Tips and Tricks Tips and Tricks

Extending Battery Life on iOS 7 by Kelly Lynn

  iOS 7 is a visually appealing update with plenty of great features. These enhancements, though, tend to eat up battery life. If your device seems to have a hard time staying alive through the end of each day, here are tips on what you can do. Turn off the parallax The parallax feature on iOS 7 makes any wallpaper you choose gently roll left or right, as you tilt the device one way or the other. The gimmick offers an interesting 3-D effect, not unlike the kind offered by the lenticular 3-D postcards of the 70s. The special effect, though, comes at a cost -- it uses battery power-intensive sensors such as the gyroscope and the accelerometer a lot. To turn off parallax to save on battery power, you … Continue reading

3 Great New Features on Google Docs by Kelly Lynn

  While Google Docs certainly doesn't provide the depth of functionality that Microsoft Word does, it gets better with each revision. Here are three of the most useful features from the latest version. Suggesting mode When you use Google Docs to collaborate on a document, you may sometimes want to simply make suggestions for others to consider rather than make full-fledged changes yourself. Google Docs now allows you to make such suggestions with a convenient feature called Suggesting mode. To reach Suggesting mode, you simply need to click on the Editing button on the upper-left corner of the Google Docs window, and select Suggesting . With Suggesting mode engaged, everything that you type in the document automatically goes in brackets. All deletions are denoted with strike-throughs. When others in the … Continue reading

Three New Tricks to Teach Your Old Flash Drive by Kelly Lynn

  If you see flash drives as simple devices that do storage well and not much else, the following ideas should be a surprise. You'll get to see a whole new side to your flash drive. You can create a superfast data storage system In general, a RAID drive is a set of hard drives that gives you extra protection against data loss by writing all your data to multiple drives at once. If one drive fails, you can always turn to the others. A RAID 0 drive is slightly different -- it doesn't offer you the safety of redundancy. Rather, it uses multiple drives to speed up data transfer. Whatever you write to a RAID 0 drive is split up into hundreds of parts and apportioned among multiple drives. Since each drive only needs to have a small … Continue reading

Wi-Fi Tips for Better Reception by Kelly Lynn

  If you find that the Wi-Fi at home isn't what it should be, try these tips to get it to behave. If you have multiple routers, give them all the same name Since Wi-Fi routers tend to have very small ranges, you will often need to set up multiple extenders even to cover an average-sized home. Setting up multiple routers, you might think to give them different names (SSIDs). This isn't usually a good idea, though. The problem with giving different names to the routers/extenders around your home is that most computers and devices are simply not smart enough to latch on to the strongest signal on the fly. Mac OS X, for instance, always connects to the first item on its Preferred Networks signal list even if it … Continue reading

Why is Windows So Bad at Estimating Copy Times? by Kelly Lynn

  When you initiate a file transfer or another file-related action on Windows, the countdown in the dialog box that comes up is usually worse than useless. Windows can wildly seesaw in its estimation of how much time any given process might take, rapidly switching back and forth between several minutes at one point and a few seconds the next. Why is Windows so bad at estimating how much time an action takes? How the misestimations happen When you first start a folder transfer or another operation, Windows doesn't give you an estimate right away. Rather, it waits a few seconds to see how fast it goes, before extrapolating for the entire folder. Simple extrapolations rarely make sense, though. The hardware part of the problem When you try to transfer … Continue reading

Getting Used to Windows 8.1 by Kelly Lynn

  Microsoft has changed a few things around in Windows 8.1. If you miss a few features, here's how you access them. Miss the Libraries sidebar link in Windows 8.1? The Windows Libraries feature (introduced in Windows 7) is a genuinely useful idea. Before Windows 7, if you wanted to organize files and folders in different places in a way that they could be accessible in one window, you had to either copy and paste them in one folder or create shortcuts to them in that folder. Both methods tend to be awkward. With the Libraries feature, when you want to see folders from different places in one window, you simply need to create something called a Library, click on each folder you need, and then select Include in library … Continue reading

Should You Use the Inbuilt NTFS File Compression System in Windows? by Kelly Lynn

  All versions of Windows since 3.1 in 1993 store information in a format called NTFS. Not only does this format offer better security and convenience over the systems that it replaces, it offers a convenient space-saving feature that isn't used nearly as often as it should be: NTFS has inbuilt file compression. When you use NTFS file compression, you get to save on disk space and get access to your files quickly without going through a file expansion step. The downside to using NTFS file compression While the NTFS file compression system offers on-the-fly expansion when you need to access your files, it does require considerable CPU power to offer a seamless experience. If your CPU isn't well-enough specified, you could experience slowdowns. With most modern CPUs, though, slowdowns … Continue reading

You Have Antivirus. How Do You Know That It Works? by Kelly Lynn

  If you have antivirus software and firewalls on your system, you may feel safe in the knowledge that you've done your part. How do you know, though, if all your security actually works? What if it simply stops working one day, and you never realize it? It's usually a good idea to actually test your software for effectiveness. Here's how you do it. Test your antivirus While willfully getting your system infected with a virus could help you see if your antivirus still does any good, it's hardly advisable. To help you test your antivirus without risking your system, you need to make use of a fake virus. EICAR, t he European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research, has just the thing you need. You simply need to go to … Continue reading

Creating Your Own Portable Software by Kelly Lynn

  If you often need to access computers that belong to other people or other offices, you may have a hard time working the way you need to -- you may not have access to the programs you usually have. Google tries to make working on multiple computers simpler by automatically bringing your browsing history and bookmarks to any installation of Chrome when you sign in. You also have Google Docs. For other programs, though, you're usually on your own. Carrying the software you need with you as you move from one computer to another may seem like an option. The problem with this approach is that you wouldn't usually be able to install your programs on someone else's computer. It would also take time. The right approach to this … Continue reading

Love an Icon You See? Here’s How You Grab It by Kelly Lynn

  The stock icons that come with many programs, file types and shortcuts are often pretty enough to make you want to use them elsewhere. Before you use them, though, you need to learn how to extract them and save them. Then, you'll be able to assign them to represent a file or folder or use them anywhere else. Here's how you grab, save and reuse icons that you like. You need a special utility A quick search on the Internet easily brings up a number of icon grabbing tools. With most easily available tools, though, you are limited to small icons under 48×48 pixels. If you're interested in large, 256x256-pixel icons of the kind that you see in Windows 7 and Windows 8, you'll need a special tool that's … Continue reading