Category Archives: Computers

Download Facebook Albums

We’ve been asked to write a post about how you can use DownAlbum to download complete photo albums from Facebook. We’ve gone one step better and have created a Youtube video that explains the whole thing.

Here’s the video. You can play it here or on Youtube itself:

Here are some tips to remember:

  1.  If the album is very large, wait until all of the photos are shown on the first DownAlbum page before trying to save the album. If the page hasn’t finished loading, you won’t get all the photos.
  2. Even though the photos on the DownAlbum page are shown smaller than the original, the full-size photo will be saved to your computer.
  3. You will need a lot of RAM on your computer before you will be able to load large photo albums. If you’re squeaking by with 2 gigs or 4 gigs of RAM, you probably won’t be able to load albums with 100 or more photos.
  4. If you don’t have a lot of RAM, try closing everything down first. Make sure you only have the single Facebook page open before you load the album. Basically you want to single-task, not multitask.

Good luck!

Thanks for reading and watching! Why not like us on our Facebook page? Here is the link:Computers Made Simple on Facebook.

Pokémon Go – Initial Reactions

When an game app sets a record for most downloads in its first week, we had to pay attention to it. Here are our initial reactions after playing  Pokémon Go for two days.

  • It’s fun! Much like geo-caching, Pokémon Go uses your mobile device’s GPS to lead you to various targets in your current geographical location.
  • It doesn’t matter where you are, even if you’re traveling there are characters to catch and interesting places to discover.
  • It’s good exercise! Sure it’s only been a couple of days but we’ve spent a fair bit of time outside wandering around hunting for Pokémon in the wild. You have to stop now and then but that gives you time to reconnoiter and maybe catch your breath.
  • Once you’re out walking, the impetus to keep going is always there. Why? Well, you’re not only looking for Pokémon , you’re also searching for PokéStops. These stops will allow you to power up your game, meet other players, train and duel. We’re not 100% comfortable with the game yet so we’ll describe these PokéStops in greater detail once we know what we’re doing.

At this point, we can’t see any negatives in the game other than it’s sometimes hard to hit the wild Pokémon with the balls but that’s not a function of the game, it’s a skill that we’ll learn as time goes by.

Niantic, the game’s creator, is currently developing a wearable piece of hardware that uses Bluetooth, allowing the wearer to interact with the game without constantly checking their main mobile device. We expect this bit of fun to be a big seller. The game is free, of course, but you can purchase Poké balls and other items. So far we haven’t found the need for anything other than what comes with the app.

Stay tuned, there will be more from us on this record-breaking phenomena.Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!

Pokémon Go
Get used to this name, you’ll see it everywhere!

 

Speed Up Your Laptop

You may remember that we recently picked up a new laptop for the office. We posted the specs on our Facebook page, check us out there if you haven’t already.

The new laptop is pretty good but we found it a bit slow, mainly because it uses Windows 10 as an O/S. With 6 Gigs of Ram, we felt it should have been faster. Here’s what we did to speed it up, step by step:

  1. First job was to make sure we created the Recovery disks. Since our laptop has an optical drive for reading and writing DVDs and CDs, that was a snap. Once you have the Recovery Disks, it’s easy to switch to another hard drive.

2. Next, we ditched our 500 Gig standard hard drive and replaced it with a 250 Gig SSD (solid state drive)

SSD Drive
An SSD has no moving parts. Less prone to damage and much faster than the standard HD.

An SSD has no moving parts, in case you didn’t know. What does that mean? It means that access, both read and write, is much faster than on a normal magnetic drive. Cost is going down by the minute on these so if you can manage it, adding an SSD is pretty cheap, well worth the money when compared to the speed increase it will give you.

RAM
This is what RAM looks like before it goes into your laptop.

3. Then we decided to add more RAM. RAM, random access memory, is what lets your computer think when it’s turned on. The more RAM, the more it can think about at one time. If you like to have a dozen browser tabs open at one time, RAM is what you need…lots of it. We upped ours to 16 Gigs, the most our new laptop could handle, for less than $100.00. Adding RAM yourself is much less expensive than buying it with the computer.

Lithium
Most laptops come with very small and cheap batteries, usually 4 cell. Adding a 6 or 8 cell battery afterward is a cheap way to increase your usage time.

4. Now that we had a faster laptop, and the speed difference was incredible, we used it for longer periods of time. That meant that our little 4 cell laptop battery wasn’t quite up to snuff for hours of use. For less than $50.00, we doubled our usage time. Now we can surf and write for about six hours. Again, adding an 8 cell battery from the manufacturer is very expensive. The computer itself might seem like a good deal but when you get hit with the extras, you’d be shocked at how high the price can climb.

TIP: Look for your laptop’s model number (it’s on the bottom), then type that into the search window on the site where you buy your parts.

Adding RAM and the SSD might be too tough for you but we’re sure you’ve got a techie friend who could help. Upgrading the battery is a snap. Make sure your laptop is off not in hibernation, take out the old battery and insert the new one. Plug your laptop in and wait until the the new battery is fully charged. That’s it!

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!

 

Google Chromecast – First Impressions

If you’re one of the millions of us who have ‘cut the cable’, you’ve probably already heard of Google’s Chromecast. Chromecast is available in about 120 countries around the world so unless you’ve been living under a rock, the name should be familiar to you.

Photo of Chromecast
Here it is, the latest version of Chromecast. Different colors are available.

We received a demo Chromecast last week. Here are our first impressions of this simple device plus an explanation of what it does.

All you need to get started with Chromecast is a HD TV and a relatively fast Internet connection. You’ll also need a remote. This is the part that we found a bit unsettling about Chromecast because the device itself does not come with a remote. The solution to all of lives probably lives in your pocket or purse. Any Android or Apple smartphone will work as a remote control unit. Additionally, you can use a tablet, laptop or desktop computer running Google Chrome. A simple solution, as it turns out.

You’ll have to think of Chromecast as an enabler rather than a standalone piece of technology. For less than $50.00, any HDTV can be made smart. When we think of a smart TV, we usually think of something that allows you to use Netflix. Many people stop there but there is so much more than Netflix out there.

Photo of Chromecast setup
Connect Chromecast to any open HDMI port, plug it into an electrical connection and you’re off!

The photo above shows how your Chromecast should be connected to your HDTV.  Once you’ve done that, the rest of the setup is done on your remote; your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Setup is easy, don’t worry. On a smartphone, you download the Chromecast app then enter your WiFi password and you’re off and running.

Once your phone and Chromecast are linked, it’s simply a matter of downloading and installing the apps that enable you to watch shows on your HDTV. Yes, Netflix is one of those apps but there are many, many more. Here’s a small list:

Photo of Chromecast apps
In order to watch material from any of these apps, you’ll need to install that app on your remote.

Once you’re installed some apps on your remote, find something you want to watch and then cast it over to your HDTV via your remote and Chromecast. Tap the icon you see below and your show will pop up on your HDTV.  Anything that you’re watching on your remote that can be cast to your HDTV will have this icon up on the top right corner:

Chromecast icon
If you can see this icon on your remote screen, you can cast whatever you are watching up to your Chromecast and watch it on your HDTV.

Play will pause on your remote and continue on your HDTV. If you want to watch something else, press pause or stop on your remote and choose something else. Cast it up to your Chromecast and your HDTV will show your current selection.

TIP: Once you start any video on your HDTV, the quality will be poor for a few seconds. Don’t dismay, it will get better. If you have a relatively fast Internet connection, you won’t notice a difference between your Chromecast broadcast and a DVD. Chromecast uses the latest and greatest WiFi protocols. A wired Ethernet connection is available, more on that later.

That’s it for today. We’ll run through some of the available apps in our next post. Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!

Connecting a Nexus 5 to a Windows PC – Update

We’ve been having a problem lately, mainly since we switched to Windows 10, whenever we try to hook up our Nexus 5 to a PC. Windows sees the Nexus as an Acer ADB device for some reason. Here’s how we fix this:

  1. This procedure is done on your Nexus 5, not on your PC. Start by connecting your phone to your PC using a USB cable.
  2. Go to your Settings, that would be the gear icon on your app screen. After a recent Android system update, we’re on version 6 now, the menu that controls your USB settings has disappeared. This means that you have to do a search for them. Look for the icon of a magnifying glass at the top of your screen.
  3. Type the letters usb in the search space.

    settings for usb
    This is what you see when you search for ‘usb’ on the settings screen. You want to choose Select USB Configuration
  4. Several choices will pop up. The one you want is ‘Select USB Configuration’.  Press that choice.
  5. More than likely the choice you want on the next screen is already chosen. You should see ‘MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) selected. No matter, select it again by simply touching those words.

    MTP Things
    Even if MTP is pre-selected, touch those words again to confirm the choice.
  6. If you’ve followed the steps correctly, a file explorer window should pop up on your screen. It should show your Nexus 5 as a storage device that you can double click on to reveal the contents.

This process should work for you. We’re not sure why Windows 10 defaults to the ADB device choice but doing this fairly simple set of steps should get you up and running quickly. It’s as if you have to remind Windows that the Nexus 5 is an MTP device.

If by chance this doesn’t work for you, try our previous routine. Here is the link:  Nexus 5 to PC

 

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!