Saturday, December 31, 2011

MP3 Player

I picked up an inexpensive MP3 player and wanted to load some of my music to them. I had a player in the past, but it stopped working a couple of months ago. I used to bring it to the gym to use while I worked out. It does seem to make the time go by faster.

Getting songs to that old one was pretty easy. I just opened Windows Media Player, clicked on Sync, mounted my MP3 player, and dragged my songs to it. This time it did not work. Oh, the music went over fine. They just would not play.

The new MP3 player only plays MP3 files. It does not have software built in to handle the WMA format from Windows Media Player. Somehow I had to get all those WMA files converted to MP3 so I could move them to the new player. I can’t complain about the MP3 player—it only cost $6.50 (see

I located a freebie called Switch Sound File Converter that does a job doing just that. And it will convert into other formats as well. You can find it at

A little more digging and I discovered an option in Windows Media Player. When ripping a CD you can choose to have it rip in MP3 format instead of WMA! (Organize > Options > Rip Music > Format MP3)

So if you intend on getting your music to an MP3 player, rip as MP3 and you can listen on both your PC and your MP3 player.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Showing the Desktop in Windows 7

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In most version of Windows, you can clear the desktop without closing any open app by holding down the Windows key (that key with the windows flag on it) and tapping D for desktop.

Now, in Windows 7, you just have to locate the vertical bar to the right of the time and click it. To restore the desktop, click it again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Out of Room on Hard Drive

All I have on C: is the OS and the installed programs. All my data and pictures and movie file are on a second partition. 50 gb each. I set it up this way so when my OS got messed up the next time I would not have to find a way to extract all my data and then reload the OS. Sounded like a great idea and it all worked well until...

The amount of room on C: was dwindling fast. Something was eating away at the allocation of space and it was getting real bad. Here is what I did and freed up over 15gb of space.

I moved the system restore files to my data area. That was eating into storage big time. I never realized how large those files were. Now I could have removed them all together, but that is not wise. So I shifted them to D: (my data partition) and made a starting restore point.

Here is how that was done on my Vista machine:

I started with the System Restore files. From the Start menu, I right-clicked Computer and selected Properties. On the System window I selected System protection. I unchecked the C: box which removed ALL past system restore points from drive C:. Then I checked the D: box to establish new restore point on that drive. I then forced the first restore point.

On the same System Properties window, click the Advanced tab and then under Performance click Settings. On the Performance Options, click the Advanced tab. Under Virtual memory, click Change. This lets you set the parameters for the System Paging File. If you are real tight on space you can override the System managed size and steal a few more bytes back from Windows.

Next I took a look at the Hybernate function. I really do not need to use it and each time it runs it makes a file as large as RAM and I have 4gb.

From a cmd window Run as Administrator, I ran powercfg -h off

(To run as an administrator, right-click on the command prompt in the start menu, and then choosing Run as Administrator. If you do not have a command prompt, click Start. In the search box type cmd and press Enter. Close the window that opens and open Start again. It should be there.)

This disabled Hibernate and then I located and deleted the hiberfil.sys file.

Amount of space recovered was over 15gb. Now I have plenty of room left on my system drive and can forget about that new hard drive I was considering. I have plenty of data room left, so more storage is unnecessary.

I also use CCleaner and SmartDefrag on a regular basis to clean up the junk on my drives and in my registry as well as reducing the number of fragments automatically as I am using the computer.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Firefox Running Too Slow

It got to the point that it was taking forever to open a page. It is not that Firefox is my favorite browser. It has just been the one I have used over the past year or so and am used to. I still believe Google Chrome is the fastest. It loads quickly and the page seem to fly in. I do have a few addons in Firefox that I like, so it is my  #2 choice. Internet Explorer? I would put it at #3. Now the latest version is a bit faster and looks similar now to Chrome, but still not as fast.

This tips I picked up while reading an article in the PC World. You can find it at

It is a way to solve the slow loading of pages in Firefix. I tried it and it works great, so I thought I would  pass it on.

1. Open Firefox
2. In the address bar, type about:config and press Enter
3. At the warning message, click I’ll be careful...
4. In the Filter bar, type keep-alive
5. If true, double-click network.http.keep-alive to change true to false
6. If true, double-click network.http.proxy.keep-alive to change true to false
7. Restart Firefox

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Converting a Video File Format

Had a challenge today with a video file I took with my digital camera. It records in the MOV format, which is fine for uploading to YouTube. However, I did not hit the off button soon enough and ended up with an extra two plus minutes at the end of the floor, ceiling, and me talking that just did not belong. Easy solution was to open in Windows Move Maker and cut out the ending. But, WMM does not read MOV formatted files. So off to Google I go.

I found a cloud app that did the trick. It was simple to use. I uploaded my MOV file, chose the destination format I wanted as WMV, and in a minute or two it gave me a link to download the file.

That is not the only input or output file format it accepts. And best of all, it is free.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Securing a Text File

Do you have some data you would like to keep on your computer, but you want to hide it from prying eyes? Perhaps things like bank account numbers, passwords, safe combinations, or more. Here is a neat little app that you can use to create a locked text file. Yes, I said text. All the data is in text form just like you were using the Notepad app that comes with Windows.

Download it for free at

Open locknote.exe and type or paste text into the open window. SaveAs to give it a name and then you will be asked for the password needed to unlock the file. The file is saved as an EXE with the name you keyed. To reopen, simply double-click the file you created. You will be asked to provide the password and then you are back into it to view or change the data. If you change the data, the only save option is SaveAs. You can use the same name to replace the original file.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Understanding Copy and Paste

First let’s define some key concepts:

Right-click means to point at something on the screen with the mouse pointer and then clicking the right button on the mouse. Click means to click the left button on the mouse.

Drag means to point at something with the mouse pointer and then, while holding down the left button on the mouse, moving the mouse. This is generally used move what is being pointed to or to select what is dragged over. Right-drag means to use the right button instead of the left.

Select means to drag across a series of words or objects on the screen. This action causes what is dragged over to change color indicating it has been selected.

Copy and Paste

Copy and Paste is such a simple but misunderstood concept. Your computer has a hidden from view area called the clipboard. To copy something, select it—words in a document, an image, the URL of a Web site, or even text on a Web page. Then right-click on the selected piece and select Copy. You can also use the keyboard command that has been around since the beginning; Ctrl+C. To use it, hold down the Ctrl key, tap C, and then release both keys. Do not attempt to press both keys at the same time.

What you had selected is now in the clipboard. You cannot see it, but just take it on faith. It is there and will stay there until you either copy something else which replaces the content of the clipboard or you turn off your computer which clears memory.

Open the app you wish to copy the material to, like Word. Click to place the insertion point (that vertical line indicating where your next keystroke will appear) where you want the pasted material to be located, and then right-click and select Paste. You can also Ctrl+V to paste from the clipboard.

This same method can be used to copy a file to another location on your computer.

The Shift+Click Method

This method works whenever you want to select multiple items. It could be file names in a list of files, a series of sentences or paragraphs in a document, or even a part of a Web page to use in a document.

Locate the first word in the section to be copied and mouse over it to select it. Without touching any button on the mouse, bring the pointer down to the end of the section to be copied.

The key is to hold down the shift key, point to the ending position, and then click the mouse and all between the first selected entry and the place you last clicked have been selected.

Now that you have selected all of it, you can right-click and select Copy or simply Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard for pasting in another application.

Copying from a Web Page

When copying from a Web page even the behind the scenes coding is copied. You cannot see this information, but when you paste the selection into another app, like a Word Processor, the results are not just the text. Included are all the formatting, links, images, and often other things we may not understand.

To avoid this “mess”, I suggest pasting first into a pure text app like NOTEPAD. This app accepts only the raw text dropping any other coding and images. Then select all the new data. Another shortcut is Ctrl+A which selects all data in the window having focus. Then right-click and copy to place that text data into the clipboard for pasting elsewhere.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Recovering Data from a Bad SD Card

Now that was cool. My wife went to transfer her pictures from her camera yesterday. She took the SD card out of the camera and plugged it into her netbook. Instead of displaying her folders, it displayed a message telling her the disk was not formatted and giving her an opportunity to do so.

What to do? I tried it on my computer and the same error message appeared. This was not good. Granted, I had already transferred a number of the images at various times. Some are on Facebook, some on Flickr, and some on my hard disk for potential future use. But not all of them, especially a few she had recently taken.

I have one machine running Ubuntu 10.1 so I booted it and tried again. No luck. Same error message.
Google search to the rescue! I located an open source multi-platform application distributed under GNU General Public License that claimed to be able to read an un-mountable disk and recover files. I wnet to and downloaded the zip and extracted the files.

After reviewing the documentation found in their Step-by-Step documentation at I found the command line I had to use to run it. The command had to be run from the root at a command prompt in Ubuntu. I am just starting to fiddle with Ubuntu and had no idea how to get to the command prompt. In Windows I just Win+R to open the Run dialog box, type cmd, and press Enter. No such thing in Ubuntu/Linux.

Another Google search revealed that the command mode is called terminal mode and Ctrl+Alt+t would open a window. Following the guidelines in the documentation I found in the extracted folder, I typed:

sudo Downloads/testdisk-6.12/photorec_static

Sudo enables a normal user to run a superuser command in linux. Downloads is the folder I saved the app into. Testdisk-6.12 is the folder the program was extracted into. Photorec_static is the name of the program.

A series of DOS like windows offered me various opportunities to look at all the disks on the system including the one I was unable to read, the SD card. After some poking around I was able to recover hundreds of pictures saving them to the hard drive. Interesting that each image had two sizes, the thumbnail size used when looking in a folder from explorer in Windows and the full sized image.

I was then able to reformat the SD card and copy the recovered images (large ones only) onto the disk. This same method could be used to find data on a badly behaving hard disk drive, a flash drive, or any other mountable disk. Real CSI stuff!

By the way, you do not have to use Ubuntu. The app works in a variety of operating systems including Windows.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Bounced Email

I have a  number of deletes of email I put through, several times. They keep coming back on my screen. How can I prevent this ?

I assume you are referring to bounced emails or delivery errors. Bad email addresses will bounce back to you so you know your mail was not deliverable just like the USPS returns undelivered mail. When someones address is good, but cannot receive mail for the time being for reasons such as their mail box is full, the email system keeps trying to deliver and lets you know the progress. Read the delivery error message to understand why it was bounced back to you.

I have my bounced messages go to a special folder so they are not in the middle of all my "normal" email.

Of course, if an email address is no longer valid, you should stop sending mail to it.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Creating a Book

I am putting a book together using Microsoft Word. I downloaded a template where I see the 2 small pages at once all the time as I am writing. I would like for the page numbering to begin after the title page, forward, and T. of C. pages but the template is locked. It starts numbering after the title page and I can't eliminate the "footer" option.  Is there an easy fix to this?

Downloaded the template from where? If you are going to publish on, you need the template from them and you will NOT see two pages at once. If you are printing on your own computer, you do not need a template. Just: Page Layout > Page Setup > Margins > Pages > Book Fold. Then when you print, print two sided. If your printer does not do it naturally, Word will have you do all of one side and then have you put the paper back in to print all the other sides.

Page numbers are easy: Insert > Page numbers. Getting them on just the body is another thing. You have to section the book so the portion to have page numbers stands by itself. To create a separate section: Page layout > Breaks > Section Break Next Page this is instead of Ctrl+Enter to start a new page. To stop the page numbers from flowing from section to section, you have to turn off Link to Previous in the header and/or footer area in the section you do not want to carry forward from the previous section.

TOC is easy also, you just use a heading font for the subtitles, have the insertion point at the page you want the TOC to be created at, and then: Reference > Table of Contents. It will create a TOC with those subtitles as the wording and the current page number as the number.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Booklet Printing

I like to print long documents as booklets printed on both sides of a standard size paper. This ends up being 5.5 X 4.25.

In Word this is an easy task under Page Layout > Page Setup > Margins > Pages > Book Fold > OK.

That's it. Your document is reformatted to fit, page numbers are redone, and you are ready to print. A duplex printer is nice, but a simplex one works just as well. You just have to follow the instructions and put the pages back in upside down for the second sides to print.

But what about using a word processor other than Word? If you have the document as a PDF, this becomes an easy task.

Open the PDF version of the document in Adobe Reader. File > Print and choose Page Scaling > Booklet Printing. Then Booklet subset > Both sides and OK to begin printing.

Simple, right? One issue that might be a concern is the size of the font printed. What happens is the 8.5 x 11 formatted document is resized to fit on a sheet half that size. Therefore the font size is a lot smaller. Depending on your eyesight, that might work for you.

Here is how to solve that issue. Go back to the original document and change the size of the paper and the margins, then save it as a PDF and try it again. If you get the document size down to a smaller size page the font size will be "normal" on the booklet printing.

Change the Page size to 5 X 8.

Change the page margins to .3" all around.

Now save it as a PDF and the booklet will have "normal" font sizes.

You might have to play around with the margins and paper size to get it to print the way you want. But the end result will be booklet printing from any word processor.

I use Google Docs a lot and when you select printing, it creates a PDF for you. If you do not have a word processor that allows the creation of a PDF, there are a number of printer drivers you can install that will give you PDF printing capability. One that I use is called "PDF redirect v2". It is a free download and works great.

For a PDF version of this white paper with screen shots: Booklet Printing.pdf

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tiny Tabs and more

If you upgraded to FireFox 4 (and I suggest you do), there is a new feature you might like. I like to have three open tabs all the time while browsing—my Google docs page, my email, and my Facebook. Those three tabs take up about half of the space for tabs. As I open other pages, the tabs get smaller and smaIler. 

Right-click the tabs you always have open and select Pin as App Tab. The tab is instantly made the size of the icon and the words go away. To reverse the process, right-click and choose Unpin Tab.

A couple of shortcuts that have been around for a while can help you "see" the window better. F11 removes all the data above the page you are displaying. Mouse up to the top of the window to have it pop back in temporarily. F11 again to bring it back.

Words too small? Ctrl + to enlarge the page and Ctrl – to reduce it in size.

Auto Creating Lines in Word

In Office 2003 I used to be able to type three dashes and it would automatically create a line across the page. Now in Office 2010 all I get is three dashes. After some searching in Word Help, I discovered how to turn that feature back on.
  1. Click the File tab
  2. Help > Options > Proofing
  3. Click AutoCorrect Options
  4. Select the AutoFormat as You Type tab
  5. Check Border Lines and then click OK
While you are in AutoCorrect Options you might want to poke around and enable or disable other options as well. For example, I do not like a fraction like 1/4 to automatically become a superscript, or for a "double-quote" to be turned into a left or right double-quote.

Now in addition to getting a horizontal line when I type three dashes followed by pressing enter, three of these characters work to give different types of border lines across the page:

~             Wavy line
-              Lite line
_             Heavy line
#             Triple line
*             Dots
=             Double line

Try them out. You will be glad you did and will start using them in your documents.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

By Dick Evans

Here is a great product and it is FREE! Need to help someone with a computer problem and they are at another location, maybe even in another state? Need to show a group of people how to do something on the computer while they watch what you do – with phone support? 

This is a free tool from LogMeIn. Download the app, run it, share the URL and conference 9-digit code with a friend, and you have sharing your screen with a friend. It includes text chat, voice conferencing, mouse and keyboard sharing, and more.

1. Support someone else

Have them open a browser and type 

Then have them click the orange button with the triangle inside

With Internet Explorer, click Run to install

Using the phone or an email, have them communicate the 9 digit code to you. This is a one-time code, so you do not have to remember it for later.

On your end, type the 9 digit code into the join box, and then click the green button with the triangle inside.
You are now connected to the person needing assistance, but you do not have mouse control.

On your window have a similar set of icons. Click the mouse icon and then the Request Control box.

They will be asked a question on their end about allowing you access. Tell them to do so and you have control of their system as though you were right there.

2. Set up a demonstration or training session

Just like the above example, but you are the one installing the app and obtaining the code which you will share with as many as you want to join in the session. I strongly suggest that you DO NOT give them control of your mouse and keyboard (unless you want to for some chaos!).

Click the telephone icon to obtain the free conference number they can call to hear what you are saying in your presentation. Once they dial in you can all voice chat while watching the demonstration on the shared screen, and even share files with each other.

It couldn’t be easier!

For a PDF with screen shots, see

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Power

Remember that old TV show, "Have Gun--Will Travel"? 

Paladin was a good guy with a black hat. His services were for hire. This was one of the most popular shows of the late 1950's. Okay, so you were not even born way back then. Google the show title and watch an episode or two. His Colt .45 gave him the power and those who hired him, the authority to fulfill his missions.

Luke 10:1,17
The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit... When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, "Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!" (NLT)

Jesus gave the disciples authority and power to go out two by two. Had they not gone would they have had the power?

If you want to have the power you have to do the work. It comes as a result of the doing. You do not get it first and then walk out. Power comes in the walk. As we walk God directs us onto the right path. But without motion there can be no direction. You just stand still looking around.

Just as in the law of physics that says every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every time we step out to complete the Father's work here on earth another piece is added to our spiritual man. We don't feel it, but we can tell when the next assignment comes along. We are able to recognize it quicker and complete it with an added level of confidence.

As baptized believers we have been given the Holy Spirit along with the authority and power to do whatever He tells us to do when we do so in the name of Jesus.