Category Archives: Tech Tips

Performing a Clean Windows Install …

without losing your files, settings and tweaks.

The key lies in preparation.  Here a couple of things you want to do:

Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

First make sure you know what current programs you want to re-install.

Before you do anything else, it’s handy to have a list of all your currently installed programs so you know what settings to back up, and which programs you want to reinstall later on.

Next backup …

Windows settings

Back up any Windows settings you can so you don’t have to do too much tweaking after you reinstall. The best way to do this is with Windows Easy Transfer, Windows’ built-in migration program for just such occasions.

Documents and files

Just copy these to an external drive or move them with Windows Easy Transfer as described above, though if you back up your computer regularly (which you should), you can always just restore them from your backup later on as well.

Then after completing the Windows re-install it’s time for the restore process.  Basically it’s the opposite of what you did during the backup process.  However what you may not have known is that there are tools out there that can help make re-installs of applications quick and easy.  Keep in mind though that these tools won’t have all the programs you want to re-install.

Ninite

Just check off all the programs you want, and Ninite will create an all-in-one package to install them in one fell swoop.

Chocolatey

 If you’re more of a command line geek, Chocolatey is a handy utility that brings Linux-style package management to Windows. With a few well-placed commands, you can install a ton of programs at once, bypassing the need for all those separate installers.

Portable Apps

Portable apps essentially let you carry all your programs and settings over to another computer with no installation required. You’ll still have to search out each app yourself, but after you do it once, you’ll never have to do it again—every clean install from here on out will be much quicker because you’ll already have half your apps ready to go.

Head over to the source for all the details involved with performing a clean install of Windows.

 

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Computer Security Tips

Some great basic tips for the average user to protect your computer:

English: A candidate icon for Portal:Computer ...

English: A candidate icon for Portal:Computer security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Firstly, the most important computer security tip is to have anti virus software. These programs will not let your data be lost in case some viruses enter your system. They make backup files as well which allows you to retrieve any files that you lose. However, make sure that the anti virus you use is good software. Do not settle for any substandard program for it may harm your PC instead of doing any good to it.

Another very important point pertaining to computer security is that you should not open attachments with emails which you receive from unknown senders. Many of these emails are intended with the purpose of transferring viruses into your system. They can damage your files or the entire computer so better not open them.

Using strong passwords is also a very important tip to secure your computer. You should use long passwords with a mixture of digits and alphabets so that they cannot be easily hacked.

via it’s all About Computers

One major addition to this list that I would make is:

Change your user account so that it is NOT an Administrator account.

“Build a Quality Resource List for Your Blog”

This sounds like an idea that should be incorporated …

When was the last time you compiled a resource list for your readers?

Tom Ewer recently wrote up his own ultimate resource list for readers of his blog, titled 100 Blogs You Need in Your Life. (And ProBlogger came in at number 2! Thanks, Tom!)

If you look at the response from his readers, you’ll note the sense of excitement that this post generated. Words like love, awesome, absolutely amazing, and cool come up again and again in the comments. Readers are bookmarking the list and immediately (it seems) going to check out the recommended sites.

Resource lists like this really are valuable for readers. But if you’re putting together a resource list, you’ll want to think hard about how you do it. To my mind, there are five key factors that make or break a resource list.

Check out Darren Rowse’s five key factors: Build a Quality Resource List for Your Blog : @ProBlogger.

Silencing A Noisy Computer

CPU Fan

CPU Fan (Photo credit: eddie.welker)

No the best way isn’t to throw it out and get a brand new one.  Many times it’s a relatively cheap fix.  The reason for this is because it’s usually heat related, so follow these tips:

1. Clean it out

Before you do anything else, make sure your computer is clean and dust-free. If you’ve had it for more than a year, chances are it’s built up some dust on the fans and heatsinks, which will make it run hotter (and thus louder), so grab a $5 can of compressed air and clean that sucker out. When you’re done, you may find that it’s gotten a little quieter already.

2. Replace the heaksink or invest in water cooler

Some of the loudest components in your computer are the CPU cooler and the fan on your graphics card. Often, the ones that come with your computer are super loud, and they aren’t all that great at cooling in the first place. So, one of the best things you can do to keep noise and temperatures down is to buy an aftermarket cooler. You have two choices: heatsinks and water coolers.

3. Upgrade your fans

How many fans you choose depends on your case, so you need to take a look at what you have before you go buying fans. Let’s take a typical mid tower computer case, for example, with two fan slots in the front, and one in the back. We want the air to follow one path through the system, from front to back. That means we’ll use our front fans as intakes, and our back fan as exhaust. Air comes in through the front, blows over your hard drives, then to the rest of your hardware and out through the back. Having the back fan at the top is especially handy since hot air rises, so it will blow out hot air first. Your graphics card and power supply will cool themselves on their own, but it’s nice to have some of that cool air flowing over them as well—if you have a side intake fan or bottom intake fan, that can help.

4. Invest in a fan controller

No matter how you arrange your setup, you’ll want some way to control your fans. That way, they’ll be silent when your computer is idle, and louder when you need the cooling performance (during intensive processes like gaming or video conversion). If you only have a couple of fans, you may be able to control them automatically, but if you have more than a few fans—or if you just want a bit more control over the noise levels—I can’t recommend a fan controller enough. It fits in one of your computer’s drive bays and lets you adjust fan speed with physical knobs. Some will even monitor the temperature of your hardware for you, which is pretty handy.

Of course the ultimate key is to invest in quality hardware from the start.  Remember that you get what you pay for.

Troubleshooting a Slow Network Connection

Great tips on network troubleshooting from the CompTia IT Pro networking blog.

  • Problem at the physical layer: Many times, I’ve found that slow networks occur because of some sort of problem with a particular device(e.g., a cable modem or a switch), or even the network cable itself. If you’re using a cable modem, try restarting it before contacting anyone or going any further. Check to see that all physical connections are sound; a loose wire can mimic other problems. Start here, and you’ll be able to move forward with confidence. Additional issues can include firmware update problems. One time, I had a cable modem that simply “bricked” because my ISP’s automatic update procedure failed. Other times, I’ve found that a cable modem hasn’t fully installed a firmware update, causing slowness. Sometimes you need to get a new modem; other times, you simply need to either complete the firmware update or simply restart it.
  • Network service problem: Start with diagnosing DNS issues. We all know what a completely failed DNS server can do to you. But have you ever been in a situation where you go to a familiar URL (e.g., http://www.bbc.co.uk) and then the browser tells you that it is “looking up” or “resolving” the URL? It will eventually find the URL and resolve it for you. This problem is likely due to a problem with your DNS server of that of your ISP. Restart the service if it’s your own; if you’re using a DNS server provided by the ISP, either switch to a backup server or inform them that there’s a problem. As with the previous piece of advice, actually restarting your computer can help resolve this issue, too. Additional services to consider include domain controllers, Microsoft networking / Samba servers, and torrent services. In some cases, network traffic will run slow because your network isn’t configured to prioritize certain traffic types. In other cases, you’ll need to set up port forwarding so that certain traffic types on your network will be properly forwarded by your router. For those of you interested in how an enterprise network prioritizes traffic, check out the following link about QoS.
  • Computing device issue: I once had a friend of mine who was convinced that his company’s ISP was at fault for slow network speeds. It turned out that his system was infested with spyware, causing a serious slowdown in networking. Removing the spyware solved the problem. In another case, the computing device had a problem because it had the wrong software driver installed for the network card. Resolving that issue resolved the slowdown issue nicely.

Head to the source to find out some other things to investigate when dealing with a slow network connection.

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Tips to a successful IT job interview

So you’ve applied for that IT job and you’ve made it to the interview stage.  Here are some tips from Venture Loop CEO Jeremy McCarthy on how to make it a successful interview.

Regardless of how you view this prospective opportunity, always do your best in the interview for you never know where it may lead you. Some of his other suggested tips:

1) Research: With everything literally at our fingertips today, it’s close to blasphemy to enter an interview without having searched and studied as much about the history, fact and figures of the company with whom you are interviewing as possible. Savy online searching can turn up valuable information to prove to an employer they’d be hiring an expert in their industry.

2) Review your triumphs and faults: You can almost guarantee that typical questions such as your vision for five years down the road, strengths, weaknesses, tough work situations and best type of person to work for will be asked, so why not write down your answers ahead of time to review rather than spin your wheels while sitting in ‘hot seat.’

3) Behavioral question awareness: More firms rely on behavioral interviewing techniques to see how candidates answer when asked for specific examples of past professional situations. McCarthy presents some typical queries to prepare for ahead of time:

  • How you handled not meeting a deadline
  • How you dealt with conflict with a co-worker or boss
  • What you did when someone else’s actions caused failure
  • When did you show initiative
  • What did you do when a customer was upset with you
  • What did you do when a co-worker blamed you unfairly for something

For the rest of Mr. McCarthy’s tips check out the source.

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How To Add a Google+ Tab/Stream to Facebook Page

So you’re interested in adding your public stream on Google+ to your Facebook Page.  The question is how to go about doing it.

Here’s one way:

You have to add an application into your Facebook page which will create an another tab for showing your Google+ stream into that page. You can also select your Google+ stream inside your page as landing tab by editing the feature of your Facebook page. By adding Google+ Tab into your Facebook page you could gain some more audience for your Google+ Profile or Google+ Page.

Go to the source for step by step instructions.  This process also works for Google+ Pages.

*** Since Google+ has been launched Pages so you can also use your Google+ Page ID Number instead of your Google+ Profile ID Number if you want to show your Google+ Page stream to your Facebook page.

Is this beneficial or do you think utilizing an RSS feed to post directly to the wall of the page would be better?  Keep in mind that the Google+ Tab can be made your default landing page by following these instructions.

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Adding a Delicious share button …

Do you utilize WordPress.com for your website or blog?

Deutsch: Neues Logo Delicious (seit) English: ...

Image via Wikipedia

If you do then you are likely aware of the share options that were implemented.

You may also have noticed that Delicious was not one of the options included.

So how do you create a share button for Delicious?  Utilize this information after clicking on “Add a new service.”

You can then add the service along with the other “Share” options.

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Tips for Optimizing WordPress Blog

Do you have a WordPress blog that is self-hosted?  Consider using these tips to optimize it?

English: The logo of the blogging software Wor...

Image via Wikipedia

The beauty of WordPress is in how easy it is to adapt for different tasks. One can extend it with just a couple of lines of code. In this post, we’ll review 10 shortcode snippets that will tweak and optimize your WordPress theme. You can add all of these code snippets to the functions.php file in your WordPress theme.

Limit The Excerpt’s Word Count

One thing that can go wrong in WordPress magazine themes is when users include too many words before the more tag. Sure, they could handcraft the excerpt in the dedicated field, but on a website that has hundreds of posts and on which the text above the more tag has always been used as the excerpt, going back to create excerpts for all of those posts by hand would be cumbersome. In this case, we can limit the number of words shown in the excerpt by using this code:

1 add_filter('excerpt_length', 'ilc_excerpt_length');
2 function ilc_excerpt_length( $length ){
3     return 10;
4 }

Here, we’re using a WordPress filter hook, which is a function that parses and (usually) modifies data before it gets stored in the database or displayed on a page. In this case, we’re setting the number of words shown in the excerpt to 10.

Add A Favicon Using A WordPress Hook

Hooks allow us to insert custom code without touching the template. This gives us a lot of flexibility, because now, whenever we need to change something, we only have to change the function that’s plugged into a certain hook. For example, you can add a favicon to your website without touching the header.php file, just by plugging a function into the wp_head hook:

1 add_action( 'wp_head', 'ilc_favicon');
2 function ilc_favicon(){
3     echo "<link rel='shortcut icon' href='" . get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . "/favicon.ico' />" . "\n";
4 }

The favicon.ico file should be located at the root of your theme. We’re now using an action hook, which is a function that is triggered at specific points during an execution by WordPress’ core. In this case, the hook triggers any function that’s attached to it when a page is launched in the browser. But other hooks can be triggered when saving a post, registering a user and so on. Some themes even have their own action hooks, which, like WordPress’ core action hooks, can be used to launch functions at specific points of an execution.

Redirect WordPress Feeds To FeedBurner

It’s great that WordPress offers feeds out of the box. But if you want statistics about your subscribers, you’ll have to use FeedBurner or a similar service. To redirect your feed to one of these, use the following snippet. Thus, if you try to go to http://www.smashingmagazine.com/feed (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/feed), you’ll be redirected to FeedBurner’s feeds for Smashing Magazine (http://feeds.feedburner.com/smashingmagazine).

1 add_action('template_redirect', 'ilc_rss_redirect');
2 function ilc_rss_redirect() {
3     if ( is_feed() && !preg_match('/feedburner|feedvalidator/i', $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'])){
4         header('Location: http://feeds.feedburner.com/smashingmagazine');
5         header('HTTP/1.1 302 Temporary Redirect');
6     }
7 }

Replace http://feeds.feedburner.com/smashingmagazine with the URL for your own feed from FeedBurner.

Go to the source to see additional tips for optimizing your self-hosted WordPress blog.  Are there other things besides these tips that you have utilized?

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Easy Ways To Remove Windows Bloat

Bloat.  It’s something that constantly needs to be dealt with on a Windows-based computer.  Unless you want it to run slow.  For some savvy computer users it may be an option to just re-format the hard drive and start from scratch with a fresh OS.  But for most that isn’t a convenient option.

Here are a couple easy ways to take care of that Windows bloat that invades after just a few weeks.

A lot of these apps and methods highlighted do pretty serious things to your computer, so I hope it goes without saying that you should have a full bootable system backup before attempting any of them. You have been warned!

Remove Windows Features You Don’t Need

Windows is a massive operating system, with an array of features and processes that the majority of us simply don’t need. Luckily, Windows makes it relatively easy to turn features on and off.

Just go to Control Panel -> Programs -> Turn Windows Features On or Off.

Uninstall Old Apps

This might seem obvious, but uninstalling apps we no longer use is a sin that can pass even the best of us by sometimes. Head to Control Panel -> Uninstall a Program and see what useless apps are lurking within.

Go to the source to learn more ways to “speed up” your computer by removing the dreaded Windows bloat.  You’ll also find some alternative tools for uninstalling applications.

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