Preview: The Digital Dentist
The Digital Dentist
Welcome to The Digital Dentist. This is the online blog for Dr. Lorne Lavine, the founder and president of Dental Technology Consultants. If you're thinking of adding to or upgrading your technology systems, then you're in the right place.
It might not be the fastest way to launch apps, but OS X's Launchpad is intuitive and easy for everyone to understand. If you're hoping to get the same feature on your Windows machine, WinLaunch is the solution
Once you install WinLaunch, you can assign it to a hot corner, your middle mouse button, the default Shift+Tab keyboard shortcut, and a few other options. No matter how you choose to launch it, once you do, your desktop will fade away to make room for a Launchpad-like grid of applications. Just like Launchpad, you can organize your icons onto different pages, and drop them on top of each other to create folders. Unfortunately, the launcher doesn't auto-populate with all of your applications on first launch, so it'll take a little work to get up and running. Once you do though, it's every bit as fluid and responsive as Apple's version.
Remote printing doesn’t have to be hard, whether you want to print to a printer down the hall or half-way around the world. We’ll cover some simple ways you can print without being directly connected to your printer.We’re going to focus on the easiest options here
. We’re won’t cover setting up the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) or JetDirect and allowing it through your firewall or complicated Windows networking configurations, as these are options best-suited for the IT Professional.
Just the Fax, Ma'am
Some slow-moving businesses and government agencies may not accept documents over email, forcing you to fax them in. If you are forced to send a fax, you can do it from your computer for free.
We’ve previously covered ways to electronically sign documents without printing and scanning them. With this process, you can digitally sign a document and fax it to a business — all on your computer and without any printing required
Browser extensions extend your web browser with additional features, modify web pages, and integrate your browser with the other services you use. This guide will introduce you to the world of browser extensions and help you get started.
If you’re a geek, this stuff is obvious to you. We geeks take this for granted — we know exactly what browser extensions can do, when to use them, and what to avoid
. But not everyone knows all this stuff.
Pass the Buck
Choosing some sort of password management strategy to deal with the huge amount of passwords we need is crucial. If you’re like most people, you probably store your passwords in your brain. To remember them all, you have to cut corners — choosing weak, easy-to-remember passwords and reusing them for multiple accounts. But there are better ways — a good password management tool will allow you to use secure passwords without devoting lots of time to memorization
We’ll cover a variety of different password management tools here, from the high-tech to the traditional. It’s important that you sit down and figure out some sort of password strategy. If you’re not using strong, unique passwords, you are vulnerable.
Tools of the Trade
Not sure why your computer keeps crashing? Investigate – all while getting to know your Windows system better – using built-in tools that come with Windows. If you’ve been afraid to poke around your system and figure out how to maintain it, don’t fear: it’s simpler than you think.
There are plenty of articles on this very site pointing out third-party tools for maintaining your Windows system. What we occasionally overlook, however, are the tools Windows provides out of the box for doing the same things. Sure, they may be less feature-filled than some of the downloadable options – but they do the job, and are generally not hard to use. Whether you need to quickly check a friend’s machine for problems or look over your own, knowing where to find tools for scanning your hard drive and memory can’t hurt – and neither can some basic diagnostic tools.
This list is by no means definitive, but it does point to tools essential for anyone hoping to solve problems on a Windows system
Are you using a processor that supports a 64-bit operating system? If so, are you using a 64-bit operating system? The average off-and-on PC user probably doesn’t know the answers to these questions, although they should!
The 64-bit versions of Windows operating systems offer many advantages, for example practically unlimited RAM. In the 64-bit variant, Windows also offers digital signing of drivers, which means you won’t be crashing nearly as much. We’ve put out an article on the difference between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, and some are extremely important. All of this information and more can be extremely important when determining if you should be going after Windows in its a 32-bit or 64-bit version.
There are so many reasons why 64-bit operating systems are better! Now, let’s look into four ways that you can figure out if you’ve already got the 64-bit goodies
Hide and Seek
Your wireless router has a variety of useful options you can configure. These are practically hidden — you wouldn’t know these features exist unless you were digging through your router’s configuration pages.
Bear in mind that different routers have different options. You may not have all the options listed here on your own router. The options will also be in different places with different names.
New and Improved
The Windows desktop is the sole platform without an app store-style software installation process. Smartphones, tablets, Macs, and Linux PCs all allow you to quickly install multiple programs — but this is more complicated on Windows.
Installing your favorite programs doesn’t have to involve downloading installer after installer, clicking through wizards for hours. We’ll cover some ways to get up and running much more quickly
The web is littered with traps for novice users when downloading software, from fake “Download” buttons that are actually advertisements to installers full of bundled toolbars and other junk software. Learning how to avoid the junk is an important skill.
As geeks, we know how to dodge all the junk when downloading free software for our Windows PCs
. But not everyone knows how. People must be falling for these tricks or they wouldn’t still be in such wide use.
Gone Baby Gone
One issue many of you run into is not knowing what applications are essential, and otherwise bloat, in your list of installed programs. When you buy a new PC, it’s going to come with at least one or two things that are installed that you are going to want to immediately remove. It’s just how business works once the computer is purchased and unboxed, and I can’t see it stopping any time soon. Therefore, educate yourself. You need a way to know what is bloatware and what isn’t. Should I Remove It?
will tell you just that.
Windows 7′s file copy dialog is okay — but just okay. It isn’t the fastest when copying a large number of files, and it will stop the entire process if you have to deal with file conflicts or other errors. However, there are faster ways to copy files that will deal with file conflicts more intelligently
The traditional Windows file copy dialog’s worst problem is the way it stops and waits for input when it detects a problem, preventing you from leaving the process alone to finish on its own. Luckily, Microsoft improved this with Windows 8. If you’re not using Windows 8 yet, you can get this feature on Windows 7 or even older versions of Windows.
Leaps and Bounds
Much of our work, play, and communication is done over the Internet. These are perfect conditions to collaborate and help each other, even when you’re far apart. Connecting, however, often requires that both ends use the same tool. Have you ever wanted to demonstrate something you do on your computer and wished you could easily and spontaneously share your screen? Some things are much easier to communicate when the other side can see what you are talking about.
To share what you see on your screen when you are in separate locations, you can connect through a third-party tool like Skype and live-share your screen or send a screenshot. Or you could use Screenleap
. This Chrome browser extension lets you launch a screenshare for a part of or your entire desktop from within Gmail. Your partner/s on the other side only needs the viewer URL to instantly view your screen from any browser on any device
Lost and Found
You’ve lost control. All the accounts you can access on your Windows computer aren’t Administrator accounts, meaning you’re helpless to install software, update drivers or do any kind of administration whatsoever. You can’t even install games. The humanity!
Don’t panic. There are more than a few tools for recovering a lost Windows Administrator password
, so we can get you back into power over your computer in no time. Some methods are legit, but required you to have thought ahead (unlikely). Others are legit but only work for Windows 8. Two more methods are sort of hacking, but perfectly legal to use on your own computer.
Do not, and I mean do not, use this to access computers that aren’t yours. Just don’t.
In the past, the only consumer operating systems that mattered were Windows and maybe Mac OS X and Linux. Now, we also have Chrome OS, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone to worry about. And new versions of these operating systems are coming out even more frequently. Microsoft recently released the Windows 8.1 Preview for users to try and the final version is due in just a few months, Mac OS X updates once per year, and Chrome OS updates every six weeks.
Things are changing frequently. The days of learning a single operating system like Windows XP and using it for ten years are behind us. Here are some tips for keeping up with new operating systems and learning how they work
Lap of Luxury
Laptops have a particularly short lifetime. If they have not been physically damaged by the time their hardware is hopelessly outdated, they have certainly suffered some serious wear & tear and have probably driven their owner nuts with slow response times and other bugs. Not surprisingly, the average laptop is replaced within less than three years.
While it is possible to upgrade laptop hardware, e.g. add more RAM, or even fix an overheating laptop or repair a broken laptop screen, one day the time will come when that is just not possible or worth it any more. This is when you will want to copy your data from your old laptop to a new device. How you can do this essentially depends on how much data there is to back up and whether or not the old laptop is still booting. And the methods I describe below work equally well
when you just need to copy data for any other reason.
Pass the Salt
Passwords are important and most people don’t know enough about them. How do you choose a strong password, use a unique password everywhere, and remember them all? How do you secure your accounts so you’re safe even if someone discovers your password? How do you protect your files and operating system — and what if you ever lose a password? We’ve covered all this and more over the years.
Be sure to read our password management guide
for an in-depth overview to everything from choosing strong passwords to picking a password management technique and setting up two-factor authentication.
Tea for Two
Having two monitors is one of those things that the first time you try it, you’ll never go back. There are lots of benefits to having two monitors to work with, but those benefits multiply even further when you use software like Actual Multiple Monitors.
A while back, I went through the process of extending your laptop with two external monitors, which is fantastic. However, while two monitors give you double the workspace and boost productivity, utilizing two monitors has never been perfect. Sometimes the background or screensaver just doesn’t quite work right – for example, it’ll work on the primary monitor but not the secondary. Erez tried to use some multiple monitor tools to fix those issues, but even then, the tools aren’t perfect.
I must have tried almost every free multiple desktop application out there, but while some make a valiant attempt to give you the feeling as though you’re using two individual computer systems independent of each other, they always fall short. In the end, either the screensaver or backgrounds don’t work right, virtual desktop setups simply consume too much memory and resources, or the software tool is very buggy and ends up freezing up the system. I actually gave up using any tool and just stuck with the standard extended desktop setup, and called it good.
That is until I came across Actual Multiple Monitors. In this article, I’m going to show you how this impressive software can transform your single PC into a dual display system
that acts as though you’re running two independent computer desktops where you can toss windows and applications from one desktop to the other with a click of the mouse (or keyboard).
The only reason I even bothered trying the paid version of this software is because of the promise that it offered two fully functional desktops with independent start menus and taskbars. I’d been on the search for this kind of software for so long that I didn’t really believe such a thing was possible. Sure enough it is.
Not Dead Yet
Several years ago, I experienced a hard drive failure. I was at work when my laptop suddenly started to act particularly strange. First, I thought it was because I had too many windows open and the RAM was full, but when the problems persisted after a reboot, I knew it was more than that. I immediately started to back up recent files. About half an hour later, the hard drive failed audibly and the laptop wouldn’t boot anymore.
Thank God I had backups! Except that I didn’t have backups of everything. Just weeks earlier my backup drive had reached capacity. To back up important work files, I had decided to delete my personal photos. The irony was that I had already purchased a new external drive, but had not taken the time to back up my photos. Now they were lost and I was devastated.
Over the next couple of weeks I researched ways to recover the data and considered doing everything under the sun — and did most of it — to revive the old hard drive. I eventually did recover my data, but not in the way you would expect. If your hard drive has failed physically, maybe this little guide can help you or at least give you some hope. So roll up your sleeves and get to work
Drive My Car
Drivers are important for every computer. Without them, hardware and software wouldn’t be able to communicate, leaving a system inoperable. Updates to drivers can dramatically improve the stability, speed and features of a computer without any changes to the hardware inside. Yet, for whatever reason, driver updates remain difficult to locate for most devices. Most users don’t update unless something has gone wrong.Driver Booster, from IObit
, promises an easier solution by acting as an all-in-one command center. All of your drivers are listed in the app’s interface, making them easy to update; or that’s the idea, at least. Let’s see if one interface can truly handle updates for all your hardware.
Top 10 List
Picture this. You’re starting a new dental office, and you’ve devoted an insane amount of resources into developing a website that is just awesome. It’s responsive, the design is slick and professional.
You’re ready to accommodate the hordes, but you don’t know how to get the hordes to realize your site exists. It’s time to fill your site with content, and you know that it needs to be crafted in a way that’ll bring in people from the search engines, but you really have no idea where to start. Search engine optimization just feels like black magic to you. It’s all voodoo.
Then, out of the blue, like a sign from heaven, you get an email from someone proclaiming that they’re an SEO expert and they’re prepared to help you get your site listed immediately in the top 10 Google results for search terms in your industry. It seems too good to be true, but what have you got to lose? You’ve got to do something, right
Actually, you do – but responding to that “expert” is not the thing to do. Unfortunately, because SEO is one of the most misunderstood aspects of web design, it is also a primary target for scam artists that prey upon unsuspecting website owners, willing to do anything for a piece of the search engine pie.
Push Comes to Shove
Image hosting and image sharing sites are all the rage these days, especially with the widespread explosion in popularity of Internet image macros and memes. Images are pleasing to the eye and people are more likely to view an image than read a block of text – which is why infographics are great. The problem? Storage limits and inconvenient uploads.
Way back at the start of all of this we had sites like Imageshack and Photobucket, which both still exist but have drastically fallen off in terms of popular usage. After that came Flickr, Instagram, and Pinterest – social media sites built on the premise of image sharing. As for pure image hosting, the biggest contenders today are Imgur and Minus.
All of those services are great but what if there was a tool that lets you take screenshots, upload them to storage, and share a link – all with one click? That tool exists and it’s called Puush. Ever since I installed this program, I’ve been taking and sharing screenshots from my computer in less than five seconds flat. Here’s how you can join in on the fun.
DNS 4 Me
Your Internet service provider runs DNS servers for you, but you don’t have to use them. You can use third-party DNS servers instead, which offer a variety of features that your ISP probably doesn’t.
We’ve covered third-party DNS servers like OpenDNS and Google Public DNS in the past, but now we’ll explain just why you might want to change your DNS server
Lost and Found
Apple offers a “Find My Mac” service to track a lost or stolen stolen Mac computer. However, Microsoft doesn’t provide an equivalent service for Windows PCs — not even for tablets running Windows 8.
If you’re using Windows and want the ability to track your laptop should it ever become lost or stolen, you’ll need to install some third-party software. There are many paid services that offer this feature, but there are also good free options