Internet Browser Bookmarks (or Favorites)

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
1 April, 2016

Most of us have bookmarked pages in a browser but often do not take the time to organize them into folders. We also may have accumulated a lot of bookmarks (Firefox, Chrome) or favorites (Internet Explorer) in one browser and wish to copy them to another browser on the same computer or to a browser on another computer. These are the topics on what will generally be referred to as bookmarks for simplicity, for all three of the mentioned browsers. Continue reading →

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New Malware and New Malware Protection

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
5 March, 2016

In the last month I have talked with 4 people who have had encounters with fraudulent computer “technicians” after getting a popup on their computer looking like a blue screen of death (BSOD) that claims to be from Microsoft informing them of viruses or malware on their computer and providing a telephone number from a “Certified Microsoft Partner”. Fortunately all of them got suspicious and ended the call before providing their credit card number, but just letting a fraud have remote access to your computer for a moment can put you at risk of having your files encrypted or deleted by them if you refuse to pay for their service. Continue reading →

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Windows News You Can Use

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
3 February, 2016

Here are a few recent news items I have run across while browsing on cold winter days.

End of Google Chrome Support for Windows XP and Vista and Older Mac OS

Starting April 2016, Chrome will continue to function on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8, but will no longer receive updates and security fixes. Since most malware is introduced to your computer through either browsing or email, this could increase your security risk if you continue to use Chrome after April on these older operating systems. Continue reading →

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Answers to Common Windows 10 Questions

GEEK FREE
14 January, 2016
By Joe Callison
(updated 29 November 2019 to fix broken link)

As the number of people migrating to Windows 10 increases, either intentionally or accidentally, I have been hearing some common questions.

How do I revert back to the operating system I had?
If your system was updated to Windows 10 unintentionally or you are having problems with it and want to revert back to your previous operating system, remember that you only have 30 days to do so from the day it was updated.

Continue reading →

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These are a Few of My Favorite Things

GEEK FREE
12 December, 2015
By Joe Callison

I have tried out many free software tools and programs over the years and a few of them have become long time favorites of mine that I consider essential for my computers and I highly recommended them to others. There are probably several other good programs that do the same things and other things that I have not covered. I would be interested in some of your favorites if you want to share them with the community. Continue reading →

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A Few Things You Should Know

GEEK FREE
1 December, 2015
By Joe Callison

A new year is fast approaching, and with it comes some important dates to be aware of in the computer world for 2016:

January 12, 2016 – Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Internet Explorer versions prior to Internet Explorer 11. Note- You must have Windows 7 or later operating systems to run Internet Explorer 11. If you are still running Windows XP or Vista, then you should use a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome rather than the older Internet Explorer versions. Continue reading →

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Computer Reliability

GEEK FREE
10 November, 2015
By Joe Callison

Computer reliability data is much like reliability data for automobiles or any other major consumer products. You may get a bad one buying the statistically most reliable brand or you may get a really reliable one buying the statistically least reliable brand. Still, you probably want the odds to be in your favor when considering your purchase. It also helps to know how a brand’s reliability is trending over several years, since any brand can have ups and downs over time. Continue reading →

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Charity Ratings and Wise Giving

GEEK FREE
3 November, 2015
By Joe Callison

It is that time of year when many of us respond to charitable giving appeals. With so many charitable organizations competing for donors dollars, you would think organizations would be motivated to be as efficient as possible to attract donors, but that is not always the case. There are many fundraising organizations with big advertising budgets and high salaries that use a relatively small percentage of their receipts for their own programs or grants to other charitable organizations. Continue reading →

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Accessibility Options

GEEK FREE
2 October, 2015
By Joe Callison

There are many ways to customize the way your computer looks and works to make it easier to use, especially for those with dexterity or eye sight issues. Most people are already familiar with using the zoom feature available in most programs to enlarge the display. Continue reading →

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Managing Email Accounts

GEEK FREE
14 September, 2015
By Joe Callison

Sometimes it becomes necessary to switch from one email account to another, or maybe you would just like to be able to get your email messages from one or more accounts while using a different account. Most of the popular email services have the ability to fetch messages from other accounts. Some email services have the ability to forward email to other accounts. Continue reading →

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Windows Settings Shortcut

GEEK FREE
1 September, 2015
By Joe Callison

All Windows versions since Windows XP have a hidden shortcut menu to all available Windows settings (except do not use it on Vista 64-bit – it crashes explorer). It is referred to as the “god mode”, but I prefer to call it “all settings”. To create the desktop icon to access the menu, first create a new folder. A quick way to do that is to right-click your mouse on your desktop background and choose “New” and then “Folder”. You should then see a folder on your desktop named “Newfolder”. Continue reading →

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Windows 10 Upgrade Thoughts

GEEK FREE
7 August, 2015
By Joe Callison

I recently upgraded a Windows 7 laptop that is several years old and has lots of older programs installed on it. Before doing the upgrade I deleted all of the temporary files, ran the anti-virus and anti-malware software, ran check disk to check for and fix any hard drive errors, and then backed up all of my files to an external hard drive. The upgrade went smoothly and when it reached the stage where it was going to do Settings, there is an option to choose Customize Settings instead of just letting Windows install the default settings. I always choose Customize Settings so I can at least see what the installation is going to do, even if I end up not changing anything from the default setting. Continue reading →

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Federal Government Consumer Protection Services

GEEK FREE
4 July, 2015
By Joe Callison

Taxpayer dollars go to so many government agencies and fund so many programs that sometimes we are not even aware of the services they are providing. I did some quick research on federal government resources for consumer protection services and found some web sites that might be useful. Continue reading →

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Google Photos – First Impressions

GEEK FREE
8 June, 2015
By Joe Callison

Google recently split the photo feature out of Google+ and made it a separate new app (application) called Google Photos. You can find it by clicking the Google Apps icon in the Chrome browser (9 small squares arranged in a 3 by 3 pattern), and then clicking the word More at the bottom. After reading several reviews by users, I decided to give it a try myself. I already had a Google account, which is free for anyone to create in the Chrome browser. Continue reading →

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More on System Image Back Ups and Windows 10 News

GEEK FREE
13 May, 2015 
(Updated 19 March, 2016)
By Joe Callison

Formatting a Flash Drive or External Hard Drive for System Image Backup

Most Windows XP and virtually all Windows 7 and 8.x computer operating systems are installed with the hard drive formatted with NTFS instead of the older FAT16 or FAT32 file structure used in earlier versions of Windows. The FAT file systems are limited to much smaller maximum hard drive partition sizes and maximum file sizes than NTFS. To keep compatibility with most kinds of operating systems, flash drives (and many older and smaller external hard drives) are normally formatted with a FAT file structure. If you want to back up an NTFS system image on a flash drive, you will need to reformat it with NTFS first.  Note that this will erase all existing data from the flash drive! To do this, insert the flash drive in your computer USB port and open the Computer window.  Continue reading →

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Back Up Methods

GEEK FREE
19 April, 2015
By Joe Callison

Backing up your computer data is essential if you do not want to experience the agony of losing irreplaceable family photos, tax and financial records, and other data that can be gone in an instant if your hard drive suddenly fails or if CryptoLocker type malware locks all of your files. There are so many methods of doing backups and pros and cons to consider that I have hesitated writing on it because it would take a small book to do the subject justice. Of necessity I am limiting this post to a few of the simplest and lowest cost methods available. Continue reading →

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Updating Browser Plugins

GEEK FREE
2 April, 2015
By Joe Callison

Browser plugins provide additional features to your browser and come from various companies. Some are good to have, and some are not. A previous post about free software provided a link to a Junkware Removal Tool that will automatically remove the bad ones, or you can disable them manually as described in the screen shot below. At present, the plugins are not automatically updated for you, though sometimes you may see a message in your browser that a plugin is out of date and needs to be updated.   Continue reading →

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Updating Drivers

GEEK FREE
21 March, 2015
By Joe Callison

You may have experienced a pop-up ad while browsing the internet that says you have “X” number of out-of-date or missing drivers, or something to that effect. These ads are trying to get you to buy their driver updating software that will automatically scan your computer and search the internet for updated drivers. In order to decide if you would benefit from a product like that, you need to understand what a driver is and why it would ever need to be updated.  Continue reading →

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Using System Restore

GEEK FREE
24 February, 2015
By Joe Callison

One of the easiest ways to fix most software problems with your computer yourself is to use the built in System Restore feature of Microsoft Windows to roll back any changes to your operating system and programs to a previous point in time when your computer was working properly. This does not affect any user created documents, pictures, music, etc. that have been added- they will remain untouched.  The following instructions are based on Windows 7, but are similar for Windows 8 and even XP.  Continue reading →

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Windows 10 & Java Out-of-Date

GEEK FREE
1 February, 2015
By Joe Callison

Windows 8, 8.1, 9, 10!

Microsoft recently did their big Windows 10 reveal to the press, and so far it has been received positively. Especially since they decided to make the upgrade from Windows 7 and later free for the first year after the retail release. That was a big deal not only for Microsoft, whose revenue depends heavily on operating system sales, but also the manufacturers of PC hardware whose revenues may take a significant hit if people upgrade their existing Windows 7 computers rather than buy a new PC with Windows 10 later this year. Microsoft is doing this to encourage as many people as possible to move to Windows 10, which will be one common operating system for all Windows PCs, tablets, and phones.  Continue reading →

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Office in the Clouds

GEEK FREE
20 January, 2015
By Joe Callison

Most of us use a Microsoft Office suite, or at least Microsoft Word. Even though there are some alternatives such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice that provide reasonably good compatibility with Office files, we would probably prefer to use the real thing if we had the option. Keeping current with the new versions of Office has been quite expensive in the past, but now Microsoft has made the most popular applications in their Office 365 suite available through their cloud service, OneDrive at no cost! All you need to do is sign up for a Microsoft Account, if you don’t have one already.  Continue reading →

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FREE! (Or NOT?)

GEEK FREE
11 January 2015
By Joe Callison

I like free stuff, and the computing community is bursting with offers for free stuff. Offers for free scans, free downloads, free trials, etc. are everywhere. Unfortunately most of the time you get what you pay for. A free scan will scan your computer and tell you a multitude of things “wrong” with it, but if you want it “fixed”, it will cost money. A free download is usually similar- you can download the program and install it, but if you want to activate the program it will cost money. A free trial is at least a little clearer- you get to try it for a period of time for free and then if you want to continue using the program, it will cost money.  Continue reading →

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SCAMS , SHAMS and FLIM-FLAMS

GEEK FREE
20 December, 2014
By Joe Callison

Seniors are often targeted by scam artists because we are considered as often easier prey. With the availability of so much personal information on the internet through telephone white pages linked to public records and social media sites such as Facebook, it is easy to identify seniors and find information about us and our families. This information can be used  to convince us of the legitimacy of the story being told by the scammer. Just a few of the prevalent scams in 2014 follow:  Continue reading →

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First Post – Some FAQs

GEEK FREE
30 November 2014
By Joe Callison

This first post will address some frequently asked questions from fellow computer users.

Can I Continue to Use My Windows XP Computer?
As long as it continues to perform the functions you need it for. Yes, you are exposed to a higher risk of computer viruses, malware, and identity theft, but on the other hand, no system is going to be risk-free. The most likely end of Windows XP will come when you can no longer access a website that requires a later version of Internet Explorer than you can get for Windows XP.  Continue reading →

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Blogs

 

Welcome to My Blogs

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison

The purpose of this blog is to be a resource for consumer information on computer related technology without getting too technical (free of geek speak) and without cost (geek for free) – thus the name “GEEK FREE”.


FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison

Warning! This blog is for geeks only. If you are not comfortable working with the command prompt, Windows registry, system restore, administrative tools and such, then you are welcome to read, but please FOR~GO trying anything you read here on your own. SenCom and the author will not be responsible for your actions and the results!

Posted by Joe Callison in Introduction
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