Google+ October 2012 ~ High Tech House Calls

Unexpected Chemistry of Cookies

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