Tips & Tricks Archive


#13 - System Restore in Windows 10






WORDUP COMPUTER SERVICES

#1 - Printing from Windows 8 apps

The applications on tiles that come shipped with Windows 8 are termed “Metro Apps” for the new tiled Windows 8 “Metro” theme. Metro apps are slightly different than traditional applications and don’t usually have menus to pull down and print from. For example, Windows 8 will have two different versions of Internet Explorer to browse the Internet.  

From the tiled Start Screen (which has replaced the Desktop), you can launch Internet Explorer.

Try this:

* Click or tap the Internet Explorer tile on the Start Screen. Browse to a page that has the content you might like to print.  
* Move your mouse pointer over to the right edge of the screen and a ghostly image of the “Charms Bar” will appear with five functions listed. * Hover the mouse over the bar until it becomes solid.   

Tip:  Holding the Windows key and hitting c will bring up the Charms Bar.Click the Devices link.

​* Your printer, if installed, will be listed there for you to print.  
* Click on it and a Settings screen should appear for you to control what you print.If you are using the “Desktop” version of Internet Explorer, which will be a shortcut on your old Desktop (click the Desktop tile or hold the Windows key and hit the d key), printing is normal through a menu or hitting Ctrl + p (for print).


#2 - A common fire hazard

A couple lost their 25 year old son in a fire at home on June 4th. The son who had graduated with MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison two weeks earlier had come home for a while. He had lunch with his dad at home and decided to go back to clean up his hostel room. His father told him to wait, to meet his mother, before he went back for a few days. He decided to take a nap while waiting for his mom to come back home from work. Some time later their neighbours called 911 when they saw black smoke coming out of the house.

​Unfortunately, the 25 years old died in the three year old house. It took several days of investigation to find out the cause of the fire. It was determined that the fire was caused by the laptop resting on the bed. When the laptop was on the bed cooling fan did not get the air to cool the computer and that is what caused the fire. He did not even wake up to get out of the bed because he died of breathing in carbon monoxide.The reason I am writing this to all of you is that I have seen many of us using the laptop while in bed. 

Let us all decide and make it a practice not to do that. The risk is real. Let us make it a rule not to use the laptop on bed with blankets and pillows around. Please educate as many people as you can."Please pass to everyone you know, you might save one's life."

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#3 - Dealing with Pop-Ups

POP-UPS SEEM TO BE A WAY OF LIFE ON THE INTERNET.  
Some pop-ups provide information to the user while others push advertising or display annoying messages.  Many pop-ups are actually Trojans in disguise:  clicking them will run a malware program or other dangerous scripts.  Some of them try to trick you by providing a way out:  a close button that doesn’t actually close.

Here’s one tip to determine whether a pop-up is actually helpful or a Trojan:

* Hover your mouse over the pop-up, especially away from an OK or Cancel button.  If the mouse pointer remains a ‘finger’, regardless of where you click the control will be activated.  Best to close these windows by right-clicking its button on the Taskbar and choosing Close Window.  This way, you don’t actually activate the code behind the pop-up.  

​This type of pop-up might appear on startup or when you start your browser.  They are sometimes brought in from installed toolbars.  I wonder what would happen if I clicked on the Erase all threats button?  Probably erase all your data!  Very scary!  Best to know the mainstream anti-virus/anti-malware programs like Norton, McAfee, Avast and MalwareBytes, etc.Bogus hyperlinks are similar:  if you hover your mouse over a proposed hyperlink that goes to a desireable destination and on the status bar at the bottom of your browser the web address looks like it’s going somewhere else, don’t click it!

Controlling them properly can be tricky.  When settings are set too high, some access to sites/pages will be limited.  All browsers will have a setting to control the security setting of the pop-up control.  

In Google Chrome you can access pop-up settings as follows:
1. Click the Settings Button.
2. Choose Settings
3. Click Show Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
4. In the Privacy section, click the Content Settings button.
You can also add exceptions with the Manage exceptions button. 

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer’s popup controls can be accessed as follows:
1. Click the Tools menu.
2. Click Pop-up Blocker, then Pop-up Blocker Settings.
3. Internet Explorer also has an area to add exceptions to the pop-up control.In this program, with Blocking level set to high, most popups are blocked.  You may find that clicking on some links won’t do anything at this level, so for areas that you want to access you need to override the controls and hold down the Ctrl key and the Alt key as you click a link.

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#4 - Reducing Malware Infections

MALWARE is MALicious softWARE.  
It can ravage a computer more than most viruses alone.  Keeping it out of your system is a daily challenge.  
Following are some tips on how to reduce (or hopefully avoid) it from spreading on your computer: 

1. Pay attention to what you install.  
Some programs will install other software on your system if you don’t reject them.  

​Unfortunately the endless wave of ads, popups, and browser hijacks will ensue.  More and more popups appear.  Eventually these malicious programs open a doorway to your secret data.  Your computer becomes noticeably slower, your homepage doesn’t go to Google anymore….viruses, worms, and Trojan horses let loose in your system.  Yikes!

2. Run reputable anti-malware software in addition to your anti-virus program.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is free and can detect problems with your computer that some anti-virus software might miss.
Some malware is very hard to remove!  
Even malware scanners and anti-virus programs can’t be guaranteed to eliminate all threats if they have penetrated deep enough into your system the way a stealth or polymorphic program can do.  You really need to know your stuff here!Prevention is the best method.
​ 
If you have an option to deselect subsidiary programs when installing certain software, (especially free) do it.  This will curb the installation of unnecessary and possibly harmful software on your system.  Certain programs are free because some developers jump at the chance of financial backing by other software companies (some with suspicious origins) and integrate these third-party ‘contributions’ within the primary install program. When it’s too late for prevention and your system is compromised, you must methodically eliminate the threats without infecting your system further.



# 5 - Restore Points

Disaster can strike a computer at any time.  Following are some of the most common reasons of computer problems/failure:

* Sudden power outages
* Software driver conflicts
* RAM memory problems
* Malware/virus infections
* Incompatible software installations
* A Windows Update gone bad!

For some problems simply returning your computer to a previous state in history will suffice.  This is called Restoring your computer. Windows uses set Restore Points to return functionality to your computer.  

Don’t be caught unprepared!  

If no previous restore points exist, this method won’t do! NOW is a good time to set one, assuming your computer is in working order.  Follow the steps below to see how to create a restore point in Windows 8.  

​1.  Open the System applet in Control Panel (shortcut:  Windows key + Pause/Break key). 
2.  Click the System Protection link on the left side of the applet.​​​
3.  Click the Create button bottom left of the screen.​
4.  Name your restore point.

Windows will show some animation as the restore point is getting created and present you with a confirmation message.

​​​​After you have created a restore point, and the time comes to use one, follow these instructions:​

1. Open the System Properties from Control Panel (in Windows 8 a quick shortcut is the Windows key + the Pause/Break key).
2. Click the System Restore button
3. Choose a Different Restore Point
4. Select your created restore point from the list

Tip:  It’s always a good idea to click the Scan Affected Programs button to see which, if any, installed programs might not function from the restore point.

5. Click Next.
6. Click Finish.​​ Your computer will restart.  Let it.



# 6 - System Information

When you are assisting a technician or troubleshooter with your faulty computer or merely upgrading your existing system, it is vital to have proper information about your system beforehand. Getting an accurate snapshot of your system ensures that what you add to it will play nicely with what's already there. It also resolves compatibility issues with other programs and operating systems.Here's the easiest way to get vital information about your computer system and it works in all the mainstream Windows versions:

1. Find the Computer (or My Computer) icon, either as a shortcut on your Desktop or in the Start menu.
2. Right-click the icon.
3. Left click Properties.You will see a lot of information about your system. The most important is listed below:
-Windows Edition (XP, Vista, 7, 8)
​-​Service Pack #
-​Processor (could be represented in MHz. or Ghz. or as a series #)
-RAM - memory in gigabytes (GB)
-System Type (32-bit or 64-bit)

Take this information with you if you plan on upgrading your system, or have it handy if you need to talk to a technician. It will save you both time and money.

​​​​In Windows Vista and 7 there is also a handy link to the Device Manager, an area that shows in detail all the hardware devices attached to your system. If you have Windows XP there is a separate Hardware tab with a way into Device Manager. This is an excellent area to write down the listed devices in your system, so that if you need to reset your system by formatting and re-installing everything, you will have a good idea what "drivers" to use for all your devices. Drivers are software that tells Windows what type of device you have specifically as well as its capabilities. For example, when you buy some printers you would have an accompanying little program on a CD to install so that the printer will be recognized, and will supply software to fine-tune your printing. ​

The most important devices to be aware of are:
-Display - shows your current video card to ensure optimum resolution of your screen
-Network Adapter(s) - you need this to ensure Internet or network connection - can be more than one, such as wireless, etc.
-Sound - needed for audio sometimes
-CD/DVD - to ensure proper playback of CDs and DVDs​​​.

It would be a good practice to find this information and record it somewhere---while your computer is functioning. Knowing these facts will help tremendously in fixing or changing your system.


# 7 - The End of XP Support


As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer support users of Windows XP. This means that if you continue to use XP, your computer system will be vulnerable to current security and malware threats. If you haven't yet, NOW is the time to upgrade your equipment and/or operating system.


From Microsoft: "Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.


As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates to help protect your PC.)"


WordUp Computer Services is here to help. If you need your old data moved to a new computer or want a newer version of Windows installed, contact us and we'd be glad to assist!


For information on pricing click here.


# 8 - Preventing Online Identity Theft


There is nothing worse than having your identity compromised. Cyber criminals violate human rights on a daily basis. Here are some ways to protect yourself again online and computer identity theft:


Avoid phishing sites


This type of website will appear as a reputable business but it’s function is to collect personal information, such as your social insurance number, address, credit card(s), bank account number, etc. It may very well be a legit business if you are applying for a credit card or similar, but if it is appears unsolicited, avoid it. Call the company head office for clarification if necessary.


Use an Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware program


Its no longer adequate to just use an anti-virus program as some computer infections are classified as special malware (malicious software) types and require specialized programs to seek and destroy them. There are many good names of anti-virus software, some of them free. The most common anti-malware program is called MalwareBytes Anti-Malware and can be found free for download here: https://www.malwarebytes.org/


Use Different Passwords


Try to use a different password for different sites and change them on a periodic basis. Yes, it can be frustrating to try to remember multiple passwords (there are password manager programs) but if you use the same password wherever you go, cyber criminals could access many of your accounts once they learn the pattern.


Secure your wireless network


Networks use a method called encryption to protect against unauthorized entry. If this is not enabled in your router, it should be. Otherwise, anyone within range of your broadcast signal can access your network freely and learn your surfing habits. To assign a password to your network you must access the router properties using the IP number on the bottom of the router or on a spec sheet provided by your Internet Service Provider. Make sure to use WPA or WPA2 encryption.


Watch where you click!


Don't click on attachments in your email unless you know the source...they are infamous for launching malware into your system. This is also true when installing free or obscure programs...if you don't watch closely what is being installed, spyware may appear on your system, eager to collect your personal information. Use the customize option on installing to see more of what is happening during the install.


Be wary of Internet Addresses


Check the web address you are visiting. Does it look legitimate or does it have many funny characters and numbers? More importantly, check to see if the website you are adding personal information to begins with https://, which signifies a more secure connection opposed to just http://.


Wipe your Hard Drive!


When you dispose of an old or unwanted computer, anyone who acquires it after can access your old data (even if it was deleted or the disk was formatted). To protect your information, use a computer "Wipe" program that eliminates traces of your data by overwriting it with redundant patterns. Better yet, smash the old hard drive to pieces with a hammer.



# 9 - Buying a New Computer


There are a number of things to consider when you are shopping for a new computer. Below are the most important:


Processor Speed

Some processors are measured in Ghz (gigahertz, or a billion electrical cycles or pulses per second). This essentially is the heartbeat of your computer. Now there exists dual-core, quad-core and beyond, multiple 'processors' (cores) to share the intensive processing load of the "brain", the CPU. Intel and AMD are the main processor manufacturers. AMD has now boasted a processor with eight cores running at 5 Ghz., the fastest processor available to the public. The higher the processor number, the faster the computer, but beware that a 1.2 Ghz Single-Core won't deliver the performance of a 1.2 Ghz Dual-Core.


RAM Memory

RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary, fast memory that exists while power is supplied to your computer. It allows you to draw pictures (more RAM, bigger, more complex pictures) and calculate massive spreadsheets. For most computer applications/games, more RAM delivers better performance. If you don't have enough, some programs may not run or worse, you may experience computer lockups or crashes.


Hard Drive

Computer storage space, just like real estate, is a premium. There is nothing more frustrating than running out of disk space. That huge program you were downloading last night just didn't make it to your computer...you ran out of disk space. Look for a big hard drive...calculate what you think you will need and double it! Computer hard drives/disks typically come in GB (gigabyte) sizes and now TB (terabyte) sizes. See the example below:

Abbreviation
Description
Size
Example Storage
GB
Gigabyte
approx. 1 billion bytes (characters)
250 songs
TB
Terabyte
approx. 1 trillion bytes (characters)
250,000 songs






Watch for the RPM (revolutions per minute) rating on the hard drive. You want 7200 RPMs...some hard drives that may seem like a good deal are usually rated at 5400 RPMs...you don't want these!


Ports

If you want to connect your computer to a large screen TV, for example, you will need an HDMI port. They are beveled and allow both digital and audio signals to pass from your system to your TV. Most new systems will include such a port, but not all. There are other factors to consider, of course, such as warranty and reputation. It's always a good idea to check the reviews on the system you are considering buying.


#10 - Google Search Tips

Everyone knows that Google is a fast and efficient search engine on the web.  Little is known, however, of some pretty handy shortcuts to finding what you seek.

Below are some examples of more efficient searches:

Local weather

Type weather followed by your postal code.  For example, weather V9V 1L9 will bring up weather conditions in Lantzville, B.C.

Local movies

Type movies followed by your city.

Calculator

You can type a math problem into the search window and have Google display the answer, which will automatically evoke the Google Calculator.  For example, typing 60+200 would display 260.  Just remember that some mathematical operators have changed with the introduction of the computer keyboard.  For example, multiplication is the asterisk (shift + 8) instead of the X we used in school.  Also, the division symbol is now the forward slash (/) below the question mark key opposed to the line with a dot above and below as before.

Specific document types

If you need to find documentation, for example, on your printer and you can't find your manual, you can look up specific file types.  Manuals are normally created in .pdf format, used by Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free downloadable program.

If you typed: Canon BJ-330 filetype:pdf, Google would return a list of pages linking to .pdf documents, most likely as manuals or user guides.

Tracking

Type in a flight number or a tracking number.  For example, United Airlines 456 would give you information about a specific flight and entering a FedEx tracking number would reveal the whereabouts of a package you ordered.

There are, of course, many tricks to getting results fast.  Happy surfing!



#11 - Speeding Up Your Computer

There are a lot of ways to speed up your computer, which may involve startup time, program/game execution and Internet performance.  Some are listed below…

Remove duplicate files

Through the course of their computing life, computer users attain exact duplicates of files, be they in picture, music, document or system format.  Sometimes it’s a result of backing up files, which is always recommended…to a point!  I’ve seen users with as much as 19 copies of the same file floating around in various folders and drives in their computer system!  Being that some files are larger than others, a multitude of them just eat up disk space.  As disk space becomes congested, so does speed (see a computer term called “fragmentation” for more info).

Therefore, searching for and removing most copies of files will sometimes save you space and most often give you a little performance boost.  There is third-party software (most times free of charge) dedicated to this task.  One program I like is Auslogics Duplicate File Finder.  It has “wizards” that guide you through the search and safe removal of duplicate files in your computer.

As with many free utility programs, however, you must be diligent about watching what you install.  In the screenshot above there is a checkbox confirming to install a second program called BoostSpeed.  I recommend unchecking it and watching any further screens that give you the choice…stick with the initial program for now.

In the screenshot above, the program has selected one of each duplicate file and allows you to delete the selected files.  This will save you some disk space and give a small bump to your speed.

Shave down your font collection

Fonts add interest to otherwise ordinary text in their variety of typefaces, but many fonts that reside on your computer are ridiculously similar and can be removed.  Be careful, however, of system fonts.  These typefaces are usually interwoven within the operating system and if they are removed, some messages generated by Windows will be unreadable.

You can get fonts from a variety of sources, such as CD or DVDs (font packs), downloadable fonts from the Internet, and applications themselves.  For example, if you were to install graphic programs like Corel Draw or Adobe Photoshop, a large number of specialized fonts will be added to your font library. 

The problem with too many fonts is that they are loaded into memory when Windows starts up so they can be used in all the installed applications.  A massive collection of fonts can slow the startup of your computer.  Trimming down your font library can tweak your system a little more.  Simply click the font name and click the Delete button.

Disable programs on startup

This is a big one.  Too many applications that load into RAM memory  steal valuable resources for Windows to run effectively and smoothly.  Computer manufacturers like to advertise their helper applications and automatically install them to load into memory.  Sometimes these applications are necessary to make devices connected to your computer, like your printer or sound device, operate properly.  Others are there for your convenience, but can be activated when needed: Skype, for example.  If you seldom used this program, why have it load into memory and slow things down?

Windows allows you to either disable or delete some programs from loading into memory on Windows startup.  Simply hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete (Windows 8/8.1), click Task Manager and then click the Startup tab and choose which utility programs you want to load.  Safer to disable than remove completely!  If you find it too inconvenient to launch a program on demand or one of your devices doesn’t work correctly, go back into Task Manager and re-enable the program.  There are, of course, many other procedures to boost startup and operating speeds, but this will help. 


#12 - Avoiding Email Scams

Too often email comes to our inboxes in the form of legitimate business documents from very important entities, such as government agencies, banks, and reputable organizations.   Most often the email leaves the reader thinking it is urgent to respond to them.  For example, this is an email that came into my Junk folder this morning (see image bottom of tip):


My Inbox is set to exclusive so generally only my contacts emails reach it.  The rest goes to my junk folder. That allows me time to weed out the good from the bad later. Likely they are scams, but what if they aren’t??

Fortunately there are some guidelines to follow.

Check to see if the URL shows where you will go when you click it. Pointing to the link on my machine revealed a website that deals with Nail Art…a far cry from the typical link to the Canada Revenue Agency website advertised on the bottom shaded area of the email.
Note any spelling/grammatical errors.  For example, Tax Refund is spelled incorrectly after the agency URL.  The government never makes mistakes!  Right?


The government would never be in a hurry to get money owing to you!  This email rushes you to 72 hours!

This email, needless to say, will be blocked.  By the way, advisable not to navigate to any links from these types of emails as you will most often pick up a virus, adware or spyware from them.  My experiments are done with optimal security settings and used for educational purposes.

If you really aren’t sure, contact the agency (or bank, etc.) and ask them if they have sent any emails out of this nature.  I’ll bet they didn’t!