Some topics don’t lend themselves to a written post. Trying to describe how to navigate Windows Explorer is one of those topics. Here’s a video that will explain it all for you. What is Windows Explorer? Well, it’s like Google Earth for your computer.
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Windows 8/8.1 is frustrating enough without the problems its default mail client brings to users. If you’ve made the switch to the new version of Windows, you have probably linked it to your Microsoft email account. We’ve shown you how to change your log-in routine from password to pin (here’s the link to that post) . That makes things easier but you’re still faced with using the ‘Mail’ app and that’s the problem. It doesn’t work. Here’s why:
1. The Windows Mail GUI is not user-friendly. Windows arbitrarily sorts your email into folders, taking regular emails from retailers from your inbox and shoving them into a Newsletters folder. The odd thing about this strategy is that some newsletters make it into the Inbox while others don’t. What’s the rationale for that? What obscure algorithm is Microsoft using?
2. Bulk blocking of spam emails does not work. Users are forced to perform individual blocking of spam. The old version of Outlook’s web interface allowed for multiple selection and blocking of spam. In some cases, the blocking does not work at all, even when only one piece of spam is selected.
3. It’s as if the interface was designed for mobile devices instead of desktops and computers. While mobile computing is extremely popular now, many of us still use large screen devices to check our mail. We don’t need large typefaces and split screens. As a matter of fact, having a screen split three ways actually takes up more room than the old web interface that Outlook uses. Here’s what we mean:
4. The email accounts don’t sync when they are opened on one computer then again on a Windows 8 computer. Emails that have been deleted from the web interface still show up in the Windows 8 app. It’s as if the single account is seen as two separate accounts, depending on which computer/device it is opened with.
These are just a few of the faults that we’ve found with Microsoft’s Windows 8 Outlook App. Trust us, it’s not worth using. You’re far better to sign into Outlook using your browser, we recommend Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and do all of your email tasks using the simple and very efficient interface used there. Ignore the Windows 8 app completely. If email is important to you, take our advice or switch to Gmail.
Today we’re working with the newest version of Windows Movie Maker. This is the one that comes with Window 7 or 8/8.1, the version that you downloaded with all the ‘Live’ components. It’s a dumbed-down version that does not allow for separate audio tracks. The older version, 2.6, let you have two audio tracks and you could switch between them. Apparently Microsoft thought this was too complicated for its users and they came out with a simpler, less confusing WMM.
Don’t despair, however. You can still do some fairly fancy editing with the new version. This video shows you how to add a full audio track to an previously edited video. In other words, you can’t do this all in one step. Edit the video first, then add the full sound track. Hopefully this video we just made explains it all.
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We did a video just now that we’ve put on Youtube. It’s all about inserting a photo (or video clip) into a video. That seems easy but we show you how to keep the soundtrack from the video constant throughout, including the section where the photo is.
We’ll do more videos on Windows Movie Maker in the future, including one on how to do this with the current version of WMM. We used an older version of Movie Maker, version 2.6, that you can download here: Windows Movie Maker 2.6 (came with Vista but you can install it on Windows 7 or 8.1. It’s free, too.
This is the last in our series on routers. Today we’ll connect an Xbox 360 to one of our PCs. We’ll use Windows Media Center to do that. NOTE: You can only do this for free if you are using Windows 7. Microsoft in all of its brilliance has made WMC an extra-cost item for Windows 8. If you are using Windows 8, stay tuned for our XBMC solution for it. Today we are talking only about Windows 7 and Vista only.
TIP: Why are we stuck on the Xbox? We aren’t, not at all. For most of our gaming and entertainment we use the Sony PS3/PS4. Microsoft has made everything extra-cost, including Netflix, while Sony has left its PS line of consoles wide open as far as Netflix and other apps go. The big difference is live TV. There are ways to steam live TV to a PS3 but it’s much easier with the Xbox using Media Center. You still have to jump through some hoops but, in general, it’s easier to set things up on an Xbox 360. We will not be purchasing an Xbox Live but we assume that everything will be pretty much the same on it, except for the lack of a free version of Media Center with Windows 8.
Setting up your network: We know. You’re saying, “Didn’t we just do that?” Yes you did but you have to make sure of one more thing. Even though all of your computers and game consoles are on the same home network, you must make sure that your Xbox and the PC you are going to use to stream HDTV/video from are connected to the same ‘node’. We mentioned this before but this is vital to the success of your setup. Connect your streaming PC directly to the same router that your Xbox is using for its wireless signal.
1. Make sure that you have turned on Sharing in the Media Center on your PC. Decide what folders you want to share and what devices, too. We use a Hauppauge TV tuner which we had to set up in Media Center. It found the channels by itself and even gave us up-to-date programming information. Once your HDTV is working on Media Center, it’s time to move to your Xbox.
2. Fire up your Xbox 360, log on to the Microsoft Network and scroll across the screen to My Video Apps. If you’ve never used WMC (Windows Media Center) before, you may have to download the app first. Click on it and the app will describe itself then give you a key, something like this:
3. Go back to your PC, open Media Center and go down toTasks. Scroll across to ‘add extender’ and click on that. Like this:
4. Once you click those words, WMC asks for the Xbox key that you wrote down previously. Enter that into the spaces and things should begin to happen. Once WMC finds your Xbox, it will start to communicate with it and set up all of the things it needs to work. Ours took a couple of tries but finally worked.
5. Head back to your Xbox and open WMC if it isn’t already open. Everything that you shared on your PC should be available on your Xobx. Remember that you can’t be watching HDTV in two places. If you are using your tuner on your PC, you can’t use it on your Xbox. Click on Live TV and wait until your PC starts streaming your tuner output to the Xbox. Like magic, a crystal clear image should appear on your screen. Move your controller’s center button up or down to change channels.
Yes, there are some steps that you’ll have to figure out on your own but they are very intuitive, nothing difficult at all. Once you’ve got your new router setup, it’s a snap, more or less, to get your PC and your Xbox to see each other. When it starts to work, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this all before. We use the system for sports broadcasts. Instead of simply sitting around watching a game, we can enjoy the home gym we’ve added to the ‘man cave’ at the same time.
Thanks for reading! If any part of this seems obscure or difficult, let us know. Comment below or, better yet, Like us on Facebook and get all of our updates and tips. Here is the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook
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a little bit of hi-tech, a little bit of common sense and a lot of fun