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Getting Along With Your Computer

Sign your PDF documents

Yes. You can place an electronic signature into your PDF documents right on your computer without going through the print-sign-scan-fax/email cycle. And it’s easy. Also, now you can “unsend” that incendiary Gmail if you act quickly.

 

How do I add a signature to a document?

Last week a customer with a brand new computer asked how he could add a signature to a document and then send it to someone. There are lots of programs you can download that claim to do this, and many of those programs contain crapware. I’m not going to show you that way.

The method most often used by people who ask that question is:

  • Download a document attached to an email.
  • Print the document (or at least the page that requires a signature)
  • Sign the document
  • Scan the signed page and email it - OR - Fax the signed page

And that works OK, but there is a much easier way!

You can use Acrobat Reader DC (the newest version of Adobe Reader) to sign a document electronically. A tool called Fill & Sign will guide you through signing or initialling forms or other PDF documents. This article from the Acrobat Help page outlines the procedure in detail: https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/signing-pdfs.html#sign_a_pdf. The short version of my customer’s story is that since he has a nice touch screen laptop running Windows 8.1, he just used his finger to sign on the screen, an option not discussed in that article.

Are there any Mac users in your household? They can use this feature, too, by installing the latest version of Acrobat Reader for their operating system. Of course there’s no touch screen on a Mac, so like the rest of us they’ll need to use the type or scan in a signature.

You can get Acrobat Reader here, for whatever operating system you’re using: https://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/. Just get the Reader, and decline all offers of browsers and other crapware.

 

Take that back!

Gmail users rejoice. An experimental feature that allows you to “Undo send” is now officially part of Gmail. It’s disabled by default, so if you’d like a little less drama in your life I suggest you go into your settings and turn it on.

  • Open your Gmail
  • Click on the Settings icon (It looks like a gear) in the upper right-hand corner
  • Click on Settings
  • Select the General tab
  • Scroll down to Undo Send
  • Place a check mark in the Enable box, and set the timer the way you want it.
  • IMPORTANT! Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and Save your changes!

When you send a Gmail message, you’ll see the confirmation that it’s been sent and the options to View or Undo. The Undo option is only available for the time you set, and 30 seconds is the maximum. If you choose Undo, the message will go into your Drafts for you to edit or discard.

Thanks, Google!


Thank you, Ride Don’t Hide sponsors!

Many readers were kind enough to sponsor me in the 40K Ride Don’t Hide event for the Canadian Mental Health Association. I am so grateful for your support and for your messages of encouragement. The Kelowna ride reportedly raised close to $60,000. Thank you again.

 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.



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News and notes

This week: An update on a scam you really don’t want to fall for; LastPass had a problem, but you should be OK; the overhauled Google Photos shows promise.

 

“Your Computer Might Be Infected”

There’s a new-ish twist on the scam where a supposed Microsoft technician calls you to say your computer is infected. Instead of a phone call, you receive a popup message saying your computer might be infected and advising you to phone a toll free number. If you call the number and allow the person at the other end to take remote control of your computer, s/he will show you “errors” and attempt to sell you cleanup and protection.

This is all a scam. And even Apple users are being hit with this, because the popup comes from a browser. Do not call that number! Contact a reputable computer repair person. And beware of fake ads on Google and other search engines that look real but take you to those same scam artists. See this column from last April for more information about how to protect yourself: http://rlis.com/columns/column502.htm.
 


Do you use LastPass?

LastPass is a cloud-based service that stores and manages your logins and passwords. LastPass is in the process of notifying all its users --- and has already alerted the media --- to some suspicious activity. They are confident that no passwords were stolen, but there are some security issues you should be aware of if you use LastPass. If you missed the notification from them, check their website here for details and for what you should do, if anything: https://blog.lastpass.com/2015/06/lastpass-security-notice.html/.


Google Photos, now with less Plus

Google continues to back away from the ill-conceived Google+ social media disaster, and now offers Google Photos (https://photos.google.com/) without making you create a Google+ profile.

When Google+ took over Picasa Web, I was irritated and sad. But this latest batch of “improvements” actually contains some nice features and free unlimited storage.

Google rolled out the revamped Photos for the web, iOS and Android, and because they seem to have resigned themselves to the demise of Google+, it’s now easy to share you photos on Facebook and Twitter. Or of course in an email, but that is so 20th Century. Your recipient doesn’t need a Google account to see or download your shared pictures.

An interesting feature is “Assistant” which looks like an overhauled version of “Auto Awesome.” Assistant suggests ways to group your photos into stories and collages. That’s kind of cool for the pictures of my Myra Canyon Trestles ride, but a little on the creepy side when it comes to photos of our bathroom reno. But then, I’ve of the generation doing bathroom renos. Probably younger people think this is all the bomb.

Have you tried out the new Google Photos? It looks and works great on my Android phone, and it is very nice on the web. Tell me what you think, especially if you’ve tried it on your iPhone or iPad.


 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.



Icons just won't leave

Microsoft notifications are not, unfortunately, fish. With fish it’s three days and they’re off. The “Get Windows 10” icon won’t take the hint, but the phantom HomeGroup icon can be coaxed out the door.

 

How do I get rid of that “get Windows 10” icon?

Last week’s column (http://rlis.com/columns/column511.htm) was all about Windows 10’s impending arrival. So you already know that qualified users of Windows 7 SP1 and Window 8.1 should soon see a small icon in the system tray. Clicking on the icon will reserve your free copy of Windows 10.

As with most new things from Microsoft, people now want to know how to get rid of it. Not Windows 10, just the notification icon. Well, I’ve researched this thoroughly. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of posts in tech forums and of course everyone asked Facebook, so there’s that. Some of the instructions are complicated, multi-step procedures. (What could possibly go wrong?) Some are short and drastic.

So far, none of these solutions works permanently.

If you must remove or even hide the icon permanently, and you find a way to do that please let me know and I’ll share your instructions and give you all the credit. But my advice is simply to leave that icon alone. Eventually someone will find a way to disable it that doesn’t involve dropping your computer from a great height, and when someone can convince me their solution works for more than a day I will share it with you. In the meantime, back away from the espresso machine, take a deep breath and notice how you feel.


Why is there suddenly a “Home group” icon on my Windows 8.1 desktop, and how do I get rid of it?

Those are both good questions. I had never seen that happen before it showed up on my husband’s computer. He did all the research and came up with an article that includes the fix.

A HomeGroup, according to Microsoft, is a group of PCs on a home network that can share files and printers. Using a HomeGroup makes sharing easier. You can share pictures, music, videos, documents, and printers with other people in your HomeGroup. See the full story here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/homegroup-help#homegroup-start-to-finish=windows-81&v1h=win81tab1&v2h=win7tab1.

Still, even if you use a HomeGroup you almost certainly don’t need an icon on the desktop. Here is a link to the article that explains how to make it go away: http://www.thewindowsclub.com/remove-homegroup-icon-windows-8-desktop. But before you start down that road of detailed instructions paved with good intentions, try refreshing your desktop by pressing and releasing the F5 key on your computer. That often works. Really. It often does.

And no, there’s no apparent reason for the icon to come and go of its own free will. It just does that.


Thank you!

I am so grateful to those of you who are sponsoring me in the Ride Don’t Hide charity bike ride on June 21. I thank each and every one of you for joining me in raising some money for the Canadian Mental Health Organization. I’m training hard and look forward to a beautiful 40K ride (http://www.scribblemaps.com/maps/view/hILvRSrehp/). If you’d like to know more about the event or would like to become a sponsor, my fundraising link is here: https://goo.gl/BwqpjR.

 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.





Windows 10 is almost here

Have you gotten the little popup notification yet? Qualified machines can get a free upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 when it becomes available. But…should you upgrade even if it’s free? Read on.

 

What the heck? Is this a scam?

No. Microsoft is highly motivated to migrate users off the widely-detested Windows 8.1 and the aging Windows 7 operating systems onto the new, improved Windows 10. If you have a legitimate copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and your hardware can handle it, you’re entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 10. Check the system requirements here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-specifications.

You’ll see an icon in your system notification area (lower right side of your screen, by the clock) encouraging you to reserve your copy. You can take advantage of the offer for one year. You don’t have to reserve a copy of Windows 10 in order to get the upgrade, although Microsoft says this is the easiest way. All this and more is explained in the Windows 10 Q & A from Microsoft: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-faq.


Should I even do this?

It depends. Here’s my general advice:

If you have a computer that’s only a couple of years old and you really hate Windows 8.1, then you probably want this upgrade.

If you are someone who always wants the newest thing and you are willing to put up with everyone not yet knowing how to solve the problems that arise from the newest thing, then you probably want to upgrade.

If you have an older computer and you know or you think you’ll be replacing it soon, don’t bother with an upgrade. Buy a new computer with Windows 10 already on it. Expect to see Windows 10 on computers in stores by the end of this summer.

If you are using your computer for business, with very few exceptions I am advising my customers to stay with whatever they are currently using until enough time has passed to work some of the kinks out of Windows 10.

 

OK, I want this. What do I do?

Click on the little Windows logo in the system notification area, then click on Reserve your free upgrade. Complete the form, submit it, and you’ve reserved your copy. When Windows 10 becomes available, it’s going to download to your computer in the background, and you’ll receive a popup notification when it’s ready to install.

 

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, probably nothing, but in fact any number of things could go wrong. So begin by reserving your copy, because you can always cancel your reservation. But when you’ve reserved your copy, be sure to run the compatibility checker to find and address any incompatible hardware or software issues before you try to install a brand new operating system.

You can do that right from the same screens where you reserved your Windows 10. With that first screen open, click on the three horizontal lines in the top left. (That’s called a hamburger menu. No kidding.) Then click on Check your PC. This runs the compatibility checker and will identify any known issues. Correct those issues, abandon the project, or if you get a “good to go” then wait for your shiny new Windows 10.

There’s more to do before you actually install a new operating system, and I’ll tell you about that in future columns. I’ll try to answer your Windows 10 upgrade questions. Email [email protected] and I’ll share the questions and answers in future columns.

 

Ride Don’t Hide

Last week (http://rlis.com/columns/column510.htm) I mentioned that I’m participating in a 40K bike ride for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Please consider sponsoring the ride and raising some money for a good cause. My fundraising page is here: https://goo.gl/BwqpjR. Any help is much appreciated.
 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.



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About the author...

Cate Eales has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible and fun for over 20 years. She lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric, and her dog, Sandy. Cate is a partner in Computer Care Kelowna, helping individuals and small businesses with virus, spyware and malware eradication; personal computer training and management; digital image management; music transfer; and website design, hosting and management.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with your comments, suggestions, or questions. To browse the column archives, visit the Real Life Internet Solutions website at www.rlis.com.







The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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