This and that
- It has been very quiet for several months. No one has had any problems, questions, or anything interesting. I've opted to keep the link active on the website for a bit longer in case anyone has missed the last couple of posts.
- If anyone is using LibreOffice but has failed to register it with The Document Foundation, please register. That way you will be notified when new versions are available. I've been registered since LibreOffice "forked" off from OpenOffice. The Document Foundation does NOT sell email addresses. I just today downloaded and installed LO version 184.108.40.206.
- Anyone who has "broken" their keyboard or monitor, I have several slightly used ones. No cost, but I don't deliver. Oh, yes, I have a bunch of other stuff like graphics cards and parts that came out of old computers. If you are a computer tinkerer then I may have components you could use.
- I'm looking for guidance on buying and setting up surveillance cameras. Anyone have experience in this area and is willing to share?
Extra Cheap External Memory
So you have a laptop computer that is no longer functional. I have one that has been diagnosed with a CPU that has become unsoldered from its heat sink and is overheating. It would probably cost too much to repair it. So what can you do with the carcass of a dead laptop? A lot of folks are afraid to donate an old computer because they don't know how to completely erase all of their data from the hard drive. My suggestion: remove the hard drive for use as an external memory device and donate the rest of the laptop to a nonprofit organization that will find some use for it.
Note the picture to the right. It contains a 32GB flash drive. They sell for about $20 at the present time, perhaps less if you find them on sale. The item in the middle is the hard drive from a laptop. This has roughly 500GB of memory which is not unusual for relatively new laptops. The item on the right is a small box called an enclosure into which you can slide the hard drive that you removed from your laptop. The enclosures cost about $10 from local stores that deal in computers and software. Slide the hard drive into the enclosure and hook it up to another computer with the supplied USB cable and you are in business. You've just gotten a heap of memory for about $10. (Since these enclosures don't have cooling fans, it would probably be best not to run them excessively and perhaps overheat the hard drive. With a little searching on the internet you can find enclosures with built in fans, made especially for multiple hard drives.)
Want to use your external memory for backup? Check out https://www.freefilesync.org/
. That is my current preferred backup software.
Unlocking a file
I'm now using Windows 10 and I had a spreadsheet file in my archives that I couldn't open for editing. I kept getting a message that the file was 'read only' and 'locked for editing.' After a little research I found that the file had an 'evil twin' that was generated accidentally, probably when the computer shut down unexpectedly while I had the file open. So all I had to do was wipe out this bad file and everything would return to normal. To wipe out the bad file I first had to make it visible. Here is how to proceed: Open the Control Panel, choose 'File Explorer Options' and click on View. Click on Advanced, then under 'Hidden files and folders' choose 'Show hidden files, folders, and drives.' Click OK. Now navigate to the folder containing the locked file. My good file was something like MyFile.ods. Its evil twin was obvious because it had the same file name with added characters. It was '.~lock.MyFile.ods#.' Delete or Erase the bad file. Check your original file and it should now be editable.
Printing on a Background Graphic with LibreOffice
It seems that newer versions of LibreOffice have changed the procedure that is used to choose a background graphic and to print on it.
The following method works (for me) with the latest version of LibreOffice, version 220.127.116.11.
First, an ordered list of inputs for those who are adventurists and don't need exact directions.---
Format>Page>Area>Fill>Bitmap>Import Image>Choose Image>Type in your Message
For those who need a little more help:
Press Format, then choose Page, then Area.
Press the down arrow to the right of Fill and click on Bitmap.
Uncheck Tile and check Auto Fit (if it isnít chosen automatically).
Click on Import Image then choose an image that youíve previously saved. Click Open, then click OK.
Your image will become the background for the page, actually part of the page.
Orient your page with Format>Page>Page>etc., then type in your text and format characters and paragraphs as you normally would.
Windows 10 Email Link Problem
If you have bought a new computer and it has Windows 10 and when you click on an email link you aren't taken to your email program, here is how you can fix the problem:
- In the 'Ask me anything' block at the lower left of the desktop type 'Control Panel' then when Control Panel appears above, click on it.
- Click on Default Programs.
- Click on 'Associate a file type or protocol with a program'.
- Scroll way way down to the Protocols section and look for the MAILTO row. Double click on it.
- Select an email client. Mine is Thunderbird. Click OK. You won't have to do this again.
Now when you click on a 'Mail To' link you may see a message asking if you want to open your email client. Click on 'Allow' and your normal email messaging page should open.
blow out the dust
A friend recently bought a new computer. His old desktop was shutting down repeatedly, frequently, and unexpectedly. He gave me the old machine so I could clean it out and perhaps donate it. What did I find was causing the shutdowns? Probably dust bunnies. The machine had three fans that were pulling room air through the box in an attempt to keep everything at a running temperature, and a lot of dust had accumulated everywhere in the machine. I blew out the dust which was either causing overheating or electrical shorts, hooked everything back up, and turned it on. No problems. So, as I suggest in Computer Protection
below, take the cover off your desktop box (after you unplug it, of course) at least once a year, twice if it sits on the floor, and blow (don't vacuum) the dust out.
USING ADMINISTRATOR MODE TO INSTALL MSI FILES
It seems like I run into a new problem with my computer everyday. My latest was that my operating system wouldn't let me install an updated version of LibreOffice without being in Administrator Mode. So I had to make a couple of additions to the Registry to accomplish this. I found directions at http://www.howtogeek.com/178826/how-to-force-an-msi-package-to-install-using-administrator-mode/
. Basically one must click on Start then type in regedit to open the Registry Editor. Then under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.Msi.Package\shell add a new key. I changed the name of the new key to 'runas' (without the single quotes) and entered as its data 'Install as &administrator'. I then made a sub-key under runas. I named it 'command' and entered as its data ' msiexec /i "%1" ' (WITH the double quotes). Lastly I clicked OK and Exit. There was no need to restart the computer. When I went to install LibreOffice 5.1.4 and was asked, I chose to Run as Administrator and all went well.
If you try this, just go slow and follow the instructions exactly as shown on the How-To Geek website, and you should be successful. I was.
I can't wait for the next problem to pop up.
USING ZIP TO OBTAIN CONTENTS
If you are like me and always looking for easier and quicker ways to do things on your computer, here is a way to obtain the contents of documents that you may have no way of opening. If you are sent a Pages file by a person with a Mac, but you are on a PC, simply change the extension from .pages to .zip and inside you will find a PDF version. Another neat trick is if you need the photos off of a PPTX or DOCX, changing the extension to .zip will give you a folder with images inside. These two tricks were found and reprinted almost word for word off of https://www.reddit.com/
. Need a program to unzip files? Check out 7 Zip at http://www.7-zip.org/
. It's FREE, and it works for me.
Have you ever wished you had a second monitor hooked up to your computer so you could work on one document while reading instructions or data from another? Or perhaps you'd like to play games on a wide field extending over two screens. It is generally an easy task to hook up a second monitor to your computer: Just plug it in to your computer and a power supply. Most relatively new computers have extra ports for the signal cable. Press the Microsoft (Flag) key and the P key simultaneously to bring up a window where you can configure your monitors. It's simple to do, and you can't "break" your computer. If you need more information, check out some of the YouTube videos such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOJNNrnXC7s
. Once you bring up one video, a list of additional ones appears on the right of the screen. Need an additional monitor to experiment with? Your Web Sergeant has a number of monitors that have been used but are still in good working order. (And they are going to the dump if no one wants them. 01/07/17).
Have you seen the news about Ransomeware. Click HERE
for clarification about just what Ransomeware is and what it can do to your computer files. Your best protection is to have all of your valuable, irreplaceable files backed up in case you can't pay and have to abandon your computer. See Protection
By the way, when one of those warning messages suddenly appears on my monitor I just immediately press the Ctrl, Alt and Delete keys (simultaneously). Then I choose 'Sign Out'. And finally I sign back in.
It has worked for me multiple times.
WINDOWS 7 SYSTEM REPAIR
I don't entirely know how I did it, and I'm a bit embarrassed to be telling this, but I really messed up my computer. I was trying to install some old software to activate the camera on my laptop. But all I did was cause my computer to start up a few dozen instances of Notepad each containing a bunch of gibberish everytime I tried to start any program. I had no idea what to do. So I checked the (paper) file folder for my computer and found four CDs for fixing Windows 7. Three were a set marked System Recover, and one was labeled System Repair. What to do, what to do. The literature that came with my laptop said to use the Repair disc.
What is the difference between System Recovery and System Repair? Andy Rathbone at www.andyrathbone.com says, "... the System Recovery discs return your PC to the state it was when first purchased, scrapping all your data while along the way. The System Repair disc, by contrast, offers tools to help bring your ailing PC back to life, keeping all your valuable files safe. When in trouble, always try your System Repair disc first, as it may solve your problem. Only use the System Recovery Discs as a last resort, as they wipe out everything youíve created since buying your PC."
Lucky for me I used the Repair disc and fixed my machine in about 30 minutes thereby saving me a trip to a repairman, about $120, and two days of work reinstalling all of my files (that I had backed up) and programs. [Did you note the hint?]
So, if you don't already have a System Repair disc, where do you get one? It seems that various editions of Windows 7 operate a bit differently, but this works on my machine: Slip a blank CD into your machine before you break it, click on Start, type in the word repair, click on Creat System Repair Disc, let your computer burn the disc, take the disc out, mark it, and put it in a place where you can find it.
So you broke your machine like I did. How do you repair it with the System Repair disc? Here is how I did it: Turn on your machine and ignore the garbage on the screen. Open your CD drive and insert the System Repair Disc. Power down your computer. Start your computer while holding down the Escape Key (F8 if Escape doesn't work; some versions just require pressing any key). A window will come up with several options. Chose System Repair. Let the program do its thing. After several minutes the disc will quit spinning, your disktop will look normal, and, hopefully, you will be lucky like I was and your computer will be back in normal working condition.
Here's something to think about and a graphic that you may want to use in your emails. If you forward, please highlight and delete the forwarding history, which includes my email address. It is a courtesy to me and others who do not wish to have their email addresses sent all over the world. Deleting the history helps prevent Spammers from "harvesting" addresses and viruses from being spread. You might also want to read How To Correctly Forward Email
WINDOWS 10 NAG
I finally had enough. A darn window kept popping up on my screen asking me if I wanted Windows 10. No I don't want Windows 10; I like my Windows 7 just fine. But that nag window kept popping up. Well, I fixed the nag window. Click on the following in the order shown:
Start>Control Panel> Windows Update>Installed Updates>double click on KB3035583>click on YES to answer "Are you sure you want to uninstall this update?"
It's done. Now I'll leave it to you to switch from automatic updates to manual updates to keep Microsoft from reinstalling this worrisome nag.
And finally, restart your computer (if the software doesn't do it for you). That is click on Start>Shut down>Restart.
INK CARTRIDGE RESET BUTTON
This doesn't work for the ink cartridges that I use, but it may work on yours.
UPSIDEDOWN AND SIDEWAYS
Enough of the serious stuff. Now for some fun. Let's say someone comes up behind you while you're at the computer. Quickly press a CTRL, ALT and a 'down arrow' key, all at the same time. This should invert your screen. That should give them a problem trying to read what you're doing. To reverse the process just press CTRL, ALT and 'up arrow'. Guess what the 'left arrow' and 'right arrow' keys do.
ALL EMAILS IN ONE PLACE
So you have multiple email accounts, perhaps two Gmail accounts, one at Yahoo, and another with AT&T, and you wish that you could access all of them quickly and easily from one page on your computer. There is a FREE program from Mozilla called Thunderbird that makes that possible. Go to www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/?icn=tabz
and download Thunderbird, then set it up. Doing the setup for each individual account can be a slightly challenging task, but well worth the effort. Does Thunderbird really work? I've used it for over ten years and am an extremely satisfied customer.
MAKING EMAIL GROUPS
I've heard people say they don't know how to set up email groups. I always suggest that people use Gmail. It takes just minutes to go to Gmail.com
and set up an account. Accounts are FREE, and when you change internet service providers, for example you switch to Charter from AT&T or vice versa, you don't have to set up a new email address. And yes, you can have more than one Gmail address. If you have Gmail, it's relatively easy to make email groups using the email addresses that you have already typed or imported. Click HERE
for step by step directions.
DEFRAGMENTING YOUR HARD DRIVE
So you've run CCleaner and Spybot (see Computer Protection
below) and your computer still seems to be running slower than it did when you first brought it home. Perhaps you should defragment your hard drive. Files on your hard drive become fragmented over time as you delete old files and add new ones. Google defragmenting for a more technical explanation. In any case, defragmenting the hard drive will speed up your computer, maybe an unnoticeably small amount, perhaps quite a bit, and it will allow the hard drive to work a little less since it won't have to pick up code in multiple places when reading a file. Click HERE
for a short discussion on how you go about defragging the hard drive.
HOW TO READ DOC AND DOCX FILES
A member of Detachment 1106 recently contacted me regarding how he could read some email attachments that he had received. He said the file names ended in .doc and that the sender said he could open them with Microsoft Office. Here is my RESPONSE
I recommend, as part of your daily routine, you run the FREE version of CCleaner. Under COMPUTER PROTECTION I write to download it from www.piriform.com/
, install it, and run Cleaner daily and the Registry cleaner occasionally. CCleaner will remove old, unneeded files from your computer.
The program that you download will be "ccsetup(with a version number).exe." Download it, locate the download (you can probably locate downloads on your computer by clicking on Start, then on User, then on Downloads), then click on it to install CCleaner. After it is set up there will be a CCleaner icon on your screen (desktop). It looks like a broom in front of a large red C.
Click on the icon to run CCleaner. You then have two choices: you can choose to Analyze, which will show which files need to be removed, or you can just click on Run Cleaner to bypass Analyze and delete useless files. The first time you run CCleaner it may take 30 minutes or more to find and delete all of the useless files; run CCleaner regularly and it only takes a few seconds.
I've used this program daily for over ten years without ever harming my computer or its data. I've heard on several occasions that people are afraid to run CCleaner because a message pops up asking if you want to delete files. You should choose Ok: Deleting unwanted files is why you are running CCleaner.
GRABBING SCREEN GRAPHICS
Sometimes you need to grab a picture off the screen and save as a graphic. Here is a quick way to do it with software that came with your computer:
Bring up the page with the picture onto the screen. Press down the 'prt scr' key which is probably somewhere on the right side of your keyboard. While holding down the 'prt scr' key, press one of the 'Flag' keys (Microsoft logo keys) on the bottom row of the keyboard. This grabs the screen and saves it to memory.
Now open Paint which came with your computer. Just click on Start and type Paint in the search box. This will bring up the names of all the programs containing the word Paint. Click on the word Paint with the small painter's pallet beside it. This will open Paint.com.
Click on Paste which will bring the picture from memory and put it into Paint. Now click on Select and select the part of the screen that you want to keep. Click on Crop to remove all the other stuff on the screen.
Finally click on Save as and save your new graphic as a PNG file. Why PNG? Because other formats, like JPG, try to smooth the edges in the graphic and make the picture muddier and muddier every time you save it. PNG files are much sharper.
Now save your new graphic picture where you can find it again. (I like to set up folders called aaa, aab, etc on C: drive for working areas.)
One of the members of Detachment 1106 mentioned that he would like to learn to make PowerPoint presentations. These presentations don't require you to spend cash for Microsoft software; you can make PowerPoints with LibreOffice Impress. See the writeup below regarding LibreOffice. Impress is one of the programs that you install when you install LibreOffice.
Once you install LibreOffice you will need a guide on how to make PowerPoint files. You can download the LibreOffice Impress Guide from https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/images/a/ae/IG42-ImpressGuide.pdf
. It is 282 pages in PDF format and it is based on LibreOffice version 4.2. But it should be just fine if you are using the latest version of LibreOffice which is now version 4.4. [How time flies! Here it is 08/06/16 and LibreOffice is up to version 5.2. But tutorials for earlier versions should work just fine.]
If you haven't installed LibreOffice yet, you can get version 4.4 from http://www.libreoffice.org/download/libreoffice-fresh/
If you prefer video tutorials, YouTube has many, many of them for Impress. You can reach them by clicking HERE
EMAIL ADDRESSES AND BOOKMARKS
Don't forget to occasionally backup your email addresses and internet bookmarks. I forgot; my backups were YEARS old. I should have known better.
Each email program and browser has its own procedure for doing backups, but none are really that difficult. Contact your Web Sergeant if you have problems.
HARD DRIVE FAILURE
I always warn everyone that hard drive failures are unpredictable. I say the question isn't if your hard drive will fail but when. Well, my hard drive just quit working last Thursday. I had a few minutes of problems with the computer hanging up, so I shut it down. When I rebooted I just got a message, something about choosing a boot device, and nothing more except the "blue screen of death." I tried using a recovery disk that I had made. The program told me that I had zero data on my hard drive. The hard drive had worked successfully and hard for three years and ten months. So off to the local repair shop to have a new hard drive and operating system (Windows 7) installed. The data on the old hard drive was unrecoverable. I thought I was backed up, and I was...mostly. Time flies and some things I had failed to back up in a timely manner, like my personal 2014 IRS report, my email address books, some genealogical files that I had accumulated with the intent to archive them later, and probably other stuff that I will find I've lost later. And I'm sure you'll want to know what this cost me: $226 that I was saving for a down payment on a new Tesla. So, anyway, let my loss be a warning to you: back up all the files that you don't want to suddenly and unexpectedly lose. And don't forget to back up your email address books --- my address book backups were about a year old.
Would you like to keep the same email address no matter how may times you change internet providers? Don't lose connections with family and friends when you change from ATT to Charter to MSN to your new employer's provider. Don't go through the bother of having to send everyone your new email address. The solution is simple: Sign up for Gmail
mail. Creating an account [or several accounts] at either, or both, is simple to do and FREE.
ARCHIVE DISC PROBLEM
Those of you who have received
may have had problems opening the Index file. Sometimes the problem can be overcome by restarting the reading process repeatedly. Your Web Sergeant
has found that there was a problem with his computer writing to the discs. New, up to date, readable discs are available on request.
COMPUTER CAUGHT A VIRUS? HERE'S HELP
There is a bad computer virus going around. It makes your computer run slower and slower until it about grinds to a halt. If you can still, no matter how slowly, punch in a web address, here is FREE help: Go to http://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx
. Download then run the Microsoft program which will be named msert.exe. The scan took almost four hours on my computer and attention on my part at the very end, but it put my computer back to functioning normally.
CLEAN YOUR COMPUTER MONITOR AND YOUR LAPTOP SCREEN
If you want to keep your screens clean and prevent them from attracting dust, first clean them with a lens cleaning wipe or a slightly moistened cotton cloth, then wipe them with a used clothes dryer sheet like those sold by Downy. The dryer sheets are also great for cleaning eyeglass lenses.
ONLY FOR THE REALLY BORED
Are you really bored and looking for a new adventure? Try a new operating system. Try Ubuntu. Ubuntu is an open source, FREE, complete operating system. Download a copy from www.ubuntu.com
. The ISO file is just over 1 GB in size so it will take a little time (probably just over an hour) to download. When it's finished downloading, burn it to a DVD. Now you're ready to make a decision. Turn your computer off and back on with the DVD in the drive. Your computer should boot from the DVD. The program that runs will give you three choices: 1) Run Ubuntu from the disc, 2) install Ubuntu to run on request at startup, or 3) entirely replace your current operating system. Option 1 makes no permanent changes to your computer. Option 2 adds a second operating system. Option 3 wipes all your old files off your computer. If you choose options 2 or 3 and you are hooked up to the internet, associated files will be updated at the time of installation. I just replaced Windows XP on an older computer. It was a piece of cake. Now I just hope the owner likes it.
Pop-ups can be aggravating if you haven't taken actions to turn
them off. Below are methods to turn pop-ups off for three primary
browsers, Internet Explorer (v. 11), Mozilla Firefox (v. 29), and
Google Chrome (v. 36).
- Internet Explorer
Open Internet Explorer. Activate Tools by clicking on the icon that
looks like a gear in the upper right corner of the Internet
Explorer screen. Chose Internet Options then choose Privacy. Under
the heading Pop-up Blocker click on "Turn on Pop-up Blocker."
Now click on Settings and follow instructions if you wish to allow
Open Firefox. Click on Tools, then Options, then Content. Check
"Block pop-up windows."
Click on Exceptions and follow instructions if you wish to allow
This one is a bit difficult because the type is small and the
choices are generally far down in the pages of instructions. Open
Chrome. Activate Tools by clicking on the icon that looks like
three horizontal lines in the upper right corner of the Chrome
screen. Click on Settings, then on "Show advanced settings," then
on Privacy, then "Content settings." Under Pop-ups activate "Do not
allow any site to show pop-ups."
Click on Manage Exceptions and type in the address of any sites
from which you wish to allow pop-ups.
[Originally posted 06/28/12, and again on
07/26/14 in case you missed this posting the last time it
ran. Updated on 07/05/17.]
Several people have asked what programs are good to use to keep
computers running and their information safe. Here are the FREE
programs your Web Sergeant uses and recommends:
FINDING YOUR WIRELESS NETWORK SECURITY KEY
[Posted 06/09/14][Updated 04/07/2017]
I recently had to get this information the hard way...by talking to
someone in India.
So you have Windows 7 and you are setting up a new computer, or a
friend is visiting and he wants to use your router to get on the
internet. Your security key will be needed. Here is how you find
- Using a computer that is already set up and is on your router,
click on Start, then on Control Panel.
- Chose Network and Sharing Center. Note the name under "View
your active networks."
- Click on Manage Wireless Networks.
- Click on Security (for your network from step 2).
- Click on Security.
- Click in the box for Show Characters.
Wait a few seconds and your security key will appear. It will probably be a ten to twelve-digit number, perhaps your phone number if you haven't changed it. Maybe write it wherever you save your passwords.
If you have Windows 10 the procedure is only slightly different.
- Right-click on the Network icon on the taskbar at the bottom right of your desktop.
- Select Open Network and Sharing Center.
- Click on the Wi-Fi name to the right of Connections:.
- Press Wireless Properties.
- Go to Security tab.
- Click on Show Characters.
Your Network Security Key will appear.
[Posted 02/01/14] [Updated 07/31/14]
For those of you who have taken the Web Sergeant's advice and set
up the LibreOffice
of software on your computers but did not register it, version
4.3.0 is ready to download. As in the case of every update to
LibreOffice, this version appears to load and run just a bit faster
than the previous version.
After using LibreOffice since it split from OpenOffice, I have not
experienced any downside to registration. Registration guarantees
that you will be notified when updates are available.
For those of you who are not using LibreOffice: it is a FREE
alternative to Microsoft Office; it contains a word processer,
spreadsheet software, a program similar to PowerPoint, and other
programs. Setup involves merely downloading one primary file, then
clicking on it and making a few choices as the programs set up on
your computer. A second, relatively small file can be downloaded
and run to install Help files. Manuals and tutorials are available
elsewhere on the Internet, but if you've ever used Microsoft
Office, you are ready to use LibreOffice
ALBRECHT DURER'S MAGIC SQUARE
And now for a bit of fun. Thanks to Detachment 1106 member Wes
Malone's submittal of Albrecht Durer's Magic
HOW TO CORRECTLY FORWARD EMAIL
- When you forward an e-mail, DELETE all of the other addresses
that appear in the body of the message (at the top). That's right,
DELETE them. Highlight them and delete them, backspace them, cut
them, whatever it is you know how to do. It only takes a second.
You MUST click the "Forward" button first and then you will have
full editing capabilities against the body and headers of the
message. If you don't click on "Forward" first, you won't be able
to edit the message at all.
- Whenever you send an e-mail to more than one person, do NOT use
the To: or Cc: fields for adding e-mail addresses. Always use the
BCC:(blind carbon copy) field for listing the e-mail addresses.
This is the way the people you send to will only see their own
e-mail addresses. If you don't see your BCC: option, click on where
it says To: and your address list will appear. Highlight the
address and choose BCC:. That's it, it's that easy. When you send
to BCC: your message will automatically say "Undisclosed Recipients
in the "TO:" field of the people who receive it.
- Remove any "FW:" in the subject line. You can re-name the
subject if you wish or even fix spelling and take all the junk like
emoticons off the end of the e-mail as well.