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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

AVG Free - Safeguard Toolbar and other notifications

For those of you who like just the basics and not the extra annoyances, here are some tips in dealing with the various AVG pop-ups.

If you get a notice to install/update/upgrade AVG Safeguard Toolbar (or AVG Nation Toolbar or AVG Security Toolbar, or something along those lines), you don't need to. Click on the greyed-out decline.
If you accidentally install it, you can easily remove it via Control Panel, Programs and Features.

The same thing goes for other pop ups for computer performance utilities, driver updaters, PC Tune-up/PC Analyzer, ...
Just X these out or decline. If you end up installing an AVG utility you don't want/need, uninstall it via Programs and Features in the Control Panel.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Windows 8.1 Update - Should You Update?

Windows 8.1 - should you update/upgrade?

Installing the update is almost like installing another operating system as you have to go through similar initial configuration steps, and some things need to be re-installed or re-applied after the update.

The 8.1 update mainly contains improvements for the touch interface with little to no improvements (and a couple of added annoyances) for the desktop interface.

First, if, on your computer, you have Windows 7 or earlier, stick with what you have. When it's time to get a new computer you can get the latest version of Windows. A new version of an operating system is never a good idea on an older computer.

Second, if you have Windows 8 and are thinking of updating to Windows 8.1 (a free update), there are a few things to consider.

If you have a tablet or windows phone running Windows 8, there are a lot of improvements that allow greater customization and greater flexibility. So, yes, update.
This also includes if you have a computer and you like and mainly use the Windows 8 Start screen (aka Modern, aka Metro) touch interface with your fingers.

If you have a laptop or desktop computer and are using Windows 8 in desktop mode only:
I just updated (last night) my Windows 8 laptop. I never use the touch interface, I only use it in desktop mode. So far, I have not seen any improvements in the desktop area, only a number of annoyances. So, for people with Windows 8 laptops and desktop using only the desktop interface, I would hold off on updating to Windows 8.1

Although I haven't noticed any performance improvements, I haven't noticed anything getting worse or slowing down.


Update to Windows 8.1 if:

- You are currently using the touch interface of Windows 8 on your device

Don't update to Windows 8.1 if:

- You don't currently have Windows 8 on your device
- You have a laptop or desktop computer and you use the desktop interface instead of the touch interface (wait and see, no rush to update)

Monday, 9 September 2013

Having Problems With AVG Free? Here Are Solutions

Are you having problems installing, updating, using AVG Free? You may need to remove it and re-install it.

Removal steps
1. First, try removing it via the normal method (via Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP, or via Programs and Features in later versions of Windows).

After removing it, try installing the latest version. See here for instructions and links.

2. If this doesn't work, you need to use the AVG Remover tool here. Choose the one for the version you are removing. Example, if you are removing AVG Free 2013 on Windows XP, you will most likely need to use AVG Remover(32)bit 2013. Download and run the special remover and then restart your computer, following any steps/instructions the remover shows you.

Once removed, install the latest version of AVG Free. See here for instructions and links.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

E-Readers and E-Books - The Pros And Cons When Compared To Books

In February 2013, I bought my first e-reader, a Kobo-Glo. 
I thoroughly researched e-readers before deciding on that model.

I bought an e-reader for a number of reasons. Here are a few reasons that initially came up: I had started to notice that e-books are often less expensive than even paperbacks. Some books I wanted were just for reference or interest (non-fiction) and it didn't bother me whether I had a nice looking book or just an e-book. With the introduction of self-lit e-readers recently, this meant I could read in bed without disturbing my partner and without needing a separate book light (and the way the light is in the e-reader, it doesn't leak as much light around as a separate book light does.) And, you can adjust the font size and weight, choose different fonts, and adjust the light brightness on an e-book like the Kobo-Glo, so I don't need to wear my reading glasses either.

Some people say they will never use something like an e-reader, that they love the look and feel and smell of a real book. But there are some obvious benefits to using an e-reader.

Here are the pros and cons of an e-reader vs books.

  • Portability - Small and light-weight. An e-reader is smaller and lighter than some books (if the book is larger than the average sized paperback novel). Also, an e-reader can hold hundreds of books at one time.

  • Ease of viewing - No more glasses. If you need glasses to read, if the strength you need is not too extreme, you can increase the font size for a book on an e-reader so you won't need your reading glasses.

  • Built-in light - new e-readers (like the Kobo Glo and the Kindle Paperwhite) have built in lights so you can read in the dark.
  • Personal library space - No more bookshelves. This is an extra special bonus if you are an avid reader and you have limited space where you live. Since e-books are digital, you won't need bookshelves to store your books. e-books can be stored on an e-reader, your computer, or on a cloud (on-line storage). Kobo e-reader owners can store books acquired directly from them on their cloud storage (unlimited number of books). Digital books are relatively not very large (number of kilobytes/megabytes) so a vast number can be stored on computer storage devices. Some e-readers have an SD card slot so even more books can be stored in the e-reader. Current average memory is about 2GB (part of this is used by the system, but the remainder can hold about 1,000 books).
  • Price - Cheaper. e-books are usually half the price or less than the the price of the physical book. And, there are many sites with free e-books (mainly older books).
  • E-reader Extras - e-readers can do more than just act as a book. e-readers let you take notes, highlight, set multiple bookmarks, look up word definitions, translate words (all included in the e-reader – no need of pens or paper, etc.). Some also include these features: games, web browser (for those with a wireless connection and/or 3G connection), a sketch pad (Kobo Glo). There are other features too.
  • 24 hour purchasing – e-books can be purchased on-line at any time. You can also borrow e-books from your local library site, which can be downloaded any time.
  • Environmentally friendly – E-books don't require trees and ink.
  • Self publishing – It is easier for new authors to self-publish and sell e-books than printed books

  • After having an e-reader for a few months now, I've found that I read more – partially due to the fact that the e-reader is so small and portable compared to many books I read (which are often very thick/and or over-sized) – so I end up reading while I'm waiting, including waiting in long lines at stores, etc.

  • Cover art - With e-books, you don't get a physical cover with cover art on it. This situation is similar to the change from Vinyl albums to CDs and then to digital music files. There is the loss of the art-form that was the cover. (Yes, there is often a picture of the cover in your e-book, but it's not the same.)

  • Electricity – You need charge your e-reader every once in a while (but the battery charge lasts a long time).

  • Damage/loss cost – If you lose a book, it is usually fairly inexpensive to replace. If you lose your e-reader, it is fairly expensive to replace (around $100 to $200 currently – Feb. 2013). (Note: if your ebooks are from a seller like Kobo or Amazon and you only had the e-books stored on your e-reader, you can get those books back for free as they will have a record of what you bought and they will allow you to re-download them for free.)

  • Personal Library – You won't have a library to show what books you have/how many you have (except for books you had/have already). 

  • Colour – currently, e-readers deal with greyscale and not colour (Although if you read on a tablet you have colour)

  • Art/comics – if the book is available as an e-book, sure you can look at it on an e-reader, but you will have to look at it in a pretty small format, or, you will have to scroll around the screen. Currently, most e-reader screens are too small to use to properly appreciate comic books or books of photos/artwork. (Though, if you have a tablet that is bigger than an e-reader, it works better and it's in colour.)
  • Variety – There are far more books in paper format than currently available in digital format. However, more older books are being scanned in, and most new books are now released in e-book format (sometimes exclusively).

    Regardless of whether you decide to get an e-book or not, they do have their uses, and they are definitely here to stay. 

AVG Free 2014 Installation and Configuration Guide

AVG Free 2014 just came out. Here is my guide for a clean basic installation and configuration.

If you already have AVG Free 2013, you should download and install the 2014 version sooner than later. If you don't, you will have pop-ups come up eventually asking you to update (and they will steer you toward the full paid version instead of the free basic version).

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 Windows 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.

The interface and settings are pretty much the same as in AVG Free 2013

Note: these instructions are for if you are installing AVG Free 2014 on top of AVG Free 2013. If you are installing AVG Free for the first time, the steps will be very similar. Also, for first time installers, if you have any other real-time security programs running on your computer, you will need to remove them before installing AVG Free.

Having problems installing AVG Free? See my post here for a resolution.


  • Close any open programs, including your browser.
  • Run the file you downloaded.
  • Accept the license agreement
  • Check Custom Install and click Next.
  • Un-check Additional installed languages. Make sure AVG Add-Ons is UN-checked (if it shows in the list). Next
  • UN-check Use the AVG Toolbar to improve my Internet protection. By default, nothing else should be checked off in this Window. Make sure all the boxes in this window are NOT checked off. Next. 
  • Now it will install. This can take a few minutes or longer, depending on your computer.
  • When that is done, UN-check I want to help AVG improve its products ... (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 (if it shows Program Up To Date, then skip this). 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 the bottom 3 items: AVG Advisor Notifications, Boot time improvement notifications, and Statistical notifications (all mainly just annoying messages). Then click Apply
  • 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. 
  •  Driver Update - Don't use this. It's not necessary and can end up installing an incorrect driver (which can really foul up your computer).
  • 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, 8). 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.
  • UPDATE: If you accidentally install the AVG Nation Toolbar, you may notice that it hijacks your browser (adds a toolbar, changes your search engine and home page). The simple solution is to just un-install it. To do so, go to the Control Panel, Programs and Features and remove it. Once removed, your browser settings will revert back to what they were.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Thumbnail Zoom Plus Firefox Add-On

If you would like to be able to see large versions of pictures on all sorts of pages on the Internet when you hover your cursor over a thumbnail, this is the Firefox add-on for you.

I bumped into this add-on today and am loving it. I was using it on Google Image Search results, and later on an artist's blog. For pages like a Google Image Search result page, I found I had to hover for a few seconds on some pictures for the large version to pop up, but, considering the amount of pictures loading on these search result pages, it is a minor annoyance.

Go here to get it.

Google Image Search Freezes In Firefox - Solution

When you run a Google Image Search and the results freeze for a number of seconds before Firefox responds, you may have a problem add-on installed. 

First, try the search in any other browser. If it runs fine in the other browser, then it is something going on in Firefox.

Next, run Firefox in Safe Mode. To do this, in Firefox, click on Help, then Restart with Add-ons Disabled.
Now try the image search. If it runs fine, then one or more add-ons are the culprit. 

Go to your Add-ons page in Firefox (Tools, Add-ons or Firefox button, Add-ons). 
  • Write down all the enabled add-ons
  • Disable a bunch (make sure to mark down which ones you disabled) and restart Firefox
  • Test an image search. If it doesn't work, re-enable the ones you disabled before and disable a bunch more (marking those ones down) and restart and test again. Repeat this process until you get the image search working
  • Once the image search is working, you will know that the problem add-on is in the most recent bunch you disabled.
  • Re-enable one add on at a time, restart Firefox and test until the search freezes again. This way you will find which add-on is causing the problem
  • Once you find out which add-on is causing the problem, disable it and re-enable the others you want enabled, restart Firefox and do a final image search test. If all is working, remove the problem add-on.
I recently had this problem and found that Linkification was causing the problem, so I removed it and all was well again. If you read up on this add-on at the link, it may seem obvious why this would cause a problem. It was a useful but not necessary add-on.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Windows 8: Boot to Desktop option coming in Windows 8.1

It's not clear if this is going to be in a service pack or if it will be a whole new version of the operating system.

But why wait? If you have Windows 8 and don't like/want/use the touch interface and just want to use the Desktop interface, get the Classic Shell Start Menu, that also includes a default setting to boot straight to the desktop (along with some other useful tweaks). It's free. If you like it, they accept donations.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

AVG 2013 Summer Update

Here are my instructions for those using AVG Free 2013 who wish to continue using the free version with the least amount of annoyances.

Starting March 21, 2013 and soon after, you may get a pop-up in the lower right corner of your screen (If you haven't got the pop-up yet, don't worry, you will eventually. If you can't wait to get it, visit my post on Installing AVG Free 2013 to get the latest version, and when installing over the previous version, choose Repair install):

AVG needs to be updated.

Here are the steps you need to take to install the update:
- Click on Update Now
- Accept

- IMPORTANT STEP: Check off Basic Protection (If you miss this, you will end up installing the trial version of the paid version. To revert back to the free version, see the last point in the Tips and Notes section of this post).

- Next

- IMPORTANT STEP: Un-check the 3 check boxes in the lower section of the window (if they are not already un-checked), and, un-check Use The AVG Toolbar... NOTE: if you don't make sure these are all un-checked, you will end up with an unnecessary AVG security toolbar in your browser and AVG will replace your homepage too!

- Next.
Now it will download files and install the update.
- When finished, you will see the Congratulations! window. I normally leave the top check box checked off. However, some may wish to un-check this box. Either way is fine.
- If you need to wait to restart (due to working on things at the moment/files open), click on Restart Later. Otherwise, click on Restart now (recommended) to finish the installation process. (Note: you do need to restart the computer in order for the installation to complete).

Once finished, if you open up the AVG window, in the bottom left of the Notification area at the bottom, it should be "2013 build 3267" or greater.

If you are not using AVG Free and you wish to install it for the first time, please see my main post on installing AVG Free 2013.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

How To Block Spammers From Your Facebook Page

Here are a few tips on blocking spammers from your Facebook Page.

Make a note of the web address of the SPAM site

Hover over the spam, click on the arrow to the right of it, Mark As Spam.
Then, click on the arrow again and choose Delete. Choose Delete and Ban User.

Up at the top, click on Edit Page, Manage Permissions.
Go down to Moderate Permissions
Type in the core of the address you took note of earlier (example:, and, Save Changes.
Now, anyone (from any Facebook account) trying to spam you with that site will not be able to.

The above info is from this brief video by Mike Mueller.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Facebook hoax - To all my FB friends…I want to stay PRIVATELY connected…mouse over my name

This is a Facebook hoax that has been going around for quite some time, in various forms. 
In case you didn't already know...

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.
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.
Click the link at the top for more details.

Monday, 21 January 2013

AVG Web Protection Pop-Up

For those of you using AVG Free 2013, who have opted out of using the AVG Security Toolbar and Safe Search, you may occasionally get a pop-up in the bottom right of your screen asking you to use these features again. The top of it will begin with:

Enable Web Protection for a better and safer Internet experience (free).

These features are more annoying than anything else. If you don't want them/don't use them, un-check the 3 check boxes and then click on Decline, to get rid of this pop-up.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Java Security - Version 7 Update 11 Now Available

You have probably heard about a recent security threat related to Java. This threat affected versions 7update10 and previous versions. It affected the browser plug-ins and not the Java program on your computer itself. A new update - version 7update11 - is now out. Download and install it. This fixes this latest problem. 
Note: when installing, un-check the option for installing the Ask Toolbar, as this is unnecessary and annoying.

Java is a background program that a lot of web pages and programs use to run things. Unfortunately, malicious software/viruses often use Java to run too. This has ALWAYS been the case and is nothing new.

To stay safe while using Java, keep it up to date (when it pops up wanting to update, update it). Check to make sure you don't have old versions (in Add or Remove programs or Programs and Features). Remove old versions of Java if you have any.

Also, regardless of the Java issue, you should always make sure your anti-virus program is up to date and is working properly and scanning your computer regularly. As an added security level, I recommend installing the free version of Malwarebytes and running a manual scan with it if you suspect you might be infected by something that may have got by your main anti-virus program. 

User Behaviour

You could have the best and most up to date security, but if your habits on-line are bad, you can still infect your computer.
- Avoid bad sites that are infected (often Google and your anti-virus program will warn you when you try to go to one of these sites, but not always).
- When you download a program or a file, always scan it with your anti-virus program (especially from a suspicious site (you can usually do this by right-clicking on the file on your computer and choosing to scan with with your anti-virus program from the drop-down menu).
- Don't let friends, guests, relatives on your computer. If you do, run a full scan with Malwarebytes as well as with your main anti-virus program. Also, look for programs they may have installed and un-install them if you don't want them.