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General Software Notes and Web Sites

General (mostly free) Download site, also has reviews and other stuff.  http://download.cnet.com/windows/
A relatively safe place to download software from.  If I see some software recommended with a link to an unknown site, I often go to this site to get it as I have a greater confidence in the authenticity and safety of the software.  The page is labeled Downloads.com.

Internet Connection speeds from Speakeasy
At 3:30 PM Weekday I got 8.3 Mbps Download, 2.7 upload;    5.4 and 2.7 wirelessly with Seattle
Repeated test at (9:20 PM weekday got 1.6 Download, 2.6 Upload)
A few years later at 12:15 PM  22.22 Download, 3.13 Upload, wirelessly 7.4 and 3.5 regardless of distance.

Survey of Internet connection speeds in the state of Washington.
At 6:40 AM weekend I got 36.4 Mbps Download, 2.9 Upload (I have Comcast)
At 3:30 PM weekday I got 14.7 Mbps Download, 2.6 Upload
At 9:20 PM weekday I got 1.3 Mbps Download, 2.4 Upload

Web sites with free on-line help for PC's, Macs, and Smart Phones

What key strokes required to edit BIOS for many brands   But try DEL of F2 first during boot up (start up).  Once you are into boot setup utility, look for "Boot" along the top menu bar.

If you use the "Tab" key to toggle between selections and the "Alt + Tab" to switch between applications, you should be able to navigate to Device Manager in Control Panel.
  • Press the Windows Key to bring up the Start Menu.
  • The Arrow Keys should let you move between selections.
  • If you have access to a search box type in "Control Panel" or better yet go directly to "Device Manager".
  • Use the Tab and Arrow keys to navigate where you want to be. Pressing enter will activate the selected link.

How to navigate around when your mouse is not working:
If you use the "Tab" key to toggle between selections and the "Alt + Tab" to switch between applications, you should be able to navigate to Device Manager in Control Panel. Press the Windows Key to bring up the Start Menu. The Arrow Keys should let you move between selections. If you have access to a search box type in "Control Panel" or better yet go directly to "Device Manager". Use the Tab and Arrow keys to navigate where you want to be. Pressing enter will activate the selected link.

DropBox: dropbox iconEver want to e-mail someone a file or files only to find it is too big.  The solution is DropBox.  It is a place on the cloud where you can store up to 2 GIGs of data free and fairly easily send links to that data to the person you wish to share it with.  You can either send them a link to a full directory or to a specific file.  You install a program on your computer or computers that makes a dropbox directory.  Every file you put in that directory will be shared with your account on the cloud and with that directory you have installed on any other computer.  Do note that if you just drag a file to the dropbox folder, you will be moving it from the current folder to the dropbox folder.  You might prefer to copy the file into the dropbox folder.  To copy a file rather than drag it, hold down the right mouse button while moving the file than select COPY from the drop down menu that will pop up.

To get started go to http://www.dropbox.com or even better, send me an e-mail (bill@frisinger.net) and request a feral.  I get an additional 0.5 GIGs of memory for each referral.  They will have you set up an account and have you download a little software.

To mail a link to a file that you have in dropbox, click on the dropbox icon on your desktop,  or find the dropbox folder on your computer.  On one of my computers it was in MyDocuments and in anther it was in the folder below MyDcouments.  Right click on the file or folder you want to share then select "Share link" whether you are sharing a file or folder.   Your default browser will then open and you can fill in the information about who you want to send the file to or you can click on "Share link" and the link will be copied to your clipboard so you can past it into your e-mail later.  The "Sharing folder" option is for cases where you want multiple people to be able to put files into the folder.

Note:  It takes a long time for the files you have dropped into your dropbox folder to be synced with your folder on the cloud and you will not be able to share them until this process is done. When the files are being synced, you see a blue ball at the lower left of the image.  When it is synced, you see green ball with a check mark.

The program takes a little getting used to so keep these notes handy.  It also lets you recover previous versions of files you have put in "Dropbox"

PC Wizard identifies all the hardware on the system and can run various performance tests.  It is available from from http://download.cnet.com   It is updated at least monthly.    Identifies hardware and is in a folder called CPUID on your list of programs.

To tell speed of computer, for Windows XP or older use PC Wizard 2010, http://www.cpuid.com/pcwizard.php, for Vista, and 7 use the speed assessment tools they have.  These ratings are unrelated so you can not compare between old and new systems easily.  If you want to do that run pcwizard on both.
To access the Microsoft program, START (the little round ball in the lower left of your screen) > CONTROL PANEL (in the left hand menu listing)  > PERFOMANCE INFORMATION AND TOOLS
If you just see a menu of about 8 items not including the one you want, then click on the VIEW BY  drop don menu in the upper right of the screen and select view by LARGE (or SMALL) icons then look for PERFOMANCE INFORMATION AND TOOLS.  What you see is the score from the last time the program was run.  If you have made changes in the system, re run the program by clicking on the option in the lower right of the screen.

To disable Microsoft Genuine Advantage checking for windows XP, see:
http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Windows-Genuine-Advantage-Notifications
Often when you work on older computers and need to reinstall windows you do not have the original disks.  Using  this method you can use any disks but will not be able to update Windows XP beyond SR2.  Apparently safety updates are still available.
If you attempt to run the Microsoft Genuine Advantage program again, you will have to go through these steps again to keep from getting bogged down by the warning messages.

Help with Microsoft Products:  http://support.microsoft.com/
1-800-936-5700, if you get tangled in voice mail options, enter a lot of zeros and you will eventually get to a human being somewhere on the planet.  Remember live support is often available for the first 30 or 60 days after you register a program so work the problems early.

General Software, mostly free

LibreOffice (Replaces OpenOffice):  A free substitute for Microsoft Office: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/ Click HERE for detailed user notes and installation information.  It is better than Office at opening a wide variety of files.  For example I had a Microsoft Works spreadsheet that Office would not open but Open Office would.  I could then save it as an Excel Spreadsheet.  It will NOT open Microsoft Publisher.  I recommend not using Publisher if you need to share the file with others or print it from other computers.

Real Audio:  http://www.real.com/

Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF files): http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

 Create PDF files (but can not edit them) with PDFCreator:  http://www.download.com/DeskPDF-Professional/3000-6675_4-10416226.html?hhTest&cdlPid=10849217 I have not used this but looks good.

Reading ZIP Files: I am using Zipreader from downloaded from CNET.com  Typically Windows from at least Vista on will read .ZIP files so you do not need any special program. You will need one if you wish to create .ZIP files.

Firefox internet browser:     http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/  It is my standard browser. 
A few web sites will only work with Internet Explorer so I still keep that around.  One of
Firefox's big pluses for me is the built in spell checker.  I would look even dumber without it.

NVU HTML editor:    http://www.download.com/Nvu/3000-2048_4-10412423.html?hhTest&tag=lst-1&cdlPid=10412422     Have not us

Teamviewer  PC Mag. Oct 2010 recommendation  www.teamviewer.com Allows you to log in to a computer from a remote location even from a Mac or IPhone

Darik’s boot and Nuke  http://www.dban.org  Have it on a boot disk and you can use it to totally erase everything on your hard disk including the operating system and all programs.  PC Mag. Oct 2010 recommendation

www.dropbox.com    Online file backup, free for 2 gigs  synched,. Files also available over the internet PC Magazine 2010 recommendation.  Also great for sharing files with others.

Various good programs from Piriform All free but they encourage a donation.
       CCleaner, deletes junk files, cleans the registry, manages start up programs etc.
             I use it all the time.
       Speccy  Gives all kinds of sepecs on your computer, have used, seems to work well.
       Defraggler   A disk defragmenter.  I typically use the one in Windows but this
             should a good free alternative if you want one.
        Recuva      A program to recover (undelete) deleted files from the hard disk, USB drive,
             camera or IPOD.  First try your recycle bin.  After a while it becomes imposable
            
to recover the file because the space is overwritten but this is always worth a try.

Their web site and installation procedures are a little confusing so click HERE for detailed notes.


 Microsoft Downloads: Click HERE then search on:

        Some good ones are:

       "powerpoint viewer"  This is a must for those who do not have Office 2007 or later and
        have not installed the "Microsoft Compatibility Pact" discussed below.

"Windows Defender", is an anti-spyware (not anti-virus) program that is included with Vista.  You can download a version that works with Windows XP.
It can work in tandem with any anti-virus program or other anti-spyware program.
A version of it is included with Vista and Windows 7.  Get it by typing "Defender" in the search box at the bottom of the Start Menu.

Microsoft has a product called Microsoft Safety Scanner that was recommended by Comcast and it worked well for me.  It is intended to be used in conjunction with your regular anti-virus software.  You can download it at:  http://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx.  The file is msert.exe.
You run it when you think you have a problem.  It does not run in the background and the version you download is only good for 10 days.  Note:  There are both a 32 bit and 64 bit versions.  If you will be running it on the computer you download it to, then it will automatically pick the proper one but if you plan on copying it to anther computer, then you may need to specify a different version.  9/7/2011

         "Process Explorer" (a high tech version of Task Manager (of CTRL ALT DEL fame)   

"Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats"
For Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft changed the file formats so they may not be readable with older versions of Office. Office 2010 uses this new format also. This program makes older versions of Office better able to  read the new material.   Alternately when saving files in Office 2007 or 2010, one can specify saving them in a format that can be read by earlier versions.

 

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Rev 9/14/15