Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What are codecs, and do I need them?

Tech News and Views

I was going to download the Linux Mint operating system for use on an old computer when I ran across the term "Codec". What are Codecs and do I need them?

The name codec is a short version of Encoding and Decoding which means compressing and decompressing of a media file. Codecs are used in video conferencing, streaming media and video editing. Linux Mint has built in codecs as does Windows Media Player.

Monday, February 27, 2017

CMOS battery replacement


Tech News and Views

I have frequently mentioned that if your computer clock keeps losing time it is an indication that the CMOS battery probably should be replaced. It's an easy job in a desktop computer but can be very difficult in a laptop. Most computers use a CR2032 watch battery. The batteries generally run about $2.50 if purchased individually. Ace Hardware often sells packages of 8 for $1.50.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rotate the desktop background

Tech News and Views

Plain color desktop backgrounds can be very boring. Here's how to change them. Right click on the desktop. Click Personalize. Click the Background down arrow and select Slide Show. Browse to the photos you would like to see and select how often each slide should be shown (Change picture every 1 minute, etc.).

Saturday, February 25, 2017

User would like to hide desktop icons

Tech News and Views

Many users like a perfectly clean computer desktop so that photos show in all their glory. It's a simple matter to hide the icons. Right click on the desktop, select View and click Show Desktop Icons. To restore the icons, click Show Desktop Icons again.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Backups that are nearly useless

Tech News and Views

I recently assisted a user whose computer had crashed. I asked if he had a backup of his files and was very surprised to find that he had 2 portable external drives and both had backup info. However, when I connected the drives to another machine, I found that one drive hadn't been backedup since 2012. The other had a system image from 2015. Certainly, the user had changed most of the information in the intervening years. So, the backups were virtually useless.

If you want an effective backup, set up a schedule for the backups. Once a week is certainly not too often.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Get the dust out of the desktop

Tech News and Views

Many computer users are afraid to take apart their desktop computers to clean the interior of the machines. It's a simple process, and should be done at least once a year. Here's what to do. Note how the cables are attached to the rear of the machine. Make a diagram if you can't remember. Remove the cables. Most computers have one side that is removable. The side may have one or two screws holding it in place. Then slide the side off the computer case. Some computers have a handhold you can pull while others may have to be gently pried away with a screwdriver.

Take the machine outside. Spray all of the dirty areas with compressed air (You can buy a can of compressed air at Walmart and many computer stores. Reassemble the computer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Easy way to put icon on desktop

Tech News and Views

Here's the easiest way I've ever encountered to put a new icon on the desktop. Use your search engine to find the page for which you'd like an icon. Let's say it's bankofamerica.com. Click in the address line and drag that address to the desktop. That's it.

If you can't see the desktop because the web page is too large, click on the restore down symbol at the top right of the page so you can see the desktop.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Reset your browser to its default settings

Tech News and Views

If your computer becomes infected by the PUP (potentially unwanted program) 7769 domain, you will find it is difficult to remove the nasty thing. Sometimes the best way is to just reset the browser. The way to do that is explained well in the following article from How To Geeks:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Restore missing icons in Windows

Tech News and Views

I was trying to help a computer user the other day by adding the Google Chrome browser to the desktop. I was a little surprised that the computer showed no icons, and when I tried to add a shortcut to the desktop, it wouldn't show up. Evidently, someone had tried, before me, to help the user with computer problems and had gone into a screen that lets the user turn off all the icons. I have no idea why you would want to turn them off, but, if they are off, here's how to turn them back on.

Right click on the desktop. Click View and then click to put a check before Show Desktop Icons.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Power company type scams

Tech News and Views

It appears that scammers target more than your computer. Here's info on how they attack your pocketbook by pretending to call from your local power utility (reported by Market Watch):

Friday, February 17, 2017

Does it pay to upgrade an old computer?

Tech News and Views

Many people wonder if it pays to upgrade an old computer. The answer depends upon many factors. You need to know how much memory is in the computer, how much it will take, how many memory slots there are and, of course, the cost.

I recently upgraded a 6 year old computer. The machine was running Windows 7, and I had upgraded it to Windows 10 for free. It had 4 GB of memory (2 GB in each of 2 slots). I removed that memory and inserted two 4 GB sticks for a total of 8 GB. The cost for the new memory was $40.27 including tax and shipping.

I replaced the 500 GB mechanical drive with a 480 GB solid state drive. The cost was $130.

So, for $170.27 I greatly upgraded my computer. The machine is much faster than it was. If I had to purchase an equivalent machine, it would cost approximately $800.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Free anti-virus

Tech News and Views

Many people swear that their anti-virus program is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They may tout McAfee, Norton, Kapersky or some other paid program. I don't think these people know that Windows 10 contains a free anti-virus program called Windows Defender, and Defender works very well.

I am a great believer in free programs. There are many good free ones, so there is little reason to pay for most programs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Reasons why wireless printer won't print

Tech News and Views

A wireless printer can stop printing for many reasons, but often it's careless use of the printer keyboard that causes the problem. Most printers have a wireless on/off switch. It is easy to mistakenly hit that button when you are trying to change one of the printer settings. So, you may turn off the wireless printing even though you had no intention of doing so.

When your printer doesn't print, it's tempting to try to print again, but that causes more problems, as the jobs build up in the print queue and that stops all jobs from printing. You should cancel all documents, make certain the wireless button is on and that the default printer has been chosen for the print job before trying to print again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is a VPN?

Tech News and Views

You may have heard the term VPN (virtual private network) and wondered what it means. Here's an excellent description from Worldstart:

A VPN (virtual private network) is a private connection to your network that can be accessed from any location. This makes VPNs very popular with businesses that may have remote workers who need to access the in-office network. VPNs additionally encrypt all of your outbound information. For example, when you are browsing the internet, a VPN will encrypt this information to prevent unauthorized users from seeing your data.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Most common computer problem

Tech News and Views

I get dozens of calls from users who ask how to solve computer problems. By far, the most common problem I hear about is loss of Internet connectivity. Let's look at why that problem exists.

Electrical surges and electrical interference can cause a modem and router to loose their handshaking ability. A simple reset often solves that problem. Just remove the power plug from the modem and router, wait 20 seconds or longer and plug both back in. Wait a minute or two and the computer should again connect to the Internet.

Two other reasons for the computer to lose connectivity include problems at the provider's end and failure of the modem or router. Component failure is rare, so look for handshaking problems first, then at the possibility of the provider being down and lastly at component failure.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Is that noise an indication of trouble ahead?

Tech News and Views

Computer noises can be worrisome. Typical noise sources are the computer fans, hard drives or optical drives. Many computers have fans that are designed to speed up when the computer is hot and slow down when the computer is cooler. Fans rarely quit working unless the computer is so dirty that the dirt impedes the blades from turning. Noises coming from optical drives are common and are usually not a sign of trouble. Ticking, coming from the hard drive is generally a sign that the drive is due for imminent failure.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Additional uses for CCleaner

Tech News and Views

CCleaner is a great free app for cleaning temporary files from your computer, but the program contains several other built in functions that you may want to try.

Open CCleaner and click on the Tools menu. There you will find utilities that will let you see what's in your startup list, what plug-ins your using, what files are duplicated, what system restore points have been created and there's also a drive wiper utility.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Executive Board Minutes

Oak Run Computer Club – Executive Board Minutes
Feb 10, 2017

Alan Marcus, President, called the meeting to order at 9:00AM. Members in attendance: Bob Leiner, Bob Norton, Linda Tingley, Bob Kenlay, Bill Cahill, 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 $2107.61.

Future meeting topics:
Feb 15 - Century Link, Peter Guanglia

Mar 15 - Keith Mackey, “Drones”

Apr 19 - Ocala Computer Clinic

May 17 - Malware Problems & Solutions, Bob Kenlay

June 21 - DECCA Services ?

July 19 - Q & A

Bill Cahill and Alan Marcus will work on a presentation for the Google Translator App.

The meeting adjourned at 9:40AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Bob Kenlay, Secretary

Windows 10 default for photos

Tech News and Views

Sometimes Windows 10 default settings can cause trouble. Suppose you try to open a picture, and it opens using a program such as Open Office but you want the picture to open in Photo. You need to change the default settings.

Click Start, Settings, System, Default Apps. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Set defaults by App. Find the program you want to use and click Set this program as default. Henceforth, all photos will open using the app you selected.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How to recover Yahoo password

Tech News and Views

Yahoo has been hacked a few times and as a result the service is making it more difficult for users to log on. Two step verification seems to be the rule. After you go through the normal log on procedure, Yahoo wants users to use the mobile device to verify the log on.

If Yahoo asks you to log on from a mobile device, click on Yahoo email on your mobile phone. A code will appear and you just have to click on it. That will activate the email on your computer.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why an ultralight computer might be a poor choice

Tech News and Views

Many users may be tempted to purchase ultralight computers because of their light weight and portability. But many ultralights have a serious defect. The batteries are often built in and can be nearly inaccessible.

To access the battery in one Dell computer I recently encountered, the user must remove a back panel, remove the memory, remove the optical drive, remove the keyboard and take off the palm rest. That process is not for the light of heart. Users will pay hefty service fees to have a professional change the battery.

By contrast, I recently changed the battery in my 17.3" laptop. Sliding a pair of locks released the battery. A replacement battery was purchased for $10 including shipping. The new battery just slid into place.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Do great things without doing much

Tech News and Views

For many years I have been asking club members to join the World Community Grid. There is no cost and your unused computer time will benefit millions of people and dozens of worthwhile causes.

World Community Grid enables anyone with a computer, smartphone or tablet to donate their unused computing power to advance cutting-edge scientific research on topics related to health, poverty and sustainability. Through the contributions of over 650,000 individuals and 460 organizations, World Community Grid has supported 28 research projects to date, including searches for more effective treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases. Other projects are looking for low-cost water filtration systems and new materials for capturing solar energy efficiently.

Click on the following link and then on Join Now.

I have been a member of the World Community Grid for many years. Supporters of the grid include IBM, National Geographic, Sony, Cummins and hundreds of others.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Easy way to highlight current URL

Tech News and Views

Here's an easy way to copy the address line (URL) of the page you're on. Simply hold down the CTRL key and the Letter L on the keyboard.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

OOMA 2nd level technical service

Tech News and Views

If you are using OOMA, the voice over Internet phone service, and need better technical support than the 1st level customer service is providing, you can call 1-888-711-6662. Press 1 and then choose option 3.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

How to draw a vertical line in Libreoffice

Tech News and Views

One of our members wondered how he could draw a vertical line in LibreOffice Writer. Here's the solution.

Navigate to the icon in the top menu bar that is indicated by the tool tip reading Line. Move the mouse cursor to the point in LibreOffice Writer where the line is to begin. Left click and then drag the mouse down. Stop when the line reaches the desired length.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Use History in Chrome to find what you want

Tech News and Views

Many computer users are unaware that they can easily find previous visited sites by using the History setting in the browser. In Chrome, for example, click the hamburger icon (three vertical dots at the top right of the page). Then click History and then History once more. Then, you can type in a search for the page you want or simply scroll down the list.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Quick bookmark shortcut keys

Tech News and Views

Did you know that you can quickly bookmark a site in all major browsers simply by holding down the CTRL + D keys on the keyboard?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Watch out for new Silverlight scam

Tech News and Views

Worldstart recently ran the following warning that all users should heed:

Tricky hackers are targeting people with a particularly nasty type of malware containing a keylogger. The folks at Proofpoint Security first reported this threat. A keylogger will record everything that’s typed into a PC. What’s scarier is that these crooks have targeted financial companies. That means this malware would be recording account numbers, social security numbers, passwords, and other personal information that can be used to steal your money and your identity.


This malware is disguised as a Microsoft Word attachment with the name “info.doc". When you open the document, it asks you to install Microsoft Silverlight to view the content. If you click the “install” button, you’ll end up installing malware instead of Silverlight.

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