Monthly Archives: January 2015

Faster Computing: Startup Programs

Since it’s still early in the year, we’re continuing our journey into making your computer run faster, smoother, and just happier in general.

Today we’re talking about the programs that load when you start your computer.sexy cowgirl


 Psst. Computer savvy people. This might bore you. Come back later, but… y’all come back now, ya’ hear?


There are a lot…a lot…of program downloads that stick a command to start their program when your computer boots. Why? Good question.

Many of the programs that start when your computer boots up are unnecessary. You already have designated default programs that open automatically to view photos, listen to music, read manuals, and more. We’ll talk more about setting default programs in another blog.


TERMINOLOGY: Boot, bootup or booting is a fancy word for starting a computer. Reboot means restarting a computer.

Remember when the tech people told you to reboot your computer to boot computercorrect a problem? Restarting a computer behaving badly and not playing nice will reload programs completely as well as the OS’s (Operating Systems like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, etc.). Many times this fixes any command-line that hasn’t loaded quite right.

Computer programs have thousands of command-lines, and each command-line has to sync with one another for your programs to work perfectly. Sometimes command-lines don’t load correctly. Often this doesn’t cause a problem; a few times it does.

FYI: Don’t confuse a first-time program download and install with a reboot or reload of a program already saved to your computer’s hard drive. Two different creatures.


Why limit programs that load at startup?

Full boots take time because along with starting your OS, your computer usually starts many other programs as well.

Non-operating system programs booting at startup are normally iTunes (just in case you decide to listen to music), Adobe Reader (in case you want to open a program with Reader), Skype (in case someone wants to chat with you), and others. None of these are necessary, but some you definitely want to boot at startup, like your anti-virus and spyware/adware programs. That’s so our computers are protected continuously.

timeEach program booted at startup adds seconds, sometimes many, to your computer’s boot up time. What? You think a few seconds is no big deal. Um, take those seconds times thirty programs. You’re talking about taking minutes off your computing adventure.

Boot time might not be a problem if you remember to turn on your computer before you get that first cup of coffee. But many of us 1) aren’t that organized, or 2) don’t have patience to wait 3-5 minutes for a computer to boot. I fall into category two.


TIP: Computers don’t always need a full boot. That’s why we have “sleep” and “hibernate” options.


Why tweak startup programs?

Many programs tell your computer to run them, or keep them on standby in the background, when your computer starts up. This feature is designed into the commands downloaded with the program.

LagThere’s a couple of reasons you might wish to limit how many programs boot at startup. You already know about the time factor. There’s also added lag in computer response time when programs run in the background.

To stop the programs you don’t really need from starting at bootup, you must manually disable them. Enough idle chat. It’s time to learn.

Setting Your Startup Programs

The place where we adjust startup programs changed in Windows 8. In Windows 7 and before, we use the msconfig command. In Windows 8, we can still use this command, but we get a lovely message along with a link directing us to our Task Manager.

Windows 7 and Before:

1) Type msconfig into your Run area.

You remember the Run area. It looks like this on Windows 7 or before.
You find it by clicking the Start menu icon.Win 7 Run

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

windows key You can also get to a Run command area by depressing your Windows key + R (for Run). Remember the Windows key?  →

2) The msconfig command opens on the General tab. Click the Startup tab.

Your Startup will look like this except you’ll probably have many more programs. Yes, it could be a mess. This is a clean install of Windows 7.
Win 7 msconfig

 

Under the Startup Tab, click 3) Disable All. It’s okay, we’re going to re-enable our anti-virus, spyware battlers, etc. next.

Now 4) check the boxes of the programs you want to run at Startup. These should be your anti-virus, ad blockers, and anything you like to have open continuously.

Click 5) Apply, then 6) OK.

In Windows 8:

Go to Task Manager. You can get there from the link at msconfig, or you can depress all these keys at once: Alt+Ctrl+Del.

You think there are other ways to get to where we want to go? You’re right. At least another two or three, but today let’s just use one of the two I mentioned above.

Here’s what my Startup looks like in Windows 8. To change program startup I have two options.

Either 1) highlight the program I’m adjusting, then click the Enable or Disable button on the bottom right,

or

2) Right-click on the program name, then click Enable/Disable in the dropdown menu.

Task Mgr StartUp-Disable or Enable

Notice I leave some programs enabled because I want them available after start up, like Skype and my weather program.


 NOTE: If you don’t know what a command in Startup does, google it. See hkcmd module in mine above? This enable my hotkeys at startup. I use hotkeys so I leave them enabled. I might be able to still use them even if the command was disabled, but I don’t really feel like messing with it. Yes, if I disable something I need, I can simply come back here and re-enable it at any time.


In Windows 8, restarting your computer isn’t needed for the new settings to take effect.

In Windows 7? Honestly, I don’t remember. If you receive a prompt to restart your computer, you can restart it right way, or do what I’d do—wait until I need to shut down for some other reason. The system will remember my changes.

Put the extra minutes you’ve just found to good use. Have a great week, and thanks for following Patti’s Pathways 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.


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To Shred or Not to Shred

shredded paperWe’ve just started a new year. Now is a great time to sort and shred miscellaneous documents and bills you won’t need any longer.

The big question is what needs shredded versus what can be safely recycled?

Psst. Notice I said recycle and not pitch in the garbage bin. Learn from that. *wink* Recycling is easier than ever.

WHAT CAN SAFELY BE RECYCLE WITHOUT SHREDDING

There’s a lot of things that you can simply recycle without the need to shred. Some of the most common are:

  • Any, and all, junk mail that aren’t credit card solicitations.
  • Miscellaneous charity soliticitations.
  • Old utility bills.
  • Receipts from your credit card with all but the last four digits X’d out.
  • The body of a letter.
  • All envelopes.

I tear off and shred the top one-third of letters and bills envelopesif it contains my name and address, particularly if it’s a notice from a financial or investment institute. I don’t want people sifting through my papers knowing where I have accounts. If it’s a standard letter, anyone can get that information from the phone book so I feel it’s not as necessary.


TIP: I don’t have a shred box at my desk, but I do haveshred box a To Shred folder and a recycle paper box. When my To Shred folder gets too full, it goes to the shredder, then usually to the recycle bin where it awaits Recycle Day.


WHAT SHOULD BE SHREDDED:

  • Any portion of a financial statement containing your name, social security number, or account information.
  • Pre-filled credit card solicitations. You know the ones. You get these a couple of times a week.

FYI: Always write “Void” across any credit card application you’re mailing back to request removal from a mailing list.

  • Prescription receipts. Being the paranoid kind of person I am, I shred these. People don’t need to know what drugs my family or I have paid for or been prescribed. I’ve done this for years, and when HIPAA came out I felt vindicated.
  • Anything with your full credit card number.

When recycling shredded paper, check with your recycle center on how they’d like you to send it. Mine asks it be in a separate bag.


TIP: If you own a business, organize your own Recycle symbolRecycle Day. Have all department staff—essential staff can also pitch in until they’re required to answer the phone or help a customer—sort files. If you have too many documents for in-house shredding, there are reputable shredding services. Consult your Better Business Bureau and hire one.


WHEN TO SHRED:

I struggle with when to shred as much as what. The State of Washington’s Attorney General site has super info on why, what, and when to shred at What to Shred.


TIP: I have a printed copy of retention guidelines taped to the front of my To File folder, and another copy in the front of my filing cabinet.


Last Thoughts on Records:

If you’re interested in what to receive digitally in our paper-free computer society, here’s a great article at Kiplinger.com.

If you have questions about record retention for tax purposes, visit irs.gov and search recordkeeping.


I hope you’ve learned something new or gotten new ideas.

Have a great week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.


Food Additives and Preservatives

I’m straying far from my computer how-to genre this week. Bear with me. It’s for your own good. Yes, I do sound like your mother. But, it’s a new year, and a great time to think about your health.


1950's Family DinnerFifty years ago, there was no need to worry about what was in our food. Much of the food came from nearby farms or cities, plus not many  preservatives or additives were used.

Go into any grocery store today and find a package of your favorite food with less than three to five ingredients you can’t pronounce. Tough, isn’t it?

Never fear. Even though we’ve got a long way to go, things are getting better due to vigilant purchasers refusing to buy unhealthy foods for themselves and their families.

I’ve been researching food additives and preservatives for years. You’d be amazed at how food additives can affect our health. Sometimes in ways we can’t fathom. Check out my blog Tourette’s Syndrome and the Effect of Sweeteners.

TIP: If you or a family member has reactions that seem to be unexplainable (headaches, emotional and anger issues, attention problems, and more), research foods. Someone else has probably dealt with the same thing. If you can’t find anything helpful, it’s time to be your own detective by watching foods ingested two to six hours before the onset of symptoms.

I’ve been told my diligence in avoiding certain additives and preservatives is over-cautious, but I plan to live a long, productive life so over-cautious works for me.

In this blog, I’m only providing information. You’ll need to come to your own conclusions, and weigh how much effort you want to put into researching the food you buy.


food label readWhy do I care what’s in the foods I buy?

1) Many additives and preservatives used in the United States are  banned in Europe. Think about that one.

Why? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me since they have social medicine, their governments don’t want to pay for treatments of cancers caused by foods.

2) It is proven certain additives and preservatives adversely affect behavior in children. If these make such a difference in how children act, can they be healthy for the general public?


I’ve come to the determination you can’t stay away from every additive and preservative. Because they’re in nearly every food around us—I do shop my organic grocers often—it makes the most sense for me to focus on those suspected of causing cancer.

Researchers code additives and preservatives as H = hyperactivity, A = asthma, and C = cancer. We’re going to worry about the C’s today.

Yes, I’ve heard laboratory tests use concentrated dosages of a substance to incite cancer growth. Do I care? No. Why? Studies show the effect of the H (hyperactivity) and the A (asthma) on people in normal dosages. Can the C (cancer) be far behind?

cellI’ve also heard everyone has cancer cells in their bodies, some people just don’t battle them effectively. That’s not true. We all have damaged cells, not cancer cells. Our cells police themselves. If a cell is too damaged it will either repair or kill itself.

Jennifer Loros, Ph.D, a professor of biochemistry and genetics at Dartmouth medical school says, “Everyone has cells that have mutant proteins from DNA damage, but to say that that’s cancer would be alarmist.” She also says, “Cancer can occur when the normal checkpoints in the cell cycle are misregulated somehow and the [damaged] cell starts dividing.”


Today’s Computer Tip:  Aren’t you happy there’s one in this blog?

You can easily search the internet for additives and preservatives that trigger H (hyperactivity) and A‘s (asthma). Copy and paste a table list into a database program like MS Excel. Then you can sort your data. I sorted mine by “C”.

FYI: European labels note their preservatives using numbers so don’t be confused with this in your web searches. Most lists are sorted by number.
Europe rating


I’ve included a printable list for your wallet at the end of this blog with my recommendations, but here’s what I’ve found on additives and preservatives.

  • All added colors, except caramel and greens, have caused cancers in the laboratories.

I know. It’s nearly impossible to stay away from colorings. Just be aware that food producers are starting to use natural colorings, like turmeric. And there are some products you can buy  now without colorings; I’m specifically thinking of Gatorade’s line of clear drinks.

  • Be aware of the below C causing additives and preservatives and try to avoid them.

Aluminum, BHT/BHA, benzoic acid, biphenol/diphenol, camauba wax, carrageenan, chlorine/chlorine dioxide, cyclamic acid/cyclamate, formic acid, magnesium sulphate, orthophenyl phenol, polysorbate, polyxyl/polyxyethylene stearate, potassium acesulphame, potassium bromate, propyl gallate, insoluble polyvinylpyrrolidone (wine, beer, pharmaceuticals), saccharine, and talc.

  • Stay away from all polysorbates, (other sorbates are not C’s), nitrites, and nitrates. They’re all C’s.

NOTE: I found after this article was published potassium sorbate and calcium sorbate are preservatives which are H’s and A’s, but not C’s. However, all polysorbates are C’s. I’ve updated the wallet cheat sheet below.

  • Be aware that chewing gums use petroleum jelly, white mineral oil, and paraffin, which are C’s.

Notice I haven’t list MSG? Why?

NO MSGResearch is divided on MSG. It’s definitely an H and an A, but researchers are split on the C.

What do I do? I steer clear of MSG. If I purchase a product with it by mistake, I don’t freak. No one in my family gets headaches or other immediately hazardous reactions.

In the USA, food manufacturers hide MSG on labels due to the bad press it received.

  • MSG is currently hidden in lists as natural flavors, yeast extracts, hydrolyzed proteins, glutamic acid and caseinate.

Another giveaway are the flavor enhancers disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate. In themselves, they aren’t dangerous, but they are almost always exclusively used with MSG since they themselves do nothing for flavor.

If a label says No MSG, it’s safe from MSG.


dairyOn a side note, I’m dairy intolerant so I carry a second list. Dairy intolerance is different from lactose intolerance. Lactose is specifically milk related; dairy is dairy related.

Hidden Food Label Dairy Ingredients:
*Casein/casinates * Hydrolysates *Lactalbumin/lactoglobulin/lactitol momhydrate *Nisin preparation * Nougat * Quark * Recaldent * Rennet * Simplesse * Whey *
May have milk: *Artificial flavorings * Caramel flavoring * High protein flour * rice cheese * soy cheese *

NOTE: If a label says Vegan or Dairy-free, it’s safe. If it says Non-dairy, it’s usually not. Non-dairy means no milk, but they frequently use dairy proteins as preservatives.

I’m blessed to not go into anaphylaxis. If I eat a bit of dairy, I get normal allergy symptoms: stuffy nose, watery eyes, headache, and itching of my nose plus other places people do not want to see me scratch. If I eat a lot of dairy, my muscles and joints ache as if I have a virus. Milk or dairy is poison to the body that can’t tolerate it.


I hope this post has given you information to make good food choices. Have a safe week, and thanks again for visiting Patti’s Pathways 😀


Wallet Cheat Sheet:
Note: If the back “Don’t cause cancer” says “other” in front, this means there’s at least one additive listed on the front with a similar name that does cause cancer.
additive cheat sheet

 

 

 

 


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. On any health related blogs, I am merely giving advice that seems logical to me after research and investigation. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any medical degrees or certificates related to nutrition, psychological, pharmaceutical, or medical health.


Creating the Safest Passwords Revisited

2015 fire crackersYep. It’s that time of year again. The time of year for New Year’s resolutions.

One of yours should include safe computing. In today’s blog, we’re revisiting the creation of safe passwords. I have some great tips to make your password names more secure, and how to make remembering all those pesky passwords easier. Click the link below to learn more.

Creating the Safest Passwords


Have a safe and productive week, and thanks again for visiting Patti’s Pathways. 😀