Sunday, January 31, 2016

Have You Recently Upgraded To Windows 10? Here's How You Can Save 20-30 GB of Hard Drive Space

Many users of Windows 7 and 8.1 have already moved to Windows 10. The upgrade will be free until July of 2016 for most users, and the majority of the early bugs have been patched. There are still good reasons to hold off - you may be using 3rd party software that is not, yet, compatible with Microsoft's latest OS. This particular tip is for those who have already "taken the plunge" and don't plan on going back.

When you "upgrade" to Windows 10, or install a major update like the recent one offered in November 2015, Microsoft stores the files necessary for a "rollback" on your hard drive. If you have plenty of space, this may not be an issue, but if your PC has a Solid State Drive (SSD) you may want to recover that lost space - (20-30 GB). These backups are stored in a file named Windows.old, but you cannot simply delete it.

To remove Windows.old - Run the "Disk Cleanup" Utility. (Caution - Once you delete the files you cannot "rollback" to a previous version of Windows.)

1. Click on the Search icon in the Taskbar or use the Windows key to open the Start Menu and just start typing the phrase Disk Cleanup. You will see the Disk Cleanup program entry at the top of the search results. Click or tap the program name to start it.

2. Run the Disk Cleanup utility, and after the initial scan, click “Clean up system files.” After a second scan, there should be an option reading “Previous Windows installation(s).” This item may not be selected by default. Select and run it again to delete the files.

Your newly acquired extra space may be just what you need to store a few additional photos, videos or digital music.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How To Easily Uninstall A "Built-In" Windows 10 App

Many PC users have "taken the plunge" and installed Microsoft's latest - Windows 10. It remains free for most users until July 2016, and it seems to be a solid update.

If you have spent time with Windows 10, you may have noticed that it is bundled with a host of "built-in" Apps. Some of these Apps are excellent, but there are many others (Camera, Phone Companion, Get Office, Grove Music) that you may not need, or want. Perhaps you are using a Solid State Drive (SSD) and don't want to waste valuable hard drive space or wait for slow updates.

Unfortunately, Microsoft did not make it easy to remove these applications. There is no generic Uninstall - like the process used for 3rd party Apps. One commonly used method involves invoking PowerShell commands, but this can be complex and inconvenient for normal users. There is a better way - grab the free CCleaner from Piriform  The latest version has an uninstall tool that will remove any application - including those from Microsoft. CCleaner is an excellent program that you should probably have anyway. You can read more about it here

Simply install CCleaner and take the following steps:

1. In CCleaner, click the Tools icon on the left and then select Uninstall.
2. In the Uninstall screen, select the name of the Microsoft App that you want to uninstall from the Programs to Remove list.
3. Click Uninstall.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

How To Quickly Speed Up & Refresh Your IPhone/IPad

Have you noticed your IOS device slowing down or locking up? Or perhaps you have a particular app that is "acting up". Most of the time these symptoms indicate a lack of memory (RAM), and a power down or reboot will usually solve the problem. This, however, can be very inconvenient.

Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to clear your iOS device’s RAM without having to perform a restart. Here's how you do it.

1. Unlock your phone so your home screen is visible.

2. Press power until ‘Slide to Power Off’ pops up.

3. Release the power/sleep button and press the Home button for four or five seconds until it returns to the app screen.

4. That's it. Your device memory has been refreshed. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

IPad Tip: Turn Your IPad Keyboard Into A Trackpad

The IPad has always been considered a "top of the line" consumption device. Recent iterations have expanded it's capabilities to where it can now compete in the "production arena". It may not be a full laptop replacement, but Apple added some nice features to IOS 9 that make it a viable candidate. 

Text editing, in particular, has always been a challenge when using the touchscreen interface. Fortunately, there are a few keyboard tricks in IOS 9 that make this a breeze.

How To Turn Your Keyboard Into A Trackpad

1. Open an App that requires the keyboard and touch the keyboard with two fingers. This action starts trackpad mode. Slide your fingers around to move the cursor. 
2. Tap two fingers once to select a word.
3. Tap two fingers twice to select a sentence.
4. Tap two fingers three times to select a  paragraph.
5. To select custom lengths of text - hold two fingers on the keyboard until the cursor switches to a text selector. Slide your fingers to select the boundaries of your custom text.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Your New Vizio Smart TV May Be Invading Your Privacy

Modern flatscreen TVs are far removed from the older models that we used for decades. These Internet connected "Smart TVs" are really large screen computers with built in apps. Having Apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc., a remote click away, is very convenient. As Apps are added to the TV platform it eliminates the need for all of those extra boxes and peripherals.

Unfortunately, manufactures are always seeking additional revenue streams - perhaps at the expense of your privacy.

Vizio, considered by many to be a top of the line "second tier" product, has a feature that you may want to turn off. This "feature", which is on by default, is capable of tracking your viewing habits and sharing them with other advertisers. Vizio calls this "Smart Interactivity".

The technology analyzes the programs you watch via cable, OTA or even across streaming services like Netflix. Your habits can then be associated with the IP address of your Internet connected TV. While IP addresses are not directly connected to a particular individual they are being combined with other information to gain a clearer picture of the user.

Cable companies in the US are not allowed to sell information about customer viewing habits, but this does not apply to manufactures. 

So how do turn this "feature" off? It varies slightly by model, but the steps below will assist you. 

1. Press the MENU button on your TV's remote.
2. Select either Settings or System (followed by Reset & Admin.) - depending on your model.
3. Highlight Smart Interactivity.
4. Press the RIGHT arrow to change the setting to Off.