Posts Tagged ‘Windows’

Did You Update This Week?

imageYep, I know this reminder is late, but if you KNOW it’s late, then you KNEW it was coming and should have been prepared.  There was a MAJOR update to Windows and several minor updates that need to be installed, so be sure that you’re doing them.  And as always, be sure to update your Adobe Acrobat and Flash when you see the red icon, and update Java as well (most viruses I see these days sneak in through systems that DIDN’T patch their Java installation.)

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It’s the 2nd Tuesday of the Month, Do You Know Where Your Updates Are?

imageIn case you’re new to my blog, the 2nd Tuesday of the month is when Microsoft pushes updates to its Windows operating system down to your computer.  These updates aren’t to make it prettier, it’s to fix security holes that have been discovered. 

Throughout the month you will also get updates from Adobe for Acrobat Reader and for Flash, as well as from Sun for Java.  When you see one of these icons you need to heed the warning and update your computer.  imageWithin DAYS the bad guys will be looking for computers that have NOT fixed and will try to exploit any vulnerabilities.  Don’t get caught – keep your software up to date.

Install This Fix on Your Windows Machine Today

imageThere is an unpatched vulnerability in Windows having to do with Internet Explorer that is being exploited.  Even if you don’t use Internet Explorer as your browser, you still need to install the patch.  Follow the link to Microsoft site and click on the “Fix it” button on the left to enable the fix.  It will download a patch you need to run – this will help keep your safe from the bad guys.  The patch disables a feature you will never use, but the bad guys will.  Here’s the link to Microsoft’s fix:  http://bit.ly/TekChic0310

Lots of New Toys Just Around the Corner

imageTomorrow is the start of CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, the biggest electronics trade show of the year.  It’s being held in Las Vegas and just about every manufacturer you’ve ever heard of and lots you haven’t will be there showing off what’s new and what (might) be for sale later in the year.  Last year 3-D TV’s were big, this year there is expected to be a ton of iPad competitors, tablets running Android and Windows.  I’ll post some of the more interesting news as it come out.

Merry Christmas! Now What?

It’s Christmas morning, and you’ve opened up your gifts.  So what are you supposed to do now with your new computer, iPhone, Android phone or digital camera?  Lifehacker has posted some great articles on how to set up and optimize your new PC, MAC, iPhone, Android Phone and digital camera.  Follow the links below to make the most of your new Christmas “toy”.

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Windows PC:  http://lifehac.kr/TekChic0258

 

 

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Mac:  http://lifehac.kr/TekChic0259

 

 

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iPhone:  http://lifehac.kr/TekChic0260

 

 

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Android Phone:  http://lifehac.kr/Tekchic0261

 

 

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Digital Camera:  http://lifehac.kr/TekChic0262

Deal: Canon Wireless Multi-function Printer

image B&H Photo has the Canon Pixma MX340 for $64.95 with free shipping.  You get a fax machine, scanner, copier and printer all in one for the price of a printer alone – AND it’s wireless, so you can put it anywhere and your whole family can easily print to it.  It has an automatic document feeder and works with both Macs and Windows.

Here’s where to get it: http://bit.ly/TekChic0177

A Useful App for Your Laptop

Unless you ALWAYS use your laptop plugged into the wall, then this is a great app for you.  The BatteryBar not only tells you if your battery is charging or not, but it gives you the expected life of your battery, how quickly it is charging, and how much of its capabilities is still available.

It’s free and available for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 here: http://bit.ly/TekChic0170

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LastPass Basics – The BEST Password Manager

LastPass is a great tool for managing your passwords.  As I mentioned in my August 2010 article, having good passwords is essential to keeping your information secure.  But having good passwords AND remembering them is almost impossible to do, so that’s why you need to go to www.lastpass.com and download LastPass.  The name LastPass is reference to “The Last Password You’ll Have to Remember!”  With LastPass you only have to remember one really good password – your “master” password.  This master password unlocks your vault, allowing LastPass not only to remember your usernames and passwords, but now it can fill it in for you the next time you visit the site.  Most browsers already have this capability, but they are not secure and easy for a bad guy to see.  All you data in LastPass is highly encrypted, and without your master password, all anyone can see is gibberish.

The advantages of LastPass are many: 1) your vault is stored encrypted on the web and is accessible to you from any computer, anywhere.  2) It works with all the major browsers.  3) It works on Windows, Mac and Linux, so the password you created on your Windows machine at work will be available to you on your Mac or Linux machine at home.  4) It’s FREE for use on your computers, and for only $1.00 a month you can access to your login information on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Symbian and Android phones.)

Here’s 1 minute video on the basic function of LastPass:

                          

So give LastPass a try.  I’ll posts later on some of the more advanced but very cool features of LastPass.

Computing 101: How’s Your Memory?

I run into this bit of confusion almost every day – people deleting files to give them more “memory”. Deleting files may give you more hard drive space, but it won’t give you more memory.

Let’s start with the hard drive. The hard drive in your computer is your filing cabinet. This is where Windows and all your programs are installed. ALSO, this is where ALL your documents, music, photos and movies are stored. Your hard drive is your storage in the same way that you may have music CD’s or DVD’s stored on a shelf, or your important papers in a filing cabinet. Getting a bigger hard drive simply gives you more storage. A Terabyte hard drive can hold the equivalent of 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica. No one listen’s to all their music at the same time, or looks at all their photos or movies at the same time – we take what we want from “storage” and use the particular item at the time we want to. That takes us to memory.

Memory is made up of small chips inside your computer. They work kind of like an old calculator. Turn off the power and it goes blank. Turn on the power and you start filling it all over again. Memory is what your computer uses when it’s actually working on something. The processor inside your computer (probably by AMD or Intel) is what actually does the thinking. Because memory chips are MUCH faster than your hard drive, the computer pulls what it needs at the time into memory FROM the hard drive.

Let me put it into non-computer terms. You have a wall in your office filled with filing cabinets filled with papers; this is your hard drive. You have a desk that you work at that’s 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep; this is your memory. YOU are doing the thinking and working with the papers; this is your processor. What happens when you have more papers to work with than desk space? You start shuffling papers around, maybe putting them into stacks and moving stacks around – this slows getting your actual task done. If you had a bigger desk, you wouldn’t waste time shuffling papers. This is where more memory comes into play.

So deleting files from your hard drive doesn’t speed up your computer any more than throwing away papers in your filing cabinet helps you get the task at your desk done.

When your computer wants to use more memory than it actually has, it does what we do when we get more information than we can remember – write it down! We use paper; the computer uses the hard drive. To “add” to its memory, the computer uses unused space on the hard drive to “extend” its memory. The problem with this is writing to the hard drive is MUCH slower, your computer slows down. The solution, close programs that are running you don’t need OR buy more memory. The good news? Memory is cheap! Sites like www.crucial.com will peek inside your computer, tell you what you have inside and what you can upgrade with. The Windows Task Manager will tell you how much of your memory you’re using. If you’re using 80% or more, you’ll be noticing a dramatic decrease in speed. Installing memory isn’t hard in most computers, but if you’re not comfortable call a professional.

Goodbye Windows 2,000! On July 13th, 2010, all versions of Windows 2000 and Windows XP RUNNING SERVICE PACK 2 will reach the end of support. Microsoft will no longer be updating these products. If you have a system running Windows 2000, it’s time to move that machine up to XP. If you’re still running Service Pack 2 in XP, you need to download Service Pack 3 to continue getting updates. Go to http://www.update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate to get Service Pack 3, or consider upgrading to Windows 7. Windows XP with Service Pack 3 will continue to be supported by Microsoft through April 8, 2014.

Until next time….

Laurie Scott / Tek-Chic Systems
“Because Everybody Needs a Geek in Their Life”®

Don’t Waste Your Money “Speeding” Up Your Computer

Maybe you’ve seen them on TV, the commercials for “FinallyFast.com”, “MaxMySpeed.com” or “MyFasterPC.com”. And online you’ll find even more like “SpeedUpMyPC”. They all promise to make your computer MUCH faster. All you have to do is download and run their “free” product. Of course, after you run it, the program finds all kinds of problems with your computer, and offers to fix it for you. All you have to do is BUY the product at this point, and $30-$40 later, your computer is (maybe) a LITTLE faster. But it doesn’t stop there; they then offer to sell you other software to fix other “problems” that may exist with your computer.

What do these programs do? They do what you can easily do for free. Mostly they delete temp files, cookies and unnecessary registry entries. Deleting temp files and cookies won’t have any noticeable impact on speed, but if you want to you can easily do both yourself. To delete your temp files, click on the “Computer” icon on your desktop or “Computer” in your “Start” menu. Right click on your C: drive and choose “Properties”. Right there you’ll see a button that says “Disk Cleanup”. Click the button, check the boxes, click on “OK” and you’re done. Cookies can be deleted in the Tools/Options menus of your web browser (personally, I don’t spend time worrying about cookies.)

I don’t recommend you mess around trying to clean-up your registry (the registry is a VERY LONG list of settings telling your computer what programs are installed, where you like your icons, the color of your background, etc.) If you know what you’re doing and know how to back-up the registry before making changes, then you probably stopped reading long before now. If you don’t know how, then just leave it alone. Using a registry cleaner MIGHT make your computer start ½ a second faster, but you risk making a change that can make your computer impossible to boot, in other words “don’t try this at home.”

So what is REALLY slowing down your computer? After years of use, your Windows machine starts to use more and more memory. There are things like neat little tools that give you the weather or news on your desktop, printer software, camera software, instant messaging programs, etc. In addition, there are programs that came with your computer when you bought it that you may not even use. Programs like AOL, Quicken or Microsoft Money, the manufacturers “support” program, trial software and others. Many of these have small parts of them that start up each time you start your computer. With enough of these little “starter” files running in the background, the memory (not your hard drive) runs out and soon your computer starts slowing down.

The best thing you can do (and those paid software programs can’t) is remove the programs you don’t need and/or use. If you use Windows XP, go to your Control Panel and look for the “Add/Remove Programs” icon. This will show you a list of all the programs installed on your computer. For Windows Vista and Windows 7, the Control Panel now calls it “Programs and Features”. You need to be careful to remove only programs you’re SURE you’re not using – don’t go crazy with it.

The two biggest things that make a difference are best left to a professional. There are entries in the registry that can be manually deleted to stop programs from starting up with your computer. Also, adding memory is easy and cheap, but you need to be sure you’re putting in the right type for your computer.

Speeding up your computer doesn’t have to be expensive. If you are going to spend your money, spend it on the right things, you can take care of the easy stuff yourself for free.

Next month we’ll cover the basics of your computer’s memory and hard drive (how they affect the speed of your computer) and we’ll say goodbye to Windows 2000.

Until next time….

Laurie Scott / Tek-Chic Systems
“Because Everybody Needs a Geek in Their Life”®

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