Tech – for Everyone

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

Quick Tips For Using Google & Friday Fun

Here are a few  Google Quick Tips I think everyone should know:

  • Google Get the latest weather. To quickly get the current weather conditions and a three-day forecast, type the word weather followed by a zip code or city and state and then press ENTER (or click Search).
  • Track airline flights. A helpful feature when you’re picking up a friend from the airport or rushing to catch a flight yourself: to get real-time flight information, type in the airline name followed by the flight number and press ENTER. You’ll then see the status of the flight (like “on-time” or “30 minutes late”) and its estimated arrival or departure time.
  • Track packages. To track a UPS, FedEx, or US Postal Service package, type or paste in the tracking number and press ENTER; Google will display a direct link to a web page with more information.
  • Calculate math. Whether balancing your check box or calculating a tip, Google’s calculator function can come in handy. Simply type in the math problem and press ENTER; for example, entering 900+50 will display 950; entering 38.55*20% will display 7.71.

They also have some Quick Tips for Word, and Facebook, here.

Friday’s Fun Video:

Today’s quote:Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” ~ Lance Armstrong

Hope you enjoy your weekend, everybody!

Copyright 2007-2012 © “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.

May 4, 2012 Posted by | Google, Internet | , , | Leave a comment

Tips To Enhance Your Security And Privacy When Online

Folks, after hearing – yet again – another sad story, I feel compelled to remind you of some advice for a safer and more secure “online experience”, and – yet again – provide you the How To steps for being a ‘safer surfer’.

First up is a known ratings killer, but perhaps the second most important piece of tech advice I can share with you — passwords. (The first being: if it connects to the Internet, it needs an up-to-date antivirus. Period.) If my storyteller had followed this simple advice, they wouldn’t be so sad.
It’s that simple.

Create strong passwords, and use a different one for each website. These two links will help.

Okay, okay, okay. Tech – for Everyone readers don’t need to be told that. They already know. But perhaps you may want to send those to some of your less-savvy friends and family. Below are some very good items for review.

Protect myself from scams

Protect my personal information

I hate to say it, but the Internet is so dangerous (and has been for several years now) that those who do not know the information provided above have practically no chance of not getting nailed and becoming a victim of crime.. if they haven’t been already.
None, as in “zero”.

Bonus reading (unrelated): Use Your Google Drive As A Fax Machine

Take advantage of your Google Drive and use HelloFax to sign and send faxes online. With Google Drive being a new service provided by Google I am starting to see third party developers coming out with apps that integrate and take advantage of Google Drive. HelloFax is a prime example and is one of […] Read more..

Today’s quote:For a gallant spirit there can never be defeat.” ~ Wallis Simpson

Copyright 2007-2012 © “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.

April 30, 2012 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Completely Off-topic #2

A Few Words For Those Of You Who Have Cares, Worries, and Concerns (Or Know Someone Who Does)

Some of you are facing some real challenges on this road we call Life. There is no doubt, we are in “hard economic times” and for many of us the future looks uncertain. Scary. Even bleak.

If this does not describe you – rejoice! For you have (for now) escaped a cruel pain!

If it does.. I am not sure what to say to you. I think my words will seem weak.. and meaningless. But I also feel compelled to say them anyway. Please don’t give up.

I hope you will not think I am being unsympathetic, but I ask you to look at your situation as a challenge, and I ask you to think about – how have you solved other challenges in your life? (You must have solved many – or you wouldn’t still be here.) And I remind you that sometimes to get those challenges resolved, we need to call in some help to get the job done. There’s no shame in that. You can (and should) ask for help if you think you might benefit from it.

For those interested, WebMD has practical tips and advice for coping with “stress” at their (appropriately named) Stress Management Health Center. Reading this advice will not – I don’t think – get you a new job/cure your illness/put money in the bank/perform miracles, all by itself, right away, by magic, but perhaps you can find some “self-help”, and good, useful information there. And help is good.

No matter the depth and strength of your ‘challenge(s)’ on this road we call Life, please do not sit down and stop walking it. OK? I ain’t going to tell you the Land Of True Happiness, Milk, And Honey is “just around the next bend”. How would I know if it’s there? You might have to go ’round six or seven bends.
Or ten. Or two.

But keep walking. Who knows who you will meet, or what you will find, or where it will take you?

.. sorry for the non-techy topic. I’ll get back to gizmos and gadgets tomorrow. Thanks for listening. (And no, this wasn’t spawned by anything I am going through personally. Not today, anyway. No need to write in.)

*     *     *

Today’s quote: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”  ~ Mark Twain

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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April 2, 2012 Posted by | advice | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What to Look for When Buying a New Computer

My Computer Shopping Guidelines

Some of you will be shopping for a computer this holiday gift-giving season, so today I will re-post some advice on what to look for in a new machine. I’m not going to get into a Mac versus PC debate. I am going to focus solely on hardware (the ‘capabilities’) options of a non-Apple desktop or laptop PC — though I understand that all anyone wants this year is an iPad.

Tip(s) of the day: What to look for..
* 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/”box”/”desktop” – buy the most machine you can afford. (that means, faster CPU, bigger “Gigabyte” numbers..)
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 Desktop PC (“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. I would look for an i3/i5/i7 CPU.

When deciding which model laptop, do not forget to compare battery life (these stats are published). Also, and I can’t stress this enough, if buying for yourself, do not buy a laptop that you haven’t typed on. Yes, you can make your purchase online or out of a catalog, 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.

Considering a netbook? The portability of the compact netbook computers would certainly appeal to the student. For those who go this route, I would suggest the addition of an “external” hard drive (for more storage) as well as a DVD reader.

* 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 $250, 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 $399 – $899, 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 $250-400 range, do not rule out “refurbished” machines. Factory rebuilt/refurbished machines are an excellent value. Any negative stigma they may have is largely unjustified.

Get the most RAM you can.I would not buy a PC today that had less than 4 GB’s.

If your machine is coming with Windows 7 (and most all of them are), you should look for 64-bit.

Go with a mid-to-high end CPU. The quad-core CPU’s from Intel are very good, and are my current preference. But you can save some dinero by choosing an AMD equipped machine. If it is in your budget, go quad-core.

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. Blu-Ray readers are available and should suffice. 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..

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.

* Is space an issue? Consider a “small form factor” (aka “mini tower”) size. These smaller boxes fit on (or under) a desk much easier than a normal size. You can find some “bundled” with a 17″ LCD monitor.. perfect for the dorm.

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 (see, Which is Better, HP or Dell? and/or Tech’s Most (and Least) Reliable Brands).

Today’s free download: For those of you lucky folks who will receive a brand new PC… Whenever you buy a new computer, it will come preloaded with all sorts of trialware (as it’s called) that most of us don’t want. If you have just purchased a new PC, download and run the wonderful PC Decrapifier and clean off that *stuff*.

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


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December 15, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, shopping for | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Practical advice for greater online safety

The materials below are practical advice on how to be a savvy and successful digital citizen.

If you surf the web, you should know ..

How to:
Get a security update, tool, or scan

Protect my kids from online risks

Protect my computer

Protect myself from scams

Protect my personal information

Create strong passwords

Security terms

Free materials

Digital citizenship in action: A guide to education and events

The materials below are included in Microsoft’s Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit. You will find practical advice on how to be a savvy and successful digital citizen. Use the materials to:

Teach yourself: Practical advice for greater online safety

Free materials including brochures, fact sheets, tip cards, videos, and posters to give you the basic information you need to help you stay safe online.

Teach others: Online safety presentations and event planning

Information and free materials to make a presentation or put together an event.

Downloads

Promotions

Research

Hey.. a bonus:


(One minor problem.. I don’t FB nor Twit.. never have.)

Bonus bonus: Countdown to Black Friday Deals (electronics)

Today’s quote:I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.” ~ Reuben Blades

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


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November 2, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, PC, security | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Heads Up: The Dark Side Of Skype

(+ Handy Windows 7 Productivity Features)

For three years now I have posted warnings about fake, scary warnings delivered by the “chat” part of Skype. That was the old (criminal) method. Now there’s a new ‘trick’.

Let me start with a reminder of the old..

Chat Message Scares Reader Into Installing Malware

Today a Skype chat window opened on my machine, and presented me with a dire warning from someone named “Software Update”, “Registry Scan Online®”, “OnlineUpdate.org”, “OnlineRegistry®” Today’s flavor (I think it was “Update Instructions”..).

It said that “WINDOWS SYSTEM REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION” and, it provided me with a solution… a “repair utility”.

Please, folks, tell me you have spotted this for what it is. Please tell me that you knew –instantly– that this is a cybercrime attempt; that it is Phraud-ulent. (I mean.. there are clues aplenty!) Read more..

Not too long ago, I started receiving Skype calls from similarly named entities..

This user has not shared their details with you

That’s the ‘new method’.

I am too old and too tired of criminal activities, and have not “answered” any of these calls to find out just what kind of attack or scam this is. Perhaps a RL person would try to get me to click a link they send.. perhaps a clever voice robot would.. Fact is, I simply don’t care – nothing good can come from answer this call.

Or any call from someone you don’t know. (You remember the Rule for email? Don’t open email from strangers? Same deal here.)

When we are online, surfing the vast and unpoliced Internet, we simply have to have our “paranoid hat” on, because – yes – people are trying to get us.

I have to keep my Skype profile “public”, for business reasons, but regular folks should set their privacy to “People on my Contact list only”, and reduce the chance of getting these vile interruptions.

1) Click the Tools menu, then Options.

2) Click Privacy settings (left column) and change the radio buttons to “people in my Contact list only“.

Today’s quote:You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Today’s reading reco: Top Ten: Windows 7 Productivity Tips

Windows 7 has been out for a while, and by all accounts has found its way into many people’s daily working lives. However, it’s easy to just keep doing things the old way instead of learning about new features that can help you work more efficiently. In this column, I’ll tell you about 10 handy Windows 7 productivity features that you might have overlooked.Read more..

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


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September 19, 2011 Posted by | advice, how to, Internet, Internet scam, security, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You On The Web (and some free tools)

I do not simply tell my readers the Internet is risky place to visit, and is being abused (ruined?) by many: I have for four years now provided tips, advice, and how-to’s for keeping yourself, your machines, and your ‘identity’ safer and more secure. Here are a few more items I think you should know about…

image source: PCWorld

Google’s ‘Me on the Web’ Tool Alerts You to Personal Data Leaks

Google has launched Me on the Web, a new tool allowing anyone with a Google account to monitor what personal information about them appears online.Read more..

And I have discovered (new-to-me, that is) an interesting browser add-on.. TrackMeNot Firefox Add-on Keeps Search Engine Data Profilers Confused

The free TrackMeNot Firefox add-on takes a unique and creative approach to protecting your privacy from search engines that can create profiles of you based on terms you search for. Rather than hiding your searches from them in some way, it takes the exact opposite tack: It inundates search engines with a blizzard of background searches from you, so that no practical profile can be built because there are too many random searches.Read more..

(To see my personal list of Firefox security add-ons, click here.)

Best Free Software for Protecting Your PC and Your Privacy

Want to make sure that your PC and all its files and data are kept safe, secure, and private–without breaking the bank to do it? It’s not an impossible task–in fact, it’s easy to do. We’ve rounded up ten free pieces of security software that do everything from protecting you against malware, to keeping you safe at WiFi Hot Spots, to encrypting your entire hard disk.Read more..

Folks, the Internet is not Disneyland, nor a vast public library, where everyone is on their best behavior, and there’s security guards keeping an eye on things. Ha! Not even close! The reality is the Internet is a battleground, as well as being Big Brother. In the best cases, folks are merely trying to sell, sell, SELL, you stuff. In the worst, they’re trying to steal everything you own (or put the company you work for out of business)(Or bring down your government). Please don’t be a victim. Exercise paranoid common sense when online (no – your email did not just win the online lottery). And sign up to receive my newsletter, and keep receiving information you can use to be savvy. For instance..

.. do you know what that ‘paperclip’ symbol means?

It means if you, or your email client’s Preview Pane opens that email, your address will be automatically added to the Global Sucker List, and I guaranty you’ll get more spam. (See, Disable the Preview Pane For Safer Computing & Less Spam)

Today’s quote:Friends and neighbors complain that taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

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


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September 7, 2011 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, free software, how to, Internet, privacy, security zones, software | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments