Favorite OneTechTips

  The past few months we have been on a bit of hiatus due to school and some technical difficulties with our host. Now, we are back and better than ever. We are slowly evolving our webpage and always looking for improvement. Monday October 17, we shall see the official relaunch of OneTechTip (OTT) with daily posts and some new featured posts, still following our one post, one tip a day format. For example, we will be having an Andriod/iOS App of the week each week on Tuesdays. Subsequently, we shall be increasing our activity via social networks the next couple of weeks so be sure to follows on @OneTechTip and on Facebook. In addition we have an Android App which can be downloaded via the market, here.

Here is 7 of my favorite featured tips on OTT in no specific order.

  1. Remote Access to Your PC From Anywhere - Teamviewer enables the user to take control of another computer, File Transfers, and access presentations. Great way to help a friend with a computer issue or see what they see.
  2. Look at the Alternatives - This posted highlights a site that features a list of Open Source Alternatives, free to use, to Premium Software.
  3. IM from your Browser - Increasingly social media networks are becoming an integral part of our lives, and many feature chats. In this post we show you a site that enables you to chat via multiple IM clients from one webpage.
  4. Apple Refresh - Apple has come a long way in a little over 10 years. Presently, Apple product redesigns and refreshes are quite common, in this post we feature a site that let's you know whether to hold of on purchasing the current iPhone or to go for it.
  5. Let's Make a Deal - Many of our non-tech savvy friends are unaware that often they save a significant amount of money by buying online.
  6. PCPartPicker - Ever wanted to build your own PC but did not know what components go with what?
  7. Learn HTML, CSS, Javascript - for FREE!!
Feel Free to Contact Us about a tip or a tech related problem you face, whether you are tech savy or not.
Control technology, do not allow it to control you. :)

Facebook is Creeping out Users With Facial Scanning

Facebook's users upload millions of photos daily, and Facebook  has added functionality  to add tags to identifying the people in them. Just a few days ago, we found out that Facebook is scanning, with facial recognition software, every single picture that is uploaded to their servers and grouping similar faces.  Doesn't this creepy you out? Its grouping even non-Facebook members.  Yes, you get a message when people tag you but Facebook is storing this information. What could they do with this data? The company could use it to sell you advertisements  or even be used against  you in court with a subpoena.

Facebook's Blog post

There is something small you can do. It still doesn't stop Facebook from grouping data  but ...

If for any reason you don't want your name to be suggested, you will be able to disable suggested tags in your Privacy Settings. Just click "Customize Settings" and "Suggest photos of me to friends." Your name will no longer be suggested in photo tags, though friends can still tag you manually. You can learn more about this feature in our Help Center.

Be aware of what Facbook does and speak out. If we are not heard we might have a new Big Brother.

 

Suggestion: Post your opinion in their Help Center.

Go Offline in Chat for selected Friends

Facebook in the past integrated Facebook Chat  and allowed you to always be online to all your friends or just not use Chat. The service for some time did not allow you to customize and block any friends. Now, with Facebook lists you can block/ show offline to those friends that you don't want to be bothered by.  To do this create a list of friends that you want to show offline too. Friends-> Edit Friends-> Create a List

After creating a list, head over to Chat and click the green toggle button to set your self as Offline to those individuals.

Now enjoy  your privacy :-)

Facebook Filters Your Wall Feed?

A huge part of Facebook's user have no idea that Facebook filters their friends updates based on how much you interact with certain friends. Basically, on your wall you would see updates, pictures, links, and similar items from  friends that you interact with the most.  In my opinion, Facebook is controlling what I can and can not see and I highly dislike that. To change that  

Go to "Most Recent" on your wall and click "Edit Options":

 

In the "Edit Your Friends Settings" drop down select "All of your friends and pages" and click " Save":

and you are done. Now you will receive updates from all  your friends!

PCPartPicker.com at Your Service

Are you one of those types that love to build your own system? You are usually are a gamer, a techy person or just a person willing to take a risk.  PCPartPicker.com is  a site that lets answer these three questions:

  • Which parts give me the best performance for the price?
  • Which parts are compatible?
  • How do the prices compare across multiple merchants?

 

These questions relate to building your own computer because when you do, there always issues that you need to consider like price, compatibility,  and performance. It's easy to get started, just head over to the main site, PCPartPicker.com, and click the 'Get Started" button. You will be redirected to a page were you can start picking your components like CPU, motherboard, RAM, Power supply, etc...

 

Happy building and thanks to my co-worker David R. for the Tip.

 

Put Notes on Your TI Calculator

Now that finals are done, I will be posting more often. Also, I can not believe I did not think of this tip earlier. Many students use their calculator for math to compute long tedious commutations. Why not use your calculator to hold notes? I found a handy app for TI 83 and Ti 84 plus calculators which is a basic text editor.  This app is called NoteFolio™.  It can store as many notes as you please(Memory allowing).  I have used this to store poems, key facts, equations and many other things. To add this app, make sure you have the USB cable for your calculator, the TI Calculator software installed, and a good set of batteries.

Next, install the TI Notefolio Creator program on your computer. This program allows you to type up your documents with your PC.

Lastly, open the Notefolio Creator program and if the app did not install on your calculator go to  Actions-> Send Notefolio app. Then, create a note and once finished send the note to your calculator by Actions-> Send to Device.

Your done!  Please use this at your own risk ;-).

 

 

How to Make Chrome your Default PDF Viewer

We all have seen how every time we re-start our computer  Adobe is installing and updating their software, like Adobe Reader.   Adobe Reader has been a defacto on all machines to view PDF's but did you know that lately Adobe has a lot of issues with security.  Hackers have targeted Adobe to get into your computers. Why not get rid of Adobe reader by uninstalling it and using Chrome?  Here is how to do it. Make sure you have Chrome installed.

Find a PDF on your system and right-click it, then click "Open With...".

A window should pop up with programs to choose from.  Make sure there is a check box that is checked on the bottom that says "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file".

Make sure you have Chrome selected. If you do not see it click "Browse...".

If you know where Google has been installed, then just browse to that location otherwise, you can right-click on the Chrome shortcut then, Properties->Shortcut.

You’ll see the location(address) in the Target box. Copy it over to the previous window and you are set to go.

 

Andriod Keyboard MOD

I love my HTC Evo, rooted with Cyanogen's latest ROM. The one drawback to my Evo and many other android phones is the keyboard. I have tried many different types and styles from Swype to Swiftkey and the stock HTC Sense keyboard but there was always something I didn’t like. I couldn’t change the language with out going into the settings, the emoticons were difficult to get to or  the  manually typed, keys that I wanted where missing and had others that I didn’t care much for. I wanted to be in control of my keyboard and customize it like I did to my Android device. With the new keyboard, I can use swipe commands to shift, change language, hide the keyboard, or delete the last word, I can also add custom emoticons, and much more.So enough small talk lets get to the goods. The customizable keyboard is called HTC IME (input method) MOD, based off of the HTC's Sense keyboard but so much better.  This is what you’ll need: HTC_IME.apk Clicker.apk (needed ONLY if you don’t have a phone with HTC Sense) Applications Manager (I use Astro File Manager)

First you’ll need to download Astro or some other File/App manager from the Android market. Next download the zip with both apks here. Place the apks on your sd card and install them with Astro. Once installed all you have to do is go to the Android settings -> Language & keyboard, under Keyboard Settings you’ll see HTC_IME mod and a check box next to it, check it to make it your primary input method. Below the check box you’ll see the settings menu click on that and customize to your hearts desire.

Try it out if you don’t like it you can always go back to what you had before but if you do like it and would like to donate to the developer jonsil please visit: http://android.hallerud.se/donate.html

If if there is something you don’t like and are feeling up to the challenge here’s the source code: http://www.hallerud.se/htc_ime_mod_dev27.zip

Turn Your Desktop into a Portal to the Web

Many users know that you could easily change the wallpaper in your computer with a few clicks, but many do not know that you could make a website become a wallpaper on your Windows computer. Simply follow the following steps

  1. Right Click on the desktop
  2. On the Context Menu Select  Properties
  3. In the properties windows select the Desktop Tab
  4. Below the Desktop Tab Select Customize Desktop
  5. In the Desktop Items Menu Select the Web tab
  6. Under the Web Tab you may either select your current home page for your internet browser to be the wall paper or you may add a new site to be the wall paper
  7. After selecting the site, press ok, and a new small window should appear.
  8. In that window, go to the top of it and select the maximize option.
  9. Website Wallpaper NOTE: Website animations do work!

Add "Mac" Dock to Windows

If you like the dock feature Mac OS X has, you might be interested in StarDock ObjectDock. They offer a "plus" version, but  I think the free version is good enough. I used it for a while, it gets the job done nicely. On the other hand, I use Windows 7,  and I found it to be overkill specially since Windows 7 allows you to pin icons, essentially, a static dock.  I recommend it to anyone who does NOT have Windows 7 in their machine or does not like the pinned icons.  Compared to the Mac OS X dock, it does NOT have stacks within the dock. A small set back, but not really essential to its overall functionality.

 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="485" caption="courtesy Google images"][/caption]

Installation is simple. Simply download and install. It has relatively non-technical options to configure . The only option that is maybe a little tricky is the  "optimize for performance or memory."  Windows 7 and Vista need about 1GB RAM to start off, so if you have less than 2GB, I would recommend optimize for performance. Windows XP is less demanding, but if you have 512MB or less, definitely optimize for performance!  Of course, you can always experiment with the setting!

But if you need another reason to switch to Linux, there is a project called Cairo-Dock which, in my opinion runs circles around the Mac OS X.  Above is a screenshot, but if someone wants more information on Cairo-Dock, please let me know!

Invent Beyond Scratch!!

In previous post, I briefly discussed Scratch as a great way to learn about programming concept and principles without learning the nitty gritty. If you are an educator or just a common user it's a great way to be introduce to some basic programming knowledge. If you delve into the Scratch website, you would notice that one of the companies contributing to the development of Scratch is Google!!

Now if or when you are ready to make a jump from Scratch to something bigger, consider APP Inventor by Google. Inventor utilized the same interface as Scratch and would feel right at home. Inventor's purpose is to enable those with out the background knowledge to develop applications for the Android OS. Sure, I will admit that initially I figured that there would be influx of not so great Android Applications, but I could see how it could be used to introduce users to mobile application development.

Fortunately you do no need an Android Powered phone to test any applications you make since Inventor enables you to download an emulator to use and test out your application. Subsequently, the Inventor has an online tutorial with a a step by step on how to make HelloPurr, which is equivalent to hello world program that many programmers are familiar with. HelloPur is a simple introductory app that enables you to create an Android application in which when you touch the picture of a cat on the phone and it purrrs.  Application Inventor has a bit of a learning curve but you could make some complex applications with the right intiative.

You will need a Gmail account to access Application inventor.

App Inventor for Android

Computer Running HOT?

If your desktop computer begins to shut down and you notice it runs really hot, you might consider doing some maintenance. It is pretty cheap to do so!

  • The easiest thing to is buy compressed air to blow out the dust bunnies.
  • upgrade the fans
  • apply some thermal paste, I recommend Arctic Silver 5
  • make sure it is not near heat sources
  • make sure the back is away from any nearby walls

The usual culprits are the CPU or if you have one, the graphics card. To diagnose, you can use software like Speedfan or even the BIOS. The BIOS is a menu you can go into before Windows even loads. You can also test stress  by playing a video at full screen or running a program that works the CPU at 100%. There is also software out there that will stress test such as Everest and Sandra. Hope it helps!

Scratch Your Programming Itch!!

One of the goals of OneTech Tip is to provide useful information and cool tech tips for non tech savy users. For those readers whom are not tech savy have you ever thought about writing your own program or even just something cool? Or if you are a tech savy user have you ever wish you could teach someone a peer,  or a younger sibling how to program or introduce them to various programming concepts?

MIT has created a programming language that is user friendly, Scratch.

Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.T The language was mainly developed to encourage young kids and students to feel comfortable with programming through a drag and drop interface. Do not take this lightly, if you have never done any programming before you should try it out. Since the interface is mainly drag and drop you see the basic structure of how to write a program. On the official site there are highlights of some user generated projects. Here's a OneTechTip Challenge Create a game using the scratch programming language and we will highlight it here. Just send us an e-mail with your file. 

http://scratch.mit.edu

Look at the Alternatives

OneTech Tip has addressed alternatives to Windows and Mac OSX but what about the software. There are hundreds if not thousands of software that is free to use without a cost to the user. In some cases the open sourced software is sometime better, more efficient or meets your specific needs in comparison to larger, bloated commercial software.

Open Source Alternative is a great place to start if your looking for some free and open sourced software ranging from office software to games as well. Now, the site I noticed does not have an exhaustive list but it does provide some good suggestions for alternative software. For example, you may search for an alternative to Photoshop and it will yield Gimp.

If you are looking into becoming a more part of the open sourced movement consider this site to help you meet all your needs. Here's a challenge, try only using open source software for a week or a month.

Open Source as Alternative: http://www.osalt.com/

Hackintosh Enabled

If you been following my posts on subjects  related to Apple, you would probably pick up the fact I like Mac OS X and its features but I loathe how expensive the hardware has been these last few years if not always! Well introduce Hackintosh! A Hackintosh computer is basically a "PC" running the Mac OS X operating system, that's it. The difficult part is getting the "PC" hardware to work with the Mac OS X software. Over the years, it has become easier to achieve such goal, as Apple has made decisions to use Intel processors, both NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards if not mistaken and is even rumored to soon switch to AMD processors.  Then again, building a Hakintosh is NOT completely legal, but there are plenty of guides out there to different ways to carry out the experiment. Because it is an experiment, there is no guarantee it will be  100% functional, but I think the benefits out-weight the negatives. Why would anyone build such a monstrosity?

Well, it is cheaper. A build costing about $800 will outperform the best iMac and it's the same for the Mac Pro. Also, the build will perhaps have better quality parts than what Apple uses as the user gets to choose all the hardware. Finally, it will teach a person about computers! Do at your own risk and happy building!

Have Santa Call a Friend or a Family Member

Have you ever wanted Santa to call you? Well now you can offer that which you could not hear to someone else, kids would really like this. There is a site set up by Google called Send A Call from Santa. The site enables the sender (you) to compile a personalized messaged using the template and options they provide. In addition they allow you to preview the message. You may send this message via e-mail, phone or Facebook. If you are using the phone option you must provide your number and the person whom you wish Santa to call. Although note there is a bit of advertising for Google Voice following the message.

http://www.sendacallfromsanta.com/

Learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript,etc... From Home!!

[caption id="attachment_2295" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Image from W3 Schools"][/caption] A couple years ago when MySpace was the place to be, I taught HTML in a course at a youth center in which they created their own myspace profile from scratch. In order to prepare some lessons and teach the kids new codes,  I would reference w3schools, an online tutorial site, that provides the tools to create a website. One specific feature I enjoy is the try it out editor which enables you to view the code and the output on the same screen (as shown below). I recommend this site if your are interested in learning more about web design and creation.

[caption id="attachment_2296" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Insert Code on the Left see the output on the right"][/caption]

W3Schools: http://www.w3schools.com/

Speed up PC by Writing to Your RAM

With the inertia of my previous post on SDD’s,  they are still high priced compared to hard drives but there does exist a happier and much faster medium, which when used correctly, has the possibility to perform just as well if not better than SSD’s in some scenarios. This happy medium turns out to be your RAM. If you have more than 4GB of RAM, I recommend you download Dataram RAMdisk. Essentially, the utility uses RAM instead of writing the data to your 200X slower hard drive. The program will create a hard drive with a TEMP folder. To configure, simply specify how much RAM should be allocated as the hard drive and individually modify each program to store its temporary files in your RAM hard drive.

You may wonder how this is useful and not tedious to modify each program altogether? It turns out there are programs that write to the hard drive more frequently than others. The main culprits turn out to be your internet browser and installation executables. Check with your preferred browser. I know for a fact Chrome will not let you change its TEMP folder directly, but as always, if there is a will, there is a way. As for the installation executable, modify the environment variables to point to the RAM hard drive. In my case, “I” is my RAM hard drive.

The only downside is that because RAM gets deleted at shutdown, so will any temporary files get deleted; in other words, the temporary files that could have speeded up your page loading will not be there. If you think offsetting the cost of slower page browsing is negligible, proceed. If not, simply do not modify the browser's settings.

RAID, Mechanical Drives Still in the Fight

Ever heard of RAID? No, I am not talking about pirates getting away with treasure. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks.  As hard drives approach the Terabyte range (1000 Gigabytes), they have become inexpensive to the point where RAID becomes a consumer level alternative to the trendy Solid State Drives (SSD’s). The advantage over SSD is there no finite amount of data writes but of course mechanical failure is always eminent. To do so, you will need to back up your data, purchase identical drives, most likely have to purchase a RAID controller and be willing to get your hands dirty to install the additional hardware under the assumption your PC system meets the requirements.  You can read more about RAID on your own, but my preferred configuration is a RAID 0+1. My preferred configuration gets the performance boosts by splitting (stripping) the data into two drives as shown below and backs up ( mirrors) the entire data into a third drive.

 

Split Your Computer Into Two or More Personalities

Today's tip focuses on giving your computer more than one identity. Ever felt like being more than just Windows? You could be Penguin (Linux) and/or a Mac. How, you may ask? Partitioning.  When your hard drive is divided into many different pieces or slices it is called partitions. These partitions are what one may call sub-hard drives in your main hard drive. In order to partition a hard drive you will need software to carry out the partitioning. Windows has a built-in program but I'm not a fan of it, so I will use the third-party software called EASEUS Partition Magic.

NOTE: IT IS RECOMMENDED  THAT YOU BACK UP ALL YOUR FILES BEFORE PROCEEDING.

First, we shall resize the primary space where the OS is located (as highlighted above).

Next, we determine the size of the partition you want to create which will use some of the space already set aside for the Windows OS for a new purpose.

Once you have decided on the partition's size, click OK. A word of advice, the partition you are creating should at most be about the current free space available.  If you go beyond, you may damage your system.

You should see an additional unused partition which you may use to install another OS when prompted by the new OS.