OneCare Has Its Place

Yes, I confess! I am using and have used Windows Live OneCare since its Beta days. Granted it may not be at the top of the list for anti-virus, firewall and back-up software, but let me share when, and for whom, it may be a good choice.

Many of my clients are senior citizens or like someone living right here in this house with me. These people have absolutely no interest in the hows and whys of computer functions or the steps necessary to keep things running smoothly. When a problem pops up, they have one word to fix things and that word is ‘Connie.’

These users want to write emails, receive emails and jokes, get out on the Net, and look around much like going to the mall and sometimes to research something of interest. The tower portion of their computer is like a shoebox, a place to store pictures and other items of interest. When they refer to the computer it is the screen, keyboard, and a mouse or trackball. One of the most difficult things for me is to get folks to update software, run scans, clean out folders, and back up now and then.

Windows Live OneCare has gone a long way in solving this dilemma for me. I set it up to perform certain functions at certain times and the user has to do very little to keep things tuned up and virus free. They are not power users and as far as I know they don’t go to Web sites that make them exceptionally vulnerable to ‘bad things.’ Rarely do they have very much personal or financial information stored on their hard drives.

Yes, there are better anti-virus programs. There are better firewalls and yes, better backup solutions. For my computers I use some of these, particularly for my backups. If I install them on the computers of some of my clients they will never be used and thereby leave them unprotected and with a very cluttered hard drive. Windows Live OneCare keeps these users safe and secure without them having to get frustrated trying to learn and remember to use, more robust software. It’s not perfect, but it is a solution for many users.

[tags]windows, live, onecare, antivirus, firewall, backup, phishing[/tags]

Soggy April Days

Hello folks. I apologize for the delay in posting, but it couldn’t be helped. The weather has created havoc with the blossoms and just downright killed many plants over the last two weeks. I had some medical stuff to take care of and got most of that done. Things have finally begun to slow down some and I have gotten back to my computer duties and responsibilities.

I took some pictures locally of some bamboo and rivercane, things that can be used by basketweavers, and plan to use them in a publication I work on. Of course nothing can be simple anymore. I have an Olympus digital camera with a Smart Media card and a card reader from Lexar. I have had both for ages. I suddenly discovered that the card reader will not work with Windows Vista. What could have possessed me to think that it would! I keep getting blindsided by these seemingly small issues that really slow me down.

I solved my immediate problem by hooking the card reader up to one of my computers running XP and transferred the photos onto that hard drive. Then I grabbed them over the network and put them on the Vista machine. It works, but I would really like to have a Smart Media card reader that works with Vista. Anyone out there using a reader that works with Vista? If so, suggestions and recommendations are welcome.

[tags]windows, xp, vista, olympus, smart media, card reader[/tags]

TSK, TSK? No, TUT, TUT!

It’s finally spring and your computer can use some spring cleaning as well as other parts of your life. While being cooped up in the house all winter you may have clicked, installed, uninstalled and fooled around with some useful as well as useless software. Now is the time to undo the mess that has probably accumulated on your computer.

If there are more programs in your notification area than in your files and folders, it may be time to eliminate some totally useless, memory hogging start-up programs. Many of these magically appear next to your clock without any known action on your part, except perhaps to try out some new software, peripherals, and hardware.

The old standby of running ‘msconfig’ is one way of getting a handle on this but if you have noticed, msconfig does not give you a whole lot of information regarding the startup that is running. It can become something of a hit or miss proposition.

A program that I have come to depend on and use frequently is The Ultimate Troubleshooter, better known as TUT! For a quick and useful tool to keep unnecessary programs from starting up at boot I have not found anything more helpful and easier to use.

Upon opening the program, you will see a line of tabs with labels at the top of the window and descriptions of programs at the bottom. One of the tabs is labeled “Startup.” TUT color codes small circles in front of each process that is running. It uses yellow for “user’s choice,” blue for “multiple possibilities,” and green for “OK.” Red is used for “not OK.” As you click on each item on the top half of the window, the bottom half of the window will give you a description of the item and a recommendation as to whether you need to run that process at startup or not. TUT gives you the ability to make these changes from within the program in most cases.

There are many other housekeeping tasks that can be handled with TUT to keep your computer tuned up and running in a stable environment. The program also has a tab that, when clicked, will show you the hardware on/in your machine.

AnswersThatWork is the company that provides this software and it will have support for Vista beginning April 2, 2007 (today!). Download a trial copy here and if you like TUT, it is $30 for purchase with a $17.50 renewal fee per year. More programs are added and identified all the time and downloads to keep your TUT up to date are frequent. For me, the program is worth every penny.

I will try a copy of TUT for Vista tomorrow and will give an update on how it functions in that environment on my blog, Devine Reflections, in the coming days.

[tags]spring clean, PC, Vista, troubleshooting, answers that work, TUT, The Ultimate Troubleshooter[/tags]

More TUT

I have just written a post regarding The Ultimate Troubleshooter or TUT for Windows Fanatics. I wanted to put down a few more of my thoughts about TUT here on my blog.

I love this software, well at least I like it a whole bunch. There may be better programs out there that do the same thing, but for me this one does the job best.

Within the program there are several tabs and buttons. The Tasks tab shows me every single program running right now on my PC. The Services tab shows all Services, and only Services set up on my PC. The Hardware tab shows all of the hardware components and the Startup tab shows all programs that automatically start when I power on my PC.

There is also a Print button and an Email tasks button. The Email tasks button allows me to directly communicate with AnswersThatWork regarding unknown processes on my PC as well as showing me information about my email accounts. The Housekeeping button will perform such tasks as emptying assorted Temp folders, history folder, temporary internet folders and more. Finally there is a Utilities button that will Ping, TraceRoute, Whois and other functions.

There isn’t much in the area of Utilities that TUT can’t do. Go take a look here and see if this program may be something that can assist you with some of these tasks and read the post in Windows Fanatics for more information.

[tags]Connie Devine, Lockergnome, Windows Fanatics, email, ping, utilities[tags]

A new beginning!

My post today was going to be Windows related, however, I received some delightful news from my daughter last night. She introduced a brand new baby girl to the world. She and her husband Greg already have a son Joshua, a bit over two years of age, who is a delight to the entire family.

Joshua has Angelman Syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder. He has taught our family, and continues to teach us, a new and wonderful way to approach life. Having a child with disabilities is not something one wishes for but Joshua has opened our eyes and hearts to so many things we used to take for granted.

And now he has a baby sister that he can introduce to our world and his very special one. I live in the North Carolina Mountains and my daughter is in California, but come June I will visit with both of my grandchildren and the rest of my family.

To learn more about Angelman Syndrome, just click on the link. These children live life joyously as we all should. I will make every attempt to get “back to business” after today.

[tags]Connie Devine, Angelman Syndrome, Windows[/tags]

Yup! Now I’m here

Those of you that have been reading Windows Fanatics probably already know me from my “Housekeeping” posts over the last couple of years.

I have decided to join in on the blogging going on around here, so here I am.

For those that don’t know me, I have been involved with computers for about 18 years, focusing on hardware as well as software. When Microsoft wanted beta testers for Windows 98 I was one of the “chosen!” Since that time I have been involved with the beta testing of Windows ME, XP and to some extent Vista. I have seen good and bad in all of these operating systems, but being an optimist I have made the best of all of them. At this time I am running XP on two of my computers and Vista on one of them. Until all of the hardware and software issues with Vista have been smoothed out this is the best of both worlds for me. There are still some things I cannot do on my Vista machine that I can do on my XP box.

Much of my time now is spent teaching folks how to use particular software and how to organize their files and folders. This is still a huge issue as there are still folks out there that will give you a blank stare when you say the word “folder.” I also perform some maintenance and upgrades on clients computers. At the present time I am putting together a hard copy newsletter for a national organization using Microsoft Publisher. Having never used that proram in the past it has taken a bit of time getting to the downhill side of the learning curve.

I have written for Windows Fanatics off and on for a few years. I tend to focus on file management, maintenance of software and a few tips and tricks here and there. I have learned as much if not more from readers as they have from me.

Hopefully you will find my posts helpful and maybe we can even share a laugh now and then.

[tags]Lockergnome, Windows Fanatics, Windows, XP, Vista, software, hardware, files, folders[/tags]

Scan Dog II

After my Scan Dog article ran in Windows Fanatics, I heard from some of you out there that were in the same boat as I was and had older Epson scanners that did not, and would NEVER have, drivers to use the scanner while using Windows Vista as the operating system. One comment that could potentially help many of you out there was sent to me by Lockergnome reader Doug McRae (Mac). He spoke to Epson and sent me the following:

I downloaded the XP driver to my desktop in Vista and followed the directions from Epson (I’ll copy and paste the directions below my sig). It did error during the install, but Vista popped up a window about did I want to install in compatibility mode, and I clicked “yes,” and away it went. Vista warned me about the unsigned driver and I told it to go ahead anyway. After rebooting, I turned on the scanner and Vista told me it had found new hardware – an Epson Perfection 1200U Scanner – and proceeded to install the hardware. I opened the Vista Fax & Scan program (I have Vista Business Edition), put a document on the flatbed of the scanner, pressed the Scan button, and it scanned perfectly. I haven’t tried scanning any pictures, but I assume that if it will scan a doc properly, it should also handle pictures.

Hope this helps you get your older scanner working in Vista!

Mac

From Epson tech support:

  1. Go to Epson and click CANADA AND UNITED STATES
  2. Click on DRIVER AND FILE DOWNLOADS.
  3. Select your product type (ie: ALL IN ONE OR INKJET)
  4. Select your product from the list.
  5. Select the most current version of the driver for your operating system.
  6. Respond to the Download Survey and click SUBMIT.
  7. Click ACCEPT on the END USER SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT.
  8. Make a note of the file name and save the downloaded file to DESKTOP in order to easily retrieve it.

Once you have the file on your desktop right click it and select properties, select COMPATIBILITY then check the run this program in compatibility mode for. Now select Windows XP SP2. Select APPLY then OK.

Locate and double click on the downloaded driver installation file. If at any point in the installation you see a screen that says User Account Control select CONTINUE.

  1. Click on OK at the first WinZip screen.
  2. Click on UNZIP at the second WinZip screen.
  3. Click on OK when WinZip is finished extracting files.
  4. At the SCANNER SETUP screen, click on OK.
  5. The installer will now copy files to the computer. When this step is complete, it will tell you to attach the cable and power on the scanner. Please connect the USB cable and turn on the scanner.
  6. The computer will install the new hardware.
  7. Click on OK when the driver installation is completed.

Other options suggested were VMware and a product called Vue Scan. Of course there is always the option of purchasing a new scanner…

Thanks to everyone who responded.

If you like Connie’s column here at Windows Fanatics, then please feel free to drop by her very own Lockergnome blog, Devine Reflections! She just started it today, and we’re sure she’d love to see what you think!

[tags]Connie Devine, windows, scanner, printer,XP, Vista[/tags]

Home, Home On The Range!

There is an old song that goes something like this: “Give me land, give me land, give me lots and lots of land… Don’t fence me in!” Well, I finally made the move. YES! I added a second monitor to my desktop. I now have a bunch of land and I am loving it. I am such a doofuss for waiting so long to do this.

I have had a spare LCD monitor sitting on my desk and a video card that can handle two monitors. For some silly reason that totally escapes me, I never took advantage of hardware capabilities that were staring me in the face… and cluttering up my desk.

Recently I began working on a somewhat involved print publication using Microsoft Publisher and found myself constantly opening and closing windows. Being a novice at using Publisher, having such a cluttered screen was not helping me find my way around. I kept losing folders, files, pictures, and anything else I might possibly need. My mind was as cluttered as my desktop and I was rapidly descending into insanity.

As I prepared to begin working on my project yesterday morning it occurred to me that, GEE, a little bit more real estate could go a long way. I pulled out the tower from its resting place and decided to hook up the second monitor. When I fired up the computer it was an amazing thing. Oh, MY… what a lot of land! With just one connection I had doubled the size of my desktop.

With Microsoft Publisher open on the main monitor I was able to use the other monitor to open file folders, manipulate photos, and view material on CDs and DVDs. I could also just leave all of these items open for easy access. It is so easy to slide items from one monitor to the other that it gives one the feeling that the desktop is as large as the desk that it sits on. I have truly found Nirvana.

This event may not have made such an impression on me had I utilized the two monitors a long time ago, but by making the decision yesterday it was a very good and productive day.

And to think that all I had to do to get this result was to plug in a monitor that was just sitting there gathering dust. It was a very big DUH! moment for me.

[tags]Connie Devine, windows, os, lcd, monitor, publisher[/tags]

Scan Dog

You have most likely heard the expression “hang dog” as in being down and out, but I am faced with “scan dog” this morning.

I would venture to guess that it has been over one year since I have had to use my Epson Perfection 1650 scanner, or for that matter the need to scan anything at all. I just don’t scan very much.

Mark my words… if you upgrade to Windows Vista and you have an older scanner in perfectly good working order, the chances are very good it will not have Vista drivers available. The other sure thing is that once you switch to Vista as your primary OS you will suddenly have the overwhelming need to scan. I believe this is referred to as “Murphy’s Law.”

If scanning is your life, check on the availability of Vista drivers for your scanner prior to upgrading to Vista. Chances are very good that you will need to add the cost of a new scanner to your budget. Once you have decided to purchase a new scanner, go to the manufacturer’s Web site and make absolutely sure that they have Vista drivers for that particular scanner or you may end up with two non-functioning scanners.

I am not making any judgments here, but it looks to me as though scanners have been lost in the shuffle of driver updates. Printers that were purchased in the same time frame as the scanner have drivers and are working normally.

Bottom line, if you have not scanned in years and years, something will come up shortly after your Vista upgrade that will require a scan… count on it! Be forewarned and thereby forearmed. For now, I am going to hook the Epson scanner up to my laptop running Windows XP and see what “develops.”

[tags]Connie Devine, windows, vista upgrade os, scanner, printer[/tags]

I Accept! I Accept! I Accept!

There I was, lost in an alternate geek universe! Let me start at the beginning.

Once upon a time, Snow White… Ooops, wrong story! The following is the real story.

I had been using Vista when it was still in beta and I had no real issues with my Office 2003 Suite. At the time I was dual booting Vista and XP on my desktop with each program having its own drive – kind of like separate apartments. When Vista was launched I formatted the hard drive with the Vista beta installed and proceeded to install Vista as an upgrade over XP. The install went smoothly with no problems. There were a few legacy programs that did not perform properly but I was aware of those issues as I had used the Vista Upgrade Advisor. Other than NERO, there were no programs with problems that were necessary in my day to day work and play on my desktop. Most of my financial data is on my laptop as well as on backup.

One of the first things I did when Vista was installed and ready to roar was to open Microsoft Outlook. For some strange reason the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) popped up asking me to verify that I accepted the terms and conditions in the EULA. I clicked on accept and continued to work in Outlook. Later that evening I shut down Outlook as well as the desktop.

The next morning I once again opened Outlook and lo and behold, up popped the EULA with the same dumb question! This was strange, so I closed Outlook and reopened it. TA-DA… EULA! At this point I decided to venture into the vast world of the Help menu and decided to click on “Activate” just in case I needed to reactivate the program. Nope, I was advised my product was activated… hhhmmm? Some further investigation led me to discover that this strange behavior exhibited itself on all of my Office 2003 programs. This is the point where I told myself to stay calm.

I needed to go on a hunt and the first place I went hunting was a group that some of us formed when we were all involved in beta testing Windows 98. Quite an accomplishment that we have stayed together this long and have a list-serve to communicate. One of the members of the group, David Vair, came up with the answer for me and I share it here with all of you.

Apparently this behavior is being experienced by many users and Dave steered me to this Web site. Read through the posts there and problem solved – no more EULA. It references running the programs as administrator. There are some other fixes out there, but for now this works for me and eliminates the necessity to muck around in the registry.

[tags]Connie Devine, vista, upgrade os, office 2003, windows, xp, google[/tags]

To Vista Or Not To Vista?

As my first re-entry, let me muse about the question of whether to upgrade to the Windows Vista operating system or not. This is not as easy a question as one might imagine, as Chris so eloquently pointed out in his YouTube video.

If you have an older computer, the answer is “probably not.”

Chances are slim to none that it would even run on a much older machine and, if it did, I am sure it would be a painful experience. If you gave your 85 year old mother, father, or grandparent a computer with Windows XP, change the above answer to “definitely not!”

Remember how long it took to tutor them in WinXP? Now they are able to get pictures, newspaper articles, pictures, recipes, and they probably have greeting card software. LEAVE THEM ALONE! If everything is running smoothly on XP or a previous operating system and you absolutely hate fussing with stuff, again… don’t switch to Vista!

However, if you are like me, like new toys, have several computers at your disposal, and have the time for something of a learning curve, I say go for it. I have put Vista on my desktop, a P4 2.4ghz, 1.2gig memory machine with an awesome video card and am enjoying almost every moment learning to use the new OS. I say “almost” because there are some software and hardware issues that still need to be dealt with, but that’s not something that particularly bothers me. If I need to get something out quickly with no issues I work on my laptop, which is still running XP.

For my first post, this is short and sweet, but I promise to post more items regarding Vista, any issues, solutions, tips, and tricks as time goes on. For now, leave your mother or grandmother alone and allow them to enjoy a computer that looks familiar to them.

My next post will concern an issue that has come up with folks upgrading to Vista from WindowsXP that are running Office 2003. Does the sound of having to accept or decline the EULA each time you open an office product send shivers up your spine? Well, it’s happening and the cure is available. Any questions or comments, please feel free to post comments.

[tags]Connie Devine, vista, upgrade os, windows, xp[/tags]

My Journey With Vista V

After my initial “opportunities” in trying to get Windows Vista to install on a separate partition on a second hard drive, I must say that I am more and more pleased with what I am seeing.

My first reaction when beginning to work with the new OS was one I had not experienced on a computer in a long time: terror! I was so comfortable with DOS, Windows 3.1, then Win98, ME and 98. Beginning with Windows 98, most of the basic GUI that one interacts with stayed pretty much the same. Once you discovered the new features and issues, you were pretty much ready to go.
Continue reading “My Journey With Vista V”

My Journey With Vista – A Hiccup

My continuing journey with Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 has gotten nowhere in the last few days. We have been grounded until further notice.

If you live near here, Murphy, NC, or along the East Coast, you have some idea of the weather we have been having. Here we have had cloud to ground lightning every day from embedded thunderstorms. There is no way to predict if one of these will pass over your house, but better safe than sorry. The minute I hear thunder my computers are shut down and unplugged. This on and off scenario has pretty much taken up my time.
Continue reading “My Journey With Vista – A Hiccup”