Tag Archives: Windows 8

7 Tips for Living with Windows 8

imageIt’s different. We know. We hear so many people say, “I just don’t get along with Windows 8.” But, honestly, the different stuff is just an outer shell. With just a few tweaks, you’ll think you’re using Windows 7. Here’s the tips:

  1. Make sure you’ve updated to Windows 8.1. You’ll know you have if you see the icons for power and search in the upper right corner of your Start screen.image If you haven’t installed it, you’ll probably see a tile on your Start Screen to do so, or here are the Microsoft instructions for manually installing Windows 8.1.
  2. Learn to Search! No need to be frustrated because you don’t know where things are, just search. From your Start Screen (the tiles) just start typing! Notice that there is no text field anywhere in sight, so, if you do start typing, Windows understands that you’re looking for something. If that doesn’t make sense, you can also click the new magnifying glass icon in the upper right.
    1. Wondering how to change your mouse settings? Just type mouse and you’ll see a list of results.
    2. Want to use PIcasa, but don’t see an icon or tile for it? Just type Picasa and it will come up on a list.
    3. Want to change your background wallpaper? Just type wallpaper and you’ll see a link to “Change the Desktop Background”
  3. Shutdown and Restart no longer require you to use those silly “Charms” at the right side. You can now use the power icon in the upper right. Better yet, you will now see a Start Button (the Windows logo) in the lower left corner – right where it belongs! If you right-click on that button, you will see  Shutdown or Sign Out, as well as many other system level options.
  4. Learn the Windows key. On your keyboard there is a key with the Windows logo on it. Pressing that key will always take you to the main Start Screen. Pressing it again will close that start screen, taking you back from whence you came.
  5. Use the Desktop. From your main Start Screen you will see a Tile with the label Desktop on it. If you click that, you’re looking at something that is just like Windows 7. This is where you want to live! It’s familiar.
    • You’ll see the familiar Task Bar at the bottom with a Start button, Folder icon for Windows Explorer, and the familiar Systray at the right with the Date, Time, Sound control, and Wi-Fi control.
  6. One disconcerting thing about Windows 8 Apps was that you could see no way to get out. Gone was the familiar red X in the upper right corner. 8.1 puts that back! But you may not see it at first because you need to move your mouse up to that corner for it to appear.
  7. Make the Desktop home! With 8.1, there is a new option to boot to the Desktop rather than the Start Screen. When you see your taskbar, right-click on it and choose Properties, then click on the Navigation tab. The setting outlined in red is the main one, but you may want to change the others as well.

Don’t go over your Internet Limits. Windows 8.1 Wi-Fi Tools can help.

Like water and electricity, Internet usage may be metered.
Like water and electricity, Internet usage may be metered.

Many travelers use their cellular devices as Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we have smartphones with a Verizon Data Plan for Internet access. We turn a phone into a hotspot and connect our computers’ Wi-Fi to that hotspot. When the computer is working on the Internet, it is consuming Internet resources from our Verizon Data Plan. Many other people have a mobile hotspot called a MiFi or a Jetpack that their computers connect to. These are also powered by a cellular contract for data (Internet usage.) If your cellular contract has data limits, Windows 8 refers to it as a “Metered” connection. That means it is not free and usage needs to be watched.

Everyone’s limits are different. You need to know what your cell provider contract specifies. Let’s say you have a 5 Gigabytes/month plan. If you download a 2 Gigabyte Windows update, and watch a 2 hour movie on Netflix, you’ve used up the majority of your plan – and you may only be 2 days into your month! If you go over your limits, there will probably be a charge. This also depends on your contract. Some mobile internet providers do not charge for overage, they throttle your connection, meaning they slow it way down.

Other Wi-Fi connections, like a free RV Park Wi-Fi hotspot, or a home network, may be unlimited. That would be considered an UNmetered connection to the Internet.

There are three things that Windows 8.1 can do for you:

  1. Track the amount of data (Internet usage) that is happening over a given connection
  2. Define a connection as metered or unmetered
  3. Limit the Internet usage when connected to a metered connection

The Connection

You can see your possible Wi-Fi network connections by clicking on the 5-bar Network icon in the task bar (bottom right.)


If you don’t see the taskbar, just move your mouse to the bottom of your screen and it will appear.

You will see something like this (with different names.)
In that list, MrGeek is the name of our smartphone’s hotspot. If you right click on the name, you’ll see:
Choose “Show estimated data usage” and the number of Gigabytes used will show up:
Click on “Set as metered connection” and special rules will now apply when this connection is in use.

Settings while using a Metered Connection

Updates: While connected to a metered connection, Windows Update will only download priority updates, not all updates.

Store: The Windows Store will pause downloading  apps — including updates for apps.

Start Screen: live tiles on your Start screen won’t update.

Search: Bing search will not automatically give search suggestions or web results

OneDrive Synchronizing: You can choose to allow (or not) OneDrive to upload and download files while using a metered connection. Open (or search for) your PC Settings->OneDrive->Metered Connections.

  • Upload and Download files over metered connections. Turn that OFF
  • Sync and backup settings over metered connections. Turn that OFF (although this uses less bandwidth and you may choose to leave it on)

Learn more about Wi-Fi and Mobile Internet

If you use Internet while you travel there is a lot to know. If you like using public Wi-Fi hotspots and want to learn how to get better results, we recommend the booklet from our friends at TechnoRV titled: Guide to Boosting your RV’s WiFi. It’s a quick read with plenty of pictures. You will understand a lot more of what’s involved in connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot so you can be an educated consumer. The booklet also details the 3 levels of solutions that TechnoRV sells. We know that they use everything they sell and they know what they’re talking about.

If you want to learn everything about mobile Internet – not just Wi-Fi, but cellular and satellite as well, check out our Technomadia friends. They are devoting themselves to keeping up with all the options and they have a website and a book focused on RV Mobile Internet. See RVMobileInternet.com

Backup! Backup! Backup!: Windows 8 Makes it Easy

Backing up your important data will give you peace of mind.

There are many strategies and tools to help you, many are fairly easy. Some are not. The backup tool from Microsoft was not very easy, until now. Most users simply didn’t back up.

Windows 8 has a goal of effortless backups. To do this, they created File History. It is a fully automated, set and forget archiving tool. The idea is to make it so easy that users would actually do it.

Former president of Microsoft’s Windows division Steven Sinofsky wrote this about File History in the July 10, 2012, "Building Windows 8" blog:

"File History is a backup application that continuously protects your personal files stored in Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts folders. It periodically (by default every hour) scans the file system for changes and copies changed files to another location. Every time any of your personal files has changed, its copy will be stored on a dedicated, external storage device selected by you. Over time, File History builds a complete history of changes made to any personal file."

First Step: You need a separate drive for File History

This will not work with CDs or DVDs, traditional backup media. It is best to have a large capacity external hard drive attached to the computer. I use a Western Digital 1TB External USB Hard Drive .

Just a few clicks to setup the default mode

There are several ways to start File History, you can use Search and type File History, or open Control Panel using the image+X menu and click System and Security/File History. It will show you the drives available or prompt you to install one. Here is a Win8 Support article, "Set up a drive for File History."

Once you’ve selected a compatible drive, click the “Turn on” button at the lower-right corner of the dialog box, and you’re done. It really is that easy to get File History up and running in default mode!

Including or Excluding folders to backup

If the default settings of backing up your Libraries (My Document, My Pictures etc.,) Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts isn’t enough, you can include any folder by adding the folder to your libraries. Here is the Libraries Tutorial for Windows 7. It works the same in Win8.
To exclude specific folders from the archive: Click the Exclude folders option below the “Select Drive” and add them in the dialog box.


Advanced Settings for more flexibility

This is where you choose settings for how often the system automatically saves your files. The default is every hour.

If the drive is not available, like when I take the Surface Pro away from home, File History will save the files in a temporary offline cache on the local C: drive, which you configure here.

You can choose how long to keep saved versions of your files, too. Forever is the default setting. You can remove old backup versions if you need to free up some disk space.


Using File History to Restore files and folders

A backup is no good unless you can restore your files. It is a good idea to do a test restore on a file to insure you are getting a good backup.
You you first open File History, you should see links along the left side (see first screenshot above.) When you click on the “Restore Personal Files” you get this screen:

The bottom blue arrows let you scroll through backup sets by date and time — older backups to the left, newer ones to the right. The round green button will restore any file or folder you select.
You navigate your backup sets just as you would in File Explorer — select a library or folder to see what is inside. File History will let you preview the contents of any backed-up document. Click the document and it opens, right within the File History applet.
When you’ve found and selected the file or folder you wish to restore, click the round green button; File History will then walk you through the process of restoring the selected file or folder to its original location or even a different location.

Because File History keeps so many backups, it can be difficult to find the file or version you want. It is usually easier to find the file you need the sooner you realize you need it.

Your computer will fail at some time. File History is a great new feature to make it easy to have a backup. If you are already using a different backup strategy, go ahead and continue doing that. If your files are important to you, Backup, Backup, Backup!

October 2012 Newsletter: TechnoGeek Learning Rally, Windows 8, Beautiful Pictures with Picasa, Google Custom Maps

Geeks on Tour

Catch-Up October

Geeks on Tour  Travels for October 2012After an extremely busy August and September, we had time to catch our breath, take a few naps, and do some sightseeing in October!  We stayed at some beautiful campgrounds in Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida.  We visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama – something that’s been on our to-do list for quite some time.

We stayed in the Hilton Head area for a  week and presented 2 seminars on smartphones, one for the Sun City Hilton Head Computer Club, and again for the Hilton Head Island Computer Club.

Our last night on the road was spent at the gorgeous Anastasia Island State Park in Florida.  Keep reading this newsletter and you’ll see some pretty nice pictures!  Oh … and you can click on the map to see the full web page of our travel map.  Then you can click on any of the little green tents to open up a dialog box that includes links to our personal blog about those places.

Calendar: Coming up in November/December

For more details, see our website Calendar.

New Seminars

We are constantly learning new things, so we add new seminars.  Al three of these new titles will be offered at the Good Sam rally in Daytona and, of course at our own TechnoGeek Rally on Dec 2-8.

  • Geeks on Tour: Using Technology to Plan, Preserve and Share Your Travels
    If you can only fit one of our seminars into your rally schedule, we wanted you to have an overview.  This seminar touches on all the devices, software and apps we use and how our videos can teach you more.
  • Trip Planning with MS Streets and Trips, Google Maps and Websites
    We used to cover Trip Planning and GPS Navigation in one seminar and it was too much, they are really two separate topics.
  • Picasa: Organizing your Pictures – a Seminar for Intermediate Users
    Picasa can do so much with your pictures, it does you no good if you don’t know where your pictures are!  This seminar teaches you tools and techniques for organizing, moving, locating, and generally managing your photo library using Picasa.

Forum Topics

The Q&A Forums on the Geeks on Tour website are a great place to discuss the topics we cover.  This is where we answer our members’ questions.  Anyone can read the forums, you need to be a member to post.   Here are some topics of interest:

  1. New laptop with most pictures on the external hard drive
  2. Getting a picture from a Facebook Album to My Pictures
  3. Relationship between Picasa and Windows
  4. Backing Up My Blog
  5. PDANet/FoxFi Secure?
  6. Anyone US Cellular provider/using FoxFi successfully?
  7. Droid Picture albums
  8. Adding a new POI database to MS Streets & Trips

TechnoGeek Learning Rally

TechnoGeekRallyYes! We’re doing it again.  Phil and Tracey from TechnoRV and Jim and Chris from Geeks on Tour are teaming up to deliver the most learning, the best food, and the most fun of any RV rally you can imagine.  Watch the video of the first TechnoGeek Learning Rally to see what I mean!

You will learn about cameras, computers, smartphones and more at this week-long event in Bushnell, Florida December 2-8.  See the Rally Page for all the details.

The rally registration fee includes 9 meals!  All homemade by Tracey and Phil – feast your eyes on this menu for the week.  We are limiting registrations to 35 RVs – Register Today!


“Going There?” or “Being There?”

Which do you like best about traveling?  The journey or the destination?  Read Chuck Woodbury’s thoughts on the subject and get a little insight why we think that RVing gives you the best of both!


Our Take on Windows 8

You’ll be hearing a lot about Windows 8 since it was launched on October 25.  We don’t want to deluge you with even more, but thought you might want our take on the topic.  When someone asks us “What do you think of Windows 8, should I get it?”  We have 4 points we think you should know:

Read the Article …

Pictures of Anastasia Island State Park in Florida

2012101It’s places like this that give me joy in using my good digital SLR camera, and then viewing and editing the pictures later in Picasa.  The picture of the two of us is of particular interest since we were all alone on this beach, and we didn’t have a tripod.  How did we get that picture?  The answer is at the bottom of this post. Anastasia Island is a Florida State park on the beach at St. Augustine.  We only stayed there one night, but we made our way to the beach at those all-important photography times of sunset and sunrise.  I can’t stop looking at these pictures and just feeling love for the world of beauty that we live in.  I took over 250 pictures!  With help from Picasa’s Side-by-Side editing feature, I chose the 49 best and then edited them so they look even better.

Read the Article …

Google Maps from the Web to Your Smartphone

Use your computer to mark places using Google Maps, and you’ll see them on your smartphone!  I love this feature of Google Maps – this is the appeal of ‘cloud computing.’  Use whatever device is most practical and see the results on any other device.

Let’s say I’m researching where to stay as we travel from Fort Lauderdale to Bowling Green, Kentucky.  I will use lots of different resources to do this: Streets and Trips with the POI Megafile is my first choice, then I’ll supplement that with websites for RV Park Reviews, Georgia State Parks, Passport America etc.  Google Maps may or may not be part of the tools we use to find places to stay, but it’s definitely a good idea to mark the places once we’ve made our decisions.

Read the Article …


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Our Take on Windows 8

win8You’ll be hearing a lot about Windows 8 since it was launched on October 25.  We don’t want to deluge you with even more, but thought you might want our take on the topic.  When someone asks us “What do you think of Windows 8, should I get it?”  We have 4 points we think you should know:

  1. No Need to Upgrade: If you’re happy with Windows 7 and your laptop computer, there is no need to upgrade.  There’s nothing in Windows 8 that is important for you to have.  When you get a new computer, get Windows 8 then.  To get the full experience of Windows 8, you want a touchscreen device.  Of course, if you like to be challenged and to play with the latest and greatest – go for it!  Windows 8 should run just fine on any computer that has been running Windows 7 well.  Here are Microsoft’s specs on upgrading to Windows 8.   My favorite new feature is how it is integrated with the Skydrive cloud.

  2. A Brand New World: The big deal about Windows 8 is that it combines the best of both worlds.  Right now you have your iPad or other tablet or your smartphone for comfortable browsing and emailing while sitting on the couch.  Then, you still need your trusty laptop for using Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and other Windows software like Quicken, Picasa, or Streets and Trips. The promise of Windows 8 is that it makes possible a touchscreen tablet that can also run your long-time trusted PC software.  Microsoft is betting on Windows 8 being a game-changer -  computers as we know them are gone.  Windows 8 opens the door for a whole new way of working with computers – where the big screen on your desk has the exact same software/apps as the tablet and smartphone.  We are excited about the possibility of a tablet that will run Microsoft Streets and Trips, so we could easily use it for navigation as well as trip planning.  But that day isn’t here yet – see #4.

  3. Expect a Learning Curve: Windows 8 is different.  You can’t just turn it on and start using it like with past versions of windows. There is no ‘Start’ button, you’ll need a lesson on how to get around.   It is two computers in one – a touchscreen, active tiles motif computer which feels like a smartphone or tablet complete with special apps.  Each tile is more like a widget than an icon, the tile for your email app, for example, will display your latest emails and actively change when new email arrives.  Although you can get to a screen that looks like the classic Windows desktop, it’s not apparent how to get there.   Here is David Pogue’s Windows 8 Cheat Sheet which will give you some basics.

  4. Windows RT is not Windows 8: If you like the idea of a tablet being the only computer you need, you may be tempted to buy the new Surface tablet that Microsoft is selling starting Oct 26, 2012.  Don’t do it!  The Surface that goes on sale today is not running Windows 8, it is running Windows RT which is just the touchscreen/tablet/App version meant for the current crop of tablet ARM processors.  Windows RT does have the 2013 versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and One Note, but it will not run your other Windows software like  Quicken, Picasa, or Streets and Trips.  You need to get a tablet with an Intel processor, running the full-blown Windows 8.  Microsoft is promising a Windows 8 Surface Pro tablet in January and other vendors plan Windows 8 tablets even sooner.  For more details, read this CNN Money article: Windows 8 vs Windows RT.

For a complete review and everything you’d want to know and more, check out the CNET Review of Windows 8.