Tag: Computers


Posted by – June 9, 2011

Hard to believe but I’m still getting these same phone calls:

Person:  Can you help me?  My computer is doing weird things and won’t work right.  Sometimes I can’t even get on the internet.  Things keep popping up on my screen.  Etc…

Me:  What antivirus do you have on your pc?

Person:  Umm, I don’t know if I have one.  How can I tell?

Me:  (shaking my head)

I felt compelled to write this because I am truly surprised at how many people don’t have antivirus and spyware protection on their computer.  Be proactive when it comes to your computer defense.  The cost of repairing your computer after you’ve been infected, along with the loss of time and sanity, far exceeds the cost of purchasing the software and maintaining it in the first place.  Save yourself the headache and just do it.

“But I don’t really go on the internet and I certainly don’t go to those kinds of sites.” It doesn’t matter.  Spyware and virus programmers have become more creative with ways to infect your computer.  Just because you don’t go to any of “those” sites doesn’t mean you’re safe.  All it takes is one shady email from friend or foe (or one innocent looking website) and you’re done.

“I paid for an antivirus program and it expired but it still scans my computer so I should be okay, right?” No, not really.  Just because it still scans your system does not mean its protecting you.  Most programs update their database of viruses at least weekly which means you’re not getting the new information if you’re not paying.  Your computer will be susceptible to any new dangers.

“I have several antivirus and spyware programs on my computer so I should REALLY be okay.”  Really?  I’ve worked on computers where there were more than one antivirus and spyware program installed and running.  I recall one person who had 3 antivirus programs installed.  I suppose maybe those folks figure if one was good, more than one would be better.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  Instead, having 3 just gave this person a false sense of security, and in the end, they had to call me for virus removal.

“I can’t afford to pay that much for antivirus programs.”  There are a number of antivirus and spyware programs out there.  Some for purchase and some free.  You may want to check with friends and family and see what works for them and which ones they might suggest to you.

What do I use?  Well, many moons ago I used Norton antivirus.  (I never was a fan of McAfee.)  However, Norton jacked their annual fee up and the program was resource intensive (meaning: when the program was scanning I couldn’t do much else on my computer).   My friend Jeff suggested a free program called AVG antivirus.  I’ve used that along with the Spybot spyware program for about 4 years now and have never had a problem.  I’m very happy with both.  You can check out these and other antivirus and spyware programs here at downloads.com or… for information on this and other maintenance tasks visit me here.

So there you go.  Get in there and make sure your computer is protected.  No excuses.  You’ll be glad you did some day when you watch someone else deal with an infection.


Posted by – June 6, 2010

From time to time I play around online looking for cool new tools or utilities to try out.  I use my “test” laptop in an effort to keep problematic downloads from trashing my “daily use” laptop.  The week before I left to come to Nashville I downloaded 6 different utilities and tried them out.  The only one I kept, and installed on my “daily use” laptop, was BumpTop.

I’m not big on having many icons on my desktop.  Too much clutter.  Drives me nuts.  Matter of fact, I once worked on someone’s computer and every inch of the desktop was occupied by icons.  The first thing I did was ask if I could get rid of them… “PLEASE”.   Using BumpTop I could actually add some more icons to my desktop and not be bothered.

BumpTop is a utility that replaces your Windows desktop with a 3-dimensional one so you get the desktop surface PLUS 4 walls on which to pin things.  It makes the items on your computer’s desktop more manageable.  Items grow when you use them more, or you can grow or shrink them manually. You can stack items into groups, view them as if they were pages in a book, spread them out along arbitrary paths, or show them in square grids.

You can fling folders (and icons) around and even fling things into destination apps.  For example, you can fling a picture to the Facebook app that’s pinned on a wall and it will post it to your account. There’s also an e-mail icon, and a Twitter/Twitpic icon you can fling to.

For photos that you have on your desktop, there’s a viewer, complete with click-to-zoom. (Everything else opens up in its native Windows application.)  There’s even a Sticky Notes feature available.

BumpTop comes in two flavors:  free and pro ($29).  Features and options are limited on the free version, of course, but it’s a fun utility and definitely worth a try.
NOTE: Since I began writing this a few weeks ago, BumpTop was acquired by Google and no longer offers or supports the free version.  You may still be able to find it at downloads.com, majorgeeks.com, or here.

I Needs POWER!

Posted by – November 2, 2009

For the first week after my surgery my couch recliner was my home.  It was the only place I could sleep without fear of rolling over and causing myself even more pain.  Early on if I needed to get up I would slowly scoot off the couch, but within a few days I had enough strength to put the footrest of the recliner down before getting up. 

One of my attempts at getting up turned tragic when I realized I’d caught the laptop power supply cable in the recliner “mechanics”.  It wasn’t cut completely through so I tried to push it back together but when it started to smell like burnt electronics, I quickly pulled the plug.

I had another power supply (for my backup laptop) so I plugged that in.  Ahh, Relief!  But that relief was short-lived when, about 30 minutes later, the power supply went dead.  I panicked!  Oh, the humanity!!!  My laptop battery wasn’t going to last until I could order (and GET) a replacement!

My mother offered to let me use her laptop power supply until I could get a replacement but those things are expensive and I didn’t want mom to be without her laptop until then. I decided to try to fix the cut power supply.  Nothing to lose right?  It was already broken.  I went to my office and got the wire strippers, soldering iron, and electrical tape.  (I would have preferred heat-shrink but electrical tape will do.)  I realized it was going to be more complicated than I thought when I cut the cable on both sides of the pinch/cut and noticed there were three sets of wires inside.  Oh well… The fix was on…

First, I stripped about an inch of the wire cover from the outside of the cable and folded the wires back.  Second, I stripped about half an inch of the wire cover from the next layer and folded those wires back.  Third, I stripped about a quarter of an inch of the wire cover from the center wires.  (It looked something like the crude drawing to the left.) 

I did the same to the cut end of the other piece then slid the center wires of both sides into each other and put a small bit of soldering flux on them.  I let them cool while I cut a piece of electrical tape and wrapped the wires, including the wire covering on both sides.  (See pic bottom left)

Next, I straightened the wires from the middle layer and overlapped them with the wires from the other side.  Then wrapped it tight with electrical tape, making sure to include the wire covering on both sides.  (See pic bottom center)

Last, I straightened the wires from the outside layer and overlapped them with the wires from the other side.  Then wrapped it tight with electrical tape, making sure to include the wire covering on both sides.  (See pic bottom right)


As an added bit of security, I wrapped more electrical tape over the area, adding about a half inch on both sides.  Viola!  Time to test.  I grabbed the fire extinguisher (just in case), held my breath, and plugged it in.  Success!  I had POWER!

It’s been three weeks and all is still good.  I have the use of my laptop, my momma has hers, and the best part… I didn’t have to shell out the big bucks for a replacement.  Just goes to show you that, although something may look complicated and intimidate you,  it’s likely not as bad as you think.  Simply take it step by step.

Office… Free?

Posted by – October 3, 2009

Ever get one of those emails that has an attached PowerPoint slide show or Word document you can’t open because you don’t have Microsoft Office?  Ever wish you could afford to put Microsoft Office on your home computer so you can type up your own docs or spreadsheets?  Yes?  Read on…

I was fortunate enough to purchase my copy of Microsoft Office (at a drastic reduction) through a program my employer takes part in.  Many people, though, don’t have that opportunity.  So what are the options?  Take out a loan?  Use your kid’s college fund?  Shoplift?  Bootleg?  Unless there’s a reason why you specifically need Microsoft Office, may I suggest OpenOffice.

I downloaded and installed OpenOffice’s suite of programs onto my “test stuff out” PC to check it out before suggesting it to anyone.  I was pleasantly surprised.  If you’ve used Microsoft Office, you should feel right at home with OpenOffice.  It looks and feels a lot like it’s overpriced counterpart and the suite includes programs that resemble Microsoft Office’s programs:  Writer = Word,  Calc = Excel,  Impress = PowerPoint,  Draw = Publisher,  Base = Access.   In fact, you can open Microsoft Office files with OpenOffice’s corresponding programs.  You can also create your own files and documents and save them in OpenOffice’s open file format OR save them in Microsoft Office file formats.  Easy to use and super compatible.  Sounds good, right?  Read on…

OpenOffice is open-source software.  It runs on Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, and Mac systems AND is available in many different languages.  Help & Support are available from the site and, if you’re so inclined, you can also work with the developers to improve the software.  Best of all, you can download and install OpenOffice free of charge.  That’s right, I said FREE.

If you’re already using OpenOffice, what do you think of it?  Any issues you’d like to share?  If you’d like more information or would like to download the program, click the OpenOffice button below.   Either way, if you like it and decide to make it a part of your software repertoires, you might consider making a donation.  After all, it comes with a considerable discount.   :o )

Need a Maid Service?

Posted by – December 2, 2008

(from lilDabster’s Library Computer section)
*Disclaimer* lilDabster is in no way advocating sneaky or insubordinate behavior and cannot be held responsible for the use or abuse of the following information. (See site disclaimer for full disclaimer info.)

Versions available for Win XP Home, XP Pro, and Vista with Internet Explorer 7 or greater
I’ve  developed what I hope is an easy-to-use tool that will clean temp files, clean temp internet files, clean cookies, clear history, clear recent docs, defrag, and more with the click of a mouse.  It consists of a series of batch files and uses simple Windows and IE commands to accomplish each task.  You can run commands individually, choose which options you would like to run, or run everything.  You make the choice.  (For those familiar with computers, you can print out this notepad doc, open a command prompt, and type in the command for some of the operations you wish to accomplish.)

If you’re interested in checking it out, you’ll find the downloads and some instruction here at my Computer Library site.

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