Tech – for Everyone

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

Quick Tips and Reco’s

Windows 7′s Snap feature lets you arrange your open windows side-by-side simply by dragging them to the edge of your screen. This greatly enhances the ease of working with multiple documents. Today’s Quick Tip shows the shortcut method for those who are using XP or Vista. This window arranging (or “stacking”) is called “tiling”.

First, hold down the Ctrl key. Then click on the tabs in your Taskbar for the windows you want to arrange and work with. (In this screenshot, I have ‘select’-ed Firefox and Word.)

Click to see larger image

Now right-click on a blank area of the Taskbar, and a context menu window will open.

XP: choose “Tile Vertically“.
Vista: choose “Show Windows Side by Side“.

That’s it. When you are done, and want to return to normal, right-click a blank part of the Taskbar and choose Undo. (Or, drag and resize manually with your cursor.)

~     ~     ~

[DID YOU KNOW?] You Can Check A Suspicious Website for Malware In Your Browser

It is a handy and quick way to help verify your suspicions … Read more..

10 obsolete technologies that are still useful

Before you retire that camcorder and cancel your landline service, see why Brien Posey thinks some vintage tech is worth hanging onto.Read more..

IT jobs claim four of 10 positions in most hated jobs list

Four out of ten most hated jobs are in IT? Can this be true?Read more..

Infographic: The innovations that led to the iPhone

“Take a look at a visual history of the people, products, and ideas that led to the modern iPhone, and all smartphones in general.Read more..

Today’s quotable quote:If a man does his best, what else is there?” ~ George S. Patton

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


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September 27, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, Google, how to, News, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Windows Update Broken? Fix it!

Microsoft has made available an automatic repair which will reset, and repair, the components of Windows Update. This can resolve issues where updates will not install.

To reset the Windows Update components automatically, click the Fix it button or link. Click Run in the File Download dialog box, and then follow the steps in the Fix it wizard.

Note: this Fix it Solution has two modes Default and Aggressive. You should run the Fix it solution in Default mode and determine if it resolves your problem with Windows Update before running it in Aggressive mode.

Note: this wizard may be in English only; however, the automatic fix also works for other language versions of Windows.

Note: if you are not on the computer that has the problem, save the Fix it solution to a flash drive or a CD and then run it on the computer that has the problem.

Check whether the Windows Update components are reset. If the Windows Update components are reset, you are finished. If the Windows Update components are not reset, or do not solve your Update problem, you can contact Microsoft support — which is free for security-related issues such as this.

Today’s quote:Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise.” ~ Unknown

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


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August 27, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, security, software, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

How To Restore Shutdown Button To Logon Screen

Allow system to be shut down without having to log on

I have a Vista computer that was set to show the login screen (require a username+password) when it woke up from Sleep mode. Which is a good thing, security-wise.

That same computer is set to wake from Sleep mode anytime I moved the mouse or pressed a key. Which is a good thing, convenience-wise.

And I would generally keep this computer in Sleep mode. Which is a good thing, energy conservation-wise.

However, after I installed a laser mouse (quite sensitive to motion) this machine was waking from sleep (and showing the login screen) every time I set down my coffee mug with a thud, nudged the mouse with my elbow, or .. sneezed. It started to feel like it was going to wake up if I looked at it sideways..

This got rather annoying as for some reason, my logon screen (aka “welcome screen”) did not show the red shutdown options button. And I would have to enter my password and sign in, just so I could tell the machine to go back to sleep. This got quite tiresome quite quickly. I should be able to just click on (go back to) Sleep. What I wanted was this:

Which for some reason was not showing.

I went into Regedit, and found that my computer was – indeed – set to show the “shutdown options” button, but was ignoring it. Computers!

So what I did was disable it (set the 1 to a 0) and then enabled it again, and this time the “enable” setting ‘took’ (was recognized) and my “go back to sleep button” was restored — no more typing in my password every 3 minutes..!
This is quite often true with machines: disable, then re-enable (a kind of ‘reboot’) clears up the problem.

Should your power options button be missing from your log in screen, and you want it back, this web page has the How To — I recommend you use the second method. Advanced users (comfortable with editing the Registry) can easily do the 3rd method. The first method only works if you have Ultimate Editions. The tutorial is here.

(Conversely, you might want to ‘disable’, and “hide” the red power button.. say, if you had kids..)

Today’s reco’s:
Big News This Past Week That Will Impact the World of Computing As We Know It

HP single-handedly destroys non-iPad tablet market

After getting a taste for $99 tablets, will consumers continue to stomach $500 price tags? Read more..

Today’s quote:The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” ~ Charles de Gaulle

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


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August 22, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Free Up Space On Your Computer (and Make It Run ‘Better’)*

And Some Saturday Fun, Too.

The simple and handy Disk Cleanup Tool has been a part of Windows since Windows 95. Today I am going to demonstrate how to use it, and explain why you should.

Tip of the day: Use the Disk Cleanup tool to — in a single step — free up disk space, empty your Recycle bin, “compress” old files, and remove the “temporary” Internet files that your machine picks up while browsing and downloading (improving your privacy/security); and, optionally, remove unused Windows “components” and installed programs.

If that sounds like lot a lot, it is. And it surprises me that Microsoft buries this useful tool under a series of menus — it would make sense to me to have a “one-button clean up” icon in Quick Launch, or on the desktop,.. or in the Start Menu.

As with most Windows items, there’s five or six different methods for getting to the same place, but the route I take is to open My Computer (just “Computer” in Vista/Windows 7) which is usually found by clicking the Start button.

mypc.jpg

Locate, and right-click on your hard drive icon, which typically is labeled “Local Disk (C:)”, and then click on the “Properties” menu selection as shown above.

Now the hard drive’s Properties window will open to the “General” tab, which regular readers of this series will recognize, as shown below.

props.jpg

Click the “Disk Cleanup” button, and a window will open that shows the progress as the tool scans your drive for files that it can safely remove for you…

calc.jpg

When the scan is finished, Disk Cleanup will present you with a list of the results –by category – which will show you the amount of space you can recover. This list of categories is selectable via checkboxes, and some are selected for you by default.

dc_opts.jpg

Accepting the defaults and clicking “OK” is fine, but you can modify it for greater space savings. This list includes all the files Windows says it’s safe to remove, and so, conceivably, you could place a check in all the checkboxes without hurting your machine or deleting important “system” files. But, I recommend that you do not select “Hibernation files” (if it appears on the list) nor “Catalog files for the Content Indexer”, nor Office installer files (“setup log files”).

In the screenshot above, I have clicked on “Offline Webpages” and placed a check in its checkbox, because I don’t use offline Webpages. (Note the “View” button: this allows you to see what is going to be removed.. if you’re the curious sort.)
When you’re finished making your selections (or, going with the defaults), click “OK”.

rusure.jpg

Don’t let this scare you. Click “Yes”. .

prog.jpg

Disk Cleanup will briefly show you that it’s working, and then return you to the hard drive Properties window. In my case, I will have cleaned 117,472 thousand bytes of useless files from my machine. The general rule of thumb is that you run this tool once a week for good hard drive health.

You are now done removing and compressing. But the Disk Cleanup tool allows you to get rid of more stuff you don’t use. There is a second tab, called “More Options”.

moreopts.jpg

Here you can click links (buttons) that will allow you to remove Windows “components” (such as IE, and the fax service), installed programs, and System Restore Points.
My advice on the last — System Restore — is to not save disk space here. Let System Restore itself handle removing the oldest Restore Points, which it does automatically.

The middle button takes you to Add/Remove Programs. The most effective way to give yourself more hard drive space, speed up your PC’s performance, and reduce your machine’s overhead is to uninstall programs that you never use. Forget “optimizer” programs, use this instead.

The Components button takes you to a sub-menu of Add/Remove Programs. Again, you probably don’t need to fool around here… so my General Advice is to ignore the More Options tab; but, it won’t hurt you to look around, and I’ve fulfilled the promise of the title of this article.

* Orig post: 11/7/07

Saturday fun: A reader wrote in and reminded me that, yes, while Mike Meyers is, indeed, “silly”, one should not forget that perhaps there is a “silly”-ier man on the scene: Jim Carrey. Though he has a large body of work, when I think of him, I do so (first) not as a pet detective, but in a skit on SNL.. which started a series of skits.. maybe you remember ..

While someone else wrote in with a vote for Mr. Bean…

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

And I salute you if you were geeky enough to have noticed that the disk pictured was a 10GB model. Kinda hard to believe there were such things.. my phone has more storage than that! (Here at T4E Headquarters, we use “geek” as a compliment.)

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


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July 23, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, software, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cure for Windows Update Error 66A

Shutting down for the night, I noticed that my 64-bit Vista machine had “Updates ready to install” for the 3rd night in a row.. which is a pretty good clue that at least one Update was failing to install.

So, I clicked on the Start button > All Programs > Windows Update > “View update history“.

Sure enough, in the “Status” column, I saw a “failed”.. on an Update named “Security Update for Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (KB2160841)” (also applies to KB2446708).

So to find out what the problem was, I right-clicked > “View details”. What I am looking for is the “error code”.

I saw that the code in this case is 66A. Clicking “Get help with this error” led to several ‘solution’ suggestions – too many. So I will tell you the one that works for me.

Step 1) Click Start > Control Panel > Programs and features.

Step 2) Scroll down until you find Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile, and click on it, once, to “select” it (turn it blue), then click the Uninstall/Change menu button (above list).

Step 3) A new window will open. Make sure the “Repair” radio button is selected, and press “next”. The automatic repair may take a few minutes to complete.

Step 4) Return to Windows Update (as per Step 1) and make sure that only the “Security Update for Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (KB2160841) is checked, and click “Retry” or “Install Updates”. Now the Update should succeed. If it doesn’t, get the “standalone” installer by clicking here and choose either 32 (x86) or 64 bit (x64) to match your system.

If that fails, I suggest calling Microsoft’s support number for free tech support (as this qualifies as a security issue) 1-866-PC-SAFETY.
(That’s right. Free. Microsoft provides free support for any safety/security related problem.)

* Orig post: 4/17/11

Free offer: Folks, I just noticed that on buy.com, you can get a free 6 months of CA’s (Computer Associates) antivirus + anti-spyware.. if you need some protection. Click here for details.

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


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July 18, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, security, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Quickly View A Calendar

Sometimes I need just a quick glance at a clock or a calendar.

Yes, I have clocks and calendars all over the place, and even on my phone (I have stopped wearing a wristwatch these days). And I have “calendar” apps and programs. I don’t know about you, but I spend enough time in front of a computer that the first place I look for the time is in the lower right corner — the clock in my Taskbar.
This has been true for years.

Should I just need today’s date, I hover the cursor over the Taskbar clock. If that is not showing, I press the Windows key, then “B”, and then the <– left arrow key. Which “unhides” the Taskbar and produces a pop-open window..

Should it be that I need a quick glance at the month’s calendar, I add one more key-press.

Press the Windows key, then “B“, and then the <– left arrow key, and then Enter.

I admit that is kind of a convoluted, and hard to remember keyboard shortcut. (Mainly for use when “Autohide the Taskbar” is enabled) So usually what I do to quickly see a calendar is one mouse click on the Taskbar clock.

Simple enough.

Today’s quote:Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” ~ Peter Marshall

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


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July 5, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, Vista, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Restore The Menu Bar In Vista And Windows 7

In older versions of Windows, the menu bar was always visible in Explorer. In Vista and Windows 7 the menu bar is now hidden by default, and you must press the ALT key to see it. These simple steps will cause it to always be visible.
(The “menu bar” gives you the familiar File | Edit | View |Tools | Help ‘drop down’ menus)

1) Launch Explorer by opening Computer (or Documents, or Pictures..), then press ALT to access the menu bar.

2) Click on Tools and then on Folder options.

3) In the Folder Options window, click on the View tab, and click to place a check in Always show menus.

menus

4) Click on Apply and then OK.

That’s it. You’re done. (Should you decide you prefer the “more screen real estate” no menu bar look, simply repeat the steps and un-check the box.)

Today’s quotable quote:Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile.” ~ Mary Beard

Today’s free download: (an “oldie but a goodie”) It has been a while since I have mentioned one of my fave little computer protection apps – WinPatrol.

Clean up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software. This program puts you back in control of your computer with no need for constant updates.
Download WinPatrol 20.5.2011 (Window XP, Vista, Windows 7 including x64 support)

Have a great weekend everybody!

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


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June 18, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment