Tech – for Everyone

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

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

Laptop Anti-theft Software License Giveaway

Enter For A Chance To Win

Folks, a reminder to enter my latest software license giveaway: ten licenses have been donated to me, and I am going to distribute them to you, my readers, via a random drawing.

Laptop theft is common and a constant threat. Thwart thieves with the free (for personal use) program – LAlarm – which emits a loud siren sound when a thief tries to steal your laptop. More importantly (IMHO) it can destroy selected data (and also retrieve it ¹) if the laptop is stolen — which is an important step in protecting your “identity”, and personal information. LAlarm consists of five alarms and other security functions designed to protect laptops and sensitive data.


  • Theft Alarm – It prevents laptop theft by sounding an alarm when a thief tries to steal a laptop.
  • Perimeter Alarm – It alerts when a laptop goes outside a perimeter.
  • Data Destruction – It protects sensitive data by destroying the data if the laptop is stolen.
  • Data Recovery – It can recover data from a stolen laptop. (Before destruction) ¹
  • Mobile Phone Alert – It sends an alert to a mobile phone via email or SMS.
  • Theft Response – you can tell your laptop what to do in advance if your laptop is in hands of a thief.
  • Health Alarm- Alert the user for using a computer for an extended period of time in order to prevent computer-related injuries.
  • More…

System requirements: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2 or SP3.

Turn An Old Thumb Drive Into An Anti-Theft Device

LAlarm also allows you to use a thumb drive as a “sensor” – as described in this tutorial, fasten a laptop to a table by using a USB flash drive strap. When a thief removes the laptop from the table, the flash drive will be disconnected from the laptop and then an alarm will go off. A great use for that old 128 MB thumb drive sitting neglected in a drawer!

If you “go mobile” with your laptop, I highly recommend you take a look at LAlarm. To do so, click here. [Note: not all the features are enabled by default, and some configuration is required (particularly for file recovery) to “best use” this tool. So be sure to look at the FAQ’s.]

¹ requires a Gmail account.

How To Enter To Win A License

LAlarm is free for personal use. The license allows for business use. If you would like to install LAlarm on a work laptop, or an employee’s laptop, you can enter my drawing – once only – by either:
* leaving a Comment (click on blue “Comments” below) and entering a valid e-mail address in the form field. Or
* sending me an e-mail.

10 lucky winners will be selected by random drawing, and e-mailed the license “keys” and download links.

The folks at LAlarm get a big tip of my geek hat, and my thanks for making this giveaway possible.

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

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

March 22, 2010 Posted by | computers, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, security, software | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

How to secure your wireless network

Welcome to the 2008 version of Tech–for Everyone. I regret to inform you that there are no major revisions or changes in this new version… in fact, it is exactly the same as the 2007 version: my tech tips, advice, and How To’s brought to you six days a week, advertisement-free.

For my first article of 2008, I am going to demonstrate the steps for encrypting the signals transmitted by your home Wireless router. This is a simple process, and once you have completed the steps only the people who know the password you set (namely, you!) can use your Internet connection. Not only will this prevent freeloaders from surfing the Web on your dime (stealing your bandwidth), but because encryption scrambles the data, it will prevent hackers from reading the ‘packets’ your computer transmits (ie, “reading your mail”), and prevent them from easily accessing the computers on your home network.

Encrypting your Wireless signal really is a security “must do” in this day and age, and there is no downside— it will not slow down your browsing, nor cause you to have to enter a password every time you go on the Internet. Once you set it, everything happens automatically and invisibly to you.

Tip of the day: If you have a Wireless router, lock it down with encryption.
The first step in changing settings on your router is to use a browser to log onto its Control Panel. I have published an article, which demonstrates the basic procedure.
(In that post, I demonstrated on the best-selling Linksys WRT 54G, and although there a whole new generation of Wireless routers being sold now, and there other manufacturers than Linksys, the procedure I demonstrate is basically the same on all of them.)

1) Please refer to the prior post, or consult your router’s documentation (or visit the website) to learn the steps to log in to the router’s Control Panel.
This screenshot shows the WRT 54G Control Panel (default:, password “admin” {no quotes}. The prior article tells you how to change these defaults: highly recommended!) and you will note the black Menu bar across the top. Click on the “Wireless” menu option, and you will see the blue sub-menu options change to look like the screenshot.
By default, your router will be set to broadcast its “SSID”. This is basically a “Hey! Here I am!” signal that advertises your router to devices looking to find a “hotspot“. To help us reconnect after we’ve enabled encryption, we’re going to leave this “on”..for now, but as our final step we’re going to come back and turn this off.

2) Click on the “Wireless Security” sub-menu. Here is where we are going to choose our encryption type, and enter our logon passphrase (this passphrase is really a key, used by the encrption algorithm, so the longer your passphrase is, the stronger your encryption will be).
Use the drop-down arrow to choose the encryption type. Now, here is where I could get into a long lecture about the differences between WEP and WPA (Wikipedia has an excellent discussion of Wireless encryption, click here if you’re interested) but I won’t. I will simply tell you to use the best (newest) standard your devices can accept– currently WPA2. If your devices are older, WEP may be the best they can do; and if this is so, I strongly recommend you visit the manufacturer’s website and looking for a firmware upgrade, or consider replacement with a newer device. WEP is simply too obsolete and easily ‘broken’.
Be aware that both devices– the router, and the Wireless adapter on your computer– must be able to use the same encryption type.
It is perfectly okay to accept the defaults for “Algorithm type”.

3) Enter a “algorithm key”. At various places, this “key” will sometimes be referred to as a “passphrase”. Don’t worry about the phrasing– this is what you will need to enter when “joining” the wireless network (“connecting”).
As shown in the screenshot, a long, complex passphrase is best. Use capitals, ‘special’ characters, numbers, and avoid words found in the dictionary. Be sure to write this down, and keep it someplace safe.

4) Save your new Settings. That’s it: your router’s wireless signals are now scrambled by an encryption algorithm, and only those machines which can answer with the proper passphrase will be allowed access.

Now power up your laptop and “Connect to a network” as you normally would (you will have to because your old connection will no longer connect– it’s protected now!)
Your Wireless Networks window will reflect the change of the network’s status, as this screenshot shows, and will now say “Secure network”, or “Protected” (depending on your adapter interface).

Double-click on the your network (or, right-click and choose “Connect”). Now you will be asked to enter your passphrase… enter it EXACTLY. (Again, it may be phrased “key”.) You should now be connected to the Internet just as you always were, but now you’re connected securely. Congratulations!

Now let’s set things so that your logon and connecting is automatic. Return to your Wireless Connections window and right-click on your router’s name (“Paul’s Net” in the screenshot) and select “Properties”.
Place a check in the top and the bottom checkboxes, and uncheck the center one. This will make your router the primary connection, and “find” its signal even though we turn off the SSID broadcast as our final step.
You will need to repeat these “connecting steps” for each laptop/device you have that accesses the Web wirelessly.

5) Return to the Basic Wireless Settings page (first screenshot) and turn off the SSID broadcast. That’s it, you’re done.
Sorry, this ran too long to include a free download link today.

Copyright 2007-2008 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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January 1, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, hardware, how to, networking, PC, privacy, routers, routers and WAPs, security, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment