating that you can't delete the files. If you are persistent and override the security settings of the files so you can delete them, you'll watch Windows slowly die as files get deleted. (Think of the scene in the movie 2001 where the computer, HAL, has his memory wiped as he sings "Daisy, Daisy." It's the same thing, really.)
If you really need to clean up some hard drive space, look for videos or large downloads—those are the files that take up a lot of space. Large backups can consume a lot of hard drive space, as well. Remember that storage space is different from the amount of memory in your computer, and the amount of consumed memory. Running a lot of programs concurrently consumes your RAM (Random Access Memory) but this has nothing to do with your amount of disk-based storage.
We've mentioned it before but look for the application named WinDirStat on the Web. It's free, and immensely useful for determining what's taking up your hard drive space. You can find it online at, and you should check it out if you need to clean up your disk storage.
In any case, don't even think about deleting the System32 folder. Yes, it’s a large folder, but deleting it won't help, and it won't work.

1907. Expand Shortened Links

You recently ran a tip describing how to hover over a link in email or on a Web site to determine where that link will actually go, and that was a really useful tip. Sometimes, however, I get links that are compressed, or shortened or something. I get links from or—clearly, these are obfuscating the destination URL. How can I preview where these links will take me without actually going there? I want to ensure the links are safe before clicking.
You are so correct: You should never click a link you don’t trust, and you should never, ever click a shortened link (like the ones you mentioned, and there are many others: and are the ones we see most often, along with For these shortened links, unless you’re really sure you’re getting the link from someone you know you can trust, you should preview the link.
What is a shortened URL, anyway? Rather than including long URLs in article, emails, and Web sites; it’s far simpler to replace the URL with a shortened, or compressed, version. You can find many online services that take a URL, store away its value, and provide you with a short version. These services maintain a reference to the original URL, allowing you to use the shortened version in its place. For example, here’s a URL to an item on, no one can type that URL to find the item to which we’re referring.On the other hand, the shortened version might look like this: Go ahead, look it up: We’re sure you’ll be jumping all over the opportunity to purchase this useful item.
So how do you preview the URL without actually going to the page? Like in so many other places, the “devil is in the details.” Each different URL-shortening service provides a means of doing this, but each one is different. One thing is for sure, however: As we said, unless you trust the source of the shortened URL, do not click it. Instead, copy it (or type it from scratch into the URL bar on a browser). Don’t press Enter, however. Each URL-shortening provider allows you to type something at the end of the URL to preview it. For example, adding a “+” after the URL takes you to a description page (that is, type for our previous example). works the same way. For, add the word preview in front of the URL.
For more information on previewing shortened URLs, check out this page: You’ll find everything you need to know about the topic there.

1906. Easily Unsubscribe from Mailing Lists

Over the years, I’ve subscribed to a number of email lists that I’d prefer to no longer hear from. I get far too much political and sales emails. I know I could unsubscribe from each manually, but is there some tool I can use to take care of this for me?
We certainly understand your frustration here. During the 2016 election cycle, Ken signed up for a bajillion email newsletters to keep track of everything, and at this point, would prefer to hear nothing at all about anything. He found a useful tool to clean out his inbox, and has given it a try. It works!
First of all, understand that you never want to click an Unsubscribe link in spam emails: Doing so just alerts the sender that there’s a human at the receiving end of the email. For spam, you’re better off using spam filtering in your email client to rid your inbox of the messages.
On the other hand, for legitimate emails that you’d just prefer to no longer receive, you can and should click the Unsubscribe link to remove yourself from the distribution list. If you have just a few, you can do this manually. If you’ve gone overboard, however, you may need some help automating this.
We’ve run across several “unsubscribe” services over the years, but a new one, available for free at, works the best of any we’ve seen with the least intrusion into your life.
Once you sign up at, you grant the site access to your email inbox; it creates a new folder named Unsubscribe. For any email list you’d like to unsubscribe from, drag an email to the Unsubscribe folder, and the service takes care of the rest. That’s it. You can re-subscribe if you want, but in general, the service removes you from the email list.
Unsubscriber works with pretty much any of the most popular email providers (Gmail, Outlook, Office365, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo), but there’s a down side, and it’s a big one: You have to give the service access to your email inbox. If you’re not comfortable with that, you won’t want to use the service. On the other hand, they promise (really) that they won’t look at any folder except the Unsubscribe folder. This is a tough decision, but one you’ll need to make. Ken bought into it, and believes that the service is honest.
If you find that you need help managing all your email newsletters, give Unsubscriber a try by visiting It definitely does what it sets out to do: You just need to determine if the service is worth the trust you must grant it.

1914. Wireless printer goes offline

My wireless printer seems to go offline offen and I can't connect.  I have to re-install it.  What can I do?

The most common reason your wireless printer stops working is the result of the use of Dynamic IP addresses.

Lots of Blah, blah, balh words. But these are important.

When you get your wireless printer, the setup is usually fast and easy. This is because the printer setup system uses dynamic IP addressing. Each device on your internal network needs an address to be able to talk to the world. Your internal network has it's own set of private addresses that are differnent from the outside (internet) world.

That little black box your ISP gave you (modem, router) translates your internal and external addresses . Thank goodness. Dynamic address expire after a number of days and the black box gives out a new address (usually the same as the previous one). This is where the problem occurs.

Sometime (not often) this IP address may change and can cause the printer to no longer work. The best way to stop the problem is to give the printer a FIXED IP address. This process is different on all printers so you need to find the instructions for your printer. The other wrinkle is using an IP address that is not used by any other device on your network. Also not a hard task but is necessary.

You need to access your black box gizmo from your ISP to find the available fixed IP addresses. If you are not having the lost printer problem while using a wireless printer then nothing needs to be done.

But if you are taking the time to set up a fixed wireless IP address for your printer will take only 5+ minutes and is well worth the energy.

1911. After 1709 upgrade program start after boot.

I upgraded my Windows 10 computer to the 1709 Creators update. Now programs keep starting up when I start Winwods for no reason. Not in my startup folder.

After your computer does an upgarde to the Fall Creators update 1709 some programs that you do not have identified to automatically start suddenly are starting automatically after you reboot.

You can look at the Startup tasks by opening the Task Manager (right click on the task bar and select Task Manager). Select More Details, and then the Startup tab.

Here you will see the list of programs that Windows starts for you automatically. But those programs you are having issues with starting aren't listed. Well it turns out the 1709 update tries to help you out by restarting programs that you left running when the computer shuts down. Nice feature if that is what you want. Not so much if you don't. So what to do.

Well currently there does not seem to be the ability to automatically not restart these programs you have left running. You can however set up a special Shutdown command. First try this. Open a Command window. Remember that old DOS window. Then type shutdown -t 0 -s and hit enter. This will shutdown all the applications before shuting down the computer. When you restart only the desired applications will reopen. If this is how you want things to work, set up this shutdown command as a shortcut and use it when you want to shutdown. This of course will not resolve things when the computer shuts down without your desire. But it is likely when this happens you do want the programs to restart.

Hopefully they will add an option to resolve this new "feature". We will let you know.

1912. Hidden WIFI SSID's

I have heard about Hidden WIFI networks. Why and how/what should I do about them?

Hidden WIFI Names are simply that. WIFI names that will not appear in your list but in fact are available if you know the exact name and password.

First you might ask why? Well it is primarily availalble for security. Let's talk about your WIFI network at home. You see your SSID (Service SET IDentifier = Name of the WIFI) and so does everyone else within range. If they know something about you they may be able to guess your password. And please tell me you have a good password. Like the dogs name you yell outside your door so everyone can hear.

Well if you create the WIFI SSID name as Hidden then no one including yourself can even try to access your WIFI without knowing the exact name. You can because you didn't name it after your CAT.

All you do to access it is choose Other Name/Hidden name on your device and you will enter the WIFI name and then your password. Hopefully they won't guess both. The way you initially specify the Hidden SSID name is different on your WIFI devices.

To specify the hidden SSID on your do a search for hidden SSID and your device name. You only have to do this once, so it is not painful. It will also give you better security, and it will stop those strange cars parked outside your house from using your WIFI internet access and are watching their favorite Netflix movies or gosh knows what.

This is especially important if you are paying for usage. If you use your smartphone as a hotspot this is especially important. However at the time of this writing the iPhone does not offer hiding the hotspot SSID. Some Andoid devices allow this, some do not. I suggest hiding your SSID on all of your WIFI AP's. ALSO USE A complex password.

If the hiding the SSID is a problem when you have guests, you can set up a "Guest" SSID that will limit users that use this AP to only being able to access the internet. They cannot access any device on your network. This is a good idea regardless of using hidden SSID's. OK I have said SSID too many times.

1913. What are Service Providers?

Some ask about who should use as their ISP, ESP, WSP, all of those SP's. What are SP's and why?

Well we need to start at the beginning. The SP portion stands for Service Provider.

The first letter is the type of service. Depending on where you are and what device you are using gives clarity to the exact type and name of service. Let's start with "I" the "I" is for Internet. If you are at home using your computer with your ATT, Comcast, Greater Broadband then your ISP Internet Service Provider is that service ATT or Comcast.

If you are using your cell phone without WIFI then your ISP is your cell phone carrier.

The other "SP's" like "E" is for Email (SBCGlobal, yahoo, gmail, Office 365), "W" is for WEB who is hosting your private web site.

If you don't have your own private domain name like you normally don't care about those WSP's. If you do have your own domain then you have it registered somewhere like NetworkSolutions, Godaddy, TuCows (yes TuCows), Bluehost and others.

But you don't need to use the same place the domain name is registered to host your email or web services. Techtipguys recommend using either Office365 or Google Busines email to host your email. For Web there are many.

If you use any free email services we recommend or We strongly recommend not using your ISP's email address like It is not their business and it is just not secure.

So SP's are important. Remember to be sure you know which one you are using and for what purpose.

1915. UNSEND an Email

I have sometimes started to respond to a message and forgot who the message was going to. And I said some things I shouldn't have. I click send and suddenly remember it is going to more people than I wanted. How can I "UNSEND".

Well sadly there is no "UNSEND" command. However if you use an email application like Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac Mail or others vs. using a browser you have options. These applications have various ways to at least give you some time to go into the applications and stop the actual send process.

Outlook as an example allows you to create "Rules". I have set up a rules that say for each email I tell it to send, it will store the email in the Outbox folder for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes the system will automatically send the email. You can control the number of minutes to pause before sending.

If you want the email to be sent without this delay I set up the rule to ignore the delay if I mark the message as important. It will then be sent when I click on the send button.

If I decide to stop the email from being sent within the time delay, I go to the Outbox folder and can delete, modify the email. Most of your other email applications have similar options that will provide your with the "UNSEND" feature you desire. Do a search for your email application and UNSEND or delay send, or some other text string that will accomplish your indecision.

Outlook -

GMAIL -!topic/gmail/ufA1WZgdSlo

1916. Windows 10 1709 Creator Update causing freezes restarts.

It continues to restart or just Freezes. Help

Actually there are a number of different ways this update may raise a problem. Restarting randomly is one. Another prominent problem is the computer seems to freeze at the point it is logging you on to Windows. Your name appears and that pesky little circle of dots that rotate suddenly stops and you have no keyboard or mouse access. You try to force the power off by holding the power button and then turning it back on. Same results.

Usually to resolve thing problem all you need to do is to back off that update that took place last night. But how do you get access to do this. Well magic comes to mind.

Calling support or trying the following: You want to get to a screen that allows you to boot with advanced options. Depending on your computer this will vary. When the initial manufacturer splash screen appears start to press the ESC, F2, F8, F10, or Del key repeatedly. The specific key will vary my manufacturer. Do a search for your make/model and "interrupt boot for advanced options. This is the most difficult part.

After the initial special screen comes up Choose Advanced Options, and on one of the options you will see an option that will allow you to go back to a restore point. DO NOT CHOOSE TO restore your system to the initial state!!! Choose the last restore point done, and continue. It usually takes 15-30 minutes to finally allow you to log in.

If you are able to login to your computer and want to back up to a previous Restore Point it is lots easier. Again do a search for your operating system and go back to a previous restore point.

You know we always recommend IMAGE backups. Even if your computer isn't able to boot and log you in, if you have image backup software and created a proper thumb drive boot device, you should also do a special backup before trying the restore point in case the restore point fails. Also if you have a backup like we recommend and a Windows update messed up your computer you can restore your computer to a backup prior to the update.

Another good reason to listen to Ken and Doug and backup, backup, and backup again. .