Sunday, December 30, 2007

PC Basics: Windows XP - Desktop



No I'm not talking about the coffee ring filled, cluttered with old bills one that your monitor sits on. The one your looking at right now on your monitor. What you see on your screen is what Microsoft calls a Desktop. I wouldn't advise putting your coffee on it though. Whatever you do on your computer runs through your desktop. Getting familiar with your desktop is another essential item in learning to use your computer. What I'm going to cover today is the basic items on your desktop,like the Taskbar, the Start button and System Tray.

Let me just give you a general overview of the desktop and then I'll cover individual items. On your desktop you'll have what is called a taskbar running along the bottom. You can actually move it around to different sides of the computer but the majority of the user's I've seen keep it on the bottom. Included in the task bar are the Start button and what is called the system tray(or notification area) . Yes you use the Start button to shut off the computer. It's proof Bill Gates has a sense of humor. Anyway above the taskbar in the great wide open is the rest of your desktop. Everyone's is usually different. You can customize by putting your own pictures up (called wallpaper). Generally you'll have what are called icons on your desktop. These are many times shortcuts to your more popular programs or files. A common icon is the recycle bin which is where your deleted files go.


Windows taskbar


This is the bar like I described above that runs across the bottom of your display. This is the genaral area where Windows tells you what is going on. You have the Start button on your left and the System area on the right. In between windows will give you button which tells you what programs or what windows are open. You can use these to switch between windows or programs quickly.




Start Me Up

First things first. Let's begin with the start button. This is located on the bottom left hand corner of your desktop. This button is the window to everything inside your computer. If you click on it it will bring up what is called the Start Menu which you can access your files, start up programs , maintain your PC, restart or shutdown your PC and wash your car. Ok I made up the last one but, you get the idea.

System Tray (aka:Notification area)


This is located in the bottom right of the taskbar. It's where your clock is. On a side note about the clock, Microsoft may be known for software but not time keeping. These can be notoriously inaccurate. So be aware of that before you realize your late for your dentist appointment or meeting for your next performance review. Also located here are items generally running in the background, Stuff like volume settings,whether your antivirus is running, spyware programs, your network connection and so on.


Well that seems simple enough doesn't it? Well we cover the basic items on the desktop like taskbar, system tray and the mighty Start button. In upcoming articles I'll be covering those items in more detail. As always thank you for coming by and have a great day.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bye, bye, Netscape

I can't help feel a bit of nostalgic over the story of Netscape closing it's doors this coming February. I remember when I really rediscovered computers and the internet in the late 90's . Netscape was almost synonymous with the internet boom of the later half of that decade. I honestly can't say the last time I even used Netscape. I did early on but I gradually only used Internet Explorer and now Mozilla's FireFox (ironically born from the ashes of Netscape). The internet is growing up I guess.

NewEgg

With some Christmas money I decided to do some desperately needed upgrades to one of my PC's. My Gateway low=profile PC which runs quite well needs more hard drive space and a video graphics card(it has none right now). With just 40 gb hard drive it's proven too small for my needs and almost any video is unplayable. Being a low-profile PC choosing a graphics card was a chore. These are the choices I made:

I'm hoping that'll be here by Monday so I'll have something to work on on New Years Day. Can't wait for them to show. Expect some how to articles to come of this.

Crossloop hits Top 10

I've been talking about Crossloop for awhile . I still love the program and it's ease of use which to me was a big seller. Recently they were honored with being called on of the Top 10 Downloads from CNET's Download.com. They certainly deserve the recognition. Like I said in the past I tried a few other remote access programs but none were as easy or friendly to use. Give them a try if your looking for a remote access program that easy to use. It's free(can't beat that price!).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Humor: Bad day at the office

For those stuck at work today here's a little something for your funny bone. I found this originally at Geeks are Sexy . Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Quick Tip: ClickLock

One feature I just learned that Windows has a feature called ClickLock. I'm sure those who have used a computer for awhile are aware of drag'n'drop method of moving files and folders around your computer. You left click and hold on said file or folder and move it around to where you want it. This may be a bit tough for those with laptop with no mouse. With ClickLock you click on the item for a few seconds(you can adjust the time) and it will lock on to it and then you can move it to where you want it.


Heres how to set this up:

1. Click on your Start button->Go to Control Panel -> Printers and Other Hardware -> Mouse

2. Select the Buttons tab, select Turn on ClickLock

3. Click on Settings button to adjust how long to hold button to lock item. Click OK to finish.

4. At the Mouse Properties window click Apply and your done.

I thought this was a nice feature I especially for those operating without a mouse, like a laptop. Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Computer Genius?


I wouldn't quite say genius but its a nice thought. I got this one from my mother-in-law today for Christmas. We are in the great state of Maine this Christmas. It's the just the right size too for a part-time computer geek like myself. I hope you all are having a safe and happy holiday.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Have a very vintage tech Merry Christmas!



I found these to be interesting. The whole series can be found at PC World website. I grew up in the 70's and 80's but wasn't fortunate to have one. I used them in school and even that was a novelty. Boy have we come along way since then. I'll be traveling today so I won't be on long. Hope you all have a great holiday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fun: Christmas Quiz

I found this Quiz on Christmas. I've got to study more I only got 60% (174 points). See if you can do better than me. Enjoy!

Christmas Trivia Quiz

Saturday, December 22, 2007

PC Basics: Windows XP - User Accounts

Who are you?

Imagine when you left for work and asked some stranger who just happened to be walking or driving by if you could watch your home for you. You just let him in and say make yourself at home I'll be back in about eight hours or so. If they don't clear out your house how do you know what they would get into? Of course no sane person would probably do this. I was just dramatizing what essentially happens when you let someone else use your computer without any controls. What I'd like to show you is how Windows XP can give you some control when you let someone else use your computer. Think about all the stuff you store on your computer. It can be personal, financial data, private photos, and more. You wouldn't let a stranger in your house would you while your not home? Well it's almost the same thing if you don't control who can use your computer. Things I'll go over is the benefits of this, how-to create user accounts and explain the differences between them.

Benefits

First I'll try and cover some of the benefits of creating different user accounts. One thing is Privacy. If you keep sensitive information that you would like to share with others this will help. Also it would prevent others from finding what websites you visit. Customizing settings to your preference. If you'd like something other than a Shrek wallpaper adorning your desktop background and 20 icons for kids games. Not to mention stuff like your bookmarks, personal photo's etc. Security wise it'll prevent others from snooping in your finances and other sensitive personal information. It also gives you control when you do decide to let some one else use your PC. Like wondering what websites your teenager or your untech savvy brother-in-law who might go wondering around bikini sites too much when your not looking.

How-to create user accounts

First of all you need to be logged into your administrator account.If you only have one account. Windows sets the the default account to administrator if your unsure. Sure sounds important doesn't it? Assuming your their here we go.


Figure 1. Click on start and go to Control Panel

1. Click on your Start button on your bottom left hand corner and go to Control Panel and click on that.


Figure 2. Click on User Accounts icon


That will open another window and you look for User Accounts icon and you click on that.


Figure 3. Pick a Task


2. In the next window you'll be given a choice of:
  • Change an account
  • Create a new account
  • Change my picture(your picture that will show on the Welcome screen on first boot)
3. We select Create an account

4. You will now enter an account name and click on Next.

5. Next you'll be asked if you want it to be an Administrators account or a Limited account. Then you click Create Account and your done.


What the heck is...


In the last section you may have asked yourself what the heck is the difference between Administrator and Limited accounts. I'll attempt to explain the differences between the two plus the Guest account.

As the Administrator you are numero uno , the man behind the curtain, leader of the free world of your computer. Ok maybe a bit of a stretch on the last one. You have pretty much as much control over the computer as Bill Gates will let you have. Change passwords, delete other users(It's wise not tick of the Administrator), install/uninstall programs, install new hardware , you get the picture. I wish it would make coffee too(I'm sure the guys in Redmond are working on it though).


Figure 4. What kind of account should choose?


Limited Accounts are more restricted. They can use the same hardware and software but they can't install either one. They can change their own password and even change the Welcome screen picture. They can also have their own desktop pictures and adjust computer setting to there liking.


Be my Guest


Guest account is basic like a Limited account but just not setup for any one person. It's good if you have many different people using your PC. To make a guest account on your computer you:
1. Click on Start, then Control Panel, and click User Accounts icon.


2. In the User Accounts dialog Box look in the lower right hand corner click on User Accounts.


3. You can now turn on or off the Guest account.


4. When your done click on the "X" button close out the window.


Fine Tuning

If you click on any of the users in the User Account Window you can change options. Things you can do are:


Figure 5. Make adjustment's here

1. . Change the name - This changes the name of the account displayed on the Welcome screen and top of the start up menu.


2.Create a password - You can set or reset your password from here. You can even choose to have none at all.


3. Change the picture - This changes the picture displayed on the Windows log on screen and start menu. You can choose from any Welcome screen. You can use picture types like GIF,BMP,JPG or PNG. Size of the picture doesn't matter as Windows will automatically resize the picture to fit.


4. Change account type - You can change from administrator to Limited accounts and back again.

Don't worry about deleting yourself, Windows protect itself like HAL from 2001 Space Odyssey. It will always make sure that there is always one Administrator.

We've only just begun

This is only just the beginning of learning how to use Windows XP. Being able manage your accounts is one of the more essential ingredients on managing your computer. We covered the benefits of managing your user accounts. What the different types of accounts are and their functions and how to create, delete and manage them. Like I said you wouldn't let a stranger in your house alone, you should try and manage your PC in a similar fashion. Good luck and happy computing!


Source: Windows XP All-in-one Desk reference For Dummies 2nd Edition, by Woody Leonard




Friday, December 21, 2007

What I need to know about personal computers - The Series

Recently a person asked me "What do I need to know about using my computer"? Here I was supposedly the "computer guy" who was suppose to have the answers and I didn't have a complete answer. It has made me think though. What are the the basic things that a PC user should know? Though I may use PC's a lot I probably don't know as much as I should about them either. I've come across many people who have purchased a computer in recent years but still don't know much about the machine that sits in front of them. They run the machine out of the box and hoped for the best. So in this series I hope to explore stuff from basic Windows use, internet use, security issues, and some fun things. At first I'll be concentrating on basics of Windows XP. Why XP? Why not Vista? Well because of a few different reason's. One XP is still out there running strong and is still used by the majority of user's. Vista it seems has some issue's and I've read from many user's online of even switching back to XP they get so frustrated. The other reason is that it's what I've got and I feel I'm still learning on it too. What I hope to do is share my learning experience all with the readers. I hope you enjoy and learn from the series. First installment is now being produced and should be published shortly so stay tuned.

Merry Christmas!

I was struggling to come up with a post today but I was having a hard time coming up with a subject. With Christmas right around the corner it's a big distraction. I'll be away from home for a couple of days but I'll probably still be online but not as frequently. I would just like to say to those who celebrate Christmas to have a Merry Christmas and I hope it is a happy and safe one. Please enjoy the Christmas video below. Even though it's now a couple of years old it's still a favorite of mine. Thank you and have a happy holiday.

Friday Funnies : Death Star Tech Support

Being a Star Wars fan I found this clip a bit humorous. Enjoy!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Let's Get Rocked!

-Author pauses from a drawn out air guitar solo courtesy of Def Leppard-

Well I was doing some music research for my friend who I was helping out the other day. One of her questions was how do I download and listen to music. I have to admit downloading music I haven't done a lot of lately. When I've done it in the past it was usually using some P2P network like Kazaa and such. Which I of course know is not really on the legal side but I did it any way. Of course I wasn't going to recommend doing something on the shady side. I told her I would look into it for her.

Of course in the name of research I checked out the popular iTunes by Apple. I have to admit iTunes is not new but I have to admit I've been somewhat reluctant to try it out. I'm somewhat old fashion and prefer CD's . Something about actually purchasing something tangible like a CD rather than digital music file. I'm still having some issues with this but I'll put them aside for now, in the name of research of course.

So I downloaded iTunes and installed it. After it synched up with media on my hard drive which actually took quite awhile. I have to admit I've gotten past my initial hesitation using anything done by Apple. I like the interface and it's more intuitive than Windows Media Player. Of course to download music you need to create an account (credit card required of course, Steve Jobs needs to eat you know). I can see where this can be very addicting and very expensive place to hang out. I made my very first iTunes purchase the honor goes to Sheryl Crow's - Steve McQueen. Purchasing a song is almost too easy. I imported my first CD (using iTunes) - Def Leppard's - Vault. Though for over all music items I'd still prefer to purchase an actual CD I'd have no problem purchasing songs from them when I don't want to purchase the whole CD. I heartily recommend checking iTunes out. I think I'll be doing some guides on this in the near future so stay tuned.


P.S. I also have some issues about Sheryl Crow but that's another story. Enjoy her tribute to "The Man" Steve McQueen below.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Home visit

Yesterday I visited with a coworker and his wonderful wife. She just had basic questions about PC use and other things. I took this as a introduction, question and answer type stuff. They both had questions on stuff like how to downloading music, , using AOL instant messenger, inserting pictures in email and basic computer usage. I think it was a learning experience for the both of us. Next time I hope to be more organized now I kind of have an idea of what they'd like to know. Her toughest question was what does she need to know to use a computer. Where does one start? That's just one of the things I'll have to work on until next time. She was very kind and pleasure helping out. I even got a plate full of holiday cookies. Ahh... the perks of helping others. Talk to you later.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CrossLooped

My mother-in-law was telling someone I Crosslooped with her on the computer. I thought that was an interesting way to describe it. I helped her again today on how to do stuff with her pictures using Picasa. It was fun. My computer age was showing though as it had trouble keeping up with her flipping through pictures.
On another note I've got to shower/shave and head to out to go help a friends wife with her PC. I believe she needs help burning CD's . Keeping busy today.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Todays Quick Links - Best & Worst tech of 2007, PCSTATS.com

  • It's nearing the end of the year and of out come all the best and worst lists from everywhere. Here of course is the first here listing of tech stuff. This Best and worst of 2007 is courtesy of C/Net.com.

  • PCSTATS.com I came across is a nice site for the beginners and experienced PC enthusiasts who like to work on and tinker with there machines. It had some nice guides for upgrading your machines and reviews for the latest hardware. Give it a try.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

PC Troubleshooting Basics - Part 2, Device Manager

One of the first things to check if a piece of hardware is not functioning is the Device Manager. I will show how how you can check this and how to update drivers if necessary. Windows lists most of your hardware in the Device Manager and will usually tell you if the device functioning or if it's even recognize it's there.



Step 1. Click on the Start button and then got to Control Panel.





Step 2. Another window will open to your Control Panel. Go to the icon that says System and click on that one.


Step 3. Your System Properties window will open. Then you want to go to the Hardware tab and click on that one.


Step 4. Your Device Manager window will open. It will show you most of the hardware devices in your computer. Printers are listed separately thats why you don't see them there. Hardware will be listed by category. To open a category you by clicking on the "+" symbol, this will list individual hardware items separately .


Step 5. Double-click on an item and it's properties window will open up. It will tell you the device status and whether it is functioning or not.

Step 6. To check if the proper drivers are installed click on the Drivers tab, which will give you some more options. You can check on driver details , update your driver, roll back your driver to a previous version, or uninstall the driver.



Step 7. If you wish update your driver you click on the Update Driver button and it will open up the Hardware Update Wizard. Here you'll be able to update your driver if necessary. You can either have Windows look for it automatically(First choice) or install it manually(Second choice) by pointing to a specific file,folder, CD etc.

Well we found out how to check on your hardware to see if it's working properly and how to update your drivers if necessary. Thanks for coming by and if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave one here or contact me by email. See you next time.

Free Parts

Today I was able to make it to my wife's aunts house. She knew someone who had some free computer stuff they wanted to get rid of. I went over not exactly sure of what exactly to expect. What I got basically was 4 monitors, 1 computer tower, 2 keyboards, and some misc. stuff. The prize of the catch was a 19 inch Compaq monitor(the other 3 were 14 inch). Then I went over to my wife's cousin who lives nearby to drop some stuff off. After a little while sure enough I was walking away with some more computer stuff with another 14 inch monitor, speakers with a subwoofer, wireless-G router(Linksys) and some more misc. parts. Talk about a car load of stuff. Came home and unloaded the stuff. Boy did I have to make some room. Of course the first thing I set up was the 19 inch monitor and what a difference from the 14 I was using(for my second computer) . I then plugged in the new speakers and they work great. The lone PC I got unfortunately doesn't power up. I believe the board is gone on it. Here's today's partial inventory list.

  • Compaq S900 19 inch CRT monitor
  • Dell Keyboard Model no. SK-8115
  • Linksys Wireless-G PCI adapter Model no. WMP54G
  • Linksys Wireless-G Router(compact) Model no. WRT54GC
  • PC -Tiger by Systemax(I believe this was through TigerDirect.com, specs are unknown)
  • Altec Lansing Model No. 08506P(2 speakers and subwoofer)
  • Mitsumi Keyboard Model No. KFK-E89HY
  • EMC 14 inch monitor Model no. 564SA
  • Acer 17" monitor Model No. 7277c(I thought it was a 14 at first)
  • Princeton Ultra 40 14" CRT monitor
  • Samsung Synchmaster 500s 14" CRT monitor
  • Logitech 2 button scroll wheel optical mouse
  • Miscellaneous Dell software
Not too bad a day's catch. The 17" monitor looks like a 14 inch when you first look at it. I haven't tested everything yet apart from the 19" monitor, speakers and PC. The PC can be updated with a newer board so I'll have to strip it down first then possibly rebuild it. It looks like it has two 128mb cards of RAM and a 64mb PCI video card which I hope works. This ought to keep me busy for awhile. I'll try and takes some pictures later and post them.

In other news it looks like I'll be tutoring on PC's now too. On Tuesday I start a in-person tutoring of a co-workers wife on basic PC use. I've had others who I've helped say I should do something like this. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Quick Tip : Restart Windows when mouse dies.

Suppose for some odd reason your mouse stops working or freezes on your screen. How the heck do you restart or shutdown your computer without your mouse? Here's one trick I discovered on how to restart or shutdown your computer with your keyboard.
  1. Press the Windows key ( the one with the Windows logo on it) which will pop up the Start menu. You can also press Ctrl+Esc keys should your keyboard lack the Windows key.
  2. Press U which enable you to select Shutdown/Restart etc..
  3. You can use your arrow keys to make your selection.
  4. Press Enter
I just thought this would be a handy tip.

-Source - Troubleshooting your PC for Dummies by Dan Gookin

Friday, December 14, 2007

Geekware


I found this very interesting. This woman makes art & crafts from old computer parts and electronics. She's found some interesting and very imaginative ideas. She's even got Christmas ornaments made old circuit boards. You can check out here website here called Acorn Studios and her blog. I may be ordering the circuit board business card holder soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

PC Troubleshooting Basics - Part 1

I'm sure many of us have run into glitch's or error messages at one time or another. Install a state of the art video card only to have Windows burp it back in your face. Find the perfect software you need and the system locks up. I hope to provide some basic steps on troubleshooting your PC or laptop.

Safety First - If you must open the case you should take proper precautions first. One is unplug the PC first to avoid any chance of electric shock. Both to yourself and to your machine. The power supply unit can be danger still even when unplugged. This is one unit that if found faulty it's better just to replace it than to try any repairs for the most part. Also if your still using an old CRT type monitor this falls under the same category. Unless your a trained individual you shouldn't attempt repairs on these two. Secondly protect your machine against ESD (Electro Static discharge). Some components can be destroyed by a shock you can't even feel. To avoid this use a wrist strap or at the very least touch the outside of your case(bare metal) before handling anything inside.

Goosefraba, Goosefraba..(repeat calmly) - Whatever you do don't panic. Don't start clicking every button at random . Many things can be solved by a simple calm structured approach. If something upsets you get up go get some coffee(perhaps a good time for decaf), kick your err... I mean pet your cat. Come back and calmly approach the problem again perhaps with a fresh perspective. I've gotten very frustrated with some problems and I've sometimes discovered if you get too focused on problem sometimes it makes it worse. Many times I've stepped away for a short break and then suddenly thought of something when I've calmed down.

Well duh! - Check the most obvious stuff first. I've lost count how many times I left a floppy in the drive and the machine wouldn't boot or shut off monitor. We all have them don't be embarrassed. Some simple things to check are:
  • Be sure your power plug is properly connected. Check other connections too. Sometimes they come loose over time from getting kicked or moved around. Unconnect and reconnect items if it's a particular item like monitor, printer, usb coffee mug warmer(yes I've seen them in a catalog) etc... I've had this work many times.
  • Restart, many time a simple reboot of your machine will clear up a lot of glitches. This works a lot of times when your machines been on for a long time and just needs a fresh start. Clears out the memory too and see if problems comeback. Some errors are just a one shot deal and this will clear them up. If they repeat then there's usually a problem.
  • Try and keep track of recent changes. Have you added any new software lately? Installed a new drive? Installed new sound card? Installed a freeware program you just had to have? Keep in mind any changes you've made to your machine . If a particular problem starts after an installation of something one of the first steps is to take it back out and see if problem persists.
  • Check your drives for floppies, cd's etc.. that don't belong there.
Ctrl-Alt-Del - Many of those who have been using computers for any length of time know the three fingered salute to Microsoft. This (most of the time) will give you a chance to shutdown the offending program that may be locking up your PC. It'll also give you the choice of shutting down or restarting your system. Giving your monitor the one fingered salute may relieve some frustration, but usually doesn't solve the problem, and no Bill Gates can't see you doing it.

Well this is just the beginning of a series and we'll come back to it later. One of the things I can't stress enough is don't get overly stressed out. Many times a calm approach is best, you'll think a lot clearer. Good luck and I hope you come back again for the next installment. We'll be looking at some prevention tips.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Humor : The un-aired 1994 pilot of 24

Although I'm one of the few people who haven't watched 24 (I think I'm one of 10 people in the world who hasn't). Whether your a fan or not I think you'll find this a humorous take on how far we've come in technology since 1994. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quick Tip - Adjusting your font size

Ever comeback to your computer(usually after your child or curious non-geek relative/friend) has used the computer and the default fonts size is so big a blind person could read or so small a gnat would say it's too small. A quick way to adjust this is to hold down your Ctrl key and scroll up or down with your scroll wheel on your mouse. Another (if you don't have a scroll wheel)short cut is to hold down the Ctrl key and press the " + " or " - " key and adjust accordingly. Good luck!

Monday, December 10, 2007

File Recovery - Recuva 1.09


I found this one through PC Daily Tips. I decided to give this one a try. Pronounced like "Recover", Recuva scans for deleted files in your system and will tell you if it's recoverable or not. When you delete a file it actually is still on your hard drive only the Windows reference to it is gone. It's stays there until it is written over by another file. So if you accidentally deleted an important file there is still a chance it there. You must act fast though because the longer you wait the more chance the files been written over. The interface for this program is fairly easy to use. You can either enter the a file name or directory and hit scan. If your not sure of the name of the file you can leave it blank and hit scan and it will search your hard drive. Recuva will list all the files and tell you whether you have a chance at recovering the file. Nice little application if your in pinch.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

View Internet Explorer via FireFox

I use FireFox (and encourage others to do so) 99% of the time. Once in awhile though a page will work funny or just won't come out right. Especially something like Windows Update. I tried an FireFox extension called IE View which gives you an option to open with Internet Explorer when you right-click on it. I tried it out and it works great. Give it a try if it sounds like something you'd like. I found out about this one through PC Daily Tips.

LogMeIn Free

I know I've been going on and on about CrossLoop (with good reason though). I still kind of prefer LogMeIn for remote accessing your own computer. To start using this all you need to do is go to LogMeIn.com website. 1. Sign up for a free account. 2. download software. 3. Install software. Then to use you go back to the website and log into your account. You then can select the PC you want to connect to. It's as easy as that.

How -to : Burn a CD or DVD




No don't throw them in the fireplace or put them in the microwave! It's only a figure of speech(sort of). Ok that much aside what I'd like to show is how someone may make a copy or save something on a CD or DVD. Perhaps you have one and have no clue on how to use it. I hope to give a basic guide on how to burn a CD or DVD and what's required to so. So here we go....

What do I need?

  1. CD Writer or DVD writer
  2. A CD or DVD writer software
  3. Blank media(either CD or DVD)

Most PC's today are sold today with at least CD writer or DVD writer already installed. Although XP and presumably Vista comes with this capability I'll be using my burning software that came with my burner by Nero. This one in particular is Nero Express Essentials 7.For blank media you can either choose a CD-R or CD-RW(rewritable) or DVD-R, DVD-RW etc. Now that we assembled our necessary items here we go....

Burn Baby,Burn!



Step 1. Open your software - Many times your software will either give you and option of doing it manually or by what is called a "wizard" which kind of speeds you through the process. Nero gives us the choices of copying either data, audio, music/video, and etc. For the demo we are choosing data CD.








Step 2. Choosing items to copy - Here Nero gives us a window to insert our data we wish to copy. It even gives us a bar at the bottom to tell us how much we can fill the CD. A CD can hold roughly 700mb(Megabytes). A DVD holds roughly 4.7 GB(Gigabytes). To add files to out list we first click the "Add" button on the right hand side which will open another window. Here we can pick and choose what we'd like to copy. You can either select an item and click "add" or drag'n'drop it over to the window. To drag it over to the window you just click and hold onto an item and drag it over to where you want it and let go of the button.


Step 3. Final Settings - When we've filled our disc up we go onto the next step. Click "Next" and we go to the final settings page. Here we get to choose the drive we wish to use. If you only have one drive you don't have to worry as your CD/DVD Writer will be chosen as default. If you have more than one drive you may have to set it to the correct one. Here we can also name your disc also and choose how many copies we wish to make. Here we have an option to "Verify Data after burning" This basicly double checks the copy after it's burned. This I believe checks for errors. I skip this a lot because it does add some time to the process but if your in no hurry it can't hurt anything. Also has "Allow files to be added later(multisession)". I've never actually tried this but apparently this gives you the choice of adding more files at a later date should you have room on the disc.


Step 4. Burn the disc - When we are happy with our choices we select the "Burn" button on the right hand corner. If your disc isn't already in place usually your disc player will open and you'll be prompted to insert blank disc. Now it will start the actual copying process. Here we have a progress bar and a window above explain what's happening. This is a good time to take a coffee or bathroom break. This process can take several minutes depending on your machine capabilities,how much data involved or CD vs. DVD. On my machine it takes about five to six minutes to burn a full CD and a DVD perhaps ten to fifteen minutes. When it's finished usually the disc will eject automatically when done.




No you won't need oven mitts to take out your disc. Take your disc out and a good idea is to label it as soon as possible before you put it down it gets mixed up with others. A good tip might be to label it before hand. Another tip is to always handle your disc by the edge's as not to scratch them up. Well I hope you learned something today as we went over what we needed to burn a CD/DVD and how to do a basic disc copy. Thank you for actually reading this far down. I appreciate your time and hope you'll come back for more. Have a great day!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

RE: CrossLoop Glitch - All is Good

I tried it again and it worked wonderfully. My mother-in-law loved it. I helped her download pictures from her camera, how to use Picasa and helped her with a couple things with Microsoft Outlook like attaching files, deleting deleted files(sounds kind funny doesn't it) etc. Well we had fun and were sure we'd do it again. Thanks CrossLoop!

Crossloop glitch

As much as I've bragged about Crossloop I seem to hit glitches. I went to connect up with my mother-in-law I was unable to connect. I could login through the website but I was unable to through Crossloop itself. Well decided to try anyway without logging in. She installed the program (very easy), but after which punch in her numbers nothing would happen. I also tried with a second PC with no luck. Not quite sure what happened. I think I ran into a similar problem a couple of weeks ago. I shot off a couple of emails to them to see what's up. It was disappointing but I'll try again.

CompUSA closing it's doors

It looks like CompUSA is finally closing it's doors according to this article. Over the years I found myself visiting them less and less. Last spring when they downsized (shut stores down) I checked out them out again and even then it was hard to find a bargain. They only had one store left around here after spring time downsizing. I did visit them once in the last few month's to pick up some DVD's and CD's I didn't want to wait for. Now we'll have only BestBuy, Circuit City perhaps even Staple's for computer supplies. For most of my PC part's, software, books I needed over the years I bought online usually for much cheaper. I'm kind of sad they are going but not surprised.

Friday, December 7, 2007

well here is the beginning of the search for the perfect free programs. our friend Google is usually the best search portal, so use it to get started, go to www.google.com and we will search for mcafee site advisor and install this program ,this will help look for good sites and weed out the bad ones.
there are many to choose from, here are a few I use: www.majorgeeks.com ,www.freewarefiles.com , www.download.com and www.bestfreeware.com in the weeks ahead I Will list more all programs you find and use are really based on your preferences its great to use the sites that give screenshots a description.
later we will go find our programs, if you would like send a comment and I will try to help you find them, remember if there is a paid for version there is a free one too with the same features you need.

Operating systems for older machine


First I'd like say thanks to for Ray accepting an invitation to post here. I work with Ray on a daily basis at our day jobs. What he brings here is his perspective on items like (but not limited to) laptop's, freeware software, alternate operating systems(Linux etc..) and his experience with dealing with spyware and virus's. I look forward to his stuff.

Ok on to my main subject which of course choosing an operating system for an older machine(say 5-6 years old in this case)> I came across an interesting item here from PC Daily Tips . The author tells how he put Windows 2000 pro in his wife's laptop. I've put Windows 2000 in several machines and also run on the family PC(which is close to 8 years old) and I find it to be a very dependable operating system which at times is faster than comparable machines running XP. It may not be able run all the latest games or highly graphical programs but for everyday home/office use it does the job. It's great for a second PC, student or kid's first PC. Linux might be for a more advanced user which I'm sure Ray introduce some here. Well that's just my two cents. Have a great day and come back soon.
Hi I'm ray, I spend a lot of time testing freeware and portable apps, and problem solving for friends and family. portable apps from Internet browsers to optimizing LAN connections. if there out there I tried hundreds of them. hopefully in the articles to come I can help you with both, but for now remember freeware is not always free unless you use reputable sites to download from, and we can help you with that too.

On the lighter side..

Found this on the Crossloop Blog. Enjoy!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bob's PC Restoration on Crossloop Blog

I just noticed to checking out the Crossloop Blog and noticed this blog mentioned. Thank you Crossloop. As you might be able to tell I'm a big fan of Crossloop. My friend whom I mentioned before actually used Crossloop with his 5 year-old son. To me that's a great testimony on how simple this program is to use. Coming this weekend I'm going to post a demo here so keep tuned here for more. Thanks again for the mention Crossloop, you guys are great and keep up the good work!

Technical Difficulties

I'm having some issues moving to Wordpress so don't pack everything up just yet. Keep this bookmarked if you do until I work out the bugs. It's seems that stuff that I grew accustomed to here like adding image's and widgets to the side column are a pain in Wordpress(at least to me). On top of that I've got a school assignment due today that I need to work on so I don't have time to iron this out right now. Stay tuned.

I'll be moving

I'm going to be in the process of moving the blog over to Wordpress.com in the next few days. Here is the new address: Bob's PC Restoration. I will keep you informed of any other changes. Should you have this Bookmarked/Favorite you might as well change it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Crossloop 2.0

Here we go with Crossloop again. Earlier today my friend who had been fooling around with Crossloop all weekend hooked up together(via internet not the other way you perverts). Just prior I had installed the new 2.0 ver. I like the stats feature(I love stats!). We switched users a few times which was a nice feature. I have to admit it was kinda cool watching someone else use your PC. He showed how transfer files(another nice feature). As far as ease of use to me I'm not sure how it could get any simpler. The interface is simple to figure out and just looks friendly to use. I still give it a thumbs up. My main fear is that over time it'll become bloated with too many features. It's a great tool to use and exactly what I've been looking for. Thanks for coming by.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Crossloop demonstration video

I touched base with a friend last night who tried out Crossloop all weekend and he loves it! I've added a Crossloop widget on the left here so you can check out my profile. You can check out my profile and my stats(none yet). I've titled it "Bob's PC Restoration's Official Remote Access Software".Here is a new demonstration video on new updated features including creating account(free) to keep track of your sessions. A very helpful feature in my opinion. Be sure and take a look.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Instant Messenger Review

I don't use instant messengers a whole lot. This is a good round up and review of the basic one's out there. Give a look if your interested. This was done by the people who bring you PC Mechanic.







Sunday, December 2, 2007

How-to : How to use LightScribe

Tired of labeling discs with sharpies or trying to get those stick on ones to centered just right. LightScribe technology prints embeds them right on the disk. Recently I installed a new CD/DVD writer with Lightscribe feature. Some people may have bought a newer PC with this feature and have no clue how to use it. My goal is to try and help those who may be asking how do I use this, what do I need or perhaps those who are just wondering what exactly LightScribe is. I've been using this for a few weeks now and thought it would make a great demonstration.
What exactly is LightScribe? LightScribe is a technology that laser-etches images on a CD or DVD disc. A special disc drive is needed. A LightScribe logo should be on the outside the drive indicating this feature is included.

LightScribe logo on left

What you need to start....

Hardware
: Like I said you need to have a drive that is LightScribe included. It should have a logo somewhere on it.
Software: Mine included software from Nero OEM software included when I bought the drive. Which does work. I also downloaded from the LightScribe website a separate program which basically does the same thing. For purposes of this demo I'll be using that one. I downloaded LightScribe System Software plus templates which can be downloaded here. They also include software for use with either Linux or Mac operating systems on the same page.
Media: Obviously you need blank CD?DVD's to start with. You can't just throw any blank disc in and expect it to work. These are specially coated work with LightScribe technology. They do come in a variety of colors with I believe gold being perhaps the most popular. They do cost slightly more than comparable standard issue media but it's not an astronomical amount.


Now for the Demo....

For demonstration purposes I'll be using the LightScribe System Software that I downloaded from there website. Yours maybe included in your disc burning software already included on your PC (example:Nero etc...). I believe the steps are similar but you may have to adapt to them accordingly. Also I'm going to assume you've already burned a disc and your ready to rock and roll. If were on the same page were ready to etch our first disc.


Step 1. Open your CD?DVD drive and insert disc. Very importantly you insert it upside down(label side). Don't worry too much if you do it wrong the drive will eject when you go to etch it if it's wrong side.


Step 2. Open LightScribe software by clicking on your desktop icon or through your program menu. For this demo I'm using the LightScribe Template Labeler.


Step 3. Choose your template you wish to use. Or you can choose a blank one to edit yourself.


Step 4. Insert your images by clicking and inserting images. It will open a separate window which you can search for and select images. You can insert text in a similar fashion by selecting "Click to add text"After you are satisfied with your selection can go to the next step.....


Step 5. Click "Next" and then click "Preview and Print". Here we make our final selections. First we select the drive we want to use. If it's you only drive it will be selected by default. If you've got more than one be sure you've got the disc in the correct drive. We also have an option for choosing contrast level. I usually choose"Best"(why would I want less? I don't know). Also is the number of discs you want to etch . We select "1" in this case. Then when were all done and were ready we select "Print".



Step 6. We now enter the final phase. Which is now printing your image. This process usually has taken me about twenty-five minutes or so. This may vary with each disc. It's good time to grab a refreshment or take a break from this hard work.When it's done the disc will eject automatically and you get to see your masterpiece. Your done then. You might find some might come out too light or fuzzy so you may have to adjust your contrast settings.

Final product

In the end...


Well that about wraps it up for today. I've found this to work wonderfully and I'm satisfied with the results. Now I hope you have an idea of what LightScribe is, what you need to do it and how to do it. You can always consult the LightScribe website for more templates and software downloads. They are also full of tips and tricks on how to take advantage of this feature. You can always contact me also if you have any questions or comments. I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I'd glad to be of help to you. Thanks for coming by and I hope you'll come back again soon.

Windows Tip of the Day: Why your registry doesn’t need cleaning

Does your Windows registry really need one of those cleaners. Here is an interesting item that attempts answer this question.

Windows Tip of the Day: Why your registry doesn’t need cleaning

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Computer Term of the Week - Electronic mail (e-mail)


What exactly is electronic mail (aka: e-mail, email)? It's something that many of us take for granted these days. It's almost synonymous with PC's and the internet. The humorous ad from Honeywell from 30 years ago how reaction to it when it was new. I hope to share a bit of history and a definition.
Email actually pre-dates the internet with it's first uses in the early uses in the early 1960's and was a crucial tool in creating the internet. Seems it was first used to transmit messages between mainframe computers . A complete history can be found at Wikipedia.

A couple of definitions:

Wikipedia : E-mail, short for electronic mail and often abbreviated to e-mail, email or simply mail, is a store and forward method of composing, sending, storing, and receiving messages over electronic communication systems.

Webopedia: Short for electronic mail, the transmission of messages over communications networks.

It's gone from geeks sharing programming code and pocket protector fashion tips to sharing recipes, photo's, messages, spam for drugs, scams and more schemes. wonderful isn't it? There are web based email's like Yahoo Mail or Gmail or separate programs like Microsoft's Outlook or Mozilla's Thunderbird. In short it's a quick and simple way to share text based messages among family, friends, co-workers, business's etc. Thanks for coming by.

Next week: Fragmentation

Friday, November 30, 2007

Google Notebook


Ever just want to save a paragraph or quote and saved to your favorites and then forget what it was from later. Or even a school or work project your researching and you need to organize your stuff as you find. I recently discovered Google Notebooks and have begun to using it. Since I've been back to school recently I've had the need to research different subjects from time to time. Even though I'd bookmark(or in Favorites) certain web pages for further review sometimes I'd have to review the whole to try and remember exactly what I needed from it. with Google Notebooks I can highlight only what I need, right-click and save. Notebooks will even save the link where it came from(good also if you need to cite your source) in case you need to go back to it. You can organize it into different categories and such. I've only just begun using it so I'm sure there are more I've yet to discover. I'm quickly turning into a fan of this neat little application. Be sure and check it out if it's something that might help you out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

MajorGeeks


"MajorGeeks.com - Geek it 'till it MHz."

A friend of mine recommended Major Geeks.com to me awhile ago. I've since been a fan of it. It's loaded with many freeware titles that are tested for spyware before being posted. Everything from antivirus software, utilities and more. With a there own brand of humor it's always pleasure to visit. Be sure and give them a try.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Humor : Al Gore hacked

Apparently the inventor of the internet's website to promote an "Inconvenient truth" was hacked. Some links were hacked to link to promote drugs. I found this story through a post by David Risley (Of PC Mechanic fame). Now isn't that inconvenient?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Confessions of a freeware junkie: Easy Remote Control through Firewall: CrossLoop

Here's a nice write of Crossloop vs. LogMeIn Like the author of this I find myself using LogMeIn for accessing my own PC's and Crossloop for helping others. Ones that even the less-than-tech savvy can figure out. Be sure and check it out.



Confessions of a freeware junkie: Easy Remote Control through Firewall: CrossLoop

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tip of the Day - Gmail as default mail

I just started using Gmail (from Google)relative recently in just the last few month's. I'm still a die hard Yahoo Mail user(which I've had for years) . So I've gotten you used to using web based mail accounts that I don't even use Outlook or Thunderbird for a mail. Trouble is when you go to click on an email link(mailto) to send a greeting to your favorite blogger, it doesn't use your web based email as default. Google(Gmail) seems to have come up with a solution. Check out this page from Google on how set it up. Then your good to go. How did I find this? From the PC Daily Tips by the same people who bring you PC Mechanic (One of my favorite websites). Be sure and pay them a visit. Thanks for coming by.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How-to: Install CD/DVD drive

Want to upgrade your old CD/DVD drive? Recently I picked a newer CD/DVD Writer by LiteOn. This features "Lightscribe" which perhaps I'll demo at a later time. I'd like to show you the steps on how change one of these out. It's fairly simple, so easy a cavegeek could do it. If you know which end of a Phillips screwdriver to use then you can do it. I'll go over the steps here and maybe in the future you'll be changing yours out. I'll go over the parts and tools you'll need and then the steps to install your drive. OK here we go...


Items needed:

1. CD/DVD drive
2. Phillips screwdriver
3. ESD wrist strap
4. Instruction Manual
5. Cup of fresh coffee (Ok you don't need this but I do)


The patient is my trusty workhorse Gateway low-profile PC . It may have only a Pentium III but it hasn't let me down yet.

First step: Unplug the case and remove all attachments. Remove cover. Usually it's held by some screws in the rear of the case. This where you'll need your Phillips screwdriver. Take the cover off. Some cases can be a bit tricky to open so be careful some cases have sharp edges on inside.




Second step: After the case is open locate the CD drive inside. Remove the cables from the rear of the CD drive. Be careful removing cables the can be stubborn. More than once my hands have slipped and caused me to bang my hand. Sometimes resulting in the need of a band-aid. Just try and wiggle them out a bit they should come out. On a side note be aware of ESD. Which in simple terms static. Either use a wrist ground strap or at least touch the outside steel case that before sticking your hand inside case. Some components can be destroyed be static discharges you can't even feel. So be aware!


Third step: Then remove the screws holding the drive in. Remove the drive from the bay. Most of the time it should slide out the front of the case. In this case Gateway had a nice feature that they have a quick release mechanism, but for most cases though you may need a small Phillips head screwdriver to remove the drive screws.



Handy Tip: Oh yeah I almost forgot. It's probably good idea to read over the instructions before beginning. Even though I've done this many times before it's still a good ides to at least skim through it or keep them handy. I've been guilty of just tossing them aside and jumping ahead into project only to need them halfway through a project. These instructions came in so many languages that I think they even include Romulan and Klingon.


LiteOn was even nice enough to provide a drive opener.
That was the first time I'd seen that one. came handy when I changed the faceplate.


Fourth Step: Install the new drive in reverse order, secure the drive, plug cables back in,replace computer cover and plug everything back in. Power it back up and if all went well Windows should recognize and install your drive. You may have to install additional software depending on the drive.

When it's done reach around and pat yourself on the back. Not so hard is it? Well that's enough for now. I hope you learned something today. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. Thanks for coming by today and I hope you return.

With a little help from my friends

I had a friend email me tonight saying he was having computer problems agin. This is the same person I was helping with Crossloop on Thursday. It would seem like he had an eventful weekend. First he was having sound issues so he bought a new sound card with no luck and when he put the old one back it worked. Secondly he contracted a virus visiting some questionable sites on the internet . It recieved so many errors it shut the system down. he then re-partitioned and formated and reinstalled Windows(XP) , Then after he get;'s it running again he runs into "Bios Checksum Error-insert system disk and press enter" which locks up his system. Repeat re-partition/format/ reinstall Windows again. Mean time his floppy didn't work right so he puts in another which causes an error but still works. When he reinstalls original floppy it works fine. The last message I received was that his hard drive was clicking and freezing up his computer. I like this friend very much but sometimes I just got shake my head in wonder. He seems to be one of those people that if he sits more than 30 minutes in front of his computer something can and will go wrong as Murphy's Law would say. I feel really bad I wasn't able to help him out more. Some things that can be learned from this are:

1. Questionable viewing habits- He was after some sites for serial numbers and perhaps pirate software of some sort. From lessons I've learned is that these sites are so loaded with spyware and virus's it isn't funny. I recommend sites like Majorgeeks.com or FileHippo.com that have freeware programs that are safe and they most likely have a program that will fit your needs.
2. Keep It Simple Stupid Or K.I.S.S. - Check the simple things first. His problem could have been a simple one to fix at the beginning avoiding all the partitioning and formatting(which I believe to be a last resort not first) he did.If your stressed out take a break and step away from the machine for awhile. I've done this and it does help.
3. You have friends - He called us once since Thursday when we weren't home. I tried his cell but I got no answer. No matter how alone you feel with a problem don't be afraid to ask for help. Whether it be a techie friend or just doing a simple Google search he may have found the solution to to his problems. As much as know about computers there are many who know more. A lot of times it's not what you know as opposed to where you can find the answer. You'd be surprised as to how many solutions I've found just by entering into a Google search.

Well I wish my friend the best of luck and I hope to hear from him again. Thanks for coming by I'll talk to you later.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Question of the week : How do I know what kind of RAM to use for my PC?

This can be confusing for the beginner or for casual user's not familiar with all the jargon. If you spend the money and go to all the trouble to open your machine it's a real disappointment if it doesn't work or if it's the wrong one. Many manufacturer's offer memory configurator's to take out the guess work on what to get. Here are some of them:

This helps eliminate errors and hassle of picking up the wrong one and having to return it. When doing a friends or clients computer I much rather make sure I get the right stuff especially when it's not my money I'm spending. It not only saves money it also provides quicker turn around and a more satisfied client(or friend). I hope this helps and thanks for coming by. Good luck!

Sleeper Project




For thanksgiving my brother-in-law came over with his old computer. He had got it somehow through a friend(freebie). He said he could never get it to boot up. It's an old Gateway 200 LP Mini PEEC-166 desktop. Looks like it's seen better days that's for sure. I hooked it up and sure enough it seem to lock up on boot. The hard drive was thrashing like crazy with a very audible clicking sound. I knew that the hard drive was culprit just by that sound. By some means of luck (some skill) I did get it to boot for a short while. It has Windows 98, for hardware it has a Pentium 1 MMX, (hold tight for the startling specs!!) a 1.6 gb hard drive with a whopping 32mb of RAM! Anyway after awhile it stopped running and I wasn't able to get it to reboot. I did some diagnostics with my UBCD(Ultimate Boot CD) and it(hard drive) came up with numerous errors(big surprise). I tried the freezer method. with little luck. I put it back in the freezer again for another try. It seemed I was close a couple of times (saving data). I'll give another shot again in little while. He(brother-in-law) left disappointed but not surprised. He was mainly concerned over some stuff still on the harddrive. It belonged to a friend who had passed away and would like to pass along any photo's and such to the family. He'd actually like a laptop in the future and I told him I'd keep my ear out for him. the desktop was actually a low priority. The desktop it's self kind of grew on me. It's an oldie but could be updated with a newer equipment and work quite fine. I think of it hot rod terms of a sort of "sleeper" PC. So I guess I sort of have another project. Have a good day and talk to you later.

Computer Term of the Week - Data

What would computer's do with out data? What would automobiles do without passengers? Not much. The essential purpose of a computer (at least how I understand them) is to process data(information) that is put in. I turn to my trusty "Upgrading and Repairing PC's(by Scott Mueller)" book to see what he says...

Data - 1). Groups of facts processed into information. A graphic or textural representation of facts, concepts, numbers, letters, symbols, or instructions used for communication or processing. 2) An android from the twenty-fourth century with a processing speed of 60 trillion operations per second and a storage capacity 800 quadrillion bits, and who serves on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D with the rank of lieutenant commander.

The answer were looking for is covered by the first selection. I think that pretty much covers everything inputted into the computer. Gaming, word processing, emailing, internet and even this blog is using data to communicate through the web. Without data, computers wouldn't need to exist. In the spirit of the holiday we can all give thanks to data otherwise we wouldn't be here reading this. I hope you all have a great weekend.Thanks for coming by hope to see you again.

Next week.....electronic mail (email)

The Ultimate Troubleshooter

I recently came across this program from the people at www.answersthatwork.com . How I came across this was a review and video below from David Risley of pcmech.com. Which he raved about the program and gave a pretty good demo of it. I decided to download the "demo" version of it. It does live up to what David said and more. I discovered much valuable info on my PC and was in plain english as advertised. I have put it on my list of software I'd like to get for troubleshooting. My one gripe about it though is one license per PC. To my this would be great for the hobbyist helping friends, family or the PC Technician troubleshooting a clients machine. At $30 a wack it could get costly. Maybe a stripped down free version would be nice. I do think it's nice if you'd like a better picture of your own machine and would like to tune it up. Give the demo a try.