We are often asked about cleaning the surfaces of TV’s, PC’s and Keyboards. What is the best, safest way to clean these? First, unplug the device you are about to clean.
For TV’s: Find a clean, dry and soft cloth to use. Do not use a paper towel or other “rough” material. Do not use glass cleaning solutions, such as Windex or any other product that uses alcohol. Distilled water is the safest liquid to use. If you need to clean an area that is really “caked on,” then add a small amount of vinegar. Be sure to wipe the borders, sides, back and all the vents.
For PC’s: Again, unplug everything. Open the case and remove any large clumps of dust. Get a can of compressed air and spray the interior of the case, the power supply, fans and cooling units on top of the cpu. Remove the front panel and repeat. Do NOT use a wet cloth inside the case. Do NOT get anything wet on the interior of your computer system. Replace the side panel of the case and wipe down the exterior with a dampened cloth.
For a Keyboard: Turn off the PC and use a compressed can of air to blow out any particles from in between the keys on the keyboard. Use a dampened cloth to wipe away any stains or materials from the top surface of the keyboard. If any keys come off replace them immediately to avoid damage to the key or the components that hold them in place and provide the “spring.”
Facebook has grown to be the largest social network in the world. According to a recent issue of PC World magazine, more than half a billion people use Facebook. Here are some ideas to keep your information private on Facebook.
Facebook Places has some advantages. Consider disabling this feature. Places allow ill-intentioned people to see your profile, as well as everyone else on Facebook. To disable Places, click on Account tab and select Privacy Settings. You can limit who sees your profile and how much others see when you upload images and comments.
To disable Places altogether, click Custm Settings from the Account drop down menu, and look for the last line that reads “Things I share.” Click Edit and then Disable.
Control items posted to your account. When you post something to your account the default setting is to let everyone see it. If you have doubts about sharing a picture or comment, don’t. But if you do want to control who sees it, click on the drop down menu above Share. Select who can see your posting(s).
Hiding your application activity is another way to privatize your Facebook account. Go to the Privacy Settings page and at the bottom, under Applications and websites, select Edit your settings. Below Game and application, Custom and select the option for Only Me.
How can we make our fairly new, or “not that old,” PC run faster? Here are some tips…
First clean out all the junk files. You can use a utility called Ccleaner that removes junk files for you, or you can manually remove them. Go to a search engine to download and install Ccleaner. While you are cleaning, clear the desktop of its icons. Some people insist on having dozens of icons on the desktop for ease of use. We suggest creating a folder named “Desktop Icons” and placing most of them in that folder. This will help with startup times and performance.
Second is to find out how much RAM you currently have, the type of RAM and what the maximum amount of RAM is that you can install on your system. Purchase and install RAM up to the maximum amount.
Next is to consider how old your hard drive is. If your hard drive is a few years old, you may want to purchase a new one. The new hard drives are probably larger than the current one and probably faster, in terms of rpms, than the current one. You can purchase the new drive and then conduct an image copy so that your os, data and programs move over seamlessly.
Upgrading the graphics card can speed up your system as well. Consider changing to a faster model by purchasing one with greater transfer rates, (512 MB plus). This would especially help the Gamers.
If your motherboard can handle a faster CPU, do so. You will have to go the manufacturers web site to find out how much faster a chip you can get and where to get one.
If you want to move your email and contacts from Outlook Express to Outlook on a computer, running Windows 7, it is not as easy as importing into Outlook. Outlook will recognize OE mail, so you need to setup and then import your email into Windows Live Mail, then export from that program into an Outlook 2007/2010 program.
First is to find your address book, (.wab file), and your emails. This can be done on your older system and then backed up or transferred to a removable media, such as a flash drive. Take that data and transfer it the desktop of the new PC running Windows 7.
Go to the Microsoft site and download the Windows Live Mail program to the Windows 7 PC. Once completed, open the Control Panel and click on the Mail icon to set up your new account. Next, import your OE data into the Windows Live Mail account you just setup.
Once that step is completed, open and setup your account in Outlook 2007/2010. Once that step is completed, click to Import the data from your Windows Live Mail account. Done.
The key to this process is knowing where the OE data is and being able to find it easily on the new system. Additionally, you need to know the Server settings, username, (your email address), and email password. The server settings may be automatically setup by Outlook, however, if not, then you will need to install that information manually. Most of the time, you can find out the server settings by searching for “server settings for x,” (where x is the provider name).
Ever wonder how long your data is safe on the media you use? In a recent issue of PC World magazine, a table was created showing how long different types of media will last before the data is degraded.
A vinyl record will last 100 years in a cool, dry and dark storage area. The factors that affect vinyl records are heat and abrasion.
A CD or DVD will last about 75 years in similar conditions or just 20 years in ordinary storage, such as a drawer or shelf without any environmental controls.
A CD-R or DVD-R will 30 years in a controlled environment or just 5-10 years in ordinary storage.
Film, (older Hollywood type) will last 75 years in a controlled environment or 10-30 years in ordinary storage.
Film that is plastic based will last 100 plus years in a controlled environment or just 50 years in ordinary storage.
Magnetic tapes, (VHS, reel to reel, Betamax), will last about 50 years in controlled environments or just 20 years in an ordinary environment.
When backing up and saving your important data, remember to use the best type available to you while also considering the amount of data you can store. Consider how you will store the data, for example, a vinyl record may get damaged where a DVD may not, depending on where it is placed.
Using a web based email client is great. Convenient and safe, web based email, such as AOL, Gmail or Yahoo, keep your messages off your local system. If your computer fails, your mail is essentially safe, (note an earlier tip regarding backing up web based email). However, when you click the “mail-to” link on a web page the email program that opens is the one identified as the default program in your Internet Explorer program. Usually this means Outlook or Windows Live Mail, or for older systems, Outlook Express. How do you change that setting to open your current email program?
GmailDefaultMaker is a free utility that will setup and install your web based email, such as the ones mentioned above, as the default program. When complete, you will be able to use the “Mail-to” links knowing that your own email program will open. GmailDefaultMaker jumps through all the hoops for you, making the setup easy.
This free utility can be found by entering the term GmailDefaultMaker, (not associated with Gmail), in your search engine. Download it and double click to install the program.
Adding a second monitor to your PC is a fairly common practice today. Installing a dual monitor card will do the trick, however, you should remember that many video cards come with one vga port and one dvi port. Your second monitor needs to be vga or dvi compatible, depending on what the first monitor is. Once the card is installed, the software that came with dual monitor card will allow you set up each monitor as you desire.
You should select one as the primary monitor. This is the screen that will show the icons and start bar. The second monitor is the extension of the first, without any icons. We suggest placing that monitor so the mouse will move naturally to the second screen. (Move the mouse cursor to the left and it appears on the second screen instead of moving the cursor to the right and it appears on the left screen).
What about a third monitor? First, make sure you have a need for a third monitor. Many investors have multiple monitors for simultaneous monitoring of stocks, gamers use a third monitor to expand their view of the game, while others just think it is a “cool idea.” Whatever your reason is, setting up a third monitor on your computer takes a little work.
The first option is to setup a second video card. This is helpful if you want to expand to a fourth monitor later on as the second card probably has two video ports available, (vga and dvi). Assuming your system has the available port, installing it is most efficient. Another option is to install a usb to dvi or usb to vga adapter cable that allows to plug in a monitor with a usb cable. Although this option seems simple enough, the video performance is lacking. Gamers may not appreciate the quality of this option. A third option is to use, or “repurpose” an old laptop so that its monitor can be added to your PC. You will need to purchase a software package known as MaxiVista for Windows 7. This will allow your system to use the laptops monitor as its own and successfully expand your desktop.
There are very good reasons to keep Windows Update active. Security updates and program fixes are two very good reasons. However, you can get those updates without having the annoying pop ups telling you to do so. The alerts can be unwelcome. To resolve this, configure the tool to provide less information and control when it will do the updating. If you are disciplined, you can even turn it off and do the updates manually.
Go to the Control Panel and select the Windows Update option. Click Change Settings to alter the frequency of the updates or to select another option. Review all the options, such as to install them automatically, alert you prior to installing the updates or to turn them off. You can also choose the time of day to perform the updates. Another option to consider is the level of importance placed on the updates.
Recommended updates are the significant ones, such as security and program fixes. This option should always be chosen whether you are doing this automatically or manually.
You can also choose who can conduct this process. You can only allow Administrators to do so or you can enable all users to do so. Unchecking the option will allow only an administrator to perform this task.
One final suggestion is to perform a manual restore point before updating your system. This will give you a way back should your system become glitched after installing the new software. A rare occurrence, however, the restore point is an easy way to recover in the event you need to. Click on Start, Accessories, System Tools and then System Restore. Select Create a Restore Point and follow the prompts.
If you need an extra hour or so to work on your laptop, here are a few suggestions to do so.
Using a Windows PC, switch the power options to Power Saver Mode. Click the battery icon at the clock, or go to the Control Panel and select the battery icon to begin the process. Click More Power Options and then choose Power Saver. This will dim your screen and put your computer to sleep at a pre-set time duration. If you want to customize these settings, click on Change Plan Settings.
Reducing the amount of back light will reduce the brightness and save a lot of battery energy. Using the Fn key and the dim or bright keys on the keyboard, (usually in blue). Dim the screen to an acceptable brightness.
Shutting off WiFi and Bluetooth technologies is a great way to save energy quickly. If you do not need them, turn them off. You can do so on the keyboard by selecting the appropriate key with the Fn key. If not, then go to the Control Panel to disable these features. Do not forget to activate them again when you need wireless or Bluetooth accessibility.
Avoiding heavy energy usage can save your battery as well. Save the movie or downloads for a time when the laptop is plugged in. Use the battery for light usage, such as word processing or email.
If your system allows to throttle your CPU, then do so. Remember that throttling the CPU will slow the laptop down, so high need activities may not work well, (such as watching a movie).
Terminating processes can also save your battery. Ctrl + Alt and Del will bring up the Task Manager. Go to the Processes tab and highlight the higher use processes. These can be found by looking at the column with the CPU Usage. Highlight one and click End Process. The system will not allow to End a process it needs. Remember to keep processes running such as anti-virus.
There are many options we can use to backup data. CD’s, DVD’s, flash cards, external hard drives and remote data backup services. Which one is best for you?
If you are a residential user, we suggest using a local backup system. The easiest way to routinely backup your data is to obtain free backup software that can be scheduled to gather data. Try using Google to search for an appropriate program. Using an external hard drive is best since it is probably large enough to handle the amount of data you want to backup. Since the amount usually grows, the external hard drive can be used for a significant amount of time.
Residential users may want to consider a dual backup system. Where one set of data is locally backed up, to an external hard drive, and another set of data is backed up off site. Remote backup services cost a few dollars, but offer the security of knowing that should anything happen to your home, (such as theft, fire or flood), your data is secure. The issue to keep in mind with rdb, (remote data backup), is to check on what is being backed up and to check if the data is up to date. Do NOT rely on any program to gather your data. Verify the process.
If you are a business owner/manager then we strongly suggest a dual backup system where your local backup drive is large enough to handle your growing data and a verifiable rdb.
Why not CD’s or DVD’s ? These are harder to use. The steps the end user needs to take to backup your data is time consuming compared to the above. If, however, this is the method you are used to and are keeping up, then by all means do not stop. Consider changing the backup process.
Flash drives are very portable devices that allow you to backup your data, or store it, so that you can use it at another location. Do not rely on flash drives as your only backup drive. Because they are so portable, the chances of losing it or damaging the drive rises significantly. Rather, make the flash drive part of your backup Try using Google to search for an appropriate program.