Love your Computer.
Most of us have come to depend on our computers for letter writing, photo editing and Internet use including e-mail, accessing bank accounts and more. I have been a keen user for many years and during my time with Flintshire County Council I was the IT coordinator for Trading Standards.
This page is intended to provide hints and tips to keep your computer (and you!) happy, working efficiently and free from viruses and other mal-wear. All these tips should be easy for even inexperienced users to apply and are tried and tested on my Windows XP PC (yes I’m still using XP). I shall try to add something new every few weeks, building up an index of tips. Happy computing, Phil.
Beeps. On startup, computers perform a Power-on Self Test. If problems are found while booting and nothing displays on the screen, the computer might use sounds (i.e., beep codes) to tell you what is wrong. Many of these errors indicate hardware problems. However, some errors are easily fixed. For example, keyboard controller errors often mean that your keyboard isn't plugged in. Following are beep codes for some common brands of BIOS for PCs.
Note: Many BIOSes will have different beep codes even if they appear to be from the same manufacturer. This is because motherboard manufacturers reprogram codes to reflect their own customizations. You can often go to the web site for the motherboard's manufacturer to find the updated codes, but you may find cases where the manufacturer simply does not document the changes. For a full range of beep codes go to http://kb.iu.edu/data/afzy.html
Broadband Speed-Test. Ever wondered if you are getting the broadband speed you are paying for? Visit www.speedtest.net to find out the real speed that your connection is giving you. Do it several times at different times of day and work out the average speed. Chances are you will be contacting your service provider to complain!
You may also like to visit www.adslchecker.bt.com/pls/ads where you can check the speed you BT phone line is capable of providing. Again you may find that you are paying for a high speed connection that you can not use!
Cookies help your computer work efficiently on the Internet by allowing sites to record how you use your computer, but some restriction on which sites do this is advisable. This setting gives a compromise which should work for most users.
In Internet Explorer click on the “Tools” option and choose “Internet Options.” Click on the “Privacy” tab and drag the settings slider to “Medium High.” Click on the “Advanced” tag and tick the “Override Automatic Cookie Handling” option. Click the “Prompt” button for “First Party Cookies” and the “Block” button for “Third Party Cookies.” Tick the “Always Allow Session Cookies” button. Click Apply and OK and you have finished. You also have the option to block pop ups from this screen. Personally I find this more hindrance than benefit because it blocks things I want to see. Try it if you want to, you can easily change the setting later.
Discounts on Internet Shopping. 1. Sign up to Quidco and earn an extra 5 -10% discount on your on line purchases. Lots of popular retailers (e.g. M&S, Currys & Pixmania) give cash back if their site is accessed via Quidco. Give it a try, it really works! 2. Always search for promotional codes. Check out sites like Voucher King where you will often find a code to enter as you finalise your purchase, saving a further 5-10% or perhaps getting free carriage. Using these methods it really is easy to get an extra £40 - £50 off a significant purchase!
DVD playing. If you are using one of the less advanced versions of Windows you won’t have Windows Media Player and will not be able to play DVDs. Solve the problem by downloading VLC Media Player from www.videolan.org/vlc.
Image Resizing (Auto) Automatic image resizing is a new feature in IE 7 that automatically changes the size of a picture to fit into your browser window. When a picture file is opened in the browser, the image is shrunk so it can be viewed in its entirety. When the mouse pointer is hovered over the picture, a small square icon appears in the bottom right hand corner of the picture. To make the image revert back to its original size, simply click on the icon. This feature is active by default but, if it annoys you then you can switch it off. To turn the Automatic image resizing feature off, go to the Tools menu, Internet Options, Advanced. Then scroll down the list and uncheck the box next to. Enable automatic image resizing. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Internet Explorer 8: Now available as a free download, Explorer 8 offers a bigger browsing pane showing more of the web page, tabbed browsing saves opening new pages in a new Explorer window, a preview pane shows miniature versions of each loaded page. Significant improvements over earlier versions. Windows 7, Vista & XP only. Download & more information from here.
Online shopping rights. Which? Magazine have published a guide to your rights when shopping online. Read it HERE and shop online with confidence!
If you use your PC intermittently during the day should you switch it off and on? Frequent startups can reduce the life of electronic components, but leaving it on could cost you 3p per hour. I would say leave it on if you will use it within 2-3 hours, but use power saving features available.
Go to your Start menu, select “Control Panel” and “Power Options.” The settings I use are (1) turn monitor off 10mins, (2) turn hard disks off 10mins, (3) System standby 20mins, (4) Hibernate - Never. Click the “Advanced” tab. Choose if you wish to use a password when resuming from standby, set the Power button to “Hibernate” and the Sleep button to “Stand by.” Click the Hibernate tab and “Enable Hibernation.” Click “Apply” & “OK.”
Note: You can select Standby (the Sleep button, for short periods) or Hibernate (the Power button, longer periods) whilst using your software (i.e. mid way through a letter etc.) and Windows will return to where you left off. To restart from Standby press “WakeUp” and from Hibernate press the “power” button on your PC. This option may not work on older or pre Windows XP PCs.
Safer Online Banking
If you use online banking but are concerned about privacy, improve your browser’s security level. Launch Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. In the dialogue box, click the Advanced tab and then scroll down to Security and find the “Do not save encrypted pages to disk” entry. Click to place a tick in the checkbox. This prevents the information about your bank account or transactions being saved on your pc.
Shopping. How to find the best price!
Recent surveys have confirmed that you can still save lots of money by shopping on the Internet. But how do you find the best price amongst the numerous suppliers? Fortunately there are several search engines out there that search all the major suppliers and give you the “best price.” Try these: Froogle, PriceRunner, Shopping, & Kelkoo. Do check that prices include VAT & what postage charges will be, but if you don’t save £100s over high street prices your not trying! Remember, most goods bought online can be returned within 7 days for a refund just because you don’t like them and with no explanation. If you buy on the high street you are only entitled to a refund if the goods are faulty or not as described. See Distance Selling Regulations for your rights.
Site Access - Quick.
If you access a small number of web sites regularly, you will find this quicker than using the favourites list. From the “View” menu in Explorer 7 or higher go to “Toolbars” and make sure there is a tick against “Links” by clicking on it. Now with the “Favourites” pane open click on one of the sites you use frequently and while holding the mouse button down, drag it onto the “Links” toolbar. Do this for your most used sites. To select a site, click onto the “Links” toolbar to quickly display your most used sites.
Sync Files between PCs.
If you use a PC at home and a laptop when away you can keep your latest files with you, no matter which computer you're using by using Windows Live Sync. Use Sync to mirror your most important folders - like your Favourites, Pictures, and Documents - so they're the same on all your computers. Install Sync on your computers to instantly access your files from anywhere. Just follow the instructions from this link Windows Live Sync. Download and install the free software. Open the software and select ACTIVITY. From there you can select which folders will be available to your second PC and who will be able to access them. The receiving computer will need to be set up in the same way. As long as both computerese are turned on and connected to the Internet the selected folders/files will synchronise.
Virus Protection 2012
Virus protection is more important then ever now that we are constantly putting our credit card details and bank account information over the internet. If you don’t buy or bank over the net AVG Free Internet Security offers a good solution without cost (you must activate the Windows Firewall as a separated operation). But buy the best is my advice. Computer Shopper magazine choice for 2012 is: Bitdefender Internet Security 2012, or Kaspersky Internet Security 2012, both available for under £20 to protect up to 3 pcs.
Hot Tip. If something pops up while you are browsing the net, telling you viruses have been detected, do you want to scan, check to see if it is your installed software that is warning you. If you are not certain that it is your software giving the warning, close the internet connection and run a full scan from your installed software. Never accept an offer to scan for viruses from an internet screen and never enter your credit card details on a screen that tells you that you must pay to get your pc working again. Warning (1) people have had their files encrypted and told they will only get their data back if they pay a fee (2) people have had child pornography downloaded to their pc making it very awkward to approach a repairer (3) people have had their pc lock up so that the only screen they can get on startup is the “pay now” screen. DO NOT ACCEPT FREE SCANS OFF THE INTERNET. If your computer becomes infected I am willing to attempt to sort it out for you on a no success, no fee basis, standard cost £45. Phil, tel. 741089.