Category: Tech Tip

Tips on using computers, other technology and devices.


Tech Tip: Using Parental Controls in Windows

By Nathan Vidal,

Tech Tip Parental Controls

Parental Controls in Windows 7Not all content is appropriate for children. Some Windows versions provide built in parental controls while others don’t. You can enable parental control settings in Windows 7, 8 & Vista via the Control Panel. In Windows 10 you will have to use a third party tool.

Parental Controls in Windows 7 & Vista

In Windows 7, 8 & Vista you can restrict  access to the computer using  Parental Controls. This works by setting restrictions on a particular user account. Set up this account to restrict the times that it can log in. Apply restrictions to games based on their rating. Additionally, restrict access to only a specific programs.

Detailed instructions on setting up Parental Controls are available from this How-To Geek article. Apply these settings via the Control Panel in the User Accounts and Family Safety category. The wording may be different in Windows 8 but the procedure is similar.

Please note that while this method may be useful it is by no means a fool-proof method of protecting your children. It is user account specific. Furthermore, tech savvy children may find ways to bypass this entirely.

Parental Controls  in Windows 10

While the Parental Control settings available in earlier versions of Windows were removed in Windows 10, there are still options. A comprehensive list of parental control apps compiled by Comparitech provides a list of viable options. Some are free while others are not. Compare the features offered to your needs.

References

How To Use Parental Controls in Windows 7 (How-To Geek, 2010)

The Best Parental Control Software and Apps of 2017 (Comparitech, 2017)

 

 

Tech Tip: Monitor System Resources

By Nathan Vidal,

Tech Tip: Resource Monitor

Resource Monitor IconIt’s useful to find out what is using up your computer’s system resources  out of curiosity or when you are troubleshooting a problem. This can reveal the programs that are memory hogs or indicate when a hardware upgrade may be necessary. On Windows there is an easy way to monitor your memory, CPU, network and disk activity using the Resource Monitor.

To open the Resource Monitor:

  • Open the Task Manager (Ctrl+ Shift+ Esc or right click taskbar then click Start Task Manager)
  • Click on Performance tab
  • Click Resource Monitor… button at the bottom of the window.

References

How to Use Resource Monitor (PC World, 2011)

Tech Tip: Mark unwanted emails as junk

By Nathan Vidal,

Mark mail as junk

Email SpamEmails are a convenient form of communication but unsolicited emails can distract as well as offend email users. Besides cluttering your inbox, spam can link to malicious websites or scam offers aimed at enticing you to give up your financial information. While most email providers try to filter out junk mail, occasionally some creep through the cracks. You can however mark emails as junk manually on both webmail and standalone email clients such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird.

Why mark unwanted emails as junk

Why bother marking emails as junk mail rather than just deleting them? Manually marking junk mail in your inbox helps your email provider or email client to learn the types of messages that you consider junk. This will help these messages to be filtered better and sent directly to your Junk Mail or Spam folders – bypassing your inbox in the future.

How to mark unwanted emails as junk

There are different ways to mark a message as junk based on the program or website you are using. You can usually right click on the email title and select the menu item to Mark as Junk or Report Spam. It is also possible to mark an email as junk after you have opened it. There is usually an option at the top of the email window to do so together with other options such as Reply or Delete.

 

 

Tech Tip: Manage Context Menus with CCleaner

By Nathan Vidal,

Tech Tip: MAnage Context Menus with CCleaner

CCleaner logoContext menus are those handy menus that pop up when you right click on Windows or control-click on a Mac. The content of these menus are specific to the area that is clicked and programs you install may modify the menu items that pop up in the context menu. While this might be useful, your context menu may become cluttered with menu items you do not use or no longer need. You can use CCleaner to help manage your context menu by deleting or disabling menu items.

  1. Download the free version of  CCleaner and install it
  2. Start CCleaner and click on the Tools tab
  3. From the Tools area choose the Startup menu
  4. In the top tabs select the Context Menu tab
  5. Select the context menu item you want to modify
  6. Use the buttons on the left to Enable, Disable or Delete the context menu item

Tech Tip: Time Tracking with Toggl

By Nathan Vidal,

Tech Tip: Toggl

Toggl IconKeeping track of time spent on projects is useful if you charge clients by the hour or simply want to measure your productivity. You want your system of time tracking to be both accurate and easy to use – allowing you to go ‘off the clock’ when personal interruptions occur or you just need a break. We have already given the run down on using Yast to track time spent on projects, but you can also use another service called Toggl.

Toggl has a very simple interface where you can describe the task, select the project it falls under and even associate the project with  a client. You can start using Toggl as soon as you log in or set up your projects, clients and team before you start using the web application. You can also download the Toggl Desktop app for either Windows or Mac to use the time management features without having to use the Toggl website.

Toggl Interface

Toggl user interface

Although Toggl is free you can purchase a subscription to access additional features so you can set your billable rate, set a bigger team size and view rounding and decimal figures in reports.

Tech Tip: Check when you last restarted Windows

By Nathan Vidal,

Tech Tip: Find Uptime

Tech Tip: UptimeIf you keep your PC on for long periods or make it hibernate instead of shut down you may lose track of when last you restarted Windows. If you are curious and want to know when last Windows was restarted you can do so using the command line.

  1. Press Windows Key  + R to open the run dialog box
  2. Type cmd and press Enter
  3. In the command line type net stats srv and press Enter
  4. The line that starts “Statistics since” will indicate the last time Windows was restarted

References

How to find Windows uptime? – Microsoft Support

Tech Tip: Use Two Factor Authentication for more secure logins

By Nathan Vidal,

2 Factor Authentication

Two Factor AuthenticationTwo factor authentication is a form of multi-factor authentication that requires two distinct forms of identification before a user is granted access to something. Banks require an ATM card in addition to a specific pin before allowing customers access to their accounts at the ATM. Some websites also offer the option of using  multi-factor authentication  to log in and access your account. One of the most common forms of  login via two factor authentication involves using a password and a  code sent to a phone via SMS.

If you are concerned about your passwords ever being stolen or someone guessing what it is you can use two factor authentication as an added layer of security. This is especially important for banking and other financial sites where monetary damages can be caused by a malicious user with access to your account. You can find out if the service you use supports two factor authentication by checking this list. If the service you use supports two factor authentication you may have to activate it in the service’s settings.

 

References

Multi-factor Authentication
Two Factor Auth (2FA)

Tech Tip: Use browser history to find forgotten websites

By Nathan Vidal,

Tech Tip: Use browser history

Tech Tip: Use HistoryHave you ever wanted to visit a site that you recently visited but could  not remember the address and did not bookmark it or add it to your favorites? It may have been an interesting article you ran across in a rush or an ad for a product you have been interested in for a long time. You may want to search for the website but if you cannot remember enough details this may be a difficult task. A better option may be to search your history for the previous website. If you know when you were on the page you can narrow down your search even more. Here is how you access your history in various browsers:

Google Chrome

  • Press Ctrl+H to open your History or
  • Type chrome://history in the address bar (omnibox) and press Enter or
  • Click on the Customize Menu button  in the toolbar then click on History

Mozilla Firefox

  • Press Ctrl + H to open your History in the sidebar
  • Click on the Menu button and click on the History button

Internet Explorer

  •  Press Ctrl + H to open your History in the sidebar
  • Click on the Favorites button in the toolbar then choose the History tab in the sidebar

Tech Tip: Add album art to your digital music files

By Nathan Vidal,

Album Art

Album art may seem trivial to some but these pictures add life and colour to a digital music collection. Modern media players can display this album art while the song is playing and some can even download the correct album art for you. If you pay a lot of attention to your music library or are a musician/artist you may want to manually add album art to your music files. Artists can benefit from including album art in their songs since it helps promote their album or single. It provides a visual representation of who or what the song is about and indicates a certain level of professionalism.

Adding Album Art in iTunes

  1. Right click on the song/songs you would like to add album art to.
  2. Click on Get Info.
  3. Click the Artwork button
  4. Click the Add Artwork button

Album Art in iTunes

Adding Album Art in Windows Media Player

  1. Find the image you would like to use as album art and copy it
  2. Go to album view in your Windows Media Player Library
  3. Right click on the album cover you would like to change
  4. Click Paste album art

Album Art: Windows Media Player

 

For more information on adding album art to your music files, including specific programs you can use, check out this article from Richard Farrar – Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files.

References:

Add or change album art in Windows Media Player

Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files

 

 

Tech Tip: qBittorrent – a minimalist BitTorrent client

By Nathan Vidal,

QBittorent Screenshot

qBittorent logoBitTorrent is a popular method of peer-to-peer filesharing that allows you to download a single file from multiple sources. This is great for downloading large files since downloads can be paused and resumed. Torrents also help reduce the load on servers since files are downloaded from other peers rather than from a single website.

In order to download files via BitTorrent you need a BitTorrent client that acts as a download manager for torrents. qBittorent is a simple client that is similar to another lightweight and popular BitTorrent client – µTorrent . qBittorent is however touted for not including “bloat” or unnecessary features that other clients may provide out of the box. If you are looking for a small but useful BitTorrent client you can download qBittorrent for Windows or Mac.