I Just Changed The Way I Receive Windows Updates AND Here Is Why…

November 23, 2014

I cannot stress enough, from a computer security standpoint, the importance of the Windows Updates. Microsoft goes to great lengths to keep our PC’s safe; HOWEVER, this past week I had an experience on a brand new PC that I had customized to my liking where I believe a Windows Update caused me a lot of grief. I experienced similar symptoms, as reported at 404 Tech Support, where they made determination that a specific update on machines with the Avast Anti-Virus installed caused the following symptoms to occur:

  • Restarting or shutting down would never complete
  • Uninstalling a program would hang
  • Certain startup programs would never launch
  • Opening computer properties (Right-click on This PC, select Properties) would never open

In my case, I experienced the exact same symptoms; HOWEVER, was not the same cause(s). I did not (initially) install the update as indicated in the 404 Tech Support article and do not have Avast installed. My problem started out when I booted my Windows 81. box and was greeted with a message indicating that Windows was installing new features and telling me to wait. Of course I am scratching my head going, “What new features???  I didn’t install or ask for any new features”. Needless to say, the computer hung on that screen (and message) and did not move forward. I ended up booting into the Windows reset, refresh and restore options. I attempted a restore and that did not work properly, as well. I performed a reboot again, and the PC did start to the desktop; however, that is when I experienced the symptoms as reflected above. After a second start of the computer, the computer started to run properly (for whatever reason). I immediately ran a scan for malware and checked all areas (startup, processes, services, etc…) to make sure I was not hit with something.

The only thing that I could come up with was when I went to do the Windows restore, the restore point was showing that Windows updates KB2920189 and KB3011780 had been installed. Update KB3011780 was showing in the Windows Updates history that it had been cancelled at one point, but also showed on the same date it did install successfully. It is my thinking that this update may have caused the issues I was experiencing.

After getting things back in order and the computer running properly. I manually downloaded the update as reflected in the article 404 Tech Support had problems with (which showed as an optional update on my PC) and the update installed with no issue on my PC. Note: By the way, that optional update (KB8000850) is a large core Windows update.

Needless to say, after reading the article at 404 Tech Support and my own experience with a potential Windows Update that went wild, I now have my computer configured to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download or install them…”.

Windows Update Configuration

I do not recommend this setting, but from a troubleshooting standpoint, I am going this route for now. There have been too many Windows 8 (8.1) updates that have caused problems and this will put me in control to monitor the updates more closely and to educate myself more about Windows Updates.

If anyone else experienced a Windows Update issue, please feel free to share your experience and comment below…

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An Extraordinary Craigslist App For Windows 8 (and 8.1)

November 3, 2014

You may have noticed here on the blog I do not write too much about Windows 8 Apps. In my opinion the Windows App Store selection is nothing compared to the Google or Apple platforms; however, there is on occasion I will find a Windows App that will impress me as being useful. One of those apps being CPlus for Craigslist.

CPlus for Craigslist

If you are a Craigslist junky I believe you will like this app. It will definitely making searching Craigslist, across multiple locations, easier than visiting the Craigslist site itself. I typically use this app to look for things on Craigslist; not to post anything. Therefore the posting component, that is built into this app I cannot vouch for

Features - CPlus for Craigslist:

  • Search multiple cities
  • Add multiple cities and switch the search results easily with a single click.
  • Save searches and favorite listings
  • Save your search with the filter setting and favorite listings. They will be displayed on the main page.
  • Map view
  • Show all the postings on the map – especially useful when you are looking for apartments or houses.
  • In-app Posting
  • Post your ads inside our app and you may add multiple Craigslist accounts. (This feature is for Windows 8 Pro version only. The free version can post up to 10 times)
  • Account Management
  • Manage your Craigslist account. Edit or repost your existing posts. Show your previous posts.
  • History Tracking
  • Track your recent searches and viewed posts.

Train Yourself To Use The Windows 8/8.1 Quick Access Menu (aka: Win +X Menu)

September 12, 2014

If you are a Windows 8 user, teach yourself to to use the Quick Access Menu (also known as the “Win + X menu” where you hold down the “Windows Key” on the keyboard and hit the “X” key on the keyboard).

To get to the Quick Access menu using the mouse, right mouse-click the “Start Button” at the bottom-left corner of any screen (including the Start screen or the Desktop) and the menu will pop up. If you don’t see the “Start Button”, move your mouse to the lower-left corner, and the “Start Button” will appear.

Quick Access Menu

The reason you should train yourself to use this menu is that this menu was designed by Microsoft to give you a specific (hidden) location to quickly access the most commonly used and advanced options on your computer, no matter what screen you are working from (for example: you can do things like shut down and sign out, get to Control Panel, Task Manager, File Explorer, or open a Command Prompt window).

Few people know about this menu; and, the few that do know this menu is there, forget to use it. In a nutshell the “Quick Access Menu” gets you to the nuts and bolts of the Windows 8 operating system.


How To Activate The Windows 8.1 Onscreen Keyboards During Those Times Of Laziness

September 8, 2014

There are times when I am at my computer where my posture and position are just not ergonomically correct (by all standards). It is called getting comfortable (by my standards). It is when I am in my comfortable posture and position, with feet propped to the side, that typing from the keyboard requires me to become a contortionist (which then defeats the purpose of being in my comfortable position).

To solve this problem of using the keyboard I use the onscreen keyboards that are built into Windows 8.1 and use the mouse pointer to type (using the hunt and peck method).  To get to these keyboards and have them readily available here is what you do:

1st OPTION: Using the Windows 8.1 Touch Keyboard

1 – To Activate The Keyboard: Right click the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, select Toolbars, then click on Touch Keyboard. 

2 – To Launch The Keyboard: Click on the icon that is now on the taskbar to show or hide the keyboard (you can also click on the close “X” button to hide it, as well).

Touch Keyboard

2nd OPTION: Using the Windows 8.1 On Screen Keyboard

1 – To Activate and Launch The Keyboard: Press the key combination [Windows-Logo]+[R] and type the following command: osk and then confirm by pressing [Enter].

2 – Pinning To Taskbar:  After the keyboard launches, click on the minimize button so that the keyboard minimizes to the taskbar.  Once it is minimized to the taskbar, right mouse click the keyboard icon and select “pin to taskbar”.

3 – Using the Options: This onscreen keyboard can be moved around and resized; whereas the previous keyboard option presented is stationary at the bottom of the screen. There is an option’s button built into this keyboard that will allow you to add or remove features of the this keyboard. One nice feature using this keyboard is that it has word prediction built in, which makes your typing experience faster (and more accurate); PLUS, it also has a “hover” option (when turned on) that you can hover over a key with your mouse pointer and the letter will be typed for you.

On Screen Keyboard

You will see many articles out there on how to turn these keyboards “off”; whereas, for purposes of laziness I have presented you with how to turn these keyboards “on”…

These keyboards are really handy when you need to type in short text strings, such as a web address, a password, etc… I don’t think I will be typing any letters with these; BUT, what I am finding is that I am really getting faster at mouse typing (using the “hunt and peck method” or, maybe I should say the “hunt and click method”).


FEATURED TECH PRODUCT – Toshiba Encore 2 Windows 8 Tablet

September 5, 2014

USA Today had a feature tech write-up on the Toshiba Encore 2 that is worth a look see (titled: Review: Toshiba’s Encore 2 Windows tablet makes the grade) for those considering a full Windows 8 experience tablet at a price that is comparable (or better) than some of the other tablets (of this caliber) out there.

I also noticed that Amazon has the Encore 2 now available (click here) in the 10 inch model and (click here) in the 8 inch model.

Toshiba Encore™ 2

One of the first reviewers at Amazon had this to say about the Encore 2:

Got one yesterday at BB. Really like this tablet. Full windows 8.1 and MS Office 365 personal. You get to download another Office 365 on your home PC. You also get 1000 gb of storage on MS One Drive. Running ITunes off of my 14 gb of music on the micro SD card. Very good processor response. The 1 gb of Ram may have it limits, but no noticeable slow down. Overall, very happy. We also have an iPad and Samsung Galaxy. Cannot go wrong, when you consider the price and power of this 10 inch tablet… 

Meet the Encore™ 2 tablet—a powerful performer that works the way you do. Thinner, faster, lighter and more capable than ever, this Windows® tablet with a brilliant 10.1-inch display and ultrafast Wi-Fi® goes from work to play in an instant. Get going right out of the box with a complimentary one-year subscription to Office 365™ Personal, capture video and take amazing photos with a built-in 5MP camera, synchronize across all your Windows® devices and much more. Powered by a quad-core Intel® Atom™ processor with InstantGo technology, this is one tablet that’s up for anything.


ProduKey – Popular, FREE, Must Have Utility To Retrieve Your Windows Product Key

August 21, 2014

Prior to performing a re-install of the operating system on my computer,  I ran NirSoft’s little utility called ProduKey to retrieve my Windows 8 product key. This key is required in order to complete the installation of Windows and is the key that communicates to Microsoft that you legally purchased the operating system software.

Typically what happens is when we get these product keys we end up forgetting where we placed them or where we had written them down. ProduKey makes retrieving the key very fast and easy.

ProduKey
ProduKey is a small utility that displays the ProductID and the CD-Key of Microsoft Office (Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft Office 2007), Windows (Including Windows 7 and Windows Vista), Exchange Server, and SQL Server installed on your computer. You can view this information for your current running operating system, or for another operating system/computer – by using command-line options. This utility can be useful if you lost the product key of your Windows/Office, and you want to reinstall it on your computer.

Note:  The description at the NirSoft site indicates the software will display the key for Windows (including Windows 7 and Windows Vista). Does not indicate Windows 8; however, I can attest that it will work for Windows 8, as well.


Geek Squeak – How To Make The Windows 8 Task Manager Become A Desktop Widget

August 20, 2014

This geek squeak is a quickie, but is pretty neat.  If you have Windows 8, right click on the Windows 8 taskbar at the bottom of your screen, and click on Task Manager.  When Task Manager loads, click on the Performance tab. On the left side of the Performance Tab you will see graphical user interface for the CPU, Memory, Disk, Ethernet, etc… Left double click on on any of those and voila you will get a sized down widget version of the performance tab in a  floating window that can be moved around and is handy when it comes to troubleshooting problems.

To return back to the full size version of the Task Manager, just left double click anywhere inside the floating window.


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