Tech – for Everyone

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

Tips for cleaning your smartphone and other mobile devices

Folks, here are some useful and/or interesting “infos” I think you will want to know about.

* Cleaning supplies for your smartphones, tablets, and accessories

Matthew Nawrocki shares some tips for cleaning oils, dirt, and grime from your smartphone and other handheld mobile devices. Read more..

* (This is another one where the reader comments are interesting too) Will 90 percent of users always hate Windows 8?

Windows 8 doesn’t exactly seem to be setting the world alight. Perhaps the requirement that indifferent users have to sit down and learn their way around something new is causing problems…” Read more..

* IT job cuts: Is the end finally in sight?

A poll of IT chiefs’ views on hiring and budgets picks out a whiff of change in the jobs climate.” Read more..

* Sort of related: Words that mean nothing in a resume

Some of the most often used terms in resumes are also the most meaningless. Learn how to avoid that pitfall.” Read more..

* Two free, full-blown alternatives to MS Office

As Microsoft’s Office has grown in size and complexity, more than a few users have wondered whether there’s a viable alternative — especially when it comes time to pay for an upgrade or new copy.” Read more..

* Yippee yahoo: Spy agencies to be granted access to US citizen finances

Should intelligence agencies in the United States have unrestricted access to the banking details of U.S. citizens? The federal government believes so.Read more..

That shouldn’t bother me.. right?

* Software giveaway (reader submitted): today only..Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition (PC) 100% Discount Coupon Code *** Great News! Nufsoft has agreed to extend this deal for another day – Enjoy! ***

“Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition transforms your nature photos into living works of art with weather effects that are sure to astound! Using Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition, you can add realistic snow, water, rain, and more, then throw in some butterflies, birds, and other objects to increase the level of nature in your nature photography. You don’t need to be a professional graphic designer, either, since Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition offers an intuitive interface that lets anyone transform their photos.

It’s not just rain or snow, either. Within each category, you have complete control over such details as the intensity, wind direction, speed, transparency, and size. And once you think you’re done improving your photos with weather effects, you can take it to the next level! Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition lets you add sound effects to all of your photos, immersing your audience in a total sensory nature experience. When you’re done, you can save your living photos as self-executing files, videos, or screensavers!

Thank you for the heads up, Dear Reader.

Today’s quotable quote:I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

Silly Poll #3 (cont..) Does “clumping” cat litter save money in the long run?

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, consumer electronics, free software, gadgets, how to, iPhone, mobile, software, tech | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Saturday Post #2

Wow. What a pretty day here today.

Definitely a day where flip flops will have priority over any ditch digging, or heavy lifting. Ha!

* It has been a while since I mentioned one of my preferred ‘humor sites’ — There I Fixed It. It is a part of the Fail Blog. Which some people know is affiliated with I Can Has Cheeseburger. (And the LOLcats, I think..)

U-Hauls Are For Losers!
Click on image to see more "fixes".

* It’s also been a while since I mentioned one of my favorite little tools for keeping your PC running smoothly, CCleaner (and it helps protect your privacy too). It is a free download, and one of my Top 10 reco’s.

Some time ago I posted a tutorial for using CCleaner. If you missed it…

I wouldn’t go anywhere without CCleaner

CCleaner (the “C” stands for ‘crap’) is a free system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up hard disk space. It also protects your privacy by cleaning (erasing) traces of your online activities such as cookies, and your Internet history. Additionally it contains a safe, fully featured registry cleaner.

You can read the rest of the tutorial here.

Today’s quote:Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” ~ Jim Rohn

An update: (for those who were wondering). WordPress informed me that the “No Ads” upgrade has been renewed for another year. My sincere thanks to all who contributed a donation to the cause!

.. I wonder if that driver got a fixit ticket.. seems a wee bit unsafe to me… Have a great weekend everybody!

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

April 21, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, performance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

TGIF Revisited + Brands Techs Love/Hate

Folks, I may not get today’s article finished and posted today.. so I am quickly re-posting an article from March 2008 (with a new reco) so that you’ll have something to read, and a pretty picture to look at. Just in case.

There’s just something about Fridays that you gotta love.

We humans simply must have some light at the end of the tunnel, or we will flag, sag, and eventually quit trying. Friday (for most of us) is that light — the end of the work week is not only in sight, it’s mere hours away!
And Friday for a lot of us (me too… when I was younger) means that we will “go out”; we will “celebrate”; we will eat, drink, and (maybe) dance with friends, co-workers, and complete strangers. We will make merry. A joyous break in the routine.

Friday means the weekend is here. Isn’t that a magical word? “Weekend”. (I smile just thinking it.)
Sure, the weekend isn’t all fun-and-games.. there’s lawns to mow, and cars to wash-and-vacuum, and a “Honey-Do list” a mile long, and grocery shopping.. there’s church, weddings to attend, children’s birthday parties, friends-who-need-help-moving-to-a-new-apartment and,.. have you cleaned out your gutters yet?
Weekends are never long enough.

So today is Friday and it feels like Spring is here.
19_10_11-spring_web.jpg

Here, where I live, we’ve had several warm sunny days in a row. So.. the other day I gave my car its first bath of the year. Washed all the Winter grime away. Guess what? It rained hours later.
Is that cliche, or what?

I like the Spring. Springtime alleviates a sad mental condition I have. Psychologists and Psychiatrists with nothing better to do have decided to name/label a rather common human condition, and they’ve called it “SAD”– that’s short for “Seasonal Affective Disorder“. And I guess I have it. “SAD” basically says that bitter cold, long periods without sunshine (as in shorter days/lots of clouds), extended indoor confinement (as in lots of rain/snow), brings us down (“Depresses” us).
Duh.

I much prefer sunshine, air the doesn’t bite you, and green leaves and flowers everywhere to gray skys, mud, and bare, skeletal branches. Those (former) things cheer me up considerably.

OK, this is a “tech” site..
Tip of the day: Springtime means Spring Cleaning (and pruning.. and planting.. and gutter-cleaning..) and so I am going to remind you that your computer needs an occasional cleaning too. (Nice transition, eh?)

1) Get rid of the dust and lint: Dust and lint can reduce your computer’s performance, cooling efficiency, and even cause fatal short-circuits.
* For desktop PCs, unplug your computer’s power cord from the wall and open your computer’s case so you can see all the neato circuitry inside. How, exactly your case opens will vary with make/model, but it is usually a side panel, and the side panel is held in place with two thumb-screws (the manufacturer’s website will have instructions, also).

Once the case is open, use the techniques I described in my recent printer maintenance article to remove the built-up dust bunnies. Pay special attention to air venting areas (and screens), such as by the power supply. (And, be careful and be gentle.)

* For notebooks, your cleaning is going to be a little different: you will want to get all the debris from out from under your keyboard keys, as I describe in this article. And you’ll want to wipe down your screen with an anti-static cloth (which may may require the slightest [just a drop or two.. in one corner..] moistening with plain water.

2) Get rid of disk clutter: Empty the trash that accumulates on your hard drive for a leaner, meaner file system. Fortunately there’s a one-button tool for that in Windows, https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/11/07/more-than-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-disk-cleanup-tool/

So let’s get busy and do some Spring Cleaning.. and don’t forget to notice the flowers.

Brands Technicians Love & Hate: Folks, Bryce over at Technibble conducted an informal survey of repair technicians of which brand names they prefer (and which they shun) – broken down by category. I was not terribly surprised to see the results turn out to be nearly identical with my own ‘drothers’. To see the winners and losers, click here.

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


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March 11, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Reminder For Spring

Spring — Time For Taxes And, Cleaning

Recently I posted What The Inside Looks Like… which showed the insides of computers, and a savvy and experienced gentleman wrote in and pointed out that looking inside your PC will reveal a build up of dust and lint. Oh, yes! (Especially if your floor is carpeted.) Like most technicians, I carry a can of air, and as a ‘value add’, will blow that gunk out for my clients. Why?

Tip of the day: Get rid of the dust and lint. Dust and lint can reduce your computer’s performance, cooling efficiency, and even cause ‘fatal’ short-circuits. It is simple, and doesn’t take long.. and it’s important. So for your “Spring cleaning” this year, don’t forget your computer!

* For desktop PCs, unplug your computer’s power cord from the wall and open your computer’s case so you can see all the neat-o circuitry inside. How, exactly your case opens will vary with make/model, but it is usually a side panel, and the side panel is held in place with two thumb-screws (the manufacturer’s website will have instructions).
Once the case is open, use the techniques I described in my printer maintenance article to remove the built-up dust bunnies. Pay special attention to air venting areas (and screens), such as by the power supply. (And, be careful and be gentle.)

* For notebooks, your cleaning is going to be a little different: you will want to get all the debris from out from under your keyboard keys, as I describe in this article. And you’ll want to wipe down your screen with an anti-static cloth (which may may require the slightest [just a drop or two] moistening with plain water.

Today’s free download: PhotoScape “is an all-in-one style photo editor with fun and ease of use. Major capabilities are: viewer, editor, batch editor, page, combine, animated GIF, print, splitter, screen capture, color picker, rename, raw converter, resizing, brightness/color/white-balance adjustment, backlight correction, frames, balloons, text, drawing pictures, cropping, filters, red eye removal and blooming.”

Food for thought:

(01-13) Washington –

Twenty-eight percent of all traffic accidents are caused when people talk on cell phones or send text messages while driving, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Safety Council. (Read more, click here.)

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 7, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fix Problem Keyboards*

Originally titled, “My “e” key doesn’t “e”, and other keyboard tips”, this post appeared 08/06/07. I have added a tip in this republication.

There seems to be some weird alignment of the planets that is causing a spate of keyboard problems recently — accounting for about a third of my support calls this week. So today I’m going to tell you some basic keyboard maintenance and repair techniques, just in case your “e” key decides to start rebelling too.

Tip of the day: Cleanliness is the “key” to happy keyboards. Aside from your hard drive, your ‘input devices’ are the most (physically) hard-working things on your computer. And unlike the platters, motors, and read/write heads inside your HD, keyboards do all of their work by getting touched by oily, sweaty, dirty, jelly-covered human hands. And they get sneezed on too.
Yes, we humans (even the cleanest of us) manage to do rude things to our keyboards. Smokers drop ashes, and nibblers drop crumbs. We give them Diet Coke baths. And some of us take our laptops to the beach.

Almost two-thirds of the keyboard-related calls I took at Aplus Computer Aid were concerning laptops, and all but one was cured by cleaning (the sole exception required replacement, it was age related). Laptops, for various reasons, require more frequent cleaning than desktop models. The first thing to do when you have a quirky and misbehaving keyboard (laptop or desktop) is blow the collected dust and debris out from under the keys.

Tip your laptop or desk keyboard on its side, so that gravity can help you. Then use a can of compressed air (like DustOff), or blow through a straw, along all the gaps and depressions around the edges of the keys. Start at the highest side and work your way down, vary your angles a few times. Now turn your laptop/keyboard upside-down and give it a a couple of gentle taps. Then lay it flat in its normal position and repeat a quick gaps-blow. It may surprise you how much stuff has collected under your keys.

Next we go after the more stubborn dirt and oils with a brush. A canister vacuum with a brush attachment is the best tool here. If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner that has a hose with a brush, you can try a paint brush (or a basting brush), and brush out as much as you can that way. I have also used a bent piece of insulated wire to go ‘fishing’ under misbehaving keys. It was this method that recently cured a “stuck” key (it wouldn’t depress) on a laptop — fishing around under there produced a grain of uncooked rice. (The laptop’s owner was baffled by this discovery…)

In some cases, you may need to pop the keycaps (or keys) off. This is a somewhat tricky undertaking, usually accomplished with gentle prying pressure with a small screwdriver. Each manufacturer and type of keyboard has its own methodology for keycap removal, and I strongly advise you to look at the manufacturer’s documentation before you start removing caps. (If your laptop is still under warranty, removing keycaps may void your support — look before you leap.) With the keycap off, and the computer powered off (battery removed too, in laptops) use a Q-tip and isopropyl alcohol (or water with a smidgeon of liquid dishsoap) to clean the exposed area. Use gentle pressure to ’snap’ the keycaps back into place. As a final step, use a lint-free cloth slightly moistened with water and mild dishsoap to gently wipe the tops of the keys to remove finger oils and grime.

[addenda: If you have a keyboard you dearly love, and want to keep it functioning for many more weeks and months and years, you may want to consider applying the advice above to the whole board, and not just the problem keys, and give it a real thorough cleaning.
I suggest taking a Polaroid or digital picture (or pictures) to document exact key placement to assist you in replacing the keys in their proper places. Remove all the key caps, and if possible, lay them out on a tabletop in the same pattern as they are on the board itself. Start at the bottom and work your way up.
Once all the caps are removed, really do a good job of cleaning out the recesses as described in the prior paragraph. Clean the undersides of the caps before replacing them, as well.
Sometimes, this will “resurrect” dead keyboards.]

For really problematic desktop keyboards there is one more thing to try before going out and purchasing a replacement: soak the keyboard overnight in your bathtub, occasionally swirling the water a little to create current-motion (not much, just a little). Hard to reach oils and other grime will loosen and float away. Let the keyboard air-dry thoroughly (another 24 hours) before plugging it back in.
If all of these methods fail to produce results, good desktop keyboards can be found for as little as $10. Most, if not all, laptops can have the keyboard unit replaced as well: the manufacturer being the source for these parts.

Today’s free link: I don’t want you to think that I’m a boring and all-business geek, so today’s link is the place to get started building your digital music collection … for free. The music department at download.com is an entirely free collection of music of all genres. Check it out. Have fun, and relax … it’s completely legal, and doesn’t use any of that questionable and risky “file sharing” torrents.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 26, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, keyboards and mice, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments