Google+ 2012 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Resale Websites

Half the challenge of decluttering is knowing where to off-load your stuff. Let these easy-to-use sites handle the heavy lifting.

If you have: iAnything or Video Games
List your Apple devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads), video games, and DVDs in three minutes flat: Just type in the name of the item and answer a few questions. Once a customer buys it, Glyde will send a preaddressed, prepaid shipping kit so you can send the product on its way. As soon as the buyer confirms receipt, a payment is deposited into your Glyde account. (You can transfer those funds to your bank account.)
Fees:  12 percent of the first $100 of the sale price; 8 percent of any additional amount;  $1 to $3 for the shipping kit.

If you have: Women's Clothing
For the easiest experience, opt for this site's Closet Cleanse package. Request a box, pack it with clothes, and use a prepaid shipping label to mail it to An "expert seller" will photograph, price and post your items, then mail them to the buyers. (If you like, the pro will run prices by you before proceeding.) Garments that aren't snatched up within eight weeks can be donated (you'll receive a receipt for your tax return) or returned to you (you'll pay for shipping). 
Fees: 38.5 percent of your kit's total sale price; $10 for the Closet Cleanse kit. 

If you have: Kids' Clothing 
Getting rid of your kids' old dudes is simple: Order the site's "clean-out" bag to fill with clothes. Then send it to the site using the prepaid shipping label. ThredUp will compensate you (via PayPal or store credit) for any items it deems sellable - meaning clean and undamaged - and the rest is recycled. It will list your items for sale on its retail website, but you get paid whether or not shoppers bite.
Fees: $4.95 refundable deposit for the clean-out bag. Sellers make 20 to 40 percent of each item's resale value.  

If you have: Books
It's hard to turn a profit on paperbacks, but hardbacks can earn a pretty penny. To sell a book, search for its title, note the condition, set a price (Amazon will tell you the going rate), and select how you want to ship the item (you receive a credit for the expense). Payments go into your bank account. 
Fees: 15 percent of the sale price: $2.34 in closing fees.  

If you have: Collectibles
eBay remains the place to list comic, books, baseball cards, and classic toys, but getting rid of your goods requires legwork. To use the site's signature auction service (there's also a Buy It Now option), you'll have to upload images, write descriptions, set prices, and calculate shipping costs (eBay provides tools to help). Your auction can last as little as 24 hours or as long as 10 days. Once you have a winner, you can get paid through PayPal or a number of other payment services.
Fees: 9 percent of both the item's sale price and the shipping fee. 

Reprinted from Real Simple Magazine January 2013 

 Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Getting an App Refund

Getting an App Refund
Not every app is a keeper. Maybe it’s difficult to download or doesn’t work right. Or perhaps it’s just not as useful as you had hoped. Fortunately, in some cases you can “return” the app and get your money back. Here’s what you need to know.
For Apple Devices: If you simply dislike an app or it has a glitch, Apple won’t issue a refund. But if the app was purchased by mistake, you may be able to get your money back. Log in to your iTunes purchase history or open the email you received when you made the purchase. Then click on “Report a Problem” and fill out a customer service form. Apple will contact you with the next steps.
For Android Devices: Google Play has a generous policy. Uninstall an app within 15 minutes of buying it and you automatically receive a refund. Go to the page in Google Play where you bought the app and click “Refund”. If that time frame has passed, you can still get your money back- but only if the app has a technical problem. Contact Google Play’s customer service (, explain the issue and request a refund.
For Blackberry Devices: Blackberry’s App World states that all apps are non-refundable, but there are exceptions. If the app has technical difficulties or if it was discontinued shortly after you purchased (check by searching for it in Blackberry’s App World), you can request reimbursement through Blackberry customer service (

Reprinted from Real Simple Magazine January 2013 

 Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Shopping Suggestions

Here are some ideas for technology gift giving during the holiday season:

iPad and tablet accessories:
  • A case to make sure your screen doesn't get cracked.
  • An adapter so you can use your older iPad sync cable with newer iPad and mini iPads.
  • Remove smudges with a microfiber cloth to keep your screen looking clean.
  • A docking station for a custom alarm clock experience.
  • More comfortable headphones to replace the stock headphones that came with the iPhone.
  • A gift certificate for setup and training.
Ideas on where to buy laptops
With Apple introducing new versions of their iPad, iPhone, laptops and desktop computers, used equipment that others have sold is a bargain.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Creating PDF Files Without Buying Adobe Reader Pro

How many times have you wanted to create an electronic document that could not be changed?
Have you wanted to send a website page as an attachment instead of sending a link to the page?
Do you edit a blog or a website and wanted to know how to insert a document as a post or as a webpage?

The Apple Mac operating system has this built in as an option when you print from an application.  

On a Windows computer, download a program called PDFLite. Download PDFLite from here: ( This program creates a "printer"whose output is a PDF file. For example, you have created a Word document. From Word, select print and then select PDFLite as the printer. You are prompted where to store the converted file.

When you wish to make a file of a website page, the same procedure applies. Select print and select the PDFLite printer.

You cannot cut and past a PDF document into a blog post or into a website page. To display a PDF file requires HTML code. One way to generate the code without learning HTML is through a website called scribd. Create an account and you can upload a PDF file for sharing. Once the file was been processed into your library you can copy code that allows you to embed the PDF file into a blog post or website. See the scribd tutorial for more information:
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Consider One-On-One Training As Part of a Christmas Tech Gift

Is someone on your Christmas gift list receiving a technology gift? Could they use some training?

Have a relative or friend that is technology challenged? You may think that person would enjoy an iPad, iPhone or laptop computer, but are concerned they might become frustrated trying to learn to use the device.

Do you have the time to get them up to speed?

High Tech House Calls has extensive experience providing customized one-on-one training with the technology challenged. Here is a list of things we can do to help your loved one's learn something new more easily:
  • We offer customized set up for the device in the comfort of their home or business when it is convenient for them. 
  • We teach at the pace that the student is comfortable with, in "bite sized" sessions.
  • We provide customized documentation that includes screen shots to reinforce that day's training. The student can use printed documentation, adding additional notes to ensure that the lesson makes sense to them.
  • Appropriate, easy to complete homework assignments are assigned that reinforce that day's lesson.
  • We offer weekly lessons that build upon one another. 
  • We are available by phone or email, for free, to answer any questions, to help reinforce the lesson, and to reduce frustration.
Call today to purchase a gift certificate or to schedule a training session.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tips on Creating and Sending Holiday Emails

Here are some tips to make sharing holiday news electronically a little bit easier:

Do you have a long list of email addresses in a distribution list?

If there are too many email addresses in the list, your Internet Service Provider may mark your message as SPAM and refuse to send it.
  1. You can create mini-distribution lists to get around this. Unfortunately, it is hard to determine what the upper limit size of your distribution list is before it is marked as SPAM.
  2. You can turn to a free email distribution service such as MailChimp ( MailChimp can solve the "large distribution list" problem. MailChimp has a built in SPAM checker. You could also try EmailSPAMCheck (
Some general rules to help you avoid your email being identified as SPAM are:
  1. Make sure your email has the Subject line filled in.
  2. Avoid sales pitch buzz words or phrases such as "free" or "click here" anywhere in your email.
What are the best ways to share photos? 

Adding photos as attachments to an email can trigger another limit imposed by your ISP or your recipient's ISP. Emails have a size limit. How can you avoid the size limitation?
  1. Unless you are sending only one or two photos as attachments, forget using attachments in your email.
  2. You can share digital photo albums you created by uploading your photos to sites such as Picasa (  ) or PhotoBucket ( ). Once your photos are uploaded and organized in a photo album, you can share them via a link.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 2012 eNewsletter

Advanced Wireless Printer Troubleshooting

Here is a list of common wireless printer problems and their solutions:

You installed a new wireless router. Your wireless printer no longer connects to the wireless network.
Your older wireless printer may not be capable with your new wireless network. There are various wireless standards (801.11B, D, G, and N). Using documentation from the wireless printer manufacturer, see what wireless standards are supported by the printer. If the printer and the new wireless router are incompatible, it may be time to buy a new wireless printer that supports the newer standards. Another alternative is to connect the printer directly to a computer via a USB cable or connect the printer to the network via a Cat5e cable to a wired network port on your wireless router. It is also possible that the wireless receiver in the printer has failed. If connecting the printer directly to a computer or connecting the printer to the network via a wired connection are not options, the printer will need to be replaced.

You try to print to the printer and the printer says it is "offline".
Go to the printer properties page and make sure that "use printer offline" is not checked. Did this fix the problem? Some HP printers go offline when they "sleep". This is a known problem and currently does not have a solution. If the workaround of unchecking "use printer offline" is unacceptable, you can try to get the printer replaced with a different model if it is under warranty or buy another model printer. You can also try connecting the printer to a computer or connecting via a wired connection to a router port to see if the problem is resolved.

Your new computer with a newer operating system no longer connects to the wireless printer. 
It is possible the printer manufacturer does not have a driver that supports your operating system. Check the manufacturer's website to see if this is the case. If no compatible driver is uncovered, a newer printer will need to be purchased in order to print from your new computer. This is a common problem with "old" printers that were purchased when the Windows XP Operating System was new. 

Why connect a printer "wirelessly" if connecting directly to a computer or connecting via a wired connection to the router are available?
Sharing a printer among different Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac Operating System computer is easier with a wireless printer. Sharing a printer via a wired connection to a router is just as easy, but the printer must be close enough to the wireless router for a cable connection. Sharing a printer when the printer connected directly to a computer is much more difficult and may be impossible based on the other computers that want to share the printer.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stuck with Windows 8? Let Us Help!

Training material on using Windows 8 is not available yet. Do you have the time to Google search your way to learning a new operating system?

Are you concerned about the stability or the security of a brand new operating system? High Tech House Calls can customize Windows 8 to look just like your familiar Windows 7 operating system.
We can migrate any programs or data you have on your Windows 8 computer and  install Windows 7 on your computer.

As a Microsoft Partner, we have been using Windows 8 in our lab for the last month. We have done the learning for you.

With the holidays just around the corner, don't let the fear of Windows 8 deter you from buying a Windows 8 computer. 

We can help!
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 


If You Didn't Qualify for an Upgrade, is it Worth it to Invest in an iPhone 5?

Is the battery life better on the iPhone 5 vs. the iPhone 4s? Yes. A car charger is a must for the 4s.

Is the browser faster on the 5? Yes. The 5 supports the 4g lte network. The 4s does not. There is a discernible difference in browser speeds between the two. If you don't use the Internet browser for much other than quick look ups, the faster browser will not matter as much.

Does the faster processor in the 5 make a difference? Yes. Application software loads faster and runs faster on the 5.

Is the bigger screen on the 5 noticeable? No. Without putting the two iPhones side by side, the larger screen on the 5 is not noticeable.

The 5 requires a new case, jogging arm band, car charger and extra sync cables. This cost could easily add $100 or more to the cost of a 5.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Controlling and Managing SPAM

Here are some suggestions on controlling and managing SPAM:

Use more than one email account.
Segregate your email addresses. Have one for personal, business, shopping and downloads. Your shopping and download email addresses probably attract the most SPAM. When the SPAM reaches a threshold that you can no longer tolerate, delete the account and create a new one. GMAIL is a great way to create throwaway, temporary email accounts.

Tag email as SPAM.
Mark the email as Junk Mail. Her's how: In Outlook, right mouse click the email and add it to the blocked sender list. Any new emails from that sender will be put into the Junk Mail Folder.

Create a Filter to Detect SPAM
Email programs such as Outlook allow you to create rules on how to handle particular email address or emails that contain certain words or phases in their subject line or in the body of the text.When the parameters for the rule are met, you can specify in the rule that the email be deleted or filed in the Junk Mail folder. Search the internet for examples on creating rules specific to your email program. Here is a link to an example of creating a rule in Outlook (

  • In general, don't attempt to remove yourself from a distribution list from email you no longer wish to receive unless the email is from a company you recognize. People who create SPAM will redouble their SPAM attack on you when they realize they have a live one as indicated by your attempt to be removed from their list.
  • You cannot mark an email as SPAM on an iPhone. 
  • Email programs such as Outlook have a built-in SPAM filter. You can turn up the sensitivity of the filter, but be aware that some email that you want in your Inbox may be tagged as SPAM and moved to your Junk Mail folder. Review your Junk Mail folder contents on a regular basis and right mouse click emails as not SPAM, when appropriate. Once this is done, all emails from that sender will no longer be marked as SPAM.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time to Throw Laptop Away and Use a Tablet Instead?

With Apple's recent announcement of a 7" iPad Tablet, will a tablet replace your laptop for your personal and work related computer needs?

Here's a comparison of the three basic tablet types with regard to features: Apple iPad, Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet, and Android Tablets.

Can you connect to the Internet? Yes. All tablets have the ability via Wi-Fi. None have the ability to connect via a wired connection.

Can you send and receive email? Yes, but an Enterprise Email Solution such as Outlook currently does not run on any tablet platform. Managing email will not be as robust as with an Enterprise Email Solution, but if you don't get hundreds of emails a day, a tablet's email application software should be able to handle it.

Can you create and edit Microsoft Office Documents? It is rumored that the iPad will soon have a Microsoft Office Application. Otherwise all the tablets have third party application software that allows basic editing functions for Microsoft Office Documents. Complex editing is beyond the capability of the tablets and Microsoft has not yet announced which Microsoft Office functionality will be included on the iPad.

Can you surf the Internet? Yes.

Can you read other document file types such as Adobe or e-books? Yes.

Can you access streaming contents such as Netflix? Yes.

Play music? Yes.The non Apple tablets will not be able to access your iTunes library, but there are ways to port your music and play it.

Share files? Yes. Either you can move files back and forth via email attachments or manage files via cloud storage solutions such as Drop Box. Most tablets do not have a way to copy data from the tablet to an external device such as an USB Thumb Drive.

What is the keyboard typing experience like? The virtual keyboard on tablets will not be as good a fit for someone who is a touch typist. Using a stylus does help with people with bigger hands. The iPad and some Android tablets do allow the addition of an external keyboard.

Can I print out stuff? Yes. Depending on what type printer you have, the process can be very straight forward or may require a third party application to connect the printer to your tablet. If you require a third party application, printing will be a chore. If you print out one document after another all day long, you must consider how your existing printer will work with your tablets.

So far, so good. What can I do on a laptop that I cannot do on a tablet? Run specialized applications that require a large amount of disk space, CPU performance or a large screen ( such as video editing software).

If you just do the basics with your laptop, a tablet might be a great replacement. If the smaller 7" sized screen tablet appeals to you, I suggest looking at the Barnes and Noble Tablet. This tablet has an microSD card can you can use for backup or moving data from one device to another. The other advantage is that the highly customize Nook interface is great for reading. When you need a full featured operating system, you can boot the Android Operating System off the microSD card. This functionality does not come from Barnes and Noble. You must buy and install a third party solution to load the Android Operating System on your tablet. The cost is low with the end result more than worth it. This is my preferred tablet/laptop replacement solution.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Managing Your USB Thumb Drives

I have seven USB Thumb Drives. Some were free and others were deals too good to pass up. I was having a real problem finding a file that I knew was on the USB Thumb Drive, but I couldn't figure out which one. I also had a real fear of misplacing or losing a Thumb Drive that had a file I hadn't backed up.

My first pass at a solution was documenting what was on each drive by displaying a directory listing of each drive on a computer and then printing out the directory listing. Each listing was labeled something descriptive like silver USB Drive.

This solution would be quickly out of date the minute I added or deleted a file from the USB Drive. Also, I had to look at each printout to find a file and then I had to find the USB Drive.

My better solution was to use Drop Box. Drop Box is a cloud storage solution that makes all cloud storage available to all my computers (Mac or PC), tablets (iPad and Android) and my iPhone. It also has the added advantage of when I modify the contents of an USB Drive, that change is reflected automatically in the cloud storage.

So, if I am out of my lab and need a file, I can log into my Drop Box account and download the file I need. I can also use the computer, tablet or iPhone search function to find the file I need without looking at a hard copy listing of the USB Drive contents.

This better solution will work with any cloud storage solution such as Drop Box, SkyDrive, iCloud, etc. The only thing you need to do the first time is to insert your USB Thumb Drive into the USB Port of a computer that has access to your cloud storage and then copy the contents of your USB Thumb Drive and paste it into your cloud storage device.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Things You Didn't Know About Norton Antivirus

Norton Antivirus can be purchased as a single PC, 3 PC, 5 PC or more type license. If you have a stack of these installation disks and need to install a fresh copy of Norton Antivirus, how do you determine if the license has expired or if all the licenses have been used?

You could install Norton and activate the product. At this point the user interface will tell you if the product successfully activated and how many days are left before the software expires.

If you purchased a 3 PC license, the first date that license is activated is when the clock starts toward its expiration in 365 days. Therefore, when you buy that third PC and activate the last remaining license from your 3 PC license, the third PC will expire at the same time as the first PC license.

You can manage all your copies of Norton Antivirus from one place by downloading Norton Management from the site, or as an installation option on the installation disk. You must use this software in order to monitor Norton Antivirus from one location. This software will probably negatively impact computers that already have performance issues.

How do can you minimize the cost of Norton Antivirus?
    • Never simply download a copy of Norton; always copy to a disk. Unless you create an installation kit by copying the download to a cd, reloading Norton after a computer crash or loading onto a new computer will be difficult.
    • Having a physical copy of Norton, i.e. an installation disk, makes it easy to claim a rebate that requires previous proof of purchase. If you scan the Sunday newspaper for deals on Norton, you can buy a new copy where the cost is free after filing out a rebate form.
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Is Windows 8 In Your Future?

High Tech House Calls has been testing a pre-release version of Windows 8 for the past two weeks. Here are some of our observations:

Microsoft is moving toward offering one user interface for their Windows phone, tablet and PC. The interface navigation is geared for a touch screen, but will also work on non-touch screen computers.

Instead of a "start button" as with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, there is a "start screen" that displays tiles representing applications. Navigation with a mouse is awkward.  There is a way to get around using the tiles interface. If you click on the desktop button and create shortcuts to the applications you use the most, you will see a Windows 7 interface. Don't have a shortcut to an application you want to use? Right mouse click and select "create a shortcut" and then browse to where the application resides. This is tedious, but only has to be been done once per application.

Microsoft is moving toward an Apple Application Library model called the Microsoft Store. At present, there are not many application in the store. This should change with time.

Many third party companies are offering software for free, or for sale to get Windows 8 to look and feel more like Windows 7. I have found some of these offerings to be helpful while coming up to speed on Windows 8.

It appears that many of the answers to Windows 8 questions offered on the Internet are out of date. The tutorial offered by Microsoft is very basic and not very helpful.

Windows 8 was released Friday, October 26th. The initial upgrade price is set at $40. Here is a link to MicroCenter to purchase Windows 8 for $38.88:  The price will go up after January 31th.

I suggest buying the Windows 8 upgrade license now at the lower price, but waiting until the initial release problems are addressed. If you are a Vista user, here is your chance for a cheap upgrade. If you are running Windows 7, I suggest staying with Windows 7. If you are buying a new computer, try to get the computer loaded with Windows 7 with  the option of upgrading the software to Windows 8 at a latter date.

Here is a link to an extensive article on using Windows 8 that I found very helpful:
Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Some Pointers Regarding iPhoto Application

If you are a Mac user, you are probably using iPhoto to store pictures of your first born's first steps and of his high school graduation. Here are some tips for making sure your photos are available when you need them:

Back Up Your iPhoto Library
  • iPhoto stores your photos in a database. Any file system, such as a disk drive or a database, can have things go wrong with its structural integrity. There are tools to detect a failing disk drive and to repair those errors. Unfortunately, there are not tools to repair a damaged iPhoto database. Therefore, it is essential that you backup the iPhoto database on a regular basis. 
  • Make sure the iPhoto Application is closed to ensure a complete copy of your iPhoto database. 
  • You'll find the iPhoto Library at: /Users/username/Pictures
  • To get there, double-click the icon for your hard drive to open it, then double-click the Users folder. Double-click your Home folder, which is identified by a house icon and your username, and then double-click the Pictures folder to open it.
  • Inside the Pictures folder you'll see a file called iPhoto Library. Copy the iPhoto Library file to a location other than your hard drive, such as an external hard drive or add it to your cloud storage.
How to Extract a Photo From iPhoto
In fact, what you need to do is export the photo or photos from Apple iPhoto to get them out of the application.

iphoto event photos

For example:
Select a photo, then choose "Export..." from the "File" menu:

iphoto file export

Notice here that you can set which graphical file format you'd prefer, whether you want it to be high quality (that is, a big output file) or lower quality, what size, and so on.
Ready? Then click on "Export" and it will then ask where you want to save the photo or photos.
iphoto file photo export window 2

Specify where, and it'll save the photograph or photographs, all ready to upload to another service or do just about anything else you desire.
If you no longer want to have the images in iPhoto, don't forget to Control-click on the images and choose "Move to Trash".
 Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting 

Monday, October 8, 2012

September 2012 eNewsletter

Monday, September 17, 2012

HP vs. Canon Printer

Here is a comparison between HP and Canon Printer:

Printer Manufacturer
Ease of Software Installation
Phone Support
Website Technical Support
Work with iPhone?
Replacement when things go bad?
Lengthy and troublesome
Problematic at best
Pretty good.
Not as dependable as Canon. Don’t buy low end and expect it to last very long.
AirPrint enabled support printing from iPhone without app from anywhere you are connected to the Internet
Probably not. Expect to buy a new printer.
Straight forward and works the first time
Pretty good.
Pretty good
ePrint enabled printer supports printing to printer without app while on same wireless network
No hassle replacement under warranty. 20% discount on a replacement printer they offer if out of warranty.

In general, I would recommend buying the Canon printer over the HP printer every time.

High Tech House Calls does not sell printers, but we can make recommendations on your individual needs for free. Call or email us for a custom recommendation.

Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting