Posted by: evtechie | August 25, 2008

Hibernation & Sleep in Vista

A lot of my clients really don’t know the difference between Hibernation and Sleep mode on a computer. In Vista there is a glitch that sort of deletes your hibernation option when you run Disk Cleanup. I have had the problem myself, so I did some searching to see if it was just me – I wasn’t the only Angel around who had the issue. However, let’s first explain the difference and similarities between the two.

Both Sleep and Hibernation modes provide you an easy opportunity to leave your computer in its existing state and then return to it later just as you left it, however you don’t have the long boot up of restarting your machine from an actual shutdown. However the differences are these:

  • SLEEP – is also known as a STANDBY mode. Some of the critical pieces retain power while non-critical components are withheld power from the power supply. You can emerge from sleep mode almost immediately with either the wiggle of the mouse or a tap on the keyboard. The system does not fully power down.
  • HIBERNATE – The computer puts the state of your computer and items in memory as data on your hard drive, and then powers down the computer. You must hit the power button to emerge from Hibernation, and the state of your computer is reloaded from data on your computer. The advantages of this method are that it will emerge from the boot up faster than a regular boot up, it will resume where you left off, and no electricity is being used when the system hibernates. A disadvantage is that the data that is stored on your computer can become fragmented over time and slow your system, so running DEFRAG is important.

Now, because Vista seems to have some issues with the Hibernation on computers, especially if you have run disk cleanup, it is important to know how to FIX that little issue. Some versions of Vista don’t support Hibernation, and sometimes it takes a tweak in the BIOS [Basic Input Output System – it runs when you first turn on your machine BEFORE Windows does its dance]. However, if Hibernation ran at some point and no longer does, then these are the steps to restore HIBERNATE on Vista [many thanks to Neil Patel and  Worldstart for the directions].

  1. Go to START and in the search bar, type “command
  2. When you see Command Prompt in the list of found items, right click it and select “Run As Administrator”
  3. A command window opens, and it will show a path (which is no consequence in all this) type the following command “powercfg/hibernate on” then hit Enter
  4. Once that is complete, restart your computer. Next time you click on the extended options to turn off your machine, you should see Hibernate listed in the options.
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Posted by: evtechie | August 24, 2008

Outlook Customization

Quite a lot of my clients use Outlook for email, providing them multiple tools to manage their contacts, calendar, organization of emails, and syncronization with smartphones, blackberrys and PDAs of all kinds. This means I have collected numerous tips to help improve efficiency and functionality. The new 2007 version of Outlook has meant some changes to the collection of directions I have created, so it will take me some time to improve these. Each version will be indicated.

Outlook 2003/2007

Posted by: evtechie | August 22, 2008

Protect Your Computer

Spyware, Adware, Spam, Hijacked Internet Browsers… All a nightmare on our systems, and also a key piece to keeping our systems healthy. Here are some resources to help!

Spyware is a growing issue. Wonder how sites manage to find your email address and somehow randomly email you garbage? Spyware (otherwise known as malware- I like to call it scumware) gets loaded through regular use of the internet. Ever see “Bonsai Buddy” or “Gator” who offer you convenience, but don’t mention the garbage you also agree to? Are your children downloading music from Kazaa? Are you tempted by a FREE Screensaver? Perhaps your weather bug seems to be more of a convenience than a hassle? I can guarantee you have active spyware on your machine.

Another way to avoid SPAM: Have you taken time to clean up your preferences in AOL? This is an important step after setting up AOL services on your machine. Likewise, Yahoo and MSN (Hotmail) also have a set of preferences under your account information. If you are getting instant spam, it is likely those preferences are at their defaults – which include sharing your email addresses with affiliates. Take time to hunt down those preferences.

Highjacked Question: When I startup my computer my homepage switches to a site that I don’t want. No matter what I do I can’t make this problem go away. What can I do?

Answer: Uh oh, your browser has been hijacked. Some Internet company out there has put a little program on your computer that switches your homepage every time you either restart your browser or your computer. Not nice. The good news is there are ways to fix the problem.

Posted by: evtechie | August 21, 2008

After the Virus Cleanup

So, You had an outbreak on your computer, then hired an Angel to get things cleaned up. Here are a few steps to take after a computer virus infection.

  1. You may need to reinstall programs that were previously infected.  The affects of a virus can not always be predicted.  Be attentive to how your computer behaves after cleanup.
  2. It is important to let your friends and contacts know of the viruses you were infected with and the possible consequences it may have.
    1. Recommend that they visit Trend Micros’s Online Scan. http://housecall.trendmicro.com/  and have their system scanned for viruses.  This is a free service online.
    2. Have them check that their virus definitions are up to date. All computer users should have McAfee, Grisoft’s AVG, or Trend’s PcCillin Antivirus software on their systems.  The newer versions of these programs retrieve the latest virus definitions when updates are available AND you are online.
  3. ALWAYS run a top quality Antivirus program.  Most computer users delay checking their antivirus software based on misconceptions or confusion over how their software works.  Antivirus software is dependant on definitions it gets from the internet.  Antivirus software is like a dictionary; the definitions are like the pages of information that allows the software to recognize viruses, Trojans, and worms.  IF definitions are not kept up to date, the program will not recognize any new malicious viruses since the last update. New viruses are emerging every day, and definitions are updated sometimes as frequently as three times a week.
  4. We have seen many viruses activate because users were double-clicking on incoming email file attachments.  We advise that Internet users right click on an attachment and chose to SCAN FILE (based on the Anti virus solution they are using) to then scan and clean the attachment (instead of double-clicking over the incoming email file attachments).
  5. Finally, if your email program is on PREVIEW mode, meaning it opens emails as soon as you select one, it is important to disable this.  Reading email becomes a bit less “convenient”, but safe computing practices are important to preserve the integrity of your work and data.

Some other things that are important to know related to the protection of your system.

  1. A firewall CANNOT protect your computer from viruses.
  2. Viruses can still be received on AOL, CompuServe, or any online email account.
  3. Trojans & Worms are also malicious and can be loaded on your computer through web sites.
  4. Viruses can be passed on from one system to another via floppy disks or “Junk” [Jump, Pen, USB] drives
  5. Always check with a trusted computer expert about email messages that indicate you must modify or delete items from your computer to protect yourself from a virus.
  6. ALWAYS go directly to a website mentioned in an urgent email by inputting the address manually rather than clicking it. There are many PHISHING emails that look like they are coming from your bank, or online provides, requiring you to log in immediately. Never follow links unless they are expected and verified.
Posted by: evtechie | August 21, 2008

Maintenance

There is a lot you can do to both protect and maintain your computer. A lot of my time with clients involves maintenance and virus removal. Just like a car, maintenance is needed. It is important to manage your computer’s resources well, clean up your cookies, delete temporary files, and defragment your machine. As soon as you experience a slow down or notice a change in system start/stop times, run through your maintenance plan.

Posted by: evtechie | August 20, 2008

Windows Key Wonders

The windows key – that funky cube with 4 squares on it is also an anchor for a series of keyboard shortcuts to make your windows world run more efficiently. The world of shortcuts began in the days when we didn’t have the convinience of the mouse, and has since evolved to handle small tasks that would otherwise be several clicks away. Here are some of my favorite ones:

  • Windows + R – This gets you to the RUN command, which allows you to manually run a program of jump into command mode [type CMD and you will see that familiar black box with a blinking cursor and path]
  • Just clicking the Windows key of course launches the START button and allows you to move through items with the arrow keys, tabs, and the alt key to select menus. For clients who have lost their mice in the midst of something important, I have walked them through navigating without a mouse.
  • Windows + D – will magically minimize all your windows, in case you are one of the users who plops everything on the desktop and you need to launch something that is sitting there. Doing it again brings all your windows right back up to where they started.
  • Windows + F – is the FIND command, or the Search command, allowing you to search your system by name, date, file type, or numerous other combination. By the way, if you haven’t installed the Windows Desktop Search (already integrated into Vista but available for XP) it is amazing and fast. I love it!
  • Windows + E – is the magic combination to the EXPLORER view of your system. It produces the well known folder list on the left and files on the right. Just another way to navigate your machine.
  • Windows + BREAK (one of those buttons we never think about above the arrow keys) – this will allow you to open the System Properties dialog box, one of the places I head when troubleshooting a system.
  • Windows + L – will lock your system down – which is handy if you are in the middle of something and have to run.
  • Finally, if you want to learn more of these handy little tid-bits, you can select Windows + F1 and search for keyboard shortcuts!

PS. Much thanks to Kim Komando for bringing these to light for me several years ago.

Posted by: evtechie | August 20, 2008

What’s with Vista?

What’s Different with Windows Vista?

  • Navigating the computer is a whole new adventure. They got rid of the words “start” on your task menu, so you start with the windows blob that integrates all those annoying shuffling menus into one pane that scrolls –> a little bit to get used to, but rather clean.
  • My Documents has changed to the “User’s” complete folder: Documents, Pictures, Music, Cookies, Favorites & Downloads – all isolated for easy use
  • Added Security Features: integrated Windows Defender and MS Internet Explorer 7+ are set up to add extra security while surfing the internet.
  • New Look – Windows Aero™ which offers a new translucent look, flippable views, and some sweet new visuals.
  • Explorer (what you use to find stuff on your computer) now utilizes “bread-crumb trails” a system of links in a path. A lot of web sites use these to help you go back from whence you came. So, instead of navigating in and out of folders (which you still are doing) you instead move along paths.
  • Gadgets – light mini-applications: Vista’s way of being as appealing as Mac OSX Tiger – but it stays on the desktop as opposed to disappearing. Actually a feature I really like. I used one by Google, but it wasn’t as pretty. You can add your own gadgets, and customize most of them.
  • Mobility Features – All important laptop settings found in one place (sync for pda’s, phones, and other devices) Sync, Presentation, and Roaming features
  • New and improved Windows Backup & Restore features that allow you to manage your data and keep it backed up.

So the big question is – is it worth it to change over?  I think this really is dependant on each user and what they do with their computer, their skill level, and their interest in learning something new.

  • If you are a high-end user, you will likely already know that Vista offers a handful of head-aches, some of which were massaged a bit my a recent service pack (SP1 for Vista), but not enough to win us techies over.
  • If you are a basic surf-to-email kind of user, then Vista isn’t so bad, and visually a lot of fun. It takes some relearning to find what you were once familiar with, but that is why you have a Computer Angel!
  • IF you are using a lot of specific software for an industry that isn’t the standard, THEN I would warn you to be tentative in buying a machine with Vista. Vista can be temperamental with software not written for the platform. Even though Microsoft professes that it will play nice, it can be an investment that costs more than you may be willing to deal with.

Recently I purchased a new Laptop, and got it with the infamous Vista. Overall, I have enjoyed the interface, and I noted some improvement after the service pack. On the flip side, I have had all kinds of frustration of quirks in the software that “over-control” my environment, and other issues with our multi-platform home office [Intel Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista, pda, and Playstation) on the network. I keep my old XP system handy, more as a security blanket and to keep me in touch with the skills needed the most (not everyone uses Vista, you know?). I don’t regret it though. I learn a lot when I have something new to play with.

Posted by: evtechie | August 20, 2008

Outlook Backup

Backing Up Microsoft Outlook
(Download at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads)

One of the biggest dilemmas with Microsoft Outlook was the difficulty in backing up the PST files that associate with all your email, contacts, tasks, and calendar events. This vital little file hides deep in your system, and unless you know where to look, if your system crashes, you will likely loose all that important data.

Microsoft built a tiny add on for Outlook that automagically backs up your PST file, to a location you specify, on a specific schedule, saving you the pain and stress of loosing what often keeps our businesses afloat – data! Make sure you have a dependable source to back up to!

You can download the handy tool with the link above, or you can go directly to Microsoft and select DOWNLOADS from the left column –> then OFFICE, and do a search for Outlook and Backup.

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