Quick Bytes- Computer Survival Tips For Readers On The Run

quick-bytes.jpgTIP: AVOID DUPLICATE COMPUTER NAMES ON A NETWORK. What's in a name? After buying a new Windows PC you'll generally add a main user during setup, and this username might- and is often- used as the base for the default computer name. If your new laptop & older desktop both have "bob" as primary user, then the computers might both end up named "bob-pc" and the same workgroup "WORKGROUP" or "MSHOME". You MUST avoid or resolve this OR ELSE the computers can't see each other on your home network. By this I mean that you'll go into Network and Sharing Center, or Add Network Place under My Network Places, and it will be like the other computer is not on the network. Moreover, it often will look like NO other computer is on the network. In Windows 7 you will also NOT get the option to JOIN HOMEGROUP.  To resolve this, change the computer name. Here's how to do it:

Change Computer Name in Windows 7 or Vista

Change Computer Name in Windows XP

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 07:01

TIP: SOUND ADVICE regarding Audacity Waveform Editor: Audacity is an amazing and powerful free multimedia editing application you can use on PC or Mac to splice, cut, modify, clean up, convert and add effects to audio files.  If you use the free open source sound editing tool Audacity, be sure to download and install the LAME and FFMPEG libraries that have been developed for it, because they add a lot of extra save/convert/export/import functionality to the application.

Click here to learn where to download these multimedia codec/import/export library files:

Audacity FAQ: Installation_and_Plug-Ins

Last Updated on Monday, 28 June 2010 13:29

TIP: Use your old PC as a print server! Don't throw it out just yet. :)   Many of my friends and clients have switched to Mac with the new lightweight sturdy unibody Macbook Pros but have found that part of the fun of having a laptop gets lost because they can't print wirelessly to their usb-only printer. So for Mac users, here's how.  You can read the full oarticle here:


The short version is:

  1. Change your PC Workgroup affiliation to "Workgroup" (then skip creating a new location in the instructions)
  2. Enable printer sharing for your usb printer in Windows
  3. In the Add Printer dialog boxes on the Mac, look for the Windows Tab, and add the printer you see there.

Note that the link above recommends making the printer model "Generic Postscript", but you'll get better results on the Mac if you first connect the USB printer to the Mac and install the Mac drivers from the disk that came with the printer, or using the most current Mac driver from the printer web site.  And if you can't do that, also try to find the printer model in the Mac list of printers by choosing "other" as the driver option.  If that's confusing, the generic driver will probably work.

** As most PC users already know, to print from a PC laptop wireless to a usb printer connected to another PC, you simply use the standard built-in printer sharing- you just make sure that the printer is shared.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 June 2010 07:02

TIP: Use menus to insert, place or attach content. "Copying & pasting" is actually a problem in many programs. Use menu options like "Insert" or Place" when possible. Powerpoint can visibly corrupt pasted images. InDesign converts pasted files & loses some of their attributes & quality. Copying from Microsoft Word will carry bad script into web pages. Pating into an emaiil may guarantee that a recipient cannot save a picture you send.  Copy/Paste uses weird spaces called "clipboards" which only handle certain files types & in limited ways.  Moreover, the clipboard can be a huge memory hog, so if you forget that you left something in the clipboard, it can slow down your programs.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 June 2010 04:47

Tip: Skype has a BAD browser Add-On Extension that you need to disable. Skype is a wonderful program that offers people worldwide the ability to videoconference for free, talk for free, share screens and share files.  But Skype also has a ridiculous browser extension (also called "add-on" or plug-in) that causes oversized FLAGS (flag icons) to cover over any phone numbers detected in web pages, often completely blocking access to buttons that one might need to click on a web site. Realtors will find MLS software impossible to use with the add-on active.  Any browser based data screen with phone numbers shown on the screen could suffer problems. Skyp users should enter the options/preferences of all browsers (Internet Explorer/Firefox/Safari/Chrome) & disable the HORRID Skype browser plugin.  I'm a big FAN of Skype, just not of its browser add-ons.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 June 2010 13:30

TIP: GET CONTROL OF MICROSOFT WINDOWS AUTOUPDATE.  New Windows PCs come with automatic download and installation of Microsoft updates as the default setting.  The HUGE problem is- the setting also allows autoupdate to reboot the computer, regardless of whatever else is going on.  Recently, a client of mine was running a major hard drive restoration procedure that was going to take 12 hours from start to finish, and it could not be interrupted.  He didn't realize that autoupdate was on, and it rebooted his PC just 4 hours into the data recovery!  When he returned to his PC the next morning he had to restart the recovery from the beginning.  That was not a good moment.

Type "Windows Update" at the search box in the Windows START menu, or look for Windows Update in the control panel.  In the Windows update settings, either turn updating off, OR set Windows update to download updates but NOT install them until you tell the computer to do so.  Either of these setting will prevent reboot.   They will also turn your security center icon shield YELLOW in the system tray, but ignore it- you're doing the right thing.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 June 2010 05:46

Tip:  Backup your Data Regularly, set an automated backup if possible, and ensure that it actually completes.  This seems obvious but everyone eventually fails to do it, it seems.  Also, you should have an "off-site" backup fro crucial data in case fire, flood or theft cause the on-site backup to be lost along with the original data.  It's actually practical to keep a backup of your backup- or several rotating backups.  One backup physically located close to your computer is rarely enough.

When you think your automatic backup process is working- CHECK IT DAILY OR SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK! It is VERY common for automated backups to fail, to stop working, to issue warnings- especially if a DVD recorder or hard drive gets disconnected, or if there are disk space issues. 

Many people are now using online backup services like Mozy and Carbonite with great success, but online backup is very slow, which might mean that your computer is constantly backing up, if you change files a lot.  Also, if you go offline, you won't be backing up.  And if you stop using the online service, where will your data be?

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 June 2010 05:46

YAHOO EMAIL TIP:  For those who use Yahoo Mail with a pop mail reader like Outlook or Apple Mail or Thuderbird: you might see improved performance if you leave the "plus" out of the mail servers- pop.mail.yahoo.com vs. plus.pop.mail.yahoo.com, etc...

I think the issue is with some DNS services like those of Comcast for example.

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 May 2010 07:24

Tip:  Your Antivirus Program should have a boot-time scan option to stop Rootkits.  Rootkit viruses activate themselves before windows logs you into the computer and so they are active- with files locked and access to the files denied- long before your desktop appears when you start up your Windows PC Computer. Thus, some viruses can ONLY be removed as the computer boots up.  Avast! Antivirus is an example of an antivirus application that allows you to scan at boot-time.  MalwareBytes Anti-Malware seems to be a good exception to the need for a boot scan because it seems able to prep rootkits for removal during boot while running a scan while the computer is already up and running, but it's doubtful that it can gain access to all files.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 June 2010 05:51