Friday, November 30, 2012

You Can Google Better

You have been using Google for years, and you know how to use it, right? You generally find what you are searching for, right? Maybe not, there are some tricks you might use to make your Googling skills more effective and efficient. After learning about some of these trick in articles from the How-To Geek website and the Atlantic we thought we would share the few we found to be helpful.

Operators are key

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

Google Scholar

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

Control F

“Control F” is a way to search within your search results. For example, perhaps you are searching for a new outfit to wear to a holiday party. After searching for “party dress” you can hold control on your keyboard and click “F.” A small search bar will pop up in the top or bottom of your screen and in it you can search your results by typing “pink” or “long” to further narrow your search.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Neat Features of Windows 8

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

The charms bar

The charms bar is essentially a shortcuts bar that exists on the right side of the screen in Windows 8. An example of a shortcut available to users is that by clicking “settings” then clicking “power” they can put their computer to sleep. The charms bar has many settings for searching, switching to the Windows 7 desktop, if you liked that better, and for sharing.

Retrieving lost files

What's worse than losing a file? Not much in relation to computing. Fortunately, Windows 8 can help. The operating system comes with a new way of saving copies of files that lets users obtain previous versions if their current file is lost or damaged. This feature works in much the same way as does OS X's Time Machine utility.

Windows on the go

This is a really cool feature if you are on the go but don’t want to take your whole computer with you. If you have the Enterprise Edition of Windows 8 you can put your entire Windows environment onto a USB drive and take it with you. You can then pull it up on another machine that is compatible with Windows 7 or 8.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Time to Disable Java on Your Computer

You may not realize this but one of the easiest ways to protect your computers from hackers is to turn off Java, software that runs interactive functions on web pages. Java has developed the reputation for being a backdoor for hackers to get into your system, for example Business Insider recently pointed to the 700,000 Apple computers that were infected earlier this year with the Flashback Trojan malware. These computers were all running an out-of-date add on that permitted their browser to run Java.

Security flaw

Hackers recently discovered a defect in Oracle's Java software that permitted these cyber criminals to break into users' computers and install malware. Back then, the threat was considered a "zero-day" one, meaning a threat that exploits a vulnerability that wasn't previously known and for which no fix can be obtained. Since the security hole was discovered, Oracle introduced a new version of Java that the developer says fixes the vulnerability. But the truth remains: Hackers regularly use Java to break into users' computers. Turning it off, then, makes the most sense, especially since Java is no longer required for the vast majority of websites.

Turning off Java

Turning off Java requires different steps depending upon what web browser you use. In Firefox users must first select "tools" from their browser's main menu. They should then click "add-ons" and the disable buttons next to any Java plug-ins.

Safari users must first click "Safari" in the main menu bar and then "Preferences." Once they've done this, they can select the "security" tab and make sure that the button next to "enable Java" is not checked.

Google Chrome users need to type "Chrome://Plugins" in their browser's address bar. They can then click the "disable" button listed below any Java plug-ins.

Don't touch JavaScript

One thing you must keep in mind when you go to disable Java is that Java and Javascript are very different things. Most websites use Javascript, so be sure that you do not disable it accidentally.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Eliminate Online Distractions with these Chrome Extensions

We understand: You sit looking at your computer all day long, typing reports, answering email messages, and creating presentations. It's difficult to resist the temptation to run over to to catch up on the most recent celebrity gossip. But all of the side trips to the Internet's guilty pleasures can add up to a lot of lost time during the day. They can cut into your efficiency, something your boss won't appreciate. Fortunately, if you use the Chrome web browser, you can add several extensions designed to keep the Internet's distractions from cutting into your workday. The Huffington Post recently took a look at the best distraction-blasting Chrome extensions. We focus on 4 below. Use these and you just might be amazed at how productive you will be.

Stay Focused

This add-on places a time limit on those time-wasting websites that you like. Once the timer on each site runs out, it will stay blocked for the remainder of the day, preventing you from clicking on CNN or The Onion for an anti-productivity visit.

Cool Clock

If you regularly find that you miss appointments or forget to attend meetings, Cool clock could become your new best friend. It has a clock, calendar, alarm, and timer included in it. It also lets you set desktop time notifications. Another great use for this is to use it to set reminders for tasks you have to complete.

Last Pass

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

Turn off the Lights

Sometimes we have to watch videos for work, and sometimes they are boring. This can mean that we can become easily sidetracked by other projects you are working on. If you find this is the case and you need to spend more of your attention to a video, you can use the Chrome add-on Turn off the Lights. It will dim everything on your screen except for your media play so that you are visually forced to observe the video.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Make Your Computing Life Easier: Two Tricks

Let's be honest: Computer users today need all the help they can get, whatever makes their lives easier. You have to appreciate that. This is exactly why we're happy to point you to a pair of helpful hacks that can remove at least some stress from your busy days.

Forcing Android to check for system updates

The operating systems on your devices get updates frequently. But you often have to wait for them to hit your devices. This can be a bummer as you are watching for a feature or fix you have read about, or possibly there is an exciting new service that is coming with your next update. You could just patiently await it, but there is a way that you can force you Android device to check for an update. The website Ghack explains how: Go to the "Settings" menu. Click "Apps" and select "Show All." Then find the "Google Services Framework" and click on the "Clear Data" option. Finally, click the "Force Stop" button. If there is an update available, your device will retrieve it.

Protecting your eyes

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


Friday, November 2, 2012

Which Technology is Best for You

As technology moves faster and faster, bigger and better mobile devices emerge. It wasn’t long ago that tablets were introduced; now they are seen everyday. And most individuals in the business world have smartphones. As these newer, more robust tablets and smartphones are released to the market, you may feel some pressure to obtain these new devices.

Diff’rent folks, diff’rent tech

But, not everyone needs the latest and greatest. Some people might, but others can get by with utilizing the same tech for years. Before purchasing your next piece of technology it can be useful to analyze your lifestyle to find out what tech is needed.


Think about tablets, they are handy, fun, and can make life simpler for some people. But they are not a requirement for all consumers. If you do most of your computing at home or in the office, and you have a smartphone to pull up your email messages when you're on the go, you might not need a tablet. Many of the basic things you can do with a smartphone you can do with a tablet. However, if you are a person who does most of their computing on the go, in the coffee shop or while traveling, you very well may need a tablet.

The Smartphone revolution

Smartphones have evolved into miniature computers, allowing users to log onto the Internet, send text messages, watch videos, play music, and send and receive email messages. But how technologically advanced of a phone do you require? Again, it boils down to how much computing you do on the road. Do you prefer to answer email messages from the comfort of your own home and desk? Do you like to watch movies on the big screen in your living room? Then a basic cell phone might be fine. However, if you do much of your communicating – through text, voice and email – while traveling across the city, an investment in an advanced smartphone makes sense.

So next time you read about the must-have smartphone or the ultimate tablet, look at your own lifestyle. You might not need to invest in the latest cool tech toy of the month.