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TechByter Worldwide (formerly Technology Corner) with Bill Blinn
19 minutes | Jul 30, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-07-30: Fix Context Menus with The Glary Context Menu Manager. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Right-clicking a file, directory, or disk drive displays what Microsoft calls a context menu that offers actions you might want to take with the object. It's a relatively sparse list initially, but a lot of applications add actions that you might not want. It's possible to shorten an uncomfortably long list. In Short Circuits: The early preview of Windows 11 is now on one of my computers. Considering this is a "Dev Channel" version, it includes a surprisingly small number of nasty bugs. • Much of the promise of 5G cellular technology is based on the presumption that it will be ubiquitous. For that to happen, providers will need to install a huge number of what are called "small cells" -- maybe 45 million of them in the next decade. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Spyware is nasty stuff, but it's here to stay. • In the not too distant future, you might be able to order a hamburger that doesn't require a cow to be slaughtered and yet isn't made from plants. Say hello to "cultured meat". • Twenty years ago: I was introduced to DiskOnKey at Showstoppers, a program that wasn't part of PC Expo but ran one evening during the big show. DiskOnKey was what we would later call a thumb drive, and it was revolutionary.
22 minutes | Jul 23, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-07-23: Windows 11 Is Coming, Ready Or Not. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
In June, Microsoft announced that Windows 11 is on the way, and the first preview is out now for those in the Windows Insider Dev Channel. Not all computers that run Windows 10 will be able to run Windows 11, so let's take a look. In Short Circuits: 4G cellular systems became the dominant technology in just a few years, and it looks like adoption of 5G will be even faster. • Should software developers wait until the code is perfect before releasing operating systems or applications? Short answer: No. In Spare Parts (only on the website): An executive order from the president aims to make it easier for consumers to get faulty devices repaired, to re-establish Net Neutrality, and to address several other consumer issues. • If you feel like your company is demanding that you do more in less time, you're not alone. • Twenty years ago: Online grocer Webvan had just announced that it had laid off its remaining 2000 employees, shut down, and would file for bankruptcy. Nobody wanted to buy groceries online back then. What a difference 20 years and a pandemic make!
23 minutes | Jul 16, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-07-16: Glary Utilities 5 Might Be The Best Way To Clean Your Computer. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Perhaps you've used CCleaner for years to clean your computer, but Glary Utilities looks like a better choice. Let's see what it can do. In Short Circuits: Regardless what developers do to protect data on computers, criminals find ways to steal it. Windows 11 will be more security aware, but there may still be a need for other measures. • If asked to name the top cellular providers, you'd probably name Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT and T, but there are others and you might get both lower costs and better service with one you may never have heard of. In Spare Parts (only on the website): A column in the New York Times asks why Microsoft didn't put itself out of business with a series of bad moves. The proposed answer is interesting. • Have you received a "vishing" call or email? Not "phishing", but "vishing". It's just another danger to watch out for. • Twenty years ago: Bluetooth had been in development for a while and it was beginning to take off in 2001. Frost and Sullivan's UK branch said 4.2 million products using Bluetooth technology would be shipped to market by the end of the year. They predicted that number would exceed one billion by 2006. Did it happen?
17 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-07-09: When Windows Search Is Insufficient, Send In Agent Ransack. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
No matter how carefully you organize files on your computer, there's at least a small chance that someday you won't be able to find a file you need. Fortunately, the free Agent Ransack can find it for you, and do it quickly. In Short Circuits: Scammers are limited in the types of attacks they can use, so they have to keep coming up with new presentations. Airline scams are in. • Most Windows computer users have the Task bar at the bottom of the screen. There are good reasons to put it at the top of the screen, though, even for those who prefer having it at the bottom. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Western Digital My Book Live devices, which haven't been produced for the last six years, are in danger of being compromised. • Upgrading to Windows 11 may require a visit to the computer's BIOS settings and some computers don't have a security chip that will be required for the new version of the operating system. • Twenty years ago: I've always enjoyed the irony that, after spending a week at PC Expo in New York City, I bought a Mac to bring home.
21 minutes | Jul 2, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-07-02: Built-In Alternatives To Separate Windows Applications. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
I'm a big fan of little utility programs because they usually do just one job, but do it very well. Windows 10 has a lot of built-in functions that you can use instead of spending time, and possibly money, installing extra applications. I have a few examples. In Short Circuits: Crooks will do anything to mislead us, including making websites that look like sites operated by banks and businesses. Now it's easy for them to create realistic looking domain names by using letters from other languages that look like English letterforms. • In this week's main article, we looked at some built-in Windows 10 functions that perform jobs you might be planning to use a utility for. Not every built-in function is a good choice, though, and I'll describe one. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Microsoft has plans for Windows 11 and the panic among some users is both palpable and silly. • When internet speeds seem slow, your ISP will probably insist that you use their speed text, but getting second, third, and fourth opinions can be helpful. • Twenty years ago: There were predictions that France's Minitel system would soon be replaced by the internet. It was eventually, but not until 2012.
25 minutes | Jun 25, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-06-25: Tracking Down A Bizarre Problem Scientifically. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Tracking down problems with a computer is usually a multi-step process of developing conjectures that lead to hypotheses and eventually to a valid theory. The first conjecture is sometimes right, but more often it's not. I'll describe a recent puzzler. In Short Circuits: Ransomware may be less of a threat to individuals than it used to be, but "less of a threat" doesn't mean "no threat". We still have to be cautious. • Firefox's market share has dropped from 30% a decade ago to around 7% now, but the browser still has loyal advocates -- and with good reason. In Spare Parts (only on the website): A global computer chip shortage is creating havoc in the automotive industry and elsewhere, but missteps by car and truck manufacturers have made the problem worse for them. • I found a picture of what was probably my first portable computer from 1988. It's on display. • Twenty years ago: PC Expo had just concluded. The dot-com implosion made the show a lot smaller, but darker times were coming.
21 minutes | Jun 18, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-06-18: Maybe It's Time To Improve Your Photography Game. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
There has never been a better time to be an amateur photographer. The ranks of professional photographers have been decimated as this industry becomes another to fall victim to powers that personal computers give ordinary people. In Short Circuits: This week's security section considers drive-by website attacks and how we can avoid having our computers taken over by malware. • Internet Explorer will finally be dead a year from now. You should already be using another browser but as of mid-June 2022 you won't have much choice. In Spare Parts (only on the website):Microsoft seems to be working on "virtual Windows" -- the ability to run Windows on cloud-based computers via a "thin client". It's back to the 1980s for the future of the 2020s. • Cryptomining is lucrative and that's why crooks want to take over your computer and have it work for them. • Twenty years ago: The Degree Confluence Project had just started to capture images from locations where one-degree intersections of latitude and longitude occurred. They're still working on it.
21 minutes | Jun 11, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-06-11: For Critical Tasks, Sometimes You Have To Pay Less. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Sometimes the best software choice is an application that's been created by a developer who offers it for free, or just for a donation. Let's consider some of those today. In Short Circuits: Watch out for viscous PUPs. No, this isn't going to be an anti-dog tirade, but an explanation of how to avoid potentially unwanted programs. • Have you ever felt that your internet service provider doesn't really care about the quality of the service you're getting? Individual complaints may go nowhere, but there's power in collective complaining. In Spare Parts (only on the website): The covid pandemic was a disaster, no matter how you look at it, but some people managed to update their skills during the past year. • Version 89 of Firefox, released at the end of May, has a more modern appearance, faster operation, and improved security. • Twenty years ago: I was amazed by being able to talk to my older daughter in Columbus while I was heading for San Ysidro from San Diego on a trolley. That would still be unusual today because seemingly only a few people actually use mobile phones to make phone calls.
21 minutes | Jun 4, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-06-04: Camtasia 2021 Adds Powerful Features For Smart Looking Videos. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
TechSmith's Camtasia is an essential tool for anyone who creates how-to videos, online product demonstrations, video lessons, or presentations. The 2021 version adds some powerful new features. In Short Circuits: The second item in a series of articles on security takes a look at malware, adware, and other nasties, then suggests some protective measures. • Although the technology link might be a bit week, let's consider a television program that had time travel even before Doctor Who and still has a loyal following nearly 60 years after its last episode aired. In Spare Parts (only on the website): As we begin to shed some pandemic precautions, it appears that consumers want retail stores to continue delivery, online purchases with curbside pick-up, and other conveniences that became common in the past year. • Possibly another result of the pandemic is that now more individuals and families are budgeting income and expenses. • Twenty years ago: A new program called IncrediMail had just launched, and it represented a new way to send messages.
20 minutes | May 28, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-05-28: A Clever Concept Ruined By Ignorant Firmware Design. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Buying a $200 film scanner doesn't come without risk, I wanted something that would make quick work of some old medium-format film and this cheap scanner would have done an acceptable job if the designers had done the right thing. In Short Circuits: The first in a series of security posts will consider steps you can take to safeguard a Wi-Fi router. • Microsoft has released Windows 10 version 21H1, but waiting a month or two before installing it seems wise. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Where you live has some effect on the internet speed you can get. The United States is below normal overall, and there are wide variances within the country. • There's a new data breach seemingly about every other day, so it's important to see if your email address or phone number has been compromised and, if so, to take protective actions. • Twenty years ago: Voice recognition in 2001 was still new and some systems involved having humans transcribe speech.
21 minutes | May 21, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-05-21: When You Are The Support Department For Friends And Family. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Those who know more about how computers work than their friends and family do are often called on to answer questions and provide help. Helping even nearby friends can be a problem because social distancing is still recommended, but if that person is halfway across the country, you need a way to see what's on your friend's computer. In Short Circuits: Because spams and scams are fascinating, I sometimes deconstruct them to see what makes them tick. If you're more interested in just avoiding the things, consider this recommendation: Any email must be assumed to be a con until it proves that it's not. • Whether you know it or not, you probably have a scanner in your pocket, and that's something that can be quite useful. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Adobe Creative Cloud users who also use Google Docs or Google Slides in Google Workspace will find that the systems now connect with each other. • When the PR people forget to check with the technicians, embarrassing mistakes can happen such as that in a recent email from the Mozilla Foundation • Twenty years ago: Both Gateway and Juno had just settled with the Federal Trade Commission over use of the word "free".
21 minutes | May 14, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-05-14: Taking A Closer Look At Photoshop's Neural Filters. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Adobe Photoshop's Neural Filters have been in place for about six months and more will probably be added at or before this year's Adobe Max. These are tools that can perform effects that are close to magic. In Short Circuits: As important as diagnostic utilities are for figuring out what's wrong with a computer, sometimes lower-tech tools help, too. Sight, sound, and smell can provide early warnings about problems. • Continuing that low-tech line of thought, being comfortable when using a computer depends on things we rarely give much thought to. In Spare Parts (only on the website): When spaces between the keys on a keyboard fill with junk, you can pull out the keys and vacuum the space below, but there's another option you may not have considered. • A shortage of computer chips will result in more dirty dogs, fewer new automobiles, and a variety of other unanticipated and seemingly unrelated problems. • Twenty years ago: Linux was one of the featured products at the 2001 edition of PC Expo. I was preparing to attend what would be the last of the big shows.
16 minutes | May 7, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-05-07: Block Google FLoC Tracking With A DuckDuckGo Chrome Extension. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Google will be eliminating third-party cookies for those who use the Chrome browser and replacing them with Federated Learning of Cohorts, which many privacy experts say is just as bad and possibly worse. In Short Circuits: If you're tired of having websites constantly pop up messages asking for your permission to push notifications to you, most browsers have a way to make it stop. • Adobe Stock is offering a limited number of completely free photo and video resources, but it seems more likely to be a way to introduce new users to the paid stock offerings. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Having digital copies of medical IDs on a phone will helpful if you need care when your wallet has been lost or stolen, but it's even better if you have the information online where you can retrieve it from any computer. Good security is essential. • It's likely that hybrid education will continue for a while, and many businesses seemingly have no plans to ever restore full-time in-office requirements for employees. • Twenty years ago: Following the dot-com melt-down, there were some encouraging signs for high tech, but no shortage of problems remained.
23 minutes | Apr 30, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-04-30: Using Social Fixer To Fix Facebook Frustrations. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Despite its many useful features, Facebook includes a plethora of dangers, frustrations, and annoyances. A browser plug-in has been making Facebook less annoying for years, a new version works with Facebook's latest updates, and the developer is now designing an app that will bring some of the features to phones and tablets. In Short Circuits: Maybe you've seen suggestions for improving Windows networking speeds with a simple Registry tweak. The good news is that the tweak doesn't harm anything, but the bad news is that it also doesn't do much to improve things. • It may seem like email has been around forever, but it was invented just 50 years ago and it didn't become widely available until 30 years ago. In Spare Parts (only on the website): In an effort to become an important player in medical computing, Microsoft is acquiring Nuance. • A survey suggests that about half of US students are concerned about school safety and the ability of school administrators to deal with threats. • Twenty years ago: A small organization in Toronto launched Naked News. It's still around, but most of the news has been replaced by feature stories and there are no longer weather reports.
23 minutes | Apr 23, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-04-23: 5G Will Be Fast, But Progresses Slowly. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Cellular providers boast that 75% of the US already has 5G coverage, but there's more than a little hyperbole there, and Russia is doing everything it can to discourage development in the US. In Short Circuits: You've probably used Google Translate, but there's a competing service from Germany that might be worth trying. • In 1992, Microsoft introduced Windows for Workgroups. The revolutionary Windows 95 was still a few years in the future, but Windows 3.11 finally offered useful features and better reliability. In Spare Parts (only on the website): It's possible to marginally improve a Windows 10 computer's speed with changes to some of the system settings. The improvements are usually modest, but perceptible. • It's questionable whether offices will ever be fully populated again, but collaboration spaces may be the next step for workers. • Twenty years ago: 3Com was in serious trouble and had begun the death spiral that saw it being acquired by HP about eight years later.
19 minutes | Apr 16, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-04-16: How To Recover If Your Facebook Account Has Been Cloned. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
When somebody tells you that they've received a new friend request from you on Facebook and you know you haven't sent one, you may think your account has been hacked. That's probably not the case. The account has probably been cloned, and that problem is easy to fix. In Short Circuits: Would you be surprised that scammers target people who follow a police department's Facebook page? That seems like something that should be a surprise, but of course it isn't. We'll get the rest of the story from Lieutenant Tim Cotton of the Bangor Police Department. • Which will occur first: The paperless office or the paperless bathroom? What about the cashless society? In Spare Parts (only on the website): LastPass has severely limited the usability of its free service, but some of the competing programs are still free. • Comcast's Internet Essentials program for low-income families now has more than 10 million users. • Twenty years ago: It was time for networking the computers at my house. Even though I wasn't on the leading edge, setting up a home network then was a lot harder than it is today.
22 minutes | Apr 9, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-04-09: What To Look For In A Solid State Drive To Replace A Mechanical Drive. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Any time spent waiting for a computer is wasted. Computer speed is a factor of its several components, but many applications can be bogged down by a slow disk drive. In Short Circuits: Windows 10 includes some deprecated features and services. These can be eliminated, and it's easy to do. • The National Institutes of Health has established "All of Us", a medical research project that uses data from participants to find ways to treat and prevent disease, and may also give those who enroll useful information about themselves. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Consumer Reports magazine accuses Comcast of taking unfair advantage of subscribers who are working from home. • Microsoft is renovating part of its huge campus in Redmond, Washington, and all heating and cooling needs will be served by deep underground wells. • Twenty years ago: AT and T was offering an "unlimited" internet plan for $7 per month, but the company defined "unlimited" as 150 hours per month.
21 minutes | Apr 2, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-04-02: Key Steps For Data And Identity Security. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Security threats surround us. Several months ago, I signed up for a Liker account as a possible alternative to Facebook. In mid-March, Liker abruptly shut down because of a serious data breach. They say they'll be back when they've reworked their code to be more secure. Threats can come from anywhere. In Short Circuits: When it's time to replace a computer monitor, you might consider a television because you can get a larger screen for a lower price, but should you? • If you use an application that shows the temperature of your computer's CPU, you may wonder why there's so much fluctuation and why the various cores don't all report the same temperatures. If so, I have just the information you're seeking. In Spare Parts (only on the website): If you're considering a Windows S Mode computer, be sure that you understand the limitations, and if you have one of these computers, there's a way to remove the restrictions if you find them too limiting. • Buying Apple products you see on Instagram might be dangerous. Beware fakes and counterfeit devices. • Twenty years ago: Typefaces on websites were limited to about half a dozen that were present on all computers, but Bitstream was trying to change that.
20 minutes | Mar 26, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-03-26: Maybe It's Time For Every Vehicle To Have A Dash Cam. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
If your car doesn't have a dash cam, maybe it's time to add one. Even good models are reasonably priced now, so let's consider which features to look for. In Short Circuits: Do you need a $6000 camera that takes only monochrome images and doesn't even have a zoom lens? Quick answer: Maybe, but only if you know why you need it. • Large trade shows had been in trouble since 9/11 and the travel restrictions that followed, and just as they were beginning to recover, covid came along. Virtual shows don't provide all the benefits of in-person events. In Spare Parts (only on the website): Now there's a new threat to security: Smart sex toys. There's a story I didn't see coming, but security vendor Eset says it really is a thing. • IPad users just got access to the all-in-one Microsoft Office app that includes the ability to create and edit Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and PDF documents -- even for users who don't have an Office 365 subscription. • Twenty years ago: The dot-com disaster was well underway, but most people hadn't even noticed.
20 minutes | Mar 19, 2021
TechByter Worldwide 2021-03-19: Seven Thousand Magazines And Newspapers On Your Computer, Maybe For Free. Short Circuits. Spare Parts.
Anyone who's fond of print journalism might like to have immediate access to seven thousand or so newspapers and magazines. You can, and for just $30 per month. Or maybe for free. Let's look into that "free" part. In Short Circuits: Photoshop Camera is a most amusing free app from Adobe. If your phone is compatible, you'll be amazed by what can be accomplished without a computer. • Security firm Kaspersky labs says that corporate IT security employees who goof off while on the clock might actually be doing their employers a favor. In Spare Parts (only on the website): After more than three decades as one of the nation's premiere in-person electronics stores, Fry's has closed it 31 locations in the west and south. • Microsoft would like you to allow the company to listen to what you tell Cortana. The objective is to improve voice recognition technology. • Twenty years ago: GPS devices were just beginning to become available, but they were expensive. Apps for personal digital assistants foreshadowed today's smart phones with built-in GPS. Primitive as the old devices were, they seemed amazing at the time.
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