Tech – for Everyone

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

Repair The Recycle Bin

If you have troubles with your Recycle Bin functioning correctly – preventing you from deleting files (aka “empty”-ing it) – a few simple steps can restore functionality (or a missing icon).

Is the Recycle Bin (Icon) Missing?
This first “repair” is for those of you who no longer see the Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop, and want it back.

  • Click your Start button, and Control Panel
  • Double-click on Personalizations
  • Click on Change desktop icons
  • Click (to place a ‘check’ in) the Recycle Bin checkbox
  • Click Apply, then OK

That will restore the icon to your Desktop. (You can “drag” it to a position of your liking.)

Having trouble with emptying?

1) First, you need to “unhide” (aka “show”) your system files and folders (if they aren’t already. If so, skip to Step 2).

  • Click your Start button, and Control Panel
  • Double-click on Folder Options
  • Click on the View tab and scroll down just a bit
  • Click on the Show radio button
  • Click Apply, then OK

2) Next, Click your Start button, and Computer.

3) Double-click the Local disk (c:) icon.

4) Locate, then right-click on $RECYCLE.BIN, and select Delete. If prompted, click Yes to confirm. (Yes. Delete it. It has been “corrupted”, in Geek parlance, and needs to go away.)

5) The Delete File dialog will appear – click Yes to confirm.

[ Tip: Checking the Do this for all current items checkbox will avoid having to confirm the deletion of each file.]

6) Reboot (aka “restart”) your computer.

Once your computer has started back up, the Recycle Bin will automatically be rebuilt/repaired.

That’s it. You’re done. (Except, maybe, [say, if other people use your computer] you may want to go back to Step 1 and hide the system files and folders again.. to prevent any accidental disastrous deleting.. Your choice.)

Today’s reading/download reco(s):

* An Instant Data and System Recovery Kit

“If you have been a long term computer user I am sure somewhere along the line you may have experienced a failure of sorts; whether it be from operating system errors, a mistake you made, a malware attack or from good old file corruption. I have always said that computers were made to fail; and, fail they eventually will.”  Read more

* iPhone tracking only part of Apple’s security and privacy shortcomings

“The revelation by a pair of researchers that iPhones store location data for the life of the device is making waves. How much does it really matter? Chad Perrin suggests the problem goes deeper.” Read more

* IE9 versus Chrome: which one blocks malware better?

Social engineering has become the dominant method of distribution for fake antivirus software these days. Google Chrome puts you at risk: in my testing, malware broke through Chrome’s defenses.READ FULL STORY

Your “feedback” is requested: (Thanks to all who have participated!)

(Voting is following my prediction…)

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


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April 26, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fixing Desktop Icons

This is a shortcut to one of my games.. it should have a picture (icon)

If you notice one day that some of your Desktop icons aren’t displaying correctly – you see a generic white rectangle instead of the graphic – you can easily “rebuild” the Windows icon cache and restore your shortcut icons to normal.

1) First, you need to “unhide” (aka “show”) your system files and folders (if they aren’t already. If so, skip to #2).

  • Click your Start button, and Control Panel
  • Double-click on Folder Options
  • Click on the View tab and scroll down just a bit
  • Click on the Show radio button
  • Click Apply, then OK

2) Next, Click your Start button, and Computer.

The repair restores it to this.

3) Browse to your C:\Users\*your user name*\AppData\Local folder.

{Double-click the Local disk (c:) icon, then the Users folder, then the folder that matches your User name, then the AppData folder, then the Local folder.}

4) Locate, then right-click on IconCache.db, and select Delete. If prompted, click Yes to confirm. (Yes. Delete it. It has been “corrupted”, in Geek parlance, and needs to go away.)

5) Reboot (aka “restart”) your computer.

Once your computer has started back up, the icon cache will automatically be rebuilt (may take a few moments) and your icons should now display correctly.

That’s it. You’re done. (Except, maybe, [say, if other people use your computer] you may want to go back to Step 1 and hide the system files and folders again.. to prevent any accidental disastrous deleting.. Your call.)

Your “feedback” is requested: (Thanks to all who have participated!)

(Voting is following my prediction…)

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


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April 25, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fix Missing Volume, Battery, or Network Icons in Vista

Tech Paul’s Fix for When Clock, Volume, Battery Power or Network Icons are Missing and/or Grayed Out in Windows Vista

Sometimes, unexpected (and unwanted) changes can happen to our computers that we geeks call ‘glitches’. You install some new program, and some other program you have stops working, for example. Or you uninstall a CD burning program, and find your DVD-RW is now missing. The wonderful world of PC’s!

As a tech, solving ‘glitches’ is my game (it’s what I do), and over the years I have seen a few. One such ‘glitch’ I used to see occasionally in XP, and fairly routinely in Vista, is the “missing volume control” (or “network connection”) which is a handy way to control your sound level.
Today, I will tell you the fix that not only restores the missing icon, but keeps it there.
Better still — I won’t have you mucking around in the Registry.

Simple ones first

Fix It #1)  Press Ctrl+D to bookmark this page and Reboot.
Make sure this isn’t a “temp glitch”. 9 times outer 10 restarting your computer solves your ‘glitch’. If you already tried that, keep reading.

Fix It #2) Normally you can re-enable the icons by right-clicking on the Taskbar, choosing Properties and going to the Notification Area tab — place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.
If you already tried that, or the checkboxes are “grayed out”, keep reading.

Fix It #3) Restart explorer.exe

  • Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shft+Esc)
  • Click the Processes tab
  • Find explorer.exe in the list and click on it (turn it blue), then click “End process” button
  • Restart it. Click File > New Task(Run…) then type in explorer.exe and hit Enter

Alternative: Open Control Panel > Taskbar and Start Menu– place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.

Now Let’s Keep The Glitch Gone!

If this problem keeps recurring:

  • Open Control Panel >Sound
  • Double-click on your “Playback device” (aka “speaker”)
  • Click on the Advanced tab
  • Un-check “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device”

Click “Apply” and then OK.

Okay. That’s it. Your missing icon should be back in its proper place in the Notification Area and should stay there.

Note: When I am called upon to fix this particular problem, I usually (like, 99% of the time) find that the person’s machine is not up-to-date with all the Windows Updates – usually a missing Service Pack. I do not know that there is a direct cause > effect there.. But.
Fact: you want Updates. Install them PLEASE. Pretty please with sugar on top?

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


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April 21, 2011 Posted by | anti-spyware, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, Taskbar, tech, troubleshooting, Vista | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Restoring Vista’s “Show Desktop” Launcher Icon

Undoing an accidental delete..

Last week I had a client who had somehow or another deleted some Quick Launch shortcuts, and – now – wanted them back: most notably, the “Show Desktop” icon. (“Quick Launch” are the “shortcuts” [icons] next to the Start button, on the left of your Taskbar.) Turns out they missed the ability to quickly “minimize” all their open windows, and wanted it back.

I told my client that pressing the Windows key  and the D together did the same thing.. but they wanted their icon back anyway. Keyboard shortcuts were not their thing, clicking icons was.
Which is fine with me. Not everyone wants to be an Über Geek (see, Using Your Keyboard Instead Of Your Mouse*.)

It turns out, restoring the “Show Desktop” and “Show Windows Tiled” (aka “Rolodexed”) Quick Launch Shortcuts is a little more complex than simply adding a new shortcut to the Quick Launch area, as these are two “special” features built into Vista. What you have to do is Copy it/them from the Default User Profile, and Paste it into your User Profile.
Fortunately, I do not have to create a step-by-step tutorial (complete with screenshots) for you, as there already is a great one posted on a pretty cool (competitor’s) website, here.

Quote of the day: a friend of Tech – for Everyone sent me a neato item, I would like to share with my readers (I do not know the source).

LIFE’S LESSONS

After a while you learn the difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.

You learn that love isn’t learning but lending support.

You begin to accept your defeats with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.

You decide to build your roads on today, for tomorrows ground is too uncertain.

You help someone plant a garden instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

You learn that you have the strength to endure and that you really do have WORTH.

Have a great day, everyone!

What the Internet is all about Department: Some *person* left this as a “comment”..

(Savvy folks avoid ‘dot info’ URL’s. I have only seen one that wasn’t being used by a criminal [though I am sure there’s at least 2 or 3 others that aren’t].)

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


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April 19, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, Taskbar, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Restore A Missing Optical Drive*

Reader writes and asks for help with “The Case of the Missing Device”.

Sometimes Windows “Loses” The CD Player..

CDROM Q:Paul I need your help. Yesterday I put a CD in my computer nothing happened. It has been working fine, and usually it will just start playing the first song. I put in a different disk and again nothing. I opened My computer and there was no icon for the DVD. Just icons for the Floppy A:, Local disk and no CD player. It just vanished! I rebooted and that didn’t help. What happened? How do I get my CD player back?

A: The exact steps required will depend on the cause of the issue, so the following answers are ‘generic’, and may not apply to your particular situation. Read through the list to find the appropriate one for you.

1) Windows XP (and older) have a reputation for “losing” optical drives (but I have seen it occur in Vista) after uninstalling disc burning software — such as Roxio or Nero. (Sometimes.. after installing; but usually it is an uninstall failing to work properly, which leaves incorrect values in your Registry.
Sometimes, though less frequently, a Windows Update, or other software change can cause this as well.)

Sometimes Microsoft gets it right:
If this is you — you have uninstalled Roxio, say — the solution is to visit Microsoft Help & Support and click the “Fix It” button. (I have written about using the built in troubleshooter before, see Microsoft “One-click” Fixes) The appropriate Fix it page/button is found here. One click should do it!
Added bonus: the Fixit Center also repairs other common ‘glitches’, to see those, click here.

[note: MS Fixit Center requires .NET Framework 2.0 to work. If your PC is up-to-date with Windows Updates, you should already have it (.NET is up to 4.0 now). If not, click Start > Windows Updates > Custom Install. Let it scan. Look under “Optional, Software” and check all .NET Frameworks.]

———————————

2) If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can next try restoring your system to a prior (working) state by using System Restore. Please read How To Use System Restore To Fix Windows for instructions.

3) If that doesn’t help, or isn’t appropriate..
Open your computer’s case and check to make sure the power wires, and the ribbon cable are firmly connected to the back of the drive and to the motherboard — they may have become loose or disconnected.

No? Then open your Device Manager. Right-click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”. In Vista, click on Device Manager in the left column; in XP, click on the “Hardware” tab, and then click the “Device Manager” button.

In Device Manager, find “Optical drives” on the list, and expand the category by clicking once on the “+” sign. You should now see the device and a yellow triangle – which is telling you there’s an error.

Right click on the device’s name, and click “Uninstall” from the menu which opens. Answer “Yes”, you want to do that. Then restart (aka “reboot”) your machine. Windows should “find” a “new” CD-ROM and install it for you, thus restoring functionality.

4) If these steps fail, there is something else going on (maybe malware) and I recommend you contact a knowledgeable repair tech.. such as myself (shameless plug).

Today’s free link: KidsEmail.org. Along with ZooBah, something to consider when your child wants their own e-mail address.

Today’s free download: GOM Player is a free multimedia player with popular video and audio codecs built-in. GOM Player supports file formats such as AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, XviD, WMV, ASF. Users don’t have to install codecs separately. GOM Player is capable of playing incomplete or damaged AVI files by skipping the damaged frames. It can also play locked or partially downloaded files.

Today’s reco’s reading: CES 2011: The biggest winners and losers

The Consumer Electronics Show is the Super Bowl of the technology industry. As much as industry analysts and the tech press whine about CES being too big and being a relic of a bygone era, there’s no better place for tech companies to make a big splash that will be remembered throughout the year, and in some cases for years to come.

* Orig post: 5/4/09

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


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January 10, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Make Word Open A Normal Blank Page*

I apologize for so many re-posts lately, but…

Today’s “quick tip” is in response to a reader question, and I think it is one of those that can be helpful to ‘everyone’.

Q: I created a newsletter using Word. I used Segoe Script sized to 16. Now whenever I want to write a new Word document, it is stuck on that setting, and I have to tell it to use Times New Roman, and change the size each time. MS Word document icon
It never used to do that. How do I make it like it was before?

A: The answer lies in the fact that when you create a new Word document (File > New > Blank document), Word uses its default “style template”– which is known as Normal.dot (note the “t”, for “template”.)
This “normal” template has the predefined settings we’ve all come to know and love: Times New Roman (font), 12 (pts), Left (Align), Borders, etc.

Somehow, the reader has “Saved” the style they used in the newsletter to the Normal.dot (maybe they selected “Save As”, and then “Template” ? ), or Normal.dot has just gotten corrupted.

There’s two ways (at least) to repair this behavior– the manual way and the automatic way.
1) Create a new default template:
* Open a new blank document.
* Change each setting to how you want your Word docs to look each time (such as Times, 12, Left, etc.).
* Now click “Save As”. Select “Document Template” in the File type box, and type “Normal” (no quotes) in the File name box.
* If warned that Normal already exists, do you want to overwrite the file?, answer “Yes”.
Now, whatever options you’ve selected will be what Word uses when creating a new blank document.
[note: this is how you get rid of Times New Roman for keeps, if you’re a sans serif type.]

2) Automatic replace Normal.dot:
* Use the Search tool to find the Normal.dot file on your hard drive C:\. (Start >Search >Files and Folders)
* In the Results pane, right-click on Normal.dot and select “Rename”. Rename it to anything other than Normal.
* Close, and then restart Word (in some cases, a computer reboot was required)

Word will discover that there is now no Normal.dot, and it will create a new “factory fresh” one for you automatically.

Today’s free download: Foxit Reader (Ditch Adobe Reader)
” Incredibly small:  Breezing-fast: Annotation tool: Foxit Reader allows you to draw graphics, highlight text, type text and make notes and then print out or save the annotated document. Text converter: You may convert the whole PDF document into a simple text file.

* Orig post: 12/02/08

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

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January 5, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, MS Word, software, tech, troubleshooting, word processors | , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

My CD-ROM Is Gone. Help!

How To Get Windows To See Optical Drives Again

CDROM Q: Paul I need your help. Yesterday I put a CD in my computer nothing happened. It has been working fine, and usually it will just start playing the first song. I put in a different disk and again nothing. I opened My computer and there was no icon for the DVD. Just icons for the Floppy A:, Local disk and no CD player. It just vanished! I rebooted and that didn’t help. What happened? How do I get my CD player back?

A: The exact steps required will depend on the cause of the issue, so the following answers are ‘generic’, and may not apply to your particular situation.

1) In Windows XP and older have a reputation for “losing” optical drives (but I have seen it occur in Vista) after uninstalling disc burning software — such as Roxio or Nero. Sometimes.. after installing; but usually it is an uninstall failing to work properly, which leaves incorrect values in your Registry.
Sometimes, though less frequently, a Windows Update, or other software change can cause this as well.

Sometimes Microsoft gets it right:
If this is you — you have uninstalled Roxio, say — the solution is to visit Microsoft Help & Support and click the “Fix It” button. (I have written about using the built in troubleshooter before, see Microsoft “One-click” Fixes)

The appropriate Fix it page/button is found here. One click should do it!

———————————

2) If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can next try restoring your system to a prior (working) state by using System Restore. Please read How To Use System Restore To Fix Windows for instructions.

3) If that doesn’t help, or isn’t appropriate..
Open your computer’s case and check to make sure the power wires, and the ribbon cable are firmly connected to the back of the drive and to the motherboard — they may have become loose or disconnected.

No? Then open your Device Manager. Right-click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”. In Vista, click on Device Manager in the left column; in XP, click on the “Hardware” tab, and then click the “Device Manager” button.

In Device Manager, find “Optical drives” on the list, and expand the category by clicking once on the “+” sign. You should now see the device and a yellow triangle – which is telling you there’s an error.

Right click on the device’s name, and click “Uninstall” from the menu which opens. Answer “Yes”, you want to do that. Then restart (aka “reboot”) your machine. Windows should “find” a “new” CD-ROM and install it for you, thus restoring functionality.

4) If these steps fail, there is something else going on (maybe malware) and I recommend you contact a knowledgeable repair tech.. such as myself (shameless plug).

Today’s free link: KidsEmail.org. Along with ZooBah, something to consider when your child wants their own e-mail address.

Today’s free download: GOM Player is a free multimedia player with popular video and audio codecs built-in. GOM Player supports file formats such as AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, XviD, WMV, ASF. Users don’t have to install codecs separately. GOM Player is capable of playing incomplete or damaged AVI files by skipping the damaged frames. It can also play locked or partially downloaded files.

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

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May 4, 2009 Posted by | computers, device drivers, hardware, how to, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments