Use Microsoft Office? You should check out the suite’s security and privacy settings, if only to be aware of them. Microsoft Office has always been susceptible to viruses and other malware, often delivered through macros in Word. As a response, Microsoft Office disables macros by default when you open documents that you receive from others. But even without macros enabled, Word users can still be exposed. A nasty zero-day vulnerability recently documented by McAfee and since patched by Microsoft could have infected your system if you opened the wrong file attachment. However, this piece of malware would not have unleashed its payload if you had enabled Protected View, which opens documents in read-only mode. Office users should also be on the lookout for potential privacy issues. Through a feature called Intelligent Services, Microsoft can gather the contents of your Office files in an attempt to offer ideas and help improve your writing. This feature is turned off by default, so fortunately you don’t have to hunt around to disable it. But it’s still a feature that exists and that you may want to keep disabled. So, between these two issues, Office users need to check their security and privacy settings … Read More
Earlier this month, Microsoft made available to mainstream users the third major feature update for Windows 10, known as the Creators Update. Normally the Windows team at Microsoft will take a couple of weeks after releasing the latest feature update to get their new development branch builds in place. It’s a breather for everyone before launching into the next round of work on the next major feature update. However, in the case of the next feature build, Redstone 3, the developers have already released three PC testing builds to Windows Insiders. That is a faster pace than testing build releases following the initial release, November Update, and Anniversary Update of Windows 10. What’s notable: The major feature/under the hood enhancement around which these initial builds have been focused is a new option called Power Throttling. (Note that this may not be the feature’s final name.) Technically, this is not a new thing for Windows 10; in the late development stages of the Creators Update, Microsoft tested a power slider feature that would allow a user to set their system anywhere between “best battery life” or “best performance.” The data collected from that testing shows users wrung out an 11% battery savings. Although … Read More
You’ve probably seen the confusing, contradictory headlines: There was a rule that was set to go into effect by the end of the year that would require ISPs to get our approval before they used or sold our usage history, location information and browsing history. There are rules permitting ISPs to use and sell our Social Security numbers. Breaking! ISPs indicate that they already give us the option to opt in or out of the information they collect! With all this contradictory coverage, one thing is clear: privacy as a user perk — or right — is becoming big news. Given the changes and the improved disclosure that Windows 10 Creators Update is bringing to privacy options, it’s clear that it’s not just the ISPs that need to be more transparent with what they do with their collected data. We all want our vendors to tell us what they are doing and what they are collecting. I disagree with the articles and headlines that infer that ISPs can sell our Social Security numbers. In the United States, Social Security numbers and credit card numbers are considered PII or Personally Identifiable Information. This is normally an item that is legally protected — and safeguarding that data … Read More
With more and more of my household devices needing wi-fi, I needed a better way to provide wi-fi in my house. After trying several solutions I decided on Mesh technology Needing Wi-Fi All Over the House It all started last year during the drought in California: I wanted to better control my sprinkler system, and to better manage the amount of water I used at my house. I went through several steps to solve this problem. First, I went looking for devices that would be smarter at using water: devices that would alert me when plants needed water so I could only water when the plants really needed the drink. I found several watering systems that fit the bill, but all of them had a slight problem: they needed wi-fi in an area of the house that normally have wi-fi coverage: the garage in the front of my house. So I tried to solve this problem with additional repeater devices that would broadcast the wi-fi signal to various locations in the house. I found that these repeater devices often would need rebooting, and were not often self-fixing when they failed. I spent too much time walking all over the house, unplugging and replugging in … Read More
If you work a lot with spreadsheets, you know how difficult they can be once you get beyond simple tables and equations. And you know that data entry can be boring beyond belief. The more complex the table, the more confusing it is to evaluate. Shouldn’t there be quicker and easier way to do some of these tasks? Microsoft Excel has a lot of nifty shortcuts that can help relieve the tedium of data entry and provide clarity with complex tables. Here are six features built into Excel 2016 that can ease creating spreadsheets and understanding the ones you (and other people) create. And after those six, I’ll treat you to 20 keyboard shortcuts that – if you can memorize them – will make your jobs lighter. Some of these tricks will be found in earlier versions of Excel; others are exclusive to Excel 2016. Remember that if you subscribe to Office 365, you currently have Excel 2016. Tell Me What You Want To Do Do you always remember how to create a pie chart, freeze the left-hand column, or name a range? I didn’t think so. Excel’s “Tell me what you want to do” can help you complete a chore even … Read More
“I hate printers, but I love what they can do!” That’s the mantra recited by just about anyone who has a printer attached to their computer. Of all the peripherals that connect to our PCs printers seem to be the number one troublemaker. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Paper jams, overpriced ink, print spooler logjams, wasted paper – these are just a few of the hassles whose remedies will be addressed here. If your love/hate relationship with your printer is more hate than love, read on as maybe, just maybe, we can switch that around with these eight printer tips and tricks. How to Print With an ‘Empty’ Inkjet Cartridge When my six page document stopped printing after page three, the reason was an empty blue ink cartridge. I was surprised since I hardly ever print in color and in fact generally print in draft mode with black ink only. So why the hell did the blue ink disappear? The answer is relatively simple and applies to almost all brands of inkjet printers. You are probably well aware of the mechanical noise the printer makes each time you turn it on or right before it processes a print … Read More
The Creators Update release for Windows 10 is right around the corner. Before it is available to the general public, there are a couple of steps you (and I) need to take to prepare our computers for the release. Let’s walk through them together. The first step is to take stock of of your system. Look back over the past several months of installing updates. Has your computer had any issues installing prior updates? Have you had issues installing any of the Windows 10 patches? Have there been any consistent error messages you received? Have you been unable to install a previous update? If any of these things have occurred, you need to review why your machine is not successfully installing updates, then fix that problem before considering installing the Creators Update. Windows 10 has a lengthy list of update errors and ways to work through them and fix them. There is one more tip I’d like to recommend before the feature release comes out: Review your choice of antivirus software. Some of the very software that is there to protect us can lead to issues when installing updates. Computer security should be a top priority, so this is why I still believe that feature … Read More
Here are some ways you can resuscitate your Windows 10 PC should it ever appear to kick the bucket. You just set up a new Windows 10 computer. You’ve installed all your applications and have placed all your documents and other files in the proper folders. But what would happen if your hard drive crashed or Windows became unstable and inaccessible, and you couldn’t retrieve your applications or files? Well, before such an event potentially occurs, there are steps you can take to prepare your Windows 10 PC to survive a disaster. Using the System Image Backup tool, you can create an image file of your computer that can be restored if your Windows environment goes kaput. Using the System Repair Disc feature, you can create a bootable disc to use if Windows itself ever becomes unbootable. And using File History, you can back up your key documents and other files to an external source where you can recover them if the originals ever get lost or corrupted. Let’s look at each of these Windows saving features. System Image Backup This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Every file and folder on your computer possesses digital DNA – file format, creation date, author, modification date, descriptive tags, etc. These inner attributes follow a file and folder. It doesn’t matter where it moves on your system, or whether it’s copied and forwarded elsewhere — those attributes are coming along with it. The attributes are stored in each file or folder’s Property Manager; that can be accessed by right-clicking on the file name or its icon. Most of time we have no need to examine a file or folder’s properties. But when viewing or editing attributes are required –be it for security or personal reasons– that’s when we need to be our own property manager. Metadata: Exploring the Inner Workings of Files If Groucho Marx was to jokingly refer to metadata he would probably exclaim “I never metadata I didn’t like,” or something like that. But seriously, metadata is usually defined as the data that provides information about other data. In other words metadata is the instruction manual that tells a computer what’s up with a particular file. When security cops are called in to examine, say, a politician’s deleted emails, they can actually glean the origins of the message, … Read More
Personal computers make our lives easier. Typos fix themselves and numbers recalculate as you change individual figures to be added, subtracted, multiplied or divided. But PCs never really seem as easy as they should. Here are eight small programs, most of them free, that simplify common tasks and ease your burden. You probably won’t want all of them, but some will almost certainly be useful. None of these utilities come with potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) hiding in their installation routines. Install any of these, and you’ll only get the programs you want. Just remember: A few choice tools can ease the chores. But too many tools can slow down Windows. Pick the tools that seem most useful to you, personally, and let the others slide. Remove Formatting Quickly and Easily with PureText We all copy and paste text from one place to another, and when we do, the formatted text appears in its new location. But sometimes, you don’t want the italics, the special font, or the link; you just want the text. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.