Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recovery Disk Sets

It is a very good idea to have a bootable recovery disk set. Unfortunately, if you try to make your own, you get a message saying that there is not sufficient room on the device you are using ... even though there actually is. Rather than fool around trying to make your own, you can order a recovery disk set from the manufacturer of your computer at a nominal cost (around $15).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Printing Huge Posters at Home for Free

Tired of paying museum prices to decorate your home.  Turn your favorite photos into custom posters with BlockPosters. Simply upload your photo. The site blows it up and cuts it into page-sized sections. Download a PDF file with the sections and print them. A little trimming, gluing and taping, and you're done. You can make a 2-foot poster, a 15-foot poster or anything in between. Have fun decorating!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pulse/Readability Partnership

Pulse (http://www.pulse.me/) takes your favorite websites and displays them as a colorful interactive mosaic on your iPhone, iPad or Android device, and has become one of the most popular apps. Today, it got even better because you can add the Readibility Reading List inside of Pulse. Also, you can scan the best content on the web and save interesting stuff for later, all in one place. Finally,Pulse has adopted Readability’s world-class parser to enhance the reading experience for all of their millions of users.

Conversions Made Easy

If you need to do a conversion, say metric to inches (e.g., when shopping for a monitor, you will see that many monitor specs are given in millimeters), no need to search for a converter. Just open Google or Bing and type in the number you want converted (e.g., 301 mm) and the scale you want the conversion to equal (e.g., = inches), hit Search and the first line will give you the conversion (301 millimeters = 11.8503937 inches).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Wonders of Re-Booting

When you have any kind of computer hiccup, the first fix to try is to reboot. For example, if you take your printer off-line to clean it, and it does not work upon reconnecting, rebooting your computer often will restore the connection. Likewise, if you have an internet outage, and your ISP pings your modem to reset it, you still might have no internet connection because your modem has lost contact with your router. A reboot of your router (done simply by pulling the power cord, waiting 10 seconds, and replacing the power cord) will restore your internet connection. If your printer is in sleep mode but doesn't wake up on a print command, rebooting the printer (turning it off and then back on) usually will fix the problem. In sum, when something goes awry with your computer, think re-boot, and any component of your computer system can and might need to be re-booted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

If You Are Curious About Windows 8

If you're still using Windows XP, except for losing Outlook Express, you are in for a real treat when you go to Windows 7. Late this year, Windows 8 will be out. If you would like to see what Windows 8, which will be out late this year, is going to look and feel like, Metro7 will give you the means to do so.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Free Email Backup

Few consumers realize that their emails often are not being protected adequately. And, if a webmail provider has a sudden outage, few realize that they may lose access to their emails indefinitely. That is one reason why MailStore has introduced MailStore Home for personal use – helping home users to backup, archive and migrate their emails, free of charge. For more independence and  better safety. Also, by storing your email other than on your computer, you don't have to be torn between keeping all your emails and clogging your computer and keeping your computer less cluttered but deleting an email you might want for future reference.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Free Movie Download Sites

http://www.bigfiveglories.com/  Black and white classics.

http://www.classiccinemaonline.com/  Classics as well but also in color and serials.

http://www.crackle.com/c/Movies  Art films, comedies, anime, cult, and more.

http://resources.ushmm.org/film/search/simple.php  History documentaries sponsored by the Holocaust Museum and brought to you by Stephen Spielberg.

Free Genealogy Sites

WeRelate.com is a wiki site similar to Wikipedia with the focus on family research.  Like Wikipedia anyone with an account can make corrections or edits.  The overall mission is to create a unified family tree by a collaborative effort. 

Ancestry.com provides  a forum for uploading and entering your information online.  You can upload and download GEDCOM files.  People list view. Custom facts. Prompts for location. Can attach photographs and documents. Relationship calculator.

Family Pursuit does suppress living individuals.  You can find duplicates and can manually merge people including trees submitted by other users. Decent source templates. Ability to bookmark individuals. Individual view.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Keeping Desktop Icons in Place

Sometimes when you turn the computer on in the morning, you find that the icons have re-arranged themselves on the desktop. Perhaps they went out partying the night before and have forgotten where they are supposed to return to on the desktop. Also, this will invariably happen if you have a laptop that you connect a monitor to but disconnect the laptop from the monitor to travel with and then come home and re-connect it. Fortunately, there is an excellent free program (Desktop Restore) that will let you "save" and "restore" your desktop icon placement in one click.


PS: I have tried other such free programs, and even a program that cost $5, and found Desktop Restore not only to be the easiest to use, but also the most stable and reliable.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Changing Default Desktop Icons

Right clicking on an empty space on the desktop, and clicking on Personalize, will give the option to "change desktop icons." There are five that you can check to have appear on your desktop or uncheck to have not appear: Computer, User Files, Network, Recycle Bin, and Control Panel. If you want one of those desktop icons but want to change the icon itself, and it won't let you (i.e., there is not option when you right click on the icon and bring up Properties), right click on the icon and send a shortcut to the desktop, which will let you change the icon. Then delete the original icon and uncheck its box.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Good Free Photo Editor

Photoshop is the best-known photo editor around, but it's unfortunately very expensive. Give the free photo editor GIMP a try instead. It has an impressive set of tools and can handle nearly any editing task.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No Need to Defrag a Solid State Drive (SSD)

If your computer has a solid state drive (SSD), as for example the new ultrabooks do, you do not need to and should not defrag them. Here is what Intel says on the issue: "SSD devices, unlike traditional HDDs, see no performance benefit from traditional HDD defragmentation tools.  Disable any automatic or scheduled defragmentation utilities for your Intel SSD. Using these tools simply adds unnecessary wear to the SSD." If you don't know whether or not your computer is SSD-based, right click on My Computer/Properties/Device Manager/Disk Drives/Properties.


If your computer is not SSD-based, then Smart Defrag is an excellent free defragmenter. Interestingly, it's latest version (2.3) will not allow for defragging of an SSD drive.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Good News for Cox Telephone Customers

It turns out, there is a way to get to your voice mail messages from your home phone without having to put in your password. Rather than accessing your voice mail by dialing your home phone number, instead, just dial *298.

Guidebook to Obscure Places

Atlas Obscura is the definitive guidebook and friendly tour-guide to the world’s most wondrous places. User-generated and editor curated, the Atlas is a collaborative compendium of amazing places that aren't found in your average guidebook. If you're looking for miniature cities, glass flowers, books bound in human skin, gigantic flaming holes in the ground, bone churches, balancing pagodas, or homes built entirely out of paper, the Atlas Obscura is where you'll find them. In an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found, the Atlas Obscura celebrates a different way of traveling, and viewing the world.

How to Cure Interference From Nearby Wireless Networks

If you have several close neighbors, the odds are high that they may also have a wireless network – and if the wireless signal from their router is strong enough, it could interfere with yours if it uses the same channel – causing you a poor connection, intermittent slowdowns or dropouts. Fortunately, there is an easy fix: simply change the channel. The link below gives a clear discussion of the problem and the solution.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Faster, Easier Way to Make System Restore Shortcut for Both Create and Restore

It is a best practice to create a system restore point before making any change to your computer. Having a desktop icon is a good way to remember. Here is a very easy step by step to make a desktop icon from which you can create a new restore point or restore your computer to an earlier state.


Insync: Maybe the Best Document Storage Option

Like Dropbox, Insync syncs your files across all your computers and also keeps them in the cloud.  But unlike Dropbox, you don't have to sign up for another storage service.  Instead, it uses your Google Docs file area. There are a couple of advantages to doing things this way.  First, your Google Docs storage space is larger than the free 2 GB that DropBox provides.  Secondly, and much more importantly, Google Docs allows you to edit and view your files in your browser, whereas the standard Dropbox storage is, well, just storage.
With Insync, you can now edit your files on your PC, on any other PC that has the insync app installed, or directly in your browser.  Needless to say, any edits that you make to a file that's on a local PC will be uploaded back to Google instantly and automatically. Insync is free, runs on Windows XP and above, and is an 8 MB download.  
Get it from here:  https://www.insynchq.com/

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

How to Close All Programs at Once

[Note: This corrects an earlier posting that discussed the Show Desktop function and an earlier posting that discussed closing all programs]

SmartClose is a handy tool that allows you to close all currently running programs - a task often required during software installations to minimize conflicts (or during defrag operations). With SmartClose however, the entire process is simplified and automatic, as it stores the running program information in a system snapshot and not only closes all applications for you, but also restarts/restores them later. The program can be customized in various aspects, and a quick wizard also allows you to exclude programs from being closed or restored. It will automatically skip applications that are required for the Windows system to run. In addition, it supports services, as well as Explorer and Internet Explorer windows and saves their current location, so they can be restored properly.

Show the Desktop does NOT close programs--it just minimizes them. In Windows XP there is a Show the  Desktop icon by default in the Quick Launch bar, clicking on which will close all open programs. In Windows 7, a right-click on the Task Bar will give you the option to Show the Desktop (as well as several other tweaks you can make) . If you want to create an icon for Show the Desktop, this site will explain how:


Finally, Slawdog is a terrific utility to shut off your computer in one click (instead of two) as well as providing many other options.


Solving Life's Mysteries

Life's Little Mysteries answers fascinating questions about the world around you and the stuff in it, from things in the news and on your mind to crazy questions you didn't even know you had. Our team of experienced reporters and editors do serious research while having loads of fun, to explain the world's objects and phenomena, natural and man-made.


Magnifying Your Computer Screen

Sometimes, words on the computer screen can be difficult to decipher. Strange fonts and colors can inhibit clarity, too. With Magnifying Glass Pro, which is free, you can get a good, controlled look at all that small type on the screen. As you pass your cursor over type, the display is magnified in small window, making it instantly more readable and accessible.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Before Ski Trip Must

I have used the Liftopia Web site for years to hunt for skiing deals, whether I'm looking for discounted tickets in New Hampshire and our neighboring states or planning a trip out West. Most resorts offer some sort of deal if you purchase a ticket online at least one day in advance. Now, this same functionality is offered in a well-designed and free Liftopia iOS app. In addition, and just in time for ski (and snowboard) season, this Liftopia app which brings you the ability to get snow reports and purchase discounted lift tickets on your iDevice.


What to Do With Possibly Infected Files

If you find a find a file on your computer that appears suspicious, and you believe could be malware of some kind, VirusTotal is a free scanning service that will run the file through multiple anti-malware programs and let you know. Here is the link:


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Easy Change to Desktop Can Make a Big Visual Difference

If icons, tool bar buttons, and such are smaller than you would like them, there is an easy setting change that will make them larger and perhaps far more pleasing to you. First, right click on an empty place on the desktop screen. Then:

Windows 7: Click on Personalize/Display and choose one of the larger options.
Windows XP: Click on Properties/Settings/Advanced and choose the larger DPI number.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Understanding Windows Error Messages

When an error occurs, Windows will often display either decimal, hex, HRESULT, NTSTATUS or STOP error codes. Type in an error code and WELT will display in English the error. You also have the option to create a note for an error (so you can keep track of what you have done to create the error). Windows Error Lookup Tool, which is free, lets you do exactly what the name implies, easily lookup those cryptic windows error message in an easy to use app to find out what they mean.