Wednesday, September 2nd12.7°C
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Getting Along With Your Computer

Odds and ends

This week: Answers to questions that have come up in the past couple of weeks. Tips about image resizing, Windows 10 Start Menu, and declining the Windows 10 upgrade altogether.

 

Image Resizer for Windows is great for --- you guessed it --- resizing images in Windows!

When you want to upload or email a photo from your computer, quite often these days the file size is huge. High resolution photos are great for printing but if all you need to do is look at them on a screen, you don’t need and you don’t want enormous files.

You might notice that Windows Live Gallery and other applications ask about resizing images when you try to email them. But you don’t have to rely on the built in component of a program to do that. You can resize your image with a simple right-click.

Image Resizer for Windows is easy to use and does a great job. Find the picture you want to share. Right-click on it, make your decision and click on the Resize button. You’ll have a resized version and your original version in the original folder. It’s just that easy. I’ve been using this tool for years. It works on everything from Vista to Windows 10, and it’s free.

Be sure to download from this site: https://imageresizer.codeplex.com/. It’s adware and malware free. There are other programs with similar names on different sites. I can’t vouch for them. This one is the real deal.


Does Windows 10 really have the Start Menu back? Just like the old days?

Yes. And… no.

Windows 8 had no Start Menu; rather it had a Start Screen. That Start Screen was just like a Desktop littered with icons, except that lots of these icons flashed.

Windows 8.1 had a pseudo-Start Menu AND a Start Screen. The make-believe menu was a tiny concession to those who hated the Start Screen and never could figure out how to use Search open programs.

The outrage from the public about no Start Menu in Windows caused Microsoft to back down and include a Start Menu in Windows 10. So yes. There IS a Start Menu. Is it like the old days? No. It is not. It’s the combination of the old-style Start Menu and the hated Start Screen. Now we have tiles that flash at you right on the Start Menu.

I don’t care what anyone says, the Start Menu in Windows 10 is disturbingly kludgy. It only makes sense if you came to Windows 10 via 8.x. If you jumped in right from Windows 7, I think you’re going to find this Start Menu shocking.

We have a couple of choices. We can swallow hard and learn to use, customize, (and presumably, love) the new Start Menu. There are lots of resources we can use to do this. This page will get you started: http://www.7tutorials.com/how-configure-apps-items-shown-windows-10-start-menu.

Or, we can do what so many people did to get past the No Start Menu Problem on Windows 8.x: We can install a third-party add-on. If you’re going to do that, I recommend the same program in Windows 10 as I did in Windows 8. It’s called Classic Shell, and it’s available here: http://www.classicshell.net/. This is an excellent alternative to the built-in Start Menu, and it will absolutely make things look and feel just like they did in the previous century. If you were already using Classic Shell in Windows 8 or 8.1, visit that site again and make sure you have the newest version, especially if you’re going to upgrade to Windows 10.


Yes, you can absolutely opt out of your Windows 10 Free Upgrade

If you’ve changed your mind about your Windows 10 reservation, you can easily opt out.

  • Click on the Get Windows 10 icon in your System Tray (lower right corner, by the clock)
  • In the new window that opens, click on the icon that looks like three horizontal lines
  • Click on View confirmation
  • Click on Cancel reservation
  • Click on Cancel reservation again
  • Click on Close

If you never want to be reminded again about the upgrade, follow the instructions in this article from Make Use Of: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/get-rid-windows-10-upgrade-notification-windows-7-8/.

How’s your Windows 10 experience going? Share your opinions to [email protected] and I’ll share them here.
 

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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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.



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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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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