Friday, August 24, 2012

A Word About Laptop Cooling

 

As most modern computers produce a fair bit of heat after extended use it behooves me to point out that laptops in particular have "issues" with being in "sleep mode" for extended periods. Sleep mode happens when you just close the lid without actually powering the system down, this leaves some background tasks running to keep the current user logged in and running programs in memory (that's why the computer pops back on when it's opened and you push the power button), this is fine for a quick trip to another room or such, however when you place it in a carrying case there is no airflow and dangerous levels of heat can occur. I'm sure you'd rather not buy a new computer every 6 months as, like most of us, you're not made of money. So remember if you do not see this when you unpack your computer from it's carrying case,

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you're doing it wrong.
I've included a sidebar app Found Here that looks like this, for your convenience.
 
The red button completely shuts it down, green restarts and yellow locks it (like when you just close the lid). On a side note, if you use your laptop for long periods you might want to invest in a laptop cooling pad. Wal-mart carries several kinds for $15 to $25, just look for one that fits the bottom of your computer.

* Reference Link

Saturday, September 3, 2011

9 Hidden Windows 7 Tools You never Knew You Couldn't Live Without

1. Sticky Notes: I use them everyday to help me get things done. Calendars, Word docs, and Notepad, are too cumbersome when all you want is a simple reminder that stays where you put it.

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Works just like sticking the real thing on the refrigerator.Leave yourself notes that will be there each and every time you turn on your computer. Use color to help identify particular notes. Easy to add and easy to delete. They stay where you put them like a part of your desktop.

You should find them in your main menu or you can use the very helpful but certainly not hidden Search Programs and Files above the Windows Start Button.

2. God Mode: I have an idea. Instead of hiding access to all the controls in Windows, why not just list them in alphabetical order so we can see what's available and access it without a day long search? Bingo, GodMode. To find this very valuable treasure right click an open spot on your desktop, create a new folder, and then rename the folder: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Copy paste this string including the words GodMode and the period. This is a great way for a new user to see what controls are available and locate where to get things done. The next time you want to add a printer or update a driver, you'll know were to go.

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3. Easy Transfer: What a great feature. I first used this with the Beta release of Windows7. It made short work of transferring from Old installations to new installations. Simply a matter of making the transfer file, installing a new version of windows, and installing the programs you are using. Then you transfer all the data and you're done. Email is setup and all of your documents and settings are carried forward. If you are using Windows7 now you can access the process by typing "Easy Transfer" into the search box. It will walk you through. You can use this application with XP, Vista, or Windows7.

4.Permanently Delete Files: By now everyone knows that just because you delete a file doesn't mean it's gone. Files can still be recovered using several methods. What most people don't know is that there is a utility built into Windows to prevent this recovery. It is available in XP Pro, Vista, and Windows7. How do you do it? Easy, launch a command prompt and type Cipher/W:X. This will overwrite all free space where X is the drive you want cleaned. In most cases the drive will be C. To recap please go to Start/All Programs/Accessories/Command Prompt/Type "cipher/w:C" without the quotes

Of course you can always buy programs like Erase, CCleaner and the like but why do that when Windows provides a way that's much easier.

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5. Pin Folders to Taskbar: By now you know that you can right click programs and pin them to the Windows7 taskbar. Did you know you can do the same with Folders? Right click any folder, drag it to the taskbar and let go. Now when you right click the Explorer button you'll find the folder in the Jump List.

6.Unit conversion: Here's a hidden treasure that needs to stay hidden. It is part of the calculator but is not as useful. I find it cumbersome and incomplete. I've included a link for a great little FREE conversion application for Windows. Unlike the Windows application this one has about everything you'd want. Give it a try. Convert For Windows

7.Black Box : Known simply as PSR (problem steps recorder) I just found this and I've already used it. Let's say you're having issues with your computer and you call your favorite computer geek on the phone and try to explain the problem. Sometimes it can be hard to tell someone exactly what you saw and when you saw it or what caused it. This problem is now solved and I wish I had known about this from the beginning. Automatically record screen shots so others can help you with issues. This Windows utility records every move you make and takes a screen shot of what you're doing that leads up to the issue.(Very Cool)

Windows 7 PSR in action

8.Display to external projector: Happens every time. It's simple to connect the projector to your laptop, but now what. Don't get flabbergasted, you're only a couple of clicks away. Go to Start and then type "projector" without the quotes in the search box, then click on projector. Faster still, you can simply click the Windows Key + P to bring up the Control Screen. From here you can select to Duplicate, Extend, or Projector only. Can't get much easier and it works.

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9. Snipping Tool : I used a paid program called SnagIt for years but the handy Snipping Tool included in Windows is just as good. It does free form, Rectangular, Window, and Full Screen.

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You can find in Accessories or Go to Start/All Programs/Accessories/Snipping Tool. Right click and you can pin it to the Start Menu or the Task Bar. Great for quick screen shots, capturing recipes or any information you would like to keep in it's original form. I even used it to take these pics for this article.

I hope some of these are new for you and that you enjoy them. If you would like, include the ones I've missed and add them to the comments section. It's always fun to see what was sitting right in front of your nose.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Burn DVDs Using Windows DVD Maker

clip_image002 There are many ways to burn DVDs with a computer. When Windows 7 users begin using the operating system, they tend to overlook all the built-in features Microsoft has to offer. Microsoft tries to make it possible for you to do everything you could think of without having to find other software. If you are looking to burn DVDs, Windows DVD Maker is the quickest way to do so. Before you look at other DVD burning software, walk through Windows DVD Maker and see if it gets the job done. Keep in mind that the Windows DVD Maker is only available in the Home Premium, Enterprise, Professional and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

How to burn a DVD with Windows DVD Maker

You want to open Windows DVD Maker by clicking on your “Start Menu” and click “All Programs.”

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Now, locate “Windows DVD Maker” and click on that to open the program.

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If this is the first time you have used it, you will be shown a little introduction window with the option of hiding it from now on when you open Windows DVD Maker. Click “Next” to continue.

Windows DVD Maker is fairly straight forward. On the main screen, you have the ability to add and manage files.

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You want to set the DVD burner drive in the top right hand corner of the screen.

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In the bottom left corner, you can see how much space you have used and what you have available once you put in a DVD disc.

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In the middle of the bottom of your screen, you can change the title of the disc to be burned.

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You can change the options by clicking on the link in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

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The first option screen is for the DVD-Video. You can choose the playback settings of what you are burning. You have three options: Start with DVD menu, play video and end with DVD menu and play video in a continuous loop. For most DVDs you burn, you will choose the first option but you can change this from DVD if necessary.

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The second set of settings if for aspect ratio and video format. 4:3 represents full screen and 16:9 represents widescreen. Depending on what type of video files you are adding and how they were shot, you may need to designate one or the other for the entirety of the DVD. When burning a DVD, you want to try and use files with the same screen size whenever possible for the most fluid playback.

Video format can be set to NTSC or PAL playback. PAL is mainly for European DVD players whereas NTSC is the standard for North American DVD players. This will depend largely on where you are located or where you plan on playing the DVD.

You can also choose the burner speed settings. If you want to do other things while burning a DVD, setting it to a lower setting based on what you drive is capable of is recommended. If you are just burning a DVD, go with the fastest setting to get it done quickly.

If you have other DVD burning software installed on your computer, you may run into some compatibility issues when using Windows DVD Maker. The “Compatibility” tab within the “DVD Options” menu allows you to counteract that. If you see any filters in the box, you can disable them when using Windows DVD Maker. This will make running into conflicting software issues a non-issue.

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Once you have tinkered around with the settings, you can click “Ok” to exit out of the window.

The next step is to add movies file to burn. You want to click “Add File.” A pop up window will greet you. You need to navigate to the files you want to burn and add them. You can add as many movie files as you want so long as they do not take up more space than the DVD has to offer. In this case, I am burning a copy of Battlestar Galactica: The Plan to a DVD.

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When you have finished selecting files, click “Add.” Once you have added all your files, you can click “Next” to set up the menu and other features of your DVD.

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On the next menu, you will see a bar at the top with several options: Preview, Menu text, Customize menu and Slide show. On the right side of the menu you can choose a theme for your menu.

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Scroll through the options to see what set-ups you can utilize.

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Preview allows you to see how your DVD will play once burned. You can sit through the whole presentation or you can just check out parts of it.

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“Menu text” allows you to set up the main menu on the DVD. You can choose the font, what the buttons say and add notes about your DVD.

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“Customize menu” allows you to choose video clips, music and styles on the main menu.

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The “Slide show” allows you to create a compilation of the video files on your disc to show on the main screen.

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When you have finished customizing the menu and adding files, you want to click “Burn” to begin the actual burning process. If you have not added a disc, it will prompt you to do so.

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Now, sit back and relax as the DVD you created is burned to disc for you. This process can take up to several minutes depending on how much you have put on your disc as well as customizations you have done to it. If you are doing anything in the background, this will slow the process. Once the disc is done, your DVD burner will pop open with your finished disc.

Is Windows DVD Maker worth using over other software?

Windows DVD Maker is an easy way to spice up any homemade DVD. If you have not tried it out yet, use this guide to walk through burning one DVD and see how easy it is. While other programs may offer more advanced customization features, Windows DVD Maker is perfect for those who just want to burn a DVD without worrying about all the other details involved in the process.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Important Warning: Be Careful Downloading Open Source Apps via Search

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We’ve always been big proponents of open source software, but lately we’ve noticed a disturbing trend: open source software is being wrapped in crapware-laden installers and Google / Bing / Yahoo ads designed to trick people. Here’s the details.

If you Google (or Bing) for any number of open source applications, the first result will be an ad at the top that takes you somewhere other than the real site. Here’s just a few of the applications we’ve noticed this happening on, but there’s a ton of others.

  • Audacity
  • VLC
  • Gimp
  • MPlayer
  • 7-Zip
  • CCleaner
  • …and loads of others

Once you’ve searched for one of those, you’ll see something like this. I’ve labeled them clearly so you can see the difference:

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The same thing happens on Bing:

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And on Yahoo…

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The really disturbing problem? Google Instant makes that ad the first result. So if you accidentally hit the Enter key, you’re taken to the crapware ad page. Don’t believe me? Check out where the “cursor” is:

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Make sure to share this with everybody you know! Tweet it, post it on Facebook, and tell people.

The Crapware

If you do go to the wrong site and download the application from them, you’ll be presented with this alternate installer, which tries to install their “Updater”…

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And then you’re presented with crapware, and a confusing dialog. You’re actually supposed to hit Decline to avoid installing it, but many users are going to assume that you have to hit Accept to get through the wizard.

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So make sure you beware when downloading yourself, but especially when you tell your less-savvy friends to download open source software. Don’t just tell them to Google for it anymore – you have to actually give them the real link.

And again, make sure to share this with as many people as possible.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How to Remove Win 7 Anti-Spyware 2011 (Fake Anti-Virus Infections)

 

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If your PC is infected with the Win 7 Anti-Spyware 2011 malware or something similar, you’ve come to the right place, because we’re going to show you how to get rid of it, and free your PC from the awful clutches of this insidious malware (and many others)

Win 7 Anti-Spyware 2011 is just one of many fake antivirus applications like Antivirus Live, Advanced Virus Remover, Internet Security 2010, Security Tool, and others that hold your computer hostage until you pay their ransom money. They tell you that your PC is infected with fake viruses, and prevent you from doing anything to remove them.

This particular virus goes by a lot of names, including XP Antispyware, Win 7 Antispyware, Win 7 Internet Security 2011, Win 7 Guard, Win 7 Security, Vista Internet Security 2011, and many, many others. It’s all the same virus, but renames itself depending on your system and which strain you get infected with.

The What Now?

If you aren’t familiar with this one, it’s time to take a look at the face of an awful scam. If you are infected, scroll down to the section where we explain how to remove it.

Once a PC is infected, it’ll display this very official-looking window, which pretends to scan your PC and find things that are infected, but of course, it’s all a lie.

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The really crazy thing is that it pops up a very realistic looking Action Center window, but it’s actually the virus.

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Removing Rogue Fake Antivirus Infections (General Guide)

There’s a couple of steps that you can generally follow to get rid of the majority of rogue antivirus infections, and actually most malware or spyware infections of any type. Here’s the quick steps:

Those are the rules that normally work. Note that there are some malware infections that not only block safe mode, but also prevent you from doing anything at all. We’ll cover those in another article soon, so make sure to subscribe to How-To Geek for updates (top of the page).

Removing Win 7 Anti-Spyware 2011

Download a free copy of MalwareBytes, copy it to a thumb drive, and then install it on the infected PC and run through a scan. You might have better luck doing this in Safe Mode.

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You may have better luck installing MalwareBytes first, if the virus will let you. In my case, it did not. When I scanned through the first time using SUPERAntiSpyware, it detected the viruses and removed the files just fine.

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At this point, you should hopefully have a clean system. Make sure to install Microsoft Security Essentials, and don’t be fooled by these viruses again.

Can’t Open Any Applications After Deleting the Virus?

The next problem was that once the virus was removed, you couldn’t open anything—in fact, I still wasn’t even able to install MalwareBytes. Hopefully you have better luck.

Why couldn’t I open anything? Because the virus had rewritten the registry to force all applications to open the virus instead—which meant you couldn’t even open the registry editor to fix the problem. This problem might have been avoided had I properly completed the scan, but I interrupted it before it was done.

On a normal PC, there’s a registry key under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT that specifies what happens when you double-click on an executable file (*.exe) – but on a virus-infected system, this value is rewritten with the virus executable. That’s how it prevents you from opening anything.

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To fix the problem, I exported a clean registry file from another PC, and did a little extra hacking to it, and problem solved! All you have to do is download, extract, copy the .reg file to the infected PC, and double-click it to add the information into the registry.

Download the Fixing Malware Appliction Won’t Open Registry Hack

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Basic System Upkeep With Piriform Freeware Apps

 

CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download here. (Note: As previously stated I HATE toolbars so install ccleaner carefully as you might need to uncheck an option to install a toolbar!!)

First image shows what CCleaner looks like when you start the app:

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Defraggler is a Free Utility to Defragment Your Hard Drive

Defragmenting your hard drive is typically considered good housekeeping to keep your computer running smooth. Today we take a look at Defraggler which is a free utility that allows you to defrag an entire drive or just individual files.

Installation is quick and easy following the installation wizard. You will be up and ready to roll in a few seconds. Download Here.

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When first starting up Defraggler you get an overview of the different drives on your computer. Before starting a defrag session you can click on the Analyze button and see the amount of fragmented space.

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Under Help there is a legend so you can identify what the colored blocks represent.

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The graphical display allows you to click on each fragmented section and see how many files are in that block.

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Click on the Defrag button to start the defragmenting process. There is a graphical display to view the progress of the session.

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Click on the File List tab to see exactly which files are fragmented. You can then select the specific files you want to defrag rather the entire drive.

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In the Options section you can schedule when you want Defraggler to run.

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There is the ability to skip files and folders as well. This is handy for skipping large multimedia files that can take up a lot of time.

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Defraggler is developed by Piriform, the company that has brought us the trusted utilities Recuva and CCleaner. It will work with all versions of Windows from 2000 through Windows 7 (32 and 64-bit versions). If you are looking for a free utility to defrag your hard drive and want more options than the native Windows utility, Defraggler is worth a look.