Geek Squeaks #2015-3 @ What’s On My PC (Featuring Differences Between Windows 8 and Windows 10 and MORE)

July 30, 2015

The Differences Between Windows 8 and Windows 10 – I currently have my Windows 8.1 desktop and an older Windows 7 laptop. What surprised me was my Windows 10 upgrade hit the laptop first. I am still waiting for the upgrade for the desktop to kick in. I did complete the upgrade on the laptop and I must say (as first impression) I found Windows 10 quite comfortable to navigate and use; HOWEVER, there are differences between what I was accustomed to in Windows 8 (and Windows 7).

To get a good read on the differences, I suggest you read this article at Tech Advisor — “Windows 8 vs Windows 10 comparison: What’s the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 8? New features in Windows 10, and why you should upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 10” …

Windows 10

A Windows Tech Toolbox Repair Utility – If you find yourself in a situation where you know that the Windows operating system has been crippled, you may want to give Windows Repair a try. I pretty much has used this as a last resort tool in instances where everything else has failed. I have had good luck with this tool in those instances and yes this program is compatible with Windows 10. I have added this utility to the portable apps swarm on the downloads page.

Bookmark This Online File Converter – I recently needed a quick way to perform a file conversion from one file format to another. Instead of having to find and download software, and factoring in the learning curve, I use an online converter called CloudConvert that supports the conversion between more than 200 different audio, video, document, ebook, archive, image, spreadsheet and presentation formats.

ARRIS / Motorola SurfBoard SB6183 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem – Save money by buying your own cable modem. The Motorola SurfBoard SB6183 is a perfect solution that is compatible with All Major Cable providers like Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House…

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Nice Brief Review On What Will Be New (To You) In Windows 10

June 5, 2015

As many of you are aware, Microsoft will be shoveling out Windows 10 to Windows 7 and Windows 8 user’s on July 29, 2015. I am sure many of you (including myself) have not experienced Windows 10. As with any new operating system, there will be challenges and I know many are gun shy due to the unpleasant transition that many experienced as a result of upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8. From what I witnessed, most of the issue during that upgrade, for the end user, was the forced change in how the PC booted to the metro screen (instead of the desktop) and no start menu being present.

Windows 10

When Windows 8 was the talk, I deliberately avoided the beta’s so that when it was released, I would experience (and see) what the end user would experience when it was finally released. I have to admit, I was quite shocked and can relate to the frustration many experienced. Now that Windows 10 is the talk, I decided to do the same and have not downloaded (or experienced) any of the Windows 10 beta’s.  Again, I want experience (and see) what others will experience (and see) the first time they use Windows 10.

HOWEVER — There is nothing to say that we can’t read about Windows 10, look at some screenshots, learn what is new, and at least prepare ourselves with some inside information.

To help prepare you for Windows 10, TechAdvisor has prepared a nice (and brief) Windows 10 review: hands on with the preview version of Windows 10 and the new Start menu, Edge browser, new apps and Cortana.

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#1 Best Seller – Basic Brand Name All-In-One Computer At A Good Price Point

December 27, 2014

Lenovo, in my opinion, makes one of the best computers out there right now. If you are looking for a computer, at the basic level of computing (check email, internet surfing,YouTube, Facebook, office suite, etc.), then you will not go wrong with the Lenovo C260 19.5-Inch All-in-One Desktop. This computer is currently a #1 Best Seller at Amazon and is currently carrying good customer reviews.

Lenovo C260 19.5-Inch All-in-One Desktop
Features:
  • 19.5” HD+ display (1600 x 900)
  • Space-saving all-in-one design
  • Front-facing stereo speakers
  • Integrated DVD RW
  • USB AccuType keyboard
  • 720p HD webcam
  • Windows 8.1 with Bing
  • Lenovo Rescue System – a simple and quick way to backup and restore your data
  • Lenovo Assistant
Space-saving Design

The 19.5″ display takes surprisingly little space on your desk, counter, or entertainment center. The unit itself is less than 2” deep, with clutter-free cable management. Everything tucks away neatly when nobody’s using the C260, even though those times will probably be rare.

Full Multimedia Experience

Integrated graphics support, an integrated DVD reader/writer, stereo speakers, and HDMI output offer crisp visuals and immersive sound for a fuller, more satisfying home entertainment experience.

Lenovo C260 19.5-Inch All-in-One Desktop
AccuType Wireless Keyboard

Featuring a modern look and feel, the acclaimed AccuType keyboard has island-style, ergonomic keys that allow a more fluid, spacious, comfortable, and accurate typing experience than standard keyboard designs.

USB 3.0 SuperSpeed

Up to 10 times faster than previous USB technologies, the USB 3.0 SuperSpeed enables you to move data quickly between your PC and other devices.

Ample Storage and Memory

With 500GB of HDD storage, you won’t have to worry about where to put all your data, videos, music, or photos.

 

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Download This Windows 8.1 Quick Reference Card

December 19, 2014

I happened, by chance, to come across this Windows 8.1 Quick Reference Card by Custom Guide Interactive (that your can download or print) that is buried at the University of Incarnate Word (whatever that is).

This “must have” guide will be of great assistance to you in navigating and learning about Windows 8.1… The card actually consists of 2 pages of Windows 8.1 training tips. Get it before it disappears!

Windows 8.1 Quick Reference Card

Windows 8.1 Quick Reference Guide

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Having Problems Cloning A Windows 8 PC Hard Drive? Read These Articles, Download This FREE Software and Watch This Video

December 2, 2014

I recently purchased a new Windows 8 Box (see this article) and decided I wanted to make a bootable cloned drive. Being old school I went to work using the cloning software I had on hand and I immediately noticed something different in the drive partitions. The free software I was using was not getting the job done; and the drive, after the cloning process, did not boot. My tech instinct told me I was missing out on something and went to work researching terms I was seeing, such as GPT and UEFI.

I had been out of the field for nearly 7 years, have kept up with things (more as a hobby), but was not real familiar with the new GPT and UEFI terms that I was seeing. I had heard of the terms, but really did not pay any attention to them. Besides I always was a more of a software guy than a hardware guy (so it really did not hit high on my priority list, until now).

I soon discovered that all Windows 8 machines nowadays support the new GPT and UEFI ; AND, that it is real important to know what GPT and UEFI are when you get into the hardware side of a Windows 8 based computer.

In real simple terms GPT is the new replacement for MBR – Master Boot Record and UEFI is the new replacement for the BIOS – Basic Input/Output System.

To define GPT and UEFI in more complex terms (and to get a full understanding), I went to Wikipedia for a definition and found two really good articles that will bring this all together.

GUID Partition Table (GPT) is a standard for the layout of the partition table on a physical hard disk, using globally unique identifiers (GUID). Although it forms a part of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard (Unified EFI Forum proposed replacement for the PC BIOS)…  source: wikipedia:GUID Partition Table 

If you read this article “What’s the Difference Between GPT and MBR When Partitioning a Drive?” you will see that MBR is old school and GPT is new school… source: How-To Geek

If you read this article “UEFI boot: how does that actually work, then?” you will see where the author adamantly is telling us UEFI and BIOS are two completely different beasts. This article in my opinion really nails down all of this stuff to the point where I found a lot of what I had been reading was off base due to people using the terminology incorrectly.

You do not have a ‘UEFI BIOS’. No-one has a ‘UEFI BIOS’. Please don’t ever say ‘UEFI BIOS’. BIOS is not a generic term for all PC firmware, it is a particular type of PC firmware. Your computer has a firmware. If it’s an IBM PC compatible computer, it’s almost certainly either a BIOS or a UEFI firmware… source: AdamW on Linux and more

Getting back to my original problem of cloning my Windows 8 hard drive, I now knew I needed to find cloning software that supported GPT and UEFI. This is where I found Macrium Reflect (FREE Edition), which supported the cloning process for GPT and UEFI based systems. Macrium Reflect is a free disaster recovery solution for your home computer that primarily specializes in making drive images.

Also, during my research, I came across this instructional video “How to Clone Windows 8” , where the person in the video will clearly walk you through the cloning process using the FREE Edition of Macrium Reflect…

When it comes to cloning Windows 8 or 8.1 you need to use the right software for the job, whats even better you don’t have to pay. Here is a free option that lets you clone Windows 8 or 8.1 with ease. The program is called Macruim Reflect, it supports the new GPT and UEFI BIOS that all windows 8 machines come with now days.

In the end, once I educated myself about GPT and UEFI, had the right software, and watched how to do it; I walked away with a successfully cloned (and bootable) hard drive. Due to my real life experience working through this, I decided to help others out in the event they start pulling their hair out, like I did…

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Show Your Support of Windows 8 With This Cracked Screen Wallpaper

November 28, 2014

To demonstrate my recent frustrations with Windows 8 (8.1) in setting up a new PC, I went on the hunt for a wallpaper background that shows how I feel right now about Windows in general. All in all, I finally got my PC setup the way I wanted, but I did experience a hurdle or two that pushed me over the edge.

To get this wallpaper (which I added to my collection), click on the image below (or CLICK HERE). You will be taken to the site where the wallpaper is located. Right click on the image to save it to your computer.

Windows 8 Cracked Screen Wallpaper

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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.


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…

image