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Getting Along With Your Computer

Free Solitaire for all

If you’re making the jump from Windows 7 (or older) straight to Windows 10, you’ll be as shocked as everyone was when they started using Windows 8: No Freecell. Oh, Microsoft has a Solitaire app for you; it’s just going to cost you to remove the ads it throws your way. I have a better solution. And I have some more fun things to look at. Read on.

 

Solitaire for free on Windows 10…AND on Windows 8.1

Microsoft introduced computer users to Solitaire in 1990 when Windows 3.0 was released. Legend has it that games were included with Windows to teach people how to use a mouse.

Apparently that worked well. People have been playing Solitaire on Windows computers ever since. Or they were until Windows 8. At that point Microsoft introduced a different version of Solitaire, available from the Microsoft Store, which was ugly, took up the entire screen, and included ads.

Windows 10 doesn’t include any free/ad-free games. You can download that Solitaire app, though, with even more aggressive ads. Can you get rid of the ads? Yes you can, for a $10 per year or $1.50 per month subscription. I mean, that takes a lot of nerve.

Yes, there are alternatives you can download, many of them either paid or loaded with malicious software or both. But there IS a truly free alternative, and you can play it on any version of Windows because you don’t download and install anything --- you play it in your browser.

Go to SolitaireForFree.com (http://solitaireforfree.com/) and choose which of the forty different solitaire games. (Yes. They have Freecell.) Absolutely ad-free. Interesting-looking decks and beautiful background colours. Go for it.


Interesting Things I Found

In no particular order, here are a few websites I’ve come across that are interesting and/or fun. I hope you find something here you like.

Origins of Common UI Symbols (http://visual.ly/origins-common-ui-symbols)

What the heck is that pitchfork thing you see on computers and cables all the time, and where did it come from? Why do we use the @ sign in email? The folks at the Visually website have put together a lovely infographic that explains these and more.

 

10MinuteMail (http://10minutemail.com/10MinuteMail/)

10MinuteMail is a secure temporary email service. You get an email address that you can use for 10 minutes, and then it self-destructs. Why on earth would you want to use this? People use this kind of thing to eliminate spam from websites they don’t trust but which demand an email address. You don’t want to do this with a website where you will need something again and again. But if you just need to register for something, click on a link, and that’s where you want the conversation to end, 10MinuteMail might work well for you. Learn more here: http://10minutemail.com/10MinuteMail/faq.html.

 

The 7-Word Autobiographies of Famous Writers, Artists, Musicians, and Philosophers (http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/07/11/nypl-live-holdengraber-7-word-bios/) I found this through the wonderful Brain Pickings website (http://www.brainpickings.org/). The NY Public Library interviewed well-known people and as part of the project asked each one to provide a 7-word biography. Can you write your own 7-word biography? Not all those famous people pared it down to seven words. Luckily, I’m not famous: caffeine-addicted, cyclist, dog-lover, geek, curler, writer, seeker.

 

OfficeSupplyGeek.com (http://officesupplygeek.com/)
Need I say more?

 

Do you have something interesting to share? Email [email protected] and I’ll share with everyone!

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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Too much sharing is bad

My mother taught me it is good to share, but life experience taught me that there can actually be too much of a good thing. Two new settings in Windows 10 concern me, and my advice is to back off the sharing just a little bit.

 

Are you sharing your Windows 10 Updates with everyone and their pet dog?

Windows 10 includes a feature called Windows Update Delivery Optimization. The intent is to speed up the delivery of Windows Updates and Store apps for Windows 10 users. Simply put, if you have more than one PC or Windows tablet, up until now you would have to download every update for every machine. That can be tedious. What Delivery Optimization does is share those update files to maximize speed and minimize the load on the Microsoft servers. That sounds pretty great, but let’s take just a minute and see who we’re actually sharing with.

A quick read of the Delivery Optimization FAQ (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/windows-update-delivery-optimization-faq) tells us that by default we are receiving and sending updates with PCs on our own network and with PCs on the Internet.

Wait. What?

How is my PC used to send apps and updates to other PCs?

Delivery Optimization downloads the same updates and apps that you get through Windows Update and the Windows Store. Delivery Optimization creates a local cache, and stores files that it has downloaded in that cache for a short period of time. Depending on your settings, Windows then send parts of those files to other PCs on your local network or PCs on the Internet that are downloading the same files.

Delivery Optimization can’t be used to download or send personal content.

Well, that’s a lot like sharing files over BitTorrent, uTorrent, or any other peer-to-peer file sharing program. (And if you use any of those programs to download music, movies, or what-have-you, you need to know that’s what you’re doing. You’re sharing your connection and your files with everyone else who wants what you have. Here is a good explanation: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/bittorrent1.htm )

But if you don’t have a high speed connection you might not want to do this. If you don’t have more than one PC you might not want to do this. Or, you just plain might not want to do this even with one PC. So how do we make it stop?

  • Click on Start | Settings | Update & security |Windows Update | Advanced options
  • Scroll down and click on Choose how updates are delivered
  • Under Updates from more than one place pick what you want to do

Off disables this. If you don’t have a local network, and you don’t want to share over the Internet, just turn this off.

PCs on my local network makes sense if you have a local network and more than one Windows 10 PC.

PCs on my local network and PCs on the Internet is enabled by default. You can leave it enabled if that’s what you want, but at least now you know what you’re doing.


Wi-Fi Sense makes no sense

Would you like Windows 10 to automatically connect you to hotspots? Well, maybe. Would you like Windows 10 to share your Wi-Fi password with your Facebook, Skype, and Outlook.com contacts? Seriously, Microsoft?

You can read all about it in the Wi-Fi Sense FAQ, here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/wi-fi-sense-faq. Or you can just take my word for it: This is not a good idea. Turn off Wi-Fi Sense.

  • Click on Start | Settings | Network and Internet | Wi-Fi
  • Scroll down and click on Manage Wi-Fi settings
  • Use the sliders to turn off your choices, either “open hotspots” or “shared by my contacts” or both

Now you’re a little bit safer and a little bit faster. How do you like Windows 10 so far?

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.



Hey, Cortana. Got Canada?

Cortana isn’t yet “hockey friendly” but you can bet Google Search has an app for that.

 

Cortana is not here to help in Canada

Cortana is Microsoft’s new Personal Assistant, meant to act like Apple’s Siri and Android’s “OK Google.” Cortana is a big reason to upgrade to Windows 10, and Microsoft has been touting Cortana’s abilities for months now: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/getstarted-what-is-cortana.

It turns out that Cortana is only available in seven countries, and Canada isn’t one of them. Microsoft wants to make search results meaningful in whatever country you’re in. (Cortana in Canada, when it happens, will be “hockey friendly” apparently.) So no Cortana in Canada for awhile.

You can still use the Search box.

You can also use the Google Search app, as I had been doing with Windows 8.1. You can pin that app to your Taskbar, next to where Cortana should be. Here’s one way to pin an app:

  • Open the app
  • Right-click on the app’s icon in the Taskbar
  • Click on Pin to Taskbar

Another way:

  • Search for the app in the Start Menu
  • Right-click on the app
  • Click on Pin to Taskbar

Now it’s there waiting for you.

Is there a workaround? Of course there is. You can change your location so that it looks like you’re in the United States. But that will change your location for everything, and it will mess up your Store apps and your Netflix. A fuller explanation and, of course, instructions are here: http://www.howtogeek.com/223259/how-to-enable-cortana-anywhere-in-the-world-on-windows-10/

I asked Google Search when Cortana would be available for Windows 10 in Canada, but it was unable to find the answer.

 

The Gmail Filter Virus is a nasty one

One of the stranger calls I made last month was to fix a virus that had infected someone’s Gmail account. It happened that the customer is a Mac user, so this thing can get anyone using Gmail. The virus makes use of the Filters feature in Gmail to intercept all inbound messages and then spam your contacts, erasing all traces of itself from your In, Out, and Sent boxes.

The fix is to change your Gmail password, then go to the Filters and delete all the ones that you didn’t put in there in the first place. That will get rid of the problem, but … your saved mail and sometimes your Contacts are gone.

If you use Gmail for anything important, and by that I mean if there is anything in your Gmail you wouldn’t want to lose forever including your contacts, you should be backing up your mail and your contacts.

There are plenty of apps that claim to do this but you don’t actually need them. You can take advantage of Google’s Takeout feature to back up any or all of your Google stuff.

  • Sign in to your Google Account

  • Browse to http://google.com/takeout/

  • Click on Control your content | Create Archive

  • Move the green sliders to ON for the content you want to save

  • Click on Next

  • Choose the File type for your archive (probably .zip) and the delivery method (probably email)

  • Click on Create archive

This is going to take some time if you have a lot of email or many contacts, or if you include a lot of other data. You’ll get an email when your archive is ready. Download and store your information locally.

You want to do this BEFORE something bad happens.

You can easily import your Contacts back into your account using the Import function. There’s no direct way to import your email, though. Your best bet is a third-party program like Thunderbird, which can handle a Gmail account without much pain and suffering.

 

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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Easy when you know how

Every problem is easy to fix when you know how. In the last couple of weeks I learned how to fix a weird keyboard problem, and how to transfer iTunes playlists to a new computer.

 

Keyboard unresponsive

A long-time customer reached out to me because suddenly the keyboard on his laptop was unresponsive. When he pressed any key, nothing appeared on the screen, but there was a click each time he pressed a key. And by the way, the mouse and the track pad worked fine.

He tried the normal things. Rebooting the computer didn’t help. Plugging in an external keyboard didn’t help either, and the clicking noise was there when he typed on the external keyboard. What the heck?

It took me awhile to track this one down, but the major clue was when the customer’s wife said she had inadvertently held down the shift key for a long time. It turns out there’s a feature called Filter Keys, and by default Windows activates it whenever you hold the right Shift key down for more than eight seconds.

To turn this thing off in any version of Windows:

  • Use your mouse to get to Control Panel
  • Click on Ease of Access
  • Click on Make the keyboard easier to use (I know. Hilarious, right?)
  • Clear the checkmark from the box that says Turn on Filter Keys
  • Click on Apply or Save/OK

If you’re prone to holding down that Shift key and want to turn off the eight second activation:

  • Click on Set up Filter Keys
  • Clear the check mark from the box that says Turn on Filter Keys when right SHIFT is pressed for 8 seconds
  • Click on Save/OK

But what IS it? Filter Keys is an accessibility function that tells the keyboard to ignore brief or repeated keystrokes, in order to make typing easier for users with hand tremors. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FilterKeys) If you have hand tremors, you might want to turn it on. If not, it’s good to disable the doggone thing.

iTunes Playlist

If you ask me, iTunes is one of the most craptasticiTunes pieces of software in the history of mankind forever. But I have to keep it around to sync up my podcasts to my iPod and because so many of my customers use iTunes. If I could sync to my iPod without it, I would celebrate.

When I set up a new computer for someone and transfer the files from the old one, I have a program that automates the process, including bringing over the iTunes library and settings. I don’t even have to think about what’s going on under the hood; I just let the program do the work. But when someone had already transferred the library and couldn’t get the playlists over, I actually had a chance to research and understand the playlist solution.

It’s easy when you know how!

  • Go to the old PC and locate the file called "iTunes Music Library.xml" (See this article if you don’t know where to look: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT201610)
  • Copy that file and bring it over to the new machine (Use a flash drive, transfer it over the network, whatever. Just get it on the new machine.)
  • Open iTunes and import the file. Click on File | Library | Import Playlist
  • Navigate to the .xml file you brought over from the other machine
  • Click on Open

Your playlists should import, and most of the time they do. This, perhaps the least intuitive procedure I’ve ever seen, will work on a Mac, too.


Have you fixed something interesting lately? Would you care to share your story? Email [email protected] and I’ll pass along the good stuff with full credit to you!

 

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.




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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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