Tech – for Everyone

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

Image On My Screen Is Upside-down. Help!

Accidental Click “Rotates” Screen Image 90 Degrees. Helpful Hubby Rotates It 90 More.

I don’t think you need to be any kind of computer genius to realize that you may have accidentally clicked something wrong, or pressed the wrong button, when suddenly your screen looks like this.
Windows_XP_90

Which is what happened to a reader, which prompted them to write the following e-mail:

Paul, we’ve run up against a snarl with my wife’s computer. We hope you can help us get it straightened out. She was reading her e-mail this afternoon, and suddenly—-for no reason she is aware of—-the picture rotated 90 degrees to the right. Insane! We fiddled around with various approaches to get it back to normal. We clicked on an icon on the desktop, which brought up a set of options, which included 90 degrees, 180 degrees, and 270 degrees. These sub-windows and option bars kept disappearing on us, if we didn’t do something quickly enough, so I hastily clicked on 180 degrees.

Windows XP Desktop

Bad choice! Now everything is upside down. And I can’t remember what I did to get to that set of choices, except that it did not seem very likely, yet it worked—-that one time! It is just that I blew it by making the wrong choice. There was probably a choice called “normal” or something like that, which would have solved our problem. But, Can you suggest what would be the way that we could most likely get to work?

Solution: I suspect that an accidental click (probably) changed the monitor’s orientation from “landscape mode” (horizontal) to “portrait” (the original 90° rotation error).
1) Get into your Display Properties by right-clicking on a blank area of your Desktop.
A menu will open: click on “Display Options” or “Display settings” [note: each machine is a little different, and your menu may say “Graphics” instead of “Display”.]

DisplayProps

2) Look for the setting (aka “option”) labeled Rotation, and set it back to 0°.

3) Click on the Apply button, and then on OK.

That’s it. You should be back to normal.

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

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February 6, 2010 Posted by | computers, how to, PC, tech | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Strange Case of the Missing Icons*

Folks, another crazy day. The following re-posted older article is not relevant to those of you on Vista or Windows 7. (Those folks may want to scroll down to the “today’s free link” section though…)

A rather upset person called my shop complaining that their machine had “a virus”, and they wanted me to “fix it”.

There was nothing terribly unusual about that, but their answer to one of my basic questions was unusual– what is happening that makes you think your machine has been infected?
A: “When I turned on my machine, several of my icons were gone.”

That answer (and a few others) told me that, yes, my client’s machine had been altered, but not by a hacker unusedor spyware or virus infection. Their machine had been altered by a “helpful” Windows XP feature called the Desktop Cleanup Wizard.

The Desktop Cleanup feature keeps track of your usage of the icons on your desktop and periodically (every 60 days) offers to remove the icons you have not recently used. Sometimes it will run when you aren’t looking.. which is what happened to my caller.

The icons are not deleted, they are moved to a folder and you can put them back on the desktop if you want. The folder is C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Desktop\Unused Desktop Shortcuts.
It will also place a shortcut to that folder on your Desktop, as shown.

Tip of the day: Turn off the automatic aspect of the Disk Cleanup tool, and avoid those pop-up balloons and “missing” icons.
1. Right-click a blank spot on the desktop, and then click Properties to open the Display Properties dialog box, click the Desktop tab.
2. Click Customize desktop to open the Desktop Items dialog box.
3. Click to clear the Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days check box.
Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.
unchk

* To run the Wizard manually, click Clean Desktop Now on the Desktop Items dialog box. You can perform a manual cleanup at any time, even if you have disabled the wizard.

Today’s free link: Rick Robinette over at What’s On My PC.com turned me on to this: Your icons on the computer screen, over the life of the computer, will start to war with each other. Watch what actually can happen – Click here for a video capture of icons who thought their owner wasn’t looking. [The video is in Adobe Flash]

* This question has come up twice this past week, so I decided to repost this article. It first appeared 8/25/08.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 4, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Some Of My Icons Vanished*

A very upset person called my shop convinced that their machine had been “hacked”, probably had “spyware”, and they wanted me to “fix it”.

There was nothing terribly unusual about that, but their answer to one of my basic questions was unusual– what is happening that makes you think your machine has been hacked?
A: “When I turned on my machine, several of my icons were gone.”

That answer (and a few others) told me that, yes, my client’s machine had been altered, but not by a hacker unusedor spyware infection. Their machine had been altered by a “helpful” Windows feature called the Desktop Cleanup Wizard.

The Desktop Cleanup feature keeps track of your usage of the icons on your desktop and periodically (every 60 days) offers to remove the icons you have not recently used. Sometimes it will run when you aren’t looking.. which is what happened to my caller.

The icons are not deleted, they are moved to a folder and you can put them back on the desktop if you want. The folder is C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Desktop\Unused Desktop Shortcuts.
It will also place a shortcut to that folder on your Desktop, as shown.

Tip of the day: Turn off the automatic aspect of the Disk Cleanup tool, and avoid those pop-up balloons and “missing” icons.
1. Right-click a blank spot on the desktop, and then click Properties to open the Display Properties dialog box, click the Desktop tab.
2. Click Customize desktop to open the Desktop Items dialog box.
3. Click to clear the Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days check box.
Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.
unchk

* To run the Wizard manually, click Clean Desktop Now on the Desktop Items dialog box. You can perform a manual cleanup at any time, even if you have disabled the wizard.

Today’s free download: Stickies for Windows lets you put yellow sticky notes on your Windows desktop, much like the popular Mac OS application. It is very simple and very customizable. (Far better than the Vista Sidebar widget.)

* This question has come up twice this week, so I decided to repost this article. It first appeared 8/25/08.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 8, 2009 Posted by | computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the difference between hibernation and sleep modes?

What is the difference between “hibernation” and “sleep”? Both are power-saving states designed to achieve a compromise betweenimages fully-powered (”on”) and total shutdown. Without these low-power states (Stand By, Sleep, and Hibernate), you would have to go through the whole Windows’ boot process each morning. Although Vista has a shorter boot than previous versions, it still takes longer than most of us would like to wait — we are prone to desire ”instant gratification” these days — and so we use Stand By, Sleep, or Hibernate.

I wrote an article on power states and how to make adjustments to when they kick in, and use the Power Options control panel. To read (or review) this article, click this link, More reader questions answered: power states. Today I want to answer the title’s question, and tell you how to enable Hibernation as a power-saving option if it is not already a part of your Power Options control panel.

To begin with, Hibernation is a deeper “off state” than Sleep (or Stand By, as it’s sometimes called), and thus offers greater power savings at the cost of a longer rebooting time. It is considered a “safer” state, in terms of data. This is because, unlike Sleep mode, Hibernation not only shuts down the power to peripherals (monitor, etc.) and hard drives, but also turns off the power to the RAM memory chips.

When you remove the power to RAM, any data there is “lost”, forgotten, gone — whatever unsaved document, open window, and such as that.
Hibernation “writes” (Saves) all the 1’s and 0’s that are in RAM to a reference file (on your hard drive) before un-powering RAM, and it “reads” this file and reloads the data into RAM when you come out of Hibernation, thus restoring you to where you ended your last ’session’.
(This “reading” and loading is why it takes longer to “wake” than coming out of Sleep.)

Sleep/Stand By mode retains the power to your RAM. There is no saving of RAM contents to a file and there’s no need ‘load’ it — and thus it’s faster.. with less power savings. If there was a power interruption, for some reason, while in this state (and you don’t have a UPS), then your unsaved RAM contents would be gone.

Laptop computers typically come with the Hibernation power-settings option enabled and desktops don’t. If you would like to add the Hibernation option to your desktop, or if for some reason (such as a sneaky Windows Update) your Hibernation option has disappeared and you would like it back, here’s how to restore it: open a command prompt (Start >Programs >Accessories >Command Prompt) and type in “powercfg -h on” (no quotes) and hit Enter. That’s it. Now you will find Hibernation settings in the Power Options area of your Control Panel.

* If instead you would like to remove the Hibernation mode, and disable it from your automatic power-saving settings, the command is “powercfg -h off” (no quotes).

Today’s free download: for those of you who like digital music, the Nexus Radio download is for you. This offers you not only 6000+ Internet radio stations you can listen to, but the ability to record directly to your hard drive.

* this post first appeared 11/7/07

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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April 7, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Some Guidelines For Purchasing a New PC

Recently, my duties included an unexpected shopping jaunt. I had been asked to purchase and set up a new PC and home network (a service I provide at Aplus Computer Aid). Inspired by that, and in light of the fact that Shopping Season is nigh upon us, I have reposted an article on guidelines for purchasing a new PC, which first appeared 8/17/07–

How much RAM do I need, and other guidelines for buying a new PC. To conclude this series, I am going to review the topics covered, assume that you’ve decided that, yes, it is time to buy a new PC, and then give some advice on what to look for in a machine. I’m not going to get into a Mac versus PC debate, or talk you into trying Linux. I am going to focus solely on hardware (the ‘capabilities’) options of a non-Mac desktop or laptop PC.

Tip(s) of the day: Laptop computers. Most of what I am going to recommend today applies equally to laptops and desktops with very few exceptions. Today’s portable machines (notebook and tablet PC’s) very nearly rival the hardware capabilities of a desktop (or “tower”), and some models market themselves as a “desktop replacement”. They have large hard drives for storage, can ‘burn’ dual-layer DVD’s, have nice large screens, can access the Internet wirelessly, and are fast. Some have high-end graphics adapters that can keep up with the latest games.

Where laptops are different is: they are comparatively more expensive, they (often) depend on a battery, and they’re limited in terms of “expansion”. Expansion, quite literally, is room to “add stuff”, commonly referred to as “upgrading”. For this reason, I advise (when purchasing a notebook/laptop/tablet) differently than when buying a tower, to wit – buy the most machine you can afford.
Also, I advise buying the battery “upgrade”.

If you have to penny-pinch, reduce the RAM and/or go with a smaller hard drive… because these are the two components on a laptop that it is relatively easy to “upgrade” at a later date, when your finances have recovered. The other things – CPU, graphics, motherboard, sound, etc. — are not so easy to swap out/upgrade. In a tower there is practically nothing you cannot replace: in a laptop you’re kind of stuck, so buy as high up the scale as you can. Not just what you think you’ll need today, but buy for tomorrow as well. Because that’s the way the machine will be for its lifetime.

When deciding which model laptop, do not forget to compare battery life (these stats are published). Also, and I can’t stress this enough, do not buy a laptop that you haven’t typed on. Yes, you can make your purchase online or out of a catalogue, but go into a store and touch it first (sorry, all you Best Buy salespersons out there). Each keyboard and touchpad is different. Make sure you like the layout and “feel” of typing on the keyboard. There’s nothing worse (in laptop computing) than trying to work on a keyboard that just isn’t “you”–IMHO.

Desktops: When considering which tower/desktop to buy, there’s basically three categories of machines; budget/student, workstation, and “performance”/gaming. Low, middle, and top-end. You can spend as little as $300, or as much as $8,500. (Yes. $8,500. But, those systems are cool!) I have mentioned before that to do it right, you can get everything you want/need for $700 – $1,100, and that even the budget machines have the “good stuff”.

My advice for what to look for in a desktop, is a little more flexible. First, decide roughly what you’d like to spend. If you really are in the $300 -500 range, do not rule out “refurbished” machines. Rebuilt/refurbished machines are an excellent value. Any negative stigma they may have is unjustified.

Get the most RAM you can. If your machine is coming with Vista (and most of them are), you should avoid Home Basic — and Vista really should be run on 2 Gigabytes of RAM.

Go with a mid-to-high end CPU. The Athlon X2 chips are better than the older “dual core” Pentiums, but not quite as good as the Pentium Core Two Duo. (I know that’s confusing: there are two types of dual-core Pentiums. The D-series is the older type. You want either the Athlon or “Core Two Duo”.)
The quad-core CPU’s from Intel are very good, and are the latest ‘generation’. If it is in your budget, go quad.

Optical drives. Unless you really need a ‘high def’ burner and you want it right now, hold off on going for a “Blu Ray” burner just yet. Two optical drives, while nice, is not a necessity. Do, however, make sure your “combo drive” can burn (“write”) to a dual-layer DVD.

Graphics. Most people do not need a $800 graphics card (only us hard-core gamers, and other boys-of-all-ages, do) nor do they need an “SLI” set up. However, whenever your budget allows, it is almost always better to have a “graphics card” than “onboard graphics”. Onboard graphics chipsets are built into the motherboard, and while they do a quite adequate job, they “share” your RAM … and by that I mean “steal” your RAM.
Please note, you can buy, and install a graphics card at any time..

Do not skimp on your monitor.

Power Supply. Do not forget to check the Wattage of the machine’s power supply. Here is another area where more is definitely better. It constantly surprises me how many seemingly unrelated computer ‘glitches’ and quirks turn out to be caused by an inadequate or failing power supply. Shoot for one that’s rated in the neighborhood of 350W, unless you’re going for a more “loaded”, high-end performance machine — in which case 500W, or higher, is not unreasonable.

Well, that should get you started. Buying a new PC should not be a stressful thing. It should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Just remember to test drive before you buy, and do a little comparison. It really doesn’t matter if you decide upon a no-name, a HP, a Sony, Dell, or whatever. You may want to take advantage of the many mix-and-match-components “custom build” option, and design your own PC.

Here are the links to the prior parts of this series: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Today’s free link: To help shop for a new PC, another excellent shopper’s resource can be found at the PC World magazine’s website. Click here.

Hotmail users: please help me with an upcoming article by answering this Yes/No survey question.
Hotmail Poll*

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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November 1, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, shopping for | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Your Icons Do At Night

Folks, crazy-busy day ahead and so I don’t have time to put up an article today. Instead, I will point you to a post appearing on a site I’ve posted in my Blogroll. Should I shut “OFF” my PC or leave it “ON”?.

Here you will find some good advice, and a link to hidden camera footage of what your Desktop icons do at night after you’ve gone to bed…

October 29, 2008 Posted by | computers, PC, tech | , , | 3 Comments

Where Did My Icons Go?

A very upset person called my shop convinced that their machine had been “hacked”, probably had “spyware”, and they wanted me to “fix it”.

There was nothing terribly unusual about that, but their answer to one of my basic questions was unusual– what is happening that makes you think your machine has been hacked?
A: “When I turned on my machine, several of my icons were gone.”

That answer (and a few others) told me that, yes, my client’s machine had been altered, but not by a hacker unusedor spyware infection. Their machine had been altered by a “helpful” Windows feature called the Desktop Cleanup Wizard.

The Desktop Cleanup feature keeps track of your usage of the icons on your desktop and periodically (every 60 days) offers to remove the icons you have not recently used. Sometimes it will run when you aren’t looking.. which is what happened to my caller.

The icons are not deleted, they are moved to a folder and you can put them back on the desktop if you want. The folder is C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Desktop\Unused Desktop Shortcuts.
It will also place a shortcut to that folder on your Desktop, as shown.

Tip of the day: Turn off the automatic aspect of the Disk Cleanup tool, and avoid those pop-up balloons and “missing” icons.
1. Right-click a blank spot on the desktop, and then click Properties to open the Display Properties dialog box, click the Desktop tab.
2. Click Customize desktop to open the Desktop Items dialog box.
3. Click to clear the Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days check box.
Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.
unchk

* To run the Wizard manually, click Clean Desktop Now on the Desktop Items dialog box. You can perform a manual cleanup at any time, even if you have disabled the wizard.

Today’s free link: lets you put yellow sticky notes on your Windows desktop, much like the popular Mac OS application. It is very simple and very customizable. (Far better than the Vista Sidebar widget.)

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 25, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, missing files, PC, software, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , | 5 Comments