Thursday, 28 April 2016

A Secure, Low-Cost, Android Smartphone?

I’m looking for a new Android smartphone and don’t want to spend a fortune on it. I do want it to be secure and to remain that way for more than six months. Suggestions would be welcome!

Friday, 1 April 2016

Avoiding Windows 10

How And When Should I Use BlockWindows If I Want To Avoid Windows 10 Being Installed?

Sunday, 20 December 2015

My Own Items On The Windows 7 Start Menu

Can I add frequently used files and folders to the Windows 7 Start Menu so that I can easily open them without having to navigate to them in Windows Explorer?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

One-stop shopping for a secure Windows 7?

These days there seems to be a lot of stuff that needs keeping an eye on: antivirus, antimalware, Java, Flash, etc. Is there a way to check all of those (and perhaps other things too) to ensure my Windows 7 environment is as secure as it gets, other than regularly checking each of these components individually (which is tedious and takes time)?

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Updating Programs When I’m Not Using Them

Many of the programs I’m using under Windows 7 tell me when an update is available. Unfortunately, they do so at a time when I want to use them. Is there an easy way to make them check for updates, and even update themselves, in bulk?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Is Adobe Flash Player Secure?

I’ve heard rumours about Adobe Flash Player, notably that it would be very insecure software that should be updated frequently. I can’t find Flash Player or an update checker in my Windows 7 Start Menu; how do I check for updates, if I even have Flash Player on my PC?

Friday, 19 June 2015

Free Windows 10 Upgrade: Go For It Or Wait?

My Windows 7 tells me that I’m eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10. Should I stay or should I go?

Friday, 1 May 2015

My Ears Are Bleeding

My music collection is eons old (OK perhaps not eons, but old nonetheless) and contains several thousands of tracks. The problem is that some tracks sound a lot louder than others, which sometimes leads to jumpy situations. Is there a way to level the volume of my tracks ‘en masse’ so that they’re all more or less equally loud? I use Windows 7.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Android Programming With Microsoft's Visual Studio?

I've done a good bit of Visual Basic programming with Microsoft's Visual Studio Express, as well as VBA programming with Excel and Access. I've been searching for development environments for Android, but they're either expensive or complex, as in 'learn Java first', and that doesn't seem to be something that will make me hit the ground running. Any hints would be appreciated!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Rant

An experience this time, and perhaps a warning for the unsuspecting. Never again will I buy Medion or Lenovo (Medion is now mostly or entirely - I can’t be bothered to look it up and spend more time on them - a Lenovo company). Actually I wanted to send this to the big honchos at either Medion or Lenovo, but can’t be bothered either to use snail mail (electronically they’re conveniently invisible to the outside world). Closure!

- 05/05/14: ordered (and paid) a MEDION AKOYA E6241 laptop (my 7th – and last - Medion PC, a birthday present for my son)

- 17/6/14: submitted case #231263#1025912#58b0165#: laptop didn't do anything any longer (only the power LED went on)

- 18/6/14: customer service (actually this is the company Dynafix in the Netherlands) replied it might be battery-related, provided some recommendations

- 18/6/14: recommendations did not work, I notified customer service

- 18/6/14: customer service suggested return, provided voucher

- 19/6/14: device dropped off for shipping

- 30/6/14: customer service notified me the laptop had arrived, could take up to 15 working days to process

- 16/7/14: customer service notified me 'the product' was going to be packaged and shipped

- 18/7/14: a different model (P6638) was delivered without prior notification about this change

- 20/7/14: I notified customer service I was not satisfied as this model was much slower than the original one I ordered

- 21/7/14: customer service suggested I return this replacement

- 21/7/14: I asked for a return voucher

- 22/7/14: again, I asked for a return voucher

- 22/7/14: return voucher arrived; customer service informed me that they would look for a suitable replacement

- 22/7/14: I informed customer service that I wanted to know the replacement model as I didn't want to go through returning an inferior model once again (notice that at this point we're already 2.5 months after my original purchase - and payment)

- 23/7/14: customer service informs me that they won't be able to stipulate the replacement model in advance, but would do so before they send me one

- 04/08/14: I asked the parcel service why the laptop hadn't arrived at Medion yet and was promptly told that Dynafix (the Medion repair service) had collected it on 25/07/14

- 04/08/14: I asked customer service for a status - we're 3 months after my original purchase (and payment) now

- 05/08/14: customer service suggested to refund, asked my bank details

- 05/08/14: I provided my bank details; notice that as of now this is mostly one-way communication as I didn't get any further replies for quite a while

- 08/08/14: I didn't get the refund yet and asked when I could expect it

- 12/08/14: I'm a truly irate customer now (if anybody at Medion or Dynafix would know what that means, do explain it to others in the company - assuming anybody cares) and inform customer service that I'll just wait for the money to arrive and will notify Medion and Lenovo board members (I found some names on the web) as perhaps these people do care about customers

- 14/08/14: still no refund; I informed customer service that if the money wasn't in my account on Tuesday 19 August 17:00 CET, I would file complaints with the Belgian and Dutch (I'm in Belgium and purchased the laptop on the Belgian Medion site, Dynafix is in the Netherlands) Ministries of Economic Affairs

- 18/08/14: communication miraculously resumed; I received a reply to my mail from 08/08/14 stating that ‘the order was processed on 14/08 and I would probably have my money in my account end that week or early the next week’

- 18/08/14: I noticed that the money had arrived in my account

- 20/08/14: I received a reply to my mail from 14/08/14 stating that the accounting department had issued the credit order and I should receive it imminently (I already had, of course)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Installing An Android App Without Google Play

A friend of mine developed an app for me and mailed it to me (in other words, the app isn’t available on Google Play). How can I install it on my phone that is running Android 4.3?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Insecure Android Security?

I know it’s not best practice, but as I use my Android 4 phone all the time, I don’t have a screen lock pin or password - I just unlock it by swiping it. I don’t tend to lose or misplace my stuff and haven’t been pickpocketed so far, but still think it would be safer if I had some means to remotely disable the phone, should it get stolen or lost. Any suggestions?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Copying Files Without Properties?

I wanted to move files between PCs using a flash drive, and Windows 7 asked me ‘Are you sure you want to copy this file without its properties?’. Does that mean I will lose data if I copy files that way?

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Who’s Afraid Of Windows 8?

I’m looking out for a new laptop, and found out that these days they all come with Windows 8.1. I don’t want a touch screen, just a run of the mill normal laptop, and having heard the comments about Windows 8.1 since its inception and the fact that its look and feel differ significantly from Windows 7, I’m a little reluctant to go there. I could, of course, reinstall the new laptop with Windows 7 - any thoughts?

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Drop Dropbox And Swap For Something Secure?

Lately there has been quite a bit of commotion around Dropbox and its lack of security. I mean: files are stored on the Dropbox servers/discs ‘as is’, unencrypted, so theoretically Dropbox employees might be able to retrieve the contents. While I’m not exactly in possession of top secret documents, I am wary about people being able to sniff around my tax declarations and other stuff I consider private - after all, I don’t leave my front door wide open either.

Can you recommend an alternative that is more secure and still has the same functionality and high degree of ease of use as Dropbox? I only use the file sync facility (not the sharing, the photo uploads, or any other stuff that might exist), and the platforms on which I use it are Windows 7 and Android 4. I need less than 1 GB of storage as I only sync documents between computers, smartphones, and tablets.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Innards Of My PC

I want to sell my PC and would like to get prepared because the last time I did that, potential buyers asked me all kinds of questions about the hardware and software, and I had a hard time trying to find the answers. Is there a way to get all relevant information about a PC, preferably to a text file that could then be e-mailed?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Android Checks My SD Card Forever

My Android 4.0 tablet, though not being the latest and greatest, still works fine. One thing isn’t so fine: it takes as long as a PC to start up - or even longer. I found out that once the boot process has completed, Android checks my SD card and this goes on for several minutes. I’ve reformatted the SD card but to no avail. Is my SD card broken or could this be something else?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Print That Internet

Sometimes I’d like to have the contents of a website as a PDF file to later on read them on paper or to have them available in one document, like a reference manual. I don’t mean just one web page, but also the pages to which it contains links (and so on). Is that possible?

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sending To Wherever I Want

I’d like to add some locations, like shortcuts to folders of mine, to the 'Send to' context menu that opens when right-clicking an item in Windows Explorer or on the Desktop in Windows 7. Is that possible?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Invisible Disc

A friend gave me an external USB disc that has been used with a Linux PC, and when I connect it to my Windows 7 machine to format it, the USB ‘ping’ can be heard but the disc doesn’t show up in ‘Computer’. Is it broken?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

My Sync Is Sinking

I’ve been using the DSynchronize tool for my backups, as you suggested in your post Real Men Don’t Take Backups. While this works great with internal and external discs, unfortunately success with network drives like my NAS shares is mediocre. Do you happen to know of a good alternative?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Frequent Favourites

There are certain bookmarks I use all the time on my PCs as well as on my Android devices. On the latter, I don’t really like the stock bookmark widgets as they would clog up my screen, and also don’t like the way the bookmarks are being handled by the browser. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Google Play Alternative

I purchased a tablet from a Chinese eBay shop, but it doesn’t seem to contain Google Play. I’ve looked around and don’t really want to root the tablet or mess about with custom ROMs. I’ve examined alternative solutions, but they all seem to require access to Google Play, which is a catch-22. Is there an alternative that can be used ‘as is’?

Monday, 22 July 2013

My Kingdom For An Orb

I reinstalled my Windows 7 PC with the DVDs that came with t, and the appearance seems to have changed: instead of the orb, I have a ‘Start’ button, and the start menu looks like that of an older Windows version too. How can I get my orb back?

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Laptop Lid Is A Light Switch

I have a new laptop running Windows 7 and if I move the lid even a little bit past perpendicular position, the PC goes into standby mode. Is my hardware knackered?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

My Mike Has Gone AWOL

I’ve done some updates and upgrades on my laptop running Windows 7, and now my internal microphone seems to have disappeared from the ‘Recording’ tab in the sound settings (after right-clicking the speaker icon in the System Tray) and I can’t find it back. Help!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Hi New Keyboard, Bye Mute Button

I purchased a Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000 to replace my old keyboard and mouse. Unfortunately its keyboard doesn't have a mute button, which is something I used to use quite often. I know the Windows volume control has a mute option, but when I'm gaming, the taskbar isn't visible. Is there a one-click, always visible mute feature hidden somewhere?

Sunday, 9 December 2012

RSS Feeding Frenzy

I’m looking for an RSS feed reader that will just generate a list of all the different feeds’ articles’ headers and, when clicking on a header, will show the contents in a separate pane in the program.

I’ve found a lot of RSS readers (both browser-based and as standalone Windows programs), but they all seem to show some lines of the articles’ text in the list, which isn’t what I want (I know I may be asking for much :).

Last but not least, if I could also synchronise the information (articles read vs not read) across PCs and perhaps even with my Android tablet or phone thrown into the mix, I’d have it all.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Where Did My Free Disc Space Go?

From time to time I look at 'Computer' in Windows Explorer (I use Windows 7) and recently the bar underneath my C: drive has changed from blue to red. My C: drive’s capacity is 100 Gb, and I only have 8 Gb free space. The strange thing is: I don’t have space-eating games installed and my documents and pictures and the likes are all on another disc. Is there some way to find out where the space is being used, without diving into each folder in Windows Explorer?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Windows Live Mail Is Installed In An Exotic Language

I just started to play with my new Windows 7 laptop and it seems Windows Live Mail is installed in a language I don’t understand. Is it possible to change the language without uninstalling and reinstalling?

Friday, 20 April 2012

I Want My Favourites!

I have a load of Internet Explorer favourites. I also have a bunch of gadgets (Android tablet et al) that are capable of browsing the web, but I seem to be unable to reuse these favourites there. Is it at all possible to copy them over?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Swiss Army Knife for PC First Aid

I recently ran into trouble that prevented my PC from booting. Long story short: I heard about ‘Live CDs’ with Windows or Linux operating systems, that would allow a PC to boot from a CD straight into a live, working operating system, without having to install it. Hints are welcome!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Startup Strangers

When Windows 7 starts after logging on, I’m getting an error message from a program called ‘facemoods’ which I didn’t even know I had. I’ve been looking around, but can’t find the thing and while it doesn’t seem to be causing any trouble, I’d like to get that error message removed. Any ideas?

Monday, 26 September 2011

A Bargain – Or Was It?

Not a question and answer this time, but an experience and warning.

I was recently shopping for a high capacity micro SD card

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A Windows WiFi Winner

I’m frequently at a location where a few hotspots or Access Points are available and I don’t know beforehand which one will be available when. I use both Vista and Windows 7; is there a way to make either of these connect automatically to whichever unsecured connection it finds?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Windows Live Mail Movements

I have a couple of questions about Windows Live Mail (WLM):
  • Where do I find the message store where all messages are err stored?
  • Can I make a backup of the message store?
  • Can I move it inside a folder I'm already backing up?
  • Can I move messages back to Hotmail so that I can read them with the web browser on any PC in the world?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

No Milk Today

Because I forgot to order it. Not really: I didn’t, because I use Microsoft Outlook (with an Exchange server behind it) at the office to manage both my professional and private tasks and calendar. A friend was looking for similar functionality without having the luxury of an Exchange server: a task list that could be accessed from any PC, and that would even work offline and synchronise with the server when a connection is available, as she carries a laptop around but isn’t always online. I was hoping Windows Live Mail, having a calendar, would provide a task list as well, but alas. Do you know of an alternative?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A Data Vault

I want to make backups of my office files by copying them to my home PC, and as they may contain company confidential information, I don’t want others, not even family members, to be able to access them, and my home PC has only one user account. Do you have a solution?

Saturday, 2 April 2011

It Was On The Cards

My desktop PC has a builtin card reader for SD cards and the likes. After using Vista's 'Safely Remove Hardware' functionality, I don't see the card reader anymore in 'Computer'. How can I get it back? I guess I did something wrong but when I use this for USB sticks, everything works fine?

Friday, 11 February 2011

Sing Along With The Lyrics - Me Ears Are Alight?

I noticed that when right-clicking a track in iTunes and clicking 'Get Info', there is a 'Lyrics' option but it doesn't show any lyrics?

I Spy With My Little Eye... Spyware !

I installed the tools you mentioned in
this post, but still seem to have been attacked by spyware. Que pasa? Aren't these tools as waterproof as you said?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

I Broke A DVD :( I Need A Backup !

Actually, someone else broke it for me, not that I asked for it. I wanted to avoid that this would happen to a few collector's items I have, but Nero tells me it can't do the job because of copy protection. Is there any other way to backup a DVD?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

How Do I Use My Bluetooth Headset With My PC?

I bought this nifty headset for my mobile phone and would now like to use it with my PC as well (Windows Vista), but am having trouble sorting out the Bluetooth stuff. Help!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

What The Beep Is A '.rar' File?

I downloaded this software or at least thought I would get an application file, but it seems to be something with type '.rar'. What's that?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Desktop Security 2010

I'm getting pop-ups from this software, encouraging me to run and buy it, as it has detected malware on my PC. Should I?

Shooting The Screen

Is there some interesting freeware around for making screenshots in Vista?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

My Avast! Warns Me About Imminent Expiration

Help! I'm an avid Avast! user but now it tells me it's about to expire. I thought it was free?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

What Shall We Do With An ISO File?

A friend of mine copied a file with extension '.ISO' to my hard disc, and said it is a 'CD image'. What do I do with such a file?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Less Is More: My Internet Explorer Font Is Way Too Big

I must accidentally have done something wrong because my Internet Explorer font is enormous. What did I do, and can I undo it?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Scanning In Vista: Do I Need Additional Software?

I haven't used my scanner so far and now I'd like to scan a document. I don't see any 'Scan' option anywhere in the Start menu - do I need to install additional software?

Game Over: My Game Won't Play On Vista

My old PC was still running Windows XP but finally it gave up - the PC that is. The new one came with Vista but now the games I used to play won't work anymore. Should I go back to Windows XP?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Shop Till You Drop (or not)

Hi-de-Hi Campers, long time no hear! That's not because I got fed up or ran out of questions, but I was mucking about with a program that already saved me - and several others - some cash and time (which is money) in the past.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Real Men Don't Take Backups

I once heard someone say 'real men don't take backups' but I don't believe them - anyway, it was a joke. Unfortunately backing up my PC takes far too much time and space. Any hints would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Globalisation - My DVDs Bought In The US Won't Play

Aaarrrgghhh I bought DVDs in the US but back in Europe noticed I can't play them, not even on my PC as the region code differs. Can I change the region code of the DVD drive on my PC?

How Can I Make My New Site Show Up In Google?

My new site's been up for a week but it doesn't seem to show up in Google when I search for it. Is there something I need to do?

Whodunit: Which Program Is Accessing The Disc?

Sometimes my disc activity LED goes berserk while my programs aren't really doing anything. How can I find out which program is accessing the disc?

Friday, 2 April 2010

A Tale Of Two Computers, One Monitor, And One Wireless Desktop

I have a tower PC and a laptop. Sometimes I use both at the same time, but it happens that I only use the laptop, and I'd like to have my monitor and wireless desktop work with that computer then. What I do not want, is to move the cables from the tower to the laptop and vice versa. Is there an elegant solution for this?

Friday, 26 March 2010

How Can I Convert WAV And Others To MP3?

I ripped a lot of music from my CDs to have it on my mp3 player. Unfortunately I ripped them all in .wav format which seems to be taking a lot more space than mp3 files. Is there a way to convert them en masse?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Double Dutch

Just a quick note to let you know the Dutch version has just been setup, in case your prefer our hurdy-gurdy native tongue. I'll first translate the English posts to Dutch, and will then continue writing new twin posts. Stay tuned!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Erase The Trace And Save Space

Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, Browser History, Recently Typed URLs, Windows Log Files, Recent Documents lists - these are just examples of what Windows leaves behind when you're not watching - or even while you are, as you won't be able to see it. Not only do these objects take up disc space (though these days that's not so big a problem anymore), but they can also slow your computer down, or leave traces that could be used by others to potentially impersonate you if e.g. you told Internet Explorer to save user ids and passwords so you wouldn't need to type them each time you visit a web page (also see my blog about KeePass, which can help you in that area as well).

My New PC Came With A Trial Antivirus

My new PC came with a Antivirus trial copy and it's about to expire. Is there any good free Antivirus out there?

Friday, 12 March 2010

Wicked: Wikipedia Search From Internet Explorer With Qpedia

Wouldn't it be convenient if you could just right-click a word or phrase on a web page in Internet Explorer and be taken to the corresponding Wikipedia page?

Play It Again, Sam: Playing Videos On Vista

Bummer. I recently upgraded to Vista and now Windows MediaPlayer objects when I try to play movies. What am I doing wrong?

The Office: How To Open Microsoft Office 2007 Documents With Microsoft Office 2003

We are not amused. I bought Microsoft Office 2003 and now people are sending me Microsoft Office 2007 documents, which the 2003 version doesn't seem to be able to handle. Do I have another option but to buy the newer version?

Start Menu Starts To Get On My Nerves

After installing a new Vista version, my Start Menu doesn't 'explore' the Documents folder anymore but just lets me browse through it until I hit a file, instead of just opening my Documents folder in a Windows Explorer window. What's going on?

Dude, Where's My Ink? - Printing To A PDF File

Green green green is what makes the world go round today. So is money. They collide at the junction called 'printing' when you want to save trees and paper and ink (and boy do you save money by saving ink) by storing to disc whatever you'd otherwise send to your printer. Send it to a PDF (Portable Document Format) file instead, and if you need to see the information again, read it (by double-clicking the filename in Windows Explorer) with Adobe Reader which you probably already have on your PC.

DriveGLEAM - or How To Keep Your Head Above The Desk At All Times

Laptops usually (or always, these days) have this convenient LED that shows disc activity. While wondering whether your PC has finished starting up and you can finally get some work/fun done, it can be a nuisance not being able to see whether or not that LED is still flickering, especially when using well-hidden desktops or tower model PCs that tend to be concealed underneath desks or in fancy cabinets.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Password Safes and Safe Passwords

Passwords. Can't live with them, can't live without them. They seem to multiply like rabbits in spring (or whatever their favourite season might be - I'm not a rabbitologist) and we're only human so we need to manage and remember them one way or another.

First Boot: Getting or Offering Remote Assistance with TeamViewer

Whether you've been on the sending or receiving site of remote assistance or just wanted to show your desktop to someone else, you may have found yourself in a situation where selecting the software to use for connecting to the other party's PC wasn't a trivial task.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Over the next few days, I'll be adding Q&A's based on the questions I've been asked in the recent past. I won't be trying to boil the ocean, write entire books, and cover all possible aspects of a solution. My aim is to provide a simple answer - well, as simple as it gets ;) - to problems that acquaintances have with their PC, not to provide advanced deep-dive trainings for seasoned IT professionals.

If you'd already stumble upon this work-in-progress blog, please be patient. It's my first attempt at blogging (not at writing though) and I'm still experimenting with Blogger's settings so the layout might change a bit - don't get used to it :)

After finishing the initial English version, I'll create one in Dutch as well.

Watch this space!