Computer tips--- In computer Useful Software to Clean and Speed Up

There is a multi-billion dollar business built around selling PC and Mac cleaning software. They come in all shapes, sizes and prices and tout the necessity to clean, tune, and fix your computer so that it runs smoothly and efficiently. I’ve even written about many of these programs myself on Help Desk Geek and Learn fb Tips.

But do you really need all that software? Are there any real gains or is it just a bunch of fluff? Well the answer is, it depends. Sometimes a third-party program can provide a valuable service if you know how to use it. However, I have found that most of the utilities recommended on the Internet are full of options and settings that can end up harming your computer more than helping. Not only that, but many big name sites 
like PC World have lots of articles on tools to “clean” your computer which are absolutely horrible.

When you talk about cleaning up a computer, whether it be a Mac or a PC, it could refer to any number of things. Let’s break down what each of those categories are and see if it makes sense to use them or not.

Registry Cleaners Four years back, I wrote a typical 10 best registry cleaners and basically doled out a list of popular and semi-popular registry cleaners without really explaining anything. What does a registry cleaner actually do? Well, it basically (and theoretically) is supposed to remove unused or old entries, thereby “speeding” up your computer.

Even if you remove only those entries that are not needed, the performance impact is minimal. If you try to do a search for actual performance tests done before and after using a registry cleaner, you’ll find that there are very few actual tests and in the actual tests, there is basically zero difference in performance.

So that’s point one. The second issue is that a lot of registry cleaners will clean out the wrong entries. The only one that I have used and continue to use is CCleaner. It’s one that will not break your system. There is really not another one I can vouch for completely.

At the end of the day, registry cleaners can break your computer, offer no real increase in performance and waste your time. If you want to speed up your computer, read my articles on how to speed up Windows 7 
and speed up Windows 8. Also, uninstall useless programs on your system.That does a lot more in terms of performance than cleaning your registry.

File Cleaners

File cleaners are tools that will do their best to remove junk or unused files on your computer. This includes temporary files, cookies, Windows hot-fixes, cache files, history files, log files, clipboard data, etc, etc. In my view, there are only two decent programs for this that you would ever need: CCleaner and PC Decrapifier.

CCleaner does a great job of cleaning out files that you may no longer need. Again, I’ve never really saved a significant amount of space from using the tool, but if you really want to be super neat and tidy, that’s all you need. On average, I save about 1 GB in space when I run it every few months. Not going to give you back half your hard drive and with hard drives being so large today, it’s not really a big deal if you never do it.

PC Decrapifier is a program that helps you uninstall crap software that comes with new PCs you buy from Dell, HP, etc. I personally recommend just doing a clean install first and then using your computer. Here’s my guide on doing a clean install of Windows 7 and a clean install of Windows 8.


If you install a lot of software on your PC, you can easily uninstall it yourself. However, there is a whole category of software to help you uninstall programs. Is this necessary? Kind of. I personally try not to install anything on my main PC that I won’t be using every day. If I want to try something or my kids want a game to play, etc, I use a secondary machine and install all the junk. That machine then gets wiped every few months and starts all over again. I also use a virtual machine and load other software there.If you don’t have a second PC or don’t know how virtual PCs work, you might have software on your system that you don’t want anymore. Most software will have uninstallers to properly remove all the files, but a lot of times they leave stuff behind. On top of that, some programs simply do not come with uninstallers, which is really annoying.

In those cases, I only suggest Revo Uninstaller. It’s been around for a long time and does the best job. It’s not free, so I would only spend the money if you have a lot of programs that didn’t come with proper uninstallers. Otherwise, you can uninstall them and then run CCleaner to clean out any old or unused entries from those programs.

Also, like with most of these tools, it comes with some other utilities that you really don’t need. However, it’s still ok in my book for some users as uninstalling programs is not necessarily a smooth experience in Windows.

Startup Cleaners

Startup cleaners are the really useless programs if you ask me. Windows has built-in tools to see all the startup programs on your system and there is really no need to see the startup drivers, DLLs, etc, etc that some of these programs tout. Beyond simple programs, it really makes no difference unless you’re a tech geek.

A lot of the programs claim they will give you descriptions and details on each of the programs and while this may be true, you really don’t need a program for that info. Just read my article on how to change startup programs in Windows (and startup programs in Windows 8, since it’s in a new location), then do a Google search on any startup item you’re not sure about!

I definitely do not recommend installing a startup cleaner as it’s something that can be done by the user with a little bit of time and research. Now can disabling startup programs make a difference? Yes! Startup programs can really slow down your PC, so it is a good idea to disable any you think you won’t need. Again, it’s like the registry because if you disable the wrong item, your computer may not work properly. Just do a little Googling before you disable something and you’ll be fine.

Duplicate File Finders

Another set of tools are geared towards removing duplicate files. I would have to say that this can be useful. I’ve had a lot of occasions where I copied the same photos or videos off my camera and then had a bunch of extra space being used because of that. A duplicate file finder can save your some disk space if you have a lot of photos, videos, or music that might be duplicated.

For photos, I’ve used Picasa to find duplicates because it looks at the actual picture to make sure it’s a duplicate, rather than just the file name. For videos and music, there are a lot of programs out there and I suggest you just Google it. Make sure you run the EXE file through VirusTotal before you install it. I would only download a tool that finds just duplicates rather than those all-in-tools that do X, Y, Z, etc.

Also, make sure you don’t buy anything. There are a lot of great free programs that can find duplicates, so don’t get suckered into purchasing something just to remove duplicates.Browser/History Cleaners
Unless you can’t type and search in Google, you really do no need browser and history cleaners. I mean it’s a fairly easy thing to do. 

Don’t get tricked into thinking that the program can securely wipe or completely delete or any other useless hype they give you. You can delete your history just fine and make sure it can’t be recovered.Most people end up buying this software because they have some shady browsing they need to hide and they get scared that someone will find it unless they use one of these tools that claim only their program can really delete your browsing history. Complete BS. Here are some previous article I wrote on the topic:

Delete Browsing History in FirefoxClear Google Search History How to Remove and Delete CookiesBasically, you want to delete your browsing history using the browser and clear the cache. That’s it. You don’t need any fancy tool to do that. No one has ever been able to recover my history. I even tried to recovery my own history to see if this was good enough and it was.

Internet Speed Boosters

Internet speed boosters are another useless category of software you should never install. These programs are more likely to break your Internet connection or slow it down more than speed anything up. You want a faster Internet connection? Get a faster wireless router, clear up interference on your wireless network, and boost your Wifi signal.

There are some occasions where changing some TCP or network settings can speed up file write/read performance over the network, but that is usually for LAN traffic and not your Internet connection. Call your ISP and increase your download speed, but don’t install a speed booster!


As you can see from above, I don’t recommend installing too many so-called optimizers and tune-up utilities for your PC. There are a few good programs out there, but the majority suck. Try to do as much as you can by yourself and then only use trusted programs like the ones I mentioned above. What are your thoughts about clean up utilities? Do you use any? Let us know in the comments. Enjoy!

"Computer tips--- In computer Useful Software to Clean and Speed Up"

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windows tips---Your computer Hosts File in Windows and How Can You Use It.

The hosts file in Windows is like an address book for your computer. It is loaded into memory (cache) when Windows starts and associates host names, such as with IP addresses, such as for Google. The IP address is like the telephone number for that site. 

However, so we don’t have to remember a string of numbers for every site we want to visit, we enter easy-to-remember host names.Because the computer uses IP addresses to find sites, it needs to translate the host name for a site into an IP address. If the IP address for a site is in your hosts file associated with a host name, your computer can use that to “call” the site when you enter the host name in your browser’s address bar. If not, your computer must contact a DNS (domain name server) computer on the Internet for the IP address before it can contact the site.

Initially, there are no host name/IP address associations in the hosts file. Examples of the format and layout of the IP addresses and host names are listed in the comments in the file.

If you add host names and their associated IP addresses into the hosts file for sites you visit often, access to those sites becomes faster. Your computer doesn’t have to query DNS servers on the Internet to get the IP addresses for those sites. If there are any sites that don’t have a domain name, you can enter the site’s IP address in your hosts file with a custom domain name which can serve as a “shortcut” to the site.

So how can you use a HOSTS file in Windows? Well, websites can collect various types of information about you as you surf the web. The hosts file can help block sites from tracking you, as well as block ads, banners, third-party cookies, and other annoying parts of web pages.Each computer has a host address of its own, known as the “localhost” address. The IP address for localhost is This can be used to block sites serving ads or objectionable content by entering a site’s host name in the hosts file and associating it with the localhost IP address. That refers the host name to your own computer, which then thinks it found the site and displayed it already, even though that site was never actually contacted.

For example, DoubleClick is an ad server that, in some cases, will quietly try to open a separate connection on the current webpage and record your activity on that page as well as follow you to other sites you visit. Adding the following entry to your hosts file, prevents DoubleClick from ever serving you any ads or tracking your activity.

NOTE: The entries in the hosts file allow you only to block entire sites. Therefore, if you are viewing a site, any ads that are served to you by that site, cannot be blocked with the hosts file without blocking the whole site.

Another advantage of blocking ads, banners, hit counters, and other annoying webpage elements is that it can also speed up your browsing experience. You don’t have to wait for all those webpage elements to load before viewing the page.

You can set up the hosts file yourself to block websites or you can download a hosts file that is already filled out with common sites you may want to block. The following image shows a ready-made hosts file created by the MVPS site.

NOTE: You cannot use wildcards for the host names in the hosts file. For example, * will not work.

If you decide to edit the hosts file yourself, it is located in the following directory for Windows 7, Vista, and XP. The file does not have an extension, but it is a standard text (.txt) file. An easy way to open it is to open Notepad, or other text editor, first and then open the hosts file from within the editor program.


NOTE: If you choose to download and use a ready-made hosts file, be sure to make a backup copy of the original hosts file, in case you want to use that again. The easiest way to do that is to add an extension to the original hosts file, such as .mvp (for the site from which you downloaded the file) before copying the new hosts file to the directory listed above.

The hosts file is an easy way to restrict undesirable websites from accessing your computer and tracking your web activity without using third-party software and to speed up your browsing experience for sites you visit often.

"windows tips---Your computer Hosts File in Windows and How Can You Use It."

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Computer tips--- 10 awesome Google Chrome default browser Extensions You Should Install

Google Chrome is my default browser and has been so for more than a year. I use Firefox also because it has some great add-ons that still can’t be beat. However, a lot of plugins that used to only work on 

Firefox also now work with Chrome, which is great.In this post, I’m going to mention 10 plugins that I find to significantly enhance my browsing experience when using Chrome. I’m sure you have you have your own favorites, so let us know what they are in the comments.

HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere is an awesome extension that will encrypt your web connection to thousands of web sites while you browse. It’s absolutely essential if you regularly browse the web from non-secure locations 
like hotels, airports, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc. It’s also fine to use all the time as it helps prevent identity theft by protecting your online privacy. Since it uses HTTPS to connect to sites, you might run into some problems where some sites break and don’t load properly. If you run into that problem a lot, then you can just enable the plugin when you are traveling or using an insecure network connection.


Privacyfix is a great plugin for those who want to know who’s tracking them online and what they can do to prevent it. It’ll give you reports for Facebook, Google and other websites you visit and tell you what’s being tracked and what’s not. What’s cool is that it even shows you how much money they make off of you with your current settings. Definitely a highly recommended extension that helps you understand privacy on the web a little better.

Drag and Drop Search

Drag and Drop Search enhances an already nice feature of Google Chrome. By default, if you select some text in Chrome and then right-click, you’ll see an option to perform a search on that text. This extension extends that by allowing you to drop the text into search zones, each of which can be customized by you. For example, you can have a zone for Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, etc that will perform the search on that site. The plugin also has a feature whereby you can drag and drop links into a zone that is linked to, so you can easily shorten links by just dragging and dropping.


SwiftPreview is a cool plugin that I love when it works. It’s been a little flaky on some sites, but overall I would still recommend it. The developers seem to update it fairly often so whatever issues it has will hopefully be resolved. Basically, it lets you preview links on many sites like Reddit, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. This is really useful since a lot of times I just want to see a picture and move on. Saves me time at the end of the day.

Speed Dial 2

Speed Dial 2 is one of the best extensions for replacing the new tab page in Google Chrome. It’s got all kinds of customization options and works like a champ. You can also sync it across all your instances of Chrome for a small one-time fee. The only current downside I see is that it gets rid of the Other Devices option that was on the original new tag page. However, I’m sure they’ll be adding that in since a lot of people have complained about it. Still a great plugin.

KeyRocket for Gmail

KeyRocket for Gmail is one of those plugins I didn’t even know I needed until I installed it! I love keyboard shortcuts, but for whatever reason, I can’t remember them for a lot of sites like Gmail. Maybe it’s time or not visiting the page often enough. Either way, it would still be nice to use them when I am on that page. KeyRocket for Gmail is an awesome extension that will recommend keyboard shortcuts to you while you do stuff in Gmail. So let’s say you type an email and then click Send. KeyRocket will notify you that you could have pressed a keyboard shortcut instead to send them email. Sweet! Great way to learn shortcuts for Gmail. Wish they had an extension for other sites too. is a pretty interesting plugin for those who hate looking at pictures of their friends babies on Facebook. It basically replaces baby pictures that have certain keywords associated with them with pictures of cats or other interesting stuff. You can even choose your own picture RSS feed if you want. The extension also lets you add your own keywords so if you want to block pictures of food people keep posting, you can do that too! The plugin is complicated, so it doesn’t always work. Worked fine for me, but your mileage may vary. If it works, it’s pretty darn cool.

Hover Zoom

Similar to SwiftPreview, Hover Zoom is awesome for pictures. It will let you hover your mouse over an image and see the enlarged full-size picture without having to click on it. Again, works with all the major sites like Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Flickr, etc. One doesn’t really think they need a plugin like this until they install it and realize how much time they waste clicking on thumbnails! Highly recommended!

AdBlock Plus

I’m not a huge advocate of blocking ads and I don’t myself because my living depends on people seeing the ads on my site. However, since I’m listing “awesome” plugins and this is a post for the readers, not mentioning AdBlock Plus would not be fair. It’s one of the most popular extensions for Chrome and once you use it, you’ll see why. Ads are instantly gone and it does a pretty amazing job. Great for sites with tons of ads, but remember lots of people depend on ads for their living!

Google Dictionary

It’s sad, but there are a lot of words I don’t know when I read articles from New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Google Dictionary is a great extension that lets me quickly look up a word and hear how it is pronounced. Also it works with quite a few different languages, so if you read Spanish, Russian, French, German, etc websites, you’ll really love this plugin.

Let me know what you think of the list! I know there are many more extensions out there, but I’ve never really seen anyone using more than 5 to 10 extensions at any one time. Enjoy!

"Computer tips--- 10 awesome Google Chrome default browser Extensions You Should Install"

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Facebook and G-mail Tips--- Account Properly Setup Recovery and Backup Options for Two-Step Verification

I’ve always been a big proponent of two-step verification and it seems these days you really need to use it. Just look at the recent Apple security hole that allowed people to reset your Apple ID password with just your email address and DOB. If you had enabled two-step verification on your account, you would not have to worry about this problem.

Though two-step verification can make your account more secure, it can also cause a lot of problems if you happen to lose the device that generates the codes. Just like there is more upfront setup required to use two-step verification, there is also a bit of backend setup you must do to ensure you can regain access to your account in case of loss or theft.

I currently have 2-step verification enabled on Google, Dropbox, Facebook, and After doing a little research, I realized I didn’t quite have my backups ready. I actually pretended like I lost my device and wanted to see how easy it would be to get back in. I was surprised. If you don’t have the right stuff setup, you could end up either permanently locking yourself out or having to through through hours or days of trying to convince customer service people you are the real owner of the account.

In this article, I’ll go through those five sites and explain what you need to do in order to ensure that your account remains secure, but is still recoverable in case you lose your phone and can’t generate the codes anymore.

There are a couple of things you should setup in terms of recovery for your Google account. To get started, head over to the account Settings page here:

First thing you want to do is add a recovery email address. The recovery email address is more often used when you forget your password or your account has been hacked, but it’s still another mechanism that can be used to get back into your account regardless of what’s preventing you from getting in.

Next, click on Security and then click on Settings 2-step verification.

Here is where you need to setup the backup options for 2-step verification or at least make sure everything is up-to-date.

The important aspects here are the backup phones and the printable backup codes. You should definitely have at least one backup phone, which can be another cell phone, home phone, etc. Obviously, make sure this other backup phone is also secure or with someone who you completely trust like your parents or someone. My 2 year old daughter was playing with my iPhone and deleted the Google Authenticator app. I couldn’t restore it from backup and therefore I had to get a call on my backup phone in order to get it.

The nice thing about the backup phone is that if you can’t receive a text message on it, you can have an automated service call you with the code. Secondly, print out the backup codes and do not save them on your computer. It gives you the option, but it’s a terrible idea. You don’t want these codes in digital format. Nor do you want to be carrying the backup codes around in your wallet. They should be kept securely in one location and pulled out only when you need them.

The last thing you can to is make one or two computers Trusted Computers. If you scroll down on the 2-step verification settings page, you’ll see if the current computer is trusted or not:

This basically means you won’t have to type the verification code on that computer for about 30 days or so. After that point, it asks anyway, but if you lose your phone, then you can use a trusted computer to sign in and then move 2-step to another phone or just disable it until you get time to set it up again.

Dropbox 2-step is similar to Google, but doesn’t have as many options. Basically, if you lose your phone, you have to enter a emergency backup code that they give you when you initially setup 2-step verification. If you already enabled it and can’t find the code anymore, you should disable 2-step and then re-enable it in order to generate the new emergency backup code.

Once you log into Dropbox, you need to click on your name at the top and then click on Settings. Then click on Security:

The first thing you want to do is disable 2-step if you don’t have your emergency backup code. Once you have that and have enabled 2-step, go ahead and make sure to add a backup phone number. I use the Google Authenticator app to generate the codes because you can then use your phone as a backup. If you use your phone SMS to get the codes, then your only backup is the emergency backup code. That’s why it’s better to install the Google Authenticator app and then use your phone number as a backup. Then you’ll have two backups in case something goes wrong.

It’s also worth nothing that Dropbox has trusted computers also and if you do lose your phone and you don’t have any backups available, you can still login on a trusted computer. But if you lose your phone and don’t either have the emergency code or a backup phone, then you’re screwed. Or at least you’ll have to call Dropbox and pray they believe you.

When it comes to Apple, you can log into your account as long as you have two of the three items below:

1. Apple ID password

2. Access to a trusted device

3. Your recovery key

As long as you have any combination of 2 of these items, you can get back into your account. Once you have logged into your Apple ID account, click on Password and Security to manage your trusted devices and your recovery key. It’s a good idea to add several trusted devices like your phone, spouse’s phone, etc. Currently, trusted devices have to support SMS, so you can’t add an iPad or anything like that.

The next thing is to print out your recovery key or click the Replace Lost Key if you forgot to print it out the first time when you setup 2-step verification. Again, it’s best it just print this out and not save it in any type of digital format. It’s a lot easier for digital data to be stolen than a piece of paper in a safe or stuffed in some strange location only you know.

LastPass is fairly straight-forward in terms of not having access to your codes; they basically have a link that will send you an email, which will then disable Google Authenticator temporarily so you can log in.

LastPass is the only place where you don’t have to actually do anything extra in order to gain access back to your account.

Facebook has Login Approvals, which is the same as 2-step verification. It’s not as stringent as Google’s 2-step verification, but it’s still pretty useful and can prevent hackers from gaining access to your account. Login Approvals either sends you a SMS on your phone or you can use Code Generator in the Facebook app.

The reason I said Facebook is less stringent is because it won’t ask you for that code when logging in from any of your recognized devices, which is pretty much every device you have ever used to log into the site. If you lose your phone and you don’t have the Facebook app installed on any other device, you’ll have to login from a recognized device. If you don’t have any way to login from a recognized device, you have to file a report and wait forever to get access back.

So I would install the Facebook app on at least two devices, maybe your phone and a tablet and then make sure you have a couple of computers that are recognized devices.

Hopefully this article gives you a little more idea on how to ensure you are using 2-step verification properly and not potentially locking yourself out with the extra security. If you haven’t enabled 2-step verification at all, I strongly recommend it along with making sure your backup and recovery options are set. This way you’ll have more peace of mind when everything is working and peace of mind even when your device is lost or stolen. Enjoy!

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Computer Tips--- Use the Command Line to Kill a Program

Everyone knows how to kill a program using Task Manager in Windows or Force Quit in OS X, but sometimes it’s useful to kill a program using the command line. I’ve run into several situations where the program refused to end via Task Manager, even when I tried to kill the underlying process. Force Quit has it’s own quirks and doesn’t always kill a program like it should. That’s when you can use the power of the command line.

In this article, I’ll go through the commands for killing a program in Windows, OS X and Linux. Interestingly, there is usually more than one command for accomplishing this, so I’ll try to mention the different ones that I have used. It’s not an exhaustive list, so if you use a different command not mentioned here, please let us know in the comments.

In Windows, you can use two commands to kill a program: TSKILL and TASKKILL. TSKILL is a simpler and less powerful command, but does the job just fine. For example, if you’re running Microsoft Word, the process name is winword.exe. To kill Word from the command line just type the following command:

tskill winword
That will kill Word and you will lose any unsaved data, so you have to be careful using it. I tried it out on an unsaved Word doc and it just disappeared when I ran this, no prompts to save the documents. This is pretty much true of all the commands I’m going to mention here as that’s kind of the point. You can to kill a program instantly without any questions.

One thing to note is that most of the time that this command is used, it’s used with the /A parameter. /A tells the command to end the process running under all sessions. So typically you would type the following command to be extra sure the process is killed:

tskill /A winword
The second command, which has more options and is more powerful, is TASKKILL. If you look at the help page for TASKKILL, you see what I mean:

If you want to have more control and options for killing a program in Windows, use TASKKILL. For starters, you can kill a program by using the following command:

taskkill /F /IM winword.exe
Note that you have to use .EXE when using the TASKKILL command. /F means to forcefully terminate the process forcefully. /IM means the image name, i.e. the process name. If you want to kill using the process ID (PID), you have to use /PID instead of /IM. /T is great because it will kill all child processes started by the specified process.

You can also use TASKKILL to remotely connect to another system and kill a process on that remote system. What I also like is the ability to use wildcards in TASKKILL.

In OS X and Linux, you have two commands for killing processes: KILL and KILLALL. You have to run these in the terminal window. In order to kill a program, you either have to use the program name or the process ID. There are some ways you can find this info. One way is via the Activity Monitor.

However, that requires the GUI interface. If you are using the command line to kill a process, you can use the command line to find the process info also. Two commands that come to mind are top and ps -ax.

top will give you a list of processes with the PID and the program name also sorted by CPU usage. It’s a quick way to find the process you want to kill. ps -ax will give you a listed sorted by PID and the path of the program. It’s slightly different than top.

Now for killing the program in OS X. You can simply type the following command to kill a specific process:

kill -9 83002
83002 is the Terminal process and the 9 means to kill the process. You can use other numbers like 3, which means Quit, or 6, which means Abort. Mostly, though, you’ll be sticking with 9. You can also use the KILL command to kill all running processes, though you should probably never use this command.

kill -TERM -1
Where KILL is useful for killing one process or all processes, KILLALL is using for killing a group of processes. For example, if you’re running Google Chrome, you might have 10 Chrome processes running. It would be really annoying to use KILL ten times to shut down Chrome. Instead, you could use KILLALL like so:

killall Evernote
killall 'Google Chrome'
Note that you have to use the single quotes or anything longer than one word. Also, if the process is not running under your name, but is instead running under root, you have to use the following command:

sudo killall 'Google Chrome'

sudo killall -9 'Google Chrome'
Again, the 9 is sending the specific signal to KILL rather than TERM. Sudo is only needed if you get an error about not having permission. Otherwise you can do killall program or killall -9 program. On OS X, the KILLALL command comes in really handy when you can’t force quit a program. You don’t have to know the process ID, which is nice. Just type in the name and all processes will be killed associated with that name.

This article was meant to give you more advanced methods for killing a program in Windows, OS X and Linux. If you have any questions about killing a program using the command line, post a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

"Computer Tips--- Use the Command Line to Kill a Program"

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Computer Tips--- New feature Google Analytics Reports makes viewing customized reports a lot easier

Google Analytics is a great free tool from Google that millions of small and large websites use to keep track of their website visitors. The Google Analytics team has released a new feature that makes viewing customized reports a lot easier. The feature is called Shortcuts and it basically lets you view a report with any customizations including advanced segments, secondary dimensions, sorting, graph views, etc.

Any Custom or Standard report can be added to shortcuts. However, any Real-Time on Intelligence Events reports cannot be added to shortcuts at this time. Also, Goals reports cannot be added either. Other than that, though, you can start saving your customized reports to shortcuts. Here’s how.

First, go to a report and then customize it however you like. For example, I went to Traffic Sources – All Traffic report and then chose Search Traffic under Advanced Segments. Then I chose Country under Secondary Dimension and lastly I sorted the whole thing by Avg. Visit Duration. Now in order to save this report with these settings, click on the Shortcut link at the top navigation bar.

Go ahead and give your new Shortcut a name. You can type in a fairly long name so make sure to include any relevant details. I named mine Search Traffic by Country Sorted by Duration.

Now you’ll see the header for the report change to the name you just gave it.

Pretty sweet! Now I can access this customized report anytime by clicking on Home and then clicking on Shortcuts in the left-hand pane:

So that’s one really useful new feature of Google Analytics that will make it a lot easier for webmasters to view reports with customized settings quickly. Enjoy! 

"Computer Tips--- New feature Google Analytics Reports makes viewing customized reports a lot easier"

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Computer,iPhone,Facebook,Google+ Tips--- How to Store All Your Photos in the Cloud

Recently, I had some friends over and they were telling me about how they store all of their photos on their computer and run a Windows task to copy all the photos to another computer in their home on a nightly basis for backup purposes. This is definitely good, but I also consider it essential to keep a set of all your pictures online in the cloud.

Uploading photos to the cloud has a couple of advantages over storing them all locally:

1. You can easily share the albums with others

2. You can always access the photos at anytime as long as you have an Internet conncetion

3. You have a backup of all your photos in case something happens to your local copyI always have a local copy of my pictures and then have several copies stored in the cloud. Depending on what services you currently use, the best solution may be different for different people. In this article, 

I’ll try to cover some of the main ways to store your photos in the cloud.

Before we get into details, I wanted to talk about the source for all of these photos. In my case, there are basically three ways I take photos:

1. From my iPhone

2. From my digital SLR camera

3. From  my digital point-and-shoot camera

Photos From Smartphones Storing photos you take from a smartphone in the cloud is pretty straight-forward and you have a lot of options. For Android or iOS devices, you can use a variety of apps or built-in features to upload your photos to the cloud, usually automatically.

Apple has the Photostream and it’s fairly useful, especially with iOS 6 and the addition of shared photo streams, but it’s definitely not a backup solution. It only stores 1000 photos, which is pretty useless for me. Also, Apple doesn’t really have any type of cloud image storage service like Google does (Picasa) and that’s why I recommend downloading apps.

My favorite apps for this are Dropbox and Google+. If you already use Picasa Web Albums, then downloading the Google+ app is the easiest way to store photos in the cloud. The Google+ app has a feature called Instant Upload, which will automatically upload any picture you take on your iPhone or Android device to an album called Instant Upload on Google+ Photos (which is the same as Picasa Web Albums now).

If you don’t use Google+ or Picasa Web Albums, etc, you can also use Dropbox. Dropbox is a service that basically lets you easily “drop” files into a bucket that is then available on any device or computer you have Dropbox installed on. And Dropbox has an app for every platform out there, including Linux, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, etc.

Dropbox also has an automatic upload feature called Camera Upload, which does the exact same thing as the Google+ app. Any picture you take will be automatically uploaded to your Dropbox account when you 
open the app.

So these two apps can basically take care of all your photos from any smartphone you own. They also work on tablets like the iPad, etc. Lastly, I mention only photos, but both of these apps will also upload videos taken on your smartphone. That’s a great way to backup your photos and videos without having to do much.

If you install the Dropbox program on your Mac or PC, it will then automatically sync all those photos and videos to the computer too, so you have an extra backup on your hard drive too.

There are other apps like Facebook and Flickr, but neither of these apps support automatic uploading of photos. Still, I do upload photos to Facebook all the time, but I use Google+ photos and Dropbox to store all my photos whereas I upload only a few good ones to Facebook

Facebook is not setup to use it as a backup of all your photos. Flickr is good, but you have to reply more on third-party apps created by others to get it to do what you want.

Photos from Digital Cameras

Getting photos from your digital camera to the cloud is a little different, but not very complicated either. There are a few more options for uploading your photos from the desktop to the cloud than from a mobile device. For example, if you want, you can also use Flickr as your online cloud storage for photos.

Personally, I suggest either using Dropbox or using Google+ Photos/Picasa Web Albums. Dropbox is nice because you can easily share the photos via email or text message or you can post the pictures to Facebook or Twitter.

Google+ only lets you share with your Google+ circles, but it has some neat image editing tools built right into the web interface. Google is also good because you can download the free Picasa app, which is a great tool for managing photos on your desktop. It’s so much easier to organize your photos using Picasa and then uploading them directly from within the program.

If you’re using Dropbox, you don’t get any nice GUI interface to help with managing your pictures, but if you don’t need the bells and whistles of a program like this, it’s perfect. Just copy your photos from your digital camera, drop the folder into your Dropbox account and everything will be uploaded automatically. You can then easily share the photos with others via email, Twitter or Facebook.

Personally, I have found that using some of these services in combination works out best. On my phone, I use Google+ and Dropbox to upload my photos and videos. It’s easier for me to share them with certain people who are on Google+ and use Dropbox to share with Facebook.

For pictures from my digital cameras, I usually just upload them to Picasa Web Albums via the desktop program. If I want to make it easy for someone to download all the photos for an album, I’ll also copy it to my Dropbox folder and the just send the link to that entire folder.

Overall, it’s a good idea to store your photos in the cloud along with having a local backup copy. If you still are confused about something or need any other help, feel free to post a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

"computer,iPhone Tips--- How to Store All Your Photos in the Cloud"

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Computer Tips--- Do you Need to Update your BIOS

As as computer user, you’ve probably heard of the BIOS by now, which stands for Basic Input/Output System. It’s that blue DOS-like screen that pops up if you press F8 or F2 while the computer is starting. The BIOS is the “firmware” for your computer. It’s code that is stored on a chip attached to your motherboard and is the first code that is run when your computer starts.

So what exactly does the BIOS do and do you need to update it? In this article, that’s what I am going to try and answer. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll quickly find that there is no one answer. Lots of people feel updating the BIOS is not necessary unless there’s a specific reason while others feel updating to the latest version is always a good idea. I’ll try to list out the pros and cons of both schools of thought. Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments.

What is the BIOS?

The main purpose of the BIOS is to check all the hardware components attached to the computer and then to load the software on a boot device (hard disk or CD/DVD). This first step is called a power-on self-test. 

The BIOS will check for all hardware components like hard disk drives, CPUs, RAM, graphics cards, keyboards, mice, optical disk drives, and other hardware.

So what else can you do with the BIOS? Mainly, you can use it to configure the hardware on your computer. You can modify settings for hard drives, RAM chips, the CPU and other hardware. You can disable components like USB ports, optical drives, etc. You can change the system clock and manage the power settings from the BIOS also.

One of the main things you can do is setup the main and secondary boot devices. For example, you can change the order of the boot devices so that you can boot from CD/DVD first, then to USB, then to a hard drive, etc.

What does a BIOS Update Include?

If you see there is an update for your BIOS, either through Windows or by visiting the PC manufacturers website, you can usually download an executable program that will perform the update for you. Occasionally, you have to update the BIOS by other methods like using a CD or DVD, but that’s more rare now.

So what does a BIOS update usually include? Here are some of the possible reasons for an updated BIOS:

1. Bug fixes. The BIOS is just code and code is never perfect. An update may include fixes that help the software work better on your machine.

2. Compatibility. An updated BIOS may also include support for newer devices, newer features or newer standards.

3. Performance – There are times where an update include hardware tweaks that can speed up boot time.

The benefits are greater if the computer is older. If you have a machine that is 5 years old and the BIOS has never been updated, the latest version of the BIOS probably has a lot of update and fixes.

Do you need to Update the BIOS?

Now for the real question: do you need to upgrade your BIOS to the latest version? I personally feel that you should only update your BIOS if you’re currently having a problem. If you system is running smoothly and everything is working, why take a risk and possible corrupt your BIOS and end up with a dead machine.Also, I always check the BIOS change log to see what the latest version of the BIOS has to offer. For example, here’s a change lot for a set of Toshiba computers:

As you can see, the latest version of this BIOS adds support for certain keyboards, support for Celeron and Core i3 processors, improves on some settings for SSD drives, etc. Now if you are having an issue where your computer resumes from sleep or hibernate and takes a long time while using an SSD, that might be fixed with this update, according to the change log. That’s definitely a worthy reason to update the BIOS.

However, if you’re not using an SSD, don’t care about the Brazilian keyboard, don’t have a Celeron or Core i3 processor and don’t plan on changing your processor, etc, etc then the update is probably not necessary. I’ve always felt that a newer version of something is not always better. I’ve run into problems before updating drivers to the latest version and then having to roll back because the new driver was actually causing problems that the older driver never did.

Even though the process to update the BIOS is not very complicated, especially with newer computers, it’s still should only be done if you really need it. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken! If you really are not sure whether you need to upgrade or not, you can try to create a backup of your BIOS and then perform the upgrade.

Check out the link above, which walks you through the process of backing up your BIOS depending on the BIOS company. There are a couple of major ones like American Megatrends, AMI, Award, or Phoenix. Each company has their own tools for making backups of the BIOS.

What are your thoughts on updating the BIOS? Do you update it often or never or once in a while? Let us know in the comments. Enjoy!

"Computer Tips--- Do you Need to Update your BIOS"

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Computer,Windows 7 Tips--- Fix Back Button Not Working in Internet Explorer

I recently ran into a very odd problem on one of my Windows 7 machines where the Back button in Internet Explorer stopped working! I would press back and nothing would happen! It was the oddest thing ever and this was on a fresh install of Windows 7 with IE 9. I had never experienced this problem before and had to think for a little while before I could figure out how to fix it.

In this article, I’ll mention a couple of the methods I used to try and fix the problem. What worked for me may not work for you, so go ahead and try all the different possible solutions. If you still can’t get the back button working on IE, post a comment here and I’ll try to help.

Method 1 – Disable Add-ons

The first thing to try is to disable all add-ons and see if that solves the back button problem. The easiest way to start Internet Explorer without add-ons is to click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and then click on Internet Explorer (No Add-ons).

If that didn’t solve your problem, keep on reading through the other solutions.

Method 2 – Reset Internet Explorer

You can also try resetting Internet Explorer by clicking on the Tools button and then Internet options.

Now click on the Advanced tab and then click on the Reset button at the very bottom.

Now you will get a pop up dialog that goes through everything the reset process will do like disabling toolbars/add-ons, resetting security, privacy, and browsing settings. You can also choose to delete personal settings like the home page, search providers, accelerators, removing temporary Internet files, cookies, browsing history, saved form data, tracking data, and passwords.

I suggest deleting the personal settings too unless you really need them. Once you reset IE, restart your computer and then try browsing again and using the back button. Hopefully it works now!

Method 3 – Install Latest Updates

Apparently, this problem has been around for a while, so go ahead and install the latest Windows updates as there could be a fix for it in one of the updates released. If your computer is up-to-date and you’re still having the Back button problem, keep reading.

Method 4 – Alt Key & Refresh Button

Some people have noted that this back button problem happens with Google AdSense ads or other types of widgets running on a webpage. When you click back, it’s actually working, but it’s going through a bunch of ads instead of the last web page you visited.

A couple of people suggested pressing the Alt key + back button or pressing the Refresh button and then pressing back. Give them a try and see if either solution works. Obviously, it’s not an ideal solution, but if you don’t have the problem all the time or have it on certain websites only, then you can use these tricks.

Method 5 – Uninstall and Reinstall IE

The last thing you can try is to uninstall IE completely and then reinstall it. You can do this by going to Control Panel, Programs and Features and clicking on Turn Windows features on or off. Go ahead and uncheck Internet Explorer 9 and then restart the computer.

If you solved the problem using a different method not listed here, post a comment and let us know. Method 2 is what worked for me. Hopefully, something here fixes your problem. Enjoy!

"Computer,Windows 7 Tips--- Fix Back Button Not Working in Internet Explorer"

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