Tech – for Everyone

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

A couple of software reco’s

It’s kind of odd.. but since I went into semi-Retirement, I’ve been busier than ever.

I have been reminded recently that a couple of free software utilities I use, well, I cannot recall if I’ve ever mentioned them to you guys… as they are rather Geeky (aka not “for everyone”).

* First up is a file copy/transfer utility. TeraCopy isn’t anything fancy, it just makes Windows work like it should, when working with big copy/transfer jobs. It’s free for personal use.

One of the most common complaints about newer versions of Windows is the slow copying speed, especially when transferring lots of files over the network. If you want to speed up your copying or if you regularly transfer large amounts of data and have to stop the process to perform some other disk-intensive task, this program may be just what you need.” Check it out here.

* Next up is a “boot disc”. Now, most of you will not ever have call for a boot disc, or need to know how to use one, but if you know what they are, and don’t know about UBCD4Win, well I suggest you take a look.

UBCD4Win is a bootable recovery CD that contains software used for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the most complete and easy to use free computer diagnostic tool.” Check it out here.

One of the things I use the UBCD4Win most often is to make “images” (backups/”clones”) of a hard drive using DriveImageXML, but you do not need to use a boot disc to take advantage of this free disk imaging/archiving tool. (It is a ‘standalone’ app that’s been bundled onto UBCD.)

DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives. Image creation uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe “hot images” even from drives currently in use. Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup! Restore images to drives without having to reboot. DriveImage XML is now faster than ever, offering two different compression levels. ” Check it out here.

Today’s quote:Everybody ought to do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.” ~ William James

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, free software, Microsoft, networking, PC, performance, software, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Hardware In An Old Machine

Reader Asks About The New SATA Hard Drives

Q: Paul, I enjoy reading your articles. I have a question I hope you will clear up for me. A few years ago I had a computer assembled for me, and I have pretty much filled up its hard drive so I am shopping for a new one to add as a second drive. I read (not on your site) about the new SATA drives and how fast they are. I am wondering if the new versions will work in my computer and any advice you have for installing it. I took your advice and looked inside, and I have a Asus A7N8 motherboard. Thanx.

A: Dear Reader,a7n8
The quite new hard drive technology – called SATA III – is indeed quite fast, with a transfer rate of 6 Gbps.
And, yes, indeed your ASUS motherboard has SATA ports.
And, yes, adding a second hard drive is an easy and relatively inexpensive “upgrade” which will give you more storage room.

But (why, in life, does there always seem to be a “but”?) there are a couple of factors to consider. One, by “a few years” you really mean several years and you must remember Moore’s Law and that tech doesn’t age like you and I — your motherboard is several “generations” old (in reality a Great grandpa, or even a Great-great grandpa). It can only transfer (read and write) at the original SATA speed of 150 MBps.

Due to “backwards compatibility” you can install a SATA II, or even a SATA III drive, which will – indeed – give you more room for music/movies/games etc., but you will not gain any performance benefits (they will transfer at 150 MBps) unless you also upgrade your transfer path (aka your “port”) which is typically done by adding an “expansion card”.
(The method is the same as I describe here: Add Firewire 800 To Your PC– Fast Video Transfer).

I looked it up, and it seems that ASUS will be shipping the first such card any day now, and it will retail for around $30 (see Asus’ Awesome USB 3.0, SATA 6Gbps Card Now Shipping), and as a side benefit, the card has the new USB 3.0 ports as well.

So as I see it, it boils down to three options:
* Don’t worry about the “speed” and simply install an affordable second drive.
* Install a card and a SATA III drive.
* Think about a new PC… though, I know of no manufacturers shipping units with the new SATA III technology yet (Computer hardware technology really has come a long way since single-core CPU’s and 400 MHz DDR RAM).

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 21, 2010 Posted by | computers, hardware, how to, PC, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Make A Copy Of Your Favorites List

Loyal readers of this site know that I am a huge fan of making backups of your digital stuff. Making a copy before you need it, and keeping it off to the side, makes bouncing back from “glitches” so much easier. And it prevents the anguish and frustration of “data loss”.
Backups are “good” and you want them.

Tip of the day: Today’s tip is a quick and simple action that “exports” a copy of your Internet “Favorites” (aka “bookmarks”) from Internet Explorer. You can then “import” the copy (copy back) at a later date, or transfer them into IE on a different machine.

1) Internet Explorer calls Website bookmarks “Favorites” and you access your list by clicking the gold star icon (upper left), and you add websites to your list by clicking on the icon right next to it — the gold star overlaid with the green + sign.
That is also the icon that manages your Favorites, so click that.

Imp_Exp

2) click on “Import and Export”.

3) Now a “wizard” will open and tell us how helpful it can be to us. Click “Next” to get to the actually helpful page.

ExportWizard

4) Click on “Export Favorites”, and then click “Next” all the way through the wizard. Now you will have a file called “bookmark.htm” in your Documents folder — that is your backup copy.
[note: you can “browse” to a different Save location if you prefer.]

That’s it. You’re done. Now you can repeat this process but choose “Import” to copy it back into IE if you ever need to.. or transfer it to another machine’s Internet Explorer.

For more of my Internet Explorer tips, see Quick Tips for Internet Explorer.

Today’s free link: Firefox users interested in this type of ability will be interested to know that the process is almost identical to the steps above.. or they may be interested in a more comprehensive tool, The easy way to backup your Firefox profiles…

Today’s free download(s):
Today’s first free download is for Mozilla users and is contained in the link directly above.
For a truly comprehensive backup tool, see Backup, Backup, Backup With Free DriveImage XML

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

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June 30, 2009 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, how to, IE 7, Internet, PC, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Transfer OE Address Book To Vista

Reader Asks How To Move Their Address Book To A New Laptop

Q: I purchased a new laptop that has Vista Home Premium. I want to move the addresses stored in Outlook Express on my old machine to the new one, but there isn’t Outlook Express on Vista, there’s something called Mail. How can I move my contacts to the new laptop?

A: Outlook Express is no more. It has been “upgraded” and renamed to “Mail” in Vista, but fear not — it’s still basically the same. What you need to do is make a copy of the .WAB file on you old machine, and then “Import” it on the new machine.

1) In the Search tool (Start >Search) search for “Files and folders”, and enter “*.wab” (no quotes) in the “What to search for” textbox.
(Or, navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local settings\App Data\Identities\{a string of numbers}\Microsoft\Outlook Express)

2) Drag the .wab file from the results window to your portable media — floppy disc, thumb drive. This will copy the file. (or.. you can attach the file to an e-mail, and e-mail it to yourself.)

3) Take the thumb drive/floppy to your new machine and plug it in.

4) Now launch (fancy talk for “open”) Windows Mail.
Import_AB

Click on “File”, then “Import”, and then “Windows Contacts”.

You will be prompted for what to import, and simply point the wizard to your portable media, and then click on the .wab file.

That’s it. You’re done. Now your old Address Book is installed on your new computer.

Today’s free download: Speakonia is a freeware utility that reads text out loud. Speakonia comes with about 20 voices (all with strong robotic accents) and lets you quickly change the reading speed and pitch. Speakonia can save text in WAV files for playback when you’re driving or jogging, but unfortunately it can’t save sound files in the MP3 format. The program interface is clear and straightforward; you simply select text in any document and press Ctrl C to read it aloud. Decent performance and free price make it a reasonable choice for the vision-impaired or people who’d rather do their reading with their ears than their eyes.

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

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May 18, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, software, tech, Vista, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7

Part 2 — Transferring Your User Account To Windows 7

In Part1 of this series, A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7, I described the install process for Microsoft’s new operating system, and today I will proceed to the next step of setting up a new computer.. transferring all your stuff from the old machine, and ‘tweaking’ things to just your liking.

Last year I wrote wrote about the fastest, easiest, user state migration I had ever had — New PC? Migrate Your User Account The Easy Way — and described a Microsoft download that allowed me to not only transfer settings and preferences (aka ‘tweaks’) and my files (.doc, .jpg, mp3, etc.), but my installed programs as well. (Which to me was about the neatest thing since sliced bread.)
[note: Microsoft has since removed the utility, Windows Easy Transfer Companion, referenced in the link/article above. Apparently, it doesn’t work on Vista SP1, and/or XP SP3.]

For the purposes of this article (and, simulating what the typical user will do with a new computer and/or OS), I took an older machine running XP that had been one of my “daily usage” machines before being relegated to testbed duty and re-attached it to my home network (LAN).

Easy Files and Settings Transfer: On my Windows 7 machine, I typed “File an” into the search area of my Start menu, and Windows Easy Transfer showed up in the results immediately. A click launched the Easy Transfer Wizard, and I was asked if *I was on the new machine or the old?
New.
* How did I want to make the transfer?
Over the network. (the other choices were an Easy Transfer Cable, or an external HD/USB flash drive.)
* Does the old machine have Windows Easy Transfer?
Um.. probably not, so, No.
It offered to provide the program if I would plug in a thumb drive, so.. I did.

It said “Finished” and told me to go plug the thumb drive into the old machine and let it “autoplay”, so.. I did.
The old machine (slow!) did its thing and presented me with a code, 123-456, and told me to go to the Windows 7 machine and enter the code, so.. I did.

Bingo, I was connected, and the Windows Easy Transfer tool started to scan the XP machine for “transferable items”.
transfr1.jpg

When the scan finished, I was provided with a result, and there were some default items already checked off — pictures, music, documents. No surprise there, but I was very pleased to see the “Programs” folder.. could it be?
transfr2.jpg
So.. I drilled down into the “Customize” section and selected the applications I wanted to try to transfer to the new machine (though, I could’ve just done the whole folder). That will save time.. and hunting down install CDs!

I clicked the “Save” button”..

transfr1plus.jpg

And presto. Seven minutes later my “user state” was now on my new machine. And so I have a new “easy champion”, and I confess.. I’m impressed.

Plus number five…

Well, I ran long. Tweaking the Desktop, and “Superbar”, and other personalization’s will have to wait for the next article.

Part 3 – Improvements over Vista?

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

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January 13, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, dual boot, file system, how to, PC, performance, Plug and Play, software, tech, tweaks, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

New PC? Migrate Your User Account The Easy Way

[note: Microsoft has since removed the utility, Windows Easy Transfer Companion. Apparently, it doesn’t work on Vista SP1, and/or XP SP3. No word on when it might be made available again. I regret this, and hope Microsoft will correct this soon.]

For those of you who have ever used a User State Migration Tool, or Easy Files and Settings Transfer tool, to migrate your data from an old computer to your new computer — or purchased a special program, or cable — you know that getting your new machine exactly as you had your old machine required some time and effort.

The other day, the proud owner of a new laptop wanted me to replicate his XP set up onto the new Vista machine, and the usual method has been to to use one of the techniques mentioned in the paragraph above. But I didn’t. I used an adjunct to Window’s (built-in) Easy Files and Settings Transfer tool (which will be today’s free link).

* Those of you who want to use your LAN may want to read Add a Vista machine to your XP network

I downloaded this program to both his XP machine and the new Vista machine. Then I connected his XP machine via wireless. Surprise! The XP machine was instantly seen and recognized. Then I launched the Windows Easy Transfer Companion on the Vista PC and followed the wizard. The two machines established a “transfer” connection and the XP machine transferred its installed programs, and all the files, and all of the owners tweaks and settings (like bookmarks, and custom toolbars).

All I did was watch. This was, by far, the fastest and easiest user state migration I’ve ever experienced, and truly was painless. This is bad for a PC Tech’s bottom line, but great for Vista owners.

Today’s free link: When you buy a new PC, you will almost certainly want to transfer all kinds of things from the machine you’ve been using to the new one. Microsoft has “a companion” for the Easy Files and Settings Transfer tool called the Windows Easy Transfer Companion. It is actually a ‘stand-alone’. This tool not only transfers your documents and personalized Settings tweaks, but the programs you have installed. This is a huge time saver. I did my transfer over the local network, but you can use the other methods of data storage to make the transfer as well– including USB thumb drives. [Note: while Microsoft still considers this program to be in beta, I have experienced absolutely no hiccups or difficulties at all.]

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

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December 25, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, PC, Plug and Play, tech, Vista | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Add Firewire 800 To Your PC– Fast Video Transfer

Adding new capability to your PC is called “upgrading”, and today I am going to tell you how easy it is to upgrade your machine to include Firewire capability.

Firewire “transfer technology” is faster than USB and can be a real benefit to those of you who own digital camcorders, or are thinking of transferring your VHS video tapes onto DVDs, or are otherwise working with digital video.

First of all, what is Firewire (aka 1394)? Firewire is, in essence, a wire (cable, actually). It looks and feels and acts very much like your quite familiar USB cabling— it is so similar looking that they changed the shape of the plug so you can tell them apart. The USB is rectangular, and the Firewire has an angular extension on one end.

The main difference between the two data transfer technologies is speed: the newer “2.0” standards (which you really should have by now) is 480 and 800 million bits per second, respectively. So, if you have large data blocks to transfer — such as video — from one device to another, Firewire 800 is the way to go.

Tip of the day:If your machine did not come with a Firewire port, or if it did but it is the older Firewire 400 type, upgrade your system by adding a PCI expansion card to your PC.
The photo above shows a two-port Firewire PCI card. These expansion cards come in a variety of flavors; some offer more ports, or “combo” ports like 2 USB + 2 Firewire. They are very affordable: the simple 2 port shown above can be found for $18.

Installing an expansion card is not difficult but if you’re not inclined to try it yourself, a Tech Support and/or Repair person (like myself) will not charge you much to put it in for you. It is a simple matter of inserting it into a white slot on the motherboard.
1) Load the device drivers: It may seem counter-intuitive to run the Install CD before the device is actually in the PC, but this is the usual method. Insert the CD that came with your card and follow the wizard. This will install the Plug-and-Play device drivers for your new device.
2) Prepare your PC: The next step is to completely power-down, and unplug your computer from the wall outlet. Now open your computer’s case; typically there’s two small screws holding your side panel in place. Lay your PC on its side so that the motherboard is down at the bottom, and you can see all the slots and components.
[Attention: Do not reach inside the case unless you are wearing an antistatic wristband, or until you have touched a bare metal section of the case’s frame. A very, very small dose of static electricity can ruin electrical components inside a computer.]

Find an open (white) PCI slot, and remove the corresponding metal tab from the back of the case. This will open up an outlet for the faceplate of the expansion card.
3) Install the card: Gently, but firmly, insert the card into the open slot. You want to use enough force to fully “seat” the card into the slot. 4) Validate your install: Plug your PC back into the electrical outlet and power up your machine. Windows will launch, and it will detect your new hardware. A small dialogue window will open down by your clock that tells you that Windows is installing your New Hardware. Unless there is some glitch, you are done. You can start using your new device.
* If Windows does NOT detect the new card, insert the Install CD and go through the wizard again. If this still fails to install your new card, it is likely that the card itself is not fully inserted into the slot — power-down and really push it in this time. Repeat step 4.
If this fails (and this is unlikely), read my troubleshooting article here.

Laptop owners: For those of you who want to add this capability to your notebook PCs, the steps are very similar — except you won’t be using a PCI expansion card. You will want to purchase a Firewire PCMCIA card, such as the one shown here.

Today’s free link: Teen Chat Decoder. From site: “This free Teen Chat Acronym Decoder lets you ‘Crack The Secret Code’ your teen uses online, in Chat Rooms, online chats, Instant Messages, & Text Messages. This is an awesome software for parents because it gives you an inside look into your teenagers online life.”

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

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September 3, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, device drivers, digital Video, Firewire, gadgets, hardware, how to, PC, performance, tech | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment