Friday, August 28, 2009

Connecting Windows Mobile Device to Internet via USB to PC

If you are having difficulty connecting your windows mobile device to the internet, this should help.  This only applies to Windows Mobile devices and computers running Microsoft Windows.  If your mobile device uses applications that require internet access, like POP3 mail, Weather, Stocks, etc., then you can simply cradle your device (or connect direct via a USB cable) to use these apps, using your internet access from your computer.

If your device has Wi-Fi, then your better off connecting to a wireless router.  One of my devices does not have Wi-Fi support, so I thought I would share the “how to” with everyone.  This article was not intended to help fix any Active Sync or Mobile Device connection issues.  Assuming that you can connect your device to your computer and perform a sync, but are not able to connect to the internet, this should help.  To keep the connection alive, the mobile device must remain connected to your computer.

When performing these steps, make sure the status of your mobile device is “Connected”.  Using Windows Mobile Device Center, you can see the green check mark below the picture of the device.



  1. For older devices, or if the below steps do not work, make the following change on your device.  On your device, go to  Start > Settings > Connections (tab) and click on the “USB to PC” icon.  Make sure to uncheck the “Enable advanced network functionality” checkbox.  This may even help those that are having trouble connecting and syncing in general.
  2. On your device, go to Start > Settings > Connections (tab) and click the “Connections” icon.  Then click the Advanced (tab).  Then click “Select Networks” button.   


    Then change both options in the drop down lists to “My Work Network”.

    Then click Edit > Proxy Settings (tab), and check the “This network connects to the Internet” check box.  Do this for both of the options in the Advanced settings.
  3. Now, if depending on the service provider or device, this next step may vary.  For WM6 with AT&T, I found a “Proxy Manager” icon in my Programs folder on my device.  I opened this to uncheck the “Force AT&T Proxy” check box.  Look around on your device and make sure there is not some similar proxy setting.
  4. Connect the mobile device to your computer, via USB.
  5. Perform a sync.  Verify that the sync was successful. Also, if you notice a small icon in the bottom right corner of your Mobile Desktop screen, then you have are successfully connected to your PC via USB.
  6. In Windows Mobile Device Center (or Active Sync), go into your Connection Settings.  Where it says, “This computer is connected to:”, change the to “The Internet”.  Your current setting is probably “Automatic”.  Although it seems a fair assumption that “Automatic” should work, it doesn’t seem to.
  7. If you wish, choose all the settings as shown in the dialog above.  Theses settings are the same as those that have been tested and work.
  8. Perform another sync.  This is important!
  9. Verify that the sync was successful and that the device is still connected.
  10. On your mobile device, open IE, or use any of the applications that require internet access.  They should now work.

That’s all there is to it, its really just that “SIMPLE”.  If it’s not working for you, take your time and go  through the steps again.  Also, it may help to do a soft reset on your device, after you get everything set properly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Online Shopping


A quick and easy way to find bargains.  Go to and click the Shopping link.  Then type in your desired product details in the product search box and click the “Search Products” button.  You can sort by lowest price.  I always do!  You can also see product reviews written by real people that have purchased the product.  Great way to do some quick research and find the best prices.

I have found some great deals on this site.  I’ve have purchased from them many times and have never had a problem.  Standard shipping has always been very fast.  You’ll find that you will shop with them so often that you’ll probably want to create an account to make the process quick and easy.

I purchased everything I needed from to build my desktop computer.  I found some of the best prices on top end computer hardware on this site.  Everything was shipped fast and nothing needed to be returned.  They seem to just get it right every time.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Need help? Can’t find the answer?

We all run into problems with our computers from time to time.  When I need help to fix something, I generally use Google to search for answers.  It’s quite common that I’ll see a post on some forum that relates to the same issue I am having.  Unfortunately, there are often numerous “answers” that are not correct, not helpful, and just a total waste of time to weed through.

If you are having trouble with something and haven’t had luck finding the answer, then post your question here.  If the question relates to Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or 7, then I will do my best to provide an answer.  Depending on the number of questions, I may have to select those that would benefit the most people.  If the question is really good, I may create a post for it as I did for “Removing Photos from iPod…”.

So go on, post your questions.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Speeding Up Windows Explorer

I was talking with a friend today and he told me about this trick he found to speed up Windows Explorer on Windows XP.  I thought I would see if it works for Windows 7.  Sure enough, it worked.  To save time, I’m providing a link to the web site that explains the process. Thanks for the tip Jim!

Look for the section “Speeding things up”.  You will have to make a minor change to your registry.  When making any changes to your registry it’s good practice to back it up first.  You can do this using Windows System Restore (Create Restore Point).  There are other ways too.  Choose the method that works for you.

Speeding up Windows Explorer

I had to add the key, as it was not there in the registry.  I am running Windows 7 RC, but I believe this tweak will work in any version of Windows from XP on.  And you should not have to worry about adding a new Key, even if it doesn’t apply to your version of Windows.  The system will ignore the key if it isn’t used, but if it is used and not set properly then things may not turn out well.  So backup that registry before making changes.  I recommend System Restore for those less technical.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Favorite Software


EASEUP Partition Master Home Edition

If you need to create or modify partitions on your drives, this tool works and as of this writing, is free.  When the Windows built-in disk manager failed to do the job, I searched the net looking for another solution.  I was able to resize my boot partition and create additional ones.  Simple to use, and has a nice User Interface considering it’s free.



Auslogics Disk Defrag

If you want a disk defragmenter that is fast, reliable, and free, then look no further.  After defragging my drives with this, I ran other defrag tools to see what the results were, and the other defrag apps told me my drives were 0% fragmented.  Yet this tool is so fast it leaves you wondering why the others take so long.  It has plenty of settings including the ability to auto-defrag when your system is idle.  Mine sits patiently waiting in the system tray for idle time, ready to piece together those fragmented files.  CNET gives it 5 stars!

In addition, Auslogics has some other nice tools, some are free while other’s are not.  Below is a link to Auslogics software products page.  You can download Disk Defrag here.


Trillian Astra

I cannot believe I’m putting this on my list.  I used Trillian years ago, and swore it off as it lacked many features that existed in the core apps from Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, etc.  I’ve been using Meebo (Web-based IM multi-client application) but ran into some problems recently when running Firefox.  So I thought I would see what was available online and give them a test drive.  I was hesitant in trying Trillian again, but since many years have passed and given the good reviews, I thought I’d give it a try.  Well, so far so good.  I really like it.  The basic version is free and the Pro version has a price tag.  When downloading, I planned to install the basic.  However, it seems the install includes both, with Pro automatically enabled for 30 days.  Others have posted that it will revert to Basic after the trial period.  If you are using multiple chat clients, Trillian Astra appears to be great solution to consolidate them.  It has a very nice user interface with tons of settings to customize your experience.  It’s loaded with features,


Microsoft Windows 7

I’ve been running Windows 7 RC for a while now. I have to admit, although it still has a few kinks, I’m loving it. There are so many new features that actually make this operating system a joy to work with. I’m looking forward to the final release. I just hope that Microsoft allows us to install over the RC so we won’t have to redo our entire systems. Wishful thinking.

Learn more

Avira Antivir

Avira Antivir has received high ratings from AV-Comparatives for years, often finding itself as the #1 spot based on real lab results. Antivir runs fast, and protects my system. And best of all, they have a free edition for personal use. I hope they continue this offer forever.



After using Allway Sync for several years, I recently downloaded a trial of GoodSync and must say, I love it. I will spend $20 to make the switch. They both do the same thing, bi-directional syncing of folders and files. And although they both work great, I like the UI for GoodSync better. I find it easier to use, and especially like to see all the nested folders in a tree-view fashion. In addition, GoodSync has the option to copy “LOCKED” files. I find this useful when I’m running a sync, but have Outlook open.

Free to try for 30 days, then $29.95 for the Pro version.
Publisher Site:



I recently finished organizing my music library and started working on my photo albums. One thing I found is that Picasa imports your photos at lightening speed. It’s also great for organizing your albums, adding captions, and editing your photos. This is one sweet application, and is offered for free from Google. You can even use it to upload photos to the Web to share with friends and family. It’s my iTunes for Photos. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of iTunes, but it does a good job with managing my music. I wish they had a “PicasaTunes” that would sync my iPod. Hey Google, are you listening?


Windows Live Writer

I haven’t been one to blog much, in fact I’m fairly new at it. This is actually my first application to help manage and edit blogs. It works with many popular blogging sites and is easy to use. I haven’t been using it long, but so far so good; I give it two thumbs up.


Acronis True Image

I’ve been using Acronis True Image for years. This application allows you to make a full disk image (bootable) in case of a hard drive failure, or in my case, a quick and easy way to restore my system after installing and “toying around” with various applications and messing my system up. But that’s okay, because True Image restores quickly and everything is back in Tip Top Shape. There are other features that make this application a must have. I’m currently using version 11, and it has been working perfectly with Windows 7.

Visit their site to learn more.


This is a bulk file renaming application.  It is not the easiest one to learn to use, but I’ve found that it works well and has features that make it worth learning.  Built in Help is actually helpful and easy to understand.  I’ve tried many different file renaming apps, but this one is my favorite.




Much better alternative to Windows DiskCleaner.

Publisher’s Description:
CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Keep your data safe. Planning for disaster.

To keep things simple, lets divide data into two classifications, Software and Documents.


Software is the applications you install on your machine that make it useful. This includes the Windows operating system, MS Office, Quick Books, and the various software that we purchase or download from the internet. When downloading software from the internet, I recommend getting it directly from the publisher’s website and only if this publisher is well trusted.


Documents are the files that are create when using the various software programs on your computer. These may include Pictures (*.jpg, *.bmp), Text files (*.txt), Word docs (*.doc, *.docx), Adobe Portable Document Format (*.pdf), and many more. The extensions are related to the software that is used to create them. This data can not be recovered, unless it is backed up. In case of disaster such as a hard drive crash, a virus or software product that makes your PC unusable, it’s important to back up this data or risk losing it forever. And quite often (we’re human), we unintentionally delete or overwrite an important file.

Backing up Documents

Microsoft Windows has a “My Documents” folder for each User account on the system. This is the default folder for the documents you create. There are some exceptions, for example, if you use MS Outlook then your Personal Outlook data file (.pst) is saved elsewhere. I’ll cover that in a future blog. You can also change the location of this folder. If you have not changed the location, then “My Documents” is probably the folder that contains most of the documents you created.

It’s good practice to save all your documents in the “My Documents” folder, or a subfolder within. Microsoft Windows creates some default subfolders here, “My Music”, “My Pictures”, and so on. You can add additional folders and organize them to suit your needs. You can think of this as your Electronic Filing Cabinet. The “My Documents” folder is the cabinet, and the many subfolders are the drawers. Keeping everything in one place has two advantages. First, it makes it easy to find your stuff, and second, it makes it easy to back up.

Now that everything is neatly organized (or perhaps not so neatly) within your “My Documents” folder, it is simple to back up this data. Choose your favorite software or tool to back up your “My Documents” folder, including all the files and subfolders contained within. My favorite application for this is called GoodSync. GoodSync allows you to perform bi-directional syncing of folders. It can track changes in both your working folder and the backup folder. It can also propagate deletions and between folders, something not common with typical backup software. Another nice feature is the ability to copy locked files, those that are currently open or “in use” by some application. There are tons of applications available to back up your data. Choose the method that works for you. You can even manually copy and past the files from one drive to another, although I would not recommend this method.

Important: Your backups should always be created on a separate drive, in case the other drive fails.

Advanced: As I mentioned earlier, you can move the location of your “My Documents” folder to another location. I moved mine to an external drive. This provides some benefits. Here are a some:

  1. I can move this drive from one machine to another, keeping my files accessible and current regardless of the computer I’m using. Simply plug this drive into any computer’s USB port, and viola, “My Documents” are available for use.
  2. It keeps my important documents off the main hard drive, the one that is the most susceptible to viruses and malware.
  3. Creating full drive backups (drive images), the size of the backup images are significantly smaller. This leads to another benefit; full backups take less time to complete.
  4. Restoring drive backups will not overwrite all the files in “My Documents” with older versions.

Backing up Software

There are three categories of software to consider: Freebies, Purchased/Licensed, and Installed. I could have classified them into four categories, the free and purchased, both installed or not installed. This was not necessary as Installed includes both.


This is software that you download from the internet; many refer to this as freeware. I don’t worry too much about backing this up. If they are needed in the future simply visit the Publisher’s site and download the latest version. To conserve disk space, I almost always delete these files after installing them.


Here I refer to the software that is paid for and downloaded, not the software on CDs and DVDs. Most Publisher’s will allow you to download the software in case it’s lost. But what happens if the Publisher goes out of business. Or more often, they discontinue the version you purchased and it’s no longer available for download. I recommend backing up all software that is purchased, along with the Keys and Serial Numbers. This can be accomplished in many ways. I use a combination of all the below.

  • Under the “My Documents” folder, create a Software subfolder. This will be included as part of your backup plan as discussed earlier.
  • Large .iso files can be burned to DVD and stored for safe keeping. Once saved to DVD, they can be deleted to free up hard drive space.
  • Create Software DVDs, that include as much as you can fit on the DVDs, and free up space on your hard drive. The more data you can offload onto DVDs the better, for many reasons: Faster virus scans, faster backups, and faster defrags.
  • Purchase a large external drive (1TB or 2TB) and keep all your backups on it. Now you’re cooking! But remember, if this is your only copy, you may still want to copy your purchased software to DVDs or another drive.


This software is installed on the main drive, the one that runs your Operating System (Windows 7 for me), and the applications that make your computer useful. A lot of time is spent organizing your computer, installing software and updates, organizing your Music and Photo libraries, and perhaps customizing your desktop with some cool themes and gadgets. Everything is working just the way you like. If it could only stay that way. Well I’m here to tell you that it can, by creating full drive backups. This is also referred to as creating a drive image. If you have a separate backup plan for your documents, then you may only need to image your main drive.

I have been using Acronis True Image for many years and has worked very well for me. There are other products that do the same thing. Norton Ghost is one example, but there are many available, both free and commercial.

A word of caution: When it comes to data backups, I prefer to pay for a commercial product. I’ve tested many free and open source products, but have yet to find one I feel will protect my data in case of disaster. I’ve restored my system numerous times with Acronis True Image and trust it will work when needed.

I use Acronis True Image to create a full drive backup image once I have my system working the way I like. Then an occasional incremental backup is performed, generally after a new software installation has been tested for a few days. If disaster strikes, the system can be restored back to the state it was in during any of the backups. Remember when I said I keep my “My Documents” folder on a separate drive. Here is another benefit. Restoring my main drive does not have affect my personal documents. Imagine making weeks or months of changes to your documents and then having to restore your main drive. If these documents were kept on the main drive, then I would restore old copies. Then the newer copies would have to be restored from you backup. I prefer to just avoid this altogether.

Removing Photos from iPod via iTunes

Many people are not sure how to remove photos from their iPods.  Don't feel bad, it isn't very intuitive and hopefully Apple will make it more intuitive in future updates to iTunes and the iPod firmware.  Photos that are synced via iTunes can easily be removed from your iPod without any 3rd party software or fancy hacking.  Here are some simple steps that will allow you to delete all photos from you iPod.  Please note that these steps are specific to Windows and not Macs.  I'm not familiar with Macs, but I imagine these steps would be similar in nature.
This article does not pertain to the "Saved Photos" album, but rather to your Photos that were synced via iTunes.  The photos that are under the "Saved Photos" album can be deleted directly from the iPod (Touch and Phone).
Completing the following steps will permanently delete the photos from your iPod.  The photos will not be deleted from you computer.  If you have a copy of them on your computer then you can Sync (copy) them back to your iPod later, if you so choose.  However, if these photos are your only copy, then you may wish to back them up. Backing up photos from your iPod is not covered here. 
I.  Delete all photos from iPod using iTunes when photos are synced.
  • Start iTunes.
  • Connect your iPod to your computer.
  • Click on your iPod icon in iTunes under Devices.
    Be patient, the Tabbed Pages for your device may take a little time to load.
  • Click on the Photos tab.
  • The "Sync Photos from:" check-box should be checked.  If it is not checked, please go to section II.
  • Click to uncheck the "Sync photos from:" check-box.
  • You will see the following prompt.

  • Click the "Remove Photos" button.
  • Click the "Apply" button at the bottom right corner in iTunes.
    1. Your iPod will begin to Sync.
    2. Do not unplug your iPod or close iTunes until sync has completed.
    3. Once finished, open the Photos app on your iPod and you should see there are none.




II.  Delete all photos from iPod using iTunes when photos are no longer synced.
First, an explanation.  If you added Photos to your iPod through iTunes, then the Sync Photos checkbox was checked at some point.  You may have unchecked the box and when the following prompt appeared, simply clicked the "Don't remove photos" button.  This would have left the photos on your iPod, but stopped syncing them.
  • IMPORTANT:  Before continuing, create an empty folder somewhere easy to remember, perhaps on your desktop.  This empty folder can be placed anywhere, but you will want to remember where it is.  I imagine that you know how to do this, but in case you don't:
    Right click on your Desktop and choose New>Folder from the popup menu.  Or do the same anywhere in Windows Explorer.
  • Start iTunes.
  • Connect your iPod to your computer.
  • Click on your iPod icon in iTunes under Devices.
    Be patient, the Tabbed Pages for your device may take a little time to load.
  • Click on the Photos tab.
  • You should see that the "Sync Photos from:" check-box is NOT checked.

    Notice the folder list-box to the right, "My Pictures...".  Your folder name may differ from the one shown here.
    Once you perform the following steps, this folder list-box will become enabled.
  • Click to check the"Sync photos from:" check-box.
  • You will see this prompt.

  • Click the "Sync Photos" button.
  • The folder list-box is now enabled.

  • Click "Choose Folder..."
  • You will be prompted to choose a folder with the standard windows Open dialog box.
  • Remember that empty folder you created in the beginning?  Navigate and choose this folder as your sync folder.
  • Here you see the folder as the default windows "New Folder".  You may have renamed yours. 
    It doesn't matter, as long as the folder you choose is empty, or at least does not contain any pictures.
  • Click the "Apply" button at the bottom right corner in iTunes.
    1. Your iPod will begin to Sync.
    2. Do not unplug your iPod or close iTunes until sync has completed.
    3. Once finished, open the Photos app on your iPod and you should see there are none.