Monday, October 31, 2016

Easy way to speed up your computer

Tech News and Views

Solid state drives have come way down in price, and by using one, you can greatly speed up your computer. You can purchase an SSD on-line from stores like Newegg and Tiger Direct at low prices that include shipping.

In almost all cases, installation of SSD's is very easy. The only difficulty users may encounter is with some rare laptops that do not use the typical mounting under an easily accessible panel. So examine your laptop before ordering a drive.

If you have any questions about SSD's, contact me on this site.



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Get a free phone if your hearing impaired

Tech News and Views

I attended the recent health fair held in Oak Run. One of the booths was run by the Florida Telecommunication Relay Inc. group out of Tallahassee. When I approached the booth, I was asked if I had a hearing loss. I do. They said they would give me a free phone if I qualified. To qualify, I had to answer a series of questions about my hearing and be a Florida resident. I completed a form with my name, address, date of birth, phone number, etc.

The attendant then asked me to listen to each of several phones placed on the table in front of me. I chose one. I signed a receipt and they gave me a phone (actually they loaned me a phone which I must return when I no longer need the phone).

If you have a hearing loss and would like a free amplified phone, go online to ftri.org, or call 800-222-3448.

You may wonder who pays for the program. The answer is that you do. Eleven cents of each phone bill is used to run the non-profit organization that supplies the phones.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Laptop power failure

Tech News and Views

I recently spent several days repairing a laptop computer. It seems that there was no power getting to the machine. I tried a substitute power supply to no avail. I checked the power connector and the on-off switch. They were both good.

What I found after hours of searching is that the owner probably gave the computer some rough treatment. The motherboard had a connector, on the underside of the board, that was supposed to snap into a socket. The connector was partly in the socket even though there were screws on the top of the board that were supposed to keep the connector and socket firmly together.

As soon as the motherboard was pushed firmly down into the socket, the computer powered on and worked perfectly. I guess the moral of the story is that laptops should be treated with care.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Why do they hide the laptop CMOS battery?

Tech News and Views

Many people are unaware that all computers have batteries. That's right! Even desktop computers have batteries, but not the kind you are probably thinking about.

Computers have CMOS (complimentary, metal, oxide, silicon) batteries that keep the BIOS settings and run the time clock. If the clock in your computer is slow, you probably need a new CMOS battery. The batteries are typically the CR 2032 variety. They are a little larger than a nickel and are often used in watches.

I have replaced many CMOS batteries. It's a task taking about 2 minutes if the battery is in a desktop computer. It's probably an hour task in a laptop. For some odd reason, manufacturers like to mount the batteries under the laptop motherboard. The entire computer has to be taken apart to remove the motherboard and reach the battery. I have often connected wires to the battery mount and run those wires to another spot in the computer. Then I attached a battery. Why couldn't the manufacturer do that?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Get an estimate of solar costs in 2 seconds

Tech News and Views

Did you ever wonder what it might cost to put solar cells on your roof and what the payback would be? Here's a nifty sight that will tell you in 2 seconds. I was amazed at how much detail was provided. All you have to do is enter your address. The program does the rest. It's called Project sunroof.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Do I need an Uninterruptible Power Supply?

Tech News and Views

Some readers have asked whether or not they need a UPS. A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is essentially a battery back-up system that supplies power to the computer for a relatively short time whenever the normal electric power shuts down. UPS devices are most common in industry because users may be working on critical business information which would be lost if the power suddenly went off.

A typical UPS has several surge protection outlets for computers and allied equipment, telephone ports, and an alarm system to notify the user when regular power is lost. If the user has a laptop computer with a battery, and it is plugged into a surge protector, the computer switches to battery and a UPS isn't really needed. Desktop computer users could use UPS's to prevent loss of information and to safeguard the computer from surges, and the effects of sudden shut downs.

Remember, a UPS is only as good as the battery inside. If users forget to replace the batteries in a timely fashion, the UPS is useless.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

When is a computer a server?

Tech News and Views

Users often ask about the differences between computers and servers. A server is a computer, but servers are generally more robust, normally used in businesses and have specific purposes such as being a mail server or domain name server.

A typical server will have a multi-core processor, several hard drives in RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) to mirror each other thereby preventing loss of information. The drives are normally SAS (serial attached SCSI) rather than SATA drives to improve performance. Some servers have hot swapable drives (can be inserted and removed with power on). The memory in servers is generally faster than in a typical computer. Some servers have redundant power supplies, and servers run using special server operating systems.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Info from Nick Burke's presentation on freeware

Tech News and Views

Some of you have asked for a list of freeware presented by Nick Burke at the last Oak Run Computer Club meeting.  The sources for the freeware are on the blog under "Helpful Links".  The programs Nick discussed were::

Driver Booster
Malwarebytes
Wise Registry Cleaner
Wise Disk Cleaner

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Optimize image program benefits

Tech News and Views

When we take pictures using digital cameras, the resulting images may be so large that they can't be attached to our e-mails because of size limitations imposed by the e-mail provider.  The solution is to use an image optimizer.

An image optimizer makes images load faster by resizing/rescaling and then compressing the images.

If you would like to try using an optimizer, click on the following link and follow the directions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Open taskbar items without mouse

Tech News and Views

If your computer mouse has quit, you can still open taskbar Apps by holding down the Windows key on the keyboard and pressing a number key. If the App you want to open is 4th from the left, press the Windows key and number 4. That's it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Learn foreign language while waiting for the doctor

Tech News and Views

I recently downloaded a nifty App that I think most of you would like. It's a language learning App called Duolingo, duolingo.com/. The program is free and makes it easy to learn a foreign language. There are many languages to choose from. The program will run on Android, IOS and Windows. Users learn in short segments such as 5 or 10 minutes per day. The program keeps track of your progress.

Install the program on your smart phone so that the next time you are waiting in the Doctor's office you can use the time wisely by learning a language while you wait.

Monday, October 17, 2016

File History Back-up saves all versions

Tech News and Views

Many file back-up systems do incremental back-ups, but they usually save just the latest version of files. Windows 10 File History is different. While the latest version of a file is saved so are all the previous versions unless the drive runs out of space.

Recently, I did a check of my back-up drive to see if my latest genealogy files had been backed-up. Not only did I see the file from 10/16/2016, I also saw files from several previous back-ups. The early back-ups could prove useful if I need to verify or retrieve information that was inadvertently deleted in the last version.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hard drive too small for Windows 10

Tech News and Views

I have had several calls from people who are unable to install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. All of the calls were from people who are using budget laptops having 32 GB hard drives.

What the callers don't realize is that Windows 10 requires 16 GB of hard drive space and the Anniversary Update requires another 20 GB. As you can see, the total exceeds the drive capacity, and I understand that a flash card can not be used to gain additional capacity for the update.

The only solutions I see are to ignore the update or install a Linux distribution instead of Windows.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Music in the car the easy way

Tech News and Views

If your car is a few years old, you probably use a CD player to provide music in the auto. If you have a newer car, you don't have a CD player. Such players have gone the way of the Dodo. If you want custom music today, the way to provide it is through use of a flash drive.

Virtually every recent car has USB ports. So, if you have recorded music on a flash drive, you can plug the drive into one of the USB ports and hear all the recorded music you like. I use a 16 GB drive in my car and have hundreds of recorded songs on the drive. The music, and the accompanying album art work have only taken up 3 GB of space. If your partner or spouse likes a different kind of music, put their music on a different flash drive that they can plug in when they're in the car.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Executive Board Minutes

Oak Run Computer Club – Executive Board Minutes
Oct 14, 2016

Alan Marcus, President, called the meeting to order at 9:00AM. Members in attendance: Bill Cahill, Don Forgette, Bob Leiner, Elliot Bogart, Bob Kenlay, Bob Norton, Linda Tingley and Alan Marcus.

Secretary’s report read by Bob Kenlay. No corrections or additions necessary.

Bob Norton read the Treasurer's Report. The current balance is $2,065.89.

Future meeting topics:
Oct 19 - Nick Burke to present "Freeware"
Nov 16 - Bob Kenlay to present “The Helpful Internet”
Dec 21 - Christmas Party; Q & A
Jan 25 - Sierra Club, solar presentation
Feb 15 - Century Link
Mar 15 - Keith Mackey, “Drones”
Alan Marcus asked how we can get new Board members. It was suggested that we continue to mention the need for new Board members at our regular Club meetings. We could also try to question new members if they have a interest on being on the Board.

Bill Balch had a request for a 25’ HDMI cable for the Club activity fair (October 29). The Board approved a motion to purchase a cable for the Club.

Linda Tingley would like to know what supplies are available in the kitchen in the Orchid Club. Bob Kenlay will contact the DOD to find out what is available (cups, stirs, sugar, filters, etc.) and report to Linda Tingley.

The meeting adjourned at 9:35AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Bob Kenlay, Secretary

My thoughts after owning an electric car for a year

Tech News and Views

Almost a year ago, I gave a presentation to the club in regard to my new electric car. Now, a year later, having had lots of experience with the car, I want to give you my thoughts about all electric cars.

I think what I like most about an electric car is what it doesn't have: It doesn't  have spark plugs, radiators, anti-freeze, injectors, tune-ups, trips to gas stations, mufflers, starters, fuel filters, air filters, transmissions or noise.

Electric cars accelerate very quickly with tremendous torque. My car is at the slow end of the acceleration curve of Tesla cars, and mine does 0-60 MPH in 5.6 seconds. The take-off is incredibly smooth. There are only two buttons on the dash, one for the 4 way flashers and the other for the glove box. All functions are controlled via a touch screen. Although the car weighs nearly 5000 lbs, it handles better than any car I have ever owned, and I have owned more than 30 cars (including the Henry J, Ford Anglia, Opel Rallye Cadet, and a Packard Patrician).

I know many people are concerned over range (range anxiety). I haven't gone further than Orlando, and on each Orlando trip, I charged the car at Turkey Lake Plaza on the turnpike. There is no cost for the "fill-up" to Tesla owners. Would I be concerned on a longer trip? I don't think so. The U.S. now has several hundred Superchargers, and several thousand destination chargers, and more are being installed daily.

If you have been reading the news, you know that virtually every car company is jumping into the production of electric cars (some are hybrids). Ford alone has 14 varieties of electric cars. I predict that all of my readers will be driving electric cars within the next 15 years.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Use Linux in live mode

Tech News and Views

You may have wanted to try one of the many Linux operating systems, but didn't have a computer you could dedicate for the process. It may come as a surprise that you can run the system on a Windows machine without installing Linux. It is known as "Live" mode.

You simply insert the Linux disk and run the program. Just be careful not to click "Install". When you remove the disk, the computer still runs the Windows operating system that was installed before you inserted the Linux disk.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Send product directions to your Kindle

Tech News and Views

If you own a Kindle e-reader, you may know that Amazon has set up an email account for you. If your email account is someone@yahoo.com, your Kindle account becomes someone@kindle.com.

You can send emails to your Kindle account and can attach PDF files. I have PDF manuals for my cell phone, my car, organizing genealogy files, and building a website.

All manuals show up under DOCS. It is great to have such easy access to the manuals.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Eliminate that greasy barbecue

Tech News and Views

A friend of mine recently mentioned the use of grill mats. I had never heard of them, but they sure sound like space age technology and something I want to try.

My friend places the mats on top of the barbecue grate and cooks many different items directly on top of the mat. The grease is absorbed into the mat and the grill stays clean. I'm certainly going to try the product.

Here's the Amazon brand of mat, and what Amazon has to say about the product:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Really save on printing

Tech News and Views

I have often mentioned that I use two printers. Most of my printing is done on an inexpensive Brother laser printer. On rare occasions, I use a color HP printer.

This week, Office Depot advertised a Brother HL2320d printer for $59.99. Toner cartridges from Brother can be expensive, but you can buy a TN450 high yield cartridge from Supermediastore.com for the printer for just $14.99 including shipping. That cartridge will yield 2600 copies. If my math is correct, that equates to little more than half a cent per page. Add the cost of paper (approx. 1 cent per page) and the total cost is under 2 cents per page. By contrast, ink jet printing will run approximately 8 cents per page.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

iPod screen turns black

Tech News and Views

An iPod user called to tell me that the screen on the device turned completely black and would not come back on. She said the device was fully charged.

The answer I gave her was to reset the device. To do so, the user must press the sleep and home buttons at the same time and hold them in for 20 seconds. When the Apple logo appears, let go of the buttons.

The user did as I advised, and all is working.

Friday, October 7, 2016

My DVD from England won't play on my machine

Tech News and Views

I recently got a call from a friend who ordered a copy of the show Northern Exposure from an English supplier. The DVD won't play, and he wondered why. The answer is rather complicated, but here's an excellent site that explains the situation:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How do you get apps?

Tech News and Views

A caller, who recently bought her first smart phone, wanted to know what apps are and how to get them. Here's a brief answer:

Apps are programs designed for a specific purpose. You can, for example, install a pedometer app on your phone to measure your steps. You can get apps that will convert measurements, show nearby Wi-Fi locations, measure objects, let you read e-books, do graphic design, and handle your finances.

If you have an Android phone, you access apps through the Google Play Store, if you have an Apple product through the Apple Store and from Amazon through the Appstore.

Many apps are free. You simply click on the ones you want to download to your device and then once it installs, you click to open it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Find out what others think of local doctors

Tech News and Views

Many people I have met are unaware that doctors receive ratings from individuals and health groups, and any actions taken against the physicians can be found on line. If you want to find such information, check out the following sites:

healthgrades.com              vitals.com              ratemds.com
consumerreports.org/doctors              doctors.healthgrove.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Genealogy programs revisited

Tech News and Views

I recently reviewed several genealogy programs to try and find which I liked best. Since then, I have reviewed another program which is now my current favorite. It's called Legacy, legacyfamilytree.com. What I like is the clear easy to read screens and the vast number of reports and charts available. Legacy has free and paid versions. At this juncture, I am using the free software version and do not see a need, as yet, to pay for an upgrade ($29.95).

My previous favorite was Heritage Family Tree Builder. It's quite good, but the free version is limited to 250 names and I already have 283 in my family. The paid version of FTB is almost 3 times more expensive than the paid version of Legacy.

Monday, October 3, 2016

How do I access Wi-Fi from a smart phone?

Tech News and Views

A reader of this column, new to smartphones, wonders how she can turn on the Wi-Fi setting on her smart phone.

Most smart phones major controls are under a settings menu. Look for an icon that looks like a gear. The icon usually has a settings label. Then look for Wi-Fi. Next to the Wi-Fi label there is usually a button that can be clicked to turn the Wi-Fi off or on. If the button is not turned on, the user will burn through data units fairly quickly.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Legacy program defined

Tech News and Views

I know many people are puzzled by the term legacy in regard to computers. Here's how Wikipedia defines the term:

In computing, a legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program, "of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system." Often a pejorative term, referencing a system as "legacy" often implies that the system is out of date or in need of replacement

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Use Linux as a boot disk

Tech News and Views

If you are unable to boot your computer, and don't have a recovery disk, you will find that almost any variety of Linux will boot the machine. I'm partial to Linux Mint. You can download a copy at https://www.linuxmint.com. Mint can run in live mode (it doesn't install) and won't cause you to lose any files. If you do decide to install the program, you can click that option.

If your computer is more than 5 or 6 years old, the latest versions of Mint may not run.  If that occurs, just download and use an earlier version.

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