Monday, March 30, 2015

How to change the alternate email address listed on your Yahoo! Mail account

Yahoo! Mail allows you store an alternate email address in your account settings.  This alternate address is used for certain notifications, but it's also the email address that Yahoo! will send the password reset link to, if you ever need to reset your password.  To change your alternate email address on file, follow the steps below.

- Log in to your Yahoo! Mail account
- Hover over the gear icon in the upper right corner and select Account Info
- If prompted, enter your Yahoo! password again
- Click on the Update your contact information link
- Enter a new email address next to Email 1 (for the first alternate email address) or Email 2 (for the second alternate email address)
- Click on the Save button at the bottom of the page

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How to Retract a Bid on eBay

Retracting a bid that you've placed on an auction item is not something to take lightly.  You should always put a lot of thought into your bid before placing it.  A bid is a commitment to buy the item if you are the highest bidder.  However, sometimes circumstances arise where you may need to retract a bid.  Retracting a bid on eBay is easy to do, but figuring out where to do it can take some hunting around if you've never done it before.

eBay basically accepts three reasons for retracting a bid: if the seller won't reply to you or answer your question, if the item's description has changed since you placed the bid, or if you accidentally typed in the wrong number when bidding.  If one of these situations has occurred and you need to retract your bid, here's how:

- Login to your eBay account.
- Hover over My eBay in the upper right corner and click on Bids/Offers on the drop-down list.
- Click on the auction item for which you want to retract your bid.
- Either copy or write down the eBay item number for this item (found just under the Description tab).
- Next to the current bid amount, there is a small link that shows the total number of bids placed (ie. "7 bids"); click on this link.
- A list of all the bids will be displayed.  Click on either the Learn more about bidding link above this list, or the Learn more link below the list.
- Under the heading Bidding Overview, click on Changing or retracting your bid.
- Click on the Bid Retraction link in the list of bullet points.
- On the bid retraction page, type in (or paste) the eBay item number.
- In the drop-down box below the item number, choose your reason for retraction.
- Click on the Retract bid button.

All of the bids that you've placed on that item will be retracted immediately, which you can verify by visiting the item's auction page.  If you click on the list of current bids, at the bottom you'll see a note showing that your bid (with your partial username displayed) was retracted.  The amount of the bid and the date it was retracted will be shown, but the reason for retraction will not.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How to reduce email spam in your inbox

Spam emails aren't much more than an annoyance for most people.  But that annoyance can grow into a headache as you spent a larger and larger part of your day deleting spam messages from your inbox.  To stop that headache before it starts, here are some ways to cut down on spam emails.

- Use a spam filter

Most email clients are equipped with some sort of spam filter that will attempt to determine which messages are "real" emails and which are junk.  The junk emails are usually sent straight into a junk or spam folder, where you can browse through them if you want to make sure nothing important got mixed in with the spam.  (It's a good idea to occasionally look through your spam folder, because email filters aren't flawless and sometimes things slip through the cracks.)  Depending on what email program you use, you may be able to adjust the spam filter's settings, to change how much suspected spam is let through and reduce the chance of important emails being labeled as spam.

- Mark messages as spam

Spam emails will sometimes make it through your filter right into your inbox.  When this happens, mark those emails as spam (if your email program allows it) to get them out of there and also to help "train" your spam filter as to what is spam and what isn't.  In Yahoo! Mail, for example, all you have to do is put a check mark next to the spam email(s) and click the gray Spam button.

- Don't give out your email address

Companies use marketing to help get their brand and product in the public eye.  Many times when you give out your email address when purchasing something -- either in a store or online -- you will be added to that company's mailing list and you'll start receiving newsletters, special offers, and promotional emails.  If you're lucky, the emails will only come from that one company, but you may also receive spam from partner companies or even random companies that you've never heard of before.  You can avoid these mass emails by not giving out your email address, except to trusted sites and companies where it is necessary for conducting business, such as PayPal.

- Unsubscribe from mass mailing lists

Most of the time when you get emailed as part of a corporate or retail mailing list, there will be a link at the bottom of the email to unsubscribe from that list.  If you click this link, you'll be taken to a web page where either you'll be unsubscribed automatically or you'll have to choose to unsubscribe from the list.  Once you have taken your name off the list, you should see your number of unwanted emails start to go down a bit, though with some companies it may take days or even weeks before they remove you from their database.

(Originally published on, November 2010)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Common SMTP settings for scanning to email

When setting up scanning to email from a scanner or multifunction device, you'll need to know certain information about your email server.  Depending on the server and the device, the information you'll need will vary.  Below are the SMTP settings for some of the more commonly-used email servers.

SMTP server name:
Port number:  587 (if that doesn't work, use 465)
SSL required:  Yes
Authentication required:  Yes

SMTP server name:
Port number:  465 (if that doesn't work, use 587)
SSL required:  Yes
Authentication required:  Yes
Encryption:  Auto
If using POP before SMTP:
   POP server:
   Port number:   995

Office 365:
SMTP server name:
Port number:  587
SSL required:  No
TLS required:  Yes
Authentication required:  Yes

SMTP server name:
Port number:  465
SSL required:  Yes
Authentication required:  Yes

SMTP server name:
Port number:  465
SSL required:  Yes
Authentication required:  Yes

When using Yahoo! Mail to send scans, you will have a limit of 500 outbound emails per day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Software Review: CCleaner

CCleaner, created by the folks at Piriform, is a versatile disk cleanup utility that can perform many different functions.  It is free to download (though donations are encouraged) and does not take up a lot of hard drive space.

At its most basic, CCleaner can be used to remove temporary Internet and Windows files from your computer, such as cookies and recently opened documents.  It will also delete temporary files from many different applications (if you want it to) such as word processor programs, web browsers, antivirus programs, or other third-party Windows programs.

One advantage of CCleaner is how customizable it is.  You can choose exactly which types of files to remove (cookies, recent documents, saved form information, etc.).  You can also choose which programs to remove temporary files from -- CCleaner will list any programs you have installed that it can "cleanse."  Under the advanced options, you can even specify certain cookies you want to keep (for websites you visit often) or folders to exclude from cleanup.  If you have sensitive data, CCleaner can be set up to use secure deletion, where it will overwrite any deleted data to prevent recovery.  Depending on how secure you want it to be, you can have it overwrite the data up to 35 times.

In addition to its disk cleanup functions, CCleaner can also act as a sort of small-scale management console for your PC.  From CCleaner, you can uninstall old programs, manage system restore points, and delete programs from your startup menu.  One nice feature of CCleaner is that it displays basic system information that users sometimes need to find, including operating system (and which service packs are installed), processor type and speed, and the amount of RAM your PC has.

CCleaner works for a large variety of programs.  A few examples are Norton Antivirus, Microsoft Office, and Adobe's Flash Player.  It can recognize and clean virtually any web browser, and will even remove temporary files from some browser toolbars (such as the Yahoo! Toolbar).

CCleaner is very user-friendly -- every type of file or program is shown with a check box, so you can choose exactly what to delete and what to skip.  It runs quickly (usually finishing in a matter of seconds) and it is fairly comprehensive.  I sometimes run ATF Cleaner afterwards, to see what CCleaner missed, and every now and then ATF will find a few files left behind, but for the most part CCleaner does a thorough job.

The program can be set to automatically check for updates, and depending on the options you select when you install it (which can be changed later) it can be launched from the desktop, Start menu, Recycle Bin, or from inside your browser.  You can have it run on startup, and you can also have it shut the computer down after it finishes.

CCleaner is one of the best disk cleanup utilities I have come across.  It is lightweight, comprehensive, and highly adaptable.

(Originally published on, October 2009)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How to empty the Java cache on a Windows PC

Java is a software platform (previously part of Sun Microsystems, now part of Oracle) that allows you to run a lot of cool programs (like some of Yahoo!'s online games, as well as many business applications).  When you run an application that requires Java, it stores any necessary temporary files on your computer, in a Java cache.  Normally, there is no problem with this process, but occasionally you'll find a glitch.

You may try to run a Java program that's worked a million times before, but for some reason it just won't load, or it won't load past a certain point, or it won't let you update any information.  Often when this happens, clearing your Java cache will fix the problem.

When Java is installed on your computer, it creates an icon in the Control Panel so you can manage your Java settings and preferences.  To empty your Java cache, that is where you need to go.

Open your Control Panel, which can typically be found on the Start menu.  If you don't see it there, just type "control panel" in the Search bar if you're running Windows Vista or Windows 7.  In Windows XP, type "control" in the Run bar.  Once you've opened the Control Panel, double click the Java icon.  (It's the one that looks like a cup of coffee.)

Now you should be looking at the Java Control Panel.  Toward the bottom of the General tab is a section titled "Temporary Internet Files."  Click the Settings button.  To delete your temporary Java files, click "Delete Files," and then in the box that appears, make sure "Applications and Applets" and "Trace and Log Files" are both checked, and click OK.  The process of emptying the cache may take a couple of minutes.

Once you've emptied the Java cache, just restart your web browser or the program you were running, and hopefully your problem has been fixed.  If not, you may have a more serious issue -- see the program's help or troubleshooting guide for a possible solution.

There are several changes you can make to the way Java stores files on your computer.  If you don't want files stored at all, you can uncheck the box that says "Keep temporary files on my computer."  Be aware that doing this might prevent certain applications from running correctly.  You can also change the size and location of the Java cache, or turn on temporary file compression.  Compression will allow you to save some disk space, but it will take longer to access those files when they are needed.

(Originally posted on, April 2010)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How to print to a Sharp MX series printer without using a print driver

On a Sharp MX series network printer, you have the ability to print without using a print driver.  Limited file types are supported (PDF, TXT, JPEG, TIFF, HTM) but it is a nice feature.  Printing without using the print driver is accomplished through the Sharp's web interface.  This method of printing can be a useful troubleshooting tool, but it is also nice for computers that don't support print drivers, such as Chromebooks.

To print to your Sharp MX series printer without using a print driver:

- Open up your web browser
- Navigate to the printer's IP address

(If you don't know the IP address of your printer, you can find it by printing out a configuration page.  Instructions for printing configuration pages from various Sharp models can be found here.)

- Click Document Operations on the sidebar on the left side of the screen
- Click Submit Print Job
- Under the "Print Settings" heading, set up any applicable job parameters (duplex, number of copies, stapling, etc.)
- Next to "Select File," click the Browse button
- Select the file you want to print
- Click the Print button at the bottom