PC Tips & Tricks Archive

Senior Plant Turns Grandparents Into Computer Savvy Tech Wizzes

The folks at the Senior Planet Exploration Center, a technology-themed institute for older adults, are in the business of teaching people who are 60 years old or older how to become tech savvy. Through a free membership, studends at Senior Plant can learn how to use their iPad, computer, internet or just find out how to search for something on Google.

Since opening January 2013, they have taught upwards of 20,000 seniors in almost 15,000 classes. The only requirement for admission is that the student be at least 60 years old.

Senior Planet’s whole goal is to connect Seniors to the technology revolution, which has naturally progressed much faster than those in the senior category could keep up.

Tom Kamber, the founder of Senior Planet and executive director for Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), says the center is the first of its kind. The classes run in 5 or 10 weeks and are completely free. It is said that over half of Americans using the internet are aged 65 and older, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center report.

“Anything that seniors need technology for, they can come here and learn,” Kamber says. “We’re in the middle of an aging revolution. But we’re also in the middle of a technology revolution, and seniors have not yet connected to that.”

Do you think the Senior Plant idea is something that should expand across the globe and how would it benefit you at your current age?

Popularity: 11%

Best Home Devices for Video Chatting on your TV

Technology has enabled us to all cherish memories like never before and to communicate to virtually anyone in the world face to face by use of certain media devices. Not only can be we use our smartphone or video-conferencing equipment to chat face to face via video, but we can do it with many other devices that you may already own all on your living-room TV.

The best devices for video chatting on your TV may surprise you as some of them do not outwardly advertise such a feature. Many of the devices enabling video chat on your TV are gaming consoles and even some Blu-ray players.

Here is a short list of the best devices for Video chatting on your TV at home

  1. Playstation 3 – the PS3 has been out for many years now and has always had the capability of using a USB camera or other 3rd party connecting camera to video chat with others. The beauty or using a PS3 is it is completely free and the new video chat feature can support up to six people in a single video session.
  2. Playstation 4 – The PS4 has not officially dropped into your local stores yet, but you can dream up high definition video chats using Sony’s latest entertainment device in the same way you are able to use the PS3.
  3. Xbox 360 w/ Kinect sensor – The Xbox 360 can be used with the Kinect sensor to video chat using built in apps. Now, the Xbox 360 may use a new Skype-like Video Kinect service but requires the subscription to Xbox Live Gold.
  4. Xbox One – For obvious reasons the new Xbox One console will be able to stream high definition video to other users and they do not have to be using the same system to communicate. Many options for connectivity will be available for the Xbox One, including stand-alone TV cameras.
  5. Built-in Video and Camera on your TV set – Many new ‘connected’ TVs are coming with cameras mounted atop of the TV. Some TVs with internet connectivity built in will allow you to attach USB cameras from your PC to use for streaming video for video chat.
  6. All-in-one systems – There is a plethora of all-in-one Skype-ready TV camera systems available. Many of them use Wi-Fi connectivity and get you on a video chat within minutes in setup. Some of the devices can be controlled through your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet devices.

Do you use your TV at home to Video chat? If so, what device do you use?

Popularity: 6%

What is ‘Best Malware Protection’ and How to remove it from your PC?

Best Malware Protection is a program that I ran across last month on my PC that has be second guessing whether I installed it or not. After doing some extensive research on Best Malware Protection it was later discovered that I was dealing with a fake security program designed by hackers.

Best Malware Protection is a rogue anti-spyware program that can easily be passed off to a novice computer user as a trusted security program designed to detect and remove malware. Furthermore, Best Malware Protection looked as if it found all types of Trojans, spyware files and malware on my PC and I was about to buy the full program so it could remove them. Boy am I glad I did not purchase Best Malware Protection because after reading more about the program, it was found that it will basically take your money in return for basically nothing.

Sources found via Google search to determine what exactly Best Malware Protection is:

The purchased version of Best Malware Protection was found to be identical to the trail or free edition. That means that a purchased edition of Best Malware Protection will NOT legitimately detect or remove malware from your computer.

Programs such as Best Malware Protection are designed with one thing in mind and that is to grant its creators a quick payday. That payday almost came at the expense of my failure to do research on the Best Malware Protection program which I am glad I did in the end.

Let this be a warning and help guide for you. Do not trust the Best Malware Protection program and no matter how legitimate or convincing a ‘security program’ may look, do some research on it via a simple Google search before you trust it.

Popularity: 8%

How to Avoid and Remove Facebook Malware

If you utilize Facebook enough, then you have probably run across some form of Facebook Malware that may infect your computer with a virus, post spam on your wall or post spam on your friends’ walls. You know, those silly posts you may see on your friends Facebook feed saying:

“oh s**t, one more really freaky video O_O
IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn Exclusive Rape Video – Black lady under attack!

Yea, that is a totally bogus message and is basically a scam to get you to click on the LINK. Don’t do it or you may be sorry.

It is all extremely annoying and there is an easy way to keep it from happening again. Cnet, one of my favorite techie places to visit for tips and tutorials like this, did a video on avoiding and removing Facebook malware. Check it out below and be sure to post your experiences below in the comments area.

Popularity: 15%

Synergy: How To Use One Keyboard and Mouse on Multiple Computers for Free

During my perusing of the Internet for something interesting to share with my readers, I stumbled upon an update to an application Synergy that lets you share your Keyboard and Mouse on Multiple computers. The best part about Synergy is that it works and it is Free!

The guys at Lifehacker were so generous enough to explain in detail how Synergy works and how to setup your ‘server’ (the computer that your mouse and keyboard is physically connected to) and the clients (Windows or Mac computer that does not have a keyboard or mouse).

Way back in the day two jobs ago, I use to use three PCs all with only one keyboard, monitor and mouse. This was done through a KM switch. Now with today’s technology this can be done virtually through software and your network. All you need is a working network, two or more computers connected to the same network and the free Synergy app.

The video below is a tutorial of Synergy on how to set it up and how it all comes together.

Try it for yourself if you have two or more computers that you wish to use the same keyboard and mouse for. Be sure to leave your comments below about the Synergy app.

Popularity: 18%

5 Popular Mysteries of the PC Solved!

computer-mysteriesComputers have nearly become a home appliance that is needed almost as much as a refrigerator on some households in America. The common PC running some version of the Windows operating system remains to be the most popular configuration among homes and even offices. Most of the users of PCs have somewhere along the lines experienced some type of mysterious event such as a downloaded file not being found or should you allow Adobe Reader and Java update all the time. These mysterious things happen to all of us and you should not always wonder if that beep that your computer makes when starting up is something you should look into getting fix or is it completely normal.

Here are 5 popular mysteries of the PC explained in from my common knowledge and experience which could help you.

  1. Why can’t I find a file that I just downloaded?
  2. Many times we download files or multiple files using different web browsers. Most times we never know where each web browser is setup to save those downloaded files and this could be a time consuming endeavor to find downloads. Each web browser has a set folder for saving downloads and you can customize that setting by opening up the ‘options’ in your specific web browser. Once you find the options and where downloads are saved, you can change the set path to your desired folder such as selecting your ‘my documents’ folder.

  3. Why doesn’t my iPad, iPhone or iPod connect and/or charge when I plug it into the front USB port on my PC?
  4. This is a common issue that Apple failed to address in the past. What it comes down to is, most USB ports in located in the front of a PC desktop or tower are actually ‘bridged’ and do not provide ample power to sometimes load an iPad, iPhone or iPod properly. In many cases neither an iPhone nor iPod will charge using the front USB ports. To solve this issue, it is best to use a USB port in the back of your PC. Many of the rear USB ports provide enough power to successfully sync or charge your iPhone or iPod. The iPad is a similar case but please keep in mind, iPads will NOT charge when connected to most PCs regardless of the port used. You must also use the proper USB cord that came with your device. A regular iPod or iPhone cord may not be compatible with the iPad and vic versa.

  5. My PC beeps when I turn it on. What do those beeps mean?
  6. Most PCs are configured by default to send some type of audible alert upon boot process. Those beeps come from the BIOS (software built into the motherboard). Each series or beeps mean something from as simple as a power-on notification to the RAM not being accessible. If your PC boots normally and runs fine, then you should not be concerned about one beep during startup. If you hear a combination or series of beeps and your PC fails to boot correctly, then you must look up how to decipher the PC beep code dependent on your type of motherboard. This may be done by contacting the manufacturer of your PC or doing a Google search for ‘PC Beep Code Meanings’.

  7. Why am I getting popups and system scans from some security program that I did not install myself?
  8. When this occurs, 9 times out of 10 you have a malware parasite installed on your computer. Malware, or what is also commonly referred to as spyware, is known to slip onto computer systems without alerting the computer user. When this takes place, the user may later notice popup messages appearing out of nowhere in addition to system scans being conducted by some unknown application. If this is the case, then the computer user must take immediate action to detect and remove the threat. There are several viable solutions out there that computer users can use to scan and remove malware. These programs include Spyware Doctor, SpyHunter and Spy Sweeper.

  9. My Printer wont print and I am not able to delete or cancel print jobs.
  10. This is a common issue with Windows PCs. The issue lies with the PC not successfully communicating with the printer. In most of these cases it is a software related problem. Simply rebooting the PC may or may not resolve the issue. In the case that rebooting does not resolve the issue, the use of a repair app may be needed to restore printing capabilities. Even still, unplugging the printer and then reconnecting it could also be a way to restore communication with the PC and printer. There is a printer communication repair program called ‘Stalled Printer Repair‘ that can be used to purge the printing queue and get the PC and printer communicating again. Not only will it clear any pending printing jobs, but you will be able to resume printing new jobs that you start after the fact.

What computer mysteries have you encountered that you cannot seem to resolve? Share with us (below in the comments section) so you may help others.

Popularity: 10%

How To Identify and Avoid Spam Email

spam-emailsJust about every computer user who uses email has received some type of spam email in their past but usually at one time failed to identify or avoid it.

Spam is a type of email that computer users consider to be junk email that usually contains unsolicited information and/or advertisements. Some spam may be harmful to a computer due to a malicious attachment or link included in the email. Spammers are known to send out spam messages in bulk to several different recipients all at once. Many spam filters are able to catch these messages and either delete them or send them to a spam queue depending on the settings that the user specifies.

In identifying spam messages, computer users are now accustomed to looking for those messages that solicit items such as Viagra pills, pharmaceutical drugs and even emails that claim they have won something. Because about 78% of emails sent are considered to be spam, it can be difficult to tell what a legitimate email is and what a spam message is. Sometimes, to identify other types of spam messages, you must run through a checklist.

An email message is probably spam if it meets the circumstances below.

  • The email sender keeps asking for personal information from you.
  • The email is from someone you do not know.
  • The email asks for banking account information or online passwords.
  • The email asks you to send money to a person, account or organization.
  • The email includes a .zip attachment with executable files.
  • The email offers to send copies of certified documents to prove a claim.
  • The email asks you TO verify your name, address or other personal data that should otherwise already be on file.

Spam can be avoided if you practice the following actions:

  • Never download suspicious attachments included in an email MESSAGE from someone you do not know.
  • Always preview email messages before opening them up completely.
  • Use anti-virus, anti-spyware and spam prevention software at all times while keeping the applications up to date.
  • Never forward chain emails or trust them.
  • Never reveal personal information on an email reply to someone you do not know.
  • Try to view messages in ‘plain text’ instead of HTML.

What do you practice on your computer to avoid spam email messages?

Popularity: 8%

Top Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts That You May Not Know About

windows-7-keyboard-shortcuts-2My father use to be a fan of the old IBM workstations mainly because he worked at a factory for many years that used them back in the late 80′s and early 90′s. During that time they did not have a mouse and he was forced to use the keyboard sometimes creating his own keyboard shortcuts. Sure they later upgraded to Windows XP several years later and he found himself fondling around with the keyboard to get the system to do what he wanted it to do. Now we are all faced with the new Windows 7 operating system on most of our PCs at work, home and even in public locations. Have you ever tried using Windows 7 with just a keyboard and no mouse? It isn’t very fun unless you know a good portion of the top Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts, many of them you did not know existed.

Microsoft has been so kind and generous to still allow us to use the keyboard for not only typing letters and numbers but for shortcuts to navigate your way through programs, windows and even web pages. I have compiled a list below from various sources of the several Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts that you may not have known about. Now the next time you sit down at your Windows 7 PC you can literally give the mouse a rest.

Our list of Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts that you may not know about

  • Ctrl+N opens a new window
  • Ctrl+W closes the current window
  • Ctrl+Shift+N creates a new folder
  • End moves to the bottom of the active window
  • Home moves to the top of the active window
  • F11 maximizes/minimizes the active window
  • Ctrl+period (.) rotates an image clockwise
  • Ctrl+comma (,) rotates an image counter-clockwise
  • Num Lock+asterisk (*) on the numeric keypad shows all subfolders under the selected folder
  • Num Lock+plus sign (+) on the numeric keypad shows the contents of the selected folder
  • Num Lock+minus sign (-) on the numeric keypad collapses the selected folder
  • Left arrow collapses the current selection if it’s expanded, or selects the parent folder
  • Alt+Enter opens the Properties dialog for the selected item
  • Alt+P shows the preview pane
  • Alt+left arrow shows the previous folder (same as pressing the backspace key)
  • Right arrow shows the current selection if it’s collapsed, or selects the first subfolder
  • Alt+right arrow moves to the next folder
  • Alt+up arrow shows the parent folder
  • Ctrl+Shift+E shows all folders above the selected folder
  • Alt+D moves the focus to the address bar
  • Ctrl+E and Ctrl+F move the focus to the search box
  • Windows key and the left or right arrow keys docs and un-docs the live window to the left, right or center of the screen
  • Windows key and the up arrow key or down arrow key restores or minimizes a window
  • Windows key plus ‘D’ shows the desktop

Do you know of any Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts that some PC users may not know about? Please share them with us by posting it in the comment section below.

Popularity: 16%

Top 5 iPhone Apps for Getting Day-to-Day Things Done

remember-the-milk-iphone-appThe iPhone serves as the main device of usage in many people’s lives now days. Not only can it make and receive phone calls but there is a library of thousands of apps that can make your day-to-day life much easier and more organized. Here is a list of the top 5 iPhone apps for getting day-to-day things done.

#1 iPhone app for getting day-to-day things done: Remember the Milk

Seems like a simple thing to remember the milk on your way home from work but this app called “Remember the Milk” is actually a task list app that allows you to make a simple to-do list of things and mark them off as they are completed. It is much more than a to-do list in the since that it actually follows you everywhere you go such as in your email, SMS, web surfing, etc. This is one of the best task managers for the iPhone. The downside of the app is that it requires a $25 a year fee if you want to subscribe online and sync your task list online and use its pro features listed on its website: http://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/iphone/features/

#2 iPhone app for getting day-to-day things done: Simplenote

Simplenote is a note taking app that allows you to take notes by capturing images, voice and text. The way it handles note taking makes your life that much easier. With Simplenote you can sync with your computer and use tags, pins and share items on your list. Why do I like this one over other note takers? Because it just works great and does not limit my note taking when something comes to my mind.

#3 iPhone app for getting day-to-day things done: Chrome to iPhone

Chrome to iPhone is more of a bookmark that you save to your home screen. It works with a simple Chrome browser extension letting you send links directly to your phone to open in Mobile Safari. If you ever run across an interesting link you can simply send it to your device instantly without all the fuss of copying and pasting.

#4 iPhone app for getting day-to-day things done: Dragon Dictation

It has been a long wait for many iPhone users to get some type of voice recognition to compete with Android devices and the answer is here in the form of the Dragon Dictation voice recognition app. Dragon Dictation allows you to basically take notes by speaking. The app is a standalone app so it does not allow you to dictate to other apps, however, it is a very handy way of taking notes and avoiding hassling with the on-screen keyboard for a change.

#5 iPhone app for getting day-to-day things done: Dropbox

Dropbox is a great file syncing app for the iPhone. It gives you access to important files that you can actually store on your iPhone. Just think, those important documents on your computer’s hard drive that is on its last leg can now be synced to your iPhone for safe keeping.

Do you use your iPhone everyday? If so, then what iPhone app do you use to help you with your daily tasks in life?

Popularity: 9%

Firefox To Get Tab Candy as Standard Feature

Do you use Firefox for your default web browser and just love the Tab Candy functionality. If you do not know what Tab Candy is, then you are truly missing out. I tried Tab Candy last month with a pre-release version of Firefox. These versions can only be obtained manually through the right source online. Tab Candy is a new intuitive feature that allows you to use tabs like never before in a more simplistic way. If you ever have 20 or more open tabs in Firefox, or any other browser for that matter, then you know how difficult it is to manage all of that clutter.

Below is a video demonstrating what Tab Candy offers and how it can help you navigate through your tabs easily and without the stumbling blocks that you may encounter with the current setup of Firefox Tabs.

An Introduction to Firefox’s Tab Candy from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Popularity: 5%