Tips To Make The Transition To Windows 8 Easier

The Windows 8 operating system has had a lot of positive reviews. It has a large amount of features that were not present in previous versions. So if you are ready to upgrade, there are several steps you should take to make sure it goes smoothly. An article recently written by Smallbiz Technology goes into lots of detail, but we have chosen a few of the most important and shared them below.

Do the Research

Before upgrading to Windows 8, ensure your computer can effectively run the new operating system. Machines need 1GB of RAM, 16GB of hard-drive space, and a 1GHz processor to run Windows 8. If you’re already running Windows 7 on your computer, don’t fret. Microsoft lists the same specs for both operating systems.

Backups

Having secure backups of your most important data is a good idea for many reasons. You never know what could happen. It is particularly important to back-up your data before trying to upgrade your systems. You can transfer your data to an external hard drive or you can use a secure cloud service that many MSPs (Managed Services Provider) offer. Using a secure cloud can be less costly and more secure as you can lose or damage an external hard drive. But no matter what path you take, this is one of the most important steps to make sure you do not lose all of your data if something goes wrong during the upgrading process.

Setup utility

Microsoft offers a setup utility that searches your computer to tell you whether or not it will support Windows 8. If the computers are using XP, this can be particularly important as Microsoft will stop providing support for XP in 2014. If you are moving to Windows 8 you are going to need to reinstall your software and drivers. Hopefully you have kept all of the installation disks. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but the added features of Windows 8 could improve your efficiency enough to make it worth it. Just be sure that you follow the steps above before trying the upgrade yourself.

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Google Better With These Tips

You think you’re a Google pro, right? After all, you’ve been using the hugely popular search engine for years. What more can there be to learn? A whole lot, actually. The website How-To Geek and the Atlantic each recently ran stories highlighting ways in which you can better search the Internet with Google. If you desire to find the right information and you want to find it swiftly, you’d do well to follow these tips.

Operators are key

If you are trying to find very specific information through a Google search, operators are the most useful way to find what you are looking for. The example that the How-To Geek site used is as follows. Say a user wishes to find stories only published by the New York Times concerning college test scores. That is very specific and feels like it would take a lot of digging. Not if you utilize operators. By inserting the operator “site:” in front of the words “nytimes.com,” Google will only search in that site. Then by adding quotation marks around exact phrases they are looking for, in this case “test scores,” Google will search for that specific phrase only. If the user wishes to add a date range, they can add 2008..2010 and it will narrow the search further.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great way to narrow search results. It asks Google to only search academic and scholarly work, which would be great for research papers. To do this you can use operators. For instance, if you are looking for a paper written by Dr. Breit about the evolution of coding languages, you’d input the operator “author:” in front of “Breit” followed by the phrase “evolution of coding languages” into Google Scholar.

Control F

“Control F” is a great little trick to help you narrow your search results. For instance, if you are searching for recipes for a theme dinner party, like the 4th of July, but you are most interested in desserts, you can search for 4th of July recipes. After completing your search you can hold down control and hit “F” on your keyboard. This will make a little search bar appear at the top or bottom of your computer screen. Then by typing in desserts, it will narrow the current search results down highlighting all the desserts!

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Eliminate Embarrassing Autocomplete Email Address Mishaps With Apple

Some programs that were developed to make your life simpler can actually make it more embarrassing. Autocorrect in text messaging probably pops into your head. But there is also the autocomplete function in Apple’s mail app. When you begin typing an address in the “to” line of an email, the app checks your address book and will autocomplete it for you if it begins with the first letters of a name that is already there. This can be good, but it can also cause problems.

Autocomplete embarrassments

Before sending your email, the simplest thing to do is to check the “to” field. Be sure it is addressed to the person you wish. The problem is that you probably have a lot more people in your address book than you realize. Because of this, the autocomplete may pull up people you rarely talk to. This is an issue Brian Sawyer discusses in the O’Reilly Answers website. This can cause you to send important work emails to the wrong person. You might not even realize this since the person probably won’t respond.

Removing autocomplete email addresses

Fortunately, removing autocomplete email addresses from Apple’s Mail app is a reasonably simple task. To do this, from inside Mail, click the “Window” tab. Then click on “Previous Recipients.” Search for the email address that you’d like to remove. Once you’ve found it, highlight it and press the “Remove From List” button. That’s simple, and fast. And it will prevent any future email address embarrassments.

Monitoring is key

Removing an address does not guarantee that it won’t return to your address book. Even collaborating with a person on a Google Doc may add the address to your address book. So, the best way to ensure that these confusions don’t happen in the future is to make sure you check your address book, and double check the “to” field before clicking “Send.”

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Getting The Most Out Of Windows 8

Windows 8 only recently hit the market and the tech press has already given it a test drive. Some of them have published their findings online. This is great for the general public, as it gives them an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the new operating system. InfoWorld writer J. Peter Bruzzese recently wrote about numerous cool features of Windows 8. Below we cover a few of the things he found.

The charms bar

Windows 8 has a side navigation bar called the charms bar. It will become visible on the right side of the screen when users click or swipe there. Once it’s visible, the bar allows users to take advantage of an array of shortcuts. Users can click or tap the “Settings” option and then click on “Power” to put their computer to sleep. The charms bar has settings for searching, sharing, and switching to the Windows 7 desktop.

Retrieving lost files

One of the worst things that can occur during the workday is loosing a file. But one of the greatest things about Windows 8 is that it has a couple of new ways of saving copies of your files so you can retrieve previous versions. It works very similar as the OS X’s Time Machine utility if you are accustomed to that.

Windows on the go

If you are on-the-go a lot, you will like this great feature. Using the Enterprise Edition of Windows 8 users can capture their whole Windows environment and store it on a USB drive. This enables them to take it with them and pull it up on a PC that uses Windows 7 or 8.

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Chrome Extensions to Improve Productivity

When you sit in front of a computer all day long is can be tempting to visit sites like The Chive frequently. If you find yourself doing this more then once or twice a day it may be damaging your productivity. Luckily, if you use Chrome, there are several extensions you can add that were created to help you stay away from these distractions. The Huffington Post wrote a story fairly recently that highlights a great number of, but below we focus on 4 that stood out to us.

Stay Focused

This neat add-on sets a timer for particular sites. As you visit the sites during the day the time counts down. Once it expires the add-on will block the site for the remainder of the day.

Cool Clock

If your lack of focus makes you miss too many meetings or lunch dates, add Cool Clock to your Chrome browser. This add-on comes with a clock, calendar, alarm, timer and hourly desktop time notifications. It’s created to make sure that you no longer miss any critical appointments. You can also set Cool Clock so that it informs you of the most important tasks you should complete during the day.

Last Pass

How much time do you waste endeavoring to remember your password to Gmail or to your online banking website? Last Pass, another nifty Chrome add-on, may change all this. This extension permits you to easily manage and monitor the many online passwords you have to cope with. You’ll be astonished at how much more time you’ll have once you eradicate those pesky attempts to remember which passwords have numbers and which ones have capital letters.

Turn off the Lights

Sometimes we have to watch videos for work, and quite often they are dull. This can mean that we can become easily distracted by other projects you are working on. If you find this is the case and you need to commit more of your attention to a video, you can utilize the Chrome add-on Turn off the Lights. It will dim everything on your screen with the exception of your media play so that you are visually forced to observe the video.

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Chrome Extensions to Improve Productivity

When you sit in front of a computer all day long is can be tempting to visit sites like The Chive frequently. If you find yourself doing this more then once or twice a day it may be damaging your productivity. Luckily, if you use Chrome, there are several extensions you can add that were created to help you stay away from these distractions. The Huffington Post wrote a story fairly recently that highlights a great number of, but below we focus on 4 that stood out to us.

Stay Focused

This neat add-on sets a timer for particular sites. As you visit the sites during the day the time counts down. Once it expires the add-on will block the site for the remainder of the day.

Cool Clock

If your lack of focus makes you miss too many meetings or lunch dates, add Cool Clock to your Chrome browser. This add-on comes with a clock, calendar, alarm, timer and hourly desktop time notifications. It’s created to make sure that you no longer miss any critical appointments. You can also set Cool Clock so that it informs you of the most important tasks you should complete during the day.

Last Pass

How much time do you waste endeavoring to remember your password to Gmail or to your online banking website? Last Pass, another nifty Chrome add-on, may change all this. This extension permits you to easily manage and monitor the many online passwords you have to cope with. You’ll be astonished at how much more time you’ll have once you eradicate those pesky attempts to remember which passwords have numbers and which ones have capital letters.

Turn off the Lights

Sometimes we have to watch videos for work, and quite often they are dull. This can mean that we can become easily distracted by other projects you are working on. If you find this is the case and you need to commit more of your attention to a video, you can utilize the Chrome add-on Turn off the Lights. It will dim everything on your screen with the exception of your media play so that you are visually forced to observe the video.

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Make Your Computing Life Easier: Two Tricks

Most of us use computers everyday whether it is a desktop, laptop, and/or tablet. And we could use all the help we can get. Here are a couple tricks that will make life easier for you, and hopefully alleviate some stress.

Forcing Android to check for system updates

The makers of tablets, laptops, and smartphones are constantly upgrading their operating systems. And these updates seldom come in on a standard schedule. Consequently you could be missing out on new features or fixes while you’re waiting for an update to hit your computing device. If you have an Android device, checking for updates can be a bit of a hassle. That’s because update releases vary according to your manufacturer and carrier. You may know that Android has updated its system, yet you don’t see any updates to your particular device. Of course, you could just wait for the update to come over, but if you want that update now – there maybe a especially juicy new service coming with this particular update – you can force Android to check for that update. Here is a suggestion from website Ghack: Go to your device’s “Settings” menu. Click “Apps” and select “Show All.” Then locate “Google Services Framework” and click on the “Clear Data” option. Finally, click the “Force Stop” button. If there is an update, your device should now retrieve it.

Protecting your eyes

Computer screens are bad for your eyes and over time they can do long term damage if you stare at them daily. This is where these tricks from the Atlantic can come in handy. The simplest of which is to make sure your computer screen is clean, as well as the brightest thing around. One other good habit to get into is to take “20-20-20” breaks. Focus your eyes on a spot 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. And lastly, don’t sit too close. If you can high-five your computer screen, you are too close.

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Get the Most out of Windows 7

Not quite prepared to upgrade your operating system from Windows 7? No big deal, Windows 7 is pretty efficient. Below are a few tips to take advantage of it before you take the plunge into another OS.

Access videos from your Start menu: You most likely know you can access your pictures and music from the Start menu in Windows 7. What you possibly don’t know is that you can personalize it to enable you to access your videos also. To achieve this you must first right-click on the Start button and click “Properties.” Then navigate to the Start Menu tab and click “Customize.” Once the dialogue box pops up, scroll to the bottom and find the videos section. Select “Display as a link” and click “OK” and “OK” again.

Modify your Shut Down button: You know that your computer’s Shut Down button turns off your computer. However, what if you almost never shut down your computer? A little known fact: you are able to customize your Shut Down button so that when you press it, it carries out another action, everything from restarting your computer to putting it in sleep mode. To accomplish this, right-click the Start button and pick “Properties.” On the Start Menu tab, select the “Power button action” drop-down menu. After that you can select what action you’d like the power button to take as a default.

Add some privacy to your online searching: When you search Internet Explorer, your computer will instantly display the latest searches that you have performed. Maybe you’d rather not have this information accessible to other users. Luckily, you can customize Windows 7 to make this happen. You can switch off the “recent searches” feature from the Start menu. Once you pull up the Start menu’s search box, type GPEDIT.MSC and press “Enter.” This will set the Group Policy Editor in motion. Find the “User configuration” option. Then choose “Administrative Templates,” “Windows Components,” and “Windows Explorer.” Once you are here, you can double-click “Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer search box.” Then select “Enabled” from the screen that comes up next. Then click “OK.” You will now benefit from greater privacy when searching the Internet.

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Downloading Alternative Browsers on Your iPad

Apple’s Safari, the default web browser on all iPads and iPhones, is a powerful piece of software. Users can depend on Safari to quickly find and load their favorite web pages. But suppose you’d prefer to browse with Opera, Dolphin, or Chrome? The good news is you can download any browser you’d like to your iPad or iPhone. The bad news? Unless you’re willing to manually tinker with your Apple gadget – which is something only expert techies should try – Safari will always remain your device’s default browser.

The default option

This means that when you tap a link in a program, your iPad or iPhone will automatically use Safari to open that link. If you would rather open the link in another web browser that you have downloaded to your device, you need to copy the link, open your alternative browser, and then paste your link in that browser’s search bar. Is this an annoyance? A bit. But if you really prefer an alternative browser to Safari, then you’ll make the extra step.

Alternative browsers

In a recent column in USA Today, Rob Pegoraro points out that with the release of Chrome, Google highlighted the ability to download alternative browsers on Apple devices. If you would like to do this it is easy. After navigating to your browser of choices’ home page, simply follow the download instructions for iOS.

A mix and match approach

Using different browsers for different purposes can help you stay organized. For example, you might want to use Safari as your general web surfing browser, and use Chrome or Opera to keep the tabs open you are using for personal matters. Or perhaps you would like to use Dolphin for business. In either case, do not let the fact that Safari is your gadget’s default browser stop you from downloading and utilizing your favorite browser.

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Business Travel Tools

When you are traveling for business, it can be difficult to be as productive as you are in the office. The Internet connection at the hotel can be inconsistent, and it can be tough to stay on top of your email when you are in business meetings or traveling from one location to another. Luckily, there are several tech tools that can help immensely while you are away from the office. We have showcased a few below.

GroupMe: At times while on the road you have to communicate quickly with certain groups of employees or partners. You can make this easier with the GroupMe app. This app lets you create groups from lists of employees. Then you’re able to send messages or updates to everyone on these lists with just one text message.

Belkin Mini Surge Protector DUAL USB Charger: A lot of us have a lot of devices we need to charge, and when you’re traveling, you may not have enough plugs to charge them all at once. That is where this device comes in; it is a surge protector that includes three AC and two USB outlets. This lets you charge all your devices at once, in one place.

Campfire: If you want to talk, not just send a quick text, to your whole team, you can utilize the Campfire app. It allows you to set up a chat room with any amount of people you want. Everyone in the group will be able to see all of the messages people are sending. You can also make conference calls with it!

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