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.


How to Disable Specific Windows Updates So That They Will Not Be Installed

August 13, 2014

You probably are asking, “Why would I want to block a Windows Update?”.

I had numerous Windows Updates hit my PC yesterday and one of the updates would not install.  As a result, the computer ended up into a tailspin where every time I booted, the update appeared to be installing; then, it would fail; and, then uninstall itself.  After identifying what update it was, I needed a way to disable the update from installing, until a fix could be found.

What I found is that in Windows 7 and Windows 8 you can disable updates from installing by hiding them. Keep in mind, it is important to capture all updates; however, as in my case, there are those occasions where an update will break the machine.

To disable or hide the update I did some research and found that the web site Windows SevenForums has a very nice tutorial description (with graphics) on How to Hide or Restore Hidden Windows Updates in Windows 7 and Windows 8.

image

By following their tutorial, I was able to easily hide the update that was causing me the issue. Once I find a fix, I will unhide the update so that it can properly install. Thank you Windows SevenForum


A FREE Windows 8 Downloadable Quick Reference Card

August 12, 2014

If you are new to Windows 8, I came across this FREE downloadable (PDF) Windows 8 Quick Reference Card, from Custom Guide Interactive Learning, that may be of great help.  CLICK HERE to get it…

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