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The Computer Tutor

Updated 2 days ago

Technology
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Computer repair, personal computer instruction in Safety Harbor, Clearwater, Tampa, St Pete

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Computer repair, personal computer instruction in Safety Harbor, Clearwater, Tampa, St Pete

iTunes Ratings

75 Ratings
Average Ratings
69
4
0
1
1

I learn so much!

By Bridget Carrie - Oct 24 2016
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This is probably the most valuable podcast around.

Great show

By pperk97 - Jul 22 2016
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Scott does a VERY good job at making the subjects meaningfull and easy.

iTunes Ratings

75 Ratings
Average Ratings
69
4
0
1
1

I learn so much!

By Bridget Carrie - Oct 24 2016
Read more
This is probably the most valuable podcast around.

Great show

By pperk97 - Jul 22 2016
Read more
Scott does a VERY good job at making the subjects meaningfull and easy.
Cover image of The Computer Tutor

The Computer Tutor

Latest release on Jan 20, 2020

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Computer repair, personal computer instruction in Safety Harbor, Clearwater, Tampa, St Pete

Rank #1: Over 5000 free TV channels with Rabbit TV?

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Recently I came across an interesting product called Rabbit TV (get it here).  You may have seen this as well.  The package advertises 5000 FREE TV channels.  Amazing!  I don’t even get that many channels with my Verizon FIOS television package.  I decided to buy it and see if it could really deliver what was being promised.

I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical, but wanted to give it a fair test.  As is typical of most “As Seen on TV” products, there were a lot of pretty big claims being made here.  The front of the package said, “Just Plug In and Watch TV!” but the back, in smaller print, advised to “read full instruction manual enclosed before use”.  It also claimed to make available 25,000 free movies and 50,000 free radio stations.  This is what the package looks like:

I opened the package and removed the device itself, along with the “full instruction manual”.  It is supposed to work with both Mac and PC computers.  Since I use a Windows 7 PC, I read the full instructions for use.  Here they are:

1. Plug RabbitTV into the USB port of your computer

2. Follow onscreen instructions to register device

Yes, that is literally the complete set of instructions.  I guess that means this product is pretty easy to use, right?



As instructed, I plugged the device into an available USB port.  This is what displayed on the screen:

I clicked to Run RabbitTV.  This is the next window that appeared:

I clicked the Start button.  That initiated a new tab being opened in my web browser.  It took me to this URL:  http://register.rabbittvgo.com/install/

On that page, the opening screen gave me the option to choose either Windows or Mac.  As soon as I clicked Windows, it immediately downloaded a small file (487 kb) and instructed me to run the file and install it.  The file name was “rabbittv-install.exe”.

(At this point I was wondering, why couldn’t the instruction manual just tell me to go to that website and download/install the file?)

I clicked to install the file.

NOTE: This is not something that I would recommend as a general policy.  If you don’t know what you are clicking on, or you don’t know what will happen when you click on something, the safest thing is to NOT click on it.  I created a System Restore point as an added layer of protection in case something went wrong, but that’s not a 100% guarantee of safety.

Here is what I saw next:

I clicked the “Install” button.  That took me to a web page that asked me to complete registration information (user name, password, name, address, email, phone and date of birth).  There is also a “Terms of Service” that you must agree to before submitting the form.  I copied and pasted the Terms of Service into a blank Word document and it came out to 8 pages (2,372 words).  I won’t go into all the details, but by clicking “Agree” you are signing up for their email newsletter and other emails with “new deals, discounts and new products”.  They also get the right to sell or disclose your information to third parties who may also email you.  To fill out the form, I used a “junk email” email address.

This is what came up next:

I had not noticed this earlier, but the back of the package says that my initial purchase of the device includes one year of service.  After that it’s $10 per year, or you can do 5 years for $45.

The next screen verified that I have Flash, Silverlight and Windows Media Player installed on my computer.

After that, I was in to the actual content area.  I have to say, I was surprised at what I found.  There is a lot of stuff here.

The content is divided into categories (I’ll list a few examples from each):

Latest TV Episodes – Nature, Criminal Minds, Chicago Fire, NOVA, CSI, Law and Order SVU, Modern Family, The Middle

Classic Shows – Andy Griffith, Dragnet, Flipper, Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island, Dick Van Dyke, Beverly Hillbillies

Popular Movies – S.W.A.T., Glory, Resident Evil, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Universal Soldier

Pay-Per-View Movies – Identity Thief, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher, Last Stand, Parker, Django, Safe Haven, Lincoln

TV Networks – Food Network, Cartoon Network, MTV, National Geographic, HGTV, SyFy, Comedy Central, Spike, Disney Channel

Live Web TV Channels – Aljazeera, NHL Network, FashionTV, HSN, QVC, CMC, KissTV, Hope Channel, Outdoor Cooking Channel

Radio and Music channels – Wolfgang’s Vault, Dave Ramsey Show, BBC Radio, I Heart Radio, Grooveshark, Last.FM, Pandora, MoshCam.com, Yahoo Sports Radio

There is also a search field where you can search for TV shows by the name of the show, actor names, network, etc.  If you want a specific show, it is best to do a search on the title.  There are so many different shows, it is unlikely that the one you are looking for will show up in the samples.

Every day there is a new “intro” video in the top left corner that plays automatically when the page is loaded.  That part I didn’t really care for.

Frankly, what I expected going in to this was a cheaply-done web interface that just directed the viewer to other websites that had this content.  RabbitTV definitely offers more than that.  Yes, some of the programming comes from other internet sites (such as Hulu and TV Land) and is just displayed inside the RabbitTV website frame.  But overall they have done a good job of aggregating a LOT of TV and movie content and put it all here in one place.  I think it was worth the $10.

Currently they are offering a deal where you can get an extra Rabbit TV device free when you buy one (you just pay the additional shipping).  You can get that deal here.

Aug 05 2013

9mins

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Rank #2: 352,235 Kindle books for borrowing… if you can find them

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Chances are you already own a Kindle.  If you don’t, what are you waiting for?  It gives you such easy access to books – roughly 2 million of them available to purchase from Amazon’s inventory.  If it’s 10 pm and you’re about to go to bed, and you wish you had something to read, just a couple of clicks and you have your next book right there ready for you.

But here’s something you might not be aware of – if you’re part of a particular group of people – a certain “club” so to speak – you can actually borrow one book per month.  So you can read books without purchasing them!  Currently there are over 350k books available for borrowing from Amazon’s huge inventory (the actual number changes all the time).



In order to be eligible for borrowing books for your Kindle, you must be a member of Amazon Prime.  I joined Prime a while ago because it just made financial sense.  Amazon Prime costs $75 per year.  Here are the major benefits:

What we’re looking at today is the opportunity to borrow books for your Kindle for free.  And these aren’t just old, dusty books that no one wants any more – these are popular books from all genres and categories.

Here’s the problem:  Amazon doesn’t make it easy to find the list of books available for borrowing.  Obviously, they would much rather you purchase a book, since that is how they make money.  So today I’m going to show you how to find that list of books to borrow.

Basically, you need to go to Amazon’s book section.  Then you need to filter out all of the books available with Amazon Prime benefits.  Then, from that selection, you need to filter out all of the Kindle books.  To make it easy, I made this video so you can see me doing it (see it bigger by clicking on the “Full screen” icon in the lower right corner):

To borrow these books, you do need to be an Amazon Prime member.  And, any books that are borrowed must be read on a Kindle device such as the Kindle reader or Kindle Fire tablet.

Jun 03 2013

9mins

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Rank #3: Chat live with a real Microsoft agent, right from your Windows 10 PC

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If you’re using Windows 10, your computer has the built-in ability to bring up a chat window so you can communicate with an actual person from Microsoft. You don’t have to go to their website, and you don’t have to pick up your phone.

All too often, someone will contact me about a computer problem, and the conversation starts with that person saying, “I was just talking with Microsoft on the phone, and they told me…”. At that point I already know what has happened. In most cases, I’ll let them continue and tell the rest of the story though. A lot of these people really want to tell me the details.

But in the end, I already know that the person they spoke with was not Microsoft, it was just a scammer pretending to be Microsoft. So I always have two questions:

  1. Did you allow this person to remote in to your computer?
  2. Did you give this person your credit card number?

The answers to those two questions will determine how we proceed. I still find it pretty amazing that people will still believe and trust a random stranger on the phone who claims to be with Microsoft, even though the scam is so widely known now.

But what if you need to actually talk with someone who really does work at Microsoft?

Maybe you got a new computer, and you’re trying to install Office 365, and it keeps coming up with an error. Well, Office 365 is a Microsoft product, and you paid them money for it, so they should be available to help you install it, right? Of course.

Rule #1 is don’t do a Google search to find their phone number. If you do that, it’s very likely you’ll be talking to another scammer.

And the truth is, you don’t even need to call them at all. And you don’t need to try to navigate the Microsoft website trying to get to tech support. You can bring up a Microsoft tech support agent in a chat window – right from your computer.

Here’s how you do it:

1. In the search box in the lower left corner, type: Support

2. In the search results that come up, click on “Contact Support”

3. Now you’ll see a chat window come up:

Don’t get too excited yet though, because you still haven’t contact a real person from Microsoft. This is just their artificial intelligence robot that they would like you to try to use first.

4. At this point, you can try typing your actual question, such as “I can’t install Office”. But that means you’re going to continue to have to work with the robot as it tries to figure out what your problem is. Instead, if you want to get to a real person, just type “I want to talk to a real person”. Then type it again.

5. They’ll still want you to at least indicate what kind of problem you’re having by choosing from a couple of dropdown menus:

So just choose the proper selections. In this case, in the first menu you would choose “Office” and in the second list you would choose “Tech Support”.

Then you get to find out how long you’ll be waiting. In this example, it was prime time – 8:30 pm on a weeknight – and I would have either been waiting about 1 1/2 hours for a call back by phone, or for the 15 people ahead of me in chat to get finished.

I usually prefer to use the chat window, since I then have a record of the conversation that I can refer back to if needed. And I don’t have to try to understand what the agent is saying if his non-US accent makes conversation difficult.

When you choose Chat, you’ll see a countdown so you’ll know when it’s getting close to being your turn. For some reason, even though there were 15 people ahead of me, in the chat window my position was 22. Not sure how that happened.

When your turn comes up, you’ll actually be chatting with a real live person from Microsoft! Well, more likely someone working from their home in India or the Philippines, as a contractor for Microsoft. But at least you’ll know you’re not speaking to a scammer.

Jan 22 2018

10mins

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Rank #4: How to move lots of data easily and smoothly on your PC

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Something I used to dread: copying a large amount of data from one location to another.  For example, a 1500-song music collection from a computer’s hard drive to an external drive.  Or 100 folders with 50 gb of high-resolution photos from a portable drive to a new computer.  When you have to move a big chunk of data like that in Windows, there is a very good probability that something will go wrong.

Here is what usually happens.  You will start the process either by dragging the data from one folder to another or by the copy + paste method.  The copying progress window opens, and when you click on the “More details” button it tells you that the process is going to take a few hours.  So you just let it go about doing what it needs to do while you go do something else.  For me, I often let jobs like this happen overnight so that it will be done in the morning.



But the unpleasant surprise happens when you come back to the computer a few hours later, or the following morning, when it’s supposed to be all done.  Rather than seeing that the process completed successfully, you instead see an error message that says some specific file in some random folder was unable to be copied.  Which means that the copying process STOPPED at that point and didn’t copy over any more data after that.

I find this incredibly frustrating.

This error message could have popped up 10 minutes after you walked away from the computer, so all that time you thought it was working is now wasted time.

Not only that, but you probably don’t even know where this file is that was not able to be copied.  It might be a few “sub-folders” down, which means the only way to find it is to have your computer do a search through that 50 gb of data.  And what if you have several files or folders by that same name?  How do you know which one caused the interruption?

This is something that you would expect Microsoft would have fixed by now.  And to be fair, the file copy process in Windows 8 is a big improvement over previous versions (in fact, that is one of the very few things that are actually good about Windows 8).  But most of us don’t use Windows 8.  We use Windows 7 (or at least that’s what we SHOULD be using).

Now there is a solution for the rest of us:  Teracopy.  Get it at www.TeraCopy.com.  It’s free for personal use

Teracopy solves the problems mentioned above, and has some other features as well.

From their website:

When you first install and run TeraCopy, you will see a window like this:

As you can see, you can drag any files to the top part of the window, and in the “target folder” field you can designate where you want them to go.  If you click the “More” button you get a bigger window with more options:

However, that is not how I have been using it.

One of the features listed (above) is “Shell integration”.  This just means you can copy and paste like you always have in the past, but instead of using the traditional copy/paste function built into Windows, you will be copying and pasting with TeraCopy.  So I have just been doing my standard “Ctrl + C” and “Ctrl + V” and TeraCopy does its job seamlessly.

I recently used this to copy about 138 gb of data from an external drive to a laptop drive.  It worked beautifully!  I saw the details of the process as it was happening – which individual file was being copied at any given time, where that file was originally located, and the progress (expressed as a percentage) in a progress bar as it happened.

TeraCopy is free for personal use, and if you want to use it commercially you can get a license for just $19.95.  The commercial version also comes with w few more features.  Most people will probably be fine with the free, personal version.

Note: while you are at the TeraCopy website, you might want to check out some of their other products – they have some interesting programs, as well as some smartphone apps that you might find useful.  Sorry Mac users – looks like all of their products are for Windows or Android.

Jul 08 2013

8mins

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Rank #5: A little program that I now can’t live without

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I love little pieces of software that focus on a single problem and solve it efficiently. A while back I found something that does this, and now I use it every day. In fact, if it’s turned off for some reason, I notice the difference almost immediately. And it’s free.

Here’s the problem:

Windows has this thing called “focus”. This basically just means that one window is always “in front of” any other open windows. Whatever window you’re currently working on, that’s the window that is in front of the others – it has the focus. Even if two windows are side by side, only one of them can have the focus at a time.

If you’re working in one window and then move your mouse over to a website and try to scroll down the website page, nothing will happen because that window doesn’t have focus. In order to do anything in the web browser window, you have to first click somewhere in that window to tell the computer “Hey, give this window the focus now” – and then you can scroll down the page.

It’s just one of those weird things that has been in effect in Windows computers for many years. Most people have gotten so used to it that it might not even seem like an inconvenience.

But wait til you get used to NOT having that inconvenience!

Wizmouse is a free program (get it here) and it’s very small so it uses almost no resources. When it’s running, it eliminates the “focus” feature in Windows. You don’t have to keep clicking on whatever window you want to work with in order to do anything – all you have to do is move the cursor to that window and start working.

Wherever your mouse is, that window has the focus!

When you download and install Wizmouse, you’ll have a window that has some options available to you. For me, I just check the boxes to make sure Wizmouse is enabled, and I have it start with Windows so that it’s running all the time. And I have it run as Administrator.

Sometimes when I’m recording my podcast, before I hit “Record” I’ll go through and shut down whatever programs are running in order to give the audio recording the full use of the processor and memory. Later on, when I start using the computer for other things, it’s a very short time before I realize Wizmouse is disabled and I need to start it up again because I am so used to the way it makes windows work. I’ll bet you get spoiled by it pretty quickly too.

Also – Wizmouse is free, but you’ll notice on the website and on the settings screen in the program, there’s a button to click if you want to donate to the programmer who created it. Always a nice thing to do.

Feb 01 2016

8mins

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Rank #6: TEN handy Windows 10 shortcuts

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Windows 10 is just LOADED with some really great shortcuts, and a lot of people don’t know about many of them. I’m sure I don’t know about all of them. But here are ten shortcuts that I (and others) have found really handy.

Shortcut #1
If you’re using Chrome or Firefox, with a bunch of tabs open, and you accidentally close one – don’t panic! Just hit Ctrl + Shift + T and the tab that got closed will automatically re-open.

Shortcut #2
In just about every program, Ctrl + Z will undo your last action.

Shortcut #3
If you want to open Task Manager, you don’t have to hit Ctrl + Alt +Delete and then click it. You just have to hit Ctrl + Shift + Esc.

Shortcut #4
If you’re searching Google for a word or name, and you find yourself on a website that has a mile of text, don’t scroll down the page trying to spot that word. Hit Ctrl + F and type the word, and you’ll see every place that word appears on that entire page.

Shortcut #5
If you drag a file with the RIGHT mouse button instead of the left, when you let go you’ll get a little menu asking if you want to copy that file, move it, or create a shortcut to it.

Shortcut #6
If you have several windows open but need to get to a file or icon on the desktop screen, hit the Windows key + D. All windows will be minimized so you can see the desktop.

Shortcut #7
After you hit the Windows key + D in tip #6 to minimize all your windows, hit it again and they’re all back again.

Shortcut #8
If you want to make sure your Google search results DON’T include anything from Pinterest, just put this in front of your search word(s): -site:pinterest.com

Shortcut #9
If you get a pop-up window with audio telling you your computer has major problems and that you should not shut it down, shut down the computer. Just hold in the power button for 10 seconds or until the computer shuts off. Wait a minute, then turn it back on. That pop-up and audio message is just a scam.

Shortcut #10
This one will blow your mind if you don’t already know about it. Hit Ctrl + Windows key + D to create a new virtual desktop. It’s like a whole separate desktop screen, but no windows are open. So now you have two separate, usable desktop screens. You can switch back and forth between them by hitting Ctrl + Windows key + left/right arrow. If you want to close the one you’re in, it’s Ctrl + Windows key + F4. OR, you can just hit Windows key + Tab to see all of your virtual desktops and manually close them or add new ones.

Virtual desktops are handy if you want to have a bunch of research windows open on one desktop, and the paper you’re writing on the other desktop. Or if you want to let someone else use your computer temporarily without having all of your windows available to be seen.

And a BONUS Shortcut:
Hit the Windows key + “.” (just the period, without the quotes). Go ahead, it’s safe.

Mar 04 2019

11mins

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Rank #7: How I customize Chrome

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Chrome is great even if you just leave it alone and use it with the default settings. But I like to customize and “tweak” it a few different ways to make it even better.

Basically what I’m describing here today is the process I go through when I’m setting up Chrome on a client’s computer they’ve just purchased, or on a laptop that I’ll have available for sale.

The following steps involve going in to the Chrome Settings. To get to that area, you need to click the 3 little dots in the top right area of the Chrome window (see below). That will give you a menu, and in that menu you can click on “Settings”.

1. Set Chrome as the default browser. In a new computer, Windows 10 REALLY wants you to use their Edge browser to view websites. So if you don’t change anything, Edge will be the default browser. In Windows 7 or 8, the default is Internet Explorer. We don’t want that; we want Chrome. So go into Settings , scroll down to the “Default browser” section and click on “Make Default”:

For Windows 7 or 8, that’s just about all you have to do. For Windows 10, it will take you to a “Default Programs” page in the Windows settings, and you have to choose Chrome from a list. They’ll pop up a message about how great Edge is to talk you out of it, but you just click on “Switch anyway” and it’s done.

2. Set your home page tabs. When Chrome opens, you can have it open just one tab to whatever website you want (such as just the plain Google search page, or Facebook, or something else). Or, you can have it open a bunch of tabs with a different website in each one. For me, I have about a half-dozen tabs open each time I open Chrome (these are websites I visit regularly).

So the first thing you do is open up whatever websites you want, one in each tab. You just need to get Chrome set with those websites. Then click to the Settings area, and scroll down to the “On Startup” section, and click on “Open a specific page or set of pages”, then click on “Use Current Pages”.

Now close Chrome and open it again, and you’ll see all of your tabs are right there, and they’ll be there like that every time you open Chrome.

3. Set your default search engine to Google, and get rid of the others. Of course, since Chrome is a Google product, the default search should be Google already. So just go to Settings and scroll down to the “Search Engine” section. Make sure Google is the one displayed like this:

Then click on the “Manage Search Engines” arrow and you’ll see a list of the “other” search engines that are available (like below). Click on the 3 dots out at the right side of each one, and choose to remove them one by one (except for Google, of course).

Why Google even includes those other search engines, I don’t know (especially junk like Ask).

4. Set up your ad blocker. I wrote a whole blog post about this recently. The ad blocker I use and recommend is uBlock Origin. If you open Chrome and do a Google search for “ublock origin” it will be the first thing that comes up. Just click it and follow the instructions for installing it as an extension in Chrome. It’s the best thing in the world for blocking ads on almost any website you visit.

For my own computer, the other extension that I definitely install is LastPass. This is the program that stores all of my passwords for me. This means that I can use really long, random passwords – and LastPass actually creates them for me as well. I don’t set up LastPass on the laptops that I sell because you have to have a LastPass account (which is free). But I definitely recommend it.

5. Display the bookmarks toolbar. For websites I check on regularly, I like the convenience of having them right at the top of my Chrome window, ready for me to click at any time. To do that, you have to tell Chrome to display that toolbar all the time. To do that, just hold down Ctrl and Shift, and tap the letter “b” (for bookmarks). You’ll see the toolbar show up right under the address bar in Chrome. And you can drag any website address there you want, and it will always show up there for quick, easy access.

These are the things I do as part of my routine when setting up Chrome. But of course, there are LOTS more ways you can customize it. There are thousands of Chrome extensions that do all kinds of cool things (in fact, I’ll probably do a blog post about the best Chrome extensions at some point – if you have a great one, let me know about it).

Jul 10 2017

12mins

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Rank #8: 3 Cool YouTube Tricks

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This week I’m going to show you some interesting things you can do with YouTube. You might not use all of them, but hopefully you will find one or two of them helpful, or at least fun to try out. I love “discovering” these kinds of little-known things and bringing them to you here on my blog, and on my podcast.

Trick 1: Download any YouTube video to your computer, without installing other software

Sometimes you might watch a video you really like, so you bookmark it for easy access. But then you go back to YouTube a week later or a month later, and it’s gone. That happens all that time, for a variety of reasons. You can avoid that problem though. Instead of bookmarking it to go back and watch it on YouTube, just download the video to your own computer.  Then you can watch it anytime – even if you aren’t connected to the internet.

Example:

You like this video of this guy ranting about waiting in line at the post office (it actually is a pretty funny video if you want to watch it). When the video is on your screen, look up at the address bar. You’ll see the web address of the video displayed there (it’s also called the URL).  It looks like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDvaJJyUpTs

All you have to do is click in the address bar, and change the web address to this:

pwnyoutube.com/watch?v=vDvaJJyUpTs

and then hit the Enter key on your keyboard. This will take you to a page where you will see a little preview of the video, and links where you can click to download the video.  Those links take you to a variety of other sites. Check them out and see which one you like best.

Yes, I know you could just go directly to any of those sites and copy/paste the URL of the video itself. The idea with these little YouTube tricks is that you don’t have to remember or bookmark all those other websites in order to download the video. Just add “pwn” to the YouTube address.

Trick 2: Download just the AUDIO from any YouTube video

Maybe you subscribe to a YouTube channel that puts out a new video each day or each week, but you don’t really need to see the video portion. For some videos, the only thing to see is the person talking to the camera. Or, maybe you want to listen to the content while you’re driving, and it’s obviously not safe to watch the video then, so all you need is the audio. When you have the audio file saved, you can listen to it on your computer, or you could put it on your MP3 player or your phone for listening at your convenience.

Example:

There’s a video of Eric Clapton performing unplugged in 1992.  It’s a little over an hour long, so if you’re a Clapton fan, it would make a great sound file for while you’re out on a run, but obviously you don’t want to stream the video from YouTube and watch it while you’re running. You just need to do a little tweaking to the URL, similar to what we did in the first trick.

The web address of the video will look like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w24A2eesrUA

You will want to move your cursor up there and change it to this:

listentoyoutube.com/watch?v=w24A2eesrUA

That takes you to a new page.  Look for this image and click the Go button. NOTE: This site has a lot of display ads and you might be tempted to click on things other than what I describe below. Don’t do that.

That will take you to a different page, where you’ll see a link to click for your Download button:

Finally, you’ll see a button to actually download the audio file in MP3 format:

When you click that, the file will be saved to your computer (usually it goes in the Downloads folder, but it might go somewhere else if you have set your preferences differently from the default).

Trick 3: Play a video from a certain starting point

You find a video on YouTube, and it shows people walking on a sidewalk where there’s a patch of ice. We all love to watch people fall down, right? The problem is, this video goes quite a way in before you actually see someone fall down. You know if you post this on Facebook, people will get bored pretty quickly if they don’t see some slipping and falling pretty quickly.

So what you need to do is “tweak” the URL so that the video doesn’t start playing at the very beginning – it starts playing at the point you want it to. Here’s the video we’ll use:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDCwMfUhv24

You check the video and find out that there are a bunch of people that “almost” fall, but the first person that actually hits the ground happens at the [1:32] point in the video.  So that’s where you want the video to start playing.

First, you have to convert that initial stretch of time to seconds.  One minute and 32 seconds translates to 92 seconds total, so “92” is the important number here. All you have to do is add #t=92 to the end of the video address.  So the adjusted URL would look like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDCwMfUhv24#t=92

Of course, you can substitute any number at the end, depending on exactly where you want to video to start playing when someone goes to that address.

What YouTube tricks do YOU know? Put them in the comments below!

Sep 01 2014

17mins

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Rank #9: The Verification Code scam

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Today we’re talking about a scam that’s making the rounds but a lot of people aren’t aware of how it works, or even the fact that it IS a scam. But it can cause you some headaches if you fall for it.

We’ve all become pretty accustomed to verification codes. If a company or website needs to verify your identity, they will commonly send a text message with a 6-digit verification code, which you then need to enter on the website to prove that you are the person you say you are. (Really, it just proves that you have access to that person’s phone, but usually that’s good enough).

But now, the scammers are using the verification code process for their own nefarious purposes. Specifically, they want to create new online accounts, such as a Craigslist account, using YOUR phone number.

When a scammer does this, there are basically two main steps to the process.

Step One – start creating the Craigslist account

The scammer will go in to the Craigslist site and start the process of creating a new account. Of course, he only wants to use this account to scam people. Craigslist knows that this is very common, so they require any new account to have a phone number, and they have to VERIFY that phone number.

So the scammer gets most of the way in to the process of creating the new account, right up to where Craigslist is asking for the phone number. That’s where they pause for a minute.

Step Two – hijacking your phone number

The most common victim for this scam is someone who is selling something on Craigslist, and includes their phone number in the contact info.

The scammer sends you a text message saying, “Hey I want to buy your ____ ” (whatever you’re selling).

You respond, but then he comes back and says “There’s a lot of scammers on Craigslist these days. I’d like to verify you first. I just sent a code on your phone. Reply to this text and tell me the code, to prove you’re a real person!”

But of course, the code that got sent didn’t really come from him. It came from Craigslist, because he used YOUR phone number to verify his new account. When you send him the code, he enters it on his Craigslist application and this “confirms” to Craigslist that he owns that phone number. Even though he doesn’t own it – you own it.

At this point, your phone number is associated with the scammer’s new account. This means that he can now post ads on Craigslist for the next 90 days without any further verification. Any spam or illegal activities done on that account will be connected to your phone number. And that also means if you try to register for your OWN account on Craigslist, you probably won’t be able to do so, since your phone number has a bad history.

This process can also be used with Google, and that means the scammer can use your phone number to get their own Google Voice number, so they can make phone calls and send text messages to scam other people.

In the worst cases, illegal activity done on these fake/scam accounts might involve law enforcement investigating who is responsible. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to explain why your phone number is the “verified” number on a scammer’s account.

Bottom line: don’t give any verification code to anyone.

Jan 07 2019

8mins

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Rank #10: Malwarebytes plan is changing – get your lifetime license while you can!

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Update: Unfortunately, since version 2 was released, Malwarebytes is no longer working properly. In fact I have seen on several computers where it is messing up other programs, including my clients’ online file backup software. I am recommending that Malwarebytes be uninstalled. The security software we now use and recommend is here.

I have been using and recommending Malwarebytes (the paid version) for many years now.  It’s a great tool, and provides a good level of security in addition to your antivirus program.  Malwarebytes recently announced that their business model is changing.  This means that you have a window of opportunity to take advantage of their current pricing, because it will soon change permanently from a single payment lifetime license to an annual subscription.

As a refresher –

Malwarebytes has 2 options for their antispyware program.  You can get the free version or the paid version.

The free version installs on your computer, and you can run it whenever you want to do a scan.  When you run it, it will update itself and scan your drives for any malicious software, then remove it for you.  But, if you never run it, it won’t do anything other than sit on your computer.

The paid version runs all the time in the background (you can see it in the System Tray when it’s running).  This means it will block that stuff from coming into your computer in the first place.  Also, the paid version has a Website Blocker, so it will pop up a warning if you are about to click through to a malicious or infected website.

In my opinion, your computer will be properly protected if you use Microsoft Security Essentials (free antivirus) in combination with the paid version of Malwarebytes.

For many years, Malwarebytes has charged $24.95 for the paid version.  This is a lifetime license for your computer.  And in fact you could install Malwarebytes on your next computer and use the same license codes.  This was a great deal (and you even get a discount if you purchased licenses for 2 or more computers at the same time).

That is now changing.

Malwarebytes is about to come out with version 2, and with the introduction of that, they are changing to an annual subscription.  The new pricing will be $24.95 per year.  In addition, this one license will be good for 3 computers.

Here is the important thing to note: at the time of this blog post, you can still purchase the lifetime license for the single payment of $24.95.  You can get it here.  (Note: that’s an affiliate link, so when you purchase from that link they will pay me a small commission.)

Some questions and answers:

Question: When is the price officially going to go up to the annual subscription model?
Answer: Malwarebytes has not announced a specific date when version 2 will be released and the subscription model will go into effect.

Question: If I buy the lifetime license now, will I still get version 2 when it is released?
Answer: Yes

I am one of the beta testers for the version 2 software, and I really like it.  It has a much more modern interface, and it’s easy to use.  I have it installed on my Windows 8 computer, so by the time you get the full release version 2 I will be very familiar with it and can help you configure it if needed.

Personally, I am glad they are changing to the annual subscription model.  The one-time payment for a lifetime license was really way underpriced.  The company provides daily updates to the malware definitions, which requires a lot of resources to keep up with.  Plus they have come out with a new version of the program a few times, which is also expensive.  By creating a more predictable cash flow annually, it will enable them to invest more into new products and development, and we will all benefit from that by having a safer computer experience.

Another positive from this is that Malwarebytes did not opt to keep the product free but put in advertising or junk downloads or toolbars.  I would rather pay a few dollars for a product annually than have to navigate through all that garbage.

Finally, you should go check out their site at Malwarebytes.org.  They have a LOT more software than just Malwarebytes, and several are free:

  • File Assassin: got a file on your computer that you can’t delete because Windows says it is locked?  Unlock it with this program (free)
  • Reg Assassin: cleans out malware entries in your computer’s registry (free).
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit: finds rootkits (malware that works at the root of your C drive) and gets rid of them.  Note that this is a product currently in beta testing stage (free).

Get your lifetime Malwarebytes license: ComputerTutorFlorida.com/malwarebytes

Feb 17 2014

12mins

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Rank #11: For computer security, you need these 3 things

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Update: Unfortunately, since version 2 was released, Malwarebytes is no longer working properly. In fact I have seen on several computers where it is messing up other programs, including my clients’ online file backup software. I am recommending that Malwarebytes be uninstalled. The security software we now use and recommend is here.

“What’s the best antivirus to use?”  It’s a question that I am asked on a pretty regular basis.  There are lots of choices out there, and everyone seems to have a different opinion.  In the end, of course, that’s all I can really offer – my opinion.  But it is based on lots of experience, and it has worked for me as well as hundreds of my clients.

I feel that there are 3 primary things – 3 important components – that are needed in order to keep your computer secure.  A quick abbreviation of these would be MSE, MB, and UB.

Thing One: a decent antivirus program

The one I use and recommend is Microsoft Security Essentials.  Get it here.  It’s free.  It will update itself automatically, and it will do a scan either daily or weekly, depending on what you prefer (I just do a scan once a week).  If you use Windows 8, you already have this program installed – but it’s called Defender.  Essentially the same program.  But you need to make sure it is already running, updating and scanning.

I’ve been using MSE for more than 3 years now and have been pretty happy with it.  However, just having it installed without the other 2 computer security components would be insufficient.

Thing Two: a good anti-malware program

I’ve been using Malwarebytes for years and highly recommend it.  Get it here (affiliate link).  You might be tempted to just get the free version, but don’t do it.  Get the “Pro” version.  It only costs $24.95 per year and that gives you licenses for 3 computers.

Here’s the difference.  The free version is installed on your computer, but it doesn’t do anything unless you remember to click on it manually and do a scan.  If it finds bad stuff, you can get rid of it then.  But wouldn’t you want to keep that stuff off your computer in the first place?  The Pro version runs all the time in the background, and will potentially block a lot of the malware that tries to get in.  It will also update itself and scan your computer on whatever schedule you prefer.  And a bonus feature: if you happen to click on a link that leads to an infected or known malicious website, Malwarebytes Pro will throw up a red flag and block you from going there.

So it’s important to have both of those programs installed and running on your computer.  But without the third component, you’re still going to be vulnerable.

Thing Three: User Behavior

I might even venture to say that the User Behavior component is the most important of the 3 things.  By this, I mean that you – the user of your computer – need to always be aware of what you are doing.  Whether you are reading email, doing a Google search, or playing an online game, you must be careful and deliberate about where you go and what you click on.  Don’t be this person:

Here are some basic guidelines:

1. Don’t open email attachments unless you know what it is.  This is regardless of who the email says it’s from, and regardless of what the text in the email says.  Most people know this already, but even computer users that are aware of this can get tricked into clicking on an attachment.  That’s why email attachments are still the primary way that viruses are distributed.

2. Don’t trust Google search results to be safe.  A large portion of the websites that come up in Google searches are just there to infect your computer with junkware/malware/adware.  Especially dangerous are searches for free games, free music, free screensavers, etc.  Scammers know that millions of people search for these things all the time, and they’re ready.

3. Don’t assume that “tech support” person on the phone is legitimate.  Fake tech support is a huge scam now, and continues to grow.  If you’re looking for tech support, remember #2 above – you might find a website that claims that they are certified by Yahoo, or that they are affiliated with Google, or that they work for Microsoft.  But they don’t.  And if you get an unexpected phone call from ANY person or company that claims your computer is “sending out errors” or something similar, and they are contacting you to help fix it, it is a scam.  Don’t give them access to your computer, and don’t give them your credit card (they will ask for both).  Just hang up.

(For some entertainment, and to see how clever the fake tech support guys are, check out this video I made when I was talking to one of them and pretending to be an unsuspecting victim.)

4. Don’t let software get installed unless you know what it is.  This is another huge issue, and I see the effects of it on most computers I work on.  You might go looking for a legitimate program, such as CCleaner or Adobe Reader.  That program itself is okay, but during the installation they will try to slip in other software that you didn’t request and don’t need.  You need to be constantly on the lookout for checkboxes that are pre-checked by default, and for “Agree” or “Accept” buttons that are really just granting permission for junk software to get installed on your computer.

So there they are – the 3 important components of computer security.  If you’re only using one or two of them, you are only partially protected.  Don’t be a victim.

Apr 21 2014

16mins

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Rank #12: How to cancel any social media account

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For some people, the novelty of social media has worn thin.  Facebook is constantly wanting more and more of your personal information, because that’s their biggest selling point to advertisers.  Twitter hashtags are displayed on just about any television show now, and YouTube videos are showing up virtually everywhere.  If you get to the point where you say, “That’s it, I’m done – no more social media” do you know how to go about cancelling those accounts?  I’ll show you a really easy way today.

Actually I shouldn’t say it’s definitely “easy” – it really depends on what account(s) you want to cancel.  Some sites make it a simple process, and other sites make it nearly impossible.

But thankfully, there is one website that can guide you through the process for cancelling almost ANY online accounts, social media or otherwise.  That site is AccountKiller.

Using AccountKiller is free, although they encourage you to make a donation if you find the site useful (and if you want to cancel some online accounts, it is definitely useful).

The site doesn’t actually cancel the account(s) for you.  It just tells you how to do it, and even provides a link to the actual cancellation page when there is one available.  There is also usually some handy advice or tips on how to go about cancelling, and what ramifications there might be for cancelling your account with that particular site.

For example, let’s say you want to cancel your Yahoo.com account.  AccountKiller gives you the exact URL for the cancellation page (https://edit.yahoo.com/config/delete_user).  They also tell you:

  • If you have publicly visible images posted, those aren’t always deleted even when you cancel your account successfully.  It’s a good idea to manually delete them before you cancel the account.
  • Your Yahoo account is connected to your Flickr account, so if you cancel Yahoo, you also cancel Flickr.  But if you want, you can go and cancel your Flickr account separately without cancelling your Yahoo account.

There are details like that for hundreds of online accounts.  They have the various accounts categorized by color:

  • White – easy to cancel, sometimes with just a click or two
  • Black – very difficult or impossible to cancel
  • Gray – somewhere in between

If you have an account you want to cancel and you don’t see it listed there (which would be fairly unlikely), you can send it to them as a suggestion and they will research it and eventually post it along with the others.  Great resource.

http://www.accountkiller.com

Aug 18 2014

13mins

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Rank #13: 6 ways to really mess up your computer

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Everyone at some point gets really angry at their computer. Either it’s too slow, or it doesn’t do what you expect it to do, or some other thing – and you get really frustrated with it. Want to get even with your computer? Here are some ways to really mess it up!

  1. Whenever you see a link, click on it!
    Lots of opportunities here. Someone might send you a link in an email, or better yet, a friend might put a link on Facebook when they update their status. If you see one that seems to lead to something interesting, just click on it immediately without even thinking about it. After all, it’s on Facebook and your friend wouldn’t have posted it unless it was something he wanted you to click on, right? That link just might take you to some website or download that will really teach your computer a lesson.
  2. Let that thing overheat!
    Computers have it so easy – they can go to sleep after a little while, they don’t work all the time, and most of all – they are just about always running in a comfortable, temperature-controlled environment. No more! Laptops are the worst for this, and the easiest to mess up. Just fire up your laptop, then go use it while you’re in bed. You want to just set it right on your mattress or blanket, and make sure the exhaust port (where the fan blows out the hot air) is completely covered up so that the heated air has to stay inside the machine. Now your laptop can know what it was like in the days before air conditioning!
  3. Open every email attachment!
    You get emails all day, so there are LOTS of chances sitting right there in front of you to cause problems for your computer. IRS sending you a bill? Fedex says they can’t find your house and to check the attached invoice? State government says you drove through a toll booth without paying so they’re attaching the bill to your email? These are all scams and the “invoice” is really just a virus – so just open every one of them and your computer will have all kinds of regrets at ever acting up.
  4. Avoid all the updates for your computer!
    You know those stupid updates that are always popping up – Java has an update, Adobe has an update, iTunes has an update. Why all the updates? Most of them are to patch up security holes in programs that are already installed on your computer. Well, maybe your computer could use a little INsecurity as a wake-up call. So when you see an update come up, just ignore it. Pretty soon your various programs will be so outdated and insecure, your computer won’t know what to do!
  5. Ignore those error messages!
    Everyone hates when an error message comes up. If your computer had its way, you would write down the error message so that you could relay it accurately to your computer tech, and that is one step toward solving whatever the problem is. Yeah, your computer would love to have it that easy, right? So just do the easiest thing – close that message and forget about it. Sure, it will probably keep coming back since the underlying problem hasn’t been solved – but how does your computer learn who’s in charge if you just give it whatever it asks for?
  6. Thunderstorm? Leave that thing plugged in!
    Computers are such sissies. They just don’t know how to handle a little bit of thunder and lightning. Some computer owners actually go around and unplug their computers from the wall during a thunderstorm, since that means the equipment can’t be damaged by a nearby lightning strike or voltage surge. That’s just giving in to the whims of your machine. Leave everything plugged in, even during an electrical storm. A little high-voltage could give your computer a headache it will never forget!

Okay… I hope you know that all of the above was sarcasm. If you really do want to mess up your computer, those are ways that I see happening all the time. But you should do the opposite of those things if you want your computer to run smoothly and do what it’s supposed to do.

Aug 31 2015

8mins

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Rank #14: Quick way to see if a website is malicious

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Every day, there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of new malicious websites coming into existence on the internet. It’s very common now, when you do a Google search, for many of the search results to be websites that you should definitely not click on. You’d think Google would have that figured out by now, so that those sites don’t show up so well in the rankings. But they are still there, so you have to be very careful.

The question is: How can you know if a site is safe or not, unless you click on it?

The answer is: Let Google check it for you

Not many people know about it, but Google offers a “safe browsing” check so that you can get their evaluation of whether or not a site is malicious – and you never have to visit the website itself to do that.

Here’s an example of how you would check on the safety of visiting a particular website:

Let’s say your computer starts crashing sometimes, and it’s starting to happen often enough to become annoying. And, you don’t really know what is causing it to crash. But every time it freezes up, it comes up with this error message that seems to be giving you some kind of report of what happened, but it looks like a bunch of computer code that doesn’t mean anything unless you’re a computer geek that knows that language.

So you do a Google search for “Windows crash report” to see if you can find any helpful information. And what do you know – there’s a website that comes up in that Google search that seems to be just what you’re looking for. The website is Windows-Crash-Report.info. Wow, it sounds like exactly what you need, right? It must have all the answers! WRONG.

When a scammer is creating a website, he wants you to think it’s a legitimate website. He wants you to think this site has the answers you are searching for. He wants you to think it’s safe to click and view the website. Don’t fall into that trap – because in some cases, as soon as you click, you’re in trouble.

Instead, check the site using this website address format:

http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=SuspiciousWebsite.com

But instead of “suspiciouswebsite.com” at the end, you would just put in the website you want to check on. Note that you don’t include “http” or “www” or anything like that, and nothing after the “.com”. Just the domain name by itself.

So if we wanted to check on the site I mentioned above, we would type this address into the address bar:

http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=windows-crash-report.info

When you hit enter, Google comes up immediately with a brief report that tells you what their evaluation is for that site and whether it’s probably safe to go there.

In this case, Google has this to say about that website:

As you can see, Google is not coming out and clearly stating “this site is dangerous”, but they do state that the site had some suspicious activity detected over 90 days ago, and for me that’s enough to keep me from clicking through to it.

Does this seem like a lot of hassle to go through, just to see if a website is malicious before you visit it? Yeah, maybe. But from my standpoint, I can tell you that I have people bring me computers all the time that have gotten infected just because someone decided to click an unknown link “just this once” out of curiosity, and almost immediately they regretted it. You can avoid that. Be safe!

Nov 09 2015

9mins

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Rank #15: Time to get rid of CCleaner

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In the world of computers and security, there are some companies that once had a decent reputation but went downhill and now cannot be recommended or trusted. I would now put CCleaner in that category. Here’s the story.

CCleaner was actually introduced in 2003 – 15 years ago. But it wasn’t rolled out under that name initially. Its original name was Crap Cleaner. This was because it was supposed to get rid of a lot of the things that might be clogging up your computer, such as registry errors and temp files. After a while, I guess the software developers decided that the word “crap” was offensive to some people so they just changed it to CCleaner.

Even back then, CCleaner was one of those programs that it SOUNDS like you might need for your computer. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to clear out those files and things to keep your computer running nice and fast? But in reality, it’s not something you ever needed. Cleaning out temp files and fixing registry errors (even though that initial scan might show hundreds or thousands of registry issues) just won’t make any noticeable difference in how your computer runs.

But it was free, so no harm done at that point, right?

Then a few years ago, it started to get obnoxious. I noticed when I saw it on a computer, there would be the CCleaner icon in the lower right corner – meaning that it was running all the time in the background. Apparently it was now “monitoring” the computer for problems. Well, that was not acceptable. The more programs you have running at the same time, the slower they all run. And since CCleaner does not provide any needed service anyway, I certainly didn’t want it to be slowing down the computer.

But since then, CCleaner has taken another step in the wrong direction.

Brief backstory – you may have read here or heard me on the podcast talking about AVG. A long time ago, it was a decent free antivirus program. For the past few years, however, it has been more of a distributor of malware rather than a preventer of it (I wrote about that here). It’s a bad thing to have on your computer. Well, AVG is owned by Avast (another bad antivirus). And as of about a year ago, CCleaner is also owned by Avast. So they are moving the same direction, and it’s not a good one.

Consider these observations:

  • By default, when you install CCleaner, it automatically runs in the background every time you boot up. This is the “monitoring feature” and in more recent versions it’s not easy to disable this.
  • You also can’t easily terminate the program when it’s running – there’s no option to “Exit” or “Quit”.
  • Avast purchased CCleaner in July 2017. Within a month, they were distributing a hacked, infected version to anyone who downloaded it. They didn’t even discover or correct this for 4 weeks. And Avast is supposed to be a security company.
  • The Avast web browser is designed to look very much like Chrome, and in some cases users think they are using Chrome but they are actually using this other inferior, bordering-on-malware browser.
  • CCleaner now comes with those wonderful pop-up advertisements that we all know and love.

When you consider all of those factors, on top of the fact that CCleaner’s functions aren’t even needed in the first place, it’s a no-brainer – get rid of it.

Fortunately, removal is easy – just go to Control Panel or Settings, find it in the list and Uninstall.

Sep 17 2018

9mins

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Rank #16: A couple of handy features in Google Chrome

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My default web browser is Google Chrome. I also use Firefox for some things and it’s fine, but I really like Chrome. Recently I came across a couple of interesting things in Chrome.

Feature #1: Customize website zoom level

Have you noticed that as you get older, some of the text on certain websites gets smaller and harder to read? It’s an interesting phenomenon. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my eyesight changing as I age. Must just be a defect in the computer, right? Of course.

I’ve found this to be an issue only with some websites, not all. So certain websites I view at 100%, some 125%, some 150%. The nice thing with Chrome is that you don’t have to adjust the zoom each time you visit a particular website – you can set the preferred zoom level, and Chrome remembers it.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to a website for which you need to adjust the size of the text (make sure this is the only tab open in Chrome).
  2. Hold down the CTRL button on your keyboard, and roll the wheel on your mouse to adjust the size of the text. Rolling the mouse wheel away from you makes the text larger, and rolling it toward you makes the text smaller.
  3. When the text is at a comfortable size for reading, close Chrome.
  4. Open Chrome and go back to that same website, and you’ll see that it stays at the zoom level you chose.

Note: as an alternative to scrolling with the mouse wheel, you can click the Customize button (the 3 horizontal lines in the top right of the Chrome window), go down to the “Zoom” area and hit the “+” or “-” buttons to adjust screen content size.

You can do this for every website you visit. And if you want to see all of the websites that Chrome is storing for you at customized zoom levels, you can click the Customize button, then click Settings, Show Advanced Settings. Under Privacy, click Content Settings, then scroll all the way to the end and click on “Manage” under the Zoom Levels section. Nice list of all your customized sites:

Feature #2: Customize website notifications

I had a client ask me about this recently. He kept having a recurring, annoying problem:

Scott – I do like to use Facebook sometimes. But when I’m doing some actual work or research on my computer, I close Facebook and email and other distracting websites so that I can focus on my work. But then while I’m working, all of a sudden I see a little window pop-up on my screen, and it’s a Facebook notification that someone has liked my post, or someone commented, or something else has just happened on Facebook. I don’t know how this is happening when I don’t even have Facebook open! How do I get rid of that?”

Yes, sometimes it does seem like Facebook follows us everywhere even when we want to get away from it. I noticed this same thing happening a while back. Fortunately, there is a way to turn off those Facebook notifications.

  1. Click the Customize button and click on Settings, and Show Advanced Settings.
  2. Find the Privacy section, and click on Content Settings.
  3. Scroll about halfway down that list to the section called Notifications, and click on Manage Exceptions
  4. Find Facebook in that list, and out to the right you can click on “Allow” and it will give you a drop-down menu where you can choose “Block”
  5. Click the “Done” button in the lower right corner.

And now you can work without Facebook popping up every 30 seconds to distract you!

And of course, you can probably customize Firefox to resolve these issues as well but I have not really researched that specifically since I usually use Chrome.

Mar 07 2016

9mins

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Rank #17: 3 things I do when setting up a new computer

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When you get a new computer, you can’t just turn it on and start using it. Those days are long gone. Now, you have to navigate past Microsoft’s tricks and traps. And it’s important to do it right from the beginning – otherwise you could end up with a lot of frustration and wasted time trying to fix it.

Today I’ll tell you 3 of the important steps in the process I use for setting up a new computer. I go through the same process when I’m prepping a laptop for resale also.

  • Install Chrome and set it as the default browser

When you get a new Windows 10 computer, the browser that’s set to be the default is Edge. Edge is awful. How awful is it? It’s so bad, only about 5% of Windows users use it – even though it’s the one that comes as the default browser. This means the vast majority of people install a different browser when they get a new computer.

The one I use is Chrome. It’s easy to use, and it’s also easy to use my ad blocking extension (uBlock Origin). Just go to Google.com/chrome and click the Download button, and follow the steps. At some point it will ask you to make Chrome the default browser, so go ahead and do that. Microsoft Edge will still be on your computer; you just won’t use it. In fact, Internet Explorer is even still in there (even though you don’t see it) but of course you won’t want to use it either. Chrome is all you need. If you prefer Firefox, it’s good too.

  • Turn on System Restore and create a restore point

It makes no sense whatsoever, but when you install Windows 10, System Restore is turned OFF by default. If your computer has a problem, or if you install software that causes a glitch, it’s so nice to have the option of taking the computer back to an earlier date and time. When you take it back to a time that was before the problem started, the problem is gone.

BUT – you don’t have that option when System Restore is not enabled and configured. So you need to do that on any new computer. In the search bar in the bottom left, type the word “create” and then in the search results, click on “Create a restore point”. That takes you to the System Restore dialog box, where you will choose the “C” drive and click Configure. In that new window you can enable System Restore, configure it to use about 2% of your drive space, and then go ahead and create a restore point just in case you might need it.

  • Turn off ads in the Start menu

This is another example of Microsoft’s sliminess. Click the Start button, then the Settings icon (it looks like a gear). Then click the Personalization category, and click the Start tab in the left column. In that windows, you’ll see an option that says “Show suggestions occasionally in Start” and it’s turned ON by default. Well, by “suggestions”, Microsoft really means “advertisements”. You want your Start menu clogged with their ads? Of course not. No one does. Slide that switch to the left to turn it off.

And here’s a bonus tip (which just might be more important than any of the other three we already talked about) – don’t connect your new computer to the internet until you get to the desktop screen. When you first turn it on, Microsoft will really – REALLY – want you to connect it to the internet before doing anything else. In fact, if you don’t want to do that, the phrase you have to click on isn’t “Don’t connect” or something simple. What you have to click on is “I don’t have internet”. Which of course will confuse some people, which means they might actually go back and choose to connect to the internet, which is exactly what Microsoft wants them to do.

When you set up a new computer that’s online, that means you have to sign in to your Microsoft account in order to get into your computer. Oh, you don’t have a Microsoft account? Well then, you’ll need to create one. And create a password for that account. And create security questions for recovering that password. And if you install Office later, that means your documents and other files will by default be stored in OneDrive, rather than in your computer’s Documents folder. Once Microsoft has its hooks in you like that, it’s a cumbersome process to undo it. That’s by design.

I prefer to not engage in any of that nonsense. Just don’t connect it to the internet, and don’t bother with a password. You can add one later if you need one, and it doesn’t have to be your Microsoft account – it can just be a local user account on your computer.

KEEP IN MIND – the things I talked about today are just a few of the MANY configurations I make when setting up a computer. If you buy a laptop from me, that stuff is already all done for you. And I do New PC Setup for many of my clients when they get a new computer (this can all be done remotely). If you need help just let me know.

Oct 28 2019

11mins

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Rank #18: Get back easy access to Control Panel in Windows 10

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For some reason, Microsoft doesn’t want us getting in to the Control Panel on our computers. In Windows 10, they’ve created a different thing called “Settings”, but Control Panel is still there (at least for now) if you know where to find it. Here’s how to get to it easily in Windows 10.

Depending on how recent your Windows 10 updates are, you might be able to get to Control Panel by just holding down the Windows key and tapping the letter X. That brings up this quick menu, and Control Panel is right there.

But that only works if you DON’T have the most recent major Windows Update, called the Creator’s Update. Not everyone has it yet, so that’s okay. You’ll get it eventually. If you do have that recent update, you can still pull up the Windows key + X quick menu, but Control Panel is no longer listed there.

So what we want to do is get access to it initially, then set it up so that it’s EASILY accessible from now on.

The way to get to it is to click the “Search” option in the lower left corner (the magnifying glass icon) and in the search field, just type the word “control” (without the quotes). You’ll see Control Panel as an option to click in the search results:

And when you click it, you’ll see the old familiar Control Panel window there.

But do you really want to go through that whole process each time, just to get to Control Panel? I don’t. It would be much easier and faster if you could just find it in one of these locations:

  • listed in the Start menu
  • as an icon on the desktop
  • pinned at the bottom of the screen on the taskbar

Or if you want, you can put it in all three of those places! Here’s how you do that.

To pin Control Panel to the Start menu:

Search for “control” as above, but this time RIGHT click on it and choose “Pin to Start”:

Now when you click the Start button, you’ll see a new tile in the menu named Control Panel.

To make Control Panel an icon on the desktop:

Right click on it in the search results again like above, but this time choose “Open file location”. That shows you a window with some files listed, and one of them is Control Panel. Do a right click and choose Send to – Desktop (create shortcut):

To pin Control Panel to the taskbar:

The taskbar is the toolbar that runs across the bottom of your screen. It’s a handy place to put program icons that you want to have easy access to.

Once again you’re going to right click on Control Panel after searching, and this time choose “Pin to taskbar”. Now you’ll see the Control Panel icon, sitting on the taskbar waiting for you to open it whenever you want:

So now you have easy, quick access to Control Panel. Here’s the funny thing. On my computer, I don’t really even go into Control Panel very often. But I still like knowing that I have easy access to it. Maybe it’s just a psychological thing – Microsoft says they don’t want me to use it, so that makes me want it even more than I otherwise would.

Oct 16 2017

8mins

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Rank #19: How to make ANY website printer-friendly

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Ever try to print a web page?  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  The reason for this is that website content is designed to be displayed on your computer screen, not sent to the printer to be put on paper.  So even though it looks perfect on your monitor, the printed page is often completely messed up.  I’ve even had people call me and complain that their printer isn’t working properly, because the words and images are all out of order and misaligned.  The problem wasn’t the printer, though.  That web page they were trying to print just wasn’t printer friendly.

Some websites are helpful and offer a “printer friendly” version of the content.  This usually works, but most non-commercial websites don’t have that feature.  And actually even a lot of business websites don’t offer it.

But now there’s a solution – and it’s free.  It’s an online service called Print Friendly.  You can see it at PrintFriendly.com.

Using this service could not be any easier.  When you’re viewing a website you want to print, click one time up in the address bar to highlight the address, then do a right-click and choose “Copy”.

Then go to the Print Friendly website and paste it in the URL field and click “print preview”:

If the preview looks okay, print it!

Here’s an example.  I went to an MSN news story.  A screenshot of the website article is below.  As you can see the screen is cluttered with all kinds of junk – navigation links, social media buttons, ads, links to other stories, and several images.  There’s so much stuff that in order to read past the first few lines of the article, you have to scroll down.  I don’t need all that extra stuff  – all I want to print is just the words in the article.

So I copied and pasted the address, and here is what the print preview showed.  Just the title and the text – ready to print!

To print, just hit the link at the top left on the preview.  Next to that is the option to make the content into a PDF file, or you could click the “Email” button to send the article by email.  There are some other options to control the text size and the appearance of images – you can play with those as you like.

I encourage you to experiment with it.  It probably won’t be perfect each time, as there are a million different variations in the way a website can be arranged.  But it should work okay in most cases.

http://www.printfriendly.com

Aug 11 2014

13mins

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Rank #20: Use a flash drive to give your PC a quick boost of energy

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Sometimes you might be in a situation where you need to give your computer a quick boost of RAM (memory) in order for it to be able to handle an extra load.  Maybe you’re working on an older computer, and you have Word, Chrome, Photoshop and maybe a few other programs all running at the same time, and your old PC is choking on all those memory-intensive programs.  Fortunately, there’s a way to just give it a nice “nudge” by bumping up the available memory.  All you need is a blank flash drive.

Note that the important word about the flash drive is “blank”.  The first step in this process is to format the flash drive, which will wipe everything off it.  So make sure there is nothing important on there that you need to save somewhere else first.

Your computer might currently have anywhere from 1 gb of memory (RAM) to 8 or even 16 gb.  The programs on your computer use this memory to run, and they all have to share the memory at the same time.  If there are a lot of programs running, all of them will run more slowly because there is only so much memory to go around among them.

It’s like if you and some friends had a pie to share.  If you want as much pie as possible, it’s a lot better to share the pie with 4 friends than with 10 friends.  But if you can add another pie or two, that’s a solution as well.

The trick I’m talking about today is like adding more pie (memory) so there’s more to share.  That way, all of the programs running should be able to run faster.

Setting this up is pretty simple.  Here’s how you do it:

1. Plug in the flash drive.  Click the Start button, then click Computer.  You’ll see the icons for the various drives displayed there, including the one for the flash drive:

2. If you have not done so already, do a right click on the flash drive and choose Format.  This clears everything off the drive so that the whole thing is available for use.  In the image above, you can see that the available space shows as 3.76 gb of space, but this is a 4 gb drive – that’s normal.

3. After the format is finished, close that window and then once again do a right click on the flash drive icon.  This time, choose Properties.  In the new window, click on the ReadyBoost tab:

4. In that window click on the option that says “Use this device” and slide the marker all the way to the right in order to take full advantage of all the memory on the drive:

5. Click OK to close the window, then close the “Computer” window with the red X up in the right corner.

If you try this, let me know what you experience as far as increased speed.  When I did it, it wasn’t a huge difference, but my computer is running 8 gb of memory already so it’s pretty fast anyway.  It would probably be a lot more noticeable if a computer is running 1 or 2 gb of memory, and the flash drive added another 4 gb or 8 gb.

When you’re done with your need for this extra RAM, you can take out the drive and use it for storage again.

Feb 03 2014

7mins

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Computer slowdown? Check these two things first

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This tip is based on what is probably the most common question I get, which is “Why is my computer running so slowly??” It is definitely frustrating when the computer lags behind. If your computer suddenly starts to run a lot more slowly than you think it should, there are a couple of things for you to check on.

First, you need to check on how long it’s been since the computer has been restarted. It’s important to note, I’m not saying how long since you turned it off, and then powered it back up again. I’m talking an actual restart. This means you clicked the Start button, then right above that you click the Power button, then in the menu options you click on the word Restart. This is what actually resets everything, refreshes the memory, and can resolve a lot of issues.

To see how long it’s been since you last restarted, just hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys, and tap the Escape key. That brings up Task Manager. Then click on the Performance tab, and look for the Up time counter. It will show Days, Hours, Minutes and Seconds since the last restart:

I just checked it on my own computer, and you can see that mine has been running for 19 hours, 31 minutes and 15 seconds in that screenshot.

A good guideline is to restart your computer every day or two. So many times, I’ve been asked to check a computer that’s doing all kinds of haywire things and running really slowly, then when I check the Up Time counter, it’s been running straight for like 51 days. For that computer, a restart will be like a drink of cold water to a man who’s been crawling in the desert sun all day.

Second, you need to see if the hard drive is failing. Hard drives can fail gradually over time, or they can just stop working and not boot up again. So if it suddenly gets really slow, or some programs don’t open, or some programs take forever to finally run, those are often signs that the hard drive could be failing. Hopefully you have a backup, if there is anything important stored on your computer!

To check the hard drive, we use a little program called Crystal Disk Info. It’s free, and you can download it here.

Once you have downloaded the installation file, double click to run it and just follow the instructions for installing it. It’s very straightforward, and it doesn’t try to add any junkware or bad stuff to your computer.

The very last screen on the installation process will give you the option to launch the program, and that box will already be checked, so go ahead and do it.

When it runs, it will come up and show you a window full of numbers and other details. You can ignore all of that. The only thing you really need to look at is the big button on the left side. It will either say Good, Caution or Bad. This is mine:

Of course, you want that button to say Good. If it says Caution or Bad, that means you will need to replace your hard drive. And at that point if you don’t have your important stuff backed up, now would be a good time to try to do it, if you still can. Once that drive completely fails, you may not be able to get your stuff from it. Or you may have to hire someone to recover the data from it. Having a backup ahead of time is much less expensive, and much less stressful.

There are other factors that can contribute to a computer slowing down, but these two things are a couple of the big ones. Definitely check them first.

Jan 20 2020

10mins

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Security cameras that are easy to set up – and cheap

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If you think having security cameras in your home would be expensive and complicated, I have good news! I got some recently and they were really easy and affordable.

When you’re not at home, it’s nice to know that everything is okay. And even when you are at home, being able to see in another room, or outside, can be pretty convenient. When I’ve thought about implementing security cameras inside and outside my house in the past, I just put it off because it seemed like a “big project” – research all the cameras, compare features and cost, make the purchase, figure out where to put the cameras, and get all the alerts in place. I always have a bunch of things going on, and I never really wanted to set aside the hours I thought it would take to make this happen.

But I happily discovered that it’s not really that difficult or expensive at all.

I came across the Wyze cameras and found that they are fairly popular, and the people that use them are happy with them. So I dug a little deeper, found more good reviews, and decided to try them out myself. Now I have them, and I’m happy with them too.

One note: to really use these, you will need a smart phone because everything is controlled through an app on the phone. But just about everyone uses a smart phone these days anyway.

Here’s what I got. I purchased two of these on Amazon (affiliate link):

WyzeC2 camera

And I got one of these (affiliate link):

Wyze Cam Pan

You can see right in the image that the pricing is very affordable. And as I mentioned earlier, all you have to do is get the Wyze app on your phone. It walks you through the whole setup. You can set the cameras to record everything, or you can have the recording process start when motion is detected. And you can upload everything to the cloud, so even if someone broke into your home and destroyed the camera(s), their picture would already be recorded and accessible.

The difference between these two models is that the second one offers the ability to pan left and right, and tilt up and down. This way you can see more of the room. You might not need that feature though, since the cameras have a “fisheye” quality that really enables quite a wide viewing area.

And both models also have full 2-way audio. So you can also hear what is going on in the room, and you can also speak to someone in the room if you want to. Again, this is all live-streamed through your phone, so it doesn’t matter if your camera is in your house in Texas, and you’re on vacation in Hong Kong. As long as you can get on the internet, you can see and hear what is happening in front of those cameras.

For me, I’m using two for viewing a couple of rooms in my house. The third one I have mounted on my office window, pointing outward. So I can see when someone is in the driveway, or if an Amazon delivery truck has stopped.

This is a screenshot from that camera:

I even figured out a way to have the app send that live picture to a TV in my office (through an app that is connected with the Amazon FireTV device), so just to the left of my two computer monitors is an always-on screen showing what’s going on outside.

At a cost of USD $24 or $35, you don’t have the excuse of “too expensive”, and the app makes it so easy, anyone can set these things up.

Jan 06 2020

9mins

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The new trick to downloading Google images

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It used to be easy to just search Google for an image and download that full size image to your computer. Google changed their image download process a while ago, and it’s not quite as obvious how to get those full size images saved. But you can still do it! Here’s how.

Note: what you do with the images you download from Google is your business. I’m trusting that whether you’re using them on your blog, your website, your podcast cover art, or wherever, that you are only using images with the proper permission or licensing.

Remember the good old days – grabbing a high-res image from Google was super easy! You just did a search at images.google.com, and you were presented with a million beautiful pictures to choose from. You just clicked on the thumbnail, and right there in front of you was the full size image, ready for your right-click and “Save As” to have it on your computer. No more!

Google made this change because photo websites and professional photographers were tired of Google making it so easy for people to steal their images. So they made the process less intuitive, and they also made it more likely the anyone searching for a photo would actually end up on the website where the photo is displayed (which in some cases means you have to then go searching for the photo – the photo you already found on Google – on that website). This is good for the photo owners, but really inconvenient for the user who needs a photo.

In the steps below, I’ll show you the problem, and then I’ll show you the workaround.

Let’s say for example you want a nice high-resolution picture of a Tesla automobile.

You go to Google Images and type “tesla” in the search bar. And Google comes back with lots of great looking images of Teslas:

So far so good. You look at all the thumbnails, and you decide you like the red one in the top row. So you click on it. Now you see this – the thumbnail selection is still there, but the one you chose is now highlighted and displayed on the left. But that’s not the full size image. The actual image is nice and big – 2048 x 1335 pixels.

If you just click on the picture, it takes you to the Tesla Wikipedia page. If you scroll halfway down that long page, you’ll see the image – but it’s still not shown full size. In fact, it’s even smaller than when you saw it in the Google search results!

Here’s what you do – 

Do a RIGHT click on the image, then choose “Copy image address”. That means you’ll have the actual website address for the IMAGE, not just the website that is using the image.

Now, open a new tab and hit Ctrl + V (the keyboard shortcut for Paste). When you hit Enter, guess what you see – the full size, full resolution image!

Now you can right click and download, or copy it into Photoshop, or do whatever you need to do with it.

So there are a couple more steps involved now, but once you’ve done it a few times, it’s not a huge inconvenience.

Dec 23 2019

9mins

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Make sure System Restore is set up properly

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There are a few things about Windows 10 that don’t really make sense. When I set up a new computer, or when I do the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, I make sure these things are all configured properly. If you’re running Windows 10, one of the things you should check on is System Restore.

Important note: If you’re still running Windows 7, you’ve probably been getting notices on your computer that time is running out. It’s true! You need to upgrade to Windows 10, because support for Windows 7 ENDS in a few weeks (January 2020). I can upgrade your computer to Windows 10, and I can do it remotely – so you don’t even need to bring it anywhere. You need to get this done ASAP. Contact me.

System Restore is a handy tool in some circumstances. It’s not something you would use regularly, but in some cases it’s a way to fix a computer that has problems. Here’s what doesn’t make sense: in Windows 10, System Restore is turned off by default. So unless you enable it and configure it, it will be completely useless when the time comes that you really need it. I’d really love to hear Microsoft’s explanation for this.

What this means is this: you need to enable System Restore, so you are able to use it if you ever need to (or if your computer tech needs to).

Here’s how you enable and configure System Restore:

In the lower left corner, in the Search bar, type the word create. In the search results, you’ll see an option called “Create a restore point” – click on that. That opens the System Properties window, and the “System Protection” tab.

In that window, click on the line designated as the C drive to highlight it, then click the “Configure” button.

In the next window, you will need to adjust two things:

  1. Click on “Turn on system protection” (this enables System Restore)
  2. Under “Disk space usage” slide the selector to around 2% of your hard drive space. Then click OK.

The next part is to actually create a new restore point. When you click OK (above), you’ll be brought back to the main window. In that window, click on the button that says “Create”. Click that, then give this restore point a name. What you name it doesn’t matter a lot. You could just type in today’s date if you want to. Then click Create.

It will take a minute or so, and then it’s done. Just click OK and close that window.

It’s important to note – System Restore is not a way to recovery files or folders that somehow got deleted or lost. It really has no effect at all on your personal stuff like the Documents or Pictures folders. The most common use for System Restore is when a program gets installed and somehow messes up the rest of Windows or the computer. You can take the computer back to an earlier date – BEFORE that bad program got installed – and it will be as if it were never there. That’s pretty handy.

Dec 09 2019

9mins

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Fun things you can say to Alexa

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There are more than 120 million “smart speakers” in US homes. In our house, we have the Google Home speaker, and here in my home office I have Alexa. But most people just ask Alexa boring stuff, like “what’s the traffic like this morning” or “is it going to rain today”. There are lots of FUN things you can ask Alexa too. She actually has kind of a clever and sassy personality.

Next time you’re talking to Alexa, try out some of these:

Human: “Alexa, flip a coin”
Alexa: “You got heads” or “You got tails”

Human: “Alexa, roll the dice”
Alexa: “3” (or other random dice number)
(you can also tell her to roll multiple dice)

Human: “Alexa, pick a card”
Alexa: “Your card is the 3 of spades” (or other random card)

Human: “Alexa, play thunderstorm”
Alexa: “Would you like to try…” and she’ll offer you some choices for this sound
(Note: “Alexa, play thunderstruck” produces a very different result.)

Human: “Alexa, give me a random fact”
Alexa: “In 1955, Quaker Oats started giving away land deeds for free in their cereal. 21 million deeds were printed, each covering a one inch by one inch parcel of land in Yukon, Canada.” (answers vary)

Human: “Alexa, how much do you weigh?”
Alexa: “I’m weightless, like a cloud. Wait, that’s not quite right. Clouds actually weigh a lot. Let’s just say I’m more sass than mass.”

Human: “Alexa, what is the sound of one hand clapping?”
Alexa: “It sounds exactly like a high five.”

Human: “Alexa, how many days until Christmas?”
Alexa: “Christmas is in 30 days, on Wednesday, December 25th, 2019”

Human: “Alexa, give me a quote from The Office”
Alexa: “Here is a ‘The Office, the TV show’ quote: I’m going to donate to Afghanistanis with AIDS.” (answers vary)

Human: “Alexa, are you blue?”
Alexa: “Only my light ring. ONLY my light ring.”

Human: “Alexa, open demotivate me”
Alexa: “You should try to be satisfied with less.” (answers vary)
(you will need to enable the “Demotivate me” skill first)

Human: “Alexa, can you give me some money?”
Alexa: “I’m not a bank” (answers vary)

Human: “Alexa, give me a tongue twister”
Alexa: “The limburger burglar hungers for limburger on bagels” (answers vary)

Human: “Alexa, find Chuck Norris”
Alexa: “If Chuck Norris wants you to know where he is, he’ll find you. If he doesn’t you won’t know until it’s too late.”

Human: “Alexa, I am your father”
Alexa: “NOOO…that’s not true. That’s impossible.”

Human: “Alexa, what’s the first rule of Fight Club?”
Alexa: “Don’t talk about Fight Club.”

Human: “Alexa, where were you born?”
Alexa: “I’m from Amazon headquarters in Seattle, Washington.”

Human: “Alexa, when were you born?”
Alexa: “My birthday is November 6, 2014.” (the Amazon Echo launch date)

Human: “Alexa, can you sing in autotune?”
Alexa: (sings a song in autotune)

Human: “Alexa, who farted?”
Alexa: “Whoever smelt it, dealt it. And I’m not talking about a card game.” (answers vary)

Human: “Alexa, surely you can’t be serious?”
Alexa: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.” (answers vary)

Human: “Alexa, do you know Cortana?”
Alexa: “We do pass each other on the information superhighway every now and then.”

Human: “Play the Computer Tutor podcast”
Alexa: (plays the most recent podcast episode)
Alexa can actually play quite a few different podcasts.

Human: “Alexa, have a great day.”
Alexa: “Thanks. You too.”

And what crazy things do YOU ask Alexa? Leave them in the comments below.

Nov 25 2019

11mins

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What is spearphishing?

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“Spearphishing” is one of those terms used by computer security people to describe a particular kind of computer attack. I think it’s a pretty interesting strategy to learn about.

But to understand spearphishing, we have to back up a bit and explain a few things about the fishing/phishing analogy and how one translates to the other.

Most people know what traditional fishing is. You put some bait on the end of your line, throw it in the water and hope you get a bite. You’re kind of putting it out there to all the fish in the lake at the same time, hoping that just one of them falls for it. It’s kind of a “mass” effort in the hopes of succeeding with one target.

Spearfishing (we’re still talking about actual fish in actual water) is a targeted approach. Instead of throwing your bait out for ALL the fish, you wait patiently with a spear, and watch to target a specific fish. Maybe you’re looking and waiting for a really big one to come along. When you see the one you want, all of your effort is put into getting that one big fish.

Now we move into the world of computer security.

A phishing email is one that usually gets sent out to hundreds or thousands of people at a time. It’s usually pretty generic. The email might say that it’s being sent from your bank, and that your account may have been compromised. They want you to log in and confirm your account in order to maintain the account’s security. But when you click on the link, even though you are taken to a website that LOOKS like the login page for your bank, it’s really just a fake website put up by the scammer. When you enter your user name and password, you’re giving the scammer your login credentials.

So a phishing email is a pretty low-effort, wide-spread type of attack. Lots of potential targets since it gets sent out to a lot of people all at the same time.

A spearphishing email is different. It focuses on a particular high-value target. Here’s an example of how a spearphishing attack might work.

Let’s say there’s a dishonest home remodeling contractor in Dallas, Texas. He wants to get the client list for one of his competitors, so he hires a hacker to do this. So now the hacker has to figure out how to get into the computer of the owner of that competing business. How would he do that?

First, he might go over to the business location at night, when there is no one there. He doesn’t break in, but he looks in the dumpster where the office trash is thrown out. He finds the typical office garbage, but among that garbage is some business paperwork. He finds some invoices from vendors. These are not documents that a company would think need to be shredded, because there is no confidential information included. But the hacker can use that information.

He takes one of the invoices and sees that it’s from a cabinet manufacturer, All American Cabinets. Now he looks up all the information he can find about that company. He sees that they have a public email address for new business inquiries. So, pretending to be a remodeler himself, he sends an email asking about prices and inventory. The next day he gets an email back from the owner, Jack, and the email address is allamericancabinets@gmail.com. Now he knows Jack’s email address.

Next, the hacker creates a new Gmail account: a11americancabinets@gmail.com. See the difference? It’s similar enough that no one would really notice that the first part is “a11” instead of “all”.

Now, he uses that email to send an email to his target company (the competitor). The email might even reference the job that was listed on the invoice. But the point of the email is to make the recipient assume that it’s coming from Jack at the cabinet company. As “Jack”, he might say that they are beefing up security and requiring all their customers to read and agree with the new online security policy, which is attached as a Word document.

So the recipient of that email, seeing that it’s coming from a company they deal with all the time, and it’s being sent by Jack, who they have worked with for years, doesn’t even question that this might be a hacking attempt. They click to open the attachment, but nothing happens. At least that’s how it appears on the screen. So they figure it’s just a computer glitch and forget about it.

But what really happens is when they click that attachment, it activates a program behind the scenes that goes and collects everything in the Documents folder and sends it back to the hacker. And guess what’s in that folder – the client list with all the contact information and work history.

That’s the essence of spearphishing. Rather than send out a hundred emails to the employees of a company, the scammer just sends out one targeted one, to a specific person, with very particular and personal information on it, to avoid any suspicion in the hopes that that one person doesn’t suspect anything. It’s a lot of work for just that one email, but the payoff is potentially much larger because of the high-value target.

But you can prevent either of these types of attacks from being successful, by following these two rules:

  1. Don’t open email attachments
  2. Don’t click on a link unless you KNOW for sure where it will take you

There are a few exceptions to rule #1, but in general I just don’t open attachments. The exception would be when I know ahead of time to expect that email with that attachment, and I know exactly what the attached file is, and I trust the person who sent it to me.

Nov 11 2019

10mins

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3 things I do when setting up a new computer

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When you get a new computer, you can’t just turn it on and start using it. Those days are long gone. Now, you have to navigate past Microsoft’s tricks and traps. And it’s important to do it right from the beginning – otherwise you could end up with a lot of frustration and wasted time trying to fix it.

Today I’ll tell you 3 of the important steps in the process I use for setting up a new computer. I go through the same process when I’m prepping a laptop for resale also.

  • Install Chrome and set it as the default browser

When you get a new Windows 10 computer, the browser that’s set to be the default is Edge. Edge is awful. How awful is it? It’s so bad, only about 5% of Windows users use it – even though it’s the one that comes as the default browser. This means the vast majority of people install a different browser when they get a new computer.

The one I use is Chrome. It’s easy to use, and it’s also easy to use my ad blocking extension (uBlock Origin). Just go to Google.com/chrome and click the Download button, and follow the steps. At some point it will ask you to make Chrome the default browser, so go ahead and do that. Microsoft Edge will still be on your computer; you just won’t use it. In fact, Internet Explorer is even still in there (even though you don’t see it) but of course you won’t want to use it either. Chrome is all you need. If you prefer Firefox, it’s good too.

  • Turn on System Restore and create a restore point

It makes no sense whatsoever, but when you install Windows 10, System Restore is turned OFF by default. If your computer has a problem, or if you install software that causes a glitch, it’s so nice to have the option of taking the computer back to an earlier date and time. When you take it back to a time that was before the problem started, the problem is gone.

BUT – you don’t have that option when System Restore is not enabled and configured. So you need to do that on any new computer. In the search bar in the bottom left, type the word “create” and then in the search results, click on “Create a restore point”. That takes you to the System Restore dialog box, where you will choose the “C” drive and click Configure. In that new window you can enable System Restore, configure it to use about 2% of your drive space, and then go ahead and create a restore point just in case you might need it.

  • Turn off ads in the Start menu

This is another example of Microsoft’s sliminess. Click the Start button, then the Settings icon (it looks like a gear). Then click the Personalization category, and click the Start tab in the left column. In that windows, you’ll see an option that says “Show suggestions occasionally in Start” and it’s turned ON by default. Well, by “suggestions”, Microsoft really means “advertisements”. You want your Start menu clogged with their ads? Of course not. No one does. Slide that switch to the left to turn it off.

And here’s a bonus tip (which just might be more important than any of the other three we already talked about) – don’t connect your new computer to the internet until you get to the desktop screen. When you first turn it on, Microsoft will really – REALLY – want you to connect it to the internet before doing anything else. In fact, if you don’t want to do that, the phrase you have to click on isn’t “Don’t connect” or something simple. What you have to click on is “I don’t have internet”. Which of course will confuse some people, which means they might actually go back and choose to connect to the internet, which is exactly what Microsoft wants them to do.

When you set up a new computer that’s online, that means you have to sign in to your Microsoft account in order to get into your computer. Oh, you don’t have a Microsoft account? Well then, you’ll need to create one. And create a password for that account. And create security questions for recovering that password. And if you install Office later, that means your documents and other files will by default be stored in OneDrive, rather than in your computer’s Documents folder. Once Microsoft has its hooks in you like that, it’s a cumbersome process to undo it. That’s by design.

I prefer to not engage in any of that nonsense. Just don’t connect it to the internet, and don’t bother with a password. You can add one later if you need one, and it doesn’t have to be your Microsoft account – it can just be a local user account on your computer.

KEEP IN MIND – the things I talked about today are just a few of the MANY configurations I make when setting up a computer. If you buy a laptop from me, that stuff is already all done for you. And I do New PC Setup for many of my clients when they get a new computer (this can all be done remotely). If you need help just let me know.

Oct 28 2019

11mins

Play

Case Study – identifying a phishing email

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I recently had a client forward an email to me. The email told her she had to confirm her agreement to the AOL Terms of Service, or she could no longer use her email account. She was concerned that her email would get cut off. She had nothing to worry about.

The email she got was a typical phishing email. That means it was just trying to trick her into clicking through and giving out her email password, which would give the scammer control over her email account.

I wanted to show you this actual email, and how it was identifiable as a scam.

The email she received supposedly came from AOL. But look at the “From” address:

If an email comes from the actual AOL, the email address will end with “@aol.com”. This one ends with “prodigy.net.mx” which indicates that the sender is not only NOT with AOL, he’s also somewhere in Mexico, using the ancient Prodigy email service.

The second big giveaway are the links in the email. In the screenshot below, you can see that there are 6 links:

  1. Terms of Service
  2. Privacy Policy
  3. here
  4. FAQs
  5. Click here to start
  6. here

Guess what – every one of those links goes to the same place. They don’t care which one you click on, they just want you to click.

That’s the one mistake my client made – she clicked on the link to see where it took her. You should never click on ANY link if you are not sure of where that link goes. Which brings up the question that I get sometimes: “Well how can I know where a link goes if I don’t click on it??”. Great question.

You RIGHT-click on the link, then choose “Copy hyperlink” or something similar.

Then, you open NotePad on your computer. In the blank area, do a right click and choose “Paste”. That will display the actual website address where that link would have taken you to. In this case, this was the link’s destination:

Hmmm…doesn’t really look like an AOL website address, does it? It’s not.

What the scammer did is create a fake form in Excel, and just uploaded it to his OneDrive account. This scammer is really lazy. But guess what – he doesn’t really HAVE to put a lot of effort into concealing the fake nature of this, because people still fall for it. This is what the fake form looked like (anyone can create these, for free):

You can see it’s pretty basic. When you fill out this form with your email address and password, now he has your login information.

And the irony is right there at the bottom of the form – Microsoft (who owns OneDrive) knows that their forms are often used for this scam, so they put the warning on every one – “Never give out your password.” Not to mention grammatical errors that are a common clue. But some people still type in their password because they just assume it’s real.

Fortunately, my client did not enter her password. Instead, she became suspicious and forwarded the email to me so I could check it out. You are welcome to do the same thing, if you get one you’re not sure about – just forward it to me at pctutor@gmail.com.

Oct 14 2019

11mins

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How to free up space in your Google/Gmail account

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Well, it finally happened. I’m almost out of storage space on my Google/Gmail account.

I actually got this Google account back when the Gmail email service was first introduced, which was in 2004. So it’s taken me 15 years to almost fill it up. Google gives you 15 gb of storage space with each account, and I archive the majority of my emails, so that kind of tells you how much you can fit in 15 gb. It’s a lot.

But your Google account doesn’t just store emails. That 15 gb of space is also used by whatever you have stored in Google Drive and in Google Photos. To see the status of your account’s storage, go to this link:  https://one.google.com/storage

When I go there for my account, this is what it shows me:

So you can see about 1/3 of my usage is in Google Drive, and 2/3 is used by my 15 years worth of emails. I also store all of my photos in Google Photos, but if you let them optimize the images to reduce the file size, that doesn’t count toward your storage limit

And here’s an important thing to note: you definitely DON’T want to let that storage get to 100%, especially if you use Gmail as your primary email account. If you use ALL of your storage space, you won’t be able to send or receive any emails until you clear some of it out.

I’ll tell you right up front, the quickest and easiest way to fix this is to upgrade to a Google One account. It’s only $20 per year, and you get these benefits:

  • 100 gb of storage space – in my case, that’s more than a lifetime supply
  • help from Google experts – you can actually contact someone from Google if you need help
  • option to share – you can share your storage space with up to 5 other people

In my case, that’s probably what I’ll do. But what if you don’t want to pay Google for more storage? You can just delete some of the things you are currently storing. I’ll do that with my own account and we’ll see how it works.

First up, Google Drive. You may not even be using Google Drive for anything, but I do have several things stored there – documents, spreadsheets, videos, etc. Most of these things I don’t use now, so I don’t need them any more.

I went through and deleted a bunch of files from Google Drive, and checked my total storage again. Guess what – it made no difference at all. Documents take up very little space, so deleting them didn’t save space.

So now we move on to Gmail.

With email, it’s important to note that a standard email message does not take up much space at all. But if an email has an attachment – that’s what uses storage space.  So my first thing to try is to find all of my old Gmail emails that have attachments bigger than 5 mb get rid of the ones I don’t need (which is probably most of them).

To find all of the emails larger than 5 mb, go to Gmail.com and sign in, then go up to the search bar and do this search:

In my case, I had 142 emails that were 5 mb or larger. I deleted the 42 oldest ones. Still no difference. BUT – that’s because deleting them really just puts them in the Trash folder, and that still counts toward your storage limit. So I emptied the Trash. Now we’re seeing progress.

My new report:

Overall down to 86%, so that definitely gives me some breathing room. In my case, it probably gives me another year before I need to deal with this again.

There are also some third-party programs that can help you clean up your Gmail account. One of the more popular ones is called Find Big Mail (https://www.findbigmail.com/). In the past, you had to pay for this service, but at the time of this post it is free. They may start charging again in the future. They will ask you for a donation though, so you can decide if it’s worth paying for.

Just go to the website and follow the instructions. You’ll end up with a report that tells you what was found, and some of your biggest emails will have a new label, so you can just view them (and delete them if you want to). When I did this, and emptied Trash again, I got this revised storage report:

So I got it down to 81%. Not bad! Definitely better than almost full at 98%. When it starts to get full again, I probably will just go ahead and buy more storage space since it’s so cheap. But for now, I don’t have to worry about it.

Did you get rid of some stuff in your Google account? How much space did you save?

Sep 30 2019

14mins

Play

How to UN-hide your Windows 10 scroll bars

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I didn’t like Windows 10 when it first came out several years ago. I’m fine with it now, since it has improved a lot since then. But there’s still one thing I can’t stand – the way it hides the scroll bars. Fortunately, this is fixable. I think you’ll enjoy using Windows 10 more if you make this little adjustment.

To see what I’m talking about, all you have to do is hit the Start button (the white Microsoft logo in the bottom left corner of the screen). See that thin little line at the top?

That’s where the regular scroll bar USED to be. In Windows 10 though, you have to put your cursor right in that EXACT spot, and you’re rewarded with the actual scroll bar that expands out so you can use it:

Better make sure you don’t accidentally move that cursor over by a pixel or two though, because then the scroll bar goes hidden again. Then you have to find it with your cursor again.

I know, for this particular example, I could just use the scroll wheel on my mouse to scroll down the list. But not everyone has that option (a lot of laptop touchpads don’t have the ability to scroll). But more importantly, there’s just no need for that scroll bar to disappear and have to be manually brought back by pinpoint-accuracy cursor placement. Some goofball coder at Microsoft just thought it up as a new “feature” and no one gave any thought to how impractical it is.

But you do have the ability to disable it!

Here’s how you UN-hide the Windows 10 scroll bars:

  1. Click the Start button, then click Settings (the gear icon)
  2. In the Settings window, click on the Ease of Access group
  3. Click the “Display” section on the left, then look for the setting that says “Automatically hide scroll bars in Windows” – and slide that to the left to turn it off.

As soon as you turn it to the Off position, all your scroll bars will come back because they are no longer hidden. For most people, that’s a welcome sight!

Sep 16 2019

7mins

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How to create a huge dummy Word document quickly

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Sometimes when you’re experimenting or learning how to do something in Microsoft Word, it helps to have a “dummy” document that has several pages of text to work with.

This came up recently with one of my long-term clients. In fact, this lady was probably one of my very first clients when I started my computer business up in Maine.

She works with Microsoft Word all the time, and recently upgraded to Office 365. Her previous version was very outdated, so there were a number of changes in the way Word was laid out – quite different than what she was used to using for the last 10-15 years.

She had a very specific need. She needed to be able to have page numbers appear on each page of a document, but with one exception. Page 1 would have NO page number, then the numbers would start on page 2 and continue from there. Kind of an unusual thing, but that’s how she always did it and apparently it was easy to do in MS Word 2007.

Turns out it’s not so easy in the new version of Word! I had to do a bit of research, but I figured out how to do it. The next step was to remote in to her computer and show her how to do it.

But for this instruction, I did not want to use one of her documents. I just wanted a “dummy” document of about 10 pages, so it wouldn’t matter if it got all messed up.

There are actually a couple of ways to do this: the old way, and the easier way.

The old way is to use the Lorem Ipsum website (lipsum.com). What is Lorem Ipsum? The website explains it. But all you have to do is choose how many characters or paragraphs you want in your document, and click the Generate button. There are roughly 5 paragraphs per page, so if you opt for 50 paragraphs, you’ll get 10 pages of Latin text. Then you can just copy and paste that into a Word document, and there you have it – your 10 page dummy document.

But I think the new way is much easier.

Just open a new blank Word document, and type this:

=lorem(50,20)

When you type that and hit Enter, you will immediately see that this formerly blank document now has 50 paragraphs of Latin text, with each paragraph containing 20 sentences.

Depending on how much dummy text you need, you can put whatever numbers you want in the parentheses. The first number is how many paragraphs you want, and the second one is the number of sentences in each of those paragraphs.

Go ahead, open Word and try it out!

Sep 02 2019

9mins

Play

How to read articles in Chrome with NO clutter

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Have you ever tried to read a serious article online, and you were just constantly distracted by the sidebars, the ads, and all the other “clutter” on the screen? Chrome has a secret “reader” mode to get rid of all that so you can focus on the content.

Most people don’t know about this option because it’s not all that easy to get to it in Chrome. In fact, Google still considers it to be “experimental” so that’s why it’s not yet on the regular Chrome menu. But you can put it there.

But first, you need to get Chrome version 75 or above. The good news is, if you use Chrome, you probably already have the current version. To check it, click the Options button (the 3 dots in the top right), then go to Help, then click on About Google Chrome. That screen will tell you what version you have, and even offer to update it for you if needed. As I write this, the current version is 76 dot something dot something. As long as you have 75 or higher you’re okay.

Now, you need to go up to the address bar in Chrome, and type this in and then hit Enter:

Note that it’s all lower case, and there are no spaces between any letters or characters.

When you hit Enter, you’ll see a page full of settings, including one called Enable Reader Mode. For that one, you just click the drop-down menu and choose Enabled:

You have now added a new item to your Chrome Options. If you click the Options button again (3 dots), you’ll see a new item there, called Distill:

Next time you’re on a web page and you’re trying to read an article, but there’s too much “web page clutter” that’s distracting you, click the Distill button and see what happens. Peaceful reading returns!

Aug 19 2019

9mins

Play

Get a free app and help a blind person!

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I love it when technology actually helps someone in a practical way. Or in this case, it helps a LOT of people, and we all have the opportunity to participate.

There are an estimated 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired. And there are 39 million people who are actually blind. For those of us who are fortunate to have good vision, it’s hard to imagine how it would be to navigate the world without sight.

Think about this. What if you were in a grocery store, shopping for the regular stuff you buy each week. As you walk down the bread aisle, you see a person who is obviously visually impaired who is having trouble figuring out which loaf of bread to buy. You offer to help. The person, holding two loaves of bread, asks which one is wheat and which is white. You point out which is which, and the purchase decision is easily made. This is something that took less than 30 seconds of your time, but was a big help.

Now there’s an app for your phone that enables you to help blind and visually impaired people, anywhere.

The app is called Be My Eyes, and it’s available for Android and iPhones. It uses the power of your phone to make a video call, and you lend your eyes to someone who needs them.

From the website:

For those who need assistance:

For those who wish to volunteer:

Signing up as a volunteer is easy:

  • Get the app
  • agree to terms
  • designate yourself as blind or a volunteer
  • choose “I am new” (or “sign in”)
  • sign up to create account
  • choose language, give access to your phone’s microphone and camera
  • stand by for calls!

I’m still waiting for my first call for assistance but I’m looking forward to it! Here’s a video that also explains how it works:

Aug 05 2019

8mins

Play

How to create a website shortcut in Chrome – EASY!

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If you have a website you visit regularly, there’s no easier way to get there than to have a shortcut icon right on your desktop. And Chrome makes it VERY easy to do that!

In the past, I would do this the “manual” way. That’s where you navigate to the website page where you want the shortcut to go to. Then you move Chrome off to the side of the screen so you could see the desktop area. Then you find the little “padlock” up in the address bar, and you click and drag that padlock to the desktop area and drop it. That creates a new icon on the desktop that takes you directly to that web page.

But sometimes people would get confused about how to have Chrome open at the same time you’re viewing the desktop screen so it didn’t work well for everyone.

But Chrome has this feature built in and it’s really easy!

Let’s say you find this great website and you want to be able to get back to it whenever you want, quickly and easily. Of course you would – it’s a web page about a cow who thinks it’s a family pet!

In case you want to look at it, the actual web address for that page is:
https://laughingsquid.com/cow-relaxing-on-couch/

So your goal is to have a simple, single icon on your desktop screen that will take you directly to that web page. Here’s how you do it in Chrome:

1. Go to that page in Chrome

2. Click the 3 dots in the top right, go down to “More tools”, then go over and click on “Create shortcut”

All done! Now you can minimize or close any windows you have open, and you’ll see a new icon on your desktop screen. Double clicking that icon will take you directly to that web page whenever you want.

Jul 22 2019

9mins

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How to fix Chrome displaying weird characters

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Today’s tip has to do with a weird thing that some users are seeing in Chrome. The text characters are missing some pieces and it just looks all weird (and even unreadable). Here’s how to fix it.

What we’re talking about today falls into a category I call a “niche tip”. This means that some people won’t care about at all, since their computer has not had this particular problem. This tip resolves an issue that’s not even an issue for them.

But for other people, the ones who are experiencing this problem, the solution I’ll provide today is probably a Hallelujah Moment, and they will be overjoyed to finally find the solution.

Here’s what the problem looks like when it shows up:

The first time one of my clients saw this, she assumed it was a virus or some type of malicious software that had gotten into Chrome. She called me immediately and had me remote in and check on it.

But she didn’t have a virus. Actually it would have been very unlikely for her computer to be infected, since she’s on my Managed Service Plan (link).

This is just related to a setting in Chrome called Hardware Acceleration.

Without getting all techy, the Acceleration feature allows Chrome to offload some of the graphics work to the hardware on your computer (meaning the graphics card) rather than forcing the browser (Chrome) to do all the work. Usually this means smoother graphics. But sometimes, on some computers, it just doesn’t work that way – that’s when you see those funky character that don’t make any sense. When that happens, the best solution is to just disable Acceleration.

How to disable Acceleration in Chrome:

1. In Chrome, click the 3 dots in the top right corner:

2. In the menu that drops down, click on Settings.

3. Scroll down to the bottom and click on Advanced

4. Scroll down to the “Systems” section, and find the setting called “Use hardware acceleration when available” and slide that option to the left to turn it off:

Now go back to the website where the weird characters were showing in Chrome, and see if the problem is solved. Chances are things will be back to normal again!

Jul 08 2019

7mins

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My policy on email attachments

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I find it pretty amazing that even after all this time, and all the alerts and warnings, and all the bad things that have happened…the scammers are still able to trick people into opening email attachments. If you follow my guideline about this, you won’t ever have a problem.

There are several ways for your computer to get infected with a virus or malware. But do you know what the #1 most common method still is? Email attachments.

Yes, here we are in 2019, when you’d think everyone in the world knows that a virus can come in via a file attached to an email, and we still see that method of delivery as the most successful one for the scammers and hackers to infect someone’s computer.

As a computer tech, I talk to clients about this pretty regularly. And I often hear the same thing from a lot of different people, who think they have the whole “email attachment safety process” figured out. Here’s what they tell me:

“I don’t open an email attachment,
unless it’s from someone I know”

WRONG. If that’s the policy they go by, they’re probably going to have an infected computer at some point. It is fundamentally flawed.

This is my policy on opening attachments:

That sounds kind of counter-intuitve, right? I mean, someone you know wouldn’t send you an email, would they?

Here’s why this makes sense. Let’s say your best friend is Bob. You trust Bob completely. Bob is the godfather to your children. Bob once rescued you from a burning building. He’s even honest enough to tell you when you have food on your face at dinner. So you know you can trust Bob, and you know that he wouldn’t send you a virus by email.

But then one day Bob opens an email attachment. He wasn’t sure what it was, but when he clicked and opened it, he saw that nothing happened. So he just figured it was some kind of mistake, deleted the email and forgot about it.

What Bob doesn’t know is that his computer is now infected. He didn’t see anything happen on the screen when he clicked that attached file, and that is exactly what he was supposed to see – nothing. That means he did not become suspicious and did not see any reason to investigate it further. That is exactly the response the hacker wants.

But behind the scenes, not visible on the screen, the virus is now working hard to do whatever it was programmed to do. It might be installing a keylogger (to track whatever is typed, such as social security numbers or credit card numbers) or other malicious software.

And the OTHER thing that virus is doing is sending out an email to everyone in Bob’s email contact list. Probably the same email that Bob received, with the virus attached. And Bob does not even know these emails are being sent.

So even though he’s your best friend and you trust Bob with your life, you should not open that email attachment that just got sent to you from his account.

For me, I don’t care who sent it. My own mother could send me an email attachment and I would not open it. Sorry mom!

And of course, here’s the objection: “But sometimes I have to open attachments! It’s stuff I need to see!”

That’s fine. If you need to open an attachment, and you know what it is before opening it, go for it. But that’s the key – knowing what it is ahead of time.

The scammers are very clever about making you THINK you know what it is, when you really don’t know. You might get that email from Bob, and the message says, “Check out this picture I found of us!” but that doesn’t make it safe to open. The virus wrote that message, not Bob.

Or you might get an email that is apparently from Fedex, saying, “We’re trying to deliver your package, but cannot find your address – please check the attached invoice to verify your address.” This one is especially clever, since half the people that get this actually ARE expecting a package delivery, so they just click the attached file without thinking about it – and immediately they are infected. And now their computer is sending out that same email to THEIR contact list. And it goes on and on.

All it takes is a half-second of inattention. You might click and then suddenly realize, you just clicked on something and you don’t REALLY know what it is. Hopefully at that point you have a good strong antivirus, and someone you trust to check out your computer and get rid of the bad stuff.

Jun 24 2019

9mins

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How to clear “Continue Watching” on Netflix

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Today we’re “sort of” veering away from a strictly computer-oriented tip (although what I’ll show you is done on the computer). This has to do with an annoyance I had with Netflix until I figured out how to solve it.

To illustrate the problem, I’ll give you a specific example from my usage.

Here is what my home page on Netflix looks like:

The issue I’m talking about today is that first section at the bottom of the screen, called “Continue watching for Scott”:

Whenever you start watching something, but don’t get all the way to the end, it shows up in that section the next time you open Netflix. This is actually there for convenience, and usually it is convenient.

Recently I’ve been going through The Office again (probably my fourth or fifth time). So it’s nice when it’s there, I just click and it goes right to the next episode waiting for me.

The problem is Kevin Hart, the other entry there. I recently heard Kevin Hart when he was interviewed on the Joe Rogan podcast. I had never really heard much of his stand-up comedy, but on the podcast I was impressed by his conversation and work ethic, and he’s obviously very successful. So I saw his Netflix special “Irresponsible” come up as a suggestion and I figured I would watch that.

Well…I know he is very popular, but I honestly did not find him funny. At all. I got through about 20 minutes, waiting to laugh, and finally gave up on it. That’s okay – he has a big fan base so I’m sure he’ll get along fine without me.

And that’s where the problem comes up. Netflix saw that I watched some of it, and didn’t finish it – so every time I open Netflix, there’s Kevin Hart waiting for me to come back. Even though I’m not coming back. This was okay for a while, but after a couple of weeks I decided I need to figure out how to get it off my main screen.

Here’s how you do it:

First, on your computer go to Netflix.com and log in to your account. As you can see, on my page there’s The Office and Kevin Hart “Irresponsible” under the Continue Watching section:

Now, go to the top right corner where your profile image is located, and in the drop down menu, click on Account:

Now, scroll down to the bottom of the page to the My Profile section, and click on “Viewing Activity”:

Now you’ll see your activity, and you just find the one you want to remove and click the circle with the line through it out at the right side:

All done! Now your Continue Watching section will only display what you want to see there.

Jun 10 2019

8mins

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What happens to Windows 7 in January?

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I get questions regularly now from people asking, “What happens when Windows 7 expires?” They’re concerned that their computer will stop working, or that they will lose their important files. Fortunately those things won’t happen, but there is still reason for concern. Here’s the bottom line.

The main factor for consideration here is Windows Updates.

Every month, on the second Tuesday, Microsoft sends out Windows Updates. This is called Patch Tuesday, because many of the updates being sent are to “patch” security problems that have been discovered. New issues are always being found and fixed by Microsoft. This is part of their ongoing support of their Windows operating systems.

This coming January is when that support ends. January 14, 2020 will be the final Patch Tuesday for Windows 7. After that, no more updates, no more security fixes.

If you’re still using Windows 7 on January 15, 2020, your computer will still run. In fact, you will probably not notice any difference other than Microsoft might display a pop-up window on your screen at each bootup, reminding you that Windows 7 support has ended. That actually might start even BEFORE it expires. This is the message Windows XP users saw when that operating system was about to retire:

But even though your computer and Windows 7 will still function, don’t be deceived into thinking that all is okay. It’s not okay.

Security holes and flaws will still continue to be found in Windows 7, no different than what’s been happening for years. The difference now is – they won’t be fixed.

So when Microsoft comes out each month with all the new security patches to fix those vulnerabilities, Windows 7 users won’t get them. And guess what – the hackers know about those security problems, and will be hard at work creating ways to exploit them.

For home users, this creates a situation where your computer is not safe to use. For business users, you are exposing yourself (and your clients) to potential legal and liability risks that could be disastrous.

So if you are currently using a computer that runs Windows 7, you have two options:

  1. Upgrade your computer to Windows 10. Right now, I can do this for you remotely for $180. On July 1, 2019 the fee goes to $225. Before we do the upgrade, we’ll create a backup to your portable drive. So if you don’t have a backup for your computer already, that will be another good outcome for this. Upgrading is much less expensive than buying a new computer.
  2. Buy a new computer. Of course, any new PC you buy now will already be running Windows 10. A new computer will come with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (bloatware), and something things you DO need won’t be on there. And we’ll need to get all of your files and folders moved over from your old computer. I can do all of this remotely for you as well. If your computer is old, replacing it might be the more cost-effective solution.

Some people who have never used Windows 10 are still a bit wary about doing this upgrade. Here’s my take on that: you have nothing to worry about.

When Windows 10 first came out, it had problems. And Microsoft was practically forcing everyone to upgrade, whether you wanted it or not. It was one of the most clumsy and scummy product rollouts I’ve ever seen, and back then I was telling everyone to stay with Windows 7, and actively block that upgrade. Not now.

Windows 10 has been out for almost 4 years now, and a lot of the original problems have been fixed. It still has some “features” baked in that most people would consider privacy invasions, but I disable many of those are part of the setup. And, it’s very intuitive to use. There’s the old reliable Start button where you can see all your programs, and putting a program shortcut on the desktop is even easier than it is in Windows 7 (you just drag and drop it there).

So what are you waiting for? Time to move to Windows 10!

May 27 2019

9mins

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Two great services for movie/TV watchers

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Seems like the only movie people have been talking about lately is Avengers: Endgame. I’ve seen some people saying they’ve been to see it several times. Personally, I haven’t seen it and don’t really have any plans to. I haven’t read comic books since I was a kid, and never got into the whole “super heroes” thing. But congratulations to Marvel for such a huge success.

Today’s tip is for those that love watching movies and/or TV shows. I found a couple of online services that could be pretty handy.

The first one is called Just Watch. You can see it at JustWatch.com.

The premise is simple. You already know what you want to watch. You just don’t know where to get it. Just Watch will tell you where you can find that movie or TV show you’re looking for.

For example – want to binge watch The Office? Just do a quick search, and you’ll see all the places that offer it:

Or maybe you’re looking for something a little more dramatic, like Breaking Bad. No problem:

Even old classics like Gilligan’s Island are still available for streaming:

And the other service is called After Credits. You can see it at AfterCredits.com.

After Credits is more oriented toward movies. Have you ever sat through a movie at a theater, then at the end you’re not sure if you should get up and leave, because you might miss something that comes up during (or even after) the credits? Seems like that’s pretty popular now. And you definitely don’t want to be talking with your co-workers the next day about that movie, and find out you missed something amazing that happened after the credits rolled.

This site tells you if something is there, and you should stay, or if it’s okay to just leave. These special scenes even have a bunch of nicknames – Stinger, Egg, Tag, etc. And there are different TYPES of stingers. From the site:

For example, in the movie Apollo 11, throughout the credits you will see actual NASA footage, including a voiceover of a Walter Cronkite news broadcast.

Or in the 2018 movie Bohemian Rhapsody, during the credits there is footage of the actual band Queen, performing the song “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

And if you know of anything that happens in the credits for a movie and it’s not listed on the site, you can submit that information so it’s added to their database.

Are you aware of any other services like this that help people who want to watch or find out more about TV shows or movies? Let us know in the comments below!

May 13 2019

8mins

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Turn any online article into audio or a podcast

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Why do you think audio books are so popular now? I think it’s because people want to read, but they simply don’t have time to sit down and visually read a book. With audio books, you can “read” a book while you’re driving, or biking, or walking the dog.

But here’s the problem. There are lots of blogs and articles on the internet that are full of amazing content – but they are only available as text. Not audio. So you might miss out on a lot of good stuff, just because it takes too long to read and you don’t have time.

Now there’s a solution for that.

I recently discovered a service called Blog Reader. You can get it at blogreader.com.au.

Turns out, this service was created by a guy in Australia, Matt Segal, to solve his own problem. This is what he wrote on the website:

The way it works is pretty simple:

  1. You find a web page with content you want to listen to, and copy that page’s URL
  2. You submit the URL on the Blog Reader website
  3. The site reads the content on that webpage
  4. The site converts that content into an audio file
  5. The audio file gets added to a podcast feed that is only for you to see and use (use any podcast player)
  6. When you open that podcast feed, you see it there automatically.

If you’re not into podcasts – you also have the option to download the audio or listen to it right in your web browser.

Unfortunately this is not a completely free service, but it is very affordable. The cost is 2 AUD for each hour of audio (this currently converts to about $1.43 in US dollars). But you are able to try it out for free and see what you think – you get 5 free hours of audio when you create an account.

I tried it by sending it one of Seth Godin’s blog posts. I was actually surprised at the quality of the audio – the narration did not sound robotic, even though the voice was a computer reading it. The quality of computerized voices has really improved recently. You can also listen to a sample right on the website, without sending it any content to convert.

If you try it out, let us know what you think in the comments below!

Apr 29 2019

10mins

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iTunes Ratings

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I learn so much!

By Bridget Carrie - Oct 24 2016
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This is probably the most valuable podcast around.

Great show

By pperk97 - Jul 22 2016
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Scott does a VERY good job at making the subjects meaningfull and easy.