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Monday, December 19, 2016

Tech News: Amazon makes it's first drone delivery in England

We've all seen the commercials. 
Amazons cute little drones (I prefer the term quad-copter myself) delivering a package to an Amazon Prime customer within minutes of ordering on the company's web page.

The online retail giant conducted it's first drone delivery test on December 7th in Cambridge England. Delivery to the customer took just 13 minutes from the customer ordering online, and the drone flight from the company's fulfillment center, to the customers residence. The delivery falls under Amazons "Prime Air" trial.* In case you're wondering the order involved an Amazon Fire Stick and a bag of popcorn ;-D

Check out Amazons Prime Air Trial web page for more info on this cool delivery service.

* Amazon is only currently testing the drone delivery service in England. Currently FAA regulations prohibit commercial flights in the US, however Amazon is working with the FAA to seek it's approval in the US. 

Creating and using a System Restore Point

System Restore Points give you the option of going back in time. Since Windows ME ( goes back that far), Microsoft has made it available to users to create System Restore Points in Windows.

Call it an insurance policy if your system starts to go buggy and doesn't work as expected. There are to options for creating Restore Points - Automatic and Manual.

Enabling Restore Points:

1. Choose Start→Control Panel→System and Security.
Under the System link, click Create A Restore Point. You can also get to the System page by typing “System” in the Start menu’s Search box and selecting System from the results list.

2. Click the System Protection link in the left panel and ensure that the C drive Protection is turned on.
You can adjust how much disk space you want the Restore Points to use. You also have the option of Deleting a restore point. if you find you don't have enough disk space and you need to create another one.

3. Click Apply afterwards. Once you click Apply you enable Windows to create a Restore Point anytime a significant change in the operating system occurs. IE - new drivers or a Windows update is installed.

4. IF you need to create a Restore Point manually, simply click Create and give a name to the Restore Point.

Going Back In Time

Now lets say your system goes all weird on you. It's slow or certain programs freeze since your last update. You could use the "Reset This PC" option within Windows 10, but that would take some time. Instead use a System Restore Point to undo the changes that have made a mess with the Operating System.

1. After clicking Next, you'll be shown available Restore Points listed by date created and whether they were created by the system or manually.

2. You can also select Scan Affected Programs. This gives a list of all programs that have been installed since the creation of the last Restore Point.

4. Select the Restore Point and click Next and the click Finish.
Windows will then uninstall any drivers, programs, updates or registry entries after the last restore point was made.
Restore Points do not touch the User folders within Windows. All your music, photos and/or documents are not saved nor deleted. If you need to back those up, I would recommend a USB drive.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Remote desktop software

If you're needing technical support or assistance for a computer issue, and the tech is just too far away to be in person, often they will (or should) offer remote technical support.

Remote support is where you allow the technician access to your computer via a secure internet connection. 
The tech can then examine, diagnose and resolve your issue without having to drive to your home or business. Sometimes it's an easier way to go for both the customer and the tech. 

WARNING: DO not simply give remote access to any person on the phone.Use caution and ensure you personally know the technician or person who you are talking to. Most certified technicians are bonded, and are professional. Pay attention to the screen and what the technician or person is doing. 
Scams exist where a "tech" (usually with a heavy Indian accent) will cold call you informing you that your computer has a dangerous virus and needs to be removed remotely. Be very leary of these type calls and do NOT allow remote access. Here's an example:
Technical support scam 

There are about a dozen remote desktop programs available with various access protocols. Some like LogMeIn and GoToMyPC utilize a web based platform. Others such as TightVNC and TurboVNC use the Virtual Network Computing/RFB protocol.
Some programs are compatible with Windows only. Others can be used within Linux and OSX as well.
I've found that one of the best remote programs out there is Teamviewer

TeamViewer has a great GUI  and is easy to navigate. The on screen menus are out of the way, yet accessible An excellent screen-sharing and file-transfer app that can be used for business collaborations is available. There are two different versions. A licensed paid version for business and a private personal version free for noncorporate use, it gives users precisely the tools they need to share screens securely, send files with a minimum of hassle, control access rights, and even flip which user has control.
It's a secure connection and access is made by the user providing an access code and password.

I highly recommended it.

This article orig posted 8/6/12 @ 3:32pm

Quick Windows hint: Erasing the past with CTL+Z

It's bound to happen. You just downloaded an important file and you move the file from the Downloads folder to your Documents folder.
Whoops...That wasn't your Documents folder! 

Instead of spending the next 15 minutes looking for that rascal. Use this rarely used keyboard shortcut that undoes your last action - CTL+ Z thereby "erasing the past".
Too bad there isn't a CTL+Z for things we've done in real life!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Three simple ways to speed up your Windows PC boot up time

So you turn on the power button to your computer....waiting for Windows to see the Manufactures screen......then you see the Windows 10 screen. go decide to make a cup of coffee.
You come back.....your desktop has appeared.....but the hourglass is showing....meaning programs are running in the background. Two minutes later....."finally!!"

How often have we gone thru that? doesn't have to be that way. In fact, the following steps will trim your Windows boot time from a slow snails pace to a quick rabbit on caffeine.

Removing certain start up programs

In a known fact- longer you have a PC, the more you'll end up downloading programs and software. Some programs that automatically get stored into memory as Windows starts up, slowing the boot time. Printer programs and drivers, antivirus software...and other software.
By removing some of these programs you can speed up Windows boot time.

1. Right click on the Start Menu, and click "Task Manager"
2. When the Task Manager appears, click on Startup - here is where the current programs assigned by Windows to startup automatically.
3.  Right click on the program you don't want to start automatically, and select Disable

Upgrading your hardware

A second way to speed up your Windows startup is to upgrade your systems hardware.
With desktops, your options in doing this are a little more than if you have a laptop. First try upgrading your memory. If you have a desktop or laptop running 4gb of RAM, look into possibly upgrading to 6 or 8GB.

To see the status of your memory usage, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Click the Performance tab: In the lower-left corner, you’ll see how much RAM is in use. If, under normal use, the Available option is less than 25 percent of the total, an upgrade may do you some good.

Crucial and Kingston are major PC memory providers and Crucial has a memory diagnostic tool to determine what kind of memory as well as Kingston Memory scanner.

Upgrading from a Hard Drive to a Solid State Drive - As SSDs work with flash memory (the kind that are in USB drives) they can be up to 8 times faster than standard hard drives. See my Advantages of SSDs to Hard Drives article for more information on this.

Use Hibernate instead of Shut Down

When you have finished with whatever your doing on your PC, select Hibernate instead of completely shutting the computer down. Choosing Shut Down closes all apps, programs and actually logs you off and closes the Windows session. Hibernate dumps the current state (any open apps and programs into memory) and keeps the Windows session open, thereby starting Windows instantly.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The lowdown on lithium batteries..... the coolest, & hottest battery for tech

L-ion Batterys, (Lithium Ion Batterys), are a pretty amazing piece of technology and very popular. You can find them in cell phones, pdas, laptops, gps devices...etc.

They hold a "higher energy density" per pound. They pack more punch per pound more than any other battery type. Including Nickle Metal Hydide (NiMH) which can be found in hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.
Because of that, the automotive industry is seeing l-ion batterys as a replacement for the NiMH batteries. Currently the Chevy Volt & the Nissan Leaf use the L-ion batteries. Other companies are soon to follow. One big issue they have to tackle is that lion batteries don't do well with extreme temperatures.

So how do they work and what is with them exploding in cell phones?


Lithium by nature is an unstable metal however lithium ions are much safer. 
In 1979, solid state physicist John B Goodenough
discovered that by using lithium cobalt oxide as a cathode of a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, it was possible to achieve a high density of stored energy with an anode other than metal. His last name is certainly ironic! (are they "good enough"?)

In 1991 the Sony Corporation started commercializing lithium iion batterys and L-ion batterys started replacing nickle cadmium batterys (Nicad) in the late 1990s.

How they work

L-ion batterys work by the same principle as any other battery does. The transfer of electrons between a cathode (positive) and an anode (negitive). The only difference is the chemical composition within the cells. And the fact that with rechargeable batteries the charge is reversed as well.

They're also low maintenance which is a big advantage over other battery types. They require no memory so no cycling is required like the old Nicad batteries.

But they do have drawbacks. L-ion batteries have voltage protection circuits to prevent overcharging and prevent cell voltage from dropping to low during discharge. They contain temperature sensors for monitoring battery temp. If a battery gets to hot, the protection circuit sends a signal to the device to shut down to prevent damage.L-ion batteries prefer a partial discharge rather than a deep discharge.
If the voltage drops down to a certain voltage, the cells are ruined.

What's with exploding batteries?

L-ion batteries hold together positive and negative terminals (cathodes and anodes) along with a polymer that separates the two sides. This is all sandwiched together a tightly wrapped container, but instead of a paste which is found in normal batteries, it's a lithium ionized liquid which is extremely flammable. The manufacturing process creates small minute pieces of metal that float in the liquid. These pieces are removed but the manufacture can't completely remove 100% of these metal flakes.

As you may have seen on the news, Samsung recently recalled the ENTIRE production line of their Galaxy Note 7s due to exploding batteries costing the company over 5.3 billion.

There are two scenarios which can cause a L-ion battery to explode

Heat: The issue lies when the battery starts to get hot, possibly from being on the someones pockets,,,or left on the dash of a car on a summer day.
When that happens the fluid inside the battery becomes thinner allowing the small pieces of metal to move more freely. If a piece of metal comes in contact with the separator, a short circuit will occur. When a short circuit occurs in a flammable liquid it's not a pretty sight.

Aggressive technology design flaw: Or what you could call "pushing the safety boundary" - Cell phone manufactures are always seeking to push more power into smaller batteries and wanting a flatter battery in the design phase. The flatter the battery the thinner the components must be inside the a point where the polymer separators may not be effective in separating the negative and positive sides.

This manufacturing error allowed the plates to make contact and a short circuit followed creating an enormous amount of heat to the point where the battery exploded.

If you have a Samsung Note 7,please contact your carrier directly or call Samsung Customer service at 1-844-365-6197 for assistance. Visit Samsung Note 7 recall for further information.

The hazards and issues with lithium batteries are rare. But for their small compact size, they pack a good punch and the tech industry sees anything smaller with more power a big advantage.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Recovering a lost Wifi password you forgot your Wifi password but you need it for your laptop. 

You know wrote it down on that sticky note but that has long disappeared. You still have access from your phone, but all you see is a bunch of "*******".

Accessing your wifi password

First, before going full frantic mode, check the modem that your ISP provided for you. Usually WiFi passwords are listed directly on the Modem from your Internet Service Provider. If that's not the case you can always reset your Wifi password by accessing your routers web page

But that's alot of can actually view your wireless password within a configuration file on your Android phone must be rooted.

If you've rooted your phone, open a file manager. If you don't have one, download a file manager similar to X-Plore or Astro from the Play Store.

Open your file manager and locate data/misc/wifi and find the file wpa_supplicant.conf. If you're unable to find it try locating wep.supplicant.conf. 
It's simple text file, so once you tap it your notepad should open it.

This file lists the current networks you have saved on your phone as well as your passwords to the networks.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tech News: Over 1 million Android phones hacked

Over 1.3 million Google accounts, which include photos, documents and email have been accessed by hackers by way of apps which were not available on Google Play Store.

Checkpoint, a cyber security firm, has named the hacking campaign "Googligan" and has set up a website named "Googligan Check Point" for consumers to determine if their Google accounts have been hacked.

The infection begins when a user downloads and installs a Gooligan-infected app on a vulnerable Android device, or by clicking on malicious links in phishing attack messages. Checkpoint states the code is targeted towards Android devices which have The Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop versions of Googles operating system.

Google has since removed the apps from thier Play Store, which contain the malicious code. However the attacks are still prominent as 3rd party websites still list apps that contain malware.

Android users have the option to download unofficial apps from 3rd party vendors and websites, but it is advised not to due to incidents like these.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Wireless it came about....and is it worth it?

Your phones battery shows 5% left, so you head out to the living room and plop the phone down onto the wireless charging matt. It's true...wireless charging has a real "cool" factor....but is it really worth it?....and how exactly does it work?

How it started

Wireless charging is not new, but the technology in in it's current (pun!!) form is. In 1831 Micheal Faraday discovered electrical induction during an experiment using two wires wrapped around an iron ring. He expanded on the idea with the theory of "lines of force", but this theory was rejected by scientists of the day due to the lack of mathematical formulas.
Tesla demonstrating wireless transmission of electrical current
Soon after, Nicolas Tesla brought the idea further in 1890, lighting Geissler tubes and incandescent light bulbs across a stage during public demonstrations.

Inductive charging works using an electromagnetic field between two objects. a coil in the pad creates a magnetic field which induces a current in another coil, in the phone, charging its battery. The stronger the magnet and the current in the first coil, the increase of the induction and power transfer. There are two different types of wireless charging standards today; Qi and Powermat. They both use the same inductive charging, however the charging rate and current are different.

Is it worth it?

So it's a real cool technology, but it's more like a *"proof of concept" than a major jump in technology where it can be used to a full potential. So before you plop $10-$30 for a charging mat, think about three main disadvantages which involve wireless charging.

1. The mat is the charging that still needs a source of electricity. But the phone needs to remain on the mat in order to much for true freedom.
2. The charge/current will still be weaker and slower than directly plugging in your phone to a charger. On the average wireless pads take 25% more to charge a phone than direct cords.
3. The charging mats create heat.....alot of heat. And heat is the evil enemy of cell phones.

The future of wireless charging

It's still in it's infancy, and wireless charging has a lot of potential, especially in the automotive industry.
Were not talking having your car charge on the driveway charging....we're talking about wireless charging your Tesla WHILE your driving!
The UK has already spent $300,000 investigating the feasibility of "Dynamic charging".....electric roadways which charge the car while driving on the roadway. The UK has setup an 18 month trial for the testing.

So wireless charging has alot of potential, and if you find you're walking down the street and you realize you only have 2% before your phone dies you can stop into a Starbucks for a quick charge (enough to get the phone usable), but in the long'll probably be better off just buying a longer cord.

*Proof Of Concept is the realization that an idea, technology or otherwise, has practical potential, but yet the application of the idea or technology has yet to be feasible.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thinking about buying a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are cool, they're light weight...and they're fast....much faster than their Windows counterparts.
Chromebooks boot up in 10 seconds or less. 
This is in comparison of a Windows 10 machine. A clean Windows 10 with minimum startup processes, have an average boot time between 45 seconds to 1:30. Of course this boot time for Windows depends on the type of processor and amount of RAM involved.

You're probably saying "Wow!...a 10 second boot up time! I'm replacing my laptop with a Chromebook!"
WHOAA partner....not so fast. 

The speed of a Chromebook comes with a price....and I'm not talking money (they're actually very inexpensive). Chromebooks are a different breed altogether.

Traditional operating systems like Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX require a large portion of the computers hard drive in order to run. The Chrome OS is built on the Linux kernel*, however everything is done on the Chrome browser. It's a web app driven OS.

Remember when I said Chromebooks are lightweight? Because everything is done online (in the "cloud"), Chromebooks don't have a ton of storage.
Most have 16GB of SSD Hard Drive space with 2-4GB of RAM to play with. That's not much compared to full fledged Windows laptops that usually boast 900GB hard drives and 4-6GB of ram. However storage on a Chromebook can always be expanded when adding an external Hard Drive or USB drive.
Concerning processors most Chromebooks have Celeron chips, which is Intels' budget

Anything you can do online, you can do with a Chromebook.
Checking your bank account....Facebook....Twitter....Youtube.....Yahoo.....checking up on the news or your stock portfolio. Working online and offline with word documents, spreadsheets and presentations are done with Google docs as well.

Chromebooks are optimized for Googles Web Store where there are plenty of browser extensions, web apps, and games.
Web Store for Chrome OS
You'll be able to play classic games like "Cut The Rope" and "Bejeweled", but because of the light graphics processor, you won't be playing any major game hits that are on Window PCs. Google is currently updating the Chrome OS so Android games on the Play Store will be accessible on Chromebooks.

The battery lifetime is where Chromebooks are king. Chromebooks average 10hrs of use on a fully charged system compared to a Windows PC which average 6-7hrs.

So if you're deciding on buying a Chromebook, the big question should be "What will you be using it for". Chromebooks are incredibly affordable and fast, and they come in a variety of sizes and spec, but they are limited in graphics processing power and onboard storage space. If you're looking at a second laptop just to get onlne, and you like Googles services, a Chromebook will work great for you.

*In fact, back in 2009, Canonical, Ubuntus parent company, worked very closly with Google in creating Chrome OS.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Advantages of a SSD over HDD

There are big advantages switching from a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a SSD or Solid State Drive.

Advantages of SSDs:

Boot up time: A computer which has a HDD (Hard Disk Drives) has to wait for the disks (platters) to spin up to a specific rpm in order to read data.....usually 5400 or 7200 rpms. SSD contain flash (NAND) memory which is almost instantaneous when it comes to reading the operating system.

No Wear & Tear: A HDD contains moving parts.....the spinning disk or 'platter', the read/write armature or arm ...etc. These mechanical parts over time will wear out the more it is used. SSD's are made of flash memory which has no moving parts.

No Noise: Because SSDs contain no moving parts they are virtually silent compared to the noisy HDDs. 

Cooler: Physics tell us that moving parts against each other cause friction....thus making heat. Because of this, HDDs make alot more heat than SSDs. That's why many Chromebooks and netbooks have no fans as they use the cooler SSDs.
No fans mean less power usage....less power means more battery lifetime...see where I'm going with this?

Speed / performance: On a HDD, files get erased and new files are replaced over a period of time. Eventually parts of one single word document are all over the hard drive. The read/write head must search the HDD for the entire file. This is called 'fragmentation'. Reading files across an entire platter or disk takes time. In SSD there is no read/write head so data can be stored anywhere and access is almost instantaneous.

Disadvantages of SSDs:

One of the disadvantages of SSDs is that the price per GB is 15-20 cents more than a HDD.
That means a 1TB SSD costs $200-$230 compared to a HDD of the same size which costs only $40-50.

Memory Wear Out:
One of the hottest discussions in the tech industry concerning SSDs is 'memory wear out'.
Flash memory is measured in write cycles, or program/erase (P/E) cycles. Because of the inherent nature of flash memory, the lifecycle of SSDs are limited in the number of times data is written.

When data is written on a block of memory, the entire block must be erased first. Depending on the type of NAND memory of the SSD, the write cycles may be from 30,000 writes to 100,000 writes.
Don't stress over this too much. A technology called "wear leveling" ensures data is written over a broad spectrum of memory blocks on the SSD so not one single block gets hit. Writing to a single block of flash memory 30,000 times would be the equivalent of you sitting at your laptop and pressing the "Enter" key 1 thousand times a day for an entire month.

The future of storage

Solid State Drive technology is evolving quickly with different types of memory storage. SLC, MLC, TLC are different types of NAND, which is a type of flash memory that retains memory when the power is off.
Samsung and Intel are working on 3D NAND, and Intel may soon boast the worlds largest SSD at 10GB with the new technology.

Hard disk drives are still the king when it comes to size and price, however as SSDs become cheaper, expect more to show up on systems and will soon to overtake HDDs.
It's expected next year that 41% of laptops to arrive with SSDs and are expected to overtake HDDs by 2018.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Windows as a service - what does it mean for you?

It's been a tradition of sorts with Microsoft releasing a new version of Windows every few years and the incremental security updates to that version. Then as a new release of Windows was to occur, updates to the previous version would slowly come to an end. And the support of the previous versions would end along with the *lifecycle.

For more information on Windows Lifecycles check out Microsofts Lifecycle page. You'll find that Windows 10 support and updates are N/A and have no end date.

When Windows 10 was released last summer, it was a pleasant surprise. The return of the Start Menu and Cortana, among other wonderful features. Of all the questions many users had the most popular would be "What will the next version of Windows look like?"

That question will very likely become obsolete (a word I don't like using), as Microsoft Vice President of Windows and Devices Group Terry Meyson explained.

"This is more than a one-time upgrade: once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no cost. With Windows 10, the experience will evolve and get even better over time. We’ll deliver new features when they’re ready, not waiting for the next major release. We think of Windows as a Service – in fact, one could reasonably think of Windows in the next couple of years as one of the largest Internet services on the planet."

What does this mean exactly? It means Microsoft no longer will release new versions of Windows. Instead the consumer will receive constant updates with new or improved features of Windows ....and this is the best no cost! No more XP, Vista or Windows 7....just Windows!

Essentially you'll always be getting access to the latest operating system. The cons? As OEMs such as HP, Dell and Toshiba manufacture their latest PCs with the newest hardware there will likely be driver and compatibility issues until Microsoft catches up with the updates.

So there you have it.....there won't be a Windows 11 or Windows'll always have the latest version of Windows on your ;-)

The official Microsoft technet blog here.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Rooting, Unlocking and Jailbreaking - What's the difference?

Note: This article describes the differences between the three. The steps to Root an Android, or "Jailbreak" an Apple iOS device are very detailed and will be covered another day. There are plenty of How To's on Youtube and other sites as well.

I come across many people who use those terms interchangeably. I head a friend a few months ago say, "I'm going to unlock my iPhone so i can tweak the settings". I looked at him and had to laugh, but cleared things up for him
All three describe different procedures on different cell phones.

All unlocking means is to allow a device which was previously restricted to a specifc carrier can be "unlocked" to be used with another carrier.......Let's say you're not happy with your current carrier and you want to switch to another phone company because they have a better deal. Whoever your current carrier is, call their customer service to have the phone unlocked.

Usually carriers place a few restrictions in order to have a phone unlocked. The phone must not be reported stolen or lost (a clean IMEI). It must be paid for. It can't be on a payment plan or contract.

It's much easier to have a carrier unlock a phone today than it was 5 years ago.  In 2015 a federal bill was passed requiring carriers to unlock consumer phones if they no longer were under the standard two year contract.

Jailbreaking is a term known among iOS consumers. When you "jailbreak" an Apple device, you're bypassing software and security restrictions which Apple has placed on the device. Unfortunately Apple frowns upon "jailbreaking" as well and deems the warranty of your device void if you do, however it is legal to do so in the U.S. In other countries not so.

When you "jailbreak" an iPhone or iOS device and it allows root access to the iOS file system, so applications, extensions, and themes unavailable through the official Apple App Store can be downloaded. Jailbreaking allows you access to apps which Apple doesn't authorize or isn't available at the Apple Store.

The Android operating system already allows you to "sideload" apps. (To install from 3rd party sites other than the Play Store) Android gives you free rein in that territory.
When you "root" an android device you access administrative functions and system files and folders.

You might be saying " what?...what does that do for me?"

When you root an Android device, you open an entire new world of ROM's; third-party systems and not only with the original ROM.
Custom ROMs replace the pre-installed version of Android on devices. Some Roms allow certain performance tweaks such as adjusting processor speed.
Simply Google 'Android Rom's" and you'll see what I mean.

So there you have it.
Jailbreaking is basically bypassing Apples security restrictions on an iOS device (iPhone, iPad...etc) in order to download and install apps which are not listed in the App Store. Rooting gives an Android user administrative access to system files which allow the user to install new Android Rom's (custom versions of Android)

Friday, November 11, 2016

The difference between Sleep & Hibernate on a Windows machine

You're in the midst of typing an email up and it's dinner time. You're not ready to send that email off just yet, and you don't want to shut down the you click the start menu and send in off to Sleep....or should you use Hibernate instead?

What's the difference?

Using Sleep in Windows uses low power. The machine is still on, and any programs that are open will remain open. It's similar to pausing a DVD player. *Turn back on Windows by moving the mouse, tapping a key on the keyboard or opening the lid if it's a laptop. 
 *If it's laptop and the battery is low during Sleep, Windows may shut down to prevent damage to the battery.

The Hibernate option is specifically designed for laptops where battery drain would be a concern. When you place a PC in Hibernation, the current programs and apps stay open, any open documents and files are saved and the computer shuts down. 
When you turn back on your system, you'll start back right where you left off. Unlike Sleep Mode, Windows completely shuts the PC down so it's slightly slower getting back to your PC. 

The Hibernate option in Windows 10 should be available in the Power Menu, but if it isn't it's fairly simple to add it.

Enabling Hibernate option
In the Search bar, type Power Options. A Control Panel named Power Options should be listed. Click that. 

When the Control Panel open click "Choose What The Power Buttons Do"

At the top of the next screen, select and click "Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable"

Scroll down on the next page and click the box to the left of "Hibernate" and Save Changes. That's all it takes! 
Now when you click the power button at the Start Menu, you'll have the option to use Hibernate

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tracking your package or shipment via Google

This comes way of Googlesystem Blog.
 Google has created a new card for an easy simple way of tracking packages you've sent out.
The card is extreemely simple. You just enter the tracking number in the field.

No need to goto the websites of USPS, FedEx or UPS! Check it out here: Googlesystem Blog

Try it out!

How to Locate a Lost Or Stolen Phone

Losing your phone can be a turn any everyday situation into a frantic panic.
You've just got home running errands, and now you realize you can't find your phone. Thoughts are going thru your mind. Is it on the counter at the gas station? Did I leave it at the store?

GPS technology has made it easier to locate devices and that includes cell phones. There are many apps on the Play Store which are available to locate cell phones but this article will list two of the leading brands.

As a reminder - the apps covered here will need to be installed on your phone first. Simply install the app and ensure it is active on your phone under Settings-Security-Device Administrators. Any app which uses the security features within Android should be listed here. Ensure the app is checked.

Android Security Menu
Android Device Admin

Where's My Droid
Where's My Droid (WMD) has been around for a few years now and the app has become much more streamlined and easier to setup since I started using it in 2013. It's jam packed features include ring, camera, lock and wipe. There are two components to WMD -the app itself which is installed on your phone and the desktop utility.

Wheres My Droid

Using a friends phone, you can also send a special text to your phone so it can ring at full volume, even if your phone is set to vibrate. Taking pictures, activating GPS, locking and wiping can be done the same way; using a special text from another phone.
You can locate your phone by logging into the desktop utility at
Download the app itself at the PlayStore (WMD is not available for iPhone/iPad)

Android Device Manager
Google has it's own utility to locate lost/stolen android devices, however it's not as feature rich as WMD. One drawback with Android Device Manager is that GPS/Location Services must already be on before you lose the phone as opposed to WMD where you can turn on GPS with a text.
Still...if the only thing you need to do is locate, lock or wipe your phone or tablet, Android Device Manager will do the job just fine.

As a reminder - the apps covered here will need to be installed on your phone first. That being said head over to the Play Store and search for Android Device Manager.
Simply install the app and ensure it is active on your phone under Settings-Security-Device Administrators.
Any app which uses the security features within Android should be listed here. Ensure Android Device Manager is checked.
Ensure GPS/Location Services is turned on.

Locating your phone is simple. Just log into your Google account, and head over to
A map will be displayed and Google will attempt to locate your phone. From here you can also Lock and Wipe your phone/tablet as well.

Android Device Manager Location

In the long run it's a good thing to be prepared before you lose your Samsung, LG or HTC. Installing apps such as Where's My Droid or Android Device Manager may save you alot of heartache if you ever lose your phone.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tech History: How the term 'debug' came about

Today, the term 'debug' means to identify software or hardware errors. But why the word 'debug' and what do bugs have to do with computers anyways?

Well, history shows what really happened.

Back in Sept 1947 the US Navy was testing it's newly built Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator for ballistic tables. Located at Harvard University, this electromechanical computer was nothing to what we use today. The machine was over 20ft in length and wieghed over 5tons.

Both Mr Howard Aiken and Mrs Grace Hopper were working on the machine when she found a moth stuck in one of the relays, impeding the operation of the machine.

So now you know "the rest of the story" ;-)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Replacing a broken laptop screen

Whether it's cracked or has one too many blown pixels, a broken laptop display can stop you dead in your tracks. But with the right tools, a little technical know-how, and a bit of patience you can replace a damaged LCD.

Broken laptop screen
Broken laptop screen
Note: In this article, I show you how to replace the screen on an Asus UL50V notebook, which has an LED-backlit LCD.

Depending on the make and model of your laptop, the internal hardware and specific steps may vary. The general process however, should be the same.

Should you try this fix?
If accidental damage is covered under your laptop's warranty, don't do this fix yourself. Get the laptop repaired under the warranty.

Lastly, understand that if you follow the instructions in laptop screen replacement, you do so at your own risk.  I am not held responsible for injury, damage, or loss of data.

Getting a replacement screen and tools
To begin your fix, you'll need a few simple tools and a replacement LCD screen. For tools, I recommend a screwdriver with a variety of small bits, such as a Phillips #00 and a Torx T5. It's also a good idea to have a few thin metal blades or plastic spudgers. These are really handy for removing the trim that surrounds the screen.

As for the replacement LCD, you should be able to buy one either from the laptop manufacturer's authorized parts dealer or a third-party supplier. Depending the screen, they usually cost between $50 and $150 dollars—more if it's a high-end display or you buy an OEM replacement. Regardless, you'll want to buy a new screen that matches your broken one exactly. The only sure way to do this is to remove the broken one.

1. Remove the screen bezel
After disconnecting the power supply and removing the battery, carefully examine the bezel around the screen. You'll need to remove this bezel to access the screws that hold the LCD panel in place.
On this laptop, several rubber cushions hide screws, which hold the bezel in place. I'll need to remove these cushions and the screws that are underneath.

With the hidden screws removed, I used a thin metal blade to pop loose one of the bottom corners and worked my way around the bezel with a plastic spudger.

Note: Your laptop may not have cushions or hidden screws. The bezel may simply snap onto the lid or be held in place with double-side tape. Just, adapt my instructions to fit your specific laptop.
Regardless of how you do it, you'll need to completely remove the bezel.

2. Remove the broken LCD panel
With the LCD's mounting brackets exposed, you can remove the screws that secure it to the lid. Then rest the display front-side-down on the case and disconnect its cable.

If your laptop was made before 2010 and has a LCD with fluorescent backlights, it will likely have two cables. But as this is an LED-backlit LCD, it only has one.

Now, locate the manufacturer's label and note the model number. Using this information you should be able to buy an exact match for your broken screen.

3. Install the new LCD panel
Once your new screen arrives, unpack it and make sure it matches the old one.

If the dimensions, mounting brackets, and connector all match, you ready to install the screen. Connect the new panel to the cable, position the panel in the lid, and secure it using the appropriate screws.

4. Test the new LCD panel and reinstall the bezel
Before reattaching the bezel, it's a good idea to test the new panel. Reconnect the battery and power cable and turn the machine on. If the display works, you can reattach the bezel and any external screws and rubber cushions. The repair is now complete.

As fixes go, this one isn't too tough, but it does take a little patience and planning to make sure you get the right replacement screen.

Original article at Techrepublic

What is Crossfire?

Previously I worked on a customers system that had two ATI 4800 GPU's using Crossfire. It's a technology that ATI developed so up to four graphics cards can be used in a single computer to improve graphics. Crossfire has the advantage over Nvidias SLI (Scalable Linked Interface) where you don not need to have both cards the identical GPU. 

You'll usually only find systems that use Crossfire or SLI in high end gaming machines. The customer I recently visited had a quad core AMD processor running 3.2ghz, 8gb ram, 600gb HD, and CCL lighting galore in the case.....very nice.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Have Cortana use Google instead of Bing in Windows 10

Windows 10 has a pretty amazing search assistant called Cortana. She comes hand in hand with Bing, as Bing is owned by Microsoft. So every search result that comes back is from Bing. That's all fine and dandy but if you're a fan of Google that's a big no-no.

Here's how you can force Cortana to use Google instead of Bing.

1. Navigate to Settings. You can get there from the Start menu.
2.Select System.
3. Click Default apps in the left pane.

4. Click Microsoft Edge under the "Web browser" heading. ...
5. Select the new browser (ex: Chrome) in the menu that pops up.

6. Great....Now that you've changes the default browser you'll need to install a Chrome Browser extension called Chrometana. You can download it here.

7. Once the extension has been installed you'll see a webpage welcoming you to Chrometana and to choose your default search engine. Simply click Google here and you're all set.

Now when searching with Cortana in Windows you'll see results from Google instead. 

If you ever feel to change the search engine or remove Chrometana click  click the triple bar button in the upper-right corner of the window, select “Settings” from the drop-down menu, and then click “Extensions” in the list of items on the left side of the “Settings” tab that displays (under “Chrome”).

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