Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Insert Pictures Into Microsoft Works Word Documents

Microsoft Works Word comes preinstalled on many new computers (unlike Microsoft Office, which you have to purchase).  Works Word is similar to Word, but does look and feel a bit different.  Inserting images into Works Word is also similar, but the terminology and steps are a bit different.  The instructions below will help you insert images into your Works Word documents as well as manipulate the image.

To begin, open Microsoft Works for Word.  You can start typing your text and insert the picture later or insert the picture first and type later.  For the sake of these instructions, I recommend typing some text first so you can better see how text can be made to wrap around the image. 

Once you have your text, follow the steps below to insert a picture into the Works Document.
  1. On the menu, select INSERT, then PICTURE, then FROM FILE
You should see the picture in your document.  Now you can resize the image and make text wrap around it. 

To Resize the Image, single left click on it so it’s highlighted.  Notice you’ll see eight small black squares along the border of the image.  While holding down the left mouse button, you can drag these boxes downward and inward to make the image smaller (or outward to make the image larger).

Please note that in order to not distort the image, you’ll only want to drag the corner boxes (not the boxes in the middle of the top and bottom border).

To Wrap Text Around the Image, RIGHT CLICK on the image and select FORMAT OBJECT.
Under the “Wrapping Tab”, you’ll see three options (or styles).  The pictures help explain each option, but you can make the image appear inline with the text, or make the text wrap around the image.  The difference between “Square” and “Tight” is the amount of white space left between the image and text.

Notice that you also have the option to make the image appear on the left or right side of the page (as opposed to center).  Though worded poorly, selecting the option to have “no text on the right” allows you to move the image on the right side of the page (though you have to move the image manually).  Likewise, “no text on left” allows you to move the image to the left side of the page and wrap text around it.  These options are only available when “square” or “tight” wrap options are selected.   Once you’ve selected either no text on left or right side, you can hold the left mouse button down the image and drag it to the left or right corners of your page.

After wrapping your  text around the image, you may notice there are two other tabs on the Format Object window.  The “size tab” just allows you to resize the image by typing in numbers.  Most people don’t use this tab since it’s easier to drag the corners of the image. 

The “text tab” is similar in that it allows you more finite control over the placement of text around the image.  But this tab is rarely used as well. 

If you're using Microsoft Office instead of Microsoft Works, click here for help with inserting pictures into Word.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Free Programs Every Computer Should Have

There are many free programs that every computer should have installed.  You should also make sure their up to date.  If you a see warning notice pop up telling you an update is available, you'll want to say "yes" to downloading and installing it. 

You can easily check to see if these programs are installed on your computer by clicking the START button and then ALL PROGRAMS.  You'll have to scan the list of programs looking for the titles below.  If you do see these programs installed, it would be a good idea to open them and click the CHECK FOR UPDATES button which is usually located under HELP on the menu.

Adobe Reader
Adobe Reader is the program that lets you open and PDF documents. If you already have Adobe Reader installed on your computer, you can open it and click HELP and then CHECK FOR UPDATES to get the latest version.  If you don't have Adobe Reader installed, you can click here to get it.  If you want the ability to convert your documents to PDF for easier sharing through email and the internet, then you'll want to buy Adobe Acrobat.

Flash Player
Many websites today use Flash technology to add graphics, video, and other interactive modules.  Flash player allows to view these websites correctly.  Flash is a plugin installed in your internet browser (e.g., internet explorer, firefox, etc.), so it needs to be installed in each browser separately.  To get the latest flash player, click here.

Java is similar to Flash, but is different technology.  You know those cute little greeting cards you get in the email that say "click here" to create your own firework show around the statue of liberty or throw snowballs, etc. ... those are created using Java.  Java is also used on many business sites like FedEx, USPS, and others.   To get the latest version of Java, click here.

Many of the videos you see on websites use QuickTime to play them.  QuickTime is Apple's technology so it can be installed on PC's and MAC computers.  If you have QuickTime installed on your computer, you may see a program (under ALL PROGRAMS) called, APPLE SOFTWARE UPDATES.  You can open that program to update it.  If you don't have it, you can get the latest version of QuickTime by clicking here.

MalwareBytes AntiMalware
This is one of my favorite programs!   It specializes in removing junk from your computer.  There is a free and paid version of this program and the difference is automation.  You have to update and run the scans yourself in the free version, whereas the paid version will automatically do those things for you.  To learn more about MalwareBytes AntiMalware, click here.

PowerPoint Viewer
This program allows you open and view PowerPoint Files (PPT and PPS).  All those cute little slide shows you get in email are usually created with PowerPoint.  You only need this program if you DON'T have PowerPoint installed on your computer.  To download PowerPoint Viewer, click here.

If you don't have Microsoft Office installed your computer, you can also download free viewers so you can open and read Microsoft Word and Excel documents too.  But like the PowerPoint Viewer, you only need the Word Viewer and Excel Viewer if you don't have Word or Excel installed on your computer.

Microsoft Office Compatibility Converter Pack
You only need this program if you have Microsoft Office installed and it's a version earlier than 2007.  You don't need it if you have Microsoft Office 2007 or later or if you don't have Microsoft Office installed.  This converter pack allows earlier version of Microsoft Office to open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files created with Microsoft Office 2007 and later. To get the Microsoft Office Converter Pack, click here.

Microsoft Works 6-9 File Converter
This program is for Microsoft Word users who sometimes have to open documents created with Microsoft Works. Although Microsoft created both programs, they're not compatible with each other.  Many new computers today come with Microsoft Works pre-installed.  And this is the only program you are working in, that's fine.  But if you're a Word user and now need to open a Works document (.wps),  this converter will let you. To download the Works converter, click here.

I'm a big believer that EVERY computer should have a second internet browser installed.  The reason is that if Internet Explorer gets corrupted (which it frequently does), then the only way to fix it is to get to the internet ... but if you can't get to the internet, you can't fix it. That's where having another browser your computer is helpful.  Having another browser on your computer will let you get to the internet if Internet Explorer is corrupted.  You don't have to use Firefox if you don't want to.  But having it installed will give you a backdoor to the internet.  While there are other browser alternatives (Chrome, Safari, Netscape, etc.), Firefox is my favorite browser.  To get Firefox, click here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Make Text Larger on the Internet

I've been sharing this tip with my clients for years, and thought it a good idea to share it here too.  Some of us are visually challenged and find it difficult to read the text on many web pages.  Even more frustrating is that the text size varies from web site to web site. 

The cool thing is that there is a keyboard trick you can do to easily increase or decrease the size of text on any web page you're visiting.  And this trick works in both Internet Explorer and Firefox (as well as other internet browsers).

To make text larger, hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard and then hit the + sign.  You can keep hitting the plus the sign while the CTRL key is held down to zoom in a couple of times.  

To make text smaller, hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard and hit the - sign (minus key to the left of the + sign).  Again, as long as you are holding down the CTRL key, you can keep hitting the minus key. 

Using this little trick, you can quickly and easily change the text size of web pages so they're easier to read.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adobe X - The Next Generation of Adobe Software

Adobe X is the latest version of Adobe Acrobat and Reader software.  If you still have Adobe 9 (or earlier versions) on your computer, your software is now outdated.   You can get the newest version of Adobe Reader X by clicking here.

Many of the new features available in Adobe Acrobat and Reader don't apply to the average consumer.  But  those who work frequently with the feature in Adobe Acrobat,  may find some of the new features nice.  You can view a complete list of new features available in Adobe X by clicking here.

Acrobat X Standard - License
Acrobat X Standard - License
Reliably create and share PDF documents and forms.

Acrobat X Pro - License
Acrobat X Pro - License
Prepare, protect, and deliver professional PDF communications.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Can't Open Attachments in Outlook Express

Not being able to open attachments in Outlook Express is a common problem after updating Internet Explorer.  That's because Internet Explorer and Outlook Express are tied together and by default, a security setting is configured to prevent you from opening potentially harmful attachments. Only problem is that this setting prevents you from opening ALL attachments. 

To fix  the problem, follow the steps below:
  1. Open Outlook Express
  2. On the menu, select TOOLS and then OPTIONS (a small window till open)
  3. Click the SECURITY tab on the newly opened window
  4. Uncheck the box that reads, "Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus".
  5. Click the OK button to save the changes and close the window.

That should fix the problem.  Try opening your attachment again.  
If this didn't fix the problem ... there may be another security setting somewhere else that needs to be reconfigured.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to Create Google Alerts

Google Alerts are a great way to keep up to date on specific topics.  For example, if you're interested in "pet care services", you can create a Google alert for that topic. Anytime a new blog post or article is written on "pet care services", Google will send you an email sharing the information and link to the source.  .

From an ordinary consumer view, this is a great way to keep up on your favorite hobbies and interests. Google alerts will save you time scouring the Internet looking for information related to your hobby and interests.

From a business view, this Google Alerts are a valuable tool that help you stay on top of what is happening in your industry (as well as what information your competition is publishing).   Again, this is a huge time saver in keeping up to date on the latest info and industry trends.

Setting up Google Alerts is easy.  You just need to have a Google Account first (which is free). If you have a Google Account, you can add another email address (or alternate) to your account.  Doing so, will allow you chose which email you want the Google Alert to go to (i.e., personal or business). 

To set up a Google Alert, follow the steps below:
  1. Go to the Google Alert site

  2. In the "Search Term" field, type the keyword that you're interested in (pet care services in this example)

  3. Under "Type", you can specify if you want EVERYTHING that's published for that keyword or just specific info (like video or blog updates).

  4. The "How Often" field lets you configure how often you want Google to email you an alert (once a day, as it happens, or weekly).

  5. The "Volume" field lets you specify if you want to see every alert, or just the best.  Stick with "just the best" here.

  6. The "Deliver to" option lets you specify which email address to the alerts to (if you have more than email address setup in your Google Account). 

Even with "just the best" option selected in step 5, you will get a good amount of alerts from Google.  I have most of my alerts configured for "everything" (step 3), "once a day" (step 4), and "only the best" (step 5). These settings help me manage the emails better.

Most of my Google Alerts end up on my spam (or junk) box ... which is fine with me.  I just go through it once a day and look for Google Alerts.  While there are loads of them, they are pretty easy to check out fairly quickly.  When you open each Google Alert email, you will see a summary of results along with headlines and links.  If a headline catches my eye, I will click the link to read more .... otherwise I just ignore the info.  I can get through these emails pretty quickly this way.

The really nice thing is that if a headline does catch my eye and look like information I should be aware of, I can click the link to read more. Then if the info looks like something I think my readers will be interested in. I will do a little more research and write my own blog post on the topic to share with them.  I usually try and make my blog posts more complete than the info shared in the Google Alert. 

You can create as many Google Alerts as you like.  For example, you might create one for "pet nutrition", "pet certification", "pet care legislation", etc.

You can also manage your Google Alerts. So if you find that you're getting too many emails, you can reconfigure your settings or even delete an alert if you decide it's not helpful.

If you look to the right of the Google Alert settings, you will see a bunch of text.  Below it will be a link that reads, "You can also click here to manage your Google Alerts".  Click that link to delete or make changes to your Google alerts.

To Delete a Google Alert .... place a check mark in the box next to the alert you want to delete, and click the delete button.

To make changes to an alert, click the EDIT link on the right side of the Google Alert.

That's all there is to it.   Since deleting Google Alerts is easy, set a few up and give it a try. You might have to create alerts for different keywords until you find the ones that work best for or your business.

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Watch for Windows Antivirus in Emails

    It appears that the rogue program, Windows Antivirus is now spreading via emails. Previously, the only way to get it was to click an internet link which took you to an infected site.

    But the other day, one of my single clients received an email that appeared to be from a friend with a picture of a girl attached that he wanted him to see. He clicked the link to open the picture and was immediately hit with messages from Windows Antivirus telling him his computer was infected.

    This is the first time I've seen an attack via email by the rogue program (though I suppose it was just a matter of time).  

    Make sure your antivirus software is up to date and if you haven't already, be sure to download and install Malwarebytes AntiMalware (one of the few programs that can successfully remove Windows Antivirus).  In addition to these things, be careful not to open emails from people you don't know (especially if they contain links or attachments).

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Support Ending For WinXP & Vista

    Now that Windows 7 is is the newest operating system,  lot of folks have been wondering when support for WinXp and Vista will end.   Good question!  But unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. It all depends on which version of windows you're running and which service packs are installed.

    First thing you want to do is make sure you have the latest Service Pack installed on your computer. This means that if you're running Windows XP, you want to make sure Service Pack 3 (SP3) is installed.  If you're running Vista, you want to make sure Service Pack 2 (SP2) is installed.  When in doubt, run Windows Update until all important (or critical) updates are downloaded and installed.

    What Service Pack Is Installed On Your Computer?

    If you're running WinXP, you can check to see what service pack is installed by clicking the START button, then RIGHT CLICKING on MY COMPUTER and selecting PROPERTIES.  A gray window will pop up on and you will see the service pack listed under the "system".  The latest one is SP3.

    If you're running Vista, you can check to see what service pack you're running by clicking the START button, then RIGHT CLICKING on COMPUTER and selecting PROPERTIES.  If you look near the top of the window that pops up (under Windows Edition), you'll see which service pack is installed.  The latest one released is SP2.  

    If you are not running SP3 on WinXP or SP2 on Vista, you need to run Windows Update to get them.  Having these service packs are critical to getting continued to support from Microsoft for a little while longer.

    Microsoft will eventually end support for WinXP and Vista ... which means that you won't be able to get Windows Updates that help protect the system.  But there is no need to run out and buy Windows 7 yet.  

    Here's what we know:
    • Vista will continue to be supported until April 2012 (2017 for Vista Business users)

    • WinXP will continue to be supported until April 2014

    For more information about WinXP Support, click here

    For more information about Vista Support, click here.

    Should you Upgrade or Buy a New Computer?

    Several factors are involved in deciding to upgrade versus buy a new computer.  One of the first things you have to ask yourself is, are you happy with your current computer?  If no, then you'd be better off buying a new computer.

    If the answer is yes, then you have to determine if your current computer is compatible with Windows 7.  You can download and run the Windows 7 Compatibility Advisor for help in determining if your computer is compatible with Win7.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    How to Delete Posts on Facebook

    Every time you do something on Facebook, your activity is logged on your profile page.  For example, if you make changes to your profile settings, Facebooks shares this with the world on your profile page.  If you comment on another person's status or photo, it gets logged on your profile page so folks know what you're up to.

    This may or may not bother you, especially if you're using Facebook for personal reasons.  But if you're a business owner, you might not want to share your "housekeeping" activity with others. Here's an example of the kind of activity posts I'm talking about.
    As you can see, these kind of posts really have no value and on a business page, can stick out a like a sore thumb. Deleting them is easy.  Just follow the steps below:
    1. Move your mouse to the top right corner of a post, and you will see an X appear (like the one circled in red below). 
    1.  Click the X and a window will pop-up asking if you want to remove the post.
      Click REMOVE POST

    You'll have to repeat these steps for every post you want to remove.  But you'll notice that your facebook page looks a lot cleaner with these types of posts removed from it. 

    For information on removing game posts from Facebook, click here.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Be Cautious of Windows Security Alerts

    I've shared a lot of information in the past about the dreaded Windows Antivirus program.  It's a malware program that has been infecting many of my client's computers over the last couple of years.  While the characteristics are the same, the rogue program keeps changing names and getting better at evading removal.

    We know that it get's on people's computer while they're surfing the internet. All they have to do is click a link to an infected page and suddenly they find themselves confronted with several pop-up windows telling them their computer is infected. 

    The problem is that it's impossible to narrow down the web site that is infected, because .... well, countless web pages are infected.  Today, I was doing research for my genealogy web site and was searching for genealogical societies in Pennsylvania when I stumbled across an infected site.  I thought I would share exactly what happens next so that you can take proper steps to remove the rogue program before it infects the rest of the computer.

    So as I mentioned earlier, I was searching Google for "genealogical societies in Pennsylvania" when I stumbled across the search result below.

    Now if I had been paying better attention, I never would have clicked on the link because several things stood out as red flags just looking at it. But I was in my 4th hour of research by that point, hungry, and blurry eyed, so I just clicked away!  Big mistake!

    Looking at the image above, two things stand out (circled in red) that I should have paid closer attention to before clicking the link.  The first one is the yellow exclamation point (top right).  This was Norton warning me that this site is not safe.   The second red flag is the actual link of the site (also circled).  I'm searching genealogical societies and the link starts out: italiaclubprive.com.  That should have been a huge flag if I had been paying better attention.

    None the less, I missed the red flags and clicked the link.  Next I was confronted with the following warning message.

    Having seen the Windows Antivirus more times than I can count, I recognized this warning message immediately and tried to Cancel it.  As expected, that caused several more pop-up messages warning me my computer was infected and that I should click OK to fix the problem.  Every time I canceled the prompts, I was hit with more and stuck in an endless loop of warning messages.

    After several cancellations, I eventually got to the Windows Security Alert window shown below (confirming my hunch that this was indeed the dreaded Windows Antivirus).

    At this point, there was only one way to get out of the endless loop of warning messages.  I had to close my internet browser.  But of course, the only way to do this now, was to open the Windows Task Manager, find my browser in the list of processes, highlight it and click END PROCESS.

    If you're not familiar with the Windows Task Manager., hit CNTRL - ALT - DEL on your keyboard (holding all 3 keys down together) to call it up.  Then click the PROCESSES tab and find your browser in the list (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.).  Single left-click it to highlight it, then click the END PROCESS button.  If done correctly, your internet browser should close. 

    After my browser was closed, I wanted to make sure the rogue program was off my computer.  So I opened my favorite malware program (Malwarebytes Antimalware), updated it and then ran the quick scan.  Sure enough it found 3 infections listed as "Rogue.Security Toolbar".  I click the appropriate prompts to let Malwarebytes remove the program and then rebooted the computer when prompted.  Then I ran Malwarebytes again just to verify the rouge program was gone from my computer (and it was). 

    You might be wondering why Norton didn't remove it.  Well, the quick answer is that I didn't ask Norton to.  I let Malwarebytes remove it instead since I knew it could handle it from previous experience.  If you recall, Norton did try and warn me when I was looking at the search listing in Google and I ignored it.  

    This particular rogue program isn't a true virus in the way other viruses work.  This program is very malicious and tries to extort money from you by scaring you into believing your computer is so infected with Trojan viruses that you must let this rogue program remove them now (for a fee of course).

    Malwarebytes Antimalware specializes in these types of programs so I trust and use it to remove them.  None the less, the problem is solved and hopefully you'll be better equipped to handle the attack yourself if ever you're ever confronted with it.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    10 Privacy Settings for Facebook You Should Know

    I know I've posted information about privacy settings on Facebook before, but they can't be emphasized enough.  While it's best to approach facebook from the standpoint that EVERYTHING is public, you do some control over what information is shared.

    I stumbled across an article today titled, "10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know".  There are some excellent tips in this article and it's well worth your time to read.

    For more information about Facebook Privacy, check out the links below. Of course, keep in mind that if you're a business owner on Facebook, you may not want to implement some of these privacy changes since they would reduce your visibility.

    Facebook Places & Your Privacy

    Changing Your Privacy Settings in Facebook

    How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Info on Google

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    How to Hide Game Posts and People on Facebook

    Once you start accumulating friends on Facebook, it's easy to get overwhelmed by some constant flood of posts (especially game posts).  The good news is that you can chose to hide posts (and people) that you really don't want to see on Facebook.

    While hiding game posts is easy, hiding people can be a sensitive issue.  You might wonder why even have a person as friend if you don't want to see them or have any communication with them.  That's a good a question!  The answer is simple.  Some of us have relatives or friends that we find offensive (or at least find their posts offensive) and while we don't want to see them, we don't want to delete them from our friends list because we don't want to hurt their feelings. This happens a lot.  And whether you decide to delete somebody from your friend's list or chose to hide them instead, is totally up to you.

    Game posts (and other posts, like horoscopes, questions, etc.) are another matter.  Some of the games (especially Zynga games like Mafia Wars and Farmville) require folks to post a lot a messages in order to solicit friends help in the games.  If you don't like to play games, seeing all these posts on your Facebook page can get annoying fast.  Here's how to hide them ...

    Find one of the game post (example below).

    If you move your cursor to the top right side of this post, you'll see an "X" appear in the top right corner of that post.  You won't see this "X" unless your cursor is hovering over the correct spot. .

    Click that "X" and you'll see a group of buttons appear.

    While you have 4 buttons (or choices on how to handle this post), I've only circled the two on the left.  The first button gives you the choice to hide this person, while the second button lets you hide all game posts from this game. 

    The difference is this.  Hiding the person means that you will never see another post from this person again (not even status posts) .  Hiding the game post means that you will not see any posts relating to this game (Mafia Wars, in this example), but you will still see other posts this person makes.

    When hiding game posts, you'll have to repeat the steps above to remove each game you're not interested in.  So for example, you'll have to repeat the process to hide all game posts for Mafia Wars, Farmville, Farm Town, Cafe World, etc.

    For more information on deleting facebook posts, click here

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    No Longer Getting Cableone Email?

    As many of you are aware ... Cableone has made some changes to their email servers which affects the way Cableone subscribers receive their email.  Those changes take effect this month and if you've haven't migrated your email account over to the new system, you will stop receiving email.

    Here's what's happening ...

    In the past, Cableone hosted their own in-house email servers.  Instead of continuing to do this, they have now partnered with Google to use the Gmail servers instead.  So what does this mean to you?

    Not a whole lot, but you do need to follow some steps to migrate your email over to the new system.  First, here's what you need to know:
    1. You do NOT need to sign up for Gmail 
    2. Your email address will stay the same
    3. You will be asked to create a new password that is at least 8 characters long (and contains a capital letter and number).  If you're password already met this requirement, then you won't need to create a new password.
    Now that you  know all of that, you just need to follow the steps to migrate your email over to the new system.  To do so, you can click here to start the Cableone migration process.

    The actual process consists of a couple of steps.
    1. Log into your existing cableone account on the web and follow the prompts (creating a new password)
    2. Click the link (when asked) to activate your new account
    3. Reconfigure your email settings (if you use web mail, you don't need to do this step).
    Many people struggle with reconfiguring their email settings.  If you're not comfortable doing this, you can call Cableone tech support to have them walk you through the steps (or schedule an appointment with me to help you).  Below is a summary of the new POP3, SMTP, and server settings you'll need:
    • POP3:   pop3.gmail.com    (Port 995 with SSL)
    • SMTP:  smtp.gmail.com    (Port 465 with SSL)

    If you are comfortable reconfiguring your email settings, here are a few links to help you. 

    If you use Outlook Express for email, click here for step by step instructions on reconfiguring your email.

    If you use Windows Mail for email, click here for step by step instructions on reconfiguring your email.

    For help reconfiguring other email clients (Outlook, Thunderbird, iPhone, etc.), click here.

    If you'd like to speak with a Cableone tech, call 1-877-692-2253.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Photo Works Free Shipping Offer

    If you're already thinking about ordering personalized photo gifts (Christmas cards, mugs, calendars, etc.), you might want to check out photoworks.com.  They are offering free shipping for a limited time.

    Free Shipping Offer:
    Use Promotional Code: GIFTSFSS
    Offer Expires: 10/13/10

    Photoworks.com will also help you turn your photos into a memorable photobook (one of my favorite gift ideas).  And for a limited time photoworks.com is offering a 20% OFF on all Photo Books!

    Photo Book Discount Offer:
    Use Coupon Code: PHOTOBOOKS20
    Offer expires 12/31/10

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Misrosoft Outlook Won't Stay Open After iTunes Update

    A couple of days ago I updated iTunes because the software told me there was an update.   While iTunes updated nicely, as soon as the update was finished, I noticed that Microsoft Outlook had closed.  Each time I tried to reopen it, Outlook immediately closed again. 

    In this instance, it was pretty clear the problem was caused by the recent iTunes update.  Uninstalling iTunes and Quicktime from the computer did NOT correct the problem.  And of course, my computer would not let me do a System Restore either.

    After much research, I was able to find the simple fix on a forum.  I had to uninstall "Apple Mobile Support" from the Control Panel.  Once that program was history, I was able to open Microsoft Outlook again. 

    After fixing the problem, I remembered that this had happened once before.  I don't know what it is about Mobile Support that conflicts with Microsoft Outlook, but there is a connection.

    To uninstall Apple Mobile Support, follow the instructions below:
    1. Open your CONTROL PANEL 
    2. Double-left click the icon that reads "ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS" (WinXP) or "PROGRAM FEATURES" (Vista, Win7)
    3. Find Apple Mobile Support in the list, then REMOVE it. 
    Once this program has been removed, you should be able to open Microsoft Outlook again. 

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    How to Insert Pictures into Microsoft Word

    A lot of my clients have asked me how to insert pictures into a Microsoft Word document.   While the process is simple, explaining it in steps takes a bit of time.  So today I wrote up in the instructions (complete with pictures) on the Genealogy Help Zone web site.

    As you look over the instructions, keep in mind that they were specifically written for Microsoft Word 2000.  However, the steps will be very similar for other versions of Microsoft Word, especially those version that were pre-2007.

    The instructions will also be similar for other types of word processing programs (Works, Open Office Writer, etc.), although the steps may vary a bit. For help inserting pictures into Works Word documents, click here.

    None the less, if you'd like to see how to insert photos into Microsoft Word, click here.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Beware of New Email Virus (Here You Have)!

    A new computer virus started causing havoc yesterday with several corporation (including NASA).  The virus was in an email with the subject line, "Here You Have" or "Just For You".  Both subject lines have been spotted on the virus containing email.

    The actual name of the virus varies depending on which company you check, but it has been called the "Here You Have" virus, the VBMania virus, and it's official designation is W32.Imsolk.B@mm by Symantec.

    The email contains a link and the virus is activated when you click the link.  Then the virus sends the infected email to everybody in your address book.

    NORTON INTERNET SECURITY 2010 EN 1 USER 3 PC 24MO ESDAccording to Symantec, the virus has not infected any machines running Norton software yet.  So if you use Norton, it would be a good idea to make sure your anti virus software is up to date.

    As usual, don't open any emails from people you don't know (especially if they contain attachments).

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    How to Backup Microsoft Outlook Email

    Microsoft Outlook has a built-in backup feature that lets you back-up your email messages and address book family.  The instructions below were written for Outlook 2000, but they are similar for other versions of Outlook (pre-2007).

    To Backup your Outlook Email, follow the steps below:
    1. Open Microsoft Outlook
    2. On the menu, select FILE and then IMPORT AND EXPORT (a window will pop up).
    1. Click on EXPORT TO A FILE to highlight it in blue then click the NEXT button.
    2. Click on PERSONAL FOLDER FILE (.pst) to highlight it in blue and then click NEXT
    3. Scroll all the way to the top of the next window and click on PERSONAL FOLDERS and then click in the box reads "include subfolders" is to place a checkmark in it (this steps make sure all of your email messages are backed up).
    Note:  If you only want to backup your address book (and not the messages), then highlight CONTACTS (instead of "Personal Folders"). and you don't put a checkmark in the "include subfolders" box.

    1. By default, Outlook is backed up in the following folder (where "user" is replaced by your personal user folder):
    C:\Documents and Settings\Userl\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\backup.pst

    However you can change this folder if you want by clicking the BROWSE button on the next window and then selecting the location where you'd like to store the backup file.  I personally prefer to store my backups in the DOCUMENTS folder.

    1. Click the FINISH button when done and then wait while the backup completes.

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Facebook Places & Your Privacy

    The last couple of days there has been a post making the rounds on Facebook that reads ....

    NOTICE!!! Facebook Launched Facebook Places yesterday. Anyone can find out where you are when you are logged in. It gives the actual address and map location of where you are as you use Facebook. Make sure your kids know. TO UNDO:go to"Account", "Account Settings."Notifications" then scroll ...down ......to "Places..." and uncheck the 2 boxes. Make sure to SAVE changes and re-post this for others info.

    There seems to be some confusion about what Facebook Places are, and the steps given to change your "Places" settings in the message above are not accurate. So I thought I'd try and help explain it a bit better here.

    To better explain Facebook Places, think about some of your friend's posts you may have seen on Facebook for a minute. I have a friend who uses Facebook Places and another similar application called, Loopt.  Whenever this friend (we'll call him, John) goes anywhere, he uses his cell phone to post a message on Facebook telling his friends where he is.  The post does show a map and address of the business name he is at.

    This is what Facebook Places does.  The idea is that if you're out at the mall, or movies, etc., you can share that information with your friends on Facebook ... so that if any of them just happen to be at the same place you are, then you guys can meet up.  The original concept behind Facebook Places is harmless. 

    Below is a typical post that shows up on Facebook. John uses Facebook Places to share that he's at Starbucks getting coffee.

    However, like anything else on Facebook, there are potential drawbacks and dangers folks should be aware of. Keep in mind that NOTHING on facebook is really private.  And depending on your privacy settings, you may be sharing information about your whereabouts with more people than you think. 

    Some of my friends, for example, accept strangers as friends for game purposes.  The more friends you have on Facebook playing certain games, the better the game experience.  If your privacy settings are set for "friends only", keep in mind that even these strangers are seeing your whereabouts on Facebook Places.  And if you think back to grade-school and "stranger, danger" for a moment ... you might want to keep in mind that strangers are unknown variables.  In other words, if they're strangers, we don't really know if any of them are predators or sexual molesters, etc.

    While adults may be willing to take the risk having their whereabouts tracked, I'd urge caution for your kids.  It's not a good idea to let your kids broadcast their whereabouts on Facebook just in case that information is inadvertently falling into the wrong hands.

    Now that you understand what Facebook Places are, and what dangers to watch for ... let's change the settings.

    Notification Settings  for Facebook Places

    First, Facebook Places is an application, which means you don't have to use it.  If you don't use it, Facebook won't post where you are (with the exception of tagging).

    Secondly, the instructions in the warning message above are wrong.  "Notifications" are emails sent by Facebook to you.  Facebook lets you specify which emails you would like to receive from them.  By default, you get an email for everything on Facebook (you may have noticed that your inbox is constantly flooded by emails from Facebook).  Changing your "notification" settings will stop Facebook from emailing you for every little thing.

    The Facebook Places Notifications, have two settings that you can change. The first setting mentions "tagging".  If one of your friends is at Starbucks (for example), and you happen to be with them ... your friend might use Facebook Places to tell their friends that YOU are there with them (this is tagging).  Although you and your friend might not have arrived together at Startbucks, but ran into each other there by accident ...and your friend tells facebook you're there using Facebook Places ... you've been tagged.

    So it's not bad enough that your whereabouts can be inadvertently advertised to the world,  but as you can see, your friends can also advertise your whereabouts without your knowledge through a process called, tagging).

    The second notification just means that Facebook will email or text you if somebody comments on a Facebook Places post that you've been tagged in.

    So in other words, if you see a checkmark under the email icon or phone icon, Facebook will email or text you anytime somebody tags you in a Facebook Places post or comments on that post. Unchecking these boxes means that you will not receive these emails or text messages .... which in turn means that you might never know if you've been tagged on Facebook Places (not good).  It's better to leave these boxes checked so that at least you will know sooner than later if somebody is tagging you in Facebook Places.

    Privacy Settings for Facebook Places

    There are a couple of other settings you can change to better protect your privacy with regards to Facebook Places. If you click ACCOUNT and then PRIVACY SETTINGS, you'll see Facebook Places in the list of settings.

    If you click the "Customize Links" (bottom circle on image above), you'll be able to change the privacy settings for Facebook Places. This setting allows you to basically decide who will know when you check in using Facebook Places (or your friends do it for you).  I've changed my setting so that only I will know.

    This basically means that nobody but me will ever see that I've checked somewhere using Facebook Places. Notice, I've also unchecked the box below the "Places I check into" setting.  While I'm not a 100% sure, I also think this means that even if I'm tagged in Facebook Places, nobody else will see that either.

    For more information about Facebook Places, click here.

    For more information about Facebook Privacy, click here

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Ancestry Help Zone

    Like many of my clients, my new passion is Genealogy.  I've discovered that I really like searching my family history and learning about all the characters in our family.

    I've already been helping clients fix their genealogy software and scanner problems for years.  Now I've taken the next step in helping those same clients.  I've started a new web site specifically aimed at helping folks learn how to use the tools and resources used in genealogy research. 

    This new site will share tips and other information on how to maximize your research time on sites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org as well as information on using Microsoft Word, Excel, scanners, etc.

    While the site will be tailored specifically to genealogy research, I think others will find it helpful too because it will share general computer information as well.

    I will be adding to the site regularly, so you might want to check it out and bookmark (or add to favorites) the site. The web address is: www.GenealogyHelpZone.com.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Unable to open WPS Documents

    Having trouble opening documents with the file extension .WPS?  If you don't have Mircrosoft Works (not to be confused with Word) on your computer, you won't be able to open .WPS files.

    File extensions are the 3 letters after the period in a file extension.   These extensions tell the computer what program to use when you open a file.  The problem is that if you don't have that program installed on your computer, you can't open the document.

    You may have seen the white icon with dots before like the one shown.  This is the standard "program not recognized" icon.  If you see this, it means that the computer doesn't know what program to use to open the document because that program isn't installed on your computer.  To solve the problem, you have to figure out what program originally created the document.  And to do this, you need to either determine the file extension or file type of the document.
    If computer is configured to hide file extensions, you won't see them.  However, if you RIGHT click on the document's icon and select PROPERTIES, you will see the file type (i.e., what kind of document it is).  In this example, I right clicked on a Word document.  But this window looks the same for all documents you right click on.

    Knowing what the file type is, will help you find the solution to your problem (which is opening the document).  If you are trying to open a Works document (which is the program that has the file extension .WPS), then you will see Microsoft Word for Works (or something similar) next to "Type of File".

    If you have Microsoft Word installed on your computer, you can download a free Works Converter and install it on your computer.  This converter will let you open Word for Works in Microsoft Office.

    Once the Works Converter is installed, just RIGHT CLICK on the Works document and select OPEN WITH and then Microsoft Word.  If you don't see "Open With" when you right click on the icon, hold the SHIFT key down on the keyboard and right click on the icon again (you should see it now).  If you don't see "Microsoft Word" listed in the document options, then you'll have to browse for the program in your program files and select it manually.

    If you don't have Microsoft Works or Microsoft Word on your computer, the Works Converter won't help you.  And unfortunately, Open Office doesn't seem capable of opening .WPS files (not yet anyway). 

    Microsoft Works is pre-installed on a lot of newer computers.  So if you know somebody that has Works on their computer, you can open the file on their computer (either email it to yourself or copy it to a flash drive). Otherwise, you can buy Microsoft Works for under $40.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Canon MP Navigator Software Has Stopped Working

    If you own a Canon All-in-One printer, you probably have Canon's MP Navigator software installed on your computer. This software is necessary for using the scan features on the printer. 

    While MP Navigator is nice software, sometimes it stops working.   Folks running 64-bit versions of Windows 7 or Vista often see the error "MP Navigator has stopped working" when they click the icon to run the program.  And unfortunately, uninstalling and reinstalling the software doesn't seem to fix the problem. 

    The other day I was working on a computer that had this problem and after several email exchanges with suggestions from Canon tech support, the problem persisted.   I finally found the answer on a forum and wanted to share the solution here. 

    If you see a consistent error message, "MP Navigator has stopped working" you might want to try these steps.  First thing you have to do though, is show your hidden folders.  To do this ...

    1. Click the START button and then CONTROL PANEL
    3. Open  FOLDER OPTIONS 
    4. Click VIEW tab
    5. Under Advanced Settings, click "Show hidden files, folders,and drives"
    6. Click OK to exit window
    Once the hidden folders are visible, you want to find the file named, "My websites on MSN".  For advanced users, the actual path to the file is:

    C:\Users\\App Data\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts\My Web Sites on MSN

    For those folks who don't understand how to find a file using the path above, follow the instructions below:
    1. Click the START button and then COMPUTER
    2. Double click the C-Drive
    3. Double click the folder named USERS
    4. Double click your user folder (it may have your name or say HP Administrator on it)
    5. Double click the folder named APPLICATION DATA (App Data)
    6. Double click the folder named ROAMING
    7. Double click the folder named MICROSOFT
    8. Double click the folder named WINDOWS
    9. Double click the folder named NETWORK SHORTCUTS
    10. If you see an icon (or file) named "My MSN Shortcuts", delete it (and confirm deletion)
    Once that file is removed, it's a good idea to undo our first set of steps and hide those folders again which are normally hidden. To do this, follow the first set of steps above.  However, when you get to step 5, be sure to check the appropriate option to "not show hidden files, folders and drives".

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    How to Delete Your Facebook Account

    Many people choose to remove themselves from Facebook for various reasons.  When you get ready to do this, there are two options available.   You can choose to Deactivate your account or Delete it all together.
    The difference is that "deactivating" your account allows you to change your mind later, while "deleting" it doesn't.

    Deactivating Facebook Account

    Deactivating your account changes your settings so that nobody can see your profile or contact you.  You're sort of invisible as far as others are concerned, but you are still there. Deactivating your account is easy.  Just log into your account and ....
    2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "Deactivate".
    Note that one of the potential problems with "deactivation" is that Facebook is notorious for making concealed changes and it's possible that a future change may upset the balance with your deactivation settings and inadvertently make your profile public again.

    Deleting Facebook Account

    Deleting your Facebook account removes EVERYTHING - your profile, pictures, videos ... everything.  You will cease to exist on facebook.  If you decide go back, you'll have to create the account from scratch again.  Facebook really hates to lose people, so they tend to hide the information telling you how to delete your account.  But if you click the button below, you'll be directed to a page that will let you delete your Facebook Account.  Click the "Submit" button to delete the account.

    Click here to Delete Your Facebook Account

    For more information about deleting your facebook account, click here

    How to Stop Facebook From Emailing You!

    Tired emails from Facebook?  As great as facebook can be, having your inbox constantly flooded with facebook emails gets annoying pretty fast.   The good news is that you can configure facebook not to send those emails.  Here's how ....
    1. Log into your Facebook Account
    2. Select ACCOUNT and then ACCOUNT SETTINGS on the blue bar at the top of page.
    3. Click the NOTIFICATIONS tab
    4. Look at every setting and UNCHECK the box under the Email column (for one or more items listed). 
    5. Click SAVE CHANGES at the bottom of the page. 
    Facebook lets you specify which emails you'd like to receive (if any).  By default, every item is checked, which means you'll get loads of emails.  Facebook will not send emails for items NOT CHECKED.  

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Changing Your Privacy Settings in Facebook

    One of the biggest annoyances of Facebook is that they are constantly making changes - many of which affect your privacy.  Sadly, too often, you have learn about these changes from somebody else (not facebook).

    Today, one of my friends mentioned that Facebook is now making our phone numbers public (by default) unless we go in and change them.   So I did some checking.

    Facebook generally has 3 different options for privacy.  You can either share all of your information (including profile, photos, videos, etc.) with .....
    • Everyone
    • Friends only
    • Friends of Friends

    Unless you're a celebrity or business person, you typically don't want everybody to see your information.  So selecting the "Friends only" option is good for most Facebook information.  When sharing photos, I usually select "friends of friends" so that if my friend wants to share my photos with their friends, they'll be able to see them. 

    However, there is definitely some information you want to keep just to yourself.  And you will have to manually set these options.

    Changing your privacy settings in Facebook is tricky (especially since the steps keep changing).  But as of today, here's the steps.
    1. Log into Facebook on select ACCOUNT and then PRIVACY SETTINGS (blue bar at the top of the page)
    2. By default, you'll see a mixture of privacy settings.  For now, click FRIENDS ONLY on the left menu of options.

    1. Now select click the link that reads, Custom Settings
    2. If you've selected "Friends Only" previously, then you may only have to change the settings under "Contact Information" - but be sure to check every setting yourself to make sure you are only sharing information you want to with the people you want to.
    3. To change your settings, click the gray button next to each setting and select the option you want.  If you want to set it so only you (and not your friends) see something, click CUSTOM and then use the pull-down arrow to select JUST YOU. Then click the SAVE SETTINGS button.
    4. Repeat the process for each privacy setting.

    Because Facebook has a habit of making frequent changes to their system, it would be a good idea to re-check these settings periodically to make sure they're configured correctly.

    For more information about Facebook Privacy, click here.

      Tuesday, June 29, 2010

      Alternatives to PayPal

      Not a fan of PayPal?  A lot of folks aren't.  The reason so many web sites use PayPal for processing payments is that it's cheaper and easier to set up than merchant accounts.  With PayPal, web sites can take credit cards or electronic transfers from your bank to the web owners quickly and easily.

      Until recently, web owners didn't have many choices available.  You either paid merchant fees or you set up PayPal.  That is no longer the case.

      Thanks to PayPal exposing their liberal connections (and PayPal restricting donations to sites they didn't like), several websites have closed their accounts and moved their business over to their competitor, GPal.

      GPal was founded by a Pro-2nd Amendment advocates and they basically function the same as PayPal.  Even their fees are comparable.  Folks can sign up for personal and business accounts.

      If you're not familiar with the service, you don't have to be a business owner to use PayPal or GPal.  With an account, you can send money from your account to somebody else's account.  You don't need Western Union anymore. 

      And if you're a web site (or blog owner), you can use PayPal or GPal to accept donations and credit card payments. 

      So if you really don't like PayPal, you might want to give GPal a try.

      Sunday, June 27, 2010

      How to Embed You Tube Videos into Your Blog

      Many college students today are being asked to do their homework assignments on blogs.  And often times, they are asked to upload video assignments to You Tube and then post that video on their blog.  If you're not very computer savvy, the task can be daunting.  But the good news, is that it's easier than it looks.  This post will explain how to embed a video posted on You Tube into your blog.

      If you're not familiar with computer terminology, "embedding" a video simply means that you are allowing others to watch the video from your own blog (as opposed to sending them to You Tube to watch the video.  Below is an example of an embedded You Tube video. Notice that even though this video is hosted on You Tube, you can watch it here, without ever leaving this blog.

      The first step is to shoot your video and upload it to your You Tube account. You Tube does have a size restriction on videos, so you'll want to make sure your video is no larger than 2 GB or longer than 10 minutes.

      Once the video is uploaded to You Tube, you'll need to copy the embed code.  After the video has uploaded, scroll down the page to "Sharing Options".

      There are two options for sharing your video (URL and Embed).  You'll want to copy all of the code in the "Embed" box.  Single left clicking in this box should highlight all the code in blue for you.  Then just RIGHT CLICK (while the text is still highlighted) and select COPY. If you managed to un-highlight the text while copying it, you'll have to repeat the process until it's copied.

      Now open your blog and create a new post (or edit an existing one).  This process works best if you use multiple tabs in your internet browser so you can easily go back and forth between You Tube and your blog. 

      Once you're in the post you want to embed the video in, select the "EDIT HTML" tab (these instructions are for blogger, but the process will be similar in other blog formats). 

      Now put your cursor where you want the video to appear in your blog post.  Then RIGHT CLICK and select PASTE. If done correctly, the Embed code that you copied from You Tube, will now be pasted into your blog. Now select the COMPOSE tab to go back to your post and finish editing it.  You can center the video if you like and leave the rest of the text left-justified (this usually looks best).

      Publish the post when ready.

      There are other ways to grab the embed code off You Tube.  You can also get to it from the page that you're watching the video on (as opposed to the page you've uploaded it to). Sometimes, you may see different size boxes along with color options (as shown below).

      The purpose of these features is to give you more control over how your video will look on your blog.  When embedding video on Blogger, the smallest size box typically works best.  You can change the color scheme to match that of your blog.  The important thing to remember is that every time you change one of these features, your embed code will change also. So be sure you're copying the embed code that matches your desired size and color scheme.  You can also manually edit these features if needed.

      Thursday, June 24, 2010

      Saving Pictures from Windows Live Mail to Your Computer

      It's not uncommon to get pictures or other attachments in email these days that we'd like to save.  One of the questions I frequently hear is, "how do I save pictures in email?".  Unfortunately, the answer is different for everybody asking because the answer mostly depends on which program use for email.  Although there could be a couple of factors that affect the answer to this question too.

      Generally speaking, to save pictures from email to your computer, you have to "Save the Attachment".  Some programs will tell you to "download the attachment".  These two terms basically mean that you're saving the picture (or other attachment to your computer). 

      It's too difficult to try and answer this question for all the different email programs in this one post.  So the instructions below only show you how to save pictures from Windows Live Mail to your computer.  If you are using MSN or Hotmail for your email, these instructions should work for you (assuming you're using the MSN, Hotmail, or Winodws Live Mail website to check your email).

      1. Log into your Email account and find the message with the pictures (or attachment) you want to save.  Note that messages with attachments usually have a paperclip next to them. 
      2. Open the email message with the attachment (or pictures).
      3. If you see a yellow box with a message telling you the image or attachment has been blocked for your safety, you can click the link to "show content" in that box (assuming you trust the person who sent you that email).  Once you click that link, you should see the attached picture.
      4. Click the image and a small gray window should pop up.  Make sure the box to "Save the image" is checked and then click OK.
      Repeat the steps above until every image (or attachment is saved).  This is where it gets tricky.  Depending on how your computer is configured, the image may be saved in one of several different places.

      If you're using a computer that is running Windows Vista or Windows 7, then the image was most likely saved to your "Download" folder.  To get to that folder, just click your START button (lower left corner of taskbar) and then click your Username (which is usually your name).  After you do this, you should see a list of folders, one of which is named, "Download".  Open it, and the images you downloaded should be there.

      If you don't have the download folder, then your image will most likely be saved in one of other places listed below.  Check them all.
      1. The Desktop (the main screen on your computer)
      2. The MY PICTURE (or PICTURE) folder
      3. The MY DOCUMENTS (or DOCUMENTS) folder
      4. You may also have a "DOWNLOAD" folder inside the MY DOCUMENTS folder.
      In most cases, your saved pictures will be in one of the places mentioned above.

      Thursday, May 27, 2010

      Don't Use Ready Hosting!

      For years, I have used ReadyHosting.com for my business web hosting.  They were one of the cheapest web hosting companies when I first signed up.  However even though they're competitors have drastically cut costs, ReadyHosting never reduced their fees.

      Despite paying higher fees, I stayed with them out of loyalty because I liked their services and being able to readily contact tech support when needed.  But that loyalty has come to and end.

      In an attempt to reduce expenses, I decided to cancel my web hosting account since I've been using this blog as a means to share information.  While there are still some advantages of keeping the old website active,  I decided there weren't enough reasons to justify the expenses anymore.

      So this morning I contacted their billing office to inform them of my desire to cancel the account and was told that they would do so and would refund the unused portion of my balance after they deducted an EARLY CANCELLATION FEE!

      I've been a loyal customer for nearly a decade.  I could have moved the account years ago to one of the cheaper hosting companies, but didn't out of loyalty.  And now, they want to charge me an early cancellation fee?  Unbelievable!  The fee may only be $35, but it's the principle of the matter that really gets my goat!   Especially, since I only had 30 days left in the current subscription!

      Needless to say, I won't be recommending Ready Hosting to anybody else any time soon.  If you need domain names or web hosting accounts, go to www.WowzerWebs.com (which by the way happens to be my GoDaddy reseller account). But don't go to ReadyHosting.com!

      Tuesday, May 25, 2010

      How to Run Scan Disk

      Scan Disk is one of the built in computer programs that can be used to check for errors on your computer. It can also fix many of those errors.

      Basically, it scans your computer files, allocation tables, and the surface of your hard drive to look for errors. When it finds them, it tries to fix them (if the you have that option checked).

      It can take up to an hour to run this program and you don't want to be doing anything else on the computer while it's running. Like Defrag, you should also run this program once a month.

      In Windows XP, Microsoft renamed Scan Disk to Error Checking. They also changed it so you had to reboot your computer to make it run. 

      Close all programs on your computer and follow the steps below to run Scan Disk (or Error Checking).

      Windows XP

      1. Double LEFT click MY COMPUTER to open it.
      2. RIGHT click on the "C" drive and select PROPERTIES.
      3. Click on the Tools Tab.
      4. Click on the button that reads, Check Now next to Error Checking.
      5. Place a check mark in both boxes and click START
      6. Click YES on the message window that pops up
      7. Restart your computer

      Windows Vista & Windows 7

      If you're computer is running Windows Vista or Windows 7, then note that Scan Disk has been renamed, "Error Checking" - but it's the same program.  Follow the steps below to run Scan Disk (a.k.a. Error Checking) in Windows Vista and 7:
      1. Click the START Button and then COMPUTER
      2. Right click on the C-Drive and select PROPERTIES (you should see a new window like that below.  If you don't, repeat this step until you see the window below).

      1. Click the tab that reads, TOOLS
      1. Under the heading, Error-Checking, click the button that reads, CHECK NOW
      1. Click CONTINUE on the pop-up message
      2. Make sure there are checkmarks in the two boxes and then click the START button 
      1. You'll have to wait a few minutes for another window to pop up, but when it does, click the button that reads, SCHEDULE DISK CHECK
      1. REBOOT the computer
      Scan disk should start when the computer is rebooted.  If it doesn't, repeat the steps 1-6 and try again.  

      It will take about an hour for it to complete. There are 5 stages in this process and the last stage takes the longest.  I like to run scan disk while I'm sleeping or know I'll be off the computer for hours.  When Scan Disk is complete, you see your computer desktop again. 

      Tips for Buying a New Computer

      Buying a new computer can be daunting - especially if you're not familiar with all the terms and specs that are listed.

      This article will help you help you understand those terms and what's important in making a computer buying decision.

      Whenever you buy a new computer, you first have to decide if you want a laptop or desktop computer. Below is a list of pro's and con's for each.

      Laptop Pro's:

      • Portability (which is great if you travel a lot)
      • Wireless connections allow you access to your email away from home
      • Less space is needed

      Laptop Con's:

      • Smaller keyboard, and monitor
      • No mouse (but one could be attached)
      • Only one internal hard drive and CD/DVD drive (some people need more)
      • Printers, scanners and such are usually not connected all the time
      • Harder to fix and upgrade
      People who use the computer a lot, don't like the smaller monitor and keyboard. There's no number pad on a laptop keyboard - and for some people, that's a bit of an annoyance.

      Also, some people prefer the mouse over the touch pad or pointer. You can always hook a mouse up to a laptop, to solve that problem, but it's an extra step.

      One way to solve all those problems, is to get a docking station and connect a full size keyboard, monitor and mouse to it. That way when you're home and want to work on the laptop, you can attach it to the docking station and have it function more like a desktop computer.

      However, using a docking station means that you need more room and extra peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.). It also means that you need to have a permanent place set up with this equipment.

      Desktop Pro's

      • Full size monitor, keyboard, and mouse
      • Usually more processing power and speed than laptops
      • Ability to have extra drives installed (hard drives, CD/DVD drives, etc.)
      • Printers, scanners, etc. are always connected
      • Better sound and speakers
      • Easier to fix and upgrade (not necessarily true with laptops)
      There are many more advantages to owning a desktop computer. But the biggest downside is that you don't have the portability. And if you travel a lot, this can be a problem.

      Minimum Requirements

      We all have different computer needs. Therefore, what I look for in a computer may not necessarily be what you need in a computer. But there are some general guidelines that you'll find helpful when shopping around.

      Before buying a new computer, you need to know what you intend to use it for. For example, if you only see yourself doing some word processing (writing letters, etc), and email, then you don't need a lot of processing power.

      But if you see yourself wanting to store a lot of digital pictures, music, or do a lot of graphic work (photo and video editing), then you do need a larger hard drive and more processing power than most people.

      If you're a gamer (you'll also need a lot of processing power).
      When buying a new computer computer, keep in mind that the following things will affect the speed of the computer:

      • CPU speed (I'd recommend a minimum of 2GHz to everybody)
      • Memory (the more RAM, the better, but at a minimum, you should have 1 GB)
       There's a couple of things that affect the speed of a computer, but nothing that most people need to be concerned with. The main thing to keep in mind, is that you always want to get the most memory and fastest CPU you can afford.
      These are the two things that will affect the price of the computer the most.
      I also usually recommend getting the largest hard drive you can and to make sure you have at least a CD-RW drive installed.
      So regardless of your intended use, this is my list of minimum requirements for every computer user:

      • 2 GHz CPU (I personally prefer Intel or Celeron over AMD)
      • 1 GB RAM (but more is better if you can afford it)
      • 500 GB Hard Drive (you'll want more if you do a lot of graphic work - especially video)
      • DVD-RW drive (you'll want a DVD-RW if you work with video)
      • Network card (sometimes listed as LAN or NIC)
      • Wireless card installed (if buying a laptop)
      If you're buying a desktop computer and like to add a lot of extra stuff (like more hard drives, CD-Drives, etc.) then you'll want to get an ATX desktop computer as opposed to a micro-ATX.

      Also keep in mind that most new computers today, do not come with a floppy drive. Getting a thumb drive (or flash drive) will make things a lot easier if you want to swap files between computers.

      While it's true that computers can become outdated fairly quickly, I usually tell my clients to plan to get 5 years out a any computer. So when buying, it's a good idea to have a 5 year vision in mind of your computer needs. This will help you get the most for your computer.