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Aug 31, 2010

Fix Internet Explorer 8's Crashes

Browser crashes can be tough to troubleshoot--especially when you don't provide information about your PC, operating system, and so on. (ahem). That's something everyone should remember when asking for help with system problems: the more details you can provide, the better.

The smart short-term workaround for any browser problem: try another browser.

Anyway, you've got two likely culprits here: a corrupted add-on or a bad Flash plug-in. I suspect the latter, so let's start with that.

Aug 28, 2010

Never Open Your Power Supply

A friend of mine opened his PC's power supply to clean it. Now it doesn't work.

Power supply units (PSUs) aren't really meant to be opened and messed with on the inside. Most likely you accidentally broke something or put it together wrong.

Since you've already done the deed, you might as well try it again to make sure nothing is broken or out-of-place. Pay particular attention to dull-colored, cold solder connections, to see if they're damaged.

Aug 25, 2010

How To Save Your MP3s

A friend of mine asked for the safest possible way to protect his large mp3 collection. I have a huge database of mp3s as well so I decided to share with you some of the ways to be able to do this.

If you really don't want to rip all of your CDs again (or re-download them from the digital store), I'm going to recommend a multi-prong approach:

1) Keep them on your internal hard drive. Not only will they be convenient for listening, but they'll move to your next computer along with the rest of your data.

Aug 21, 2010

Fill Out Forms Faster with Tab Key

The other day I spotted something that made my eyes hurt. A woman was filling out a lengthy Web form. After she'd complete one field, she'd reach for her mouse, find the cursor, carefully click inside the next field, and type more data. Then she'd repeat the entire process.

As I mentioned a couple years back when I first mentioned this tip, I continue to be amazed by how many people don't know the faster, easier way to navigate Web forms: with the Tab key.

Aug 18, 2010

Is It Okay To Work During a Windows Update?

Windows Update explicitly says that you can go on working while updating. I do it, and have yet to run into problems I could connect to this habit. The simple truth is that the serious part of the update, where your system files are changed, happens later with the reboot.

Which isn't to say that there aren't some jobs you should probably avoid at that time. Defragging isn't a good idea while an update is going on. I'd also avoid installing or uninstalling an application.

The worst part of the update experience (assuming the update itself doesn't do more harm than good), is the message popping up asking for a reboot. Luckily, you can put off the actual reboot until it's convenient for you.

Aug 15, 2010

How To Sync Your Google Calendar with Outlook

Most of my calendar data lives in Outlook. Not by choice, mind you, but because that's just where it has accumulated over the years.

I'd rather use Google Calendar, which is more versatile and less, well, Outlooky. Just one problem: how do I move my data from the latter to the former? And, just as important, how can I keep the two entities in sync?

Aug 12, 2010

General Failure When Clicking A Link In Outlook

So out of the blue today, I click a link embedded in an e-mail, and Outlook gives me this error:

General failure. The URL was: "" The system cannot find the file specified.

Oh, Outlook. If I had a nickel for every weird, random error you've produced over the years, I'd be sitting on a wheelbarrow full of nickels.  The "someURL" part is an example.

This is a known bug, and has been for years. It occurs when Firefox is your default browser and some glitch (or program) changes that default. Thankfully, there's a fairly easy fix, though it does involve monkeying around in the Registry.

Aug 9, 2010

Why You Should Give Windows 7 A Try

Microsoft has sold 150 million copies of Windows 7 in nine months--that is, seven copies per second. It's the fastest-selling operating system in history. Vista, by contrast, was such a flop that users couldn't wait to get rid of it.

Many consumers just got stuck with Vista because new PCs, for a while, were preloaded with it, and there were no other options. Some vendors still offered new, coveted systems with XP, for a lot more money. Yet, in the beginning, retailers even told consumers there was no way to uninstall Vista and reinstall XP.

What does the new operating system mean for the business community, especially all the little guys and mid-sized companies that can’t afford to make another hefty investment in a rotten lemon?

Aug 6, 2010

How To Make A File Open With The Correct Program

File Association
Windows can associate multiple programs with various file extensions (.docx, .jpg, and so on), with only one program being the default application--the one that opens when you double-click the file. Somehow, on your PC, Windows has the wrong program associated with that particular file type.

And believe me, you don't want your files associating with the wrong type of application.

Aug 3, 2010

Kid-Friendly Videos on the Internet

Kid Friendly Videos on the Internet
Calling all parents: YouTube is a mighty popular destination for kids, but not all the content there is kid-appropriate.

Send your toddlers and tweens to Kideos instead . The site serves up thousands upon thousands of child-friendly videos, from Animaniacs to Pixar shorts to Sesame Street to Word Girl.

All you do is click an age group (0-2, 3-4, 5-6, etc.), then choose a "featured video" to watch or click into any of the dozens of available "channels." There's also a search option, natch.