Wallpaper of the Week (#102)

December 29, 2012

Well, we have another year under our belt and a new beginning before us!  Happy New Year to all my readers (and supporters).

To Get This Wallpaper [ CLICK HERE ]

Happy New Year Wallpaper

Windows 7 (and 8) Users: If you are using Windows 7 (or 8), did you know you can create a desktop background slideshow to show off your pictures and wallpaper images?  To learn how to use this feature [CLICK HERE] .

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A PC Tech’s Quick Reference Web Site

December 28, 2012

Just when I think I have found most of the golden nuggets on the internet, I come across another. While performing an update to the Bookmarks4Techs listing, a visitor to the site contacted me and suggested that I add the tech site GEGeek – PC Tech Quick Reference to the listing.

GEGeek

What I expected to find was a tech blog, but what I came across is a Geek’s paradise for anyone who is into computers; and especially,  computer repair & troubleshooting. While you are there, pay special attention to the GEGeek Tech Toolkit.  This toolkit should be called a Tech Tool Shop…  It is a 1.0 gig download and contains everything, as a tech, you would ever need.

An excerpt about the author of GEGeek:

This site is the culmination of years of CAREFULLY selecting a handful of links to assist me on my current job, personal consulting work and of course my own PCs. Not every site has all useful links ⁄ articles, but there were always one or two gems to be found on every site I visited. Keeping them readily available and manageable became quite a chore, so i created this site just to help me organize them and provide a quick reference . The “How To” is assumed knowledge, I just provide the quick reference.

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Two NEW Enhancements at Bookmarks4Techs.com

December 27, 2012

If you have not visited Bookmarks4Techs.com recently, I encourage you to do so. Don’t let the name of the site lead you to believe that the site is only for techs. Bookmarks4Techs is one of the largest collection of links to computer information technology sites and news on the internet. If you have a passion for computer information technology, to include software, apps, cloud computing, desktop computing, tablet computing, smartphones, etc…, then this site is for you. I can guarantee that you will keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest by visiting the links I have posted on the site.

Bookmarks4Techs.com

Not only will you find one of the largest collection of links to computer and information technology sites on the internet, you will now find two NEW enhancements to the site.

  1. Tech News – As you scroll down the listing of links, on the homepage, you will notice RSS news feeds for some of the most popular tech sites and blogs on the internet. These feeds automatically update so that when you come back to visit, there is always something new.  I actually use this to get my daily dose of tech news and to see what is new on some of my favorite blogs.
  2. Archived Blog Posts – The archive is a brainstorm idea that I came up with that list links to every single blog article ever posted at What’s On My PC. As I continue to post here at What’s On My PC, the archive at Bookmarks4Techs will continue to grow. As of today’s post, I currently have archived links to 1,457 posts.

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Get Your Windows Gadgets Back In Windows 8

December 26, 2012

Microsoft did not do a very good job promoting the gadget platform that was available in Windows Vista and Windows 7; and, as a result, most people were clueless about it (and did not understand it). Actually, for the everyday home computer user, it was not the easiest platform to navigate.

Typically, if you had the gadget platform activated, you would see a sidebar on the side of the desktop that displayed your gadgets (mini-programs that offered information at a glance and provided easy access to frequently accessed tools). I know that some of the gadgets I played around with (such as clocks, system monitors, picture slide shows, mini rss readers) were actually very good and were often nice in appearance. You could even detach the gadgets from the sidebar and move them around the desktop.

If you upgraded to Windows 8, and you was a Windows gadget user, you are going to find that the gadget platform is gone; HOWEVER, there is a really good third party FREE software option, called Thoosje Windows Sidebar 8, that will bring the gadgets back in Windows 8.

Screenshot - Windows Sidebar 8

Thoosje windows Sidebar comes with 11 of the most used gadgets like a clock gadget, Calendar gadget, CPU/memory gadget, Search gadgets, Hard Drive gadgets, Media player, quick launch, RSS feed gadget and more. An addtionional free gadget pack is under development now and will be released this year.

Thoosje windows sidebar is completely redeveloped and now the new gadgets system is designed to make it possible to let independent developers  create new gadgets for Thoosje Windows sidebar 8. The system is created to make it possible running Gadgets Directly From DLL ( For Developers)

Thoosje Windows Sidebar 8 Features

  • Entirely new Sidebar Engine
  • Eleven Build In Windows Gadgets
  • New Redesigned Windows Gadget Manager
  • Importing/Exporting Windows Gadgets (.cwgf files)
  • Importing & exporting Gadget Packs (.cwgp files)
  • Gadgets Info
  • Gadgets have Customizable Settings With build in encryption system
  • Gadget Blacklisting system to prevent malware
  • Enlarging Gadgets
  • Running multiple instances of gadgets which each have their own settings
  • Sidebar Background Settings Including 8 sidebar backgrounds
  • Customizable Sidebar Transparency settings
  • Sidebar Language Settings
  • Automatically Download new language files from server
  • Sidebar Error logs
  • Storing Gadgets on separated Sidebar pages
  • More gadgets available soon

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An Android App That Feels Like TV

December 24, 2012

There are various ways to stream video to your android phone or tablet; BUT, there is none that I found that is like 9×9.tv

9x9.tv

From what I can see, based on the reviews at the Google Play Store, 9×9.tv is a relative newcomer to the Android platform. If you are into watching video streamed from the internet, then you need to download this app. The selection is awesome and what is neat about 9×9.tv is that it will continuously play videos. I was especially amazed at how good it looked on my tablet and how smooth the videos played.

Tune in at any time for a personalized bite-sized selection of channels with content that informs and entertains. For example, the “Morning Shows” time slot provides a channel line-up consisting of breaking news and morning talk show channels. “Late Night” on 9×9 features comedy and late night talk shows. So just sit back and let 9×9 entertain you with one episode after another non-stop. Turn on the excitement with every flip as you navigate the channels prepared for you by 9×9’s curators to discover Internet videos you never knew existed. Let 9×9 guide you through a personalized video tour of what matters to you every time you flip it on.

Got more than one Android device ? With one simple tap, beam the video playback from one Android screen to another and use the original Android device as a remote. Great for sharing YouTube and other content on a big screen TV connected to a Google TV. 9×9 app supports Android devices including smartphones, tablets and Google TV.

Once you make a video selection, there is a trick to moving from one video or channel to another (see below).

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Wallpaper of the Week (#101)

December 22, 2012

One more wallpaper before Christmas that features an elegant lace Christmas tree and very colorful ornaments…  Merry Christmas!

To Get This Wallpaper [ CLICK HERE ]

Christmas Tree Wallpaper

Windows 7 (and 8) Users: If you are using Windows 7 (or 8), did you know you can create a desktop background slideshow to show off your pictures and wallpaper images?  To learn how to use this feature [CLICK HERE] .

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Believe Nothing and Verify Everything – Golden Eagle Snatches Kid Video

December 20, 2012

When it comes to computers, information technology, and the internet; I have a motto, “believe nothing and verify everything”. Just because it is on the internet, DO NOT let that lead you to believe that the source is reputable. It is this false sense, that the internet is the brain of the universe that knows all, that get’s us into trouble.

For example, three students that attend a school in Montreal, that specializes in 3-D animation design, recently posted a video (that was made up in product simulation) of what purportedly shows what is described as a Golden Eagle snatching a child in a Montreal park.

This video was so believable that it chalked up over 5 million views on YouTube in one day and at the time I posted this article, the video was nearing the 19 million view mark. I bet these guys who developed the video got an “A+” on this video project

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Four Ways To Easily Get To The NEW and IMPROVED Windows 8 Task Manager

December 18, 2012

The NEW and IMPROVED Task Manager that we find in Windows 8 was designed in such a way to not overwhelm the end user and can be quite useful, especially when you need to shut down a task (or program) that is not playing well with your computer. When you first open the Task Manager in Windows 8, you are going to initially find a very basic interface (see below) that will only show what tasks (or programs) are currently active. This basic interface was an on purpose design, with the idea that it makes it easy for the non-technical type of person to get to the task manager, review and shut down  tasks (or programs) quickly, then get out.

Task Manager - Basic Interface

To get to the more expanded (advanced) options to the Task Manager, you will need to click on “More Details”, which in turn will give you what you see in the screenshot below.

Task Manager - Advanced Interface

The expanded view is more for the technically inclined individual; however, I encourage new visitors to the Task Manager to not be afraid and go for the tour. You will find tabs for the processes running on your computer, performance gauges, Windows 8 App History, the programs starting up on your computer (which you can disable for troubleshooting purposes), Users, Details (on the programs and processes that are running), and Services.  I especially like the Details tab where if I see a process or program that is running that I am not sure of, I can right click on that process or program and perform a Google search to see what exactly the program or process is. So you see, the Task Manager has come a long way and can be used as a great troubleshooting tool.

Now that I have briefly covered the Task Manager, here are four ways to open the Task Manager up in Windows 8?

  1. At the Windows 8 Start Screen, simply start typing “Task Manager”.  You will see the screen populate with a “Task Manager tile.  Click on the tile…
  2. From the Windows 8 Start Screen or the Windows 8 Desktop use the hotkey Ctrl – Shift – Esc on your keyboard.
  3. At the desktop level, move your mouse pointer to the bottom left corner of the screen until you see the Start Screen Button appear. When the button appears, right mouse click on the button and select Task Manager from the menu.  Also note the other options on that menu.
  4. Believe it or not, this is the one I use the most. I guess it is because I have used it from day one when Windows was born. It is what I call the “three finger salute”.  Hit the Ctrl – Alt – Del keys simultaneously on the keyboard. You will be taken to the solid colored screen (usually blue by default) where you can select Task Manager.  To come out of that screen, simply Esc on the keyboard.

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Eliminate On Screen Information Overload With The NEW CinemaDrape

December 17, 2012

I had the developer(s) of CinemaDrape contact me to let me know that a NEW version of CinemaDrape has been released. It is a new major release, with many important improvements and changes.

If you do not know what CinemaDrape is, let me explain:

CinemaDrape helps you focus on your current task on screen, by instantly blanking or dimming the other less important areas in a web page or in the background windows.

For example, let’s say you are working on an important document, that is requiring your complete attention and focus. With CinemaDrape you can block out the external areas on the screen, leaving only your document visible, for your full attention. In other words, it blocks out the external screen noise.

I personally use this application to block out the background areas on the screen when I am watching the TV on my computer or a movie. It really makes a difference, and actually makes it easier on the eyes, especially when watching a movie.

CinemaDrape is available as a full install program or as a portable app. I personally like the portable app, where you download and run.

Also, to get you going using this program, after you get it up and running:

Just remember to use the CTRL + F11 keys to toggle CinemaDrape on an off. When you have CinemaDrape active, click the right mouse button, long tap, or press Escape to open the main CinemaDrape menu (see below). The menu, tells it all…  Great job to the developer(s) of CinemaDrape.

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Wallpaper of the Week (#100)

December 15, 2012

To celebrate 100 weeks of wallpapers and Christmas, this week’s background image is one of Love, Peace and Joy…

To Get This Wallpaper [ CLICK HERE ]

Christmas Wallpaper

Windows 7 (and 8) Users: If you are using Windows 7 (or 8), did you know you can create a desktop background slideshow to show off your pictures and wallpaper images?  To learn how to use this feature [CLICK HERE] .

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Perform Much Smaller Mouse Movements or Touch Swipes To Close A Windows 8 App

December 14, 2012

Recently I posted an article, The Easy Way To Close A Windows 8 App, that explains how to close an app in Windows 8 by positioning the mouse pointer at the top of the app screen (where the pointer turns into a hand); then, dragging and dropping the app to the bottom of the screen.

On a desktop computer where the screen can be quite large and the travel distance (or threshold) to drag and drop the app (to close it) can be an exercise in itself. It was at this point I wondered if there was not a way to close the app quicker using less travel distance. Sure enough, using the analogy of “if you can think it, someone else has done it”, I came across a small portable utility called Close Threshold for Metro Apps.

Close Threshold for Metro Apps

By using Close Threshold for Metro Apps, if you set the sliders to the left, save the settings, you will find that you will not have to drag an app to the bottom of the screen. The travel distance to close an app is reduced dramatically resulting in a more efficient and faster method to close the app.

There is also an additional feature where you can completely disable the “drag and drop” method of closing an app all together.

With Close Threshold for Metro Apps you will able:

  • to speed up Metro apps closing with mouse
  • to speed up Metro apps closing with touch gestures
  • to disable Metro apps closing with mouse
  • to disable Metro apps closing with touch

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Use Amazon’s Full Store Directory For The Twelve Days of Christmas

December 13, 2012

AmazonWe are now in the midst of the 12 Days of Christmas and if you are like me, I have a tendency to procrastinate and/or I am at a total loss when it comes to gifting.  An option that I use when it gets’ close to Christmas is Amazon.com, which is one of the largest online retailers. Being the geekster that I am, I am a regular visitor to their computer and electronics section to see what is new and to wish for my next purchase.  I especially like, that due to their size, you get numerous reviews on products from customers.

As a result of the size of Amazon, it is often difficult to get to the place you want to be. What many people do not know is that Amazon has a main store directory [ CLICK HERE ] that is a great launching point.

Click To See Store Directory

mx3DCB8

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Maxthon Cloud Browser for Windows

December 12, 2012

We all are familiar with web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari; however, much is not said about Maxthon. Currently, I have Maxthon loaded on my Android phone and tablet and I have found it to be the best mobile device web browser out there. I think if you give the mobile version of Maxthon a try, I think you will find that it closely replicates the same browsing experience that you experience on your desktop computer.

mx3DC

I just learned yesterday that the developers of Maxthon recently released a NEW desktop version of Maxthon, called Maxthon Cloud Browser. I noticed that they had a portable version of Maxthon Cloud Browser available for download, so I decided to give it a spin.

To be honest (and I am still testing this), I am very impressed. I don’t have anything available to test page loads, but I can tell you from experience, this is probably one of the fastest browsers I have ever experienced. Also, this browser is loaded with a ton of built-in features (such as screen gestures, a dial pad, dual page view, a resource sniffer, a screen capture utility, and more…).  I do have to admit, which is a fun thing for me, I had to do some exploring in order to find a lot of the features and how to turn things on and off (i.e. the sidebar).

What the main concept of Maxthon Cloud Browser is that Maxthon Cloud Browser is not limited to a single device ecosystem or operating system: It moves files, data and web session information from browser to browser, unconfined by a single set of cloud products or devices.

If you really want to try something NEW, download the portable version of Maxthon Cloud Browser and give it a try!  I think you may see that this Browser, not likely to break the backs of Firefox, Internet Explorer or Chrome; is a browser that may have a chance of coming out of nowhere.

Core Features:

  • Lightning fast speed – Maxthon Cloud uses an optimized web engine that loads webpages and runs applications faster than any other browsers.
  • Cloud syncing – Maxthon Cloud syncs user data, history and tabs across any platform their choice.
  • Cloud download – Simultaneous storage of user downloads in the cloud;
  • Cloud storage – You can create their own storage space in the cloud.
  • Cloud pushing – You can push content (webpages, text, pictures and links) from any webpage to any device running Maxthon Cloud.

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Understanding File Association Problems

December 11, 2012

Have you ever attempted to open a file on your computer and the computer tells you that it cannot open the file, or the file does not have a program associated with it, etc…?

image

If so, there is a reason for this and it is called file associations. When you click on a file, the file must have a program associated with it in order for the program to open. For example, on my computer, when I click on a PDF file, the program NitroPDF opens the PDF file for me. File associations are based on file extension classes such as txt, doc, jpg, pdf, and the list goes on and on.

What happens or can happen is that file can lose its’ association either through corruption, malware or you simply uninstalled the program that the file was associated with.

So what are some of the fixes? Brian over at Select Real Security has posted an article Can’t Open Programs In Windows that will walk you through various processes of fixing various file association issues using software and registry fix options. Some of the fixes will appear techie in nature to you; however, to fix problems such as this you may have to call upon your tech source for some help. Select Real Security is intended for both novice and advanced computer users who need security information, resources, or advice.

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Quickly Find the Space Hogs On Your Computer With WizTree

December 10, 2012

I have featured other programs here at What’s On My PC that will scan your drive(s) and identify which files and folders are using the most disk space. They all are good, but the scanning process often can take some time to complete. Also, I have found that one of the most difficult concepts to grasp, when it comes to managing space on a computer (or tablet, or smartphone), is understanding how the disk space is gauged in terms of kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes, etc…

Recently I came across another disk space analyzer, called WizTree, that I found to be very impressive and fast.

WizTree

Where WizTree excels is in its’ scanning speed; and, what makes it so fast is that WizTree does not scan the physical drive, but scans the hard drive’s Master File Table (MFT) directly from the disk.

Please Note:  When using programs such as this to identify the space hogs on your computer (or device) make sure you do not delete a spacehog (file or folder) that is needed for the operation of the computer (or other programs).  Typically, I use programs, such as WizTree, to determine what personal files I have saved (such as documents, pictures, movies, etc…) are consuming the most space. Programs such as this are also great for troubleshooting problems, as well.

The MFT is a special hidden file used by the NTFS file system to keep track of all files and folders on a hard drive. Scanning for files this way completely bypasses the operating system (Windows) and provides a huge performance boost.

Features:

  • Finds the files and folders using the most space on your hard drive
  • Work VERY Fast! We think it’s the fastest application of this type in the world!
  • Finds the top 1000 largest files on your hard drive
  • Sort the contents of your entire hard drive by folder size and optionally delete files and folders

WizTree, is a portable app that works on 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 with drives that are formatted in the NTFS format (which most modern drives are formatted).

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