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


" - Geek it 'till it MHz."

A friend of mine recommended Major 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 or 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 . How I came across this was a review and video below from David Risley of 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.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Re: Crossloop

I did my first "crossloop" session today with a friend(in Michigan myself in Rhode Island) who was having problem with his speakers/sound. We were connected fairly quickly with only a minor glitch I believe which was on the "crossloop" end of things. He tried to go on to the website to do the download and the page wouldn't come up. I had the same problem here too along with the program was slow to load. Once they cleared up it was smooth sailing. His issues weren't solved but I was able to view his end of things . More than likely I'll use it again. Didn't get to really get in depth with it as it was "Turkey" time here. Hopefully I'll get to try it again in a little bit. Looks promising.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


So far I like it. It's been the simplest to use yet and quickest. I found this demo video which shows how simple it is to use. If your further interested here is there blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Remote Access - the continueing saga

As some of you may know I've been trying out various remote access programs such as LogMeIn, VNC and Techinline. My goal was to find one that was to find one that was easy to use. Especially for the end user(or host as some programs call it). Many of those I'd like to help out are what I call rookie or casual users. As some may know helping someone over the phone can be frustrating for both parties because you can't see what they are doing. Another is that they a lot of times use terminology that is either incorrect or unknown to them. What may be second nature to yourself can be completely foreign to a newcomer. It's not there fault we all had to start somewhere. Set up(or installation) of the program was very important because that was the one part where you can't see what they are doing. Once up and running is no problem.

Anyway I digress. A recent one that looks promising is called Crossloop. This was recommended to me from a friend I've seen other recommendations on the web. I did download the program. It was simple and took only a few minutes(very important!). I've yet to try it out but so far it looks good. I'll keep you posted.

Spyware and Adware 101 - Part 1

Most computer users today know enough to put some type of antivirus protection on there computer. Spyware and adware are a relative newcomer to field of malicious software(often called malware). Also in this group of malicious software are phishing, rootkits and spam. These terms can often confuse new user(sometimes called newbies) who unwilling fall victim to these unscrupulous programs. My hope here is to first identify the enemy and then address how to combat them. Knowledge is power, remember? First up is....

Spyware - Simply put is any program that is installed and who's activities are without your consent. As the name implies it spies on information on your computer. They may track and gather information such as websites you visit, social security numbers, credit card numbers. They collect them and pass them on to even more unscrupulous characters. Some may change your browser settings and such.They are often bundled with freeware and shareware programs.

Adware - Works much the same as spyware. Probably considered lesser evil twin . They often run annoying ads (pop ups) and collect marketing information about you. May not seem harmful but they are doing it without your knowing consent. They are installed much like spyware is.

Phishing - Much like it sounds. People with less than honest intentions are basically "fishing" for sensitive personal info to exploit. A common tactic is through email posing as some type of institution such as a bank, Paypal, Ebay, and so on. Often saying that they need to verify personal information. They prey on people vulnerability. Some of the websites are quite well done and could fool a lot of people who aren't paying attention.

Rootkits - This one is relatively new to me so I'll be learning too. Rootkits are a stealth like software program that cybercreeps use to gain control of remote computers. They basically go to the root or core of the remote computer to gain control of it. They often go undetected by security programs.

Spam - These are the new junk mail of the future. Unsolicited ads via email for everything from get rich quick schemes to prescription drug etc.

Now that we know who the usual suspects are next installment will be on how to block them. Thanks for coming by.

CCleaner video

I believe I mentioned CCleaner before. I found this video at PC Mechanic(one of my favorite sites). This video highlights the use of editing your startup programs. If your overloaded with startup programs it can slowdown your computer considerably. I fully recommend this program. The program does what it's suppose to do and beside's it's free. How can you beat that? Thanks for coming by and enjoy the video.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Follow up

In relation to the last post I did on speeding up your PC I found this interesting article at Hardware Secrets. I just discovered this site and thought it was pretty cool and I'll be sure and visit again in the future.

Question of the Week - What can I do for my computer to make it faster?

We all seem to want things to go faster. From our automobiles , cell phones, toasters, microwaves to our computers. Here were dealing with computers of course. I see this question around the net often with varying answers. Many just answer either to buy more hardware or use different software. I think of it as a two part approach(hardware and software) and may depend on your budget and needs.

Hardware - This approach depends on your budget and needs. For hardware I'd recommend two things. More memory and and a larger graphics card. A good source I found was a which has a memory configurator to take out the guess work of what particular memory your system needs. Go with as much as your budget allow. This will give you more bang for your buck than most anything else you can buy. Another thing would be to upgrade your graphics card. Some lesser things that may help would be to upgrade you processor and or hard drive. If your hard drive is near capacity it may slow down your system. A processor should probably be your last resort because it's typically the most expensive you'd likely see less bang for your dollar.

Software - My personal philosophy about my computers is I like to keep them lean and clean. Try and avoid all those cute add-on programs like calenders, screensavers, taskbars, etc. Many of them can come with spyware and addition items that can slowly eat up your system resources. I try to avoid them when possible. The other thing is to do regular maintenance like DiskCleanup and Defragmentation through built-in Windows programs. A third party software I recommend is CCleaner which will go a little deeper than windows and is fairly simple to use. I hope this helps you out. Thanks for coming by and hope you come back again soon!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Computer Term of the Week - Computer

This might seem like an obvious one. Your even using one to view this. What exactly defines a computer. Again I turn to my trusty glossary in Upgrading and Repairing PC's by Scott Mueller 15th Edition and I come up with this....

Computer - Device capable of accepting data, applying prescribed processes to this data, and displaying the results or information produced.

This definition I believe covers a lot of ground. Let's face it computers are everywhere nowadays. In your automobiles, at your work, at your bank, in your cell phone to the mainframes of big corporations and government. Of course most of us probably hear computers and we think of the personal computer(or laptop) like the one your viewing now.
I remember growing up as a kid if we had a class using computers it was a huge deal. I remember a basic computer class in middle school(maybe junior high to you) . I believe they were Apple II's(not 100% sure) and we learned to use early Basic language. We printed stuff out on dot-matrix printers and made lines or letters move across the screen using some simple commands. We thought we were on the cutting edge of technology at the time. To this day I still find them an fascinating devices and I'm awestruck at times at what they can do. Well I digress . Thank you for coming by and hope you return.

Preview- Coming up next week....Data

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Manic Monday

Having the day off from work I took advantage of it and did a couple of "service" calls. The first was a friend from work who's computer wouldn't boot up. I got there sure enough it would only boot and then auto restart almost in a loop mode. It seemed no matter what I tried it didn't help. I've done some research on it and hopefully I should get a second wack at it. The second was for a woman who I helped out awhile back. She was having some issues with her sound and an error message kept coming up. After a little troubleshooting and updating I eventually did a "recovery" which solved the problem. She was very happy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lightscribe System Software

I may have mentioned before that last week I bought a new DVD Writer for one of my PC's. One of the features of it was something called Lightscribe. Lightscribe does sort of what it sounds like. It scribes labels on your CD/DVD. I had seen this advertised before and it was a selling point for me. Well just yesterday I finally purchased some Lightscribe CD/DVD's and decided to give it a try. My first couple of ones I wasn't impressed with. I used the Nero OEM software that came with the writer. They came out very light and were hard to read. I thought to myself I'm doing something wrong. So I Googled lightscribe software and I came across there website. I found some cool softwre add-ons and an update for my label writing. It also seems like I didn't have the latest Lightscribe System Software. I tried it out again this morning using one of the templates I downloaded and using Lightscribe program and low and behold it came out beautiful. Crisp clear and easy to read. For right now if you bought a writer with Nero do yourself a favor and checkout the Lightscribe website and update your software and use there software to do the label. I do like it overall and can't wait to try another. Take care and thanks for coming by.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Veteran's Day

I'm a veteran myself(peacetime U.S. Army) and I have relatives who served in Vietnam and now have cousins who served (maybe serving) in the current conflict. I can't help be touched by the stories of sacrifice veteran's have made. If you have a chance this weekend no matter how you feel about our current situation. Thank a Veteran. It's the least you can do and that's all many ask. What sparked me to write this was this story. I hope you read it. Thank You and God Bless America!

Spam Scam for the Holidays

It's bad enough were bombarded with spam year round. Now of course they adapt strategies for the holiday season. Generally trying to tug at your heart strings to scam money or info. Be aware.Here's an interesting article PC World on the subject.

Computer Term of the Week - Boot

No I'm not talking about the one's you wear on your feet. For my British or Canadian friends it is not(not in computer terms) the trunk of an automobile. I'm sure if you've been around a computer enough you've heard the term to boot up your computer. One definition I found is:

"To load a program into the computer. The term comes from the phrase"pulling a boot on by the bootstrap." - Upgrading and Fixing PC's 15th Edition by Scott Mueller

By that definition it applies to any program you load into a computer. I believe more commonly it is used when you turn the computer on at first or when you restart your computer.Even then it could be broken down to Cold Boot or Warm boot. Cold boot is when the computer is completely powered down and then started up again. Warm boot is when the computer is on and is restarted again without completely powering down.

I hope these terms help you understand computers a bit more. For those that are a little more experienced please keep in mind we all had to start somewhere. If you have any terms you'd like to see please feel free to suggest some. Thank you for your time and I hope you come back again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pre-built vs. Custom built

I've had both pre-built and custom built PC's. To me it depends what you want out of it. Here's and interesting article about the subject. You can decide yourself..

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I've been fooling around with remote access using's service (free version). One use I discovered is an alternate way to network your own computers in the same house. Along with remotely using your own computer I can transfer files via email and download them on the client PC. Steps are:
1. Go to your email program(Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook etc..) attach file to email and send to yourself.
2. Using LogMeIn access your second PC(or laptop). Download attachment and do what you want from there. You can print or edit from the second computer from there.

I think it's pretty cool. It's a nice alternative use for the program.

Mac Vs. PC Rap

Normally I despise rap but this is a funny take on the whole Mac vs. PC debate. Enjoy.

Computer Show today

Today I'm off to the local computer show.It's being put on by Cogan Fairs Still trying to scrounge some money up from the wife. In the market for a DVD burner or at least an 80gb hard drive. Wish me luck.

Friday, November 2, 2007

How-to: Fix scratched or damaged CD's or DVD's

Instead of throwing them out you can try this method using Brasso. I'm going to give it a try. Of course this doesn't replace making backups of your stuff, but of course sometimes it's too late for that. This may work for you.

MAC vs. PC

I find the whole debate over this issue quite amusing. Here's a funny parody of the famous MAC vs. PC commercials.

Computer term of the week - A+

The computer world is full of jargon, technical terms, acronyms and other gibberish that lay people and even those with some computer savvy scratch there heads at. My goal is to cover a term each week. This helps not only others learn something new I also learn as well. I figured I'd start off alphabetically. So here it goes. First at bat is....


According to Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PC's(15th Edition) A+ is:
Refers to the Comptia A+ Certification, A vendor-neutral certification for computer hardware technicians. A+ certification exams test knowledge of basic hardware and software skills. The A+ Certification can be used as part of the exam requirements for the Microsoft Certified System Administrator(MCSA) credential.

More info can be found out about A+ Certification can be found at the Comptia website . It's considered I believe a basic requirement for for those working in the computer repair field. The basic premise that this(the test) is what computer technician should know with at least six months experience. It's the test I've made my goal to pass withing one years time. Wish me luck and thank you for your time. See you next week.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bush to sign 7-year Internet tax ban

Love him or hate him (doesn't seem to be much middle ground) at least he did this. See the article here.