Robert Wenger's Computing and Tech Blog

Conflict of Interests

If you don’t know, I also run a computer support forum called Technofyed as well as this blog. With time constraints recently, I have not found much time to work on either site, so I have come to a decision on how to divide my content.

I plan to keep all of my hardware-related posts (such as my recent Pebble Smartwatch review) on Technofyed and post my software-related posts here. These posts may be programming, reviews, quick fixes, etc. I feel that a distinct division will allow me to focus more easily on doing the things I want to do.

With that said, I’ve got some posts in the works! Look forward to them coming out soon! In the meantime, check out Technofyed and join the discussion. :)

Stop Autoplaying Videos on Facebook!

If you’re anything like me, videos that play automatically are a huge annoyance. Recently, Facebook has made a change to make videos embedded in your timeline play automatically. Coupled with the recent trend of “Facebook movies”, it’s hard to scroll down your Facebook timeline without beginning to load a bunch of videos. The worst part? Facebook currently does not allow you to turn off videos that play automatically.

So how do we stop these videos from loading? There are a couple of good options. However, the options I’m presenting here are for Firefox or Chrome, so if you are using Internet Explorer, you may want to install a new web browser.

Option 1: Blocking Flash

Using the FlashBlock plugin means that you have to click on flash applications when you try to use them! Otherwise, they will not be shown!

These videos are played with a flash-based player. This means if we can prevent flash from loading when the page loads, we can stop the videos. To do this, we have a plugin called FlashBlock for Chrome and Firefox. These plugins will prevent all flash applications and animations from loading until you click on them. You can install this plugin by using the appropriate link below for your browser.

FlashBlock for Firefox

FlashBlock for Chrome

However, you may not want to affect flash applications on every web page you visit. If so, the second option is probably what you want to use.

Option 2: The F.B. Purity Plugin

There is a plugin called F.B. Purity that alters how Facebook is displayed to you. It has many options from blocking ads to changing the font size. However the purpose of this post is to get rid of autoplaying videos.

First, install the plugin by following the directions on the plugin’s install page. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Open Facebook.com in your web browser.
  2. Click the “FBP” link that is now to the right of your search bar.
  3. In the box that pops up, click “Video Stories” in the links on the left.
  4. Check “Disable Autoplay”.
  5. Click “Save and Close” at the bottom of the box.

Your videos should now play only when the play button is clicked.

Hopefully Facebook will create an option to turn off autoplaying videos, but for now, these two options should do the trick.

I love hearing from you! Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or drop me an email!

How to Install a New Web Browser

Installing a new browser is simple.

Installing a new browser is simple.

Every version of Microsoft Windows comes with Internet Explorer (IE) installed as the default web browser. What some people don’t know is that there are other major web browsers out there, and they are in general much better.

Why is there a difference?

When website owners create their web pages, they use certain programming languages to do so. These languages have certain things they can accomplish, and these languages change over time. New things must be accomplished, and these new abilities can make old parts of the language obsolete. The people who create web browsers such as Internet Explorer must adapt to these changes and make their software show you what the website owner has specified. This code may be new code or old code depending on the age of the page.

Internet Explorer has a fairly poor track record in keeping up with these changes. In software development, change happens FAST! This means if you don’t change and adapt to the current situation, you will be left in the dust. Microsoft failed to realize that changes in web browsers were going to be important, and they shifted their focus away from Internet Explorer, assuming their product was finished. Recently, they have begun to focus more on the browser, but they are still behind and playing catch up.

For more on how IE got to this point, check out HTG Explains: Why Do So Many Geeks Hate Internet Explorer? This section in particular hits home for me:

Supporting IE is Like a Fork in the Eye for Web Devs
Here’s a sample of a day in the life of a web designer: You spend hours making sure that your page looks great, and you test it out in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even Opera. It looks great, awesome!

Now you open up IE and the page looks like somebody put it into a blender and hit the Whip button. Then you spend double the amount of time trying to fix it to look tolerable in IE6 and IE7, cursing loudly the entire time.

How do I switch?

Downloading a new web browser is simple. Two of the most popular browsers other than Internet Explorer are Firefox and Google Chrome. Both products are free, and which you choose is simply a matter of opinion. I personally use Chrome.

The following instructions assume you are currently using Internet Explorer to view this web page.

Installing Firefox

  1. Go to the Firefox Website.
  2. Click the green button that says (at the time of this writing) “Firefox Free Download”
  3. Click “Run”.
  4. If asked “Do you want to allow this program to make changes to your computer?” click yes.
  5. Follow the directions on the screen.

Installing Chrome

  1. Go to the Chrome Website.
  2. Click the blue button that says (at the time of this writing) “Download Chrome”
  3. Click “Accept and Install”.
  4. Follow any further instructions on the screen.

How do I use my new browser?

When these programs install, they will usually create an icon on your desktop. Minimize any open windows, and click on the icon for the browser you just installed.

For more on using your new browser, check out these pages on their websites:

Getting Started with Mozilla Firefox

Chrome Help

Out of curiosity, which browser do you use?

Which web browser do you use?

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If you have any problems with downloading a new browser, let me know. I hope to see all of my visitors using a browser other than IE soon!

I love hearing from you! Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or drop me an email!

Help! My 3+ Year Old Computer Won’t Turn On!

One of the most frustrating problems you can have with your computer is when it simply does not turn on. The screen is black, no lights turn on, and you are much more limited on ways you can diagnose the computer. There are various reasons why this problem may happen (Are you SURE you plugged it in?), but there’s one simple reason with a very cheap fix that I think is worth looking into if you’re in this situation.

CMOS Battery

Every computer, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop, has a battery called a “CMOS Battery” that helps it store certain information. These batteries allow for the storage of the time and settings of the computer. When the computer is off and unplugged (or the laptop’s main battery is removed or depleted), the computer needs to be able to keep up with the time. The battery allows the computer to keep its internal clock running.

A CR 2032 battery.

The CR 2032 battery is commonly used as the CMOS battery in desktops and laptops. (Image Source)

These CMOS batteries tend to last quite a while, but they do fail from time to time. Failures may happen as soon as 2 years after the computer was purchased or the battery may last 10 years or longer. This means that the older a computer is, the more likely it is that its battery will stop working.

Diagnosis and Repair

There are various problems a computer can display with a bad CMOS battery, and many of these symptoms may occur with little notice. The problem could be as simple as an incorrect time, or the computer could not turn on at all with the press of the power button. I have fixed computers with bad CMOS batteries whose fans would turn on as soon as the power cord was plugged in, but the computer would not start. Your computer may even alert you to issues with the system time or the battery itself. With any of these issues, you should probably check into problems with the CMOS battery.

Remember to avoid static when working on your computer!

To check a CMOS battery, you must check it with a multimeter or voltmeter. First, find the battery (pictured above) on the motherboard. You can find the battery in a desktop computer by simply removing the case and inspecting the motherboard. You can usually access the battery in a laptop by removing one of the covers on the bottom of the laptop. The battery might be under the RAM or under its own cover. If you can’t find the battery on your laptop, try looking up a disassembly guide or service manual for your laptop model.

Once you locate the battery, you must remove it. There are various types of holders for these batteries, but generally there is a clip that must be pulled back. Release the battery and remove it from the computer.

Next, set up your multimeter or voltmeter. Look on the battery to see what voltage it should be producing. Set your multimeter to the DC value above that value. Then put the positive lead to the positive side of the battery and the negative lead to the negative side of the battery. If the value is low by a couple tenths or more, you will probably want to try a new battery.

Your CMOS battery will very likely be a CR 2032 battery. You can find these batteries where jewelry is sold or many places where batteries are sold. They are cheap – I’ve bought them at the price of 2 for $1 USD.

Replacing the CMOS battery might not solve your problem, but if your computer is older than 1-2 years old, it is definitely a step worth considering.

I love hearing from you! Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or drop me an email!

How to Choose a Mobile Development Company

The following post is a guest post from Kate Merzlova of Intellectsoft. Intellectsoft is a mobile software development company which was founded in 2007 and now has over 100 employees.


Since the era of smart technologies started several years ago, millions of people have mobile phones today. Nowadays thousands of new smartphones and tablets are activated daily around the world, and a mobile presence is becoming a must for all kinds of businesses. A mobile presence is vital for many businesses because a mobile application is a great way to promote your business and to stay in touch with your customers 24/7. Moreover, there is a separate sector of mobile application development that provides business solutions for making the deals faster, especially deals concerning international projects.

When a company owner realizes the necessity to develop a corporative app, there appears one problem – how to choose a good mobile app development company. When you google for a mobile developer, you get thousands of sites of different companies all over the world. Of course, it is too easy to get confused as the information they give in their sites can be almost the same. So, what do you have to pay attention to? In this post, we’ll give you several tips that may help you pick a good mobile development company.

Structure and Stats

Find out more about the company itself. Learn about the company’s age, how many employees it has, the structure of its departments, the address of the office, the company phone number, and other relevant information. Many sites won’t give you such information because they are run by freelancer mobile developers who won’t provide you the whole range of serious mobile development services. A good mobile software development company should have several departments composed of of designers, developers, testers, sale managers, etc. You may even ask for (or find in the net) some photos of the office and people working in this software development company.

Portfolio and Experience

If a company has been at the market for some time, it should give you examples of its previous works that you can test and compare to the other apps. Besides, if a company had some very “big” clients, it can be another illustration of a company’s trustiness.

Range of Projects

This point has a very tight connection to the previous one. A good mobile application development company has different projects in different areas, but it also may have some specialization, for example, in business app development or game application design.

Certification

You should know that the mobile world is ruled by certificates especially when it concerns iOS development for Apple devices. A company with good reputation should have all of the certificates given by official organizations.

Clear Pricing

One of the most important things any client should pay attention to is clear pricing. The mobile company should give you a report in which all the expenses should be written down.

Reviews

If a company has a good reputation, it should have good reviews; however, be careful and don’t confuse good reviews on some forums that can be left by the developers themselves with some official ratings. One of the best and trustful ratings is BestWebDesignAgencies.com where you may also get some stats.

Finally before signing a contract, hold several meetings with the developers and project and sales managers, make sure that they understand your requirements, and stay in touch with the team all the time your application is being developed. Speak clearly and listen to the professionals attentively and you will get the mobile application that will bring your business to the next level.

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