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Laguna Woods Village PC Club


Norm Salzberg
by Norm Salzberg

Joy of Computing


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on January 24, 2013.

Buying a new personal computer (PC) can be a daunting task. You are faced with many choices and options; where to buy, what to buy, and how to buy. There are brick and mortar stores (Best Buy, Office Max, Staples, etc.), Internet sites (Amazon, Dell, Newegg, etc.) and Microsoft Stores in major malls. There are many name brand PC's (HP, Toshiba, Dell, Asus, Acer, Fijitsu, etc.), but bear in mind – a lot of companies farm out assembly of their computers to a few contract manufacturers.

If you are a novice, buying a computer at the Microsoft Store in “The Shops at Mission Viejo” mall may be the way to go. The staff is patient and knowledgeable and the store in not too busy on week days. They offer a variety of PC makes and models; all with Windows 8. Bring in your old computer and the staff will transfer your documents and photos to the new machine. The store currently offers a package deal which includes installing Microsoft Office Suite, a two year insurance policy, and one year of tech support for about half the price if purchased individually.

You can also order a desktop PC, made to your own specifications (including installing Windows 7 rather than Windows 8), from a local shop like PC Trade on El Toro Road. And the form factor of a computer can vary from a desktop to a laptop to a notebook to a netbook to an ultra thin book. Another consideration is whether to buy an off-the-shelf PC and set it up yourself or have a store's Tech Squad clean out any junk or trial programs, install security programs and your choice of other applications, all for a fee, of course.

Mention the Village PC Club when visiting the Microsoft Store. Several of their staff demonstrated Windows 8 at the Club's last General Meetings of 2012. Group and private classes are also given in the store.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on January 3, 2013.

If you recently got a new Personal Computer (PC), most likely it has Microsoft’s Windows 8 Operating System. This is a radical change from previous Windows versions. No longer will the Desktop appear on Power up; instead the Windows 8 Start screen opens. This is a Tile Format similar to smart phone, iPad and tablet Touch Screen displays. Windows 8 was also designed to work on Touch Screens. For us stick-in-the-mud users of Windows 7, XP or Vista and plain old cell phones, it will take some getting used to.

Rather than programs, Windows 8 refers to Apps. That’s computer jargon for Applications. Apps are small, specialized programs originally designed for mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc.). If you don’t have a Touch Screen version of a desktop or laptop computer, a mouse will work just as well. Another new feature (really a non-feature) of Windows 8 is the absence of the Start Button. For conventional operations, like trying to Shutdown or Restart a computer, you will have to learn new procedures. To transition from the Start screen to a more conventional Desktop view, and to open many utility windows, there are new keyboard shortcuts.

Many shortcuts make use of the Windows Logo key plus one or more other keys. To transition between the Start Tiled Screen and the Desktop, pressing the Logo key will usually switch from one format to the other. To return to the Desktop from any previous operation, press the Logo key and the letter D key (Logo + D) simultaneously. To open the Charms Bar, Microsoft’s substitute for the Start Button, press the Logo key and the letter C (Logo + C). One of Charms options is Settings. Clicking on Settings opens a Menu showing the Power option where you will find the Power Off and Restart buttons. To learn about other new shortcuts, go to www.microsoft.com and enter “shortcuts for windows 8” in the Search Bar.

The PC Workshop has converted one computer to Windows 8 for experimentation. Try it on your next visit.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on December 20, 2012.

Here’s a few New Years resolutions to start 2013.

1. Install a good security program (one with Anti-virus and anti-spyware protection) and keep it up to date; free programs include Microsoft Security Essentials, AVG Internet Security 2013, and Avast.

2. Use a different and strong password to access each email and financial account; passwords should have at least eight characters, containing a mix of letters and numbers. Avoid names, personal data and common words. Make a written record of them. Attach your WiFi router’s passcode under the unit for reference when you setup a new Tablet or laptop to access the Internet.

3. Don’t open links in emails unless you know the sender and the message is the type that person would normally send; hackers may have stolen the sender’s password and are using it to send spam, request personal information or install malicious programs.

4. Don’t believe any pop-up windows claiming you are infected with viruses and Trojan horses and requiring you to purchase a removal program from a web site; it’s a scam - get help to remove this infection.

5. Back up important files (documents, photos, etc.) by saving them to a flash memory card or an external hard drive; to save Outlook Express addresses or Live Mail contacts use the Export option. You’ll be happy you did this if you have to replace your computer or hard drive.

6. Take classes offered by the PC or Mac clubs; enrollment for PC Learning Center courses begins January 12.

7. Read the manual that came with any digital gadget or computer you got during the holidays. Some manufacturers provide only online manuals in .pdf format for downloading.

8. Before forwarding a choice piece of email, remove the sender’s list of recipients and other overhead junk. Check any “dire warnings” for accuracy with snopes.com before trying to be Paul Revere by forwarding the notice. And use Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc...) to avoid disclosing your friends addresses to others.

Wishing you Joy of Computing for 2013.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on December 6, 2012.

Along with the Windows 8 Operating System, Microsoft released “Surface RT”, its first ever computer product last October. Surface is a 10-inch tablet computer. This intriguing gadget was demonstrated to Villagers at the recent Technology Expo held in Clubhouse 5 and at the P C Club's November General Meeting. Surface is a computer running Windows RT, a simplified version of Windows 8.

Surface RT is preloaded with a Student version of Office 2013. You can only download other programs (or apps) through Microsoft's on-line Windows store. The basic 32 GB tablet sells for $499 and a touch Keyboard adapter/cover goes for $129. Surface connects to the Internet via WiFi, has connectors for displays and a USB port. In January 2013, the Surface Pro will be available. It runs Windows 8 Pro, has 64 GB, an Intel Core i5 processor, and will cost $899.

At the last PC Club General Meeting, President Bob Sellards announced a new day and venue for the club's 2013 Meetings. To avoid conflicts with Monday night football, meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of the month. To accommodate more attendees, meetings will be held in Clubhouse 7. PC Club membership for 2012 is 965 members. Don't forget to renew (or join) for 2013; annual dues are only $10. A membership application/renewal form can be found at the club's web site www.thepcclub.org.

Beginner and intermediate classes are offered by the PC Club in its Learning Center. The room has 21 student stations with Windows 7 PC's and a large screen projection display for the instructor's presentations. Registration for the next session of classes will be held on Saturday, January 12, and on Monday, January 14, 2013. Classes begin January 21, 2013. Class offerings and schedules will be posted in early January. A Windows 8 computer will be installed in the PC Workshop in the near future. The Workshop has 33 desktops, printers, scanners and WiFi access for laptops and tablets. It is open to all residents six days a week. You can find me there on Friday afternoons.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on November 15, 2012.

Windows 8 is here. Stores are running out of Windows 7 PC’s, so if you need a new computer – Windows 8 is what you’ll get. Windows 8 is two operating systems in one. When it opens (boots up), a User Interface Start Screen is displayed - unlike the conventional Desktop of previous Windows versions. All applications appear as Tiles over the full screen. There is no Start button or start menu. To view the old Windows Desktop screen, you can move the mouse pointer to the lower left corner of the screen or press the Windows Logo key.

Windows 8 has improved graphics, more built-in security, a unified printer driver that supports many printers and simplifies print operations, a redundant storage system for simpler backup, easy adaptation of cloud computing, and improved system restore features. Windows 8 is designed for Touch Screen monitors where you tap a finger tip to open Tiles, swipe across the screen to move stuff, and spread or pinch fingers to control applications. Tablet, smart phone and iPad users are already familiar with touch screens.

If you’re satisfied with your current Windows 7 computer – stay with it. If you have to replace an aging Windows XP system and can still buy a Windows 7 computer, you’ll avoid the trauma of learning Windows 8. For Windows 8 desktops with old monitors, or laptops without a Touch Screen, you can use a mouse and keyboard to emulate the touch screen fingertip maneuvers in order to use the Tile display.

Surprisingly, some Windows 8 operations are not as simple as they once were. Without the Start button, shutting down a Windows 8 PC is not obvious. One way to shut it down is to press the Windows Logo key and the letter C key (Win + C). This opens the “Charm Bar” where you can select Settings; then select the Power button to find the Shutdown and the Restart options. For more information on Windows 8 go to PCWorld.com.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on October 25, 2012.

A new class of malicious software (malware) now making the rounds is Ransomware. It may be installed when an attachment or link is opened in an email or social networking website or by visiting an infected website. Once installed, Ransomware locks up your computer by encrypting files on the hard drive or by changing settings in the Registry. All you’ll see is a pop-up window demanding a ransom payment to the hacker who planted this infection.

If the extortion is paid, the hacker may send a key code that unlocks your computer. Do not support this criminal activity. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may be able to scan your computer to remove the malware by using your antivirus program, Malwarebytes or Microsoft’s Safety Scanner. Of course, reformatting the hard drive and then restoring everything will cure the problem, but at a great cost in time and money. This is another reason to back up important files to an external memory.

Prevention is the best defense against infections: first, by not opening suspicious links, attachments and pop-ups; and second, by using (and keeping up to date) a good security program to detect and remove infections. Free security programs that provide antivirus, antispyware and other anti-malware detection and removal features are available for non-business users. However, do not install more than one antivirus program.

Phone Service. Roughly 3000 Village residents are faced with the dilemma of replacing Beyond Communications’ inexpensive digital phone service (through GRF’s Broadband Service) due to the bankruptcy of its parent company. GRF furnished a list of 10 alternate telephone providers. After reviewing the cost of those services, I now know why Connexion Technologies went broke. Except for AT&T, other options require an extra gadget connected to existing Internet modem and router setups. Although MagicJack is cheap and Vonage is fairly good, I am leaning toward AT&T’s Complete Choice Basic service to avoid installing another gadget and loss of phone service during a power failure.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on October 11, 2012.

Windows XP made its debut almost 11 years ago in December 2001. The XP operating system was designed to rectify the ills of Microsoft’s Windows Millennium. XP has proven to be a solid, stable and secure design. It’s still in use by many businesses and personal users. Computers built to run under Windows XP originally required minimal memory (RAM) and processing power. Newer applications and dynamic web sites demand more computer capacity and speed. This is one of the reasons why older XP machines start and run slowly. If disc clean up and removing unused programs from the Start Menu doesn’t do the trick, adding more RAM or an faster processor will help.

As with any complex program; computer scientists, security experts and hackers discover flaws in XP's design. Each time a potential vulnerability or instability is found, Microsoft issues an update (patch) to fix the design flaw. Service Packs (SP) are issued to consolidate many fixes into a revised version of Windows. To date, Service Pack 3 (SP3) is the latest version of XP.

Although Vista and Windows 7 were released in recent years and Windows 8 is about to be released; Microsoft has pledged to provide support (security and other critical patches) for the SP3 version of XP until April 2014. This extension of the normal 10 year support cycle is due to continued use of XP by many of Microsoft’s large commercial customers. The concern is: how long will an old XP machine last?

If you’re still using an old XP computer, bear in mind that parts don’t last forever; power supplies and hard drives are subject to wear and tear. Programs, including the operating system, can become corrupted and, worse yet, a catastrophic infection may require reformatting the hard drive. Repairing or updating an old clunker may not be economical, compared to buying a new computer. So be prepared: save important files (documents, pictures and address book) to an external memory device for easy transfer to a replacement computer.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on September 27, 2012.

Of all the phone scams making the rounds, this one takes the cake and lots of money from unsuspecting people. As reported by the Manchester Guardian (a British daily paper) and web sites such as WindowsSecrets.com; hoax Windows Security calls from con artists convince computer owners that their computers are infected. Here’s how it works: the phone rings – you answer – the caller asks to speak to the homeowner by quoting your name and address and goes on to announce he’s a Microsoft Windows support technician. He claims to have a report of serious virus problems in your computer that, if not resolved, will cause your computer to become unstable.

To prove his claim the Scam artist asks you to open a Windows utility called Event Viewer; he’ll give you the steps to find this diagnostic tool. (Entering “Event Viewer” in the Search or Run box is one way.) Once opened, the Event Viewer displays a long list of errors, some designated as Critical. Every program in a computer posts details of glitches, twitches and hiccups that occurred during operation. Some go back years and most are innocuous. This log may help technicians to service a computer when there is real trouble. If your computer is working; ignore these events. The caller takes advantage of users who don't understand this and volunteers to fix this non-situation.

The duped user is directed to a website (like gotomypc.com) that enables the Scammer to remotely control the computer. Now the con artist can install all sorts of malicious programs to steal personal information as well as remove the supposedly bad Events. The caller then ask for payment for his services and a subscription for continued maintenance services. Sometimes the payment is required in advance. Be advised; Microsoft does not call or contact people, unless they initiated a problem request in advance. The best action is to hang up on these calls.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on August 30, 2012.

As discussed in my last column, any file in your computer, be it a document, image, music or whatever, will open by an associated (default) program with the capability of displaying its contents. For example: opening a photo in .jpg format, by double clicking on its thumbnail image (or title), displays the image using its default program. Most computers have many programs to display images. My desktop PC has Adobe Photoshop, Paint, Picasa, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Photo Viewer; all capable of opening a .jpg file. To view applicable programs for a file, right button click on the file name to open a menu of possible options including “Open With.” Placing your mouse’s cursor on Open With displays a list of programs that will open the file.

To see which programs are associated with file types, open the Control Panel (in Icon format) and click on the “Default Programs” Icon from the from the panel’s list. When the Default Programs window opens, click on “Associate a file type with a program” to reveal over 250 file extensions and their default programs. Scroll down to see which programs are designated to open files such as .doc, .jpg, .pps (Power Point show), and .xls (spread sheet). To change a file’s associated program, highlight the file extension and click on the “Change Program” button in the upper right area of the window. This action opens the “Open with” window to reveal the same programs found by a right click on the file name. Using the “Default Programs” and “Associate a file with a program” path lets you select a new Default program for that file. Click on the the desired program and the OK button.

Associating Windows Photo Viewer with .jpg images opens a program with a slide show capability. Now you can sequence through a folder of pictures or the photos stored on a digital camera’s memory chip. Windows Photo Viewer also has a Magnifier feature to enlarge images.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on August 16, 2012.

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: A Window is a Window is a Window. My intent is to emphasize that all computer programs operate using a common window design. If you can cope with one Window, you are able to use any application's window display. Here’s a few Window’s basics to serve as a refresher while the PC Learning Center is on summer break. Clicking on a program’s Desktop Icon, or selecting it from the “All Programs” list, opens its main window displaying a title bar across the top of the screen, a Menu bar, Tool bars and the program’s work area.

In the upper right hand corner of each window are three small boxes; a red box with an “x”, a square or squares box, and a dash (-) box. Clicking on the “x” box closes the program. Clicking on the square(s) box toggles the window to fill up the display screen or reduce it to a smaller size. And clicking on the dash minimizes the program, parking it on the Taskbar so you can recall it later. When a window is not full screen, you can adjust its size by moving the mouse cursor to a border until a double ended arrow appears. Click on the double arrow and drag the border to extend the window's width or height.

When opening an existing document or image by clicking on its File Name or Icon, the program used to create the file opens to display the file’s contents. The file’s extension (.doc, .jpg, .wmv, etc.) is used to determine which program will open the file. This is know as file association. If you receive a file by email that will not open, it may be due to not having an association to a compatible program. My next column will cover how to change the default program used to open a file.

Registration for PC classes will be held on Saturday, September 8, and Monday, September 10.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on August 2, 2012.

A hacker group recently broke into a major Internet company’s computers and stole account information for over 400,000 users, according to a report in the LA Times. What makes this break-in different is that the hackers didn’t use the stolen information for gain but to serve as a warning about poor security practices. This information revealed use of very weak, easy-to-guess passwords.

The most popular passwords found in the stolen information included “123456”, “password”, “welcome”, “abc123”, birthdays, and common names. Hackers use sophisticated tools to decipher passwords. That's why security experts recommend use of “strong” passwords for safe online transactions; especially when using business, social and mail accounts. Strong password should have at least eight characters, comprising a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation and symbols. Never use words found in a dictionary or personal information available on Internet web sites.

To create a strong password that’s easy to remember, start with a phrase or sentence such as “six great friends from New York.” Next, remove spaces between words, use shorthand (as seen on personalized license plates), and add meaningful numbers (zip codes or street numbers). This example could result in something like “6Gr8friendsfromNY11501.” I’ve used combinations such as “Ruth8aBanana,” “Golf33handicap” and “JoyofComputing3482.”

Another highly recommended practice is to use different passwords for each account. To keep track of passwords, store them on index cards or external memory. However, no amount of security will protect you if you invite hackers into your computer by clicking on links in strange emails or by sending a spammer your bank account Id and password in response to an offer to make you rich.

With Microsoft’s announcement of the release of Windows 8 on October 26, PC makers will then start selling computers with Windows 8. Software (as a downloadable upgrade) will also be available then to upgrade computers with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on July 12, 2012.

Keeping track of appointments, club meetings, birthdays, reservations, dinner dates and other occasions can be a problem for us seniors. Entries on desk or wall calendars don’t help if you forget to look at them. My solution is to use Google’s Calendar web site. Google Calendar can be set to send you a reminder at a preselected time before an event.

If you don’t have a free Google account, go to google.com and select the Calendar option from the features listed along the Header row. When the Sign In page opens, click on the red Sign Up button and follow the steps to set up an account. Your account can also be used to send and receive Gmail.

When signed in, a calendar will open to the current month. You can Select a One Week or a One Month layout and which month to display. To enter an event, click on a day in the Calendar to open the Event pop-up window. Now type a brief description of the event in the “What” box; e.g., “7pm PC Club meets CH 3.” Click on the Create Event button when finished.

To edit an event, clicking on the Event listing opens a pop-up window with two options: Delete and Edit. Selecting the Edit event option opens a window with several entry areas; one box lets you change the event description. The Reminders area lets you select either a pop up message for your screen, an Email message or a SMS (text) message sent to your cell phone (if the number was previously entered in your account settings). Next, select the number of hours prior to the event that the Reminder notice should be sent and click on the Save button.

To print a calendar, click on the More button, select the Print option and click on the Print buttons in subsequent steps.

Now you won’t miss any appointments.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on June 28, 2012.

Communication has evolved from telegrams, phone calls, and email to social networking over the past 20 years. Today, many children and grandchildren are too busy to send email to let you know what’s going on. Instead, activities are posted on their Facebook page for family and friends to see. So, if you want to keep in touch, you need a Facebook account. The trick is controlling your Account information, Timeline and Privacy settings.

Click on your name at the top of your Facebook homepage to add or edit any personal information you want revealed. This includes Work and Education, where you live, Family and relationships, Basic Info and your Profile picture. Each category can be changed by clicking on its Edit button. For example, by clicking on the Update Info box and the Edit box for Basic Info, you can change your date of birth to reveal only your birthday but not your age. This Facebook page also shows your Timeline; a record of all posting made by you and Friends and any subsequent Likes and Comments made by others.

A Profile photo is shown at the top of your personal information page, next to your name. You can upload a new Profile photo for display when friends visit your Facebook page by hovering your mouse over the previous image or photo and then clicking on the Edit Profile Picture option that pops up.

To the right of the Home heading at the top of your Facebook page is a small downward pointing triangle. Clicking on this symbol opens a Menu with an option to change Privacy settings. Here you can limit who can see your information to Friends (or Friends and their Friends only) rather than leave it open to the Public. A third selection is to Customize who can see your postings.

No Facebook account? Go to facebook.com and click on “sign up.” It’s free. The only personal information required is your email address, gender and date of birth.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on June 14, 2012.

If you use Google, the world’s most popular Search Engine, are you concerned about privacy? Google collects personal information revealed by searches and then places Ads, based on this information, with their search results. To protect your privacy, Google has several web pages that let you control information saved from searches.

Google keeps a history of all searches to enable a quick return to web sites previously looked up. If you have a Google account (Gmail, Picasa or Google Docs), you can sign in to google.com/history. This opens a chronological history of searches and provides controls to remove records of past Google searches. To remove or otherwise control how Ads are shown on your search results enter “Ads preference manager” in the Google search bar. The responding web page provides links to remove categories of “Ads on the web” that Google co-mingles with search results.

The Google Knowledge Graph is an improved format to display possible search results. For example; entering “kings” in the search bar immediately expands to a list of areas of interest including Kings Fish House as well as the LA Kings hockey team. Clicking on any of the subjects opens a three part page listing related web sites in its center; a right side bar of options such as Images, Maps, Videos, News and More; and a left side bar with other possibilities including a TV series called Kings and the Sacramento Kings in this example. So you don’t need to enter much detail when searching, Google anticipates what you're looking for.

Brief educational texts and videos on many facets of the Internet, security, and how Google uses search data can be seen at google.com/goodtoknow. Each video is presented by a different Google employee. Google removes your personal search data after 18 months, according to this site.

Coming soon: Google Maps in 3-D.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on May 31, 2012.

Why do documents and email messages disappear while people were composing them? Two causes for this frustration have to do with a computer keyboard’s layout; namely, the proximity of the Shift key to the Ctrl (Control) key. While the Shift key is used to create upper case (capital) letters, the Ctrl key can be used, in conjunction with other keys, to initiate action Shortcuts. Two Shortcuts that can cause trouble are Ctrl + N which opens a New Page and Ctrl + A which highlights an entire text.

When, instead of entering an upper case “N” in a document or message, the Ctrl key is inadvertently held down (instead of the Shift key), the Shortcut for a New Page is invoked. The new page opens covering the entire work in progress. Any further keyboard entries will continue on the new page. Once discovered, don’t despair – Copy the text and Close the new page to reveal the previous page. Now you can Paste the copied text into the recovered work.

If, instead of entering an upper case “A,” the Ctrl key and the letter A are pressed, the Shortcut to Highlight all previous work is activated. The next key stroke replaces the Highlighted text. Additional typing is all you will get. Do not try to save this work; it will wipe out your previous efforts. Try the Undo Shortcut (Ctrl + Z) repeatedly to Undo entries until you get back to the original work.

If the Undo command can’t return you to the point prior to the Ctrl + A error, use the Save As option to save the new work with a different File Name. This will not wipe out any previously saved work. Safety measures are: save work in progress every few paragraphs and try to watch the screen while typing, to avoid losing your work.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on May 10, 2012.

Computer keyboards have some very unique keys. Did you ever wonder what the “Print Screen” key (PRTSC or PRTSCN on some keyboards) does? Pressing that key doesn’t appear to do anything. What it does is take a picture (or copy) of what’s on your monitor’s screen and save it. This is called a screen capture. You can then paste a captured screen into a document, e-mail message, or Paint program image. One use of Print Screen is to screen capture a map (from Google Maps or Mapquest) and paste it into a Paint window for cropping and adding shapes and text. Once the edited Paint image is saved as a .jpg image, you can email it or add it to a document.

Paint is a free program included in the Accessories package of Microsoft's operating systems. The Windows 7 version has more options and shapes (including an Arrow) than the version found in Windows XP. Another use of Print Screen is to screen capture a web page or a program window for insertion in a training manual or educational presentation. That’s one way PC Club instructors prepare for their classes.

The “Home” key has more capability than merely moving the Insertion Point to the left end of one line of text in a document or email message. The Home key action can be modified to move the Insertion Point to the beginning of the text by holding the Ctrl key down while tapping Home. Holding both the Shift and Ctrl keys down when tapping the Home key will Highlight everything from the Insertion Point to the beginning of the text. You can also use the Ctrl + Home Shortcut to return to the beginning of a long web page.

Do you know the one program that still has a use for the “Scroll Lock” key? Let me know at norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on April 26, 2012.

A typical Desktop Computer keyboard has 105 keys; more than double the keys on a old mechanical typewriter. The “q-w-e-r-t-y” arrangement of alpha-numeric and punctuation keys remains the same. Extra Windows keys are arranged strategically across the top and bottom rows and along the right side of the mechanical layout; iMac keyboards are very similar. Extra keys include 12 Function keys, Esc, Ctrl, Alt, Insert, Home, End, Delete, Windows Logo, Pause and an auxiliary number pad, just to mention a few. How many of these extra keys do you use and where can you learn how to use them?

Some keys are self-explanatory. The Escape (Esc) key does just what its name implies; allows you to back out of situations such as closing pop-up windows and stopping a Power Point show or other started operations. Function key uses can be found at http://www.pcitdoctor.com/how-to-use-esc-ctrl-windows-functions-key-and-more. The web site also describes many keyboard shortcuts using combinations of either the Control (Ctrl) or Alternate (Alt) key plus one or more other keys. Uses for most any key can be found by entering the key's name in the Google or Yahoo search bar.

The Insert key is a vestige of early computers. When pressed (usually accidentally), it changes the action of inserting one or more letters or characters in existing texts (documents, email, spread sheets, etc.) to that of replacing the next character. This has caused confusion for those not noticing that the next character is highlighted. To re-enable the Insert function, simply press the key again.

Laptop and Notebook keyboards only approximate the full up Windows keyboard layout due to size constraints. There is no standard arrangement; keyboards vary from company to company and even from model to model from the same manufacturer. Learn more about keyboard tips and shortcuts by visiting the PC Workshop or enrolling in one of the PC Club's courses offered in its Learning Center.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on April 5, 2012.

Spring has sprung: it’s time to do some computer cleaning. Start with removing Desktop clutter by deleting redundant shortcut icons and grouping like icons (images, documents, web addresses, program shortcuts, etc.) into folders. How does a Desktop get cluttered with icons? Some are the result of making web site shortcuts in order to open a browser directly to a site rather than using Favorites or Bookmarks. Others result from transferring photos from a digital camera to your computer. Redundant and obsolete icons can be deleted by dragging them to the Recycle Bin. Deleting a program shortcut does not delete the program.

Consolidate related Icons by creating a new folder on the Desktop. Right Button click a clear spot on the Desktop to open a window of display options. Move the Mouse Cursor to the “New” option on the pop-up list and then click on the Folder Option in the secondary list. When the New Folder Icon appears, enter a title for the folder (example; Grandson’s Birthday Party) and press Enter. Now click and drag all related Desktop images to the new Folder.

The Recycle Bin holds all deleted items (except messages deleted from mail folders in Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail). If you haven’t missed documents or pictures sent to the Recycle Bin, double click on its Icon to open a Window with options to Empty the Bin or Restore items you may want to preserve. To restore an item; click on it to highlight it, and then click on the Restore this Item option. Otherwise, click on the Empty the Recycle Bin option. Note, emptying the Recycle Bin does not empty the Deleted Items folder in mail programs.

An efficient way to clean a computer’s hard drive is to run CCleaner; a free program version can be downloaded from piriform.com/ccleaner. CCleaner removes cookies and temporary browser files, as well as empty the Recycle Bin. However, it wont’t wash your Windows.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on March 22, 2012.

Internet activity (searching, emailing, or buying stuff) allows web sites and advertisers to collect information about you. Newspaper and organization websites that post news about you or your writings divulge information about you. Many sites make use of public records to draw viewers. You can Google yourself (yes, Google is now a verb) to see how much of your life and identity is available to others.

For example, entering “Norm Salzberg” into Google’s search bar yielded a September 8, 1997, LA Times article entitled “Their new retirement community: The Net.” It covered interviews with many residents about their computer activities and use of the Internet; I shall remain forever 69 years old there. Other results of that search included links to my Facebook page, photos I posted on Picasa’s web site, photos of me, and links to previous columns. Entering my phone number in the Reverse Lookup option on switchboard.com displays my name and address. Entering my address in the Find Homes searchbar on zillow.com discloses real estate details, including when we bought and what we paid for our house, an estimate of its current valuation and property taxes.

Google stores your search activities, email sent and received via gmail.com, documents posted on Google docs, cookies saved on Google’s Chrome web browser and activities on any of the many other Google tools. Google uses some of this information to make advertising more effective. Two Google sites that display how much Google knows about you are Google.com/dashboard and Google.com/history. They show information stored in your various Google accounts your Google search results.

Users of Google Chrome can remove all cookies, browsing history and download history by opening Chrome’s Tools Menu, selecting Options and then “Under the Hood” and clicking on Clear Browsing Data. Protecting your privacy is not easy when powerful search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are available to anyone.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on February 2, 2012.

Now I know what it’s like to be Rip Van Winkle waking from a long snooze. In my case, it wasn't a drunken stupor but using a desktop PC for many, many years. Recently my eyes were opened to a new technology that puts fiddling with a bulky desktop computer to shame: the iPad2. My first encounters with this slick Apple device were helping others set up their iPads for WiFi Internet access and adding email accounts. This let me play with their new gadget. The iPad2 is less than a half inch thick, with cover attached, and has a 9.7 inch (measured diagonally) touch screen. It can perform many of the tasks my bulky PC does.

No more waiting for a PC to boot up. The iPad2 leaps into action as soon as its cover is lifted. An Internet Browser (Safari) and email are a finger tap away. The virtual keyboard has three representations; one for alphabetic entry, a second for numeric and common punctuation marks, and a third for lesser used symbols including sub-script and brackets. An auxiliary keyboard can be attached for $100.

Finger tip motions replace mouse clicking and dragging. Spreading two finger tips apart usually magnifies font on web, mail and text pages. Other actions will close windows or flip pages. To print an email, note or photo, you need a wireless (WiFi) printer with “ePrint” capability. An ePrinter’s setup procedure includes obtaining and assigning an email address to the printer.

Basic applications (apps) can be augmented by downloading apps from the App Store; reached by tapping on the App Store icon. The Facebook app was free and downloaded in a few seconds. As soon as I entered my ID and password, up came postings from family members. There are new game, utility and educational apps available daily. With an iPad2 you won’t have time to sleep.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on January 19, 2012.

Although this year's Consumer Electronics Show (in Las Vegas) unveiled no revolutionary got-to-have computer products, two evolutions were significant:

  1. VIZIO, maker of competitively priced quality Television sets, announced that it will market all-in-one desktop computers and lightweight notebook computers. The desktops will have 24- or 27-inch High Definition screens (suitable for entertainment centers) and contain all the components of traditional desktop boxes. These computers will be available sometime this spring. More information can be found at www.vizio.com/ces#computers..
  2. By April 2012 Microsoft will release a Beta test version of Windows 8, an upgrade to its Windows 7 operating system. Windows 8 loads faster and changes the Windows 7 Start screen to a tile-based presentation, similar to a smart phone or tablet display of applications (apps). Windows 8 is designed for touch screens, allowing users to maneuver and open apps and files with a finger tip, as if it were an iPad2. It will still work with a keyboard and mouse, for users averse to typing on a virtual keyboard.

Many Tablet Computers were touted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). They ranged from 7-inch to 10-inch displays, running under the Linux Android operating system. Prices vary from $79 to just under the cost of an iPad2. The $89 Pandigital Novel tablet I bought at Big Lots works well with the Internet via WiFi. I can get West Coast email and gmail on it. My next project is downloading books from Barnes & Noble and the OC Public Library system.

Among the myriad of gadgets promoted at the CES was Liquipel, a waterproof treatment for cell phones. This $59 product will keep a phone dry when dropped into a pool, hot tub or bathroom fixture.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on January 5, 2012.

Cyber crimes and cyber warfare attempts were in the news many times in the past year. Hackers, scammers, foreign powers, anti-government and terrorist organizations are a menace to businesses and governments. A second tier of hackers preys on individuals by infecting their computers with malicious software designed to steal personal information, turn their computer into a spam sending robot, or to dupe them into paying for a cure for bogus infections. “How well is your security and privacy protected, and what can you do to improve it?” is an important question for computer users.

Computer security settings are found in the Control Panel under Security Center for Windows XP systems and under Action Center for Windows 7 configurations. The Windows 7 Control Panel, when set to View by Icons (rather than View by Categories) shows the Action Center. Click on Action Center, then click on the Security heading to reveal the following settings: Network firewall, Virus protection, Spyware and unwanted software protection, Internet Security, User Account Control, Automatic Windows Update, and Network Access Protection. If the antivirus program is out of date or its subscription has expired, replace it with a free program such as Microsoft’s Security Essentials or AVG 2012. These programs combine antivirus and antispyware protection.

User Access Control may seem like a nuisance when trying to install or open programs, but it’s essential for preventing hackers from manipulating a computer; do not turn this protection off. Many Windows updates provide security fixes to the operating system; always allow them to be installed. Network Access Protection is needed when more than one computer is connected to the Internet. A router is an excellent firewall even if you are not using WiFi signals. However, no firewall will protect you if you click on a link in an email message; you invited the download.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on December 22, 2011.

Our community web site – lagunawoodsvillage.com – lists over 235 clubs, ranging from the Aero-Space club to the Yacht club. About half of these organizations have web pages on the Village site or their own web sites.

One popular site is the Men’s Golf Club at lwmgc.org. Along with tournament information, this site provides a detailed history of golf in the Village starting in 1964 when there were no greens fee to play golf. It also has a link to some great instructional videos.

The PC Club’s web site can be found at thepcclub.org. Information on classes offered in the Club's Learning Center are shown as well as PC Workshop hours of operation. From the Table of Contents, you can find a page containing Joy of Computing columns going back one year. Links to the Camera, Mac and Video Clubs are provided.

The Camera Club's web site – lhcameraclub.com – has links to free on-line Photoshop training videos from the Resources option on its Table of Contents. You can view amazing pictures taken by club members from the site’s Winning Images Archive by clicking on a critique event and then clicking on an image title.

The Mac Club’s web site – themacclub.org – has links to Tutorials and Helpful Sites in its Table of Contents. Editorials and Newsletters opened from the Contents list also contain tutorials from basic to advanced operations.

The Astronomy Club has a page on lagunawoodsvillage.com. To find it, click on the Clubs and Club Web Pages option and select List of Clubs A – J. Links to scientific and educational sites are listed in the bottom of the Astronomy Club's page.

To learn what’s happening and planned for in local government; visit lagunawoodscity.org.

Wishing you Joy of Computing in the New Year.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on December 8, 2011.

As the holidays approach, here’s a caveat to observe when shopping for a new computer: Don’t overbuy – match the processor to your needs: a dual-processor, such as an Intel i3, or equivalent, is fast enough, unless you are conducting a business or playing interactive games online. The same goes for WiFi Routers – low-end ratings, like N-150, are fine, as long as you’re not streaming movies to a remote TV. And most printers in the $100 range are adequate to connect via WiFi, print, scan and copy, unless you are printing photos for art shows.

When shopping online, visit reputable companies and make sure the http:// address of the web site that opens shows the desired vender. Hackers can redirect your request to a rogue web site if they’ve gotten into your computer. When checking out your shopping basket, verify that the address shows https:// to confirm that a secure transaction will take place. Never click on links in emails claiming to take you to sites with deals that are too good to be true. Likewise, don’t click on links in pop-up windows promising big savings. Either the stuff they are selling is counterfeit or the site will corrupt your computer.

If you are shopping for a laptop computer, try the keyboard on a demonstration model before buying. There’s no standardization of laptop keyboards. Some models reverse the dual use of Function keys, requiring you to press a special “F” key to get the function that a standard desktop keyboard provides. I’ve found keyboards with a reversed Function key that turns off the built in WiFi receiver without requiring a second key to be depressed. Other keys may be found in strange locations or may not be provided at all.

Happy and safe shopping.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on November 24, 2011.

Subscriber counts reported at November’s Broadband Services Committee meeting show 7,151 residences (56 percent of the Village) are accessing the Internet over our High-Speed Cable service. While it’s taken seven years to reach this level, in only one year, digital telephone service is used by over 3,000 residences (24 percent) and digital television subscribers amount to 33 percent of all units. Also reported: free WiFi Internet access is now available at the Village Greens, our new golf facility, as well as all seven Clubhouses and the Community Center.

The tenth WiFi spot will be the Library, once reconstruction is completed. Even with 29 antenna stations covering these facilities, some blind spots (where reception is hindered by steel structure or electrical noise) will occur. If your smart phone, iPad, eBook tablet or laptop can’t connect to the free WiFi signal, just move a few feet; similar to finding good cell phone reception.

Amazon's Kindle Fire, a 7-inch color touch screen eBook reader with WiFi capability and 8 gigabytes of memory, is selling for $199. That’s less than Amazon’s production cost. Amazon expects to make a profit by selling eBooks, Apps and the myriad of merchandise available on its web site. Barnes & Noble’s new Nook 7-inch Tablet with double the memory and a memory expansion slot, costs $249. Although neither item is as capable as an Apple iPad, they cost a lot less than the basic iPad at $499.

Other inexpensive 7-inch color tablets are available. I bought a Pandigital Novel 7-inch multimedia eReader at Big Lots for $89. It takes some practice to use this kind of gadget, but it works. I used it at Clubhouse 6 to surf the Internet and check email, thanks to Laguna Woods free WiFi service.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on November 3, 2011.

“Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”, “Unable to connect to the Internet”, “Unable to send or receive messages” and similar frustrating notices occur when your computer loses Internet access. After your Internet Service Provider (West Coast or AT&T) assures you their equipment and circuits are working properly, call the PC Workshop, the MAC Learning Center, or someone who is technically savvy, for help. Sometimes I get the call. Reestablishing Internet access depends on the type of modem and router installed and the computer’s status.

Here are a few situations I have encountered: modem or router, or both, out of synchronization; wireless (WiFi) link turned off; computer corrupted by a recent change, update or program installation; and disconnected cables. If the modem and router connections are intact, a quick fix may be had by resynchronizing these units. The original Motorola cable modem can be turned off by removing the power cord from its back panel and waiting 20 seconds before replugging it, the Cisco digital phone and Internet modem can be reset by pressing a ballpoint pen tip in the Reboot hole in its back for three seconds. DSL modems vary and can be resynched by one of the preceding methods.

Routers without a power switch can be turned off by removing the power cord. If the router has a wireless On/Off pushbutton located in the back, reset it. Routers do go bad and have to be replaced. Laptop computers have a mechanical switch or a Function key to turn their WiFi receiver On and Off. It’s easy to accidentally turn the receiver off, so make sure the setting is in the On mode. If none of these procedures work, try restoring the computer to a date before Internet access was lost.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on October 6, 2011.

The Recycle Bin and the Deleted Items Folder (in Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail) are different entities. Deleted non-mail files or folders go into the Recycle Bin, while emails deleted from the Inbox or Sent Items folder go into the Deleted Items Folder. More important: emptying the Recycle Bin does not empty the Deleted Items folder. As a consequence, some users accumulate hundreds, if not thousands, of old messages clogging the Deleted Items folder. Overstuffed Sent Items and Deleted Items folders can slow down a computer.

Here are a few measures to clean up these folders and organize mail you want to keep. First: create new Folders to save mail under categories such as Family Members, Clubs, Humor, and Reservation confirmations. Do this by right-button-clicking on the Inbox, or the Folders’ Header, and selecting the New Folder option from the pop-up menu. Then name the new folder and click OK. Now you can move mail by clicking and dragging it to the desired Folder. Next, the Deleted Items folder can be set to automatically empty when you exit the mail program.

For Windows Live Mail: click on the dark blue Tab in the upper left corner of the window to open a menu, select Options – Mail – the Advanced Tab – Maintenance – and then place a check mark in the “Empty messages from the Deleted Items folder on exit” box. For Outlook Express: Open the Tools Menu and select Options and then the Maintenance Tab to check the Empty messages – on exit box. Finally, if you are saving sent mail, delete message after a reasonable passage of time.

Hotmail, Gmail and YahooMail users can do likewise to sort mail, but they don’t have to worry about deleting old stuff because it’s not saved locally.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on September 22, 2011.

Keyboard shortcuts can save time and effort. They eliminate sequential mouse manipulations to accomplish program operations. Shortcuts usually involve the Ctrl (Control) or Alt (Alternate) key plus (+) another key or keys.

Some of my favorite keyboard shortcuts are: Ctrl + P to open the Print window; Ctrl + C to Copy a highlighted portion of text in a document, email or web page; Ctrl + X to remove highlighted text; Ctrl + V to Paste what was previously copied or cut (the P key is already used for Print); and a life-saver, Ctrl + Z to Undo a previous action.

To save a new document, or any file type being created, use the shortcut Ctrl + S. This opens the Save As window, letting you name the document and designate where to save the file. It’s important to save your work as it progresses in order not to lose it due to keyboard errors. Perplexing situations can arise by accidentally depressing the Ctrl key instead of the adjacent Shift key when typing an upper case A or N. Inadvertently pressing Ctrl + A, the shortcut for Select All highlights the whole document; the next keystroke then replaces everything. To recover your work, use Ctrl + Z to Undo the wipe out. Ctrl + N opens a new document page, right over your current work. Don’t despair when seeing a blank page, just close the new document and your work in progress will reappear.

For an extensive list of keyboard shortcuts go to support.microsoft.com/kb/126449 or support.apple.com/kb/ht1343 for Mac computers. Another useful shortcut is Windows Logo key + Pause to open the System window which lists your computer’s Information including Operating System, processor type, and memory (RAM).

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on August 25, 2011.

Free wireless (WiFi) Internet access will officially be available at all Clubhouses and the first floor of the Community Center in September, courtesy of Broadband Services. This is the newest Village amenity. These locales are called “hot spots;” that’s technical jargon for areas with public WiFi networks. In an informal survey, I connected to the Internet via “Laguna_Woods_WiFi,” the name of this network, at four Clubhouses and the Community Center, using my laptop.

Here are some caveats to observe when using Village “hot spots:” when outdoors, a screen is difficult to read due to sunlight and reflections; very few AC outlets are available to power or charge a laptop; there is no security when using a public wireless network; and remember: smart phones and iPads are not waterproof, so don’t use them while in a hot tub. Currently not all areas of large Clubhouses are hotspots until all gateway repeater antennas are activated.

The Village Greens, our new golf building, when completed, will also have free WiFi service. In addition, both the PC Club and the Mac Club facilities on the third floor of the Community Center provide WiFi access for laptop users. If you have questions or problems concerning your laptop, bring it to the respective computer workshop to get help.

Our community now has over 7,000 manors subscribing to high-speed Internet access over Broadband Services’ TV cable system. We’ve come a long way since West Coast Internet started installing modems in March 2004, shortly after GRF approved installation of front-end equipment on the basis that 500 residents would sign up for service. The PC Club spearheaded a petition drive in 2003 to motivate GRF to allocate funds for high-speed Internet service.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on August 11, 2011.

Here are a few tips to make your computing experience more enjoyable. First; shut down (power off) a computer when finished using it for the day. Leaving a computer on for long periods, even in sleep or hibernate mode, will eventually cause it to lose track of its configuration and not work properly. Power down a computer by going to the Start Button and clicking on Shut Down. If a computer freezes up (the mouse or keyboard does not respond) depress the Power button for five seconds to force a shut down. Computers may be turned on and off thousands of times without harmful effects to hard drives and other parts.

To speed up a computer that still runs slowly after using disc cleanup tools, either add more Random Access Memory (RAM) or use a flash memory in Ready Boost Mode. Ready Boost works for Vista and Windows 7 computers and is less expensive than adding RAM, especially for laptops. After inserting a flash memory, the Autoplay window should pop up. Scroll down to select the “Speed up my System” option (not all flash memories have this option). When the Removable Disk window opens, select the ReadyBoost Tab. Under the Tab, select the third choice, “Use this device,” set the space reserved for speed up to maximum and click OK.

Finally, protect your computer from malicious software infections by using an anti-virus program that includes anti-spyware protection. There are several good free programs available; AVG 2011, Avast and Microsoft's Security Essentials are popular choices. Do not install more than one anti-virus program. Keep the program active and updated. And never click on a link in an unusual email, even from a friend.

Following these tips may prevent expensive service calls.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on July 21, 2011

To make computer usage safer and more pleasant, or at least less frustrating, there are a few things you can do. One is to have a different, and strong, password for each mail, bank, brokerage, credit card, and personal account, as well as for a WiFi Router. Hackers can break simple passwords after learning about you (address, phone number, etc.) from public domain web sites. Hence, use of simple words, family names, birthdays, addresses or phone numbers is not recommended.

Passwords should be a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation marks. They need not be random combinations but based on easy to remember mnemonics or sentences; for example: MFAfUM'1962 for Master of Fine ARTS from University of Maine '62 is a very strong password. Make passwords relevant to the type of account; for example, a prescription drug service account password can be based on your doctor’s name or office. Use of jargon terms for a hobby or sport; 7Spades (for bridge bidding) or Double-bogeyonhole18 (for golf) will work. And always keep an up-to-date list of website addresses, Id’s and passwords handy.

Another good practice is to keep all discs that came with your computer, printer, router and application programs is a safe place. Then you will be able to retrieve them in case the computer has to be restored due to a hardware failure, corrupted program or serious infection. In addition, back up personal documents, photos and email addresses to an external memory device or web service for the same reason.

Space will only permit one additional practice. That is to have anti-virus and anti-spyware programs active and updated. Good practices will lead to more Joy of Computing.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on July 7, 2011

How do you tell a valid pop-up message from a malicious one? Most pop-up windows appearing at start-up are legitimate notices from programs and applications already installed in a computer. They usually advise that updates are available for download and installation. Updates improve a program's performance or increase its security. Always allow Microsoft Windows, Adobe, Flash, Java and any programs you installed to update. Follow the displayed steps to permit the update to proceed; once started, the update will continue in the background while you use your computer.

The big exception is pop-up warnings by a rogue program that your computer is infected with viruses and Trojans and that the only cure is to buy their special removal program. The actual infection is malicious software (malware) spoofing actual security programs, causing one or more pop-up warnings and preventing remedial action. These rogue programs are called “scareware” for good reason. They have names like Malware Protection and Vista Anti-spyware 2011. To avoid malware infections - use up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and avoid links to unfamiliar websites that may be corrupted with malware.

Removal of malware is sometimes possible by scanning the computer with a good removal tool like Malwarebytes (it’s free at malwarebytes.org) or restoring the computer to a time prior to the infection. Some malware infections bury themselves so deep in a computer that the only recourse is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall the operating system and all programs. Because reformatting wipes out document and picture files, as well as your email address book, you will have to reinstall them from an external memory device. If you haven’t backed up those important files, do it now; you've been warned!

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on June 23, 2011

The Windows XP operating system is almost 10 years old; its release date was October 21, 2001. Computers running XP range from three to 10 years of age. Without scrupulous maintenance, computers over five years old may run slow, tend to freeze and show strange error messages on start up (previous columns discussed techniques for tuning up computers). After five years of use, operating parts can wear out, especially the hard drive, resulting in loss of stored files.

An easy way to save important personal data files and photos is to copy them to an external memory device. Right button click on a file or folder and select the “Send To” option for the external device. Inexpensive USB flash memories now hold 8 MegaBytes; enough for most document and image collections. Other backup methods include external hard drives or Carbonite’s automatic online storage service for $59 a year.

The PC Workshop will start replacing its Windows XP computers with new Windows 7 PCs this summer. All Workshop Vista computers have been updated to Windows 7. When the XP-to-Windows-7 conversion is finished, the Workshop will no longer have computers with floppy drives. If you still have personal data files saved on floppies, now is the time to bring them to the Workshop for transfer to CD’s, DVD’s or flash memory devices.

Before contacting an outside service when a computer, printer or Internet access problem occurs, call the PC Workshop. If the on-duty staff can’t help, the Greeters have a list of Workshop Supervisors who make house calls to clear up frustrating computer situations. If your laptop is balky, or you need help using it, bring the laptop to the Workshop. Both wireless and wired Internet access is available for laptops.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on June 9, 2011

The iGadget revolution began 10 years ago with Apple’s iPod music player. The iPod stores music downloaded from Apple’s iTunes web site. From that simple iPod, Apple has introduced many versatile versions of the iPod. In June 2007, the first iPhones were marketed, and in April 2010, Apple released the iPad for sale. Over three million iPads were sold in the first 80 days. In the past decade, Apple’s world of gadgets has evolved to a new, popular second-generation iPad.

The iPad 2 is a super fast computer-like gadget. It can access the Internet using a WiFi signal or 3G (third generation) cellular tower signals. The WiFi version starts at $499 and units with both WiFi and 3G cellular access start at $629. Add $100 to go from 16 GB (Gigabytes) to 32 GB iPads. The iPad2 has front and back cameras; the front camera for communication using Apple's FaceTime long distance video calls (to other Apple users) and the back camera for taking photos to share online. Its battery is rated to last 10 hours before recharging.

With no USB ports, the iPad cannot interface directly with a printer, but it will send print jobs to a designated number of WiFi-ready HP printers. Files can also be emailed to other computers for printing. A number of email services are supported, including Gmail. The iPad touch screen is simple to use and, when needed, can display a virtual keyboard for alphanumeric entries. It can also function as an eBook reader, eliminating the need for a Kindle or Nook device. And its back-lit screen can be read in a dark room.

Apple will shortly introduce the iCloud remote mass memory system for storage of music and other personal files accessible to all authorized computers and iPads.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on May 26, 2011

Modems convert television or telephone signals to digital patterns to link a computer to the Internet via an Internet Provider. Modems modulate output signals and demodulate input signals; hence the name “modem.” Routers are used to connect one or more computers to a modem, in addition to acting as a firewall to prevent hacker intrusions. These two hardware devices require no attention once installed, but you should know where they are located in case of trouble.

Routers emit radio signals by a process called Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), to connect nearby WiFi-enabled laptops to the Internet. A WiFi source is often called a Hotspot. Hotels, airports, coffee shops and other public places provide unsecured WiFi Internet access. Desktop computers may also be connected wirelessly to the Internet by installing a WiFi receiver card or USB plug-in unit. Security and privacy are concerns when using WiFi access due to the possibility of others tapping into the radio transmissions. To avoid this, routers should be set to encrypt signals with WPA (Wireless Protected Access). Your receiving computer must now be set with the router’s SSID (Service Set Identifier, or name given to the router) and its Password.

WiFi reception can be impeded, or slowed down, by radio signals from nearby cordless phones, microwave units and other WiFi routers. Continuous Internet access requires your modem, router and computer to be synchronized. If you lose Internet access (synchronization); turn off all three units (pull the power cords to the modem and router, if necessary) and sequentially repower the modem (all lights come on), then repower the router and finally the computer. If still no Internet access, call for help.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on May 5, 2011

The World Wide Web (WWW) was developed 20 years ago to make it easy to access information on the Internet. Application programs known as web browsers are used to retrieve information stored on web sites. Browsers locate a particular web page by its Uniform Resource Locator (URL), commonly know as the web page’s address. A typical URL is entered in the following format: www.howstuffworks.com. One of the earliest browsers was Netscape which was preempted by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Netscape evolved into the Firefox browser. Today the three most popular PC Computer browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google’s Chrome. Mac computers use Safari, Firefox and Google’s Chrome.

All browsers are released in a sequence of versions. Internet Explorer 8.0 and 9.0, Firefox 3.6 and 4.0, Chrome 10 and 11, and Safari 4 and 5 are most recent. Usage statistics vary by how and where data is gathered. Roughly: Internet Explorer is used 40%, Firefox about 30%, Chrome inched up to 16%, and Safari 6% of the time. Google’s Chrome browser was a radical design departure from the traditional Menu laden versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox. The latest versions of Explorer and Firefox have adopted Chrome’s minimal screen presentation which requires users to learn where to find Tools, Options, and Bookmarks (Favorites).

Internet Explorer 9 has received good reviews for its ability to prevent malicious software attacks; however, it will not support computers running Windows XP. All other browsers still operate with XP. Internet Explorer 10, now in pre-release, will not support Vista. I have Internet Explorer 9.0, Firefox 4.0 and Chrome 11 on my Windows 7 PC. I like Chrome best for its ability to remember more Id’s and passwords than the other two browsers.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on April 21, 2011

The Internet is a great place to look for information about people, things, places, events, recipes, etc. The tool to do this is called a search engine, a web site that collects and organizes information from the Internet. The three most used search engines are Google, Bing and Yahoo, although there are many others. These are free web sites. They make money by placing Ads and links to Sponsored web sites on their search results pages. Google is the current usage leader with 64% of all search queries. Microsoft’s Bing (formerly MSN Search) has moved up to 30%; half due its own web site; the other half by supplying search results for Yahoo. The remaining 6% represents specialty search engines.

When searching for a common item such as Apples, the results can be overwhelming. To narrow a search, use the Advanced Search link next to the search bar and be more specific. Quotation marks around a name or phrase improve the search.

Google has introduced a new feature - in the form of a game: A Google A Day. It poses questions requiring a search for unusual tidbits of information. Visit www.agoogleaday.com to play and to learn neat ways to use a search engine.

Specialty search engines are also very useful. For information and reviews on movies, visit www.imdb.com, the international movie data base. For new and used car prices, visit www.kbb.com, Kelley Blue Book’s web site. For mathematical and scientific information visit, www.wolframalpha.com, a computational knowledge engine. For up-to-date real estate sales data and listings, visit www.zillow.com. A complete list of Search Engines can be found at www.thesearchenginelist.com. However, none will tell you where you left your car keys.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on April 7, 2011

Nullum Gratuitum Prandium is Latin for “There is no free lunch.” That aphorism is more true today than when the Romans understood it. Whether by phone, US mail or via the Internet, most free offers come with strings (or worse) attached. However, there are free programs that work as well as costly commercial applications - without infecting your computer or pestering you with ads. Here are a few free programs I use regularly:

To locate the web site for downloading any of these free programs, enter the application’s name in the Google (or Yahoo or Bing) search bar. From the search results, select a link for downloading and then click on the download option when the web page opens. Save the download to the Desktop for ease in locating and then click on its Icon. Follow the installation instructions which may require closing any open programs and restarting your computer. Lunch may not be free but these programs are.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on March 24, 2011

The Information Age began in 1838 when Morse demonstrated his telegraph. His invention reduced the time to send a message from days or weeks to minutes. Communication improved with Bell’s “telephone exchange” in 1878 and Marconi’s radio signals in 1895. Today we have many choices for voice communication; AT&T, Vonage, Magic Jack, mobile/cell phone, Skype and, now, digital phone service via our Broadband cable system.

Voice communication can go over wires, radio waves or the Internet. We grew up using the Telephone Company’s twisted pair of wires running to and throughout every house. No AC power is required (unless a cordless phone is used) and no computer is needed. The Bell system claims a reliability of 99.999 percent. Vonage is a low cost alternate to AT&T. It uses a home"s wiring to connect phones to the outside world via an Internet modem; no computer is involved.

MagicJack is another low cost way of making phone calls, however, it requires a computer to be on and connected to the Internet. Cell phones replace the need for wires or Internet access. They use radio links to Cell towers owned by wireless services such as Verizon and T-Mobile. Monthly charges can be high and reception varies with location. Skype calls are made with a computer, microphone and speakers. They’re free to other computer users and, for a nominal charge, to telephones.

The Village’s Broadband digital phone service uses a modem connected to your TV Cable. It does not involve using a computer. Various call packages are available. This new service is still refining its operation. As of February, 1900 residents were digital phone subscribers and 6,774 residents were using Broadband’s Internet service.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on March 10, 2011

A Windows 7 computer may require the latest version of an application program that ran well under Windows XP. Older program versions, designed before Windows 7 (or Vista) and 64-bit processors, may not run, or communicate with a printer, when installed in the new environment. This was the case recently with older versions of Quicken and PrintMaster software. My four-year-old HP Printer-Scanner-Copier would not scan images into Photoshop until I download a free Windows 7 compatible driver from hp.com. The Windows Plug and Play feature only installed a print capability. Printer manufacturers provide free drivers for download at their web sites.

The transition to Windows 7 may be a daunting experience, especially if it is due to the demise of a Windows XP computer. Initially there is bereavement over the loss of an old, faithful workhorse. Then there's the confusing task of selecting a new desktop or laptop from the many makes and models available when shopping for a replacement. Next comes setting up the new machine, which includes installing programs (Quicken, Photoshop, Office, Greeting Cards, Anti-Virus, Games and drivers for peripheral equipment such as a printer, webcam, and camera) assuming you still have the installation disks. And finally, transferring personal files (email address book, Favorites, documents and photos) that were saved to an external memory from the XP computer.

The 2011 version of Windows Live Mail (Microsoft's version of Outlook Express for Windows 7) provides a quick way to insert images in a message without having to change resolution or size in order to fit the picture on the screen.

Once you're up and running, a Windows 7 PCt’s speed will make the transition worth while.

Send your questions and comments to my Gmail address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on Feb 24, 2011

Previous columns reviewed free programs that are as good as their commercial counterparts. They included Microsoft Security Essentials (for Anti-virus and Anti-spyware protection) and Open Office (for word processing, spread sheets and power point creation). Now there is a free hard drive cleaner to remove temporary files, cookies, histories, remnants from downloads and useless registry entries. This tool is CCleaner 3.0 from Piriform Ltd, a London based software developer. They claim it has been installed over 600 million times. CCleaner 3.0 downloads and installs fast from www.piriform.com.

CCleaner’s name probably refers to the designation of computer’s hard drives as the letter ’C.’. It does a more complete job of removing unwanted and unnecessary stuff than the Disk Cleanup utility found in Windows System Tools and a web browser's history and cookie removal options. CCleaner covers Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser. It also opens the Installed Programs list faster than the Windows' Control Panel option for Removing programs. Prior to any major cleanups, it is recommended to set a System Restore Point by going to Computer > System Properties >System Protection window to find that option.

Not all Cookies should be removed. Web browsers use these small text files to save passwords and other useful data to let users reopen their personalized web pages. Third party cookies are used by advertisers to determine which ads to display on visited web sites. Some advertisers take advantage of this information to determine a users shopping history. CCleaner's options allow you to select which cookies to keep and which ones to remove. Now you can get a jump on spring cleaning.

Send your questions to my Google address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on Feb 10, 2011

For those still using Personal Computers (PC's) running Windows XP, be advised that their days are numbered. Windows XP was released in August 2001 to replace Windows ME and Windows 2000 with improved stability, security and new features. XP was subsequently upgraded by Service Packs (SP) 1, 2 and 3. Microsoft stopped offering XP to dealers and vendors on January 31, 2009. Last year over 350 Million computers were sold; most were PC’s running Windows 7. If your old XP workhorse is getting slow or balky, delete temporary files, remove programs from the Start Up list, add more random access memory (RAM), defrag the hard drive and run a malware sweep to remove infections. It your PC is over 5 years old, back up important files to an external memory; hardware doesn’t last forever.

Google unveiled its Art Project on February 2nd. By visiting www.googleartproject.com you can tour 17 major museums to view many of their famous paintings. This web site allows visitors to do a 360-degree sweep of a gallery, look up at the ceiling frescoes, take an audio tour and zoom in to see details of a piece of art. Each museum has a floor plan (where you can pick a gallery) and a link to its web site. Google plans to add more museums. To use this web site, click on “Learn More” on the home page and start the Visitors Guide video when the Guide page opens.

Do not respond to any purported West Coast mail asking for your password so they can upgrade their system. Itwww.googleartproject.coms is a phishing scam sent by someone with an sbcglobal.net address which makes it obvious West Coast was not the sender.

Send your questions to my Google address norm.maven@gmail.com


The following article was published in the Laguna Woods Globe on Jan 20, 2011

Our local Best Buy emporium has an extensive selection of laptop computers. They range from netbooks with 10 inch screens at $250 to 17 inch notebooks at well over $1000. Laptops with dual processors selling for about $500 can replace desktops for most applications. Last November, I bought a simple 15-inch HP laptop (Model CQ56 with a single processor and 2 GBytes of RAM) for $350 just to have a portable computer. It runs fast and literally sucks up available WiFi sources for Internet access. My decision not to buy a netbook was determined by the lack of an internal DVD drive in these units.

There is no standardization of Laptop keyboards; function keys have various dual purposes, and keys, other than alphanumeric, are located any place. A touchpad serves as a pointing and scrolling device similar to a mouse; however, they can be overly sensitive and finicky. I connected a Logitech wireless mouse (on sale for $13 at RadioShack) to my laptop. It's tiny USB wireless receiver can be left plugged in permanently. My only chagrin is that my laptop now sells for $300.

In October 2003 GRF approved funding to provide broadband (high speed) Internet access via our Cable TV system, on the premise that at least 500 residents would subscribe. At the January 2011 Broadband Committee meeting it was reported that 6,607 residents are now subscribers. In addition, over 1,600 residences are now using the recently added digital telephone service, and about 100 are signing up each week. Broadband Services is investigating how to make download speeds faster than 3.5 Megabits per second available, at an extra charge, for users of Netflix and other high-demand services.

Send your questions to my Google address norm.maven@gmail.com


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