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Hello Friends!

About my Friends page

I put these pages together to help my friends with, um... well, a lot of computer related stuff.
I'm sure you'll find something helpful and useful here.

Things are (sort of) loosely arranged under pertinent headings, and all links that you click on will open in a new tab.

If you'd like to see anything added, please .

This page is forever in a state of change, so come back often to see what's new.
If you'd like an email notification when things have changed, please .

.ca Domain Names

Owning one's .ca domain name is every Canadians' right.

I got lucky with Schreiner.ca—no one had laid claim to it.
The beauty of owning my own .ca domain name is that not only am I able to have a www.Schreiner.ca website, but I can have lifetime @Schreiner.ca email addresses that will never change, even if I switch from one service provider to another.

Check out CIRA - The Canadian Internet Registration Authority for more information.

If you decide to register your own .ca domain, please consider (my registrar) CanadianDomainRegistry.ca as your Registrar of Choice.
Canadian Domain Registry is also an excellent choice for your web and mail hosting needs.

Privacy

Privacy is not about what people want to hide, it's moreso about having a choice to protect something that is worth protecting.

See 'VeraCrypt' below for an encryption program that is nearly impossible to crack, yet requires no user intervention after entering the correct password or encryption keys.

More to come...

WINDOWS "is spyware with an operating system attached" according to the old sysadmin joke. Riddled with unpatched security vulnerabilities ("zero-days") that let criminal hackers and intel agencies take control of the operating system, Windows is a computer security professional's nightmare. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2014/03/computer-security)

If you want to participate in the modern world, they are getting better and better at making it virtually impossible to escape their efforts at making sure they know what the real you is doing on the Internet.

Data Security

Protect your data (computer, backup drives, USB sticks, optical storage) with a passphrase, even if you never take it outside the security of your own home or office (someone else might)!

Back up your data! Back up your data! Back up your data! (Yah, it's that important). See Backup elsewhere on this page!

When you retire a computer or dispose of storage media (USB drive, CD, DVD, Hard Drives), wipe out the data on them. See my notes on Wiping Data.

Anti-Virus

Many manufacturers will include a bundled antivirus program on new computers—in most cases, this will be a trial version that after period of time will require a payment to continue the protection.
In most cases, the antivirus protection that is included in the operating system will have been disabled.

If your computer is running the Windows 8 or 10 operating system, Windows Defender will help protect you from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. You don’t need to buy anything else.

If your computer is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, Windows Defender removes spyware, but to protect yourself from viruses, you’ll need to download antivirus software. You can download it from a third party, or you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.

Avira Free Antivirus is also a good choice if you are looking for alternate or additional protection. it rates very high in the Virus Bulletin and AV-Comparatives comparisons.

Virus Bulletin, a testing and certification body, regularly tests and compares antivirus programs. You can see how your AV app stacks up against the others at their latest Comparative VB100 page and Latest RAP Quadrant.

AV-Comparatives' Real-World Protection Test is the most comprehensive and complex test available when it comes to evaluating the real-life protection capabilities of antivirus software. Put simply, the test framework replicates the scenario of an everyday user in an everyday online environment – the typical situation that most of us experience when using a computer with an Internet connection.

Backup

When things go wrong... You do have a backup, don't you?

This most excellent Backup Guide agrees totally with my way of thinking! I consider it a 'Must Read.'

After much research, I decided to use Backblaze Online Backup and I smile every day, knowing that if something goes sideways with my computer, or if it takes a walk to parts unknown, I am covered!

For in-house backups, I have used Create Synchronicity and DirSync Pro with excellent results. Create Synchronicity is simple and easy to use and may well do what you need; DirSync Pro is is a step beyond. Both are free!

Important!
Once you do have a reliable backup, you must be able to restore it! Practice restoring! A backup that you can not restore is no better than no backup at all!

Old Computers - What to do with them when you no longer need or want them.

Before disposing of your old computer, make sure you have all your files transferred to your new computer, or saved to some kind of storage media.

Then you must be certain that there is absolutely none of your data remaining on the built-in storage media. See my notes on Wiping Data.

Now what? You've backed up all your important files and securely wiped ALL remnants of your files.

If your old comp is absolutely dead, please recycle it responsibly at your local EcoCentre.

If there is a glimmer of hope that it may still be useful to someone, please consider donating it to a worthy cause.
A friend of my brothers' is involved with group homes for the mentally and physically challenged. They are constantly looking for computers for their clients to use.
My brother rebuilds old computers (if needed, new OS and hard drive, etc.) and then donates them to the group homes.
If you'd like to see your old comp go to good use, please .

CapitalizeYourElectronicAddressesForReadability

In any and all of your written or electronic communications—be that business cards, letters, websites, advertisements—Capitalize Your Electronic Addresses For Readability.
ThisIsMyNewEmailAddress@MyServiceProvider.ca or www.ThisIsMyWebPage.ca is a heck of a lot easier to read than thisismynewemailaddress@myserviceprovider.ca or www.thisismywebpage.ca

There used to be a time when web and email servers were not smart enough to handle mixed case in electronic addresses and everyone told you "it has to be all lowercase." Well, that's changed a long time ago and it is now preferable to CapitalizeForReadability.

Wiping Data

When you delete a file off your computers' hard drive, it is NOT erased!
The indexing system of your hard drive (which keeps track of what areas are free or occupied) merely marks the deleted files' area as being free. Until that area is overwritten with new data, the old data is recoverable.
With sophisticated equipment (e.g. Magnetic microscope), great amounts of time, and a pile of cash, even data that has been overwritten several times can be recovered. With todays' disk densities, this can be done with even tiny fractions of the disk platter. However, other than nation states, few have the financial resources to go to that length.

  • Physical Drive Destruction
    This method is within the realm of regular users!
    To positively prevent data from recovery, disks can be removed from disk drives and broken up, or even ground to microscopic pieces.
    Smashing with a hammer or a hot fire (BBQ) works very well if you can easily remove the drive.
    Recovering substantial amounts of data in less than months requires that the disk be intact and undamaged, so that heads can be flown over it to obtain data playback signals; then overcoming several technology hurdles. Simply bending a disk makes this nearly impossible, so physical damaging drives to warp their disks makes recovery practically impossible.

  • Nondestructive Data Erasure
    'Secure Erase' is a set of commands embedded in most ATA drives built since 2001. It's been disabled by most motherboard BIOSes.
    The How to REALLY erase a hard drive article on ZDNet is a very informative read, and it contains a download link and instructions for the use of Secure Erase.

If you plan to re-use the computer and you have destroyed the boot drive or totally wiped it, there is a chance that you may not be able to reinstall the operating system for which the computer is licensed.
Several OEM computer manufacturers embed the OS product key in the BIOS, thus making their repair department the only ones able to reinstall your licensed OS. There is a cost involved for this, as well as shipping charges...
When I have had to deal with totally wiped boot drives or brand new boot drives, I usually installed Linux Mint on these machines. It's cool, free and actually very 'Windows like'.

Weeding Duplicate Files

Having duplicate working files on your computer wastes storage space and can make it difficult to manage your files. When several files have the same name, it can become extremely difficult to locate the latest revision.

Although there are many excellent file de-duplicators to be had, I have found that CCleaner has a very good duplicate finder tool that has saved me many hours when weeding my system of duplicate files.

Programs and Utilities I Use:

Audacity - Digital Audio Editor

Audacity is a free open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application.
Check the features! This is my 'Swiss Army Knife' for anything to do with digitized audio. Totally awesome!

Audacity Official Site  Audacity at Wikipedia

Aptana Studio - IDE for building websites and web applications.

Aptana Studio is an open source integrated development environment (IDE) for building websites and web applications.
It is for the advanced developer and has its associated learning curve. This website is built using Aptana Studio.

Aptana Studio Official Site/  Aptana Studio at Wikipedia

Avira Free Antivirus

Avira Free Antivirus provides comprehensive protection against all types of threats, secures your data, protects your privacy and ensures your computer remains virus-free.

I have been using the free version of Avira Antivirus for many years. Working in conjunction with Windows built-in protection, Avira has helped protect me from the bad guys the few times that something brand new snuck by my many other safeguards.

Avira Official Site  Avira at Wikipedia

Backblaze - Cloud-based Backup

Backblaze is an online backup tool that allows users to back up their data to an offsite data center. The service is designed to provide unlimited storage space and unlimited file sizes.

Backblaze is one of the few services that I pay for—money well spent in my opinion. Backblaze has me covered if anything at all goes wrong with my computer or data. I find that very reassuring and worth every penny!

Backblaze Official Site  Backblaze at Wikipedia

Bulk Rename Utility - Batch Renamer

Bulk Rename Utility is a free file renaming software for Windows. Bulk Rename Utility allows you to easily rename files and entire folders based upon extremely flexible criteria.
Add date/time stamps, replace numbers, insert text, convert case, add auto-numbers, process folders and sub-folders....plus a whole lot more!

I find this program to be extremely useful when I datestamp and rename the many pictures that I take.

Bulk Rename Utility Official Site  Batch Renaming at Wikipedia

CCleaner - File and System Cleaner

CCleaner is a free utility program used to clean potentially unwanted files (including temporary internet files, where malicious programs and code tend to reside) and invalid Windows Registry entries from a computer. It protects your privacy and makes your computer faster and more secure!

I use CCleaner periodically to do cleanup that Wise Care does not catch. As a stand-alone cleaner, it is very excellent and you would do well by it!

CCleaner has one incredibly useful utility that I have used time-and-time again—the Duplicate Finder Tool has saved me many hours when weeding my system of duplicate files.

CCleaner Official Site  CCleaner at Wikipedia

Create Synchronicity - Open source backup and synchronization

Create Synchronicity is a backup/synchronization tool that can help you protect your files, and keep your data up-to-date. You can use it for pretty much everything from copying your documents, pictures, music and videos to your USB Key or backup drive, to scheduling server backups with regex filtering and DST compensation. Create Synchronicity makes backing up your files extremely easy, while remainining fully customizable.

Create Synchronicity is simple and easy to use and may well do what you need; DirSync Pro is is a step beyond!

Create Synchronicity Official Site

DirSync Pro - Open source synchronization and backup utility

DirSync Pro is an open source synchronization and backup utility for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and all other operating systems that run Java. It can be used to create incremental backups.

DirSync Pro is in-depth and comprehensive. If your back-up requirements are quite basic, have a look at Create Synchronicity.

DirSync Pro Official Site  DirSync Pro at Wikipedia

Disk Space Analizer - Finds files and folders using the most space on your hard drive

TreeSize Free tells you where precious disk space has gone. Use the treemap to keep an eye on your disk space.
I am currently using this space analizer.

SpaceSniffer is a freeWare and portable tool application that lets you understand how folders and files are structured on your disks. By using a Treemap visualization layout, you have immediate perception of where big folders and files are placed on your devices

WizTree WizTree is the world's fastest disk space analyzer. It scans your hard drive and shows you which files and folders are using the most disk space. It does this in the FASTEST way possible - you simply won't find any other application of this type that's quicker! Use the information WizTree provides to quickly locate and remove "space hogs" from your hard drive.

DuckDuckGo - Search Engine

DuckDuckGo is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers' privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results.

I love this search engine. It's uncluttered, fast and returns very accurate results. I particularly like the fact that I can configure various advanced settings.

DuckDuckGo Tour DuckDuckGo at Wikipedia

Em Client - Email program (client)

eM Client is a full featured e-mail client with a modern and easy to use interface. eM Client also offers calendar, tasks, contacts and chat.

Em Client is a 'Desktop' client, meaning that your information is kept in the computer it is installed on, rather than at a third-party suppliers datacentre.

Read the Server section to find out how it will interact with your particular email account.

Disclaimer: I do not currently use this email client, although I have used it in the past and have installed it on a number of friends computers.
It works very well, and is free to use for up to two email accounts.

eM Client Official Site  eM Client at Wikipedia

Encryptr - A free, open source, cloud-based password manager and e-wallet.

Basically, what it does, is encrypt and decrypt data locally so that it can only be accessed by authorized users. The encrypted data is stored in the cloud and synchronized between all devices the user installs the application on." (ghacks.net).
It allows users to securely access their confidential data from a single account from the cloud, no matter where they are.

I find it extremely convenient to access my account information from anywhere, and if Encryptr is not installed on the machine I'm at, that's easily done. To access my account info, all I need to remember is just one master pass phrase. The fact that my information is encrypted/decrypted locally and then again as it travels through the cloud is very reassuring.

Encryptr Official Site  Encryptr at Wikipedia

Everything - File and Folder Search Engine

"Everything" is a search engine that locates files and folders by filename instantly for Windows. Unlike Windows search "Everything" initially displays every file and folder on your computer (hence the name "Everything").

"Everything" is Windows' 'Search Computer' on steroids...

Everything Official Site

ExifTool - Read, Write and Edit image, audio and video Meta Information!

ExifTool is a platform-independent Perl library plus a command-line application for reading, writing and editing meta information in a wide variety of files. ExifTool supports many different metadata formats including EXIF, GPS, IPTC, XMP, JFIF, GeoTIFF, ICC Profile, Photoshop IRB, FlashPix, AFCP and ID3, as well as the maker notes of many digital cameras by Canon, Casio, FLIR, FujiFilm, GE, HP, JVC/Victor, Kodak, Leaf, Minolta/Konica-Minolta, Motorola, Nikon, Nintendo, Olympus/Epson, Panasonic/Leica, Pentax/Asahi, Phase One, Reconyx, Ricoh, Samsung, Sanyo, Sigma/Foveon and Sony.

I take a lot of digital photos and use ExifTool to alter the metadata. Read the documentation and understand what you are doing with ExifTool—you can easily mess up!

ExifTool Official Site  ExifTool at Wikipedia

FastStone Image Viewer - Image browser, converter and editor.

Between FastStone Image Viewer, Irfan View and GIMP, I've just about got all the image manipulation tools I could ever need...

FastStone Image Viewer Official Site  FastStone Image Viewer at Wikipedia

Fast Stone has several useful utilities.

File Archiver and Unpacker - ZIP

7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio. It also unpacks or unZips zipped files.

Even though Windows has built-in capabilities, I use 7-Zip because of its versatility, it does what I need, and it's totally free.

7-Zip works in Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP / 2012 / 2008 / 2003 / 2000 / NT. There is a port of the command line version to Linux/Unix.

7-Zip Official Site  7-Zip at Wikipedia


I have also read good things said about Bandzip although I have yet to try it out.

FileZilla - FTP Client/Server

FTP stands for File Transfer protocol. There are to this day still many sites on the internet that use FTP servers to disseminate information.
I use it mainly to upload my website files to my webhost.

FileZilla Client Official Site  FileZilla Client at Wikipedia

Firefox - Web Browser

Firefox is about as cool as it gets! The only thing better than Firefox is Firefox with the DuckDuckGo search engine.
There's Add-ons and Extensions that will make your web browsing even more secure and versatile.

Firefox Official Site  Firefox at Wikipedia

Foobar2000 - Freeware audio player for Windows (Linux with WINE)

If you're serious about music, get Foobar2000! Foobar2000 has a large following of serious music enthusiasts and audiophiles

I have Foobar2000 installed on a Windows machine and on a Linux Mint machine. I particularly enjoy lounging back and controlling either Foobar2000 installation from my tablet with a remote controller app.

Foobar2000 Official Site  Foobar2000 at Wikipedia

Foxit Reader - PDF Reader

Foxit Reader is very secure and has a clean user interface.

Opinion: Over time, Foxit Reader has implemented great amounts of 'Bloat'. Feature Creep does that... There are services implemented now that constantly phone home to Foxit. I have now ceased using Foxit Reader and am using Sumatra PDF (see below).

Foxit Reader Official Site  Foxit Reader at Wikipedia

GIMP - Image Manipulation Program

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.

GIMP's fitness for use in professional environments is regularly reviewed; it is often suggested as a possible replacement for Adobe Photoshop. GIMP has similar functionality to Photoshop, but does not seek to emulate its user interface

GIMP Official Site 

IMGBurn - lightweight CD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray burning application

Whilst ImgBurn is designed to work perfectly straight out of the box, advanced users will appreciate just how configurable it is.

IMGBurn Official Site  IMGBurn at Wikipedia

IrfanView - Image Viewer

IrfanView can view, edit, and convert image files and play video/audio files.

Between IrfanView, FastStone Image Viewer and GIMP, I've just about got all the image manipulation tools I could ever need...

IrfanView Official Site  IrfanView at Wikipedia

Linux Mint - Operating System

Linux Mint is the most popular desktop Linux distribution and the 3rd most widely used home operating system behind Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS.

I have Linux Mint dual booting on my desk LT and use it to do secure banking. Linux Mint runs my music LT.
A friend who used to have nothing but trouble with his previous OS is now running a troublefree Linux Mint system.
Several computers that I have recycled with new or wiped hard drives are now running Linux Mint.
If I was not totally married to one particular app that does not (yet) run on Linux Mint, even with WINE, I'd be running nothing but Linux on my personal machines...

Linux Mint Official Site  Linux Mint at Wikipedia

Malwarebytes - a scanner that detects and removes malware

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware's industry-leading scanner detects and removes malware like worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, spyware, and more. All you have to do is launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and run a scan. It's that simple.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware  Malwarebytes at Wikipedia

Microsoft Office - Office Productivity Suite

The interoprability of all the component parts of the MS Office Suite has made it (almost) indispensible for running a business of any size.

During the days that I spent in big business, I managed to do some incredible things with MSO. To this day, I still rely on Outlook to help me keep track of various parts of my daily life.

It appears that Microsoft has made it impossible to download older versions of the Office Suite. Microsoft looks to be heading more and more towards a subscription service for their productivity software. Have a look at Apache Open Office for a compatible, and very reasonably priced (free) replacement.

Microsoft Office Official Site  Microsoft Office at Wikipedia

NetWorx (SoftPerfect NetWorx) - Bandwidth Meter

A simple, yet powerful utility for monitoring your bandwidth usage and the speed of wired and wireless network connections (Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Mobile Broadband, etc).

If your internet plan is not unlimited, exceeding your monthly bandwidth allowance may become costly. You may well save the price you paid for this program (by avoiding overage charges) in the first month you use it. Even if you have no limit, you may be just curious about how much bandwidth you are using.

SoftPerfect NetWorx is the perfect way to monitor your bandwidth. It allows you to monitor all your network connections or just a specific network connection, such as Wireless or Mobile Broadband.

I have been using NetWorx for a number of years and I can attest that it is a most useful app.

SoftPerfect NetWorx Official Site

Open Office (Apache Open Office) - Free Office Productivity Suite

Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

Apache Open Office is compatible with Microsoft Office files. If you no longer wish to pay for your office productivity tools, then Apache Open Office is for you!

Apache Open Office Official Site  Apache Open Office at Wikipedia

Solitaire Card Games

PySol Fanclub Edition (PySolFC) is a collection of more than 1000 solitaire card games. There are games that use the 52 card International Pattern deck, games for the 78 card Tarock deck, eight and ten suit Ganjifa games, Hanafuda games, Matrix games, Mahjongg games, and games for an original hexadecimal-based deck.
There is truly something for everyones' taste.

PySol Official Site

Just click on the download link and then double click the file in your download folder to install...Download link

SpiderOak - Online Backup and File Hosting Service

SpiderOak is a online backup and file hosting service that allows users to access, synchronize and share data.

I use it to store a few items that I regularly require access to from abroad. I also use SpiderOak to set up password protected share folders so my friends can easily access items I share with them.

SpiderOak Official Site  SpiderOak at Wikipedia

Stellarium - Planetarium for your Computer

Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

A teriffic program for that inner stargazer in all of us!

Stellarium Official Site  Stellarium at Wikipedia

StudioTax - Canadian Personal Income Tax Preparation Software

When you're ready to bite the bullet and do it, StudioTax makes the process (almost) bearable.

StudioTax official Site

Sumatra PDF - PDF Reader

Sumatra PDF is very secure, light and minimalistic.

Sumatra PDF - Official Site  Sumatra PDF at Wikipedia

TeamViewer - The All-In-One Software for Remote Support and Online Meetings

Remote control any computer or Mac over the internet within seconds or use TeamViewer for online meetings.

I have secure access to my computer from anywhere! I can control my music computer (across the room) while sitting at my desk LT! I hook up with my friends and help them with managing their computer!

TeamViewer is Made In Germany and is totally free for private use. Das ist gut!

TeamViewer Official Site  TeamViewer at Wikipedia

uTorrent - Torrent Client

uTorrent is a Torrent Client. It's small and efficient software, it does what I want and need, and it's totally free.

uTorrent Official Site  uTorrent at Wikipedia

Your browser may tell you that the official site is unsafe - I believe this to be not so, but please use caution.

VeraCrypt - open-source utility used for on-the-fly encryption

VeraCrypt is a software for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume (data storage device). On-the-fly encryption means that data is automatically encrypted right before it is saved and decrypted right after it is loaded, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/keyfile(s) or correct encryption keys. Entire file system is encrypted (e.g., file names, folder names, contents of every file, free space, meta data, etc).

VeraCrypt Introduction  VeraCrypt at Wikipedia

VeraCrypt - Home

VLC Media Player - Multimedia Player

It works well! It plays most Multimedia Files, DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and Streaming. It's really all you need to watch any multimedia file.

VLC Media Player Official Site  VLC Media Player at Wikipedia

Wise Care 365 - A Comprehensive PC Cleaner and Performance Enhancer

Wise Care 365 is a bundle of important tools including a registry cleaner, disk cleaner, program uninstaller, memory optimizer and more. Easy to use and effective, Wise Care 365 is a good solution to help improve your PC's performance.

Wise Care cleans the dust and cobwebs out of my computer and keeps it running lean and mean!
I recommend it to all my friends!

Wise Care 365 Official Site


The latest thing I'm investigating:
The Qubes Operating System.