Following up on recent columns: Recognizing FB scams and false information; another cool trick with Google Calendar.
Is this for real?
Two frequent questions from readers and customers:
- How do you know if that post on Facebook is true?
- How do you know if that email you just received that’s supposedly from the Apple Store is legit?
It’s surprisingly easy to check this stuff out, but you need to know that the first step is to take a deep breath and actually check this stuff out before you Share that post or click on a link in your email.
Ask yourself, “Could this possibly be true?” If you’re not sure, check with a reputable source.
Hoax-Slayer and Snopes are the best-known sites. (And when you read something that says, “I checked it on Snopes and…” it’s probably a hoax. Check it on Snopes yourself.
Google News search results now include a “fact check” tag if you are in the U.K. and the U.S. More about that here.
Until it rolls out here, a good way to determine whether a news story is likely to be true is to examine the site where it’s posted.
Some political satire sites look like genuine news sites. Some sites are designed to fool us into thinking they’re actual news sites in order to spread false information.
There is a list of satire, parody, fake news and conspiracy theory sites here. But be aware that no list can ever keep up with reality. Be skeptical. Look at the “About” page on a site to see if it’s a real news site.
As for those free WestJet tickets, Mark Zuckerberg giveaways, if something seems too good to be true it certainly is too good to be true.
Need more information? Have a look here: 4 Absurd Hoaxes That Keep Going Viral On Facebook.
Recurring events on Google Calendar
Several people wrote with feedback on the Google Calendar column from earlier this month.
A reader called Evelyn wondered if there’s a way to set recurring events on Google Calendar beyond the choices offered. She belongs to a group that meets the last Thursday of every month, and the normal choices just don’t cover that.
I had no idea this was possible, but when I tested this, I found it is quite easy to do. Start by creating an event that describes what you want to do.
In this case:
- On the last Thursday of any month, Create an event
- Name it last Thursday of the month
- Now click on Edit event. If you look at the Repeat Event setting, you should see that it's set for the last Thursday of the month.
- Make any edits you want --- time, location, reminders, etc.
- Save the event
- Apply to All Events
For even more complex recurring events like the end of Daylight Saving Time or Thanksgiving, you can subscribe to other calendars and display them along with yours.
To do this from a computer:
- Open your Google Calendar
- On the left side, click on the arrow next to Other calendars
- Click on Browse Interesting Calendars
- Click on Holidays, and scroll down until you find Holidays in Canada (or wherever you want)
- Click on Subscribe
You’ll see the calendar listed over on the left. You can toggle events from this (or any) calendar off and on by clicking on the name of the calendar. There are plenty of other interesting calendars, too, including sports teams.
If you don’t want a lot of calendars displayed, you can easily copy the events from a Holiday calendar to your own. For instance, Daylight Saving ends is on the Holidays in Canada Calendar.
By displaying that calendar, going to that event and clicking on More Actions, I can copy the event to my calendar. It will show there forever even when I don't display the Canada calendar.
Gently remove your flash drives, recover your deleted photos, and regain control of your Facebook email notifications.
It’s easy when you know how.
Safely remove drives
You really should not be yanking those USB drives out when you’re through with them. They want to be safely removed.
Because safely removing the drives minimizes the chances of damaging files and the drives themselves. You don’t want to remove the drive when Windows is trying to read or write a file on it.
When you are finished working with the drive:
- Close any programs that might be running on it, close any programs that might be reading a file on the drive, and close File Explorer.
- Click on the upward facing arrow in the Notification Area
- Click on the Safely Remove… icon (Looks like a tiny flash drive)
- Click on Eject… for the drive you want to remove
- WAIT for the confirmation message before you remove your drive.
USB Disk Ejector is great utility to make this easier to do and easier to see. It’s available here.
Disk Ejector is portable, so you can put it on your computer or on any of your drives and have it available no matter what computer you’re using. It’s donationware, which means it’s completely free to use with no limitations.
If you like it and use it often, the developer appreciates your donation and provides a safe link on the site.
Take a look at this screen cast for more information on both ways to eject your disks.
Recover lost photos
It’s easy to fall into a trance when working with Windows and just keep clicking OK OK OK OK OK.
Windows does ask if you’re sure you want to delete those photos, but sometimes we’re not paying attention to the question, and sometimes we’re really sure but we’re also really wrong.
Uh, oh, this SD card is empty. Now what?
Well, if you accidentally delete photos (or anything else) from your computer’s hard drive, start by looking in the Recycle Bin.
If the files are there, you can easily Restore them to their previous location.
But if you delete files from a camera or smart phone SD card, they’re not likely to show up in your Recycle Bin, and you’re going to need some help getting them back.
I like a free program called Recuva. You can get it here. Recuva will recover photos from your computer or digital camera card. It will recover many other types of files, too.
Recuva is easy to use, even when you’ve broken out in a cold sweat because you deleted all the wedding photos.
Control Facebook email notifications
Several times every week, someone tells me they were dragged kicking and screaming into Facebook by the grandkids, and they hate it because now they get Facebook in their email.
I can help with that.
First, if you really hate Facebook, stop using Facebook. You can just stop using it, or you can deactivate or delete your account.
There is no one holding a gun to your head forcing you to use Facebook.
On the other hand, if what’s bothering you is getting email every time something happens on Facebook, just change the settings for Facebook Notifications.
For instance, I have a personal Facebook account, but no need to receive most notifications in my email. When I want to look at Facebook, I look at Facebook, and I can see there and then what’s going on with my Facebook friends.
The only notifications I receive by email are to do with security and tagging. Facebook provides instructions here.
While you’re at it, take a look at the Facebook Privacy Checkup and make sure you understand and control what others can see and learn about you. It’s easy and clear.
Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!
Deactivate or Delete your Facebook Account
How do I adjust my email notifications from Facebook?
What is the Facebook Privacy Checkup and how can I find it?
I use Google Calendar for work and play to see where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.
I like it because I can get to it on any computer and on my Android phone. On a good day, updates populate across all devices within seconds.
Integrate your Google Calendar with Windows 10
The only downside to relying heavily on Google Calendar is that I have to leave a browser open all the time. But now Google Calendar can live happily inside the Calendar app in Windows 10.
I can view and edit my Calendar without ever opening a browser. And I can view my events without ever opening the Calendar app.
It’s easy to set this up:
- Click on Start | Calendar to open the Calendar app
- Click on the Settings/Gear icon | Accounts | Add account | Google
- Enter your Gmail address and password
- Click on Sign in
- Follow the prompts through the Connecting to a service process
- Click on Accept
- Give it a minute, and you should see the success dialog
- Click on Done
You might not want to sync the email
In setting up the sync between the Calendar app and your Gmail account, you granted access to your Gmail.
If you don’t want the Windows 10 Mail app to start collecting your Gmail, you can turn off that part of the sync and the Calendar sync will continue working perfectly.
In the Calendar app:
- Click on the Settings/Gear icon | Manage Accounts | your Gmail account
- Click on Change mailbox sync settings
- Slide Email to Off
- Click on Done
- Click on Save
If you don’t want to sync your Contacts from Google, move that slider to Off, too.
Once you’ve set this up and opened the Calendar app, use the gear icon and the three horizontal lines (Called the hamburger menu} to adjust the settings the way you like.
You can change everything from the start day of the week to the colour of the events.
You can add calendars, and you can hide calendars. For instance, I only use the Google Calendar, so I removed the check next to the Outlook calendar.
When I add events here, I want to be sure they go on the Google Calendar, which is what I use everywhere, and not into the Windows (Outlook) calendar, which I don’t use.
See what you’re doing from the Windows Task Bar
I could open the Calendar app when I want to see where I’m supposed to be or when I want to know what’s coming up, but I don’t have to.
Clicking on the time and date in the lower right hand corner of the monitor brings up a nice clock and calendar for every Windows 10 user.
Because I’ve integrated my Google Calendar with the Windows 10 Calendar, I can easily see today’s appointments.
Clicking on any day will bring up everything scheduled for that day. Awesome.
Happy Thanksgiving to our friends and family here in Canada. We are thankful for your continuing support.
You sent me lots of email last week with things to ask and tell. Keep the email coming!
I’ve got answers to some of your questions, and you have answers to some of mine.
Windows 7 Games still work with Windows 10
If you miss the old-style Solitaire, FreeCell, and Mahjong games from Windows 7, you can get those games back again in Windows 10. (Unfortunately, I don’t know how to get back your high scores.)
Visit The WinAero site, here to get a zipped file with all the games. Unzip the file, install only the games you want (and decline the extra Tweaker program, unless you really want it), and you’re good to go.
Quite a few people wrote me to say that the Windows 10 Anniversary Upgrade broke those games, and they were right.
But the WinAero people have updated them.They will work fine now once you reinstall them.
Control your Control panel
Recently, I mentioned a utility that would display the Control Panel icon in This Computer on Windows 10.
If you prefer simply displaying the icon on your Desktop, there is a way to do that in Windows 10; you don’t need a utility. A reader named John pointed out:
The icons for THIS PC and CONTROL PANEL can be placed on the Desktop by
- Open Setting
- Open Personalization
- Open Themes in the left column
- Open Desktop Icon Settings under the Related Settings Heading
- Select Computer and Control Panel
- Click on Apply and then OK
- Exit Settings.
Seems simpler than downloading something from the Internet.
For those of us who prefer a Desktop devoid of icons, there’s still the Ultimate Tweaker 4.
Fix problems by managing your trackpad
Readers and customers present lots of variations on a similar problem:
- “When I type an email, the font gets really small on my screen, but it looks normal to the person reading the email.”
- “When I type in Word, the cursor jumps around randomly and I end up with Word Salad.”
- “When I’m looking at Facebook, suddenly the page zooms in all by itself!”
What these people all have in common is that they’re using laptops, and while they are typing and/or scrolling, their hands or wrists touch the trackpad.
That trackpad acts like a mouse. Unless your hands are perfectly positioned over the keyboard (and even sometimes when they are!) it’s easy to activate the trackpad. The cursor jumps or the scrolling or zooming starts.
There are two good fixes for this. If you are using Windows 10, you can adjust a setting.
- Click on Start | Settings | Devices | Mouse & Touchpad
- In the Touchpad section, select a delay interval.
This changes the time between when you press on the trackpad and an action takes place. If you type fast, you can set a short delay.
If you type slowly, set a long delay to give you more time to press the next key before mouse actions happen. If this makes no sense, just experiment with it until you find the setting that works for you.
If you are not running Windows 10, you can try a utility called Touchfreeze. Touchfreeze disables the trackpad when you are typing and enables it when you are not.
It works beautifully … when it works. I’ve installed it on some laptops without any problems and on others where it just didn’t work. It didn’t hurt anything; it just didn’t work.
There seems to be no way to predict. If you want to give it a try, visit this (very sparse!) page.
Download and install the utility.There’s only one thing to configure, and I suggest you allow Touchfreeze to start with Windows so it’s always doing its job.
VirusTotal results for Touchfreeze
More Getting Along With Your Computer articles
- Beware ransomware Sep 26
- Good and bad utilities Sep 19
- What could go wrong? Sep 12
- I didn't know that Sep 5
- Smart Upgrades, Part 2 Aug 29
- Smart upgrades Aug 22
- Stop emailing your photos Aug 15
- 12-second fixes Aug 8
- If you've upgraded... Aug 1
- Should you upgrade? Jul 25
- Let's have some fun Jul 18
- Change your POV Jul 11