Firefox  Reset Firefox  Audacity Startup Delayer  Foxit PDF  pdf redirect
Start Menu 8  FilePuma  TeamViewer

This is a place that you can look for help with PC related stuff and maybe some other incidental information that I find along the way.  This will be set up as a blog with the most recent date first.  I'll just keep adding things as I discover things you may be interested in.  Most of the software is free.  A notable exception is Norton Internet Security which is the best insurance policy you can buy.  It keeps getting better and easier to implement. 

5/8/2015 TeamViewer

This program is the one I use to get on my client's computers and help them with problems they may have.  Use this link to download the program, install it, then call me for instructions.  There is a version of this program that works for all operating systems.

5/8/2015 is a site that serves you a host of utilities that you can use to keep your computer in shape.  On top of that list is Glary Utilities which has almost all the tools that you might need.  In addition you can find links to other software that is excellent and totally free the way software should be.  There may be PRO versions of the software which may be worth your hard earned bucks but you get to evaluate the software as a free version first.

5/8/2015 Start Menu 8

Is Windows 8 driving you crazy?  Do you hate the Metro Screen?  Well I'm here to tell you that as bad as W8 is, it isn't all bad.  Some of the best things it teaches you has been with us for quite some time but we didn't really understand it's advantage.  First Start Menu 8 will make windows 8 look like windows 7.  The start menu is back as well as the task bar.  It will also be your default startup.  You can always get to Metro, although I don't know why you would want to.  If you end up in Metro, <win>+<d> will take you back to your normal desktop.  Want to start a program?  You can find it two ways.  If you were smart enough to pin it to the task bar, go there first. If however it isn't there, then it might be in the frequently used tasks in the start menu.  No?  Not there either?  When you open the start menu there is a search box at the bottom.  Start to type the name of the program there.  Oh Look?  There it is!  It just popped up.  Click on it and away you go.  Couldn't be easier.  It's been there all along, no one ever told you.  No more hunting through the long program list to find it.  Of course, there are those programs whose name you can't remember.  Then search for it.

9/23/2014 Reset Firefox to remove all addon's
There are times when bad things happen and you are unable to navigate to where you want to go or Firefox just gets very slow.  This is usually the result of an add-on that is a bad actor.  There are two ways to approach this problem. you can click the menu button (the three horizontal buttons in the upper right of the window ) then select the addon's amd start

disabling them one by one, or disable all of them and enable them one at a time until the problem recurrs.  Once the bad actor is identified, you can delete it.  Alternatively you can reset Firefox to remove all add-on's.  If you do not have the menu bar at the top of the screen it helps to get it back for this purpose.  As before click the menu button but instead of add-ons look at the bottom left of the selections for Customize and click that.  Then in the lower left click the menu bar toggle (Show/Hide Toolbars) and make sure the menu bar

is selected.  Close the Customize Firefox tab.  Now you can go to the Help menu in the upper left of the window and click on Help.  Select restart with add-on's disabled.

When Firefox restarts, you will have all your add-on's removed.

If this procedure fails to remove the problem, then you probably have some bad actors that have to be removed using the malwarebytes or  "add/remove program" option in the control panel which is a separate discussion.

5/19/2014 Some Links for my Students
Irfanview - Photo editor and tools
Firefox - Keyboard Shortcuts
Windows - Keyboard Shortcuts
pdf redirect - PDF Printer with nifty features
5/5/2014 Problems with Firefox

Sometimes Firefox will just not start for you no matter how many times you click on the icon.  There can be many reasons for this but one of the most common is that it is already running and you can't see the window.  Start the Task Manager (right click on an empty space on the menu bar then click on Task Manager) Select the processes tab.  Select and end any Firefox Process (all if there is more than one) in the list.

After this, if you still have trouble it is probably best to start firefox in Safe Mode.  To do this hold down the shift key while double clicking on the firefox icon.  If that fails go to Start / Run then copy and paste the following into the dialog box:

"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -safe-mode

Copy and paste everything on that line including the "" marks.  You will be asked if you wish to start in safe mode or have the add-on's disabled.  It is probably best to restart with no add-ons then add them back in one at a time.

9/10/2013 Audacity

I have long looked for a good cost effective recorder for my computer.  Today I stumbled over Audacity and wanted to share it with you.  It has an intuitive interface for simple jobs yet promises to do complex jobs as well.  Your can record any input source, use filtering, edit, combine tracks and a host of other things.  For a simple voice recording it is as easy and as fast as Window's voice recorder yet gives you the ability to edit your recording before you save it.  I use it to create voice ringtones for my phone.  For MP3 output follow the instructions for downloading the Lame plugin.

6/27/2013 Startup Delayer

This is a great tool to manage the programs that load when you turn on your computer.  You can delay the startup which means you get going faster. It just updated to 3.0.  I recommend it to anyone interested in managing your startup process. 

Foxit PDF Reader

This great program has just gotten better.  It now includes a PDF printer and many other features in the reader.  It's still the fastest and best reader out there.  It beats Adobe reader hands down for speed and low overhead.  I still prefer to read my PDF's outside of the browser although this program, like Adobe can be set to read within the browser.  I like to let my Internet Download Manager grab the file, save it and then offer to open it with whatever application I choose. 

8/31/2012 Working with PDF files

I have previously discussed PDF printers which allow you to make PDF files from any application that allows printing of the creative content.  That means, any application you use that you might want to share the results of your hard work as hard copy.  My current favorite PDF printer is PDF Redirect.  It is easy to use, provides a preview as well as merge mode of operation which is very useful.

But now you scan a document which means you have an image of it and you've saved it to a PDF file.  It's very large because Images take a lot of memory; far more than would the same text printed to a PDF from a word processor.  So how can we take these images imbedded in the PDF file and convert them to text.  The process is called Optical Character Recognition or OCR.  Most of the expensive PDF packages have the capability to do the conversion.  But how can you convert the file to text so that it can be edited or text selected from it. 

By contrast there are any number of ways to perform operations on a PDF file that is a combination of text and graphics.  For example, there is Inkscape that will let you import a PDF document, change the text, move or replace images then save the modified document as a new PDF.   The same process can be accomplished using Open Office or Office Libre both of which are compatible with MS file formats and are open source and freely distributed.  Using the Draw program in these suites will allow you to open a PDF and edit them.  This is great for fixing mistakes when the original document isn't available.  It can also be used for importing a signature to sign documents

But what if the document is an image of text.  Is there a free OCR program.  There are many packages out there that range from $20 to several hundred dollars.  There is at least one such program, FreeOCR, that not only supports PDF documents but multi page Tiff (fax) as well as most image types.  It also supports multipage scanning using either Twain or WIA scanning engines.  When scanning it scans and converts all at one time.  This program uses Tesseract V3 for higher accuracy.  It is certainly a good tool to keep in your kit.

7/10/2012 Current Favorite Free software
With all of these programs, you can pay them for including advanced features in the package but believe me when I tell you that for 99% of your problems the free (for private use only) programs are quite adequate.  Don't take out your credit card.  Make sure you chose the "non commercial" or "Home use" version.  All the links are to ( and includes a description and cnet's rating.
Backup EaseUS ToDo Backup  is a wonderful free application.  Make sure that you create the emergency recovery disk.  Copy your disk image frequently.  You lose everything since your last backup.
Partitioning EaseUS Partition Manager Home edition will help you manage your hard drives partitions.  You can move, delete, enlarge,  reduce and make new partitions.  Very easy to use and very effective.
Malware MalwareBytes Anti Malware has been around a long time and is an excelent resource to use if you are having a problem which may be malware related.
Glary Utilities Glary Utilities is a full set of programs that will keep your computer in tip top shape.  No one program fixes everything but this does an awesome job and should be all you need.
Passwords LastPass is currently at the top of my list for recording and keeping track of your passwords.  It will even create passwords for you, which it remembers, not you, that can't be cracked.  It will log you into most sites automatically if you select that option.  The database is in the Cloud, not on your computer and it's encrypted so only you have access to it.
Cloud Storage DropBox (also Google Drive, especially if you are using an Android device) is a wonderful way to protect your most important files that change frequently.  They are available from any internet connected device and reside as native files on your home machine(s).  Synchronizing is transparent.  Each different provider gives you a couple of gigs for free, more for a price.
Cloud Notes Evernote is only one of many tools that keeps you organized with your data available on any of your devices wherever you have internet access.  You create different notebooks each with their collection of notes.  It's like cloud storage but provides a more organized structure, an easy method of clipping notes from the web and much more.  Check it out.  It's free! To use a broader range of file types they charge $12 per year.
Other Free Stuff FileP:uma provides a great listing of free stuff.  Note the date that I've made this entry.  Things change overnight on this arena so it's always a good idea to check here if you have a particular need.  All the ones I use are usually near the top.
Internet Security Yes, there are free Internet Security applications.  Feel free to use them. Regardless of what you select, the software needs to be kept current, at least weekly.  Remember that the free package you choose from the top of the stack this week may be near the bottom next week.  It's the same software, but someone else has come out with a better one.  My philosophy has been stick with Norton Internet Security (not Norton 360).  It may not be at the top all the time but it's never far below AND it keeps your system updated on a regular basis, automatically (nice) as long as you maintain your subscription.  As most of you who know me know, this is what I recommend for you.  $70 a year for 3 computers is no big deal.  It will cost you much more than that if you get an infection and lose your system (keep that backup current!)

Your Renewable Energy (Not a software issue but interesting)

Find yourself feeling a little groggy and less than bushy-tailed in the morning? No one wakes up instantly alert, but when you amp up your energy with a few changes to your routine, you’ll be surprised at how recharged you’ll feel.

  • Make sure you have lots of light in the morning to signal your brain to stop sleep-inducing melatonin.
  • Stretching will help your body temp raise back up to normal (it was low to keep you in a deep slumber) and get your blood circulating.
  • Morning exercise triggers endorphins that can last up to eight hours. It can also help you feel more mentally sharp.
  • Feed your soul with positive emotions amid the chaos and frenzy that usually taint the morning. Make sure you take a few moments to look at something meaningful to initiate feelings of gratitude, hope and love.
  • Take the road less traveled or at least divert your routine. Doing something out of the ordinary shakes up your brain and makes you more conscious and alert. It can be as simple as brushing your teeth with the opposite hand.

Source: Real Simple

5/30/2011 Roboform Legacy Software

If you are using Roboform, not syncing with other computer and have not upgraded to version 7 or later, please know that you can ignore the Roboform plea's to update your product.  The older product will work just fine.  What you won't be able to do is synchronize between multiple machines.  If this is not a problem for you, then stick with the older version which is available here.


Remembering Passwords

LastPass is an online password manager which is easy to use, and it's FREE.  There is a professional version that lets you do some additional things and it costs a whopping $1 per month.  If the added features are an advantage to you, then go for it.  I've been using Roboform for years but they decided to start charging.  It's about twice as expensive as the pro version of LastPass. 

I like the fact that you have a secure login to your account.  All the data on their server is encrypted based on your master password so choose it wisely.  All of your passwords are readily accessible for editing and grouping.  It's a more linear structure than Roboform but since I've always had a problem with the Roboform structure LastPass is a bit of a relief. 

When you install it on your computer, it searches for and imports all of your password databases, but not Roboform's. That can be a good thing.  A tool bar appears at the top of the window like some of the other security issues rather than having a permanent toolbar.  I like that feature which is always there when you need it but doesn't take up the space of a toolbar.  LastPass also supports mutiple logins at the same site.  This is convenient if you have multiple e-mail accounts or multiple people use your computer user account.

Western Digital SmartWare backup

A friend recently had a hard drive failure on a 2 year old laptop.  It happens.  You have to suck it up.  The good news is that he was badgered into getting an external drive.  He picked up a 500 gb WD My Book.  That USB drive came with SmartWare backup which he installed and set up.  It quietly worked in the background to save his "files".  What SmartWare doesn't do is provide a backup of your system information or a disk image.  Consequently, when the hard drive failed he didn't have a system backup to restore on a new drive.  As a result the system had to be rebuilt.  The good news is that he had the opportunity to migrate from Vista to W7.

SmartWare does have it's place as it continuously monitors and updates copies of your active documents.  As they change, they are stored on the external drive.  You can keep upwards of 25 versions of a file.  That should be enough to satisfy most users.  Since it runs constantly in the background it will use system resources so if you are already stressing your limits, you might want to consider another option.

To make that critical image of your drive, check out Macrium React described below.


I was called in to diagnose a problem with a computer that was hung on a fake ad for ANTIVIRUS ANTIMALWARE which did a fake scan of the system and just wouldn't quit until you gave them money.  Since we didn't go that far I'm not at all sure even that would have cleared the problem.  It made the computer completely useless because it was next to impossible to run any programs to investigate the problem. 

I couldn't diagnose and solve the problem over the phone but I did make a house call and quickly found the offending program and deleted it.  The program was installed in the user/application data folder which is often blocked by windows so the user can't see it.  The key in solving this problem was to get task manager running to see what the active tasks were.  Suspicious tasks were ended, one at a time, until the offending program disappeared.  Once it was identified I located the file using search and was able to delete the entire offending directory.  When the computer was rebooted the pest was gone. 

This type of malware usually arrives as an e-mail attachment which you are encouraged to open.  Don't!  Even if you know the person who supposedly sent it to you, make sure you know what it is BEFORE you open it. 

I might add, that this computer did not have an up to date copy of Norton running.  Norton would have identified the Trojan and eliminated it before you had a chance to click on it.


The latest software recommendations - There are some great new ones

Norton Internet Security 2011:  Over the years I've been a constant supporter of Norton.  They haven't always come out on the top of the pile but they've never been far from the very best.  Ever since I've used them, I've had no trouble with any kind of malware at all.  I've had to troubleshoot lots of machines with problems from Trojans or other Malware but never my own and never a machine with Norton on it.  My recommendation?  Stick with Norton.  Stick with Internet Security.  Don't be tempted by 360 or other offerings.  You won't be sorry.

PDF file creation:  I have made an effort to go completely paperless.  I must say that I have been quite successful.  With my trusty Epson Artisan 800 all in one containing a document feeder, I've managed to keep soft copy of everything.  Backup (the next topic) becomes crucial when you do this.  The offerings of a free PDF printer change from time to time.  The best one in my book right now is PDF Redirect ( .   This  program allows you to print and combine multiple pages or just print one at a time.  It's the merge capability that kicks ass.

Backup Tools:  Macrium React (  ) is the first backup program to come along that is both free and complete with a emergency startup disk. It does a respectable job of backing up.  Make sure you test the recovery disk that is made to assure that it is compatible with your computer.  It is a Linux OS that is booted up, not windows, but it knows how to find and install your disk image which is all you care about.  Another nice feature is that the backup can be examined using Windows Explorer if you need to recover a particular file.  None of us pay enough attention to the backup process untill all of a sudden we have a disk crash and everything is gone.  Don't fall into that trap.

System Maintenance:  Glary Utilities (  ) is a very complete package of tools to maintain your computer.  It will check and optimize your registry, defrag your hard drive and much much more.  Don't spend money on all those cool utilities that trap you into purchasing them.  Just download this program and run it periodically.  Did I mention, IT'S FREE!


Working with Video on your computer

I've been doing lots of downloading of video from internet links.  Some is good like the complete Torchwood Series and some is not so good like the .flv files from U-tube.  The thing is that it is possible to grab all these files and play them on your computer or your large screen TV.  The key is to keep all the files in the .avi format.  That way you can put them on a CD or DVD and play them in a Philips Divix compatible Player or watch them on your computer using any of the many multimedia players. 

The player I like best is the "Media Player Classic" along with the "K-lite Mega Codec Package" because  it is compatible with almost any file type and more importantly it is small and fast.  The range of formats becomes less of an issue if you use "Any Video Converter" to get everything into .avi file format.

Other tools important for download are the "Internet Download Manager" which does a wonderful job at managing all your downloads, restarting them when the connection is lost and keeping a history of downloads so you can go back and get the file that you accidently deleted.  It also lets you capture the last or last 10 .flv file downloads using a right click on the web page in your browser. 

Most large downloads are split into smaller files which can be joined using "HJ-Split".  The other formats that you will come across are split RAR files which can be recombined using "WinRAR".  You will also occasionally run across a .7z extension which can be decompressed using "7Zip".  To easily combine a group of separate files into 1 larger file, use "Split Join Convert Video".

All the afore mentioned applications are readily available through a Google search if my links no longer work.  They are small programs that don't load up memory and are free or very inexpensive.  They are the best of the best from my perspective and I've been playing this game for a while now.

For making a back-up copy of DVD's to protect your investment or to capture a video and compress it for loading on your phone, IPod ...etc you will want to use "Magic DVD Ripper.

There are lots of other tools out there but these are the ones that have worked well for me and are fairly easy to use.  There are new ones every day so keep your eyes and ears open and check back here as this will be updated as I learn more


Changing the Drive Letter on a USB Drive

When I plugged my new Sandisk Micro with U3 into my computer it was assigned to Drive L and K which had already been used by a network shared drive.  The result was that Windows explorer couldn't see the new device.  To correct the problem, the USB drive letters needed to be changed.  I right clicked on "My Computer" and selected "Manage".  Under Storage I clicked on Disk Management.  I could then see the drives.  Right clicking on each drive in turn I could select "Change drive letters and paths" and select a letter that was free, in this case U and T.  As soon as they were reassigned they showed up in Windows Explorer as they should.


Protect website subdirectories from the Robots

To keep Google, Yahoo, and other search engines out of the subdirectories that you don't want to share, include a text file called "robots.txt" in your root directory.  This text file should have entries as shown:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /_borders/
Disallow: /_private/

where the name between the "/../" is the directory(s) you wish to protect.