Category Archives: Web Links

The Name Engine

I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time remembering names.  If I have to read a complicated-looking name without having heard it?  Forget it!  Thankfully, I found a site called The Name Engine [link].  They have pre-recorded the correct pronounciations of the names of locations, brands, athletes, entertainers, politicians, newsmakers, and more!  If you saw the word “Kyrgyzstan“, how would you pronounce it?  Click the word to see if you were right.

Happy Computing!

 

What Is My Computer Doing?

Have you ever used a computer that was running suspiciously slow?  This is a notoriously difficult problem to diagnose.  If you’ve been keeping up with your regular maintenance, then it’s probably not just a matter of a cluttered browser or hard drive.  Chances are, there is a program running behind the scenes that is consuming your resources.  It could be an anti-virus scan, or it could be something more sinister.  How can you tell for sure?

1.  Windows Task Manager:  If you are on a Windows PC, hit control-alt-delete (three keys at the same time).  On the resulting screen, select Task Manager.  The Process tab is the most telling.  If you click CPU (top of the column), it should put the process using the most memory at the top.  If not, click it again.  DO NOT stop a process without knowing what it does.  This can cause major damage if the process is necessary for normal computer operation.  Instead, look up the process name on a reliable site like ProcessLibrary.com.  The site will give you an idea which program is associated with the process, what it does, and whether it can be shut down safely.

2.  If the Task Manager doesn’t tell you what you need to know, try What’s My Computer Doing.  It’s free software that gets more in-depth than Task Manager.  The paid version will dig even deeper.

Happy hunting!

Search Individual Sites Using Google

SearchHave you ever tried to search an enormous site that either didn’t have a site search or the site search wasn’t worth using?  Thankfully, Google can rescue us from that quagmire!

While searching for information on the NYS Department of Health site (I don’t mean to pick on them, but this is a true example), I couldn’t seem to find what I needed after about 10 minutes of searching.  So, I went to Google and typed the following:

health.state.ny.us:spanish language materials

The “health.state.ny.us” portion is the address of the website I was searching.  The colon in the middle (without spaces on either side) tells Google where the site name ends and the actual keywords begin.  This simple tweak in my search magically brought up a manageable list of relevant results!

I hope this helps next time you stumble across an unwieldy website that you know has information you need.  Until next time…

Finding Lost Electronics

Have you ever lost your camera?  How about your cell phone?  Thankfully, if you have access to the internet, there are some tools to help you locate your lost items.

Cameras:
Stolen Camera Finder – This site uses the camera’s serial number to search for photos on the web taken by the your camera.  If someone else is using your camera, it will help you track it down.  The site works best in Firefox or Chrome. 

CameraFound.com -Worldwide “lost and found” for cameras.

IFoundYourCamera.net – Another “lost and found.”

Cell Phones:
If you don’t already have an app installed to assist in finding your phone, try one of these sites:

Icantfindmyphone.com – Enter your phone number and click the “Hello” button to make your phone ring.

Where’s My Cellphone? – Similar to the site above, with the added feature of a delay in call time.

Laptops are more difficult to recover unless you have installed software to protect against loss, such as LoJack for Laptops or Hidden (for Mac).  If you would like to read an amusing computer recovery story involving Hidden, one Mac owner kept a blog about the theft, complete with embarrasing pictures of the thief!

Happy Computing!

Security and shortened links

Traditionally, link addresses to webpages include a path to a file’s location.  For example, in the address www.yourdomain.com/images/family/dog1.jpg indicates that at yourdomain.com, the picture dog1.jpg lives in the “family” folder inside the “images” folder.  As you can imagine, some of these addresses can get quite long.  The links can get even more complicated if the site is built using the PHP programming language.  This can pose a problem if you would like to share a link using software with a character limit, such as Twitter.  Enter the URL shortening services.  By registering your link with a company such as bit.ly or TinyURL, you can get a much shorter link address that will forward to your intended page.

As with many great ideas, some nefarious people have found a way to exploit this service.  They use shortened URLs to mask links to malicious sites.  So, how can you know if that shortened link someone posted or sent you is legitimate before you click it?  Thankfully, there are a few ways to check.

  • bit.ly – If your link has this text in the address, copy the link and paste it into your browser.  Add a + to the end of the link and enter.  This will bring you to a special bit.ly page that will give you details about the link, including the fully expanded URL.
  • TinyURL – Copy and paste a TinyURL link into a browser address bar.  Add the word preview before the address.  For example, tinyurl.com/3k2k91 becomes preview.tinyurl.com/3k2k91.  Following the preview link will bring you to a preview of the page with the fully expanded link without exposing you to malware.
  • If you use the Mozilla Firefox browser, there is an add-on called bit.ly preview that will display information on the link while you hover over it with your mouse.
  • Google Chrome users can also download a similar extension.
  • If you have several links to check, or do not want to use the above options, you can paste shortened URLs into LongURL, ExpandMyURL or Long URL Please.

For more information on how to preview shortened URLs, please visit Joshua Long’s comprehensive guide.  Though people you trust would not willingly send you a malicious link, it’s always a good idea to vet any links before clicking on them.

E-Book explosion

e-readersWith the proliferation of e-readers comes an increasing demand for e-books in libraries.  Many libraries offer free downloadable e-books and audiobooks, but they may not be compatible with all readers.  If you are a patron at the East Greenbush Community Library (or any Upper Hudson library), you can find our digital collection here.  In addition to your public library, there are several sources of free, legal e-book downloads.  Here are a few to get you started:

Also, check with the vendor of your device.  For example, if you own a Nook, you can search the Barnes and Noble website for free e-books.  Ditto with the iTunes store and any of the Apple family of devices.  Happy e-reading!

Find Your Phone Fast

If you’re like me, you’ve ditched the landline and depend completely on your cell phone.  When the phone gets misplaced, it can be a nightmare if you’re alone and can’t call it to follow the ring.  Luckily, I Can’t Find My Phone can help!  Point your browser to icantfindmyphone.com, enter your phone number, and click the “hello” button.  The website will call your phone for free (your carrier may apply charges).  Unless the phone is dead or in a completely different location, problem solved!

Is it just me?

Have you ever had trouble loading a website, but can’t tell if the site is down or if it’s just a problem on your end?  Then this site is for you! Just head to “Down for everyone or just me?” and type in (or paste) the address of the website you’re trying to reach.  The results will let you know if other users are having trouble with the site, too.  Handy!