Tech – for Everyone

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

Quick Tip – Turn Off Auto Formatting In Word

If you’ve ever created a numbered or bulleted list in Microsoft Word, you know that Word automatically makes formatting changes once it senses a pattern in your list. However, the auto-formatted text can become a real chore to change when you want to begin a sentence with a number or bullet point without beginning a new list, or use your own listing style — then the “helpful” automation seems less than helpful.

Fortunately, you can disable (aka “turn off”) this automatic feature (and turn it back on again, later, should you want it again).

To turn off auto formatting:

In Word 2003,

  1. Click the Tools menu, then select AutoCorrect Options.
  2. Choose the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
  3. Remove the checkmarks from the Automatic Bulleted Lists and Automatic Numbered Lists, and click Apply.

In Word 2007, click the Office button (“File” tab in Word 2010)

  1. Click Word Options, and then click Proofing in the list
  2. Click the AutoCorrect Options button.
  3. Select the AutoFormat As You Type button (tab in 2010).
  4. Remove the checkmarks from the Automatic Bulleted Lists and Automatic Numbered Lists, then click OK, and click OK again.

: you may also want to un-check “Format beginning of list items like the one before it”, if you are using different list formats in your document.)

To “re-enable” the Auto-formatting feature, apply these steps but restore the checkmarks.

Today’s reco(s):

Putting Registry-/system-cleanup apps to the test

The most contentious software category has to be PC-system/Registry cleaners. Some users find them invaluable; other users consider them worse than useless.Read more..

Firefox updates for security, user add-on control

Mozilla on Tuesday released Firefox 8, the latest iteration of its open-source web browser, which includes a number of new features and defense against seven vulnerabilities.

The more noticeable adjustments to the browser include a search box that accommodates queries across Twitter. In addition, the new version prevents the default installation of plug-ins distributed by third parties, a move that is designed to put more control into the hands of Firefox users.Read more..

30 Incredible Job Sites for Freelance Computer Techs

Are you a tech looking to do some freelance work? Check out this resource (other freelancers may want to look too).

Today’s quote:

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

>> 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. <<

November 10, 2011 Posted by | advice, how to, Microsoft, word processors | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Firefox 3, or 4 (or 5)? + Turn Off the "Upgrade" Nag

A reader wrote in and asked a good question. The answer(s) will be good “general knowledge” even for those of you who are not currently running Mozilla’s Firefox web browser.

Q:If I may impose on you for information, have you upgraded Firefox to version 4.0.1? I keep saying no when the browser asks me, but my Mom let it upgrade.

Several things won’t work with V 4… Such as the ZoneAlarm browser toolbar and her HP All-In-One printer plugin.

She wants me to roll her FF version back to V 3.6.17 so those items will work, but I’m concerned about potential security issues.

Thank you

A: Dear Reader,
Yours is a very good question, and poses an interesting choice. And, it shows how two “rules of thumb” can sometimes contradict.

* For security, you always want to be running the latest version (and promptly apply any “updates”) of any software.

* Don’t buy version 1 of anything (aka “wait for the service pack”) unless you enjoy being a product guinea pig (aka “bug finder”).

In my mind, Firefox 4 (and the new beta of 5) is enough of a change as to qualify as a ‘new product’, (and also has compatibility issues with some of my add-ons) and so I will not install it until version 4.1 (or 4.2) is released (give the product some time to mature).

Yes, this (staying with FF 3) may (probably does) pose some security “risk”, and is certainly not a long-term answer — bullet point 1 should not be ignored and bullet point 2 will become ‘false’ as newer version of FF 4 are released (and the Add-ons authors update theirs to better work with FF4). In the meantime, while I await v4.1, I have turned off the “upgrade now?” prompt.

To avoid being nagged:
1) Click on the Tools menu, then click Options.

2) Click on the Advanced tab (gray gear icon).

3) Click on the Update tab in the Advanced window.


4) Un-ckeck the “Firefox” checkbox, and then click OK.

That’s it. Now the automated “there’s a new version” prompting will stop (Firefox’s updater will now be in “manual mode”… meaning it is up to you to check the availability of new versions. You can do this anytime by clicking the Help menu, then “Check for updates”).

* 5) [at some future date] When I do install a newer version, I will make sure the automatic update checking is re-enabled (by reversing these steps), as the first bullet point stated, I normally want automatic updating.

Today’s free download: If you find that you too want to revert to the last version of Firefox 3 (or.. contrarily, get the beta of 5) the download site FileHippo is my choice. FileHippo’s right-hand column contains a string of downloads, starting with the most recent, and (usually) going back all the way to the original release. Click here and scroll down that list to “version 3.6.17”. FileHippo is where I go when I need an older version.

Today’s quotable quote:If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”  ~ Author Unknown

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

>> 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. <<

May 28, 2011 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, Firefox, free software, how to, Internet, PC, performance, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How To Turn Off Hotmail ‘Active View’

Earlier this week I got a bit of a surprise in my e-mail – my Hotmail, specifically – kind of a nice surprise.

Now before you start writing me about using Hotmail, I want to say in my defense, I signed up for it long ago. Back in the days when “google” was something an infant might say, okay?

Anywho, back to the topic: my ‘surprise’. Microsoft is constantly “improving” their free webmail service (including renaming it to “Live Hotmail”) in small ways, to modernize it, and keep up with the times… as we advance into “Web 3.0”.
[Dear Microsoft, the improvements I would like to see are: more servers, better load balancing, and fatter pipes into those servers. Why am I seeing “server is too busy” and “we are performing maintenance” errors? You think I am going to trust your other ‘online’ services (aka Office Live Online) when I’m seeing that in a light-weight service like e-mail??? Right.]

Anywho, back to the topic: my ‘surprise’. As I said, Microsoft is constantly updating Hotmail, and this week I noticed a change when I happened to get, and open, an email which had several photos included as attachments. Along with the newish “view”, and trusty old “download” menu options was “view as slideshow” Huh? Yup.
So I clicked on that choice, and an ‘overlay’ slideshow viewer opened, and darned if I couldn’t back and forward and ‘play’ all the photos in (attached to) the email. Kinda kewl.

This is part of something Microsoft is calling ‘Active View’ (others are calling it “previews”, “peeks”, and whatnot) — “mini-websites in your inbox.”

How do Hotmail Active Views work?
You probably have links to other websites in a lot of the e-mail you get—friends share photos and videos. Maybe you get links to track packages that you’re shipping, too.

Active Views are a way to preview information right in Hotmail, so that you don’t have to go to another website to see the photos, watch the videos, or find out where your package is.

Hotmail and Microsoft are committed to keeping your information private. Since we’re really concerned about privacy, we want to tell you exactly how Active Views work.
When a message comes in, we scan it to see whether it’s junk, partly by looking for links to suspicious websites. With Active Views, we detect good links so that we can show you previews. If you’re sent a link to Flickr, we use the link to show a thumbnail of the photos inside your message. The link itself contains information—for example, it identifies a particular photo album—the site will only know that the link was selected by Hotmail. We don’t identify you or send any personal information.

The other type of Active View comes from websites that provide you up-to-date information and content that you can interact with. These messages are like mini-websites in your inbox. So when you open these messages and interact with them, it’s like you have gone to their website. If you don’t click anything inside the message, they’ll only know that you opened the message and what your browser settings are (for example, the browser version and language).”

Here is the How To: (Again, I quote.)

“We’ve designed Active Views so they respect and help protect your privacy. But if you aren’t comfortable with them, go to Options any time and turn Active Views off.

Follow these steps to turn on/off Active View:
1.  Sign in to your Windows Live Hotmail account.
2.  Go to OptionsMore Options.
3.  Under Reading email, click Active View settings.
4.  Under Do you want to see previews?:
Choose Always show photo and video previews to enable Active View or Hide photo and video previews to disable Active Views.
5.  Under Do you want to get interactive updates from web sites you have accounts with?:
Choose Yes to get interactive updates or No to not receive them.


.. now, I am not saying you necessarily want to disable this “interactive”-ness; nor am I saying that there are any attacks exploiting it (at the moment). Even I admit it (slideshow previews) is awfully convenient. But there is the info so that you have choice.

Have a great weekend everybody!

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

>> 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. << 


Share this post :

November 13, 2010 Posted by | computers, e-mail, how to, Internet, Microsoft, privacy, security, tech, tweaks, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Buzz Bombs

Google is not accustomed to being mistrusted by users and flogged by the tech press, but that’s exactly what’s happened to the search engine giant in recent weeks since the release of its new Google Buzz social media product.

Please see, Why Google Buzz confirmed our two worst fears about Google

Related: Gmail Users Sue Google for Google Buzz Launch | Google Gmail

How to turn off Buzz: In Gmail, click on “Settings” in the upper right. Then click on the “Buzz” tab, and change the radio buttons. Save Changes.

Gmail Settings page

* For those of you who came here looking for my i7 CPU article.. I apologize, but it has been delayed. I won’t get it up today, but tomorrow fersher!

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. <<

Share this post :

February 22, 2010 Posted by | Google, Internet, News, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Strange Case of the Missing Icons*

Folks, another crazy day. The following re-posted older article is not relevant to those of you on Vista or Windows 7. (Those folks may want to scroll down to the “today’s free link” section though…)

A rather upset person called my shop complaining that their machine had “a virus”, and they wanted me to “fix it”.

There was nothing terribly unusual about that, but their answer to one of my basic questions was unusual– what is happening that makes you think your machine has been infected?
A: “When I turned on my machine, several of my icons were gone.”

That answer (and a few others) told me that, yes, my client’s machine had been altered, but not by a hacker unusedor spyware or virus infection. Their machine had been altered by a “helpful” Windows XP feature called the Desktop Cleanup Wizard.

The Desktop Cleanup feature keeps track of your usage of the icons on your desktop and periodically (every 60 days) offers to remove the icons you have not recently used. Sometimes it will run when you aren’t looking.. which is what happened to my caller.

The icons are not deleted, they are moved to a folder and you can put them back on the desktop if you want. The folder is C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Desktop\Unused Desktop Shortcuts.
It will also place a shortcut to that folder on your Desktop, as shown.

Tip of the day: Turn off the automatic aspect of the Disk Cleanup tool, and avoid those pop-up balloons and “missing” icons.
1. Right-click a blank spot on the desktop, and then click Properties to open the Display Properties dialog box, click the Desktop tab.
2. Click Customize desktop to open the Desktop Items dialog box.
3. Click to clear the Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days check box.
Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.

* To run the Wizard manually, click Clean Desktop Now on the Desktop Items dialog box. You can perform a manual cleanup at any time, even if you have disabled the wizard.

Today’s free link: Rick Robinette over at What’s On My turned me on to this: Your icons on the computer screen, over the life of the computer, will start to war with each other. Watch what actually can happen – Click here for a video capture of icons who thought their owner wasn’t looking. [The video is in Adobe Flash]

* This question has come up twice this past week, so I decided to repost this article. It first appeared 8/25/08.

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

Share this post :

January 4, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Startup Folder Is A Clown Car*


image courtesy of

You are familiar with clown cars. It’s that tiny little car that drives into the center ring at the circus, stops, opens its door, and an arm comes out, then a leg, and then a whole, seven and-a-half foot tall clown comes out…and you wonder what inhuman contortionist’s feat allowed that BIG clown to fit into that little car.
No sooner has that tall clown unfolded himself, then he reaches into the car and pulls out a fat clown. You think, no way!
Now a lady clown comes out of that car…and then a short clown…and then another fat clown emerges…and you’re thinking, there’s gotta be a tunnel under there…but you had just seen elephants parading all over that center ring…and another clown’s out and another clown and another clown. What you’re seeing just isn’t possible. You lose count of all the clowns that come out of that car. Yes…I just knew you’d remember. Clown car.

I have one machine that I use for pretty much everything — gaming, digital photography, building/maintaining my website, reading and sending email, instant messaging, video conferencing, doing my taxes, etc – and I have, literally, scores of programs installed on it. (I have other machines as well, but this one is my Swiss Army knife: it does it all.) This machine’s Startup folder has become like that clown car before it expels its load. Because of that fact it takes so long to get going at boot up that I never turn it off – I leave it running 24/7. That’s far from an ideal ’solution’, however.

The fact is, and this dates back to the days of DOS and TSR (terminate and stay resident) programs, just about every program and service you install wants to get itself loaded when Windows starts — so that it will be “immediately available” should you want it — and so it puts a shortcut to itself in the Startup folder. For some programs and services this is a very good thing; like your 3rd party firewall and antivirus program and updater. You definitely want those things running all the time, and just as soon as Windows boots.

But most of the others are unnecessary and merely slow down the boot process and waste valuable RAM memory space. Apple Quicktime, Adobe Acrobat (and Adobe Updater) and Real Player are notorious examples of programs that have no business inserting themselves into your Startup folder, but there are others: do you really need your webcam to start itself at boot? How about your instant messenger? Isn’t it sufficient to simply launch them when you’re ready to use them? Some of these simply launch themselves so that they can show you banner ads and make the owners money (like AIM and MSN Messenger), which is pretty darned-close to being adware…wouldn’t you say? (It is, in fact, the definition of adware.) Windows itself is often guilty of bogging itself down by loading programs (called “services”) that you probably don’t need.

Tip of the day: Speed up your boot process (and get rid of some of those icons down by the clock at the same time) by trimming shortcuts from your Startup folder and shutting down unnecessary services. Let’s start with the first one. In XP, right-click the Start button, and then click Properties. On the Start Menu tab, click Classic Start menu and then click Customize. Now click Remove. Open the Programs folder and open the Startup folder. Highlight the items in the Startup folder that you want to remove and click the Remove button. Close, and hit OK. That’s it. Restore your Start menu’s view if you prefer the “XP look”. (Remember, you are only removing shortcuts to the executable, and not removing the program itself: it is still there for when you want it.)

Now my advice on what to remove and what to leave alone: remove anything Adobe, remove anything that says “quick launch”, remove anything Apple, remove your webcam, and leave in place your Internet Security and anti-malware programs. It is up to you whether or not you want your instant messenger to be loaded at boot or not — I prefer it.

This next part, Services, is a little more advanced, and you should be real comfortable with Windows before you make too many adjustments — you will be doing more than just removing shortcuts here. Click Start >Programs >Administrative Tools (or, Start >All Programs >Accessories >Administrative Tools) and then Services. In the right-hand pane you will see a long list of services available to Windows, and columns labeled “Description”, Status, Start up type, and “Log on as”. The status shows you which ones are currently running, and as you will see, most of them are not (which is good).

Now since we’re in a province not meant for mere mortals, I’m going to suggest only a few “tweaks”, and strongly urge you not to do more.

Locate the service Messenger and check its status (This is not your instant messenger): it should be blank and the Start up type should read “disabled”. If not, double-click on it. On the window that opens, click the Stop button. Now use the drop-down menu to change the Start up type to Disabled. If you are not hosting your own website (and if you don’t know what that means, you aren’t) look for a service called IIS: use the above method to stop and disable this one also. If Telnet is running and you’re not a sysadmin, disable this one too.

If you are the only user of the machine, locate (and stop) the Fast User Switching service and set the Start up type to Manual. If it has been a long while since you’ve used Windows Help and Support Center, do the same to the service named Help and Support. And that, I believe, is enough for now.

Today’s free link(s): I have been talking recently about malware and I’ve mentioned the threats it poses. If you are concerned about, and have questions regarding, malware and ID theft, there’s a couple of great resources where you can get answers — Safer and the US Government’s “one stop” National ID Theft Information Center.

For more on the Startup folder, see my new post, and also How To Manage Startup programs in Vista.

As part of his ongoing exploration of world of cloudware apps, Rick Robinette at What’s On My PC.. has found a nifty screen capture tool and prepared a nice demo video (that I found very informative). Check out ScreenToaster – An “Awesome and Free” web based screen recorder!

* One of my first articles. Orig pub: June 20, 2007

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

Share this post :

February 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments