Monday, December 11, 2017

How to wipe an iPad

If you're planning to give or sell your iPad to someone else, it's a good idea to wipe all of your data off of it first.  Doing so is very easy.

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap General
  • Swipe down to the bottom of the menu and tap Reset
  • Tap Erase All Content and Settings
  • Tap Erase
  • Tap Erase again

If you just want to reset your iPad's settings back to their default values, but you don't want to delete any of your data, tap Reset All Settings instead of Erase All Content and Settings.  For the subsequent steps, select Reset rather than Erase.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to reduce file size when scanning documents or images


When scanning a document, you can often get away with just placing the paper into the scanner and pressing Start.  However, if you scan a lot of documents, or if file size is an important factor, you'll probably want to check your settings to make sure you're not wasting disk space with bloated, unnecessarily large scan files.

Here are some things you can do to reduce the size of a document when scanning it into a computer or document storage system:

Scan in black and white

Unless you specifically need a color copy of the document, choose the option to scan in black and white.  Even if you are scanning a black and white document, make sure you check the color setting; a scanner set to scan in color may reproduce black on a page using multiple colors, which can make the file size significantly larger (often using 4 bits for every 1 that a black and white scan would use).

Some scanners will have an auto-select feature, which attempts to detect whether the document is black and white or color, and scan accordingly.  If you are scanning a stack of documents with only some in color, you may want to consider using this feature if it's available on your scanner.  It may be called Auto Color Select or something similar.

Reduce the resolution

Scanners typically measure resolution (the density of pixels) by dots per inch (DPI).  Lowering the DPI can drastically reduce the file size of a document.  For text-only documents, 200dpi is often sufficient.  For images or high-quality scans, you may want to use a higher number, like 400dpi.

Check your file type

The file type is a major determinant of how large a scanned file will be.  Unless you specifically need to use them, avoid scanning to TIFF or BMP files.  JPEG is a good format to use for images; it doesn't have all of the perks of a PNG file, but it does tend to compress the image to a smaller size.  PDF files are a mainstay of document scanning, and offer many useful features, but you can often get a smaller file by using an alternative format (such as DOCX).  Not all scanners will have the same range of file types to choose from.

Enable file compression

Most modern scanners have the ability to compress files so they take up less disk space.  Typically, this setting will be called File Compression, Scan Compression, Compression Ratio, or something similar.

Your scanner's user manual can tell you where to find the compression setting.  On a Ricoh MP series copier, for example, it would be in User Tools/Counter > Scanner Features > Send Settings.  Some scanners will allow you to tweak the amount of compression, while others will just have a basic on/off setting.  Compressing your file shouldn't change its appearance in any noticeable way.

Post-scanning adjustments

Once you've scanned your document or image to a file, there are still other things you can do to reduce the file size, depending on what type of file it is and which programs you are using.  Most image editors (including Microsoft Paint) will allow you to resize an image, and others (such as Microsoft Office Picture Manager) also offer the ability to further compress the file.  Adobe Acrobat includes a Reduce File Size feature that can shrink your PDFs.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

How to find the MAC address of an Amazon Fire 7 tablet

To find the MAC address of your Amazon Fire 7 tablet:

- From the Home screen, tap Settings
- Tap Wireless
- Tap Wi-Fi
- Tap the three dots in the upper right corner
- Tap Advanced

The MAC address will be displayed on the tablet screen, above the IP address.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

How to print an event log from a Dell B2360dn printer

A printer's event log is useful for troubleshooting problems, especially ongoing or intermittent ones.  To print the event log summary from a Dell B2360dn printer:

- Press the Setup button (with the wrench icon)
- Press the right arrow button until Reports is displayed
- Press the OK button.
- Press the right arrow button until Event Log Summary is displayed
- Press the OK button

Saturday, November 4, 2017

How to find the IP address of an Amazon Fire 7 tablet

To see the IP address of your Amazon Fire 7 tablet:

- From the Home screen, tap Settings
- Tap Wireless
- Tap Wi-Fi
- Tap the three dots in the upper right corner
- Tap Advanced

The IP address will be displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Monday, October 23, 2017

What to do if your VTech Innotab won't turn on

Some things to try if your VTech Innotab won't turn on:

Disconnect and reconnect the adapter, both from the Innotab and from the power source.  Check the outlet that the adapter is plugged into to be sure it is working correctly.  (An outlet tester or a lamp will tell you if the outlet works.)  If the power source is good but the Innotab still doesn't work, try running it on battery power.  If it works on a battery but not on AC power, you may need to replace the AC adapter.

Remove and reinstall the battery, making sure that the side with the + on it faces out of the Innotab.  (See page 20 of the user guide for instructions on installing the battery.)  Make sure you have the correct battery type (CR2025) installed.  If possible, try a new battery.

If nothing helps and the Innotab still doesn't turn on, contact VTech customer support at 1-800-521-2010.  The Innotab comes with a 90-day limited warranty; if that warranty hasn't expired, VTech may be able to repair or replace your tablet.

Monday, October 9, 2017

How to take a screen shot on a ZTE Overture 2 smart phone

To take a screen shot from a ZTE Overture 2 smart phone, press the down volume button and the power button at the same time.  Hold both buttons down for a second or two, until the screen shot is taken.  (Either button can be pressed first.)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How to clear your Facebook search history from the Facebook Android app

To clear your Facebook search history from the Facebook Android app:

- Open the Facebook app
- Tap the search bar at the top of the screen
- Tap Edit
- Tap Clear Searches
- Tap Confirm

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How to prevent images from overflowing into your sidebar in Blogger

Blogger has a nice post editor that keeps most of the "programming" stuff hidden.  The graphical "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) editor makes it easy to create an attractive blog without requiring web developer skills or user experience expertise.

However, there are times when a little bit of HTML or CSS knowledge can help you improve the look and feel of your blog.  If you use any large images in your blog, this post is for you.

When you add an image to your blog post, Blogger allows you to set the size of the image, giving you control over how your post will look.  But for large images, Blogger won't by default prevent the images from overflowing out of the blog post "container" if you set an image to be larger than the post itself.  With a large image, you may find that it covers some of the text in your sidebar if you make the image too big.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to prevent that from happening.  All you have to do is add one rule to Blogger's internal stylesheet.

  • From the main Blogger dashboard page, select Theme on the left sidebar.
  • Click on the orange Customize button under the snapshot of your blog.
  • On the left side of the page, select Advanced.
  • A list of options will appear, beginning with "Page Text." Scroll down to the bottom and select Add CSS.
  • If you've never used this feature before, the editor window will probably be empty.  Type or copy the following text into the editor:
  • img {
        max-width: 100%;
  • Click on the Apply to Blog button in the upper right corner.
  • To the left of that button, click on the Back to Blogger link.

Once you've added this simple CSS rule, Blogger will make sure none of your blog's images -- even for posts you've already published -- exceed the width of the post.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How to mark your Facebook notifications as read

Facebook gives you two options for marking notifications as read without actually reading them:

To mark all of your notifications as read at once:

- Click on the globe icon at the top of the Facebook site to show the Notifications list
- At the top of the list, select Mark All as Read

To mark an individual notification as read:

- Click on the globe icon at the top of the Facebook site to show the Notifications list
- Hover over the notification that you want to mark as read
- On the right, an ellipsis (...) will appear, and underneath that will be a single dot (.)
- Hover over the dot
- "Mark As Read" will appear; click on the dot to mark the notification as read

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How to use Google to search over multiple sites

Google has a lot of useful advanced search features.  One of them is the site: filter, which allows you to specify a specific website or domain to limit your search to.  Conversely, you can use -site: to exclude certain sites from your search results.

You can also use the :site filter to search over multiple domains or sites.  The OR operator is used when you want to do that.  For example, to search for "ducks" on Facebook and Twitter, you could type a query like this one:
ducks OR
And you would get results similar to this:

You can combine the site: filter with other filters (allintext:, filetype:, etc.) to narrow the scope of your search even further.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to save a file to the Document Server on a Ricoh copier

The Document Server on a Ricoh copier allows you to save files directly to the copier's hard drive.  This feature can be handy for things that you have to print out often, such as forms or cover sheets.

To save a document to the Document Server on a Ricoh copier or multifunction printer:

- Press the Document Server button
- Select Go to Scanning Screen
- Place your document on the glass or in the document feeder
- Choose any settings that you want to change (color, two-sided, etc.)
- Press the Start button

Before storing a document, make sure that the Auto Delete function has been disabled; otherwise, your document will be deleted after a certain number of days.  This easy guide will show you how to check the Auto Delete function and turn it off if it's not off already:

- How to disable the Auto Delete function on a Ricoh copier’s Document Server

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How to program TV Input for a DirecTV remote control

To program the TV Input feature on your DirecTV remote control, follow these steps:

- Push the slider to DIRECTV
- Press Select and Mute, and hold them down until the remote's LED blinks two times
- Press 9, then 6, then 0

The LED should blink two times, indicating that TV Input has been programmed.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

How to fix an SC400 error on a Ricoh Aficio SP C430DN printer

On a Ricoh C430DN printer, an SC400 error is often caused by a dirty image density (ID) sensor.  You can clean this sensor yourself, rather than pay a technician to come out and do it.  A dirty ID sensor can also cause other problems, such as color misalignment issues.

The ID sensor on this printer is actually a set of five sensors, located on the ID sensor board.  The ID sensor board is located inside the front door of the C430DN. You can see a picture of it in the service manual, on pages 4-48 and 4-49. (If you don't have the service manual, you can probably find it online -- such as on -- but always be careful when viewing or downloading documents from unfamiliar sites.) The manual shows you the procedure for removing the ID sensor board; you don't need to do all of those steps just to clean it.  Follow the steps shown until you are comfortable seeing or reaching the ID sensors so you can clean them.

If you can get to the sensors, you can wipe them down with a dry, lint-free cloth.  You can use a tiny bit of alcohol to clean them, but make sure you wipe off every last drop.  If you can't physically reach the sensors, use canned air to clean them.  Be sure to clean all five sensors.  Don't use an oil rag or a cleaning wipe to clean the sensors, as these can leave a residue.

Often, cleaning the ID sensors and rebooting the printer will resolve an SC400 error.  If the problem persists, however, it may be time to call a technician to diagnose it.  You may need to replace the ID sensor board, or you could have a problem with the transfer belt unit or another internal component.

Monday, June 19, 2017

How to take a screen shot on a Samsung Galaxy On5 smart phone

To take a screen shot from a Samsung Galaxy On5 smart phone, press the Home button (wide button below the screen) and the Power button (button on the right side of the phone) at the same time, and hold them down for a second or two.  A quick animation will display when the screen shot is taken.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How to prevent Twitter from posting your location when you tweet

By using location services with a Twitter mobile app, you may be allowing Twitter to post your location under your tweets.  At the bottom of your tweets, if you see "from" and a location next to the date and time of your tweet, then at some point you gave Twitter permission to post your location.

To prevent Twitter from adding your location to your tweets, follow these steps:

- In your web browser, click on your avatar in the upper right corner (next to the "Tweet" button).
- From the drop down menu, select "Settings and privacy."
- On the left side of the screen, select "Privacy and safety."
- To the right of "Tweet location," uncheck the box next to "Add a location to my Tweets."
- Click the "Save changes" button at the bottom of the screen.
- Enter your Twitter password in the text field.
- Click on "Save changes."

If you'd also like Twitter to remove your location from any tweets it has already been included in, click the "Delete location information" button below the location checkbox, then click "OK" when prompted to confirm your choice.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How to disable conversation view in the Yahoo! Mail Android app

By default, the Yahoo! Mail app for Android devices uses conversation view, where messages between the same people on the same subject are grouped together.  If you like conversation view, that's great.  If you don't, then disabling it is easy enough:

- Open the Yahoo! Mail app.
- Tap the Menu icon in the upper left corner (the 3 horizontal bars).
- Tap Settings.
- Tap the slide bar next to Conversations.  It should turn from on to off.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How to disable auto rotate on a Samsung Galaxy On5 smart phone

By default, a Samsung Galaxy On5 phone is set to auto rotate (change from portrait view to landscape view) when it's held sideways.  If you don't like that behavior, you can easily disable the auto rotate feature.

With the phone unlocked, swipe down from the top of the screen.  Several options should appear.  Tap "Autorotate" and it will change to "Portrait" -- meaning the auto rotate feature has been disabled.  (If you see "Portrait" when you swipe down instead of "Autorotate" it means that auto rotate has already been turned off.)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How to find the MAC address for a Samsung Galaxy On5 smart phone

To find your On5's MAC address:

- Tap Settings

If you don't see the Settings icon, tap Apps, then find Settings in the apps list.

- Scroll down to the bottom of the list and tap About device
- Tap Status

The phone's MAC address will be displayed about halfway down the list, labeled as Wi-Fi MAC address.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to find the Bluetooth address for a Samsung Galaxy On5 smart phone

To find your Galaxy On5's Bluetooth address:

- Tap Settings

If you don't see the Settings icon, tap Apps, then find Settings in the apps list.

- Scroll down to the bottom of the list and tap About device
- Tap Status

The phone's Bluetooth address will be displayed toward the bottom of the list.  Note that if Bluetooth is currently disabled, the Bluetooth adress will be displayed as "Unavailable."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to disable auto-fetching on a Samsung Galaxy On5 smart phone

To disable auto-fetching (the automatic download of multimedia messages) on your Samsung Galaxy On5, follow these steps:

- Tap Messages

If you don't see the Messages icon, tap Apps, then find Messages in the apps list.

- Tap More in the upper right corner
- Tap Settings
- Tap More settings
- Tap Multimedia messages
- If Auto retrieve is set to "ON," tap it to change it to "OFF"

Monday, April 17, 2017

How to find the IP address of a Samsung Galaxy On5 smart phone

To see the IP address for your Samsung Galaxy On5:

- Tap Settings

If you don't see the Settings icon, tap Apps, then find Settings in the apps list.

- Scroll down to the bottom of the list and tap About device
- Tap Status

The phone's IP address will be displayed about halfway down the list.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ZTE Overture 2 smart phone review

The saying "You get what you pay for" isn't always true.  But there is at least one purchase where you will get exactly what you pay for.  When you buy the ZTE Overture 2 for $20 (at least from Cricket; price may vary elsewhere) you are getting a $20 Android smart phone.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The Overture 2 will place and receive phone calls, send and receive texts, and browse the web.  If you ask it to do much more than that, you won't like its response.  (My Overture 2 has failed to receive several phone calls and many texts, but I think that's an issue with the service -- Cricket -- rather than the phone itself.)

The phone only comes with 8GB of internal storage, much of which isn't usable, so you don't have a lot of room to install apps.  The phone can run games and play videos well enough, though it often takes a couple of seconds to launch an app, and it's not always very responsive.  Its 1GB of RAM feels non-existent when you try to make or receive a call; it takes at least a couple of seconds for the phone to start dialing or to answer an incoming call.

The phone is slow in other ways, as well.  When you are in a phone call and you remove the phone from your ear, the Overture 2 is sluggish in responding to its proximity sensors and turning the screen back on.  Sometimes turning the phone on when it's been idle for a while can take a few tries.

The Overture 2's non-removable battery is low-quality.  With a daily usage of one or two phone calls, 10-20 texts, and the occasional Twitter binge, the phone needs to be charged almost every day.  When I had Avast installed, it drained the battery over 50% just idling and updating overnight.  Even after uninstalling Avast, the phone lost 14% of its battery life in 3 hours of overnight idling.  On the plus side, the battery does charge back up quickly.

The rear-facing 5MP camera is one of the worst I've seen on a smart phone.  It does not focus well, and anything that's not immediately in front of you will be hard to see.  It also has a front-facing, 0.3MP camera.

The phone sometimes seems to have a mind of its own.  It won't always save the volume setting, especially when in vibrate mode, which can lead to a loud notification while you're at work.  Other times the alarm will go off but without any sound, even when sound is enabled.  Occasionally the phone will disable data transmission on its own.  Using Bluetooth on the Overture 2 often takes several tries to pair with another device.

The ZTE Overture 2 isn't all bad.  The glass is sturdy, resistant to damage, and easy to clean.  The phone itself is lightweight and stays cool even during heavy use.

iPhone users or high-end (even mid-range) Android users will not be happy with this phone.  If you're on a budget, the ZTE Overture 2 will probably fulfill your basic call/text/web needs.  As long as you don't expect more than that out of it, you might not be disappointed.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How to switch to Yahoo Mail Basic

Yahoo Mail running too slow?  Don't like the Archive button where the Delete button used to be?  You can switch to Yahoo Mail Basic for a faster (but less robust) email experience.

- In the upper right corner of the mail screen, hover over the gear icon (to the right of your name).
- Select Settings.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings modal anBasic.
d next to "Mail version" select
- Click Save.

Yahoo Mail will reload with a faster, simpler interface.  The Delete button will be back where it used to be, the Archive button will be gone, and everything should load faster.  One drawback to using the Yahoo Mail basic version is that you can't select multiple emails at a time by using SHIFT -- though you can still do it using CTRL.

If you ever want to switch back to the newer, full-featured Yahoo Mail, simply click the "Switch to the newest Yahoo Mail" link in the upper right right area of the screen.  You'll immediately notice the difference in speed upon switching back.

Monday, March 6, 2017

How to clear your search history for the Twitter Android app

To clear your search history in the Twitter for Android app:

- Tap the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the home screen.  (If you don't see it, scroll up.)
- Tap the search bar, where it says "Search Twitter."
- Tap the X to the right of where it says "RECENT."
- Tap CLEAR to confirm that you want to clear the recent searches.

Friday, February 24, 2017

How to clear your Twitter search history

Twitter stores your recent searches, and brings up a list of them when you click or type in the search bar.  You can easily erase any saved searches if you want.  Here's how to do it from your web browser:

- Click in the search bar area at the top of your Twitter page
- Select Clear All

Monday, February 13, 2017

How to clear your Facebook search history from your web browser

Facebook stores your search history, presumably for autocomplete reasons.  Unless someone else is logged into your Facebook account (or looking over your shoulder) they shouldn't be able to see your search history,  but you can still erase it if you want to.  Read on to see how to clear your Facebook search history from your web browser.

- Log in to your Facebook account

- Click on the magnifying glass in the search bar (at the top of the screen)

- Click Edit

- Click Clear Searches

- Click Clear Searches again to confirm

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to disable read receipts on Twitter

By default, when someone sends you a direct message through Twitter, they will be able to see if you have read that message.  If you don't want Twitter to provide that information, you can easily disable read receipts.  The caveat here is that if you disable read receipts for the messages you receive, you will also be disabling your ability to see whether other people have read your messages.

To disable read receipts:

- Log in to your account at
- Click on your profile picture in the upper right corner (next to the Tweet button)
- Select Settings
- Click on Security and privacy on the left sidebar
- Scroll down to the bottom, and uncheck Send/Receive Read Receipts
- Click the blue Save Changes button
- If prompted, enter your password and click Save Changes

Friday, January 27, 2017

How to quickly insert a screenshot into Word 2013

Microsoft Word 2013 gives you the option to take a screenshot and insert it into a Word document in one easy step (without having to save the screenshot first).  To copy and insert the current view from any open program, file, or folder:

- Open a Word document (either an existing document or a blank new document) in Word 2013
- Select the Insert tab
- Select Screenshot*
- Select the currently-open program or view from which you want to take a

Once you have inserted the screenshot, you can resize it or move it around just like any other picture.

* If the "Screenshot" option is grayed out, you will need to convert your document to the current Word version first.  To convert the document:

- Select the File tab
- Click Convert
- Click OK

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Name the Malwarebytes robot for $200

Malwarebytes, the company behind the popular anti-malware tool of the same name, is looking for a name for their robot mascot.  Come up with the winning name and you could win a cool $200 (in the form of a Visa gift card).  Entries can be submitted here, and must be in by February 1st, 2017.

Friday, January 13, 2017

FTC launches IoT security challenge with $25,000 prize

Ever worry about how insecure the "smart" devices in your home are?  Wanna do something about it?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is launching the IoT Home Inspector Challenge, an open call to developers, software engineers, and weekend tinkerers to create a solution (hardware or software) that will make the Internet of Things a little safer.

Specifically, the FTC is looking for a tool that can, at the very least, "help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software."  Of course, more is better if you want to add additional security features.

You can enter by yourself or with a team, and the top entry will earn $25,000.  Honorable mentions can potentially take home $3,000.  The contest runs from March 1st to May 22nd, and the winner(s) will be revealed in late July.

If you're thinking of entering, all the rules and eligibility requirements can be found on the FTC's contest page.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Follow Hound: Twitter extension to see who's not following you back

Want to know which of the Twitter accounts you follow isn't following you back?  Follow Hound will show you with just one click.

When viewing the list of those you're following, simply click the Follow Hound icon (the blue dog) in Chrome's upper right corner (once you've installed it; you can get it from the Chrome Web Store) and the list will be filtered to only show users who are not following you back.  This filter makes it a breeze to see who isn't following you, and you can decide whether to unfollow them or not.  As you scroll down the page and more users are loaded, they will automatically be filtered as well.

Follow Hound is free, lightweight, and simple to use.  If you experience any issues, please leave a comment on this page or on the Follow Hound support tab in the Chrome Web Store.

Follow Hound is currently available for Chrome and Firefox.  An Opera version is in the works.

- Follow Hound for Chrome
Chrome Extension

- Follow Hound for Firefox
Mozilla Add-on