Thursday, June 30, 2016

You need mobile contact to open Yahoo account

Tech News and Views

Sometimes, trying to open a new email account can be very trying. Yahoo insists that you show them your mobile account number. If you don't have a mobile account, or don't want to give Yahoo the number, you can't open an email account with them.

I don't suppose that the movers and shakers at Yahoo ever gave any thought to the fact that some people don't have mobile phones.

If you are one of the people who doesn't have a mobile phone, or don't want to give Yahoo the number, I suggest you open a Gmail account instead. Gmail asks for a mobile number, but, if you leave the space blank, you can still open an email account.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Free office suites

Tech News and Views

Several people have asked me how they could access Microsoft Word and Excel at no cost. The questioners may not know that Microsoft Office Online is free. Users should understand, however, that the Word and Excel online programs are weaker cousins of the full blown paid desktop versions > products.office.com/en-us/office-online/.

Those of you who have or are considering purchasing Chromebooks might benefit by using Google Docs, another free suite containing word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs > google.com/docs/about/.

If you prefer to have a free equivalent of the entire Microsoft Office suite, I suggest you download LibreOffice > libreoffice.org.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hotspots explained in detail

Tech News and Views

Don Zenn, our speaker at the June 15th Computer Club meeting, was asked about hotspots, and Don did an excellent job in answering the question. I sensed, however, that many club members wanted to delve into the subject a little deeper. The following article, from a British website, does an excellent job in explaining in great detail all the nuances of hotspots. I suggest that those of you who are considering the use of hotspots read the article thoroughly in order to be aware of the expenses that could be incurred in using hotspots.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Can I view my computer's output on TV?

Tech News and Views

If you own a newer laptop that has an HDMI port, and a TV that has HDMI inputs, you can easily view the computer screens on the TV. Use an HDMI cable to connect the computer to an open HDMI port on the TV. Turn on the TV and the computer. Use the TV remote to select the TV HDMI port that is connected to the computer. In my case the TV has 4 HDMI ports, but my computer is plugged in to HDMI 4. So I select #4.

Just remember, when you are through using the computer with the TV to use the TV remote to return to the HDMI input for the TV alone, or you won't see any TV programs.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Here's a new twist on an old scam

Tech News and Views

I have often warned readers about calling numbers that appear on their computers in reference to tech support scams. The typical scam goes like this: A notice appears on the computer desktop stating that the computer is badly infected. The user is directed to call the phone number listed. The number is usually answered by someone with an Indian accent.

In some cases the user is directed to install software that lets the Indian firm take over the computer. Then the computer is locked and the user is asked to pay ransom.

The scam that I just learned about is different. The Indian firm tried to sell firewall software for $360. That's laughable, because the cost of the firewall is more than the computer was worth.

Despite the fact that I have said numerous times that users should not call any number that appear in pop-up ads, users continue to do so. Please heed my warning. Do not respond to any unsolicited call regarding supposed computer problems.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Don't stop update process

Tech News and Views

In yesterday's post I wrote that updates, of older operating systems, can take a very long time. When that happens, it is easy to become impatient, figuring something is wrong with the computer, and compelling you to stop the running processes. Don't! By doing so, you may corrupt the operating system. And, if the system is corrupt, you may have to find a way to restore the system (which can be more consuming than waiting for the updates to finish).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Why Windows 7 updates take so long

Tech News and Views

Users who have had to perform a fresh install of an older operating system (Windows XP, Vista or 7) may have noticed that it takes an inordinate amount of time to download and install updates.

The problem is probably not with the user's computers, but, more likely, with the age of the operating system. Windows 7, for example, has been around since 2009. There have been hundreds of updates since that time, and naturally, they take a long time to download and install.

Do not be surprised if the updates take 6 hours or more. And, if you have an older computer, with little memory, or have a slow Internet connection, the process may take even longer.

Windows 10 has solved the updating problem by incorporating what they call cumulative updates.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What to do when Windows update doesn't work

Tech News and Views

You may encounter a problem with Windows Updater after a Windows install. The problem is normally encountered after an install of older Windows operating systems. Since there may be hundreds of updates, the computer may hang and refuse to update at all.

The solution is to use WSUS Offline Updater wsusoffline.net. To use the program, follow the directions in the excellent youtube video shown here:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How to change power settings

Tech News and Views

Many users purchase new laptop computers and find that the computers are shutting down after a few minutes. Some people return the computers to the stores because they think there is some sort of thermal problem with the computer. Many others have called me to ask what is happening and what can be done to alleviate the problem.

What many users don't know is that the power settings within the computer are designed to maximize battery life. The computer makers normally have laptops geared to shut down, when on battery, after 5 minutes. I suggest that all laptop users change the settings so the computer only shuts down when you command it to do so.

To change the power settings, click Start, Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, Power Settings. Then change all settings to Never shut down.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Extending volumes

Tech News and Views

You may have acquired a computer whose hard drive has been partitioned. You may only want the computer to have one partition. If so, you can extend the basic volume (usually identified as the C Drive) to incorporate the other partition.

To extend a basic volume using the Windows interface:
  1. Click Start. Right click on Computer (This PC in Windows 10) to find Disk Manager. In Disk Manager, right-click the basic volume you want to extend.
  2.  
  3. Click Extend Volume….
  4.  
  5. Follow the instructions on your screen.

To extend a basic volume using a command line:
  1. Open a command prompt and type diskpart.
  2.  
  3. At the DISKPART prompt, type list volume. Make note of the basic volume you want to extend.
  4.  
  5. At the DISKPART prompt, type select volume <volumenumber>. This selects the basic volume volumenumber that you want to extend into contiguous, empty space on the same disk.
  6.  
  7. At the DISKPART prompt, type extend [size=<size>]. This extends the selected volume by size megabytes (MB).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Create Windows 10 Installation Disk

Tech News and Views

Most of you will have gotten Windows 10 via a free upgrade. When you do so, you install from an icon on the taskbar, and normally the program installs correctly. However, some time in the future, your computer may crash. If you created a recovery disk or flash drive, you should be able to salvage the computer, but, on occasions, the recovery disk won't do the job, and you need to re-install the entire Windows 10 Operating System.

To obtain Windows 10 and put it on a flash drive, insert the flash drive and then open Media Creation Tool at microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10. Scroll down the page to "Download Tool Now". A screen will appear that is entitled "What do you want to do". Select "Create installation media for another PC". Select USB flash drive. The operating system will begin to download. Select the language and architecture and let Media Creation Tool do its thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

How to create a bootable flash drive

Tech News and Views

To create a bootable USB flash drive
  1. Insert a USB flash drive into a running computer.
  2.  
  3. Open a Command Prompt window as an administrator (Type CMD in the search box. When CMD appears above, right click on it and select "Run as Administrator".
  4.  
  5. Type diskpart.
  6.  
  7. In the new command line window that opens, to determine the USB flash drive number or drive letter, at the command prompt, type list disk, and then click ENTER. The list disk command displays all the disks on the computer. Note the drive number or drive letter of the USB flash drive.
  8.  
  9. At the command prompt, type select disk , where X is the drive number or drive letter of the USB flash drive, and then click ENTER.
  10.  
  11. Type clean, and the click ENTER. This command deletes all data from the USB flash drive.
  12.  
  13. To create a new primary partition on the USB flash drive, type create part pri, and then click ENTER.
  14.  
  15. To select the partition that you just created, type select part 1, and then click ENTER.
 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How good is Google Images?

Tech News and Views

You may have a collection of photos of famous people who you can't identify. If so, you can attempt to use Google Images to help in the identification. Sometimes it works incredibly well, and sometimes it is horrendous.

The program was able to identify images of Joan Collins, the actress, Queen Sirikit of Thailand, The Shah of Iran and his wife, Sophia Loren, King Hassan II of Morocco, Pope Francis, Princess Diana, H.M. Paola, Former Queen of Belgium and Queen Elizabeth. It was not able to identify Elizabeth Taylor, Golda Meir, Jackie Kennedy or Winston Churchill.

You can find the program at www.images.google.com. Click on the small camera icon and drag a picture to the box provided for that purpose. The program is easy to use. Try it!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Best Buy now accepts items for recycling

Tech News and Views

I have often mentioned that Staples will accept old computers for recycling. Now, Best Buy also offers that type of service. Click on the links below to see a description of Best Buy's recycling service. You will be able to see what they will and won't accept.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Should you buy a chromebook?

Tech News and Views

You may have heard the term, "Chromebook" and wondered if a Chromebook computer was right for you. Chromebooks are fast, inexpensive and have excellent battery life, but they're not for everybody.

I suggest that you read the following well written article from Laptop Magazine in order to gain a full understanding of Chromebooks.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When should you consider making an image of the hard drive?

Tech News and Views

Many of my posts on this blog concerned simple back-ups vs. hard drive imaging. In this post I want to clarify when you should make an image, when you should do a backup and when you should perform both operations.

All users should make backups, and should make them frequently. Unfortunately, very few do. Only about 5% of the users that I help have made backups. The backups can be as simple as copying files to a flash drive. If your computer crashes and you have not made a backup, you will be very very sorry. Some photos, and files are irreplaceable.

Images copy everything in your hard drive, including the operating system, to an external drive. If the computer's hard drive crashes, you can purchase a new drive and restore all of your programs and operating system to the new drive. Imaging takes a long time (a recent image I made took 6 hours). Although you could restore your system without imaging by loading all the software and the operating system from disks, it will take a long, long, time to do.

See my other posts on imaging to see how to create an image.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Will I lose my emails when I buy a new computer?

Tech News and Views

I am often asked whether emails are lost when a computer crashes. The answer is not a simple yes or no. The great answer below comes from a site called The Computer Lady.

---
I am going to buy a new computer and want to know what email (AOL, gmail, MSN, hotmail, yahoo) accounts that I can use so that when I get a new computer I can go to those accounts and still have the emails I saved. Is this possible?

Thanks, you are so much help and explain to understand. Karen
---

Karen,

I can’t answer your question by listing email providers who save your emails online because most email accounts can be set up to be accessed online, or can be set up to be downloaded to your computer.

I will use Gmail for an example. Most people use Gmail online, they open their web browser and check their email, compose messages and use the address book. The messages and everything else are stored on Google’s servers, and you can access them from any computer.

Gmail gives you the option, however, to download your messages to an email program on your computer and read them there. If you set your Gmail up to download to your computer, you are now storing your messages and addresses on your computer, and they can only be accessed from your computer.

Just about every mail provider you listed in your question gives you the option of accessing your messages in both ways, so my answer to your question is as follows…

If you access your email using a program on your computer like Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Eudora or Mozilla Thunderbird, the email messages, address book and settings are stored on your computer, and you would need to transfer them to the new computer. The files that you transfer are different depending on what program you are using.

If you access your email using your web browser, like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox, then the email messages are stored online, and will be available to you no matter what computer you use to access them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Why you shouldn't print photos on your printer

Tech News and Views

I've gotten many calls from readers who want my advice on how to best print photos using inkjet printers. The callers are surprised when I tell them they shouldn't print photos on their printers. Here's why I tell them that. In order to print your own photos you'll have to purchase photo paper which is expensive. You will use a lot of ink, which is very expensive (more costly than the most expensive perfume), and the quality of the finished product will be much worse than from a commercial photo finisher.

I tell users to take their camera or camera card to a store, such as Wal-Mart, that has a photo kiosk. Insert the card and pay for commercial prints. The last price I saw for 4" x 6" photos at Wal-Mart was 19 cents a print. That is considerably less expensive than home printing, and the quality is many times better.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Windows 10 and SD card

Having converted to Windows 10 I cannot the system to open the SD (memory card) from my camera. In Windows 7 the content came up as soon I plugged the card into the reader. Is there something I have to do in "settings" to make this happen? Or put another way, what do I have to do to make this happen?

Thanks, George

Transfer Android photos via USB Cable

Tech News and Views

In yesterday's post, I said that one of the easiest ways to transfer photos from cell phone to computer was via Google Photos. That is true if you have the phone sync settings set to on. You can however, transfer photos easily using the camera's USB cable.

Plug the cable into the camera and the computer's USB port. Click on the File Explorer icon in the computer's task bar. Click on This PC (Windows 10) or on Computer (other Windows versions). Locate the camera description (my computer shows the LG phone model number) and click on it. Find the DCIM file (Data Center Infrastructure Management) and click on it. All your pictures should appear. You can hi-light the photos you want (Hold down the CTRL key as you select the photos), click CTRL and  C to copy them, go to the location where you want to place the pictures (such as the Pictures folder) and press CTRL and  V to paste them to your computer. Disconnect your camera and you're done.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

How to transfer photos from Android phone to computer

Tech News and Views

Many people are using their cell phones to take photos in lieu of toting around point and shoot cameras. The method is convenient, but can be expensive since most of you are probably sending the pictures to other people over 3G or 4G cell connections. That process can quickly deplete your cell data allowance.

There are several ways for Android users to transfer the pictures to computers without incurring charges. Perhaps the simplest of those methods is by using Google Photos. The Google photo app will upload all your phone photos automatically. Be sure to go into settings and have the photos upload only when Wi-Fi is available.

Once the photos have been uploaded to Google Photos, you can access the pictures from your computer by typing photos.google.com in the address line and pressing the Enter key on the keyboard.

Friday, June 10, 2016

ORCC Board Minutes for June, 2016


Oak Run Computer Club Executive Board Minutes
June 10, 2016

The meeting was called to order by President, Alan Marcus at 9:00AM. Members present included: Ron Kenyon, Bob Norton, Bob Leiner, Linda Tingley, Don Forgette, Elliott Bogart, Bill Balch and Alan Marcus.

The Secretary's report was read by Alan Marcus. There were no corrections or additions.

Bob Norton gave the Treasurer's Report. The current balance is $2152.62.

The following suggestions were made for upcoming programs: Jim Burton to talk about security, Bill Balch to talk about email backups assisted by Bob Norton (July 20), Century Link to discuss their services.

Ron Kenyon suggested that we conduct a survey to see how many people use web-based vs non web-based email.

The meeting adjourned at 9:25AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Alan Marcus

Why you need more than one browser

Tech News and Views

Yesterday I encountered a frustrating problem. I tried to login to my online bank using the Google Chrome browser. The browser did not go to the normal bank login, but instead took me to the banks auto loan site. When I attempted to sign in, the site said my login name or password was incorrect despite the fact that I have used the same login info for several years.

I called the banks 24 hour hot line. The rep was unable to help and put her supervisor on the line. The supervisor suggested that I clear the browser cookies. I did, but that didn't help. Then she suggested I try a different browser. I signed in with Mozilla Firefox without any difficulty.

Google Chrome is my default browser and I normally have no difficulty using it, but I know users of DECCA email have also experienced problems with Chrome. Many people like the new Edge browser, but I have had difficulty in trying to close Edge.

My advice to readers is this: Install several browsers on your computer. If one doesn't work for a specific use, try another. Common browsers now in use include: Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, Vivaldi and Safari. To install a new browser, type in its name in the address line (URL) of your current browser, click the Enter key on the keyboard and install the new browser. Remember, you can have several browsers on your computer and can switch between them.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

You've Been Hacked

Tech News and Views

Let us say that you have daughter who is a western sales rep for an eastern manufacturing firm. The CEO of the eastern firm has had his email account hacked, and his contact list includes all of the sales reps, including your daughter's. Your daughter's contact list includes your name and email account.

You receive an email from your daughter's business account. The email has your daughter's business name and address and there is an attachment. The email just doesn't seem right because there is no note from your daughter, and the email is requesting your Gmail password. The attachment is a 29 page PDF file about investments. What should you do?

The first thing you should do is to call your daughter to ask if she sent the email. If she did not, advise her to change her email account password, and you should do the same.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Electronic Door Locks

Tech News and Views

I find it a great pain to have to carry a front door key, and so, several months ago decided to install an electronic combination lock for the front door. The device is actually called an electronic deadbolt.

Lowe's sells the devices for approximately $50 or more. I opted for the least expensive lock, and it has functioned fine for 6 months. The brand I purchased is called Gatehouse. It operates using 3 AA batteries. I haven't had to change batteries yet. The device is programmed with a 4 digit code of your choosing.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Using the Internet to get in touch with the VA

Tech News and Views

Those of you who are veterans probably have encountered the difficulty in trying to get in touch with your VA doctors. In the past, you had to call a general number. The call would be screened and, if you were lucky, a message would be delivered to your doctor. Sometimes the message was received, and other times it wasn't.

Well, the VA has greatly improved the system. Vets can now register on line at www.myhealth.va.gov. Once registered, the vet only has to go to the site, and click Secure Messaging, address a message to the doctor, and click send.

I have used the system several times and have found that it works flawlessly.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Don't throw away that old computer

Tech News and Views

Most of us have become so used to Windows operating systems that we can't envision using anything else. The latest Windows, Windows 10, requires at least 1 GB or RAM (memory) to run, and 2 GB to run well. Unfortunately, many of us have older computers that may have as little as 512 MB of RAM (1/2 gigabyte) or perhaps 1 GB of RAM. Many older computers won't run Windows 10, but they will run many versions of Linux.

Before you panic, know that many versions of Linux look much like Windows. My favorite is Linux Mint. Here are the steps to download Linux and install it on a flash drive. There are many steps, and it looks complex, but just follow the instructions step by step, and you should be able to install Mint and give new life to that old computer. If you become overwhelmed let me know.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Electric Cars

Tech News and Views

In November, I gave a presentation about electric cars. I was far from an expert on the subject, as I had owned my all-electric Tesla Model S for just one month. Now that I have owned the car for several months, I have a little bit more expertise.

The question I'm asked most is, "What's the car's range?" My model has a range of 240 miles. I can charge the car at home, using a 240 volt outlet, at the rate of 29 miles per hour. Thus, the car can be fully charged overnight. Although 96% of all travel is within 40 miles of home, most people want to know what happens away from home and your home charger. The answer for Tesla owners is provided by several hundred superchargers staggered across the country. There is a supercharger outside of Mimi's restaurant on St. Rd. 200. Supercharges will provide 170 miles of range in 30 minutes. Superchargers are free to Tesla Model S and X owners. A driver could drive coast to coast at no cost by going from one supercharger to another.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Elon Musk

Tech News and Views

Elon Musk is one of the most fascinating entrepreneurs of the present decade. He is the CEO of Space X, the CEO of Tesla Motors and a major investor in Solar City. He has been compared to Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. A book about Musk, by author Ashlee Vance, reads like a novel. I think club members would really enjoy reading the book.

The e-book is available through local libraries.


Friday, June 3, 2016

New blog column starts today

Tech News and Views

Starting today, the Answer Man column will be replaced by a new column entitled "Tech News and Views". The new format will let me cover many more topics, print the latest technology news and will give me the freedom to express my views on various aspects of technology. I hope you enjoy the new format.

My first topic for the new column regards the number of Oak Runner's who have been drawn into online computer repair scams. I know of at least a dozen residents who have responded to phone calls or who have dialed numbers regarding supposed problems with their computers. In many cases, residents have sent money to the callers. In other cases, the computers were locked so residents could not retrieve their files.

Please heed the following advice: If someone calls you to tell you that you have a problem with your computer, hang up. There is no way that they can tell anything about your computer. Do not call any number listed on an email or on a computer popup. If you are not sure what to do, contact a computer club officer for advice.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

What happened to car CDs?

Answer Man

I just bought a new car, and noticed that it does not have a CD player. How can I play my CD music in the car?

None of the new cars have CD players, but I'm willing to bet that your car has at least one USB port. What you need to do is to copy (rip) your CD music to your computer and then copy that music to a flash drive. The flash drive is then inserted into the USB port in the car.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why is my computer running slowly?

Answer Man

Why is my computer running so slow?

Here are possible reasons: To many browser add-ons/toolbars; Too many programs running; Hard drive more than 85% full ~ switch to solid state; Malware/adware; The computer hasn't been re-booted in some time; Wi-Fi piggy backers; Too little RAM; hardware conflicts/old drivers.

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