New Year, Clean PC

Over the course of a year your computer undoubtedly suffers wear and tear from use, and there aren’t many better ways to start off the new year than to clean it up so it runs at peak performance! Step 1: Back-up As reliable and useful as they are, computers are not infallible, and they do break down. Backing up information and data prepares you for any catastrophe so that you lose a minimal amount of work in the event that your system fails. Windows has a back-up manager included, and many more can be found online. Step 2: Monitor Machine Health The hard drive is the hardest working part of a computer, and while each part has an important function to the performance of the machine, the hard drive is probably the most important. Using both a physical health scanner (a SMART subsystem) and a logical health scanner, which is the chkdsk process on Windows machines, you can evaluate whether or not your hard drive needs to be retired. Step 3: Patching/Updating Software Despite the fact we will never have a perfect computer, we continue to make our systems and programs better, and for both security and performance reasons, it’s wise to update your files often. Now, for some people (AKA myself) you do this every day. But not everyone has that much time on their hands. But automating the process can also mean inconvenient system reboots, so it is best to set aside time to do it all at once every so often, or just update your files as you need to access them. Most update histories for programs...

Cortana Tricks

Ever since she was introduced, Apple’s Siri has been the best known mobile device AI. From answering basic questions to being able to give accurate destinations, along with having access to every app on your device, Siri is the multipurpose tool that does your work for you at a simple command. Because of this, it’s no surprise that Microsoft wanted to do something similar. Affectionately named after Master Chief’s AI from Halo, Cortana has many of the capabilities of Siri and some, and with access to the web, there isn’t much that she can’t do. Here are some helpful and even fun tips and tricks you can use with Cortana. -She can open Windows apps and even some applications on command -On PC (running on Windows 10) she will respond to the phrase “Hey, Cortana” without you needing to touch your keyboard! This is imperfect, however, as she will often hear that in other statements and open the Cortana window, minimizing whatever it is that you are doing at the time. -If she does not have an answer, she will immediately open your browser and Bing (yes, it is regrettably not Google) your statement or question for you -If you tell her to, “Beam me up, Scotty” she will respond with a variety of Star Trek related lines. -If you ask her about Bill Gates or Steve Jobs she will give responses like “He’s like a father to me” or (my personal favorite) when you ask her to compare the two she will say “That is like comparing Apples to Windows!” And many more! ~Chris Watson, Technical...

Creating Your Own Macros

  Creating Your Own Macros I like being productive. To me, it’s honestly one of the most satisfying feelings that I can describe. Although, I don’t know if you feel the same way about productivity as I do. Keyboard shortcuts (also known as macros) are one of the many ways that I can make myself more productive. It may sound a little crazy, but if a macro can save me as little as 2 seconds every time that I use it, I would gladly spend the 5 minutes that it takes to create it. A couple of weeks ago, I made a .pdf file that contained all of the macros that are available by default on Windows computers. You can see that post here. Today, I will be showing you my favorite program for creating your very own customizable macros. A word of caution however, if you do not enjoy the thought of having to program something yourself, then this may not end up being very enjoyable. The program that I use for my macros is called Auto Hotkey (AHK). AHK is a 100% free program that can create macros and it can even detect what you are typing. For example, I could create a macro that sends an email with a preset message with one keystroke. Another example, if I were to type the letters “btw” I could make a small program that expands those three letters to “by the way” without even having to press a button. Pretty cool isn’t it? How do you obtain this software? Just click here to download the program. Install it after...

The Rules of Rebooting/Shutting Down Your PC

Something I’ve noticed about a lot of end user’s is that they never turn off their PC, let alone restart it. Whether this is out of fear that it won’t reboot, or simply out of laziness, I do not know, but it is not healthy for the machine. Think of it this way: a human needs sleep to be able to function and think well. The less sleep you get, the less functional you are, and if you go days/weeks without sleeping, your mind becomes a complete mess. The brain is a lot like a biological computer, so if it needs rest, why wouldn’t your mechanical computer? A fresh restart a day is a good place to start, and then a complete shut down for every night isn’t a bad move either. You see, restart and shutdown are two very different things. Shut down is not to be confused with sleeping/hibernating. If you close your laptop, IT IS NOT SHUT OFF. To shutdown your PC, go into the Start menu, go to power, and select shut down. If the computer is frozen due to a virus or a crash, hold the physical power button for a few seconds to do a hard shut down, but only due this in EXTREME circumstances as a last resort. Sleeping/hibernating causes it to use minimal power but keeps it running for a faster start-up, while shutdown turns it off completely, causing it to use no power, and deals with issues such as overheating and hardware stress. But it doesn’t fix all problems. With Windows 10 especially, I’ve noticed that the longer your machine...

How to Speed Up Your Computer

How to Speed Up Your Computer Your computer has felt bogged down recently. It takes a few minutes to launch Windows, after your computer has already booted, it takes several more minutes to actually open up the programs that you want to use. Or, maybe your games don’t seem to be running as fast as they did when you first installed them. In this post, I’m going to offer 8 tips that could help speed up your computer. As we get farther into the list I’ll slowly start offering more advanced options for you to use. If are already proficient in the use of computers, you may already know a few of these tactics but you may be pleasantly surprised if you just go through the list. Uninstalling programs The first thing that you would want to look into is uninstalling unnecessary software from your computer. If you are on a Windows machine, you can reach the uninstall utility this way. Open your start menu. In your search bar, type “Uninstall”. Click “Uninstall a program” from the list that appears. (Note: You may see other programs labeled “Uninstall” do not click these, you don’t know what program it might uninstall.) Once the Uninstall utility is open, right-click and select uninstall on all the programs that you want to uninstall. (Note: Please make sure that you know what each program that you are uninstalling does, you don’t want to randomly uninstall a crucial program.) Done. Cleanup Your Disk Another option that you have is to run Window’s Disk Cleanup Utility. When you use a program, it creates temporary files that do not get deleted after you close the program. As...