Thursday, May 31, 2012

Securing Our Computers

We spend time backing up our data so if our hard drive crashes we can get most of it back to a new drive or new computer. We password protect important things like our accounting information and even set up our user name so it requires a password to log on to Windows.

But what if we lose our laptop or netbook or even our new tablet?

Sure, they may need a password to log on as us, but what if they take out the hard drive and hook it up to another computer? Yes, they can do that and access all the files except those password protected. They can even boot the computer with a CD having its own operating system like Ubuntu and access everything right on the drive without having to remove it.

There is an alternative that will protect all the data on the hard drive and remove all possibility of anyone accessing the data, even you.

Using the boot option to access setup, F2 on most of my computers, check to see if there is the possibility of adding a password to the hard drive. If so, add one. Then only those with the password can boot the machine and log on. BUT DO NOT FORGET THE PASSWORD or even you will never be able to get it to work.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mailto Links

No matter which version of Windows you use, when you click on a mail to link on a Web page, Windows opens Outlook and attempts to process the compose email for you. Great if you use Outlook. Not so great if you use Gmail, yahoo, hotmail, or any other alternate method.

This little program takes away the problem by allowing you to assign the correct email carrier to your default browser.

Download it from and run it. It pops up a list of email clients like Gmail, yahoo, etc. Choose the one you want to use and the next time you need to send an email from a Web page link your email app opens. No more messy copy and paste to get that email address to the right place.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Send to on Steroids

You probably know you can right-click any file and the select Send-to to get a list of apps or locations to copy the file to. Hold the shift key down before the right-click and the list of places to send it to increase to include your most used folders

Monday, May 21, 2012

Convert PDF to an Image

There are times when it is much more convenient to send an image file (jpg) to someone or to post it somewhere like on Facebook. I used to display the PDF and make it small enough to see it all on my screen. Then I would capture the image with the PrtSc key or use the Snipit tool.

I found an easier way. Just open, upload the PDF, and in a pretty shore time the resulting JPG file I available for download. If it is a large PDF, you can enter your email address and they will let you know when the conversion has finished. 

More Shortcuts

You need a lot of fingers to count all the shortcuts available in apps. These have to do with browsers and work with most of the popular ones.

F6 (or Ctrl+L or Alt+D) changes focus to the address bar with the current address selected

F5 refreshes the window, but uses cache for some of the items on the page

Ctrl+F5 does a hard refresh pulling everything from the host site instead of cache

Ctrl+n with n being a number from 1-9 indicating the tab you want to switch to counting from left to right

This one is very useful to me. I cannot tell you how many times I have closed a tab in error and wished there was a way to go right back to it.

Ctrl+Shift+T reopens the last closed tab

Alt+Home opens the Home page

We all know that pressing Enter after entering the address in the address bar open the site.

Alt+Enter opens the address in a new tab

Ctrl+U opens a new tab with the source code (HTML) for the page

Monday, May 14, 2012

Analyzing Files on Disk

In a time long ago we ran under an OS called DOS. If we wanted to see what was on the hard drive or any disk, we would issue the DIR command from the command line and a tree view of the contents would roll up the screen. Using some redirection we could send the results to the printer or to a file.

In Windows we use explorer to look at any folder and can drill down into them visually, but lack the means to print a list. Enter TreeSize. Its free version shows drive contents as a list sorted by size, with simple and clear bars indicating relative size. A great way to view all your content and print it out.

If all you need is that DOS like list of files, try FileList from the same company. It produces a list of files in CSV format. Open in a spreadsheet app to analyze

This is a command line app. Use Win+R to open the run dialog box. Type CMD and press enter to open a command window. See the manual at to understand how to use it.

Syntax is “path to filelist.exe” “ path to be listed” “ path to output file and its name”. When it finishes, open the resulting file in a spreadsheet app to analyze the results.

Sample command line:
C:\programfiles>FileList.exe  c:\users\user\download  > c:\results.csv

This assumes the program is in ProgramFiles, the files we want listed are in the download folder for the user named user, and the results are to end up in a file at c:\ called results.csv.

CC Enhancer

In a past post I mentioned that I used ccleaner to keep my PC running smoothly. It is a simple app that cleans out lots of junk on your system. The cc stands for “crap cleaner” and it works fine. It even cleans up the registry files for you.

In addition to the junk that results from using Windows, other programs create their own and ccleaner does not address those. Well an add-on to ccleaner called ccenhancer adds the ability to clean out the junk from 500+ known applications and it all happens right inside ccleaner.

After you install it, run ccleaner and note all the applications listed under the application tab. Before running ccleaner, always do the updates so you get any additional apps that have been added.

While you are at it, consider download defraggler. It does a great job defragging your disks. And remember to only defrag hard drives and never solid state devices like the new drives or your USB flash drives. If you do, you will reduce their lifetime.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Earn 12% Per Year

I do not know what your bank is paying. I have more than one bank I do business with and not one of them pays a dime on the money in my checking account. Savings is a little better, but it is like .1% -- that’s a tenth of a percent per year which comes down to .0083333 per month!

When I was in elementary school, the local bank would come in and give us a talk on the importance of saving money. They helped us open our own savings account and gave us a book where we could see how much we had and see the increase each month as they applied the interest which was around 3%.

So how do you earn up to 60% per year? Cash rewards, that’s how.

Many credit card companies offer cash rewards for your purchases. 1% at least, but often up to 5% in specific purchases like groceries or gasoline. And that is the percentage for that month's purchases, not an annualized percentage.

Keep $5,000 in a savings account for one year and at .1% you will earn about $5 for the year. Charge $5,000 each month and receive $50 per month in cash rewards or $600 for the year. That is 120 times as much or an effective rate of 12% per year.

Of course you need to pay the credit card bill off in full each month. If you happen to get up to 5% on some of your purchases that percentage could go as high as 60%, but will probably be at least higher than the minimum of 12%.

Unlike the interest you earn at the bank, as little as that is, you do not receive a 1099 on your cash rewards at the end of the year. Your “earning” are rewards for using your credit card, not interest paid.

What can you do with those rewards? The simplest is to apply them to your credit card bill. I use them to purchase items at or sign on to the credit card rewards site to purchase gift cards often at lower than face value; $20 to purchase a $25 gift card is not uncommon.

The key is to use your purchasing power to make money. Charge to save. You get to delay payment for up to 30 days while you wait for the bill to come in and pay it. Pay the entire bill and earn the rewards. Then use the cash in a way that works best for you.

Adding a Site Map

Some Websites have a page called a site map. It is a hierarchical view of all the pages in the site and a great way to locate the page you need to find without having to go through a series of links from page to page.

I knew I could create one on my own using HTML, but I just found a simple way to do using a Free Online Sitemap Generator. You simply enter the URL of the site and it does all the work. Have a site you go to all the time that does not have a site map? Make one and save it on your computer. Open the resulting file in your browser and you have a personal map to all the pages on that site.

Open and key in the site address (URL). When it finishes you can choose from the xml version or the html version. I saved the html version in MyDocuments and opened it in my browser.

The free version does not handle all the nested pages as some of mine were missing. But you can run it again with the starting page being that nested folder. Still easier than doing it by hand. And the pay-for version is very reasonable with lifetime updates free.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Snapshot of System

A friend reminded me of a great free app that reviews your entire computer and displays a very detailed analysis of what hardware and software you have installed. It is called Belarc Advisor and you can download it at

Here is a sample of the first page of its analysis:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A PDF Tool

I came across this neat tool while looking for a way to take a PDF file and turn it into individual PDF’s for each page. I had used Word’s Mail Merge to create invoices from a spreadsheet of names and amounts. Worked great, but the resulting document and therefore the resulting PDF had all of the invoices in one file. I needed to send them out individually.

The following screen shot tells it all:

Click to view a larger image

It worked great for my situation and I am keeping this handy for some of the other functions available.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

What About the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo?

When you see the ads about these e-readers like Kindle, Nook, and Kobo you think you have to make a decision about which to purchase. Truth be told, you do not need to purchase any of them and yet you can still get the full benefit of what they have to offer.

In each case, you can download an app for your PC, Tablet, or Smartphone. That’s right. Download the app and then download the books your want to read. And you can purchase each book to be read on your chosen device and even take advantage of the free offers—hundreds of free books to download.

So sign on and register for your free account at:

You can read your Kindle books in the cloud by opening and then you will find the books you have purchased including the free ones in your Library (link in top left of screen).

After reading a few free books I had downloaded on my netbook I was sold. Why did I actually purchase a Kindle? At the time, tablets were not available as they are today. Reading on the netbook was ok, but hard to hold it and read in bed! Although much easier than my full sized laptop. Also, the Kindle screen could be read in direct sunlight. That was something none of the PC’s or tablets could do and I like to read at the beach and outdoors as I enjoy the warm Florida days.

There are many sites that offer listings of the free books available for the e-readers. I use one for my Kindle that sends me an email every day with a selection to choose from. If I go to their site I can view all that are available, but the limited selection approach works for me. One thing to note is that free books are not free forever. They are listed by the author for only a few days at a time.

Here is the site I use:

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Watch The Links

So often we get what appears to be an official email from one of our banks or even a promising email awarding us some grand prize. Here is one I received today that did not get allocated by Yahoo to the spam folder.

If you mouse over the link, that is move your mouse pointer over without clicking, you can view the URL or address of where that link will take you in the lower left of your browser window. In this case mousing over any of the links show an address of:

Which is obviously not a link to Chase Bank! This is how they get you. You unknowingly take the link and get to a page that looks official where you enter your personal information and often comprise your bank account, credit card account, etc.

In this email the first clue was the lack of graphics in the email, the missing 4 digits of my account number, and the fact that it was not addressed directly to my first name. Then the strange link URL the kicker. Off to spam it goes!

So be careful of those emails, even if they appear to come from a friend. Make sure you want to go where the link is taking you or may end up where no man has gone before!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Password Protect a Word File

A simple protection scheme for individual Office files is to password protect them. You can choose to make them read-only, to have someone be able to view but not edit, or give someone full editing rights.  It all happens when you save the file.

Click the Tools dropdown arrow.

Select General Options.

Fill in both passwords, click Protect Document.
Confirm both passwords, and then Save.
Next time you go to open the file, you will have to know the passwords to both view it and to edit it.
Works in a similar fashion in the other Office applications, such as Excel and PowerPoint.