Tech – for Everyone

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

Consumer Electronics Show 2013

Unfortunately, nobody sponsored a free ride to ole’ Tech Paul to the CES 2013.. so to find out what the future of tech is going to look like, I turn to CNet.

CNET brings you complete CES 2013 coverage ~
Join us at the world’s largest tech show where CNET editors will scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech around!
With 90 people on the ground in Vegas, if it happens at CES, it’s happening on CNET. Our comprehensive CES special coverage brings you every moment of the show.CES 2013 features more than 3,000 tech companies from around the world unveiling the latest devices and services. From impressive-looking TVs to strange, bone-conducting headphones to giant robotic spiders, we’ve got it all here.
Visit CNET's CES coverage
CNET’s Next Big Thing: The Connected Revolution
CNET’s Next Big Thing SuperSession is one of the most popular events at CES, and in 2013, hear what big names in tech and business are saying about the post-mobile revolution.

Read more
Qualcomm’s keynote at 2013 CES
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs takes the stage to talk up the mobile revolution.

View video
Always On’s live torture test at CES
Want to see if the iPad can survive liquid nitrogen? Or how about dropping the Surface tablet from a ladder? Molly Wood and Brian Tong torture a slew of gadgets at CES 2013.

View video
Adriana Huffington showcases her new app
CNET’s Dan Farber interviews Huffington Post’s Ariana Huffington about her new app called GPS for the Soul, a heath app to combat stress and promote a healthy lifestyle.

View video
CNET’s Sharon Vaknin slays the Mondo Robot Spider
Check out EatArt’s 50-foot mechanical snake and watch Sharon take the reins on the Mondo robotic spider.

View video
Go from sweeps to swipes!
Don’t miss your chance to win* a Samsung Galaxy Tablet
Enter the CNET #Hashtag contest!
Find the “#” for a chance to win* a tablet!
*No purchase necessary. See official rules for details.Get started now!
LL Cool J drops in on the CNET stage at CES 2013
CNET’s Brian Tong interviews LL Cool J on his new Liquid MyConnect Studio App, a real-time music collaboration tool for a mobile device.

View video
The LG Smart Refrigerator know what you have, knows what you need
Donald Bell plays around with the LG Smart Refrigerator that will remind you that you need more beer.

View video
50 Cent comes back to CES 2013 with SMS Audio
Brian Tong talks to 50 Cent about the growth of SMS Audio and his favorite headphones.

View video

I hope there’s an item there (or two) that interests. (Maybe the Galaxy Tab Sweepstakes?)

Today’s quote:The obvious and fair solution to the housework problem is to let men do the housework for, say, the next six thousand years, to even things up. The trouble is that men, over the years, have developed an inflated notion of the importance of everything they do, so that before long they would turn housework into just as much of a charade as business is now. They would hire secretaries and buy computers and fly off to housework conferences in Bermuda, but they’d never clean anything.” ~ Dave Barry

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.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | computers, consumer electronics, gadgets, hardware, Internet, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How To Quickly View A Calendar

Sometimes I need just a quick glance at a clock or a calendar.

Yes, I have clocks and calendars all over the place, and even on my phone (I have stopped wearing a wristwatch these days). And I have “calendar” apps and programs. I don’t know about you, but I spend enough time in front of a computer that the first place I look for the time is in the lower right corner — the clock in my Taskbar.
This has been true for years.

Should I just need today’s date, I hover the cursor over the Taskbar clock. If that is not showing, I press the Windows key, then “B”, and then the <– left arrow key. Which “unhides” the Taskbar and produces a pop-open window..

Should it be that I need a quick glance at the month’s calendar, I add one more key-press.

Press the Windows key, then “B“, and then the <– left arrow key, and then Enter.

I admit that is kind of a convoluted, and hard to remember keyboard shortcut. (Mainly for use when “Autohide the Taskbar” is enabled) So usually what I do to quickly see a calendar is one mouse click on the Taskbar clock.

Simple enough.

Today’s quote:Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” ~ Peter Marshall

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


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July 5, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, Vista, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Restore The Menu Bar In Vista And Windows 7

In older versions of Windows, the menu bar was always visible in Explorer. In Vista and Windows 7 the menu bar is now hidden by default, and you must press the ALT key to see it. These simple steps will cause it to always be visible.
(The “menu bar” gives you the familiar File | Edit | View |Tools | Help ‘drop down’ menus)

1) Launch Explorer by opening Computer (or Documents, or Pictures..), then press ALT to access the menu bar.

2) Click on Tools and then on Folder options.

3) In the Folder Options window, click on the View tab, and click to place a check in Always show menus.

menus

4) Click on Apply and then OK.

That’s it. You’re done. (Should you decide you prefer the “more screen real estate” no menu bar look, simply repeat the steps and un-check the box.)

Today’s quotable quote:Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile.” ~ Mary Beard

Today’s free download: (an “oldie but a goodie”) It has been a while since I have mentioned one of my fave little computer protection apps – WinPatrol.

Clean up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software. This program puts you back in control of your computer with no need for constant updates.
Download WinPatrol 20.5.2011 (Window XP, Vista, Windows 7 including x64 support)

Have a great weekend everybody!

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


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June 18, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Icons Cluttering Windows Desktop – A Problem?

There is a compromise solution which “Power Users” know..”

Q: “Paul-
May I ask you a question? I have a few small programs on my desktop and lots of shortcuts.  Will this slow my computer any or cause any other difficulties? Thanks for your help & have a great day,”

A: On a reasonably modern computer, with reasonable graphics ability (say.. anything from 2004 to present) the number of icons on the Desktop becomes mostly a matter of personal preference, and not one of performance degradation.

True, each shortcut is usually associated with an icon (typically, a 16 x 16 pixel graphic), and Windows will have to look each one up (from its “icon cache”), and draw each one in, and this can take a moment or two (or three).. which technically you could be using for working… The more icons to draw, the longer it will take – but, we are talking moments, not minutes.

* Some people are in search of an “instant on” speed to get to their online Casino games, while other people turn on their PC on their way to brush their teeth. The first category might value those few moments.. and they may want to delete “shortcuts” (and associated icons). Deleting a shortcut does not delete the program itself.

* Some people find icons distracting, and want as few as possible; while others view them as friends, and want as many around as the screen will hold. (me.. I set my Desktop “wallpaper” to a nice, calming, nature photo, so to me, shortcut icons are a distraction.. why is there a white “W” [Word] up in that palm tree?)

There is a compromise solution which “Power Users” know: you can right-click on your Desktop, then:
Windows XP: choose “Arrange icons by” (I know.. not intuitive!)
Then uncheck Show Desktop Icons.
Windows Vista/7: point to “View“, and then click Show Desktop Icons to clear the check mark.

That will clear every icon off your Desktop, yet leave you the Taskbar.
Then, when you want access to your icons, you repeat the steps and check it again – getting them back. It’s too much hassle for me, but some folks swear by it as it gives the best of both worlds, and makes them seem tidier and more organized than they really are.

Note: Hiding all of the icons on your desktop doesn’t delete them, it just hides them until you choose to show them again.

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


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July 1, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Questions About File Extensions*

Today I will answer a few reader questions in the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format, and provide a link to a free disk imaging program.

Q: What is a .bkp file?
A: First of all, it is helpful to know what a “file extension” is. The dot three-letters (sometimes four, as in website/index.html) ending you see at the end of file names is a method used to tell machines what category of file this string of code is (remember, it is just a series of 0’s and 1’s), and whether or not it is an “executable” file (such as a program.exe).
Your machine uses the extension to determine which program to use to open the file.

You are probably familiar with the more common file extensions: .doc and .txt for text, .xls for a spreadsheet, .jpg for pictures, and .htm or .html for webpages. Frankly, there are quite a few dot whatevers — too many to list here– the short answer is a .bkp is the backup file created by Windows Backup utility. This is the file you will use to restore your files should something untoward happen, and so you should treat it with care, and store a copy in two locations; on a CD or DVD and on a different drive or partition.
If you ever run across a .xyz that you’ve never seen before, and have no idea how it got there or what it does, the place to find out is the website FILExt.

Q: My computer is not showing file extensions, how do I make them visible?
A: You must turn off the “Hide Known File Extensions” feature. Open Windows Explorer using the shortcut mentioned in this prior article (Windows key+E) and from the Tools menu select (click) “Folder Options”. Then click on the “View” tab. Find and uncheck the checkbox by “Hide known file extensions”, as shown below. fldopts.jpg

Now click on the “Apply to All Folders” button, and then “OK”.

Vista users: In Vista you access this Options window via the Folder Options applet in the Control Panel. Start> Control Panel> Folder Options.

This answer is a good security tip as well, because hackers will sometimes take advantage of this by sending executable code disguised as something harmless.

Here’s how they’d do it: say they wrote a virus, we’ll call it “nastyvirus.exe”. If you received an email with the attachment nastyvirus.exe you probably wouldn’t click on it (and if you did, you really shouldn’t be using a computer! Sheeze). So the bad guy renames the virus “cutepuppy.jpg.exe.” If the Hide known extensions feature is on, it will appear to you as cutepuppy.jpg and you’ll be inclined to think the email attachment is a picture… and NOT a piece of nasty code.
Please note: for some inexplicable reason, Microsoft has Hide Known Extensions enabled by default. If you have not already turned this off, please do so now.

Today’s free download: regular readers of Tech–for Everyone know that I routinely advise making system backups for the purposes of “disaster” recovery. One highly recommend backup method is to make an “image” of your hard drive or partition with a program like Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image.
If your hard-drive is made by Maxtor or Seagate (Seagate has purchased Maxtor), you can download a free, basic version of Acronis, to clone, image, or transfer your system. The tool is called Maxtor MaxBlast. [note: if you backup the image to an external drive, it must be a Maxtor/Seagate drive as well.]

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul, All Rights Reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 20, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, PC, security, tech, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

IE’s Menu bar, Taskbar icons, and bad Updates*

Reader questions this week bring me back to IE 7 and the Taskbar, and a new topic: what to do when an Update causes crashes and other troubles. So today I will not post my usual Tip of the day, but the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format.

IE 7 Questions:   (you may want to review my post on IE7 Security zones, and Questions answered, as well.)

Q: My Explorer menu bar disappeared, how do I get it back?
A: In IE version 7, the old familiar menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc.) was removed from the default configuration to ‘streamline’ IE’s look, and quite possibly because Microsoft was aware that people were installing their own toolbars (see “toolbar madness“). To get it back, use a method similar to the one used for Windows’ Taskbar. Click on the down arrow next to the gray “gear” icon marked “Tools” and click on the Menu bar option. Now a checkmark will appear next to it, and your menu bar is back. To keep it there, hover your mouse over the option below Menu bar, “Toolbars”, and click on (select) the “Lock the toolbars” option.
While you’re there, you may want to play around with the “Customize” option and tweak which buttons appear on your bars.

Q: I can’t add a site to my Trusted zone:
A: I answered this in the previous answers post, but this detail is worth repeating: The person was on their personal machine and was running as an administrator, so there’s no problem there. The trouble was they hadn’t cleared the checkbox next to “Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone”.https.jpgThe difference is the “s” at the end of “http”, which indicates a special, secured Internet protocol. You will know if you’re on such a Website by the gold lock icon that appears in the URL window (and/or elsewhere on the page). It is an encrypted connection generally only used for electronic payment sites. A check here prevents you from adding regular websites.

Q: Can I make IE block sites when my child is browsing, but allow them for me?
A: This is a great question! And the answers are: yes, sort of, and … how many sites are we talking about? There are a couple of ways to go about this, but I want to spend more time on this topic than there’s room for here today. Protecting your children from the dangers of the Internet is a huge subject. Please see my page on this topic. 

Taskbar question:

Q: What happened to the icons in my Taskbar?
A: These “my icons disappeared” questions depend on if we’re talking about the Notification area (on the right, by the clock), or the Quick Launch area (on the left, by the Start button).
In the Notification area, an icon’s disappearance usually indicates that the “process” has gone idle and is not “running” at the moment.That means it isn’t needed, and hasn’t been needed for quite some time. It will run when it’s needed so, in this case don’t worry about it. In some instances, such as the speaker icon or the the two PC’s network icon,
speaker.jpg
a checkbox has become unchecked and you simply need to check it again. Click on Start >Control Panel >Speakers and Audio devices, and select (check) the “Place an icon in the Taskbar”.

If the Quick Launch icons have disappeared, right-click on a blank area in the Taskbar and select Properties. Click on the Taskbar tab, and place a check in the checkbox labeled “Show Quick Launch”. As I have mentioned before, these Quick Launch icons are simply shortcuts. You can add more shortcuts here by simple drag-and-drop, or remove the ones you never use.

NOTE: If your icons have always been there and then, suddenly, some (or all) of them are gone — you may have picked up some malware. I recommend that you run “deep” antivirus and an anti-spyware scans immediately.

Windows Update:

Q: An Update is causing BSOD’s, what do I do?
A: From time to time a Microsoft security Update will not be compatible with the software and/or device drivers on your machine and the instability will trigger the Blue Screen Of Death (for more on BSOD’s and what to do, see “When good computers go bad“). Usually, Microsoft will repair this and issue a new Update … eventually. In the meantime, remove the Update (If you’re not sure which Update is the perp, remove the most recent ones) by going to Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel. (Start >Settings >Control Panel >Add/Remove Programs) Now look to the top area and place a check (select) in the “Show updates” checkbox. Now you will be able to see the list of installed Updates.

Click on the Update you want to remove, and click on the Remove button.

Today’s free link: I do NOT recommend uninstalling security updates unless they cause your machine to become inoperable. I am a big fan of security updates and want all my vulnerabilities patched. If you’re like me in that aspect, Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector is for you. While this software is still in beta, it is very good at scanning all your programs and reporting any missing updates and open vulnerabilities. (Thanks Ryan!)

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

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May 20, 2008 Posted by | advice, BSOD, computers, how to, IE 7, PC, removing Updates, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments