Tech – for Everyone

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

Sleepy Laptop*

My mail is telling me it is time to repost an article..

Reader Asks How To Adjust Sleep Mode

Q: My laptop goes to sleep too soon. How do I give myself more time?

A: You can quite easily adjust the length of the “inactivity” time allowed before your computer goes into a power savings mode, such as “sleep”. For those of you really concerned with power savings, you can make it kick in after 5 minutes of idle time – and power users can turn it off completely (It will still be available from the Start >Shut Down menu).

Vista and Windows 7 users will find the settings by clicking Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options

In XP it is Control Panel > Power Options.

powrplan

Here you can quickly choose from one of three power policies, (aka “power plan”) to fit your current usage — Balanced, Power Saver, and High Performance. In the picture above, I am plugged into the wall and I want every ounce of performance. When it is time to go mobile and I will be running on my battery, I want to sacrifice some of the bells and whistles, conserve battery, and stretch my time between recharging’s to the maximum, so I will click on middle radio button.
(Vista/Win7: A quick way to do this to launch the Mobility Center by pressing the Windows key + X)

To set my own times, I click on the “Change plan settings” link under the “Power plan” (Or, “Change when the computer sleeps” link in the left column).

powrplan2

Use the drop down arrows to select the length of time your machine is idle before the power is cut to your monitor, and when it general goes into the power-saving sleep mode. I have set a fairly typical policy here, but my advice for the reader who asked the question was leave the setting for the monitor (screen) to a short time, but extend the sleep time to an hour.. or longer.

[note: by using the “Change plan settings” link, I get a window that allows me to set different times for when I am plugged into an outlet and when I am on battery.]

Today’s free link: a good way to tell if your machine has picked up some malware – or some has slipped by your onboard AV – is a visit to Panda’s Infected or Not website and get a free scan.

* Orig post: October 16, 2007

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


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June 22, 2010 Posted by | computers, how to, Microsoft, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mobile Computing: Laptops And "Docking Stations"

Docking stations (aka “port replicators”) provide a simple way of “plugging-in” a portable computer to common computer peripherals — such as a monitor and full-size keyboard. The use of a docking station quickly enables a laptop computer to become a substitute for a desktop computer, without sacrificing the mobile computing functionality of the machine – just lift, and go.

laptop-docking-station Most full-size laptops today come with enough ports so that you don’t really need these things, but if you are buying a very small, ultra-portable laptop, you may want to consider such devices. The main advantage is, if you have a desk at the office or your home office with a second monitor, one of these “docks” will be handy as you can connect your desk keyboard, mouse, monitor, power and speakers to the docking station, and then can just pop the laptop in and out as needed instead of hooking up a bunch of connections each time you ‘go mobile’ and each time you get home again.

Some of these “docks” also have “coolers” built in, which quite often is a real boon. Heat is a killer in the digital hardware world, and some laptops run quite hot. If your laptop gets hot to the touch, you may very well want to get a cooler, and if you can get a cooler with all the ports on the back, why not? For more on the different kinds of “docks”, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docking_station

Docking stations are not terribly expensive, (around $75, or less) and – if you own a notebook – worth looking into.

[note: if all you really need is a few more USB ports, USB “hubs” may be the ticket. USB hubs come in an astonishing array of shapes and sizes and vary in the number of additional ports they provide. They tend to average $20 retail.]

Today’s recommended reading: Paranoia on the Internet Pays Off

Today’s free download: ZoneAlarm 9.2
An effective and easy-to-use firewall program, ZoneAlarm does a great job of keeping your PC safe from a variety of threats. ZoneAlarm uses a simple wizard to make configuring a firewall, which seems like a daunting task to many computer users, incredibly easy.

Orig post: 8/29/09


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


The folks at Eset have generously donated ten licenses for NOD32 Antivirus 4, to award to my readers. You might not have heard of Eset or NOD32, but it has quietly been around, and winning awards, since the early 90′s (the days of DOS).

To enter the drawing, please see: Software License Giveaway: NOD32 Antivirus 4

Enter my current giveaway and (possibly) win!

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


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May 25, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, mobile, PC, tech | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Software Licence Giveaway

Folks, I am pleased to announce my latest software license giveaway. 10 licenses have been donated to me, and I am going to distribute them to you, my readers, via a 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.

Highlights

  • 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. <<


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March 12, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, free software, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, security, tech, thumb drives | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

5 Tools to Prevent Laptop-Related Injuries and Eye Strain

Folks, a reader sent me an e-mail suggesting an article idea. I found that they had pretty well written out a whole article, so I asked permission to share it with you “as is”. Aplus Computer Aid has me jumping lately, so, here it is… (I particularly like #3..)

5 Tools to Prevent Laptop-Related Injuries and Eye Strain

The increased use of laptops has resulted in greater computer-related injuries. Ergonomics experts warn about laptop related injuries. Laptops are inherently non-ergonomic because keyboard and monitor are fixed together – if the keyboard is in a suitable position for the user, the screen is not and if the screen is optimal the keyboard isn’t. In addition, the portability of laptops makes it worse by allowing the user to use it anywhere in bed and on the floor in all kinds of incorrect postures under a poor lighting condition.

Users are more vulnerable to computer related injuries and health problems such as Repetitive Strain Injury, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, eye strain, blurred vision and back pain when they are using a laptop than a desktop computer. You may want to take additional safety precautions and tools when you’re using a laptop. The five following tools help you prevent injuries and enhance productivity while using a laptop.

1. Text-to-mp3 conversion tool. You can use text-to-mp3 software to convert long documents, emails and blog articles to mp3 files, which you can listen while resting eyes, commuting or doing chores. Here are some free online text to mp3 file converters. www.vozme.com (choose Female voice option for better sound quality). SpokenText offers both free online conversion and a Firefox plug-in at www.spokentext.net (requires a registration). Another alternative is Next2Go www.text2go.com (US$25)

2. Speech recognition. You can control the computer and browse the web or have your computer compose email or write a document with your voice instruction while resting your hands and even eyes. Windows Vista and 7 have built-in speech recognition function. www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuAH1WzVkEI&NR=1 (demo), and www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLj4k3x0E0E (demo)

3. Break reminder. Taking breaks are essential in computer-related injury prevention. You can try break reminder software for laptop, which is uniquely optimized for laptop users. www.lalarm.com/en/health_alarm.htm (free for personal use)

4. OLED (organic light emitting diode). OLED is an eye-friendly and paper-like display technology. OLED doesn’t have eye-annoying backlight like LCD does. Laptops equipped with OLED are coming soon- finally next year. Meantime, anti-glare filter can be used to reduce glare from the glossy laptop screen.

5. External keyboard and mouse. An external keyboard can fix the laptop inherent ergonomic problem. It would be even better if the keyboard is ergonomically designed.

References:

· “Is your laptop damaging your health?” ~ CNET

· “When Your Laptop Is a Big Pain in the Neck” ~ The Wall Street Journal

· “Computer-related injuries” ~ Victoria State government (Australia)

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November 30, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Own A Laptop? Make A Thumb Drive Theft Alarm With Free Tool

Turn An Old Thumb Drive Into An Anti-Theft Device

Prevent the theft of your laptop. Laptop theft is common and a constant threat. There is a free program – LAlarm – which when installed emits a loud siren sound when a thief tries to steal your laptop. And it can destroy selected data (and recover it later) 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.

Highlights

  • 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.
  • 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.

What I found “kewel” was the feature that lets you use an old thumb drive as a “sensor” – as described here, 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 this free program. To do so, click here.

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

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October 19, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, mobile, Portable Computing, security, tech, thumb drives, USB storage devices | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Laptops And "Docking Stations"

Docking stations (aka “port replicators”) provides a simplified way of “plugging-in” a portable computer to common computer peripherals — such as a monitor and full-size keyboard. The use of a docking station quickly enables a laptop computer to become a substitute for a desktop computer, without sacrificing the mobile computing functionality of the machine – just lift, and go.

laptop-docking-station Most full-size laptops today come with enough ports so that you don’t really need these things, but if you are buying a very small, ultra-portable laptop, you may want to consider such devices. The main advantage is, if you have a desk at the office or your home office with a second monitor, one of these “docks” will be handy as you can connect your desk keyboard, mouse, monitor, power and speakers to the docking station, and then can just pop the laptop in and out as needed instead of hooking up a bunch of connections each time you ‘go mobile’ and each time you get home again.

Some of these “docks” also have “coolers” built in, which quite often is a real boon. Heat is a killer in the digital hardware world, and some laptops run quite hot. If your laptop gets hot to the touch, you may very well want to get a cooler, and if you can get a cooler with all the ports on the back, why not? For more on the different kinds of “docks”, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docking_station

Today’s free links: Folks, there are two articles today that I think are “must reads” if you surf the Internet.
* Want to be a Successful Cyber Crook – Here’s a Tip!
* Paranoia on the Internet Pays Off

Today’s free download: ZoneAlarm 8
An effective and easy-to-use firewall program, ZoneAlarm does a great job of keeping your PC safe from a variety of threats. ZoneAlarm uses a simple wizard to make configuring a firewall, which seems like a daunting task to many computer users, incredibly easy.

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

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August 28, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, Portable Computing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Laptop For School

Some Tips For Shopping For A New Notebook Computer

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 for many it is Back To School time, I am reposting some pertinent snippets from an earlier article, Selecting A New 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 desktop – 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.

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

Today’s free download: Windows Photo Gallery. Simplify the way you work with photos.  Windows Live Photo Gallery makes it easy to import, organize, edit, and share your digital memories.

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

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August 4, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, shopping for | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments