Today’s Geek Squeaks – September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013

A summary of Today’s Geek Squeaks:

Squeak #1: Connecting a computer to a big screen TV is pretty straight forward these days; however, when surfing the web on a TV, the standard web browser is not really optimized for that purpose. There is a solution in a browser called Kylo (see below);

Squeak #2: If you are using Windows 8 and you come across and iso file, did you know you can view the contents of the iso file and even burn the iso file to disc with what is already built into Windows 8? Let Simple Help show you how in a very nicely composed tutorial (see below);

Squeak #3: When we purchase a computer these days, the sound hardware components are typically built into the motherboard. The sound may sound good, but you do not know what good is until you go with a sound card (that you can install). To shoot you in the right direction, and to teach you a few things, make sure you read the article below from Dom’s Tech & Computer Blog (see below); AND

Squeak #4: Today’s featured geek product is one of the sound cards that Dom’s Tech & Computer Blog is recommending. It is the Creative Sound Blaster Z (see below)…

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Plan on seeing  a lot more of Geek Squeaks’, featuring a round-up of tech products, news, software, apps, wallpapers, articles, you name it;  from my favorite tech web sites… I just plain love tech!

See An Endless Stream Of Geek Squeaks’ [ HERE ]


Kylo – The Web Browser For Your TV

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Kylo’s wide-open interface is designed specifically to fit your TV screen. It’s not just a blown-up web browser. Kylo lets you enjoy your favorite content fast. Don’t waste time hunting through lists of links and unreadable text. See what you want to see!… GET IT HERE


How to Open or Burn an .ISO File in Windows 8

@ Simple Help

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This very brief tutorial will show you how to open up and view the contents of an .iso file – or burn the .iso to CD/DVD – in Windows 8. The best part – all the software you need is included with Windows 8 itself… READ MORE


Best Gaming Sound Card – The Top 5!

@ Dom’s Computer & Tech Blog

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Most motherboards today come with an on-board sound card. Many people, however, don’t realize how much a dedicated sound card can really improve sound quality… READ MORE


Creative Sound Blaster Z SBX PCIE Gaming Sound Card with Beamforming Microphone

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The Sound Blaster Z is an ideal all-round solution for your PC gaming and entertainment needs. It comes complete with the Sound Blaster beamforming microphone for crystal clear voice communication… CHECK IT OUT HERE


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FREE Online Windows 8 Tutorials

June 19, 2013

If you are new to Windows 8 and rate yourself as the average computer user, then you may find Windows 8, in its’ present form, a challenge. When I make the statement, “in its’ present form”, I’m referring to the upgrade that will soon take place that will bring Windows 8 back down to earth where the average computer person resides. Windows 8 is a really good operating system; it has been the new graphical user interface and missing start menu that has thrown people off. In reality, not a big deal; however, Microsoft realized that they were shooting for the moon and may have advanced the user interface a little bit too far, too fast.  The Windows 8 upgrade, last I read, is to correct these issues and make it so that people can be eased into the future proposed changes.

GCFLearnFree.org

In the meantime, if you just purchased a computer with Windows 8, I really encourage you to take some time and watch (and read) these tutorials, which are all FREE from GCFLearnFree.org

All About Windows 8

1: Exploring Windows 8

2: Upgrading to Windows 8

Using Windows 8

3: Getting Started with Windows 8

4: Using SkyDrive with Windows 8

5: Using the Search Feature

6: Personalizing Your Start Screen

Working With the Desktop

7: Getting Started with the Desktop

8: Managing Your Files and Folders

9: Personalizing Your Desktop

Windows 8 Apps

10: Using the People App

11: Using the Mail App

12: Internet Explorer

13: The Music and Video Apps

14: Downloading Apps from the Windows Store

Changing Your Computer’s Settings

15: Managing User Accounts and Parental Controls

16: Opening Your Files with Different Apps

17: Security and Maintenance


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Create A Desktop Shortcut To Your Windows 8 Apps and Software

April 9, 2013

What many of you do not know is that I often use the blog to document tips, that I come across, for my own future reference. Today’s post is a good example of this. Recently I discovered that I can create a Windows 8 desktop shortcut that will launch the Windows 8 GUI (graphical user interface) menu for all of the apps and software that I have installed on my computer.

As you well know, if you are a Windows 8 user, there is no Start Menu. This shortcut, in essence, will go to serve the same purpose of the Start Menu; however, in appearance it does not look like the Start Menu you have been accustomed to. The good about this is, that once you click the shortcut and you get to the apps screen, you can simply start typing to search for the app or software program you are looking for. For example, let’s say I want to launch the calculator that is built into windows. I simply click on the shortcut that will launch the Windows 8 GUI menu or apps screen, then start typing calculator and very quickly the tile to launch the calculator will appear.

To create this desktop shortcut, here is what you have to do:

Right click on desktop and click New -> Shortcut

A dialog box will appear prompting for a location of the item.  Copy and Paste the following into the dialog box, then click Next:

%windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{2559a1f8-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}

App Menu Shortcut

After you click on Next, another dialog box will launch prompting you to give the shortcut a name. In this case, I named the shortcut Windows 8 Apps.  After you enter the name for the shortcut, click on Finish.

App Menu Shortcut

Click on your newly created shortcut, to launch the Windows 8 Apps Screen (menu)…

App Menu Shortcut

What I am finding, by using this shortcut technique, I am using the Windows 8 GUI menu (or apps screen) on a regular basis.

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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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Two Options to Boot Windows 8 To The Desktop

December 3, 2012

Typically when you boot Windows 8 you will land either on the Lock (or Login) Screen or the Start Screen; depending on how you have Windows 8 configured. To get to the desktop, you have to click on the Desktop tile on the Windows 8 Start Screen. This change has really thrown a lot of folks off of their game.

Windows 8

There are couple of ways to fix this so that you will land on your desktop, instead of landing on the Start Screen. One option is to download (and buy) Start8 by Stardock. The advantages of this option is that there is a configuration setting in Start8 that will allow you to boot to the desktop; PLUS, Start8 creates a Start Menu (which is a missing component in Windows 8). So this option is really a win-win option, all the way around. There are many other third party options out there, but I lay my trust in Stardock’s reputation.

The other option that I came across is by WinAero. This option is a more techie type option that requires a little work on your part; however, this option does not require you to install any third party software. It modifies system policy and allows to Explorer to read the registry key which controls Metro behavior. If you think you may be interested in this option, [click here]. WinAero also has some other Windows 8 utilities that you may be interested in, as well.

In summary, I am thinking that Microsoft will eventually get this right by giving us an option to restore the Start menu and by giving us an option to boot to the desktop. Microsoft reminds me of many of the smart (intelligent) people I know. They are smart, but they lack common sense.

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The Easy Way To Close A Windows 8 App

November 20, 2012

As I mentioned in an earlier article, I never had any “hands-on” experience with Windows 8 until it was officially released by Microsoft back in October. I intentionally did this so that I would have that first time user experience (and challenge); like most of you will have.

As I continue to “find my way” there was one thing I started to wonder about. Was there a way to easily close a Windows 8 app once I opened it? In reality, in the scheme and design of things when it comes to Windows 8, you will find that it really does not matter; however, I wanted to know. I eventually found the answer that works for me on my desktop computer and find myself doing this all of the time now.

When you are working from the “Start Screen” (see screenshot of my Start Screen below) and click on an app, the app will open maximized on your screen and you will immediately notice that there is no close button or minimize button.

Start Screen

What you have to do, is this:  When the app is open move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen. When the cursor reaches the top of the screen a “hand” will appear (see cropped screenshot below). When the “hand” is visible on the screen, hold down the left button on your mouse, drag to the bottom of the screen, and the app will disappear (and close). As you are performing the dragging action, visually you will see the app shrink down from full screen to a much smaller screen (or window). Once you teach yourself to do this, I will guarantee it will become second nature to you when you want to close an app.

Close App

Note:  The cropped screenshot you see above is a Windows 8 app called SmartCalc.

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Access Any File You Need From Your PC From Anywhere With The NEW SkyDrive

August 16, 2012

A hot news item this week in the world of computers and information technology has been the re-design of Microsoft’s SkyDrive from its’ standard file management interface to the more metro look (that is the defacto Windows 8 GUI). If you have a Hotmail (or Outlook.com) account, then you can easily get access to SkyDrive. I highly recommend you take advantage of SkyDrive, because Microsoft is really getting this right.

With SkyDrive, you get 7 GB of free storage with SkyDrive—that’s enough for over 20,000 Office documents or 7,000 photos. For most people, this is plenty of space. But if 7 GB isn’t enough, you can add even more storage for a low yearly fee.

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It was not the metro look that captured my attention or that you can now upload and store any type of file; instead, it is a very powerful feature in SkyDrive that allows you to remotely access your files and folders on your Windows (or Mac) computer from anywhere you have internet access. For example, if I am at work and I need a document file from my computer at home, I simply log onto SkyDrive account where I am able to see my entire file/folder/drive(s) structure on my computer at home. This sort of reminds me when I used to manage network attached storage devices (NAS), with the end user interface being quite similar to this.

As long as your home computer is “on” and is running the SkyDrive software, you can access any file you need from your home computer—from anywhere.

In fact, you can browse through files just like you would if you were sitting in front of that PC. Want to show someone a photo on that home PC? You can view photo slide shows and videos on that PC from any browser, from any computer.

Fetch files from your Windows PC from anywhere

Here’s how it works, straight from the horses’ mouth:

  1. Download SkyDrive for Windows.
  2. Make sure you leave the box checked during setup that will allow you to “Fetch your files from anywhere.” (You can also choose this later by clicking the SkyDrive icon (SkyDrive icon) in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar, and clicking Settings. On the General tab, under Fetch files, select Make files on this PC available to me on my other devices, and then click OK.)
  3. Open your browser and sign in to SkyDrive.com.
  4. Your PCs that have SkyDrive for Windows installed will appear in the Computers menu. Choose the computer that has the file you want, and you can view, print, or download the file you forgot.

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