Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Steve Jobs Steps Down

Yesterday, I heard that Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple.

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

Not surprisingly, Jobs’ resignation was big news, and media outlets all over the country seized on the story. Newspaper front pages all over the country featured Jobs’ photo, with some taking a somber tone and others going the pun route: iQuit and iResign, for example.

Our ‘big city paper’, The San Francisco Chronicle, featured a large Apple logo with Jobs in shadow. “Steve Jobs steps down as CEO, leaving the tech world – and fans of the products he dreamed up – wondering what Apple will be without him.” (Their story was full of hype-erbole..)

It was kind of fun watching all the articles get posted as word spread.. and reading some of the comments the public posted as well.

I am not an iPerson, and won’t have anything to do with Apple products more than what is required to perform my duties as a repair technician. I am not knocking these products, so no need to write in and school me. But I mention it as some of the speculation on the web is that Apple will fade away without Steve Jobs at the helm.. a world without Apple. And iGadgets.

I absolutely hate intensely dislike talking heads who predict the future, so I won’t be one. I will not tell you what Jobs’ resignation means… or even what I think it means. I will say that it is MHO that there’s no reason to go dumping your Apple stock, just yet, should you own any ¹. And I will share some articles that look at this ‘news’ (anyone caught off guard by this, hasn’t been paying attention).

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO – FAQ

“You’ve got questions about Steve Jobs’ resignation – I’ve got answers!” Read more..

Apple’s Past And Future: Analysis Around The Web

“As Steve Jobs resigns, we all wonder what the next chapter will be for the technology company like no other. Here’s a look at historic moments and pending questions.” Read more..

And of course, many articles are posted on Apple Insider..

No, I won’t predict the future, but I will look at the past. And I will say that – even though I am not an iFan – Steve Jobs was a trendsetter, a pioneer, tech “maverick”, and one of the original few who made “tech”, the PC, and the Internet, evolve into parts of our homes and our daily lives (aka “changed the world”). I think it is safe to say, Apple would have faded away years ago without him.
I’ll go further.. it’s hard for me to think of anyone current (or recent past) with his talent for marketing.

Today’s quote:Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

¹ It seems I need to be more clear: I was using that solely as a “figure of speech” and am in no way a financial consultant, stock market expert, nor do I have any “insider knowledge”. It was my way of saying “I don’t think you should panic, Apple lovers”. Nothing more. Repeat: nothing. (I am a humble computer repair tech..)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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August 25, 2011 Posted by | Backups, computers, News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Backup4all License Giveaway Drawing

Folks, I am pleased to announce my latest software license giveaway drawing.

The folks at Softland have generously donated ten licenses for Backup4all Professional to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am going to do a random drawing¹ contest from those who “enter” by posting a comment (below). The drawing will close Thursday, August 18th, and the winners announced Friday.

Backup4all is a program for creating “backup copies” of the files on your computer, which regular readers know, is something I repeatedly urge people to get into the habit of doing! With a backup program like Backup4all, you don’t need a ‘habit’, you can set-it-and-forget-it. Below, I will give you my impressions and some screenshots, but first…

Backup4all Review by Softpedia
Backup4all Featured in Lockergnome

Publisher’s description:

Backup4all is an award-winning data backup software for Windows. This backup utility was designed to protect your valuable data from partial or total loss by automating backup tasks, password protecting and compressing it to save storage space. This backup application is feature rich and offers an intuitive interface making all features easily accessible for both beginners and professionals.

Here is a “slideshow” of screenshots of Backup4all Professional. For this series, I show setting it to do a basic backup to CD/DVD discs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You may remember Softland from last week’s review/giveaway, and I can (again) say that my main comment on this product is it delivers what it advertises, and (again) I can say I largely agreed with all the (consistently positive) reviews I read (such as the two above). However I found one point of disagreement: I do not think the interface is all that “intuitive”, and I suspect the “average computer user” would not get the lead-me-by-the-hand experience they often need (my guess is they would stop at slide 6 of the slide show..). I was told that Softland is working on an improved wizard..
And they do offer a video How To guide, as well as illustrated online help files, so learning is easy.

So, this is my ‘prejudice’ but, my recommendation for this valuable tool is reserved for Intermediate to Advanced computer users and/or folks willing to learn the simple steps. If you have ever used a backup program where you had to create the backup set, and set a schedule, then you will have no troubles doing the Backup4all configuration (and you will appreciate the full feature set). Nice thing is, once you get it set, you can pretty much forget it.

Literally, the list of features is too long to fit on this page. So here is the link: click here. (I like the fact files are saved as ZIP’s.) Even more are available as “plug ins”. The default plug-ins are shown in the first slide; and, in the 3rd, I have added one for MSN Messenger (chat). Again, the list of plug-ins is too long to post here.. so here is the link: click here.

I should not have to tell you how important having a backup copy of your digital stuff is. It should be self-evident and obvious. Anyone who has lost documents and images due to a hard drive dying (and yes, Virginia, hard drives die) will tell you how they wished they had gotten around to making copies. (Often.. in tears..) Don’t be sorry. Make backups. (Yeah. Yeah. I’ll get to it tomorrow.)

Backup4all is compatible with Windows 7/Vista/2008 Server/XP/2003 Server/2000 and requires approximately 50MB of free disk space.

(There are also “Lite”,  “Standard”, and “Portable” editions available. “Professional” is the top of the line, and retails for $50. A comparison of the editions is here.)

How to enter? Residents of the US and Canada only may enter the contest drawing by simply clicking on “comment” (below), and entering a name and a valid e-mail (so I can send you a license key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but multiple entries will result in disqualification. (In this contest. Entry in prior contests doesn’t count against you.)

¹ All entrants will be placed into’s “list randomizer”, and the top 10 results will be the winners. A 30-day trial of Backup4all Professional can be downloaded here, Free 30-day trial. Try it out yourself. (And then leave a comment. You may just win one of these valuable prizes!)

Again, my thanks to the folks at Softland for making this Giveaway possible!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, PC, software, tech | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Windows 7 safety net | Mobile Malware | Quick reco’s

A few items for your consideration, today, including a great how-to. Let’s start with a good read for those who want more info than I provided in yesterday’s article, Microsoft Buys Skype. Now What?

* With baited breath: The Microsoft-Skype Deal

There’s plenty of speculation around the web about exactly what Microsoft plans to do with its brand new, $8.5 billion dollar baby. There is a lot of “Microsoft doesn’t know what it’s doing” sentiment floating around, but then there are some more interesting hypotheses that we figured were worth a look….CONTINUED: 8 theories behind the deal

* Got Spelling? Some – but not all – programs have built-in spell checking of some sort. If you want to add spell checking to all of your apps (or a select group) then take a look at tinySpell (free and pro).

If your favorite app does not have built-in spell checking, then tinySpell will definitely be a welcome (and very helpful) addition to your Windows system. They offer a portable version as well so you can take it with you to any PC.

[Also, How-To Geek has a tutorial here.]

* Build a complete Windows 7 safety net (by one of my fave tech How To writers, Fred Langa) Note: this is IMHO the definitive How To tutorial for disaster recovery — please read it!

“Every copy of Windows 7 includes a complete suite of backup tools. The suite contains everything you need to back up (and restore) your entire system.
What’s more, after you’ve set up your initial backup, future backups happen automatically.
In fact, Windows 7 makes it so easy to set up fully automated backups, it’s almost nutty not to do it.” Read more.. (please)

* Juniper Networks finds rise in Android phone malware, smartphone spyware

“The rising use of smartphones is gaining the attention of cybercriminals, according to a new study by Juniper Networks Inc., which tracked a sharp increase in Google Android phone malware in 2010 as a result of the platform’s success.

According to the Juniper study, which analyzed malware detected on its customer devices in 2010, smartphone spyware accounted for 61% of all mobile customer infections and 100% of all infections for Android devices. The report, issued Wednesday by the Juniper Networks Global Threat Center, also documented a 400% increase in Android malware, as well as highly targeted Wi-Fi attacks.” Read more..

Quote of the day: Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.  ~Henry Ford

Chuckle of the day:

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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May 12, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, Backups, computers, cyber crime, free software, hackers, how to, Microsoft, mobile, PC, software, tech, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Quick Reminder: Contest Ends

Folks, just a quick reminder that today – until midnight, Pacific – is the last chance to enter my latest software license giveaway drawing.

*** A Chance To Win A Valuable Prize! ***

The folks at Novosoft have generously donated five licenses for Handy Backup Standard to me, to award to my readers.

“Handy Backup is an easy-to-use backup software designed to perform automated backup of your computer. User-friendly interface and a rich set of backup features make it one of the best PC backup software for home and small office use.

To enter the drawing, please see: Special Holiday Edition (A Giveaway!)

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Backups, free software | 2 Comments

Protecting Your Hi-Tech Devices*

Well here it is, Monday again. I hope you all you were able to enjoy the weekend… and did better on your football picks than I did.

TOPIC: One of the most overlooked ways of protecting the investment which is your electronic devices. (I am a ‘computer guy’, so my emphasis is on ‘puters, but the advice here is applicable to all your electronic gear.. that new LCD TV, for instance.)

First Line Of Defense – The Lowly Powerstrip*

hardhat areaEvery now and then, something comes along and upsets our daily routine. This causes us to make adjustments and adapt. I find upsets to my routine (sense of normalcy), well, upsetting. I get things set to the way I like them, and I want them to stay that way… and I get cranky when they’re not.

Yesterday, the hard drive on one of my testbed machines gave up the ghost and died: one machine down. Then last night we had a storm and some funny things happen to our electricity — all of my lights got really bright and then ‘poof’ darkness; then, quickly, about three times in a row, the power tried to come back on, but failed. A couple of minutes later, it was on and stayed on.. long enough to develop a false sense of relief. Then it was out for an hour. Basically, a “surge”, followed by “line recycling”.

Now I don’t want you to think I’m snivelling. I’m not. But I did need to “set the stage” for this — another of my machines was plugged into a cheap, old, powerstrip pstrip.jpgwhich did not react to the surge. So, that machine experienced the full roller-coaster ride of a surge in power, sudden outage, rebooting, outage, full reboot+full outage.. which, apparently, it didn’t like very much.
I have yet to determine if it just the Windows installation that was damaged, if the reported RAM memory module errors are temporary, or if a component on the motherboard is now “fried”. Second machine down. [update: it turned out that it was Windows, which required a re-Install. Yippee.]

Due to these things, and the fact that I simply cannot live without a computer, a trip to my local electronics store was my first act of the day– and because there is a moral to this story (actually, a couple of them) I will share with you my purchases:
Moral #1: the devices I had plugged into modern, rated, and “not cheap” powerstrips suffered no ill effects. (I had used the old powerstrip because it had happened to be handy.) There is a difference in the quality of powerstrips, and their protective abilities. I made a conscientious inventory and have replaced all my old powerstrips with ones specifically designed belkin.jpgand rated for sensitive electronics. (If you are in an area that has lightning [and who isn’t?] it is a good idea to protect your phone line and coaxial cable lines too.) Such as with this “media center” surge-protecting powerstrip from Belkin.

Moral #2: My machines attached to a UPS (aka “battery backup”) also were unaffected by the surge and recyclings. However, I never got around to attaching my DSL modem and router to a UPS, as they are somewhat distant from my work area. And so, while I was able to have a computer running, the network, and the Internet was unavailable. I remedied that as well.
[note: I wrote an article on Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), which you can read by clicking here. And fellow tech blogger Rick Robinette wrote a very good article, Protect Your Computer with an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)]

Moral #3: Hard drives do fail. Fortunately, replacing them is not a very difficult task. And restoring the first machine I mentioned was not all that difficult or time-consuming either.. in fact, I had a side-benefit as the new drive is quite a bit larger than the now-dead drive was.
But I must point out, I can make the statement I made (immediately above) because I had a full system backup stored on another drive. If I did not have that full backup, I would still be reinstalling programs and reconfiguring settings and updating my software and… well, anyone who’s done it can tell you, it’s a royal pain.
So I remind you, again, that it is very important to make backups of your computer.. and to store those backups on two different storage media types. To read my article on setting your computer to make backups automatically, click here.

Today’s free link: Many people have taken particular note of my article on Processes, and what should (or should not) be showing in the list in Task Manager. A resource for figuring out those strange looking entries that I have not mentioned before is the Process Library, which will help you determine if a process is “good” or “bad”.

* Orig post: 12/7/07

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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November 8, 2010 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to, PC, tech | 2 Comments

Backups on a Budget

Sometimes the questions readers write in with are worthy of your attention.. and the answers worthy of an article.

Q: Paul:
I have been following your tech advice for quite some time and recently watched the video of “Don’t be a Billy”. One of the subjects you are constantly telling your clients and readers is to back-up, back-up and back-up. Kind of like Real Estate, location, location, location.

My question to you is I can’t spend the money now on a portable hard drive. CD’s and thumb drives do not have the space to do a full system back up. What is the common person to do if we don’t have servers, or another means to do a back up?
~ L.C.

A: L.C.,
Yes. It’s true. Making a backup copy (on some other media than your hard drive) of your digital photographs, important digital documents, business-related emails, etc. is one of life’s DO IT! items — that nobody does.
FACT: computers/hard drives fail.
FACT: without a backup copy, your files can be gone for ever. Poof! Gone. (Or cost a thousand or so to “recover”.)
FACT: Do the right thing (now) so you won’t be sorry (later) – backup!

OK. To your question:
External hard drives (such as USB-attached) are quite affordable these days and are the preferred destination for large backups – for several reasons. (I have seen deals on these items recently that truly make them hard not to recommend. [<$60])

The next best alternative destination for most people is optical discs – CD’s or DVD’s. (I backup to both discs and an external drive, btw. The redundancy has saved my bacon more than once.) The easiest way to do that is to use a Backup program that allows you to point at your optical drive…

Macrium Reflect

.. as the place to Save to (aka “destination”). You will be prompted to insert blank discs until the backup session is completed; which, depending on the amount of data, can be several discs! (Especially the first backup.. the “full” one.) Be sure to label your burned discs properly.

If your version of Windows Backup, or your current Backup software, does not allow this, simply install one that does. I happen to use Macrium Reflect Free Edition for this job, but Easeus Todo Backup is another excellent choice. Both are free, and both are simple, wizard-driven tools.

So you see folks, there’s no excuse: back-up, back-up, and back-up!

[update: a comment came in I think you should see..

This article is probably some of the most important advice that can be given to a computer user.  Backup, backup and backup!” ~ Rick Robinette]

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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October 14, 2010 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, security | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oops!Backup Winners

The folks at Altaro have generously donated some licenses for Oops!Backup to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. Oops!Backup is a ‘time machine’ backup for Windows program that creates “backup revision copies” of the files on your computer.

With Oops!Backup, you do not have to be “computer savvy”, and you  set-it-and-forget-it. The program constantly monitors your file system for you. I will give you my impressions and some screenshots, but first…

Plain, straightforward English–I love it. This versioning, continuous-backup package is one of the more impressive I’ve run across… — Jon L. Jacobi, PC World magazine, Editorial Review of Oops!Backup

From the publisher:

Oops!Backup is no ordinary backup product: Thanks to its unique BackInTime™ technology Oops!Backup allows you to travel back in time to recover different versions of your important documents, photos or any other files. Oops!Backup is a hybrid backup and version control.

A complete set of screenshots is available here. My comments are toward the end of the announcement article, here. (Also, there is a video demonstration of Oops!Backup “in action”.) A 30-day, fully-functional free trial of Oops!Backup can be downloaded here, Free 30-day trial.

As you know, this week’s contest was a little different…

The winners of a single license for Oops!Backup are:


And the 1st Prize winner of a 3 pack of licenses is:

The lucky winners have been sent an e-mail, containing their license key(s), with the subject “Oops!Backup License Winner”. (You may need to check your Junk folder.)

My thanks to David at Altaro for making this event possible, and to all who participated in this contest! Have a great weekend, folks.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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June 25, 2010 Posted by | Backups, computers, PC, software | , , , | 14 Comments