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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Tab Mix Plus for Firefox 17

If you've been using Tab Mix Plus for Firefox, you may have found that it doesn't work in Firefox 17.

Here is a version that works. Go to this page and click on the blue Dev-Build to install the new version.

Tab Mix Plus Dev-Build Released

Monday, 15 October 2012

Facebook - Remove Location From Status Updates

Facebook will automatically add your location to your status updates. If you don't want this to happen, here is the solution:

To fix this, when you update your status you will need to, before you post it, remove the location. Hover over the location below the status you have just written and click on the X to the right of it to remove it. Post your update. Done.

In the future, it shouldn't automatically add the location again. However, if you had to delete your cookies, or if you are on a different computer, it may try to add the location again.

Note, you can also use this feature to change your location, including to somewhere you are not.

See also:

Friday, 14 September 2012

My Top 20 Free Windows Programs - Sept. 2012

Cobain Backup - a free backup program that you can fully customize - scheduling, backing up to various drives including network drives, differential or full backup, etc. Uses Shadow Volume Copy so you can back up while you work on your computer. In the task pane it now also shows the total size (GB, MB...) of your backup task.

Firefox - Still the best browser. Faster than ever. Better memory management. More secure and stable. Tons of extensions to meet your needs. Check out Personas - an easy way to dress up Firefox. Now also available for mobile Android devices.

CCleaner - great for cleaning up temp files, temp files leftover from crashes, and cleaning up the Registry, disabling unnecessary start-up items, cleaning up IE add-ons, scheduled events and more.

Revo Uninstaller - an advanced un-installer program that enables you to remove the usual leftover registry items and folders. Scroll to the bottom of the page at the link to get to the free version download link.

Defraggler - from the makers of CCleaner, this program is a great replacement for the Windows defragment program. Works in all recent versions of Windows. This program lets you see what is going on (like the old program in XP). It is fast and can work even if you have less than 10% of the hard drive free. Not as necessary in Windows 7, but very handy for older XP and Vista system hard drives.

Thunderbird - an excellent email program from Mozilla (same group that brings you Firefox). I find this much easier to customize and to backup and move files around when need be, and much more stable than Outlook, Outlook Express, or Windows Mail/Windows Live Mail programs. Tabs, excellent search function, File-Link (large file management) and more.


- best free media player overall - yes it has playlists and you can use it with your ipod or any other MP3 player. Works better than iTunes and doesn't install other programs behind your back, and you can customize its many settings (file formats to deal with, whether it launches on its own or by your command...). Great for doing live mixes as you can queue songs up.

Freemake Video Converter - With video collections moving to hard drives away from disc collections, here is a great free program that you can use to convert your DVD movie or TV show into an AVI file (or other digital format).  Here is the short how-to video for this process. To go with this, here is a decryption program - DVD43 - that operates in the background. It should work with most DVDs.

VLC Media Player - for playing a wide variety of video and music files, DVDs, and streaming. When Windows Media Player won't play it (WMP in Windows 7 works much better but there are still files it won't play), this will. The user interface isn't that pretty, but it works.

File Sharing
- the best little torrent program around. Pronounced
MOO-torrent (as the initial u is actually the micro symbol). Although there was a threat to stick ads in the free version, they backed down and made them optional.

Peerblock - lets you control who your computer "talks to" on the Internet. By selecting appropriate lists of "known bad" computers, you can block communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, computers monitoring your p2p activities, computers which have been "hacked", even entire countries! They can't get in to your computer, and your computer won't try to send them anything either.

Libre Office - the best free alternative to MS Office. Libre Office picked up where Open Office left off - same program but newer/more developed. And it can open .docx  and .xlsx files. You can create a PDF directly from any of the programs in the suite with a click of an icon. Word processor, spreadsheet, drawing program, database, and a math program. You can make it save things in MS Office format by default if you need to share documents with others who have MS Office. The link takes to you the page where you can download the main installation file and the help file. Download both, install the main one first and then the help file. If you currently have Open Office installed, make sure to remove it before installing Libre Office. The first time you open the program it will take a while to load to configure itself. You may need to open it again if it doesn't fully open. After that it opens normally.

EssentialPIM - A personal information manager. Similar features to Outlook (outside of the email part). If you want a PIM that is not bogged down by the email part of Outlook (and it's other issues) - just a basic appointment calendar, contact list, To Do list and notes - this is a great program.

AVG Free - anti-virus and anti-spyware and more, and continues to improve. Easy to use and works better than the big commercial programs. Go here for installation instructions for AVG Free 2013.

Malwarebytes - A good anti-spyware removal program to use along with your regular security program to occasionally check for bugs. Has a quickscan mode that takes about 10 minutes, and a full scan mode. Also adds as a context menu so you can right-click on a file/folder/drive and choose to scan it with Malwarebytes.

Mailwasher Free - filter out Spam before it gets to your email program. Works with a wide variety of email programs. Free version only works for one email address. Paid version will work with multiple addresses.

7zip - 32bit or 64bit - decompression and compression of many many compression formats. After installing, run 7-Zip File Manager program as administrator, go to Tools, Options,click on the two + buttons, Apply and close the program.

Adobe Reader - Although it's big and sometimes annoying, this is still the best all round PDF reader. Works well in browsers. (I used to recommend Foxit Reader, but it is kind of buggy when dealing with opening PDFs inside a browser)

Crossloop - enables you to remotely connect to another computer to give or get help. Very simple to use. No need to create an account.

Dropbox - Actually a service, not a program, but very useful. Need to share or sync files with yourself or others in your group/business remotely, or, want to backup your work on-line? Free account starts at 2GB. There are other on-line free storage services, but Dropbox is probably the easiest to use and most versatile (and the least buggy).
From Wikipedia: Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc. that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. In brief, Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronises so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of the computer it is viewed on. Files placed in this folder are also accessible through a web site and mobile phone applications.
You can also share a file with someone who does not have a Dropbox account. To do this: Open your Dropbox folder. Open the Public folder. Right-click on the file you've put in there, select Dropbox, Copy Public Link. Then, send this link to the other person. This is a great way to send a file that is too large for email servers, or share a safe file that your email service keeps blocking (installation files, even when zipped, are often blocked by email services).

Honourable Mentions:
CDex - A simple program for converting CDs to digital audio files.

Freemake Audio Converter - a great program for converting digital audio files. Converts from and to many file formats.

EMDb - a free DVD/Video catalogue database program. Automatically downloads info from IMDB. I haven't used this but it looks like the best free one.

PDF Creator - Easy to create PDF files from any file - just print and select PDF Creator and it creates a PDF version of the file. You can also merge multiple files of any format into a multi-page PDF file. If you have Libre Office and only need to create PDFs of files you create with it, there is no need for this creator program.

More Programs
AlternativeTo - This is a great site for finding alternative programs (free or commercial) if you can't afford the usual expensive version, or for finding programs for very specific purposes.

Got any favourite free Windows programs for computer I left out? Add them in comments below.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

AVG Free 2013 Installation and Configuration Guide

AVG Free 2013 just came out. Here is my guide for a clean basic installation and configuration.

Print these instructions out, or bring them up on another computer in order to follow them through the process.

Download it from here and choose either the 32bit version or the 64bit version. If you still have Windows XP, you most likely need the 32bit version. Most people running Vista or Windows 7 (or 8) will need the 64bit version. When in doubt, try installing the 64bit version. If it's not the right one, the installation won't get all the way through.

AVG Free has a new interface to fit with the new Metro theme in Windows 8. Love it or hate it, there it is.

  • Close any open programs, including your browser.
  • Run the file you downloaded.
  • Accept the license agreement
  • Check Custom Install and un-check the 2 boxes below that. Next. Note: some of you may have those 2 options show only below Express Install. If so, then these will be dealt with further in the Custom Install.
  • Un-check Additional installed languages. Make sure AVG Add-Ons is UN-checked. Next
  • Some of you may get a separate window for the AVG Security Toolbar option. If so, un-check I would like to set AVG Secure Search as my default... and un-check Improve my Internet protection .... Next.
  • If you have a slow machine (or something more than a few years old) now is the time to go to the bathroom, have a beer, read a book, do the laundry or something that will take a while. If you have a modern or fast machine, don't go anywhere, it will only take a few minutes.
  • When that is done, un-check I want to improve my security by participating ... (or leave it checked if you don't mind the program sending AVG anonymous information about threats it bumps into and security issues related to AVG in order for AVG to use this info to improve their program). I leave this checked. Note: for some of you, your browser might open with a notice from AVG that they are sad to see that you uninstalled the Security Toolbar. Ignore this and close the browser.
  • Click on Restart Now
  • If your operating system asks if you want to restart now, yes, restart.
  • Wait for your computer to restart and wait for AVG window to open. If it doesn't, double-click on the AVG tray icon. If your tray icon ends up hidden, un-hide it (click the little up arrow and choose Customize and beside AVG, change to Show icon and notifications, and then click OK)
  • Click on Update Now. Let it update. Continue doing this until it says You are currently up-to-date. From the Update screen, to get back to the main screen, click on the back arrow on the left side (white arrow in green). 

  • Now, time to configure
  • Go to the main AVG Free screen
  • Click Options (top right), Advanced Settings
  • UN-check AVG Advisor Notifications (mainly just annoying messages)
  • Click on the + sign beside Scans and then on Removable device scan.
  • Check Enable Removable device scan, and Heal/Remove virus infections without asking me
  • Scroll to the bottom of this window and change Adjust how quickly ... to High Priority. Apply
  • Back on the left, click on the + sign beside Schedules, and select Scheduled Scan
  • Check off Enable this task
  • Leave the default setting or adjust to a day and time of the week when the computer is normally on.
  • Apply
  • Okay and back to the main screen. And close (X in the top right corner).
  • Eventually, usually within an hour from installation, AVG will pop up and ask you to do an initial scan. Do it.
  • Everything that you will ever see in the Notification area (bottom of the main AVG screen) regards upgrading to the paid version of the program. For most people you can ignore this. 
  • Fix Performance - Don't use this. There are better free tools out there and most things like this that profess to tune up your computer only make it worse. 
  • If you accidentally upgrade to the paid version or a free trial of the paid version, you may find, among other things, that you get a lot of annoying messages popping up while you are on-line, and that you can't access some web pages that you regularly access. To revert back to the free basic version, remove the program via the Windows Control Panel and Add or Remove Programs (Windows XP), or Programs and Features (Windows Vista, 7). Once you select to remove/uninstall it, you will be presented with various choices. Choose the one that converts or reverts you to the free, or basic protection/version.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Facebook Privacy Hoax

[Hoax Alert] To all my Facebook friends ... I want to stay PRIVATELY connected ... mouse over my name.
 Key info from the article:

"If you follow the instructions in the message, you won’t be protecting your privacy or that of your friend. The only thing you’ll be doing is unsubscribing from any of their Facebook comments and likes. This kind of defeats the purpose of being friends with them in the first place.  When the original hoax first hit, our friends at Sophos posted a detailed article as to why it doesn’t work.

They also shared this important piece of advice:
It is not just your settings that control what goes in your Facebook newsfeed and appears on your friends’ tickers. Anyone’s posts which have privacy set to more than “Friends” will go to all the friends of all the commenters. This is a fact! We’ve tested it!”

The best thing you and your friends can do to protect your privacy is to set all of your privacy and sharing settings to ‘friends only.’ As we have mentioned in another blog post, sharing with friends of friends can potentially expose your post to almost 150,000 people! Also keep in mind that if you comment or like items that are public or set to ‘friends of friends,’ then your likes and comments are exposed to everyone who can view the shared item."

If you want to share something with Friends of Friends or with the Public, you can do so (but just remember, that item will then be shared with Friends of Friend, or with the Public, depending on which you choose). You can choose who to share each individual post with by clicking on Custom - choosing who can see it and then you can also choose who can't see it. You can also do this after the fact from your own wall/Timeline. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Open Winmail.dat Attachments In Thunderbird

If you are using Mozilla's Thunderbird program for email, and you sometimes get emails with attachments that are stuck inside a winmail.dat file, have no fear, there is an easy solution.

Why do you get winmail.dat attachments?
If the sender is using Outlook and has it set to send messages in RTF format (instead of HTML - which is what everything else uses by default, including newer versions of Outlook), then anyone not using Outlook to receive the message will often get an email with parts of it missing and there will be an attached winmail.dat file, or, if there are attachments, they will be inaccessible and inside the winmail.dat attachment. More information on this and how to configure Outlook to NOT send in RTF format here.

Thunderbird solution.
If you are using Thunderbird, download and install the Lookout add-on.
With this installed, when you look at an email with attachments with a winmail.dat file, you will also see, beside it, the actual intended attachment file(s). You can click on these and save them or open them normally now. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

How to post links to your blog on blogspot dot ca on Facebook

As of May 27, 2012, Facebook blocked all links and text referring to blogspot dot ca (written out here as dot ca instead of ".ca" so it won't be blocked when posted to FB).
I am assuming they blocked this due to a number of complaints about SPAM sites using Blogger in Canada.
However, this blanket blocking of Blogger sites from Canada is unfair to the thousands of legitimate bloggers in Canada who use Blogger. 

For now, here is a workaround:
To post a link, first, copy the link to notepad, then replace .ca with .com in the URL. Now, copy and paste this edited version of the URL to Facebook. The link will direct to the correct location. 

Please write to Facebook and ask them to stop blocking all of Blogger in Canada. If they have complaints of specific blogs in Canada, they should block those specific URLs, not the core URL.

As of a couple of days ago, Facebook unblocked

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Fix Thunderbird Tabs Position

Thunderbird 11 changes the tab position from being below the menu bar to above it. If this is annoying to you and you would like the tabs back below the menu bar, download this add-on for Thunderbird and install it.To do so
  • Go to this page, right-click on  the Download Now button and save the file to your computer.
  • Open Thunderbird (if you haven't update to version 11 yet, do so by clicking on Help, About Thunderbird, Check for Updates...), Tools, Add Ons.
  • Click on the button with the cog wheel on it beside the Search for all add-ons field
  • Select Install Add-on From File
  • Navigate to where you saved the file, select it and choose Open
  • Now your tabs should be back below the Menu bar

Friday, 16 March 2012

Libre Office 3.5.1 is available

If you are using Open Office still, or Libre Office 3.5.0 or earlier, you should upgrade to Libre Office 3.5.1.
It is available here for download, along with the help installation file.

Remember, if you have Open Office installed, remove it first before installing Libre Office.
If you are going to install the help file, install it after installing the program.

Extensions for Open Office generally work in Libre Office. You can get them here.
I recommend the Canadian spellchecker (for working in Canadian English), and Pagination (improves the implementation of page numbering).

Here are the release notes for Libre Office 3.5.1.

My earlier post about Libre Office.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Replace Open Office with LibreOffice

Open Office was great, but it stopped being developed April 2011. 
If you are still using Open Office, you may have begun to see problems - files crashing for no apparent reason, among other things. Many people who had Open Office 3.3 installed and then installed Internet Explorer 9 (either knowingly or via a background Windows update) found that Open Office would often crash and was not workable. 

For the end user (you), what matters is if it is working or not, and if not, how to fix it. 
For anyone out there still using Open Office 3.3.0 or earlier, I would strongly recommend switching over to LibreOffice. 

LibreOffice is continually being developed now, whereas Open Office is no longer being developed. LibreOffice is basically Open Office, but more evolved. The interface is pretty much identical (some of the icons are a bit different, but they do the same things. And, it is still free. Yes, you can still open the latest MS Office file formats, and you can export any file to PDF format.

To upgrade:
  • Download the program and the help part of the program from here.
  • Remove Open Office by going to (Win XP) Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs..., or (Vista, Win 7) Control Panel, Programs and Features...
  • Install the LibreOffice Program, and then the help program (must do it in this order).
  • LibreOffice should automatically see and incorporate your basic settings from OpenOffice
  • To ensure that LibreOffice is seen by Windows as the default program - in Windows Vista/Windows 7: Start Menu, Default Programs, Set your Default Programs, Choose LibreOffice in the list on the left. Set This Program As Default. (Note: This will set your simple txt files to open with LibreOffice Writer. If you still want Notepad to open for simple txt files, go to a txt file, right click, chose Open With, choose Choose Default Program, check off the Always open with this box, and select Notepad.)
  • If LibreOffice is not in this list of programs (above in the Default Programs), close this window and re-install the LibreOffice  program and choose Repair. If it is still missing, restart the computer and check again.
  • done.
Further information on LibreOffice can be found at their site here, or at the Wikipedia entry here.