Author Archives: Michael Lasky
In this second in a series of articles I continue my in-depth examination of some of the features in Windows 10. Part one of this series appears in the March 27 issue. In a complex operating system like Windows 10, there are obviously features Microsoft got right and then some that still need tweaking. Now that we have lived with the various versions and updates of Microsoft’s OS, isn’t it time we conduct a sort of postmortem of all that Windows comprises? In this second installment of my feeature-by-feature overview, I examine what’s good and bad (or just plain ugly) about the Microsoft Store, the Command Prompt, and that mandatory, take-it-or-leave-it, Microsoft account for Windows 10. As in the previous installment, these assessments will be based on both my experience with the OS since its first release, plus composite of opinions from other users. The Microsoft Store When Microsoft first started their app store media pundits and consumers weighing in online were not too kind, rightfully calling it a “too little, too late” copycat of Apple’s tremendously successful App Store. In its first years the Microsoft Store displayed a puny selection of familiar games and productivity apps and seemed to be just begging to … Read More
For such a large and complex operating system like Windows 10, there are obviously features Microsoft got completely right and then some that … not so much. Now that we have lived with the various versions and updates of Microsoft’s latest OS, isn’t it time we conduct a postmortem of all that Windows 10 comprises? What do we like and what are our pet peeves? With a selective feature by feature check, I plan to look periodically under a virtual magnifying glass to examine what’s good and bad (or just plain ugly) about each feature. This will be based on both my experience with the OS since its first release and with a composite of opinions from other users (media and end users). To get underway with this continuing series, Feature-By-Feature, here’s are the first three guinea pigs under the glass: Automatic Updates, the Start menu and Contana. In later installments Windows Secrets will examine the good and bad of the Command prompt, Edge browser, One Drive, and the Microsoft Store. Automatic Updates This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Out of the legion of free, shareware, and commercial utility software I have installed over the years on various versions of Windows, there are a mere handful of ultimately indispensable programs that I use almost daily. I’m going to share the five free utilities which I would pay for if I had to. These perform what Windows built-in apps cannot do: handle screenshots perfectly; play any format of video and audio; completely uninstall apps with no orphan code; create boilerplate phrases and macros for one button execution; and guard against ransomware infections. All are free and some come with optional, more robust paid versions. Here’s why they’re so great. PhraseExpress Eliminates Repetitive Typing I have been using Bartel Media’s PhraseExpress since version 3. As of 2016 it is up to version 12. And just like anything Microsoft, with each iteration more and more features – too many to count and maybe use – get added in. The main purpose of PhraseExpess is to create boilerplate templates, text snippets and canned responses, all activated with simple one-to-three key combos. One of the problems I had with the simpler early versions was the need to have to memorize all the key combos … Read More
Hackers know your tricks (or lack of them) when you merely tweak an easily guessable password. Changing a character or two in your password doesn’t make it any more secure. As the annual list of the worst passwords, as compiled by security and password management company, SplashData, reveals, most of us are either too lazy or collectively uncreative when it comes to making truly secure passwords. Computer users have only themselves to blame when they get hacked. “Our hope is that our Worst Passwords of the Year list will cause people to take steps to protect themselves online,” said SplashData CEO Morgan Slain. “These past two years have been particularly devastating for data security, with a number of well publicized hacks, attacks, ransoms, and even extortion attempts. Millions of records have been stolen. Even with the risks well known, many millions of people continue to use weak, easily-guessable passwords to protect their online information,” Slain notes. Here are the top 25 most-hacked passwords, by rank, password and whether or not their position on the chart has changed from 2016. You’ll note that numbers one and two are still reigning champs. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already … Read More
Thanks to the rise of streaming music, hi-res speakers are now less a luxury than a necessity. This month, I look at two headphones and two speaker sets that offer the dynamic range of sound music playback requires, whether you are by the PC, the TV or on the run. And thanks to Bluetooth, these devices to operate anywhere without the innate distance restrictions set by wires or cables. Logitech MX Sound Bring Premium Sound to PCs – and TVs With its high-end drivers and rear-facing port tubes, the 24-watt MX Sound speakers pump out well-balanced music with the right amount of bass, treble and mid-range sound. The black fabric, silver accented, cone-shaped pair of speakers add a dramatic design flair, and that’s what is particularly appealing about these speakers – they work equally well with my PC and TV thanks to their versatile Bluetooth or wired connections. With Bluetooth 4.1,I was able to connect to external devices like my iPhone, a.k.a. my music vault. But I could simultaneously connect via the supplied cables to my PC to watch and listen video and music streams. Thanks to Logitech’s Easy-Switch technology, it was a snap to seamlessly switch from wired to … Read More
This month, there are three twisty new products that just might jump-start your workflow. We’ll start with a keyboard that’s got a twist: It lets you concentrate on creating documents and illustrations without having to stop in your tracks to remember how to call up frequently used functions in different applications. Next, a twist on Internet security: a tiny desktop box that lets you see and control who is using your network and on what devices. And finally, a power play: a portable power outlet to charge mobile devices and even your laptop. Logitech Keyboard Lets Us Dial in Frequently Used App Functions This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
It used to be the only data we saved on our desktop computers were Office documents and an occasional photo. Now, thanks to the rise of smartphone photos – easy to take, tough to store on a machine with only 32 GB of memory — PC hard drives have become by default overstuffed repositories for all our digital detritus. Coming to the rescue: versatile storage drives which can add up to six terabytes for an all-you-can-eat media dump, may include multiple ports and even offer the DVD read/write drive most PCs no longer include. We check out a trio of these drives. NewerTech MiniStack Max Offers Four-in-One Solution When I purchased my light, thin Windows 10 Pro laptop, I knew its smaller size meant giving up the DVD read/write drive my previous doorstop-cum-notebook included. I knew that USB peripherals were the assumed replacements most PC manufacturers were relying on. I knew I could easily get an external, USB DVD drive if I really wanted one. But I am glad I waited. NewerTech’s MiniStack Max supplies not only my coveted DVD (and Blu-ray) drive but also: a 7200RPM hard drive, an SD card port, three USB ports, and a couple of … Read More
Windows 10 began its s-l-o-w gradual release on July 29, 2015, with the version numbered 1507. Since then, there have been a handful of updated releases, each with a different version number, based on the date they were released with first two numbers representing the year and last two for the month. And each of those different versions come with a series of automatic, cumulative updates of their own. This leads to some obvious questions about each: So how do you tell which version you have? And are the ostensible improvements in higher number versions actually all that different from earlier versions? And if you want to upgrade to a different number version can you even do that? Read on for the answers. How To Tell Which Version of Windows 10 is Installed With the vagaries of Windows Update mechanisms, it can be difficult on the surface to figure out which version of Windows 10 is currently on your machine and, for that matter, which build of that version is installed? No doubt, Microsoft knew there might be confusion, what with all the different version and build numbers, so it offers two ways to find out quickly. This article is … Read More
The word “safety” can imply different kinds of judicious personal protection. Safety definitely is the obvious benefactor with these disparate devices: From an external hard drive that has a double layer of security and a USB fingerprint dongle that makes Windows log in a touch easier to computer eyeglasses which cut out the blue and a pen you can’t lose thanks to Bluetooth, these hardware picks make it clear your personal safety is designed to come first. Keeping Your Data Doubly Safe with Pin Pad Log-on and Hardware Encryption With no software or drivers required, iStorage’s diskAshur external hard or SSD drives all but scream data security. What’s not to like?. I just plugged in the integrated USB 3.1 cable into my laptop and was ready to backup my precious data. Well, almost ready. First I had to create a 7 to 15 alphanumeric PIN on the topside keypad. Without your personal PIN – just like the one you use at an automated teller machine—there is no way to read or write your data. Only after tapping in the right PIN does the drive get recognized by the computer. And that is just the first indication of how security minded the diskAshur … Read More