Thursday, December 31, 2009


Happy New Year to you all friends and readers of this Blog!

I have another "goodie app" from our favorite tech writer Mr. Rick Broider at PC World. This is a nice program that soon you will find indispensable in your daily routine relationship with your computer and a good New Year little gift to you all.

Mr. Broider's comments on this app follow:

"Tired of typing the same words, signatures, phrases, and even paragraphs over and over? What you need is a program that automatically inserts text when you type an abbreviation or hit a hotkey.

PhraseExpress is one such program, and it's my favorite for several reasons. For starters, it expands typed abbreviations into complete phrases. You could type, say, "fwiw," and PhraseExpress would instantly insert "for what it's worth." Or "sig" to insert a custom signature (complete with images and/or HTML code) at the end of e-mails.

This capability works in any program (word processor, e-mail client, blog tool, etc.), and PhraseExpress can even scan your documents and e-mails to find frequently used text to add to its auto-complete list. (It can import existing AutoCorrect entries from Word, too.) Of course, you can define your own entries as well.

The program also includes a global spell-check feature and a clipboard history tool, which stores all recent clipboard entries, not just the most recent one.

Needless to say, it's a killer app, one you'll quickly come to find indispensable.

Note: This program is free for personal use. For business use, you must register the paid version.

--Rick Broida"

I have downloaded this program, and find it fascinating and very helpful.

If you want to try it out, (and it is absolutely free !), go to:,65010-order,4-c,desktop/download.html

Click the above and you will go directly to the page where it can be downloaded. If for any reason it does not take you to the web page, just copy and past this address to your browser. I hope you'll enjoy it.

For 2010, I will try, whenever possible, to have new posts at least a minimum of once a week, therefore if you will go to the Blog every week-end you'll find them.

I also wish that those of you who have questions, experience computer problems, have good ideas, have come up with solutions etc. etc. will come forward and publish your comments. It is very easy, just click the "comments" tab at the end of each post and write whatever you think will be interesting! I promise that I will answer every one of your comments.

It has been a little over a year since I started this Blog. As of today we have had 1,856 visitor hits which comes to an average of 5 per day. I'll try my best to make the Blog even more interesting and hopefully double the number of visitors for 2010!

Again thanks for your interest and readership. This is for me a great way to keep myself busy and in good spirits. I am totally retired and this Blog keeps me from getting older and bored of doing nothing!

Happy New Year again and good health for you all.

George Freire

Monday, December 28, 2009


If you remember, on October 31st I published a post concerning the conversion to Windows 7:

"Windows 7 report; how I managed to do the conversion from Windows Vista".

This post covered my tribulations when upgrading my laptop to Windows 7 from the then installed Windows Vista. I also mentioned that I was planning, (at a later date), to do the same in my main PC "Super Computer".

Well I did it the day after Christmas, Saturday December 26. Initially, it was no big deal, in as much as I had the previous experience in doing the same with my laptop.

Of course I ran the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisory Report" program which I downloaded from web page, prior to start the conversion steps. This report advised that I should un-instal certain programs such as "ATI Catalyst Install Manager", update a couple of drivers for other programs etc.

I did all that religiously, (I advise you all to do the same, meaning: follow what the report recommends you to do before you start the conversion).

After I inserted the Windows 7 disk in the computer it took a couple of hours for the conversion to take place . I went and had dinner, watched the news on TV etc. and finally went back to my office to check the computer.

It was done! the new Windows 7 desktop was glistening and I was very very happy, saying to myself how easy it had been.

Until... I tried to open a few utility programs such as "Disk Keeper", "Registry Mechanic" and others. No dice! instead of having the programs open, all I got was a message as follows:

"Windows cannot verify the digital signature for this file. A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source".

Well, first of all I was absolutely sure there were no "malicious software" programs in my computer before the conversion, therefore the problem could not have been caused by such.

Also, the programs I tried to open as mentioned above, were reported as compatible in the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisory Report" not to mention that they are installed in my laptop and no problem such as this had happened when I did the same conversion.

I scratched my head in desperation... then I tried to re-install the software I had un-installed prior to the conversion such as the "ATI Catalyst Install Manager", no dice, the same message showed up again:

"Windows cannot verify the digital signature for this file. A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source".

I was so frustrated that I decided to go to bed, (it was almost midnight by then!).
"Maybe tomorrow morning I may be able to think clearer and come up with a solution..." I though to myself.

Sunday morning, (yesterday), I got back to the task of getting my computer to work right. Please note that except for the utility programs and re-installation of some software, all other programs worked OK, giving me no problems whatsoever!

I thought it over and, (in a moment of inspiration), decided to restart the computer in safe mode and try to run the programs that gave me trouble, as well as re-installing "ATI Catalyst Install Manager".

Can you guess what happened? all went well, all the programs opened and "ATI Catalyst Install Manager", was re-installed immediately!

Now , what this means is that somehow, during the upgrade process some crazy file was screwed up in the registry, causing all these problems, there was no other explanation. Still, would I have the same problems once I started the computer normally?

No! when I restarted the computer under normal conditions again, everything worked fine and my computer is now working beautifully under Windows 7.

Why did this happen? I had to find out, therefore I called Microsoft support
(800-936-5700) and managed to talk to somebody in India, (by the way a very nice lady), who explained that probably by starting the computer in safe mode, opening the programs and then restarting the computer under normal conditions, I had "refreshed the registry" ??? and solved the problem.

Folks, this is still a mystery to me, but the main thing is the problem was solved.

I decided to post this experience, just in case you guys and girls come through the same annoying experience during your conversion to Windows 7.

Your comments to the above story will be very much welcome.

George Freire

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Friends, yesterday a new feature was added to this blog.

If you look at the third entry on the left column of the blog, you'll find a new gadget that will allow you to see TV channels in many different countries around the world!

Just try it: select the country, select a station from the list of stations which will open for that country, wait a few seconds for the connection to work and zip! you are there!

Hard to believe what today's technology can do!


George Freire

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I consider myself a reasonably knowledgeable computer guy, but there are so many things that I don't know about!

Fortunately, I get tons of emails from technical sources well above my pay grade, that keep me learning new stuff on a daily basis...

One of my favorite sources of knowledge is as I have mentioned a thousand times, PC World Magazine. This magazine has a number of top of the line editorial technical writers whose articles I have many times transcribed on this blog.

Mr. Rick Broida is one of my favorite technical writers of this magazine. I received an email today with an article I am going to transcribe herein which really shows how good Mr. Broida is:

Bring Your Middle Mouse Button to Life
That middle button is often ignored, but you can tap its potential for browsing more efficiently, scrolling quickly, and more.
Rick Broida, PC World

Dec 22, 2009 12:10 pm

Take a close look at your mouse. Chances are good it has at least three buttons: left, right, and middle. (Note: Your middle button might be your scroll wheel, which on most mice is clickable.) I've already talked about getting the most from your mouse, but this week I thought I'd home in on the middle button.

Why would I want to do that? Well, I just took an informal poll of about ten people, and guess how many of them actually use that middle button? A grand total of one. One! People, people, people...

Close Browser Tabs Quickly
First up: browser tabs. I routinely have 10-15 tabs open in my browser at any given time. If I want to close a tab, I have to click it, then click the little X that appears on the tab. That's one more click than I prefer, and it brings into focus a tab I'm planning to close. Crazy, right?

If you middle-click any tab in Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer, boom, it's gone. No need to make it visible first; no need to reach for the X. Just middle-click, boom.

Open Links in New Tabs
When you middle-click a link in Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer (not sure about Opera, but I'm guessing so), that link opens immediately in a new tab.

Incidentally, you can accomplish the same thing by holding down the Ctrl key and left-clicking a link. But why bother with that when you can just as easily click the middle mouse button?

Open All Your Oft-Used Sites
Let's say that you use Firefox or Internet Explorer and you've organized a handful of favorite sites--you know, the ones you visit daily--into a folder. Smart move.

Here's an even smarter one: You can instantly open every link in a folder, each in its own tab, by middle-clicking that folder.

This works regardless of where the folder is located: your bookmarks toolbar, your navigation toolbar, even a pull-down menu. One middle-click of a folder and presto: every link therein opens in a new tab.

Scroll In Your Docs
Have you ever wondered what happens when you click and hold the middle mouse button? Glad you asked. This action activates a handy page-scrolling option in applications like Microsoft Word and Excel, Adobe Reader, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

In other words, when you click and hold the middle mouse button, you can then drag your mouse forward or back to scroll up or down the page, respectively. This feature is intended for folks who don't have a scroll wheel, but it works just as well with scroll wheels--and I know many people who prefer the speed of middle-click scrolling to the slow, steady pace of wheel scrolling.

Customize Your Scroll Speed
After the mouse itself, the mouse wheel is the single greatest navigation tool ever invented. Mine is spinning constantly, especially in Firefox, where I use it to zip up and down Web pages.

By default, however, one "turn" of the mouse wheel scrolls only a few lines at a time--and I want to move faster. Fortunately, there's a fairly easy way to adjust Firefox's scroll speed. Even better, there's a keyboard shortcut that can slow it down again for "precision" scrolling.

Here's how to change the default scroll speed:

1.Open Firefox, then type about:config in the address bar and hit Enter.
2.In the Filter box, type mousewheel.withnokey.
3.Right-click mousewheel.withnokey.sysnumlines and then click Toggle. This should set the value to False.
4.Right-click mousewheel.withnokey.numlines and then click Modify. Bump the value to 6 or so, click OK, and then switch to another tab to see if you like the scroll speed. (Thankfully, you don't have to restart Firefox every time you make a change.) If not, experiment a bit until you find a number you like.
Rick Broida writes PC World's Hassle-Free PC blog . Sign up to have Rick's newsletter e-mailed to you each week .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Today I'm going to bring you a couple of excellent utility programs for your computer, thanks again to PC World never ending helpful contributions:

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition

One anti-spyware program isn't enough. This useful program does a thorough job of scanning your system for dangers, and then whacks any it finds. SuperAntiSpyware scans not just your files and memory, but your Registry as well in search of potential dangers. It doesn't offer real-time protection, but it's a worthy addition to your anti-spyware arsenal.

--Preston Gralla

In order to download and install this great little free program go to:,64862/description.html?tk=nl_ddx_h_dlfeat

Click the above or copy and paste to your browser. It will take you to a PC World page where the download is available.

The second (also very useful program) is:


If you suspect your PC has been invaded by malware, FreeFixer can help you find it. It shows you a wealth of information about what's running on your PC, but the data is meant primarily for security gurus.

When you kick off a FreeFixer scan, the program digs into those areas of your PC where malware commonly hides, and then displays what it found in categories such as drivers, registry startups and running processes. Many of the discovered items display a "more info" link that will check FreeFixer's database for information such as whether the file or application uses a digital signature, whether other FreeFixer users have reported finding the same file, and what they've chosen to do with it.

The useful app will avoid showing files and programs that are known to be safe, such as Windows components and known good software, to help you focus on potential baddies. But unless you know just what you're doing, you should be very careful about deleting any discovered files yourself.

Instead, you can post your FreeFixer log at a Freefixer Group or online forum, where white-hat volunteers can sift through the data and help you figure out what's what. The FreeFixer user's manual contains instructions for posting your logs, along with plenty of other helpful info for using the app.

FreeFixer can also reverse some malicious system changes put in place by some malware, such as blocking access to the Windows Task Manager or Registry editor. In knowledgeable hands it can help get rid of a malware infection, but non-gurus should get advice from an online volunteer before taking action based on a FreeFixer scan.

--Erik Larkin

In order to download and install this great little free program go to:,81161/description.html?tk=nl_ddx_h_dlfeat

Click the above or copy and paste to your browser. It will take you to a PC World page where the download is available.

Both the above programs are great. Thanks again PC World for your help!

To you all who will be using these programs, I please ask for your comments either by email to me or you can also post them right here.

Again, Merry Christmas and a very very Happy New Year to you all.

George Freire

Saturday, December 19, 2009


It's been a year since this blog was started.

I hope we have been of help to some, brought new stuff to a lot of our viers and computer users, but above all offered some enjoyment and good reading to all.


George Freire

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


As you know I'm always looking for good free software utilities. I receive a lot of tips from my friends at PC World, (for me the best computer technical magazine on the market).

Today they have sent me an e-mail concerning an interesting free utility that can be quite useful and simple to use for fixing "on the spot" a number of annoying problems which once in a while frustrate all of us who use computers frequently.

The name of this utility program is "FixWin". Mr. Rick Broider one of the best tech writers at PC World tells us the following:

"Have you ever longed for a quick Windows fix? Fix Common Windows Problems with One Click?

Have you ever wished for a magic wand that could make annoying Windows problems disappear? Like, say, a missing Recycle Bin icon, or those pesky Runtime Error messages in Internet Explorer ?

FixWin is that magic wand. This ingenious free utility requires just over 500KB of space, runs without installation, and quickly fixes 50 different Windows glitches--many of which would normally require a trip to the Registry. These are divided among five categories, including Windows Explorer, Internet & Connectivity, and System Tools.

Each problem is presented with a brief but thorough description. Here's an example: "CD drive or DVD drive is missing or is not recognized by Windows or other programs." (Been there!) To fix a problem, just click the corresponding Fix button.

It really is that simple. And before you get started, FixWin can scan your machine for--and fix--corrupted system files. It also allows you to create a System Restore point before making any changes, a smart addition.

Certainly FixWin won't solve all your Windows issues, but if it can correct just one, it's well worth the download."

In order to download this program go to:,82272-order,3/description.html

(copy and paste the above address to your browser if clicking the above does not work)

The editorial review of the program is as follows:

"Looking for a fix to a simple problem in Windows Vista or Windows 7? FixWin offers one-click solutions to dozens of Windows problems. Run the program and look through its menu for a description of your woe. When you find it, click a button, and your problem should be fixed. I used it to restore my Internet Explorer icon, for example, and it worked without a hitch.

FixWin doesn't actually look into your system and uncover problems. Instead, it lists several dozen potential problems in five categories: Windows Explorer, Internet & Connectivity, Windows Media, System Tools, and Additional Fixes. It lists all the problems you might have, not ones that it knows that you do have. So, for example, it lists "The Recycle Bin icon is missing from your desktop," even if the icon is there. You have to know you have a problem, and then use this program to fix it. It won't uncover problems for you.

Should you download the program? If Windows is working fine, there's no need to do it, because it won't do anything for you. But if you know that you have a problem, FixWin is worth the little download, in case it can fix it for you.

--Preston Gralla"

I have downloaded the program and I think and recommend that you do it to. Even if you have no problems now, it is well worth having it available.

George Freire

Monday, December 7, 2009


As I have mentioned in posts of late October concerning the best upgrade procedures to Windows 7, in my case I did not, (fortunately), find any serious problems.

However, in an e-mail from PC World to yours truly, they mention 3 problems that some people have encountered when doing the upgrade.

Because some of you may be unfortunate and come across such problems, I am transcribing what PC World advises in order to overcome any installation woes for Windows 7.:


We all know that not every OS upgrade goes smoothly--but we're still annoyed when faced with seemingly unresolvable installation problems. Windows 7 has presented some users with a few serious upgrade bugs of its own. This week I explain how to exterminate them.
- Robert Strohmeyer, PC World

In order to read the whole article and get the information you need to overcome such problems when upgrading to Windows 7, go to:

Copy the above web address, paste it on your browser and you will see the whole article by Mr. Robert Strohmeyer. It is indded very good stuff.

I hope this will be of help to those who may experience problems during the upgrade installation.

George Freire

Sunday, December 6, 2009



I have been so busy with Christmas planning, some parties, buying presents etc., that I have not had much time to prepare new posts.

Therefore, today I am going to make it easy on myself and just review two past posts that I am sure will be useful for those of you who may not have read them in the past. The first was published on from April 22nd and the second was published July 9, 2009.

The day after tomorrow will be our first anniversary! this Blog was started on December 8, 2008.


George Freire

April 22nd, 2009


Both WINDOWS XP and VISTA have vast hidden commands and functions which are in most part unknown to many of you readers of this blog.
Today I'm going to show you some of these "secrets", which will make your computer work better and faster.
Like everything else, if you proceed to optimize your computer by following the suggestions herein, make sure to do it step by step and read the instructions carefully.

1- Lots of visual effects cost valuable computer power. You can tone down the visual effects on WINDOWS XP by going to Control Panel/System and under the "Advanced" tab disable "visual effects" to free up valuable computer power.
On WINDOWS VISTA, go to System Properties, click "Advanced" tab, then "Performance settings" tab and under "Visual Effects" click "Adjust for Performance" button and then OK.

2- When using an alternative firewall, which in most cases are better the WINDOWS firewall, such as Norton or other security programs, it is highly recommended to disable the WINDOWS firewall, otherwise the two firewalls operating at the same time may slow down the system or even make it inoperable.

3-Every time there is a crash or program error, WINDOWS saves a "memory dump" in a file called "MEMORY.DMP" under the installation directory, (e.g. C:\Windows). In order to free disk space, this file can be deleted without a problem.

4- WINDOWS can significantly slow down its own start as it searches for shared files, folders and printers. In WINDOWS EXPLORER, you can go to "TOOLS/Folder Options/View" and disable the feature "Automatically search for network folders and printers".

5- WINDOWS XP has a command that lets you verify and restore critical system files if necessary. Type the command "sfc /scannow" under the "Start/Run. WINDOWS XP will check through the system files and automatically replace any damaged files. (It might sometimes ask you to insert the WINDOWS CD when doing this).

6- When WINDOWS VISTA is first installed and in most cases also in a new computer just purchased, there is no "Run" command in the "START" menu. If you want to have this command available, (and I recommend you should have it available), go to "Control Panel", choose "Task bar and Start Menu Properties", go to the "Start Menu" tab, click "Customize" find and check the option "Run Command" and then click OK and OK again.

7-Did you know that you can download WINDOWS VISTA and test it for a period of 30 days, without having to buy it? Well you can do it and extend that period to 120 days! How?
Log on as Administrator, go to "All Programs/Accessories" and right click on "Command Prompt". Select "Run as Administrator", then type in the command "slmgr.vbs-rearm".
You can do this up to 3 times!

8- WINDOWS indexes nearly all files and folders used during work flow on the system. Those who can do without this feature, can go into "My Computer", right click on the drive in question, (normally drive C:), choose "Properties", then uncheck the option "Allow Indexing Service to Index This Disk for Fast File Searching".

That's it for today. From time to time I'll come up with more secrets, (there are so many that it will take a life time...)


George Freire

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Here are some tips that will help everyone make their computers work better and faster:

-Windows can significantly slow down its own start as it searches for shared files, folders and printers. In Windows Explorer, you can go to "Tools-Folder Options-View" and disable the feature "Automatically Search For Network Folders and Printers". This will make your start faster.

-Whenever there is a crash or error, Windows saves a memory dump in a file called "Memory.Dump" under the installation directory, (e.g. C;\Windows). This file can be deleted without any problems resulting. This will free disk space that you might need.

-When using an alternate firewall solutions, such as those available in virus protection programs such as Norton and many others, it is recommended to disable the Windows Firewall, otherwise there will be interference between the two firewalls. To do this, go to "Control Panel-Network Connections", open up the connection you use and choose "Advanced-Internet Connection Firewall", (or Windows Firewall , after SP2), and turn it off.

-Lots of visual effects cost valuable computing power and in most cases they loose their luster after a few days...
You can ton down the visual effects by going to "Control Panel/System", under the "Advanced" tab and disabling them to free up valuable computer power.
In Windows Vista, go to "System Properties, click "Advanced " tab, "Preference Settings" tab and under "Visual Effects" click "Adjust for Performance" button and then click OK.

-When Vista is first installed, or on new computers, there is no "Run" command visible in the start menu. If you want it to show there, which is a good thing, go to Control Panel, choose "Task Bar and Start Menu Properties", go to the "Start Menu" tab, click "Customize...", find and check the option "Run Command" and then click OK again.

Windows XP has a command that lets you restore critical system files if necessary. Click "Start/Run" and then type the command "scf/scannow". Windows XP will check through the system files and automatically replace any damaged files. (It may ask you in some instances to insert the Windows CD or the restore CD that came with the computer when doing this.

For today this is it. I hope the above will be of help for your good computing.


George Freire

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


If you are not familiar with this web site "THE WINDOWS CLUB", you must visit it:

This site has almost infinite good info, such as new features, tips, security matters, free downloads related to both Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Today, (as an example of the good stuff that can be found in this web site), I am going to tell you about a short but very, very useful program I have downloaded in my computers, called "Windows Access Panel". This program has been recommended by our friends at PC World. Rather then trying to explain what it does, I am going to transcribe the editorial review:

"Windows Access Panel is a free, moderately useful program that can make it easier for you to change Windows settings that you otherwise wouldn't know how to alter. It doesn't actually give you any tools or access to settings that aren't otherwise available in Windows. Rather, it gives you one-click access to settings that normally require several clicks to reach. Instead of having to navigate your way through the Control Panel, or dig deep into menus, you can quickly get right to the setting you want.

For example, to change your User Account Control settings in Vista or 7, you usually have to go through the Control Panel and click several different screens until you get to the settings themselves. It's easy to get lost along the way. With Windows Access Panel, you can get there with one click. The program offers similar one-click access to dozens of other settings. Want to launch a memory diagnostics tool, schedule a task to run automatically, create a repair disk, or monitor your PC's performance? On your own, you likely won't immediately know how to get to the screens that will let you do those things. With Windows Access Panel, you can get to them right away.

If you're comfortable with finding Windows settings on your own, there's no need to download Windows Access Panel. But if you often wish you knew how to navigate to specific settings, you'll find it useful. And if you're looking to make the jump from Windows XP to Windows 7, it might be a good starting point for finding out the locations of useful settings.

--Preston Gralla "

In order to download the program go to:,81837-order,4-c,desktop/download.html

As i mentioned above I have this program now in my computers. It is indeed a great tool because if I want to go to any of the many features and tools available in Windows, all I have to do is click the icon related to it, without having to go through all the many "clicks" that otherwise would be needed. Presto I'm on it!

When opened, the panel has two screens, "Basic and Advanced features" in total 48 features and tools including quite a few I did not even know existed!

Try it and I am sure you all will love it.

George Freire

Saturday, November 14, 2009


This week I'm going to review two posts published in the past, which some of you may not have seen.

They are quite handy; here goes the first:


Here are some good and easy to remember keyboard short-cuts that work in most windows related programs.

They are easy to remember, (especially those that you use more regularly), and as the title says, very fast and easy to use:

SELECT THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT : Ctrl-A (this is useful if you want to copy and paste the document).
TURN BOLD "ON" , "OFF" : Ctrl-B


There are many more keyboard short-cuts that you can use, however, remembering them all is "kinda" hard to do. I though that the above cover most of the actions that we all need when using "WORD", "EXCEL" Internet Browsers, (IE, Firefox and others); once you start using them, you'll find out that it all comes naturally when you are working in your computer.

George Freire

Here is the other good one:


When you decide to upgrade certain components in your computer, wouldn't it be nice to first make sure of what you have inside that box in great detail?
That can be very easy to do: go to and download and install a free very, very handy utility called CPU-Z.

This freeware will in a split of a second gather information on the main devices of your computer system such as:

Name and number.
Core stepping and process.
Core voltage.
Internal and external clocks, clock multiplier.
Supported instructions sets.
Cache information. Mainboard
Vendor, model and revision.
BIOS model and date.
Chipset (northbridge and southbridge) and sensor.
Graphic interface. Memory
Frequency and timings.
Module(s) specification using SPD (Serial Presence Detect) : vendor, serial number, timings table. System
Windows and DirectX version.

Let me know if you have a problem downloading this free sofware.

George Freire

Friday, November 6, 2009


Last week I told you how I did the conversion, (upgrade), to Windows 7 from Windows Vista. I also told you that making the conversion from Windows XP is a completely different situation, in as much as the conversion must be a "clean install" rather then an "upgrade".

The "upgrade" is relatively easy because your settings, your applications, your data and your files all travel from Windows Vista to windows 7 and there is very little work to be done after the installation is completed.

Unfortunately you Windows XP users are not that lucky; after the "clean install", you must reset your users and network, (if applicable), reinstall all your drivers, programs, data and files from scratch. Don't let this discourage you, because if you prepare your work with a little patience, you'll end up with a computer that is much cleaner, because all the garbage that was accumulated by Windows XP during the years of use of your computer will be gone for good!

One possible problem that you'll have to face is the possible incompatibility of certain application drivers that worked with W XP but will not work with W 7 such as drivers for your display, audio system, network adapters, wireless keyboard and mouse, etc. You can check the drivers you have by going to "device manager" in your computer. (click "start", right click "my computer", select "properties", click the "hardware" tab and finally click "device manager" button. once you are there, it will display a complete list of all devices installed in your computer as well as the drivers for each one of them.

To find out if you have such problems, you'll have to run the Microsoft short program I referred to last week, Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor , by going to the following Web address:

(click the above or copy and paste on your browser).

As i explained last week, once you run this program in your computer, it will generate a report which will verify compatibility of your hardware, software, drivers etc. that are now installed in your computer and tell you what you have to do before trying to do the clean install of W 7.

In order to find the right drivers that will run in W 7, you must download them from Windows 7 Compatibility Center at the following Web address:

(click the above or copy and paste on your browser).

Needless to say that now you will have to back up to an external drive all your data, files and any other information you want to transfer to the Window 7 environment. Programs will have to be reinstalled again and I assume you have the original disks for the same such as Window Works, Word etc. etc.

If you don't have the disks, the other solution will be to create an image back up of your hard drive. This is the most dependable way to transfer your old set up without having to install the programs with original disks, especially if you don't have them or don't know where you put them. Such an operation will restore all you have on your hard drive. You will need of course an external drive to copy the image to and a program that will do it.

Please read my post of September 5, 2009:


This post explains how to do it using a very popular program called ACRONIS, (this program is not free, it costs $39.00, but it is well worth having because it will keep an image of your hard drive that can be updated as many times as you command it to do).

There are other free programs that will do it, but most of them are not as complete and easy to operate as ACRONIS,. A good one recommended by PC World is Macrium Reflect Free that can be downloaded at:

Keep in mind that it takes several hours to copy an image of your hard drive to an external hard drive, especially if your hard drive has been accumulating all kinds of stuff along the years... a good way of doing it is starting the operation at night before you go to bed. The following morning it will be done...

Once you have done all this preparation work, you are now ready to run the clean installation. follow the steps I described last week, but when you get to the point in the wizard that asks you if you want to do an "Upgrade" or a "Custom" (clean installation), you'll have to select "Custom".

From that point on just follow the instructions, (see my post of last week), and after a couple of hours Windows 7 will be installed in your computer. After this, you will have to either transfer the hard drive image you have copied to your external hard drive, (if you decided to go this route), or to reinstall all your programs using the original disks and then copying the data files and installing new drives if required.

My friends, this may seem too complicated and scary for some of you, but really, if you have a little "hands on" experience with your computer it won't be so bad after all. In any case, this will be a good practice session for you to get really well acquainted in computer operation.

Have fun!!!

(Your comments will be very much appreciated)

George Freire

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Dear viewers of the blog,

As promised on my post of October 26, I'm going to report to you how I managed to do my conversion to Windows 7 from Windows Vista on the first of my two computers.

For this first conversion, (which I expected with reason, to be the most troublesome), I decided to do it in my laptop computer.The reason for this choice was rational: taking into consideration that a few hours are needed to do the conversion, I had a little more flexibility, could move around and take the computer with me from my office to downstairs etc.etc.

I ran into some frustrating moments, but it was all my fault, not being patient enough and trying to do things too fast...

I learned a lesson, therefore when I do the other conversion in my PC things will be a lot easier and faster.

Let's now look at what I did and what I recommend you all should do when you decide to convert to Windows 7:

I am addressing those of you who have Windows Vista in your computers. For those who still have Windows XP, the procedures are different and more complex, therefore I will address this matter on Part II, which I intend to post later this week.

Before you attempt to start your conversion, you must run the Microsoft short program "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Report". You can download it from Microsoft at the following address:

(Copy and paste the above to your browser).

Once you run the program in your computer, it will generate a report which will verify compatability of your hardware and software installed in your computer. The good news is that if you have windows Vista running well in your computer, odds are that most of what you have is compatible.

However, there are some programs that may not be compatible, for which you will have to download new drivers available on the Web, or in some cases, you'll have to uninstall some programs which will interfere with the conversion operation. These programs can then be re-installed after the conversion.

In my case, as an example, the report advised that I had to uninstall the "ATI Catalyst Install Manager", "Catalyst Control Center", "Best Buy Digital Music Store" and "My HP Games". It also showed a complete list of all the programs installed in my computer that were compatible with the conversion and those that would need new drivers once the conversion was completed.

Believe me my friends, you must follow strictly what the report tells you, or you risk nor being able to do the conversion right and create annoying problems difficult to solve, other than starting from scratch all over again.

I was in a hurry to do the conversion, followed the report directions, uninstalled the programs indicated, but missed one, (Catalyst Control Center), because I got confused,when I had already uninstalled the ATI Catalyst Install Manager.

This was a costly mistake, because after the conversion was finished, nothing worked right and I kept receiving strange messages like "Windows cannot verify compatability etc. etc.

To make a long story short, I had to return my computer to new factory installed software,(Windows Vista), using the recovery disks I had prepared when I started the computer for the first time after I had purchased it. In doing so I wiped out all the software installed in the past 5 months. ( I had all the software disks so I did not lose the programs, but had to re-install all of them after the conversion which took the better part of 5 hours!)

I am telling you this long story because I want you to make sure not to do the same mistake. (If I had uninstalled that program as directed, all the software in the computer would have been transferred during the conversion without any problems!).

Any way, on my second attempt all went well. Here is how it was done:

Make sure you are connected to the Internet and start your computer to Windows Vista, as you do normally. Once it is running, insert the Windows 7 Upgrade DVD in the optical drive; set up will launch automatically.

In case it does not start automatically, click the "Start" button on your keyboard, click "Computer" or "My Computer", open the Windows 7 installation disk on your DVD drive and double click "setup.exe".

The installation wizard opens and early on will ask whether you want to check for compatability online; (this would bring you to the Web page for the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, but since you already have done this thanks to my advice), ignore this. It will also ask you to check for updates on line; click "yes"; after a few seconds the updates if any are done; at this point go ahead and click "Install now" and follow the instructions.

In the next step you'll have to agree to the "End-User Licensing Agreement" after which the Wizard gives you two choices: "Upgrade" or "Custom" (clean) install. Since you are upgrading from Windows Vista, the choice is obvious, you should select "Upgrade".

If you have more than one partition on your hard drive, the Wizard may ask you which partition you want to use. Select of course the partition where windows Vista is installed, (in most cases C:/ drive).

You may now get a warning that you are going to lose your existing version of Windows Vista and tell you that the files will be moved to a new folder called C:/Windows.old.

After that the installation box comes up and shows you a list of automated tasks that will follow such as "copying Windows files, expanding files", etc. etc.

At this time you will have nothing more to do but wait; and depending on how fast and how much memory you have in your computer, it may take two to three hours for the conversion to take place. Go have dinner, read a book, whatever and check the computer after a while.

When it is all done you'll see a window in the Wizard asking for the "Product Key" and whether you want the program to be activated on line. (The Product Key is shown on the left side of the plastic box where the conversion disk is enclosed and is composed of 5 groups of 5 letter/number combinations).

I entered the Product Key and checked the box for activation on line. After that click next. Another page opens, (titled "Help Protect Your Computer and Improve Windows Automatically"). 3 options are available, the best is in my opinion "Install Important Updates Only"; I selected that one, but it is up to you.

After this the Wizard has completed its function, your computer will reboot and Hurray!!! will return with the full new version of Windows 7.

It is time now to re-install the programs that you had to uninstall before the conversion, (if any), and download drivers for certain programs, (if needed). I assume that by now you are a little tired, so you can do it in good time the next day...

For today this will be all, I am going a little long on this post, but I hope all this stuff will be of help to you all.

On my next post I will talk about the good things I found on this new version of Windows as well as the few I did not like, but let me tell you, I like this new version a LOT.

Have fun and let me know if you enjoyed the above.

George Freire

Monday, October 26, 2009


As I mentioned in my post of October 21st, Windows 7 was launched the following day, October 22nd.

I will receive my copies of the program, (two, one for each computer), as communicated to me by Microsoft Corporation, no later than Wednesday this week.

These are upgrade versions, which I can directly install using the running Windows Vista in my computers. According to what I have been investigating, this is not  very hard or difficult, however, some of the published articles on this matter, call for careful handling of this operation.

I will let you all know how easy or difficult it is. In a few days I will post a full report on how I did this, as well as description of the best features, (there are quite a few), that this new and hopefully greatly improved version of Windows performs.

I assume that some of you will also be  planning to convert to Windows 7. Do not hesitate to contact me if you need help. That's the whole purpose of this blog.

George Freire

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The following is a review, (concerning the launching of Windows 7 due tomorrow October 22nd, 2009), by Mr. David Goldman, a CNNMoney staff writer.
I am sure this review will be of great interest to you viewers who are planning to switch to the new OS Microsoft Corporation is presenting us with:

"Experts say Microsoft's new Windows 7, which debuts Oct. 22, will likely prompt computer users to make
their first upgrade in eight years.

By David Goldman, staff writer

October 21, 2009: 11:18 AM ET

NEW YORK ( -- Microsoft is banking on Windows 7 to breathe new life into a PC world where most computer users are running XP -- an operating system that was released in the early days of the Bush administration.

Experts expect that PC users will change their operating system for the first time in about eight years when Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) launches Windows 7 on Oct. 22.

Microsoft's last operating system, Windows Vista, was a disaster when it was released in 2007. Vista was plagued by bugs, software incompatibilities, sluggishness and annoying security alerts. The episode nearly destroyed the tech giant's reputation with consumers.

"The stakes for Microsoft are astronomically high after the Vista debacle," said Scott Anthony, managing director of Innosight Ventures, a venture capital and consulting firm. "There is a lot of hunger for computing power around the world, and this release will be a real test for Microsoft."

Positive reviews for Windows 7 have been pouring in. Computer experts say that Windows 7 is good -- if not perfect -- and has a shot at eventually usurping XP as the world's most prevalent operating system.

Right now 71.5% of PCs are still running XP, according to OS market share tracker, while 18.6% of PCs are running Windows Vista.

"There was lots of negativity around Vista, and Microsoft lost a lot of goodwill with its customers," said Ken Allen, a portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price who manages a tech fund that includes Microsoft as one of its holdings.

Microsoft has aggressively been rolling out products and services (think Bing and Zune HD) to boost its sales, which have declined in the previous two quarters. Its third quarter ended March 31 marked the first time sales fell in Microsoft's 23-year history as a public company.

"The 'bad will' that Microsoft engendered could be reversed if Windows 7 is well received," said Allen.

It appears Microsoft is on the right road. Demand for new computers is starting to heat up again, and many users are looking for an operating system upgrade. Windows 7's release coincides with holiday season shopping. With the economy showing signs of recovery, consumers may be more willing to loosen their purse strings. "

Interesting isn't it?

About two months ago I ordered and pre-paid  copies of Windows 7 for my 2 computers, (which are running Windows Vista at the present time). In the process I saved a lot of money, paying only $49.00 per copy.  I surely hope that what Mr. Goldman predicts, will come true.

I am not one of those people, (there are many, many of them), who hate Windows Vista. I have had many  moments of frustation, however, I have learned how to live with Vista and how to overcome many of its irritating problems.

I published several posts in this blog addressing Windows 7 problems and how to overcome them, but frankly, I can't wait until  I install the new Windows version.

For those who still use Windows XP, (which in many aspects is a better product than Windows Vista), be aware that the rumor is that Microsoft will completely drop any security upgrades and support, within one year for this OS.

I am sorry they are going to do this. My wife's computer runs on Windows XP; it is faster than mine and does not give me any irritating problems...

Let me know how many of you will be changing to Windows 7.

Good Luck,

George Freire

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Today I was going to publish another of my weekly posts, when a friend suggested, "why don't you go back and read all the posts so far published and select some  to be republished, that  you consider the best, (as far as  helping computer users is concerned) ?

I gave it a thought; the first thing that came to mind was the fact that most probably, a majority of the viewers, (with the exception of those who have been reading the blog from the very start), did not have the opportunity of checking all the posts published.

This is only natural, because there have been 77 posts published, but going back and checking everyone of them, is by human nature, a pain in the a..

Therefore, I have gone back and did that for all of you viewers. I made a selection of a few that I hope will be of  help to you all. For this week I selected the following:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reinstall and Restore Your Windows PC

PC WORLD is one of the greatest sources for computer performance and maintenance free utilities, "fix-up" tools and advice.

Here is a good example:

Reinstall and Restore Your Windows PC in Eight Easy Steps

Eliminate problems and improve performance by wiping out Windows and reinstalling it from scratch. Here's a simple guide to help you back up your data and restore your PC quickly.Part 1 of a special five-part series. -->

Lincoln Spector, PC World

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 04:40 PM PST

Maybe your PC won't boot. Or it could be infected with some kind of persistent malware. Perhaps Windows puts up a Blue Screen of Death every time you type the word aardvark.

No matter what kind of trouble your computer is having, someone will probably tell you to reformat your hard drive, reinstall Windows and your applications, and then restore your documents, photos, and music from a backup.


That isn't always good advice--according to a 2004 article, incompetent tech support people use it to get customers off the phone. But if nothing else fixes a problem that's impossible to live with, starting over from scratch may be the best solution.

Don't do it unless you've tried everything else, however. If your PC refuses to boot, see "Diagnose and Repair an Unbootable XP or Vista PC" and "Six Downloadable Boot Discs That Could Save Your PC" for better options. If Windows boots and then horribly misbehaves, check for malware, remove unneeded autoloaders, and update drivers. You might even consider cleaning the Registry.

If after all that you determine that you must wipe out and reinstall Windows, follow these seven steps to make the process as safe and painless as possible.

Step 1: Find and Know Your Restore Tool

You need some sort of bootable environment that can restore or reinstall Windows--and you probably have one. PCs that ship with Windows all come with one of the following options.

Most new PCs come with a restore disc, making it easy to return your system's software to the same condition it was in when you first pulled the machine out of the box.A restore disc is a bootable CD or DVD that can restore your hard drive to the exact contents it had when the PC left the factory. In most cases the recovery disc will destroy all of your data--documents, photos, and so on--while "saving" your system. Some manufacturers don't actually ship a separate restore disc with your PC, but instead install software on the hard drive that you can use to create your own restore discs. If your PC came with a restore disc, but you can't locate it, see "How Do I Restore Windows If I've Lost My Restore CD?"

A restore partition lies hidden on the hard drive. You access it by pressing a particular key combination at boot time. Check your documentation to learn whether you have one and how to access it. The partition does the same thing as a restore disc does.

An actual Microsoft Windows CD or DVD is the best tool of them all, but unless you bought an upgrade to a newer version of Windows, you probably don't have one.

Step 2: Gather Everything Else You Need

Make sure you have all of the following before you take any action.

A driver backup: See "How Do I Back Up My Drivers?" for instructions.

Backup media and software: You'll want an external hard drive (or better yet, two of them), some blank DVDs, and backup software. I'll cover more details in Steps 3 and 4.

Your applications: For every program you use that didn't come with your PC, you need the CDs they came on, their serial numbers, their registration codes, and so on. If you downloaded an application, make a backup of the download file or check to be sure that you can easily download it again.

Time: In reality, this project will probably take only a few hours, but you want to leave yourself a day of wiggle room in the event that you can't locate an important driver or software disc. This project is best tackled at the start of a long holiday, or at least over a weekend, to avoid disrupting your business if something goes wrong.

A good book or some other diversion: You're going to spend a chunk of time in front of a nonworking PC. If the PC is a laptop, plop it down on the coffee table so that you can watch a little TV while the installers are running.

Step 3: Create an Image Backup of Your Hard Drive

In the unlikely event that something goes wrong (for instance, you forget to save a copy of an important presentation that you need for work on Monday), an image backup of your hard drive in its current state will let you quickly and easily restore everything to where it was before you started. Resist the temptation to skip this step, as it's your most reliable safety net.

What should you back up to? An external hard drive--they're fast, cheap, and easy to work with. For best results, pick one that's at least twice the size of all the data you have. If your 160GB hard drive has 90GB of data on it, a 200GB external drive will make a good choice. With 500GB and 1TB drives now readily available and reasonably priced, though, I suggest you go as big as you can afford; that way you can save more than one copy of your files to the drive, or even use it to back up multiple PCs.

And what software should you use? Ghost and TrueImage are the two best-known image-backup programs, but they aren't the only ones. Check your regular backup program (you do back up regularly, don't you?) for an image-backup feature, quite likely labeled Disaster Recovery. The backup software that came with your external drive might have something similar, too.

DriveImage XML is a great free option for creating disk-image backups in Windows.Vista Business and Ultimate have built-in image backup. Click Start, type backup, select Backup Status and Configuration, and press Enter. Click Complete PC Backup, and then choose Create a backup now.

And, as usual, you have free options. I recommend Runtime Software's DriveImage XML.

Ultimate Boot CD for Windows comes with backup tools and a variety of other handy system-recovery features.Remember, though, that an image backup is useless if you can't boot from a CD or DVD to restore it. Both Ghost and TrueImage come with tools for creating just such a disc. If you opt to use Vista's Backup tool, make sure you have either a true Windows Vista DVD or the Vista Recovery Disc available for recovery purposes. You can recover a DriveImage XML backup via the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.

Step 4: Make a Data Backup

Yes, I just had you create a backup of everything on your hard drive, including your data. But the purpose of that first backup was to add an extra layer of security. This second, data-only backup will make restoring your data, once you reinstall Windows, easier.

See "What's the Best Way to Back Up What I Need to Back Up?" for two lists (for XP and Vista) of Windows' data-holding folders. But don't worry about the software I recommend in that article--all you need to do right now is drag and copy those folders to a safe location.

As for what location, once again, an external hard drive does well. If you're really paranoid (as I am), you'll use a different external drive than you used for your image backup; it's safer than putting all your backups onto one hard drive. If you have only a few gigabytes of data files, burning them to DVD is a good, cheap solution.

Step 5: Reformat, Restore, and Recover

Now comes the main event. I can't really give you specific instructions for using your recovery tool, because I don't know what recovery tool you have. Just boot into it and follow the prompts. They're all designed to be as simple as possible.

Step 6: Make Windows Your Own

Congratulations. You now have a new version of Windows, configured exactly the way Microsoft and/or your system vendor like it (or, the way they liked it at the time you bought your PC).

Now you have to configure it, remove any preinstalled junk, install your own software, and generally make it yours all over again. This is, in my opinion, the longest and most annoying part of the job, and in Step 7 I'll tell you how to avoid it in the future. But for now, do the following.

a. In Control Panel's Users applet, create log-ons for yourself and any other users. You will need to have at least one Administrator-level user.

b. Remove bundled programs you don't want. I recommend the portable version of Revo Uninstaller for this job.

c. Restore your backed-up drivers. You can probably skip the drivers for anything that came with your PC, as your restore tool likely creates a version of Windows already set up with them.

d. Download and install any Windows updates.

e. Starting with your security software, install programs you use that didn't come with the PC. Update them, and then configure them to your liking.

f. Rearrange the Start menu as you wish.

g. Select your preferred wallpaper, screen saver, power settings, and so on.

Step 7: Create Another Image Backup

No, I'm not kidding. This step isn't strictly necessary, but if you ever need to restore Windows to this computer again, you can simply back up your personal data, restore this fresh and clean image backup, and then put your data back in its place.

Remember, the restore tool restores Microsoft's and your vendor's configuration of Windows, not yours. Think of this image as your own, customized restore tool, allowing you to skip Step 6 the next time around.

Because you have not yet copied your data back to the hard drive, this image will be relatively small. Put it on a series of writeable DVDs rather than an external drive, label them clearly with today's date, and safely store them away.

Step 8: The Final Touch

With Windows ready and recoverable, restore your data from the data backup with a few simple drags and drops. In the unlikely event that that backup has been damaged, restore it from the image backup. And keep both backups around for a month or so, just in case you missed an important file.

Finally, sigh, relax, treat yourself to something decadent, and get on with your life.

1998-2008, PC World Communications, Inc.

Posted by George Freire at 10:50 AM

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Anti-Virus Software, Can You Trust It?

I have recommended in previous post several anti-virus free software programs. Some are better than others, but all that have been recommended here have one thing in common: they all can be trusted, however, the degree of performance and effectiveness may vary greatly from one to another.

Today I am going to respond to a question posed by one of our viewers, Mr. Luis Nabais from Portugal, who asks whether he should keep buying expensive anti-virus software, when, as he has read in this blog,   he could instead use other programs that do basically the same thing and  are free of cost.

Not all the programs I have referred to are as efficient as the big names of the industry, (that I am not going to mention), except one that by all records known can be favorably compared to them.

This anti-virus software program that can be downloaded and installed at absolutely no cost is called:
 Avira Antivir Personal.

This program was rated #1 by PC WORLD magazine, (which in my opinion is the premier computer field technology magazine published today).

I quote from their test results as follows:

Avira's Antivir Personal surpassed all competitors, thanks to its excellent malware detection and impressive scan speed.

The program test scores were the  following:

PERFORMANCE SCORE:                          SUPERIOR
WEEK-OLD SIGNATURES:                      52.7%
AND INACTIVE ROOTKITS)                    100%
ROOTKIT REMOVAL:                              100%
OF MALWARE:                                        50%
ON- DEMAND, (IN SECONDS):             17
ON-ACCESS, (IN SECONDS)                 28
DESIGN SCORE:                                    GOOD

The program excellent detection, desinfection and scan speed, earned the top spot of all programs tested.  The strong performance continued in desinfection, where Avira Antivir Personal found and disarmed all the rootkits and other infections tossed at it, but (like all the free software here) it tended to leave remnants, such as relatively harmless Registry changes, in place.

Avira's program was not just the most thorough tool, but also the fastest. It led in speed tests for both on -demand scans, (which you schedule or start), and on access scans, (which ocurr automatically during tasks such as copying files).

If you viewers want to use this anti-virus program you can download it at the following address:

Just copy the above and paste on your browser.

The company has a premium version that costs approximately $20.00, which eleminates "pop-ups" ads for Avira's paid ID -theft protection programs, but other than that this version is basically the same as the free version.

George Freire

Thursday, October 8, 2009


If you readers want to see and explore ANY of the articles posted since the start of this blog, all you have to do is select and click any of the months shown on the "ARCHIVE SECTION" shown at the very start on the left column of the blog. The postings of the month selected will be then shown.
You can also go to the end of the blog page and click "Older Posts".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To my Portuguese friends who are following this Blog

The  following are the instructions in Portuguese, so that you can easily have the Blog translated to Portuguese by the program "Babelfish" in no time flat.

In fact this program can translate the Blog to more than 20 different languages!

Caros amigos,
Descrubi hoje uma maneira simples de ler o meu blog em Portugues.
Vao na internet para a web page
Esta web page abre e mostra duas janelas a escolher: "Translate a block of text" ou "Translate a web page".
Deverao escolher a janela "Translate a web page".
O espaco em branco desta janela ja tem a entrada http://
Escrevam logo a seguir ao http:// a web address do meu blog:
O resultado final sera portanto:
Logo por baixo do espaco esta uma janela com a fraze "Select from and to languages" e uma seta no final da fraze.
Carreguem na seta e uma longa file de frazes aparece. Selecionem "English to Portuguese" e clickem a pequena janela seguinte que diz "Translate".
E tudo! teem que esperar uns 10 a 20 segundos e o meu Blog aparece completamente traduzido para Portugues.
Agradeceria o vosso comentario de como este "truque" funciona!
Um abraco Tertuliano a todos.
George Freire

GMail Quick Searches with a Keyboard Shortcut

For those of you who use GMail, this might be interesting and of good use. PC World published  a "snip"  by Todd Jackson who is a GMail Product Manager:

" The GMail feature I can't live without is search operators. I'm a huge fan of keyboard shortcuts, so when I need to find some quickly, I hit '/' to get to the search box and type "from:keith" plus a keyword in the mail from Keith that I'm looking for. Make sure you have keyboard shortcuts turned on for the '/' shrtcut to work. There is a list of other tips and tricks for becoming a GMail ninja here:"

If you don't know how to activate keyboard shortcuts in GMail, go to your GMail page, click "settings" on the right side of the page, a screen opens, on "general" tab go down to "keyboard shortcuts" and activate "keyboard shortcuts "on".

George Freire

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Here are some good and easy to remember keyboard short-cuts that work in most windows related programs.

They are easy to remember, (especially those that you use more regularly), and as the title says, very fast and easy to use:

SELECT THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT : Ctrl-A (this is useful if you want to copy and paste the document).
TURN ITALICS "ON" , "OFF'             : Ctrl-I
TURN BOLD "ON" , "OFF"                 : Ctrl-B

GO TO YOUR HOME PAGE:             : Alt-Home
REFRESH WEB PAGE:                       : Ctrl-F5

There are many more keyboard short-cuts that you can use, however, remembering them all is "kinda" hard to do. I though that the above cover most of the actions that we all need when using "WORD", "EXCEL" Internet Browsers, (IE, Firefox and others); once you start using them, you'll find out that it all comes naturally when you are working in your computer.

George Freire

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How to Upgrade to Windows 7

With Windows 7  release just three weeks away, just a brief note concerning those of you who are planning to upgrade either from Windows XP or Windows Vista:

PC World has a very helpful article covering the possible problems you'll encounter and how to solve them without problems!

Go to:

They will tell you how.

George Freire

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gadwin Print Screen Free Program

Back in February I recommended this very useful program "FREE GADWIN PRINT SCREEN FREE PROGRAM".

I have been using it eversince, just about everyday. I love it, therefore, for those who never read the post and downloaded the program, I decided to post it again. Here goes:

Here is a great free useful print screen software that enhances the operation of your "Print Screen" key in your keyboard:

Gadwin PrintScreen allows much more flexibility. Usually when you hit the Print Screen button it loads the current screen into your clipboard. To save the image you have to open up an image-editing application, paste it, then save the file. Gadwin's free PrintScreen streamlines this whole process. It sits in your System Tray, and you can set a number of options. When you hit print screen (or whichever button you specify), you can choose to save the screen directly to a specific folder.

Gadwin PrintScreen captures the contents of the screen with a single keystroke. The captured screen can then be sent to the printer, or saved to disk as a file in 6 different graphics file formats.

Gadwin PrintScreen can capture the entire Windows screen, the active window, or a specified area, when the hot key is pressed. The hot key defaults to the PrintScreen key, but users may also define other keys to initiate a capture. Gadwin PrintScreen allows you to e-mail the captured images to recipients of your choice.

All this is free software. However Gadwin Systems Inc. also offers a more powerful version which combines the power of a first-class screen capture application with an advanced image editing and annotation utility - wrapped into one easy-to-use tool. Gadwin PrintScreen Professional is versatile and extremely easy-to-use.

In order to download either program, go to:

Select the "Download " tab then scroll down to either "Gadwin Print Screen Professional Version 4.5" or the free "Gadwin Print Screen Version 4.3" and download whichever you want. Full description of the program is outlined.

I use this program almost everyday, it is so easy and practical.

George Freire

Avira AntiVir Personal Free Antivirus Program

I have in the past recommended some antivirus programs, which I have used with success, such as ClamWin, Avast etc.

These are good programs and they are free. About a couple of weeks ago, in one of my research trips through the Web I came across some interesting information on another free antivirus program called

"Avira AntiVir Personal Free Antivirus".

I went to their website:

and downloaded the program. I must say that it is far superior than any antivirus free program I have tried.

The description of the program is as follows:

Avira AntiVir Personal - FREE Antivirus is a reliable free antivirus solution, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system and reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection to home-users, for personal use only, and is not for business or commercial use. Available for Windows or UNIX.

They also have  "Premium" and  "Security" versions of the program, which if you want them, you'll have to pay for it, however, the free version really has most of the features that everyday computer user needs, no more no less.

If you go to this address:

You can also download the program and also see the features covered by the three versions referred above.

Try the free version and compare it against other security programs you may have installed in your computer, AND if you still run your computer without antivirus protection, (believe you me there are many users in that category), please, please, install this program. You will not regret it.

George Freire

Friday, September 25, 2009

Microsoft "Fix It Solutions Center"

We all from time to time have problems related to Microsoft Products, such as :

Internet Explorer
Email and Messaging
Windows Media Player
Windows Media Center

Such problems may be pretty simple to correct, but many times, such problems can be exasperating because
"Windows" is a very sophisticated program with thousands os hidden files that only those who are true experts can see and somehow debug..

Some of you may not know that Microsoft has a web site that is extremely helpful and can help you correct such problems.

The site is called as the title above indicates "FIX IT SOLUTIONS CENTER".

The site address is

If you click the above address you'll be immediately be  "transported" to this site. Once there, first select the  "About Fix It" on the left side tab of the page in order to understand how it works.

After that, select the product you are having problems with, (which are all described on that same tab). When you do so, the right side of the page opens up and shows a series of most likely problems that can occur with the product.

If you see in any of the described problems areas common with your problem or problems, click on it and a new page opens. In this page you'll see the steps you need to take in order to solve the problem, BUT EVEN BETTER, you are asked if you want the "Fix It Slutions Center" program to do it automatically for you!!

If you click yes, (and who wouldn't...), like magic the "Fix It Solutions Center" will do it for you.

One word of advice here: You must follow a few instructions, and click here and there for the solution program to run.

Even if you are not experiencing any problems now, I suggest, (just for the sake of familiarizing yourself with "Fix It Slutions Center"), that you go to the site and read the instructions.

I hope this will be, (for those who did not know about it), a great tip that will help you solve many problems that sooner or later you'll be faced with when operating your computer.

George Freire

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How to post a comment or ask a question

This is the best way for you viewers to ask questions or post comments:

At the end of each post, there is a gold colored word "comments".

If you click on it a window opens where you can type your question or comment.

After you are done writing, just click the "Publish Your Comment" tab.

After you are finished, the word "comments" will be shown with a number behind it, such as

"1 comment".

To read the comment all you have to do is click on it again.

George Freire

Monday, September 21, 2009

EssentialPIM 3.1

I came across a nice program that can be used by those who keep busy schedules and need reminders, time management etc.

You can download this program "EssentialPIM 3.1" from at the following address:

Here is the CNET Editor's review of the program:

While there are plenty of programs that help manage your daily tasks, many are terribly expensive. EssentialPIM offers a free way stay organized, and we found it to be a fairly effective program.
This freeware heavily mimics the display and functionality of the popular Microsoft Outlook program. This, however, is not a bad thing. In fact, it makes EssentialPIM very intuitive thanks to the toolbar along the left side that allows users to easily cycle through the calendar, to-do list, contacts, notes, and trash. Inputting data into any of these fields is fairly easy. Anyone with prior experience with time management software will leap right into creating reminders on the calendar, recurring to-do events, and more. The menus that create such items flow well, with versatile pull-down menus, fillable fields, and dates.
We had a simple time managing nearly all aspects of this program, but we did find that although the program is listed as free with no limitations, the freeware version lacks numerous features found in the paid version. Users looking for advanced features to sync with other programs, add advanced encryption, and filter task lists and events won't find those features in the free program. Still, if users don't need these options, EssentialPIM covers the basics and its price cannot be beat.

I downloaded this program and have been using it. I like it and it reminds me of all my daily chores in an easy and interesting way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How To Squeeze A Toner Cartridge To The End And Be Able To Print A Lot More Pages

My friends,

This comes from my personal experience. I am talking about those expensive toner cartridges used mostly in laser printers. It does not matter which brand of printer we are talking about, be it HP, Brother, Canon etc., etc.

If you have the proper software for your laser printer completely installed in your computer, when the toner in the cartridge is near the end, some kind of a "Pop-Up" window will show up to tell you that it is time to replace the toner cartridge.

At $70.00 or more a pop for these cartridges, if you do a lot of printing, it can be quite expensive. Here is a little secret that I found out by asking myself : "is this cartridge finished or is there still some life in it?".

So, I pulled out the toner cartridge from my Brother laser printer DCP-7040, shook it out side ways a few times and re-installed it.

Guess what? I have since then printed more than another 100 pages and the "Pop-Up" window telling me to replace the cartridge has not made its presence yet...

Sure enough I have a new cartridge readily available, but in the mean time I'm still using the old cartridge and saving money.

This will work with other laser printers too, the reason being that by default (in order to make a fast profit), when the toner powder reaches a certain low level, the software is set up to tell you to replace it.

Of course the printer manufacturers make most of their money by selling us toner and ink cartridges at extremely bloated prices and they want you to replace them as often as possible.

Next time your laser printer tells you that the toner cartridge needs replacement, try this trick and you'll see that there are still many more pages that can be printed with the old cartridge.

You see? I just saved you a bunch of money.

George Freire

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Simple Sticky Notes

What is Simple Sticky Notes? It's a simple, easy-to-use, absolutely free, fast and efficient taking notes software.
Simple Sticky Notes is 100% safe and ads free.
Here are the features of Simple Sticky Notes;

•Full unicode support

•RichText support

•Colourful and Transparent notes


•Snap to desktop edges

•Hide/Show all notes option

•Automatic updates

and more...

(The following comments concerning this program are from Mr. Preston Gralla,os PC World) :

Simple Sticky Notes lets you create sticky notes on your PC. They're just like the Post-it notes that litter people's offices--but more private and not so unsightly. It's incredibly easy to create them. Double-click the program's icon in your system tray, and it creates a note for you. Type in what you want to remember, and you're done. You can drag the note to any spot on your desktop.

Easy as it is to use, Simple Sticky Notes has plenty of options. Want to change the font or the font color? You can do that, as well as making the text bold or italic. How about changing the note's color? Yes, you can do that, and you can also change the transparency of it as well. You can also hide the notes, print them, and even automatically send their text via e-mail.

Overall, Simple Sticky Notes is straightforward and simple to use, and it won't waste your time. And since it's free, it won't waste your money, either.

To download this simple but useful program go to:

Just copy and paste the above address to your browser and download it.

I hope you'll enjoy it, I use it all the time.

George Freire

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Not long ago, two weeks to be precise, the 500 GB hard drive of my "super computer" I built almost two years ago started giving me a feeling that it was getting "tired out", this in spite of the fact that I always keep this computer in the best top shape possible.
These things happen, hard drives may last almost forever but sometime they surprise you and say, "buddy you better do something because I may quit all of a sudden".
Well, I have in this computer everything, I mean everything, from my finances to pictures and music collections business documents, drawings from jobs designed when I was still working, etc. etc.
In spite of the fact that of course, I have an external drive where all these files are completely backed up, the problem was that you cannot back up software installed in your computer and much less your OS (in my case Windows Vista).
If the hard drive would all of a sudden give its last breath, I would not lose these files, but all the installed programs, (and there are quite a few), and the Windows OS would all be lost in a split of a second.

There are several programs on the market that make it possible to completely make an image of your hard drive on another separate internal or external drive and thus save all your programs and OS in just the same way they are installed in your main hard drive.

However, with most of these programs to do this is quite complicated, time consuming and many times exasperating, therefore I explored and studied a lot of information which is available on the internet about such programs. I found out that there was one, (or so they said), that made all this extremely simple even to those people who are not very computer savy...

I went one step further and discussed the matter with people who know and had the experience about such matters and most of them said that this program was indeed excellent.

Well, I bought it, paid $39.95 for it and my friends, it was the best investment I made. The program is called "ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE HOME 2009".

I was able to completely create an exact copy of my hard drive,(this is called cloning), transfer it to a new internal hard drive, and then pulled out the old almost dying main hard drive and replaced it with the new copy.

When I turned the computer on I kept my fingers crossed, because I did not know wether it would work. To my surprise the computer started and operated as if nothing had happened.

Time spent in doing all this? it took about 2 hours to clone the old driver to the new driver and about 20 minutes to take out the old and install the new! that was it.

But this is not all, now with this program installed in my computer, it automatically keeps a clone of my hard drive on an external drive, and keeps it to date on a weekly basis, all software installed, OS and all files. I don't have to worry anymore if my hard drive fails, (I hope it will last a long time), but I know that if it happens, all I have to do is to get a new one and transfer everything back again.

ACRONIS is available in any computer or electronics store such as Best Buy, (that's where I bought it).

For what it's worth, I hope this experience of mine will be able to save some of you readers, future problems with your hard drives. One thing for sure, hard drives do not last forever...

Have a good week-end,

George Freire

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Windows 7 Will Run 120 Days for Free


You can try out Windows 7 for 120 days free!

Here is how:

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Aug 20, 2009 9:09 am

Like its predecessor, Windows 7 can be used for up to 120 days without providing a product activation key, Microsoft confirmed today.
Although Microsoft generally touts a 30-day time limit for users to activate their copies of the company's operating system, a little-known command designed for corporate administrators can be used by anyone to "reset" the countdown up to three times.
Late yesterday, the Windows Secrets newsletter published step-by-step instructions on using a single-line command to add an additional 90 days to the stock 30-day grace period.
Microsoft allows users to install and run any version of Windows 7 for up to 30 days without requiring a product activation key, a 25-character alphanumeric string that proves the copy is legitimate. During the 30-day grace period, Windows 7 operates as if it has been activated. As the grace period shrinks, however, increasingly-frequent messages appear on the screen. For example, on days four through 27, a pop-up asks the user to activate once each day. During days 28 and 29, the pop-up displays every four hours, while on Day 30, it appears hourly.
But by invoking the "slmgr -rearm" command at a Windows 7 command prompt, users can reset the time-until-activation to 30 days, said Woody Leonard, a contributing editor to Windows Secrets and the author of several computer books, including Windows Vista All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies.
"You can run the -rearm trick a total of three times," said Leonard. "If you perform a -rearm at the end of each 30-day period, you end up with 120 days of full, unfettered Windows 7 use, without having to supply an activation key."
Leonard tested the command on Windows 7 RTM (release to manufacturing), the final build of the operating system that Microsoft has already shipped to computer makers and distributed to IT professionals and developers who subscribe to the TechNet and MSDN services.
Microsoft confirmed that "-rearm" can be used as many as three times by Windows 7 users to avoid activation. "This means [that] a total of 120 days total time is available as a grace period to customers that take advantage of -rearm," said a company spokeswoman.
Nor is extending the grace period a violation of the Windows 7 End User License Agreement (EULA), the spokeswoman said.
Windows Secrets and others published information about the same grace period extension two years ago, shortly after Microsoft launched Vista. "Rearm is the same in Windows 7 as in Vista," noted Brian Livingston, the editor of Windows Secrets, in an interview yesterday.
Microsoft introduced product activation in 2001's Office XP and also used it in that year's Windows XP. The feature was toughened up for Vista, however; after the grace period, non-activated PCs running Vista dropped into what Microsoft called "reduced functionality" mode. In reduced mode, users could only browse the Web with Internet Explorer, and then only for an hour before being forced to again log on.
In early 2008, however, Microsoft revamped that process, which some had dubbed a "kill switch," in favor of a black background and constant nagging reminders. Later in 2008, Microsoft introduced the same procedures to Windows XP when it rolled out Service Pack 3 (SP3).
In February 2009, Microsoft said Windows 7 would use the same reminders, a black screen and persistent notices.
"We knew that -rearm worked on the beta and RC [of Windows 7], but until it was finished, there was no way to be sure it would work in the final," said Livingston.
Although Windows 7 won't go on sale until Oct. 22, the RTM build has leaked to file-sharing sites. In fact, the build that Microsoft later identified as RTM hit BitTorrent almost a week before the company officially announced the milestone.
The -rearm command isn't the only way users can run Windows 7 without paying. Until about 11 a.m. ET Thursday, users can download a free copy of Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC), the last public preview issued before Microsoft wrapped up work on the OS.

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