Portable Software

Installing basic software and utilities on a USB flash drive or SD card is easy and practical.  Imagine that you leave your main computer workstation and travel someplace where you have public computer access.  Now imagine that you need to type up an important report using a word processing program, but the PC does not have even basic word processing software installed!  Here is where the portable software comes in to play.  PC users can install programs on a flash drive or SD card and then the users will always have access to these essential programs when traveling.  Common portable programs include:

  • Word processing software (such as LibreOffice or OpenOffice)
  • Antivirus software (including ClamWin and Trend Micro Housecall)
  • PC Rescue utilities (such as AVG Rescue CD)
  • Defragmenting and disk cleanup utilities (including CCleaner and Auslogics Disk Defrag Portable)
  • Internet Browsers (such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox)

Users may choose to install software individually, or they may opt to install a portable app suite such as PortableApps.com (a free, Open Source program).

An example of the main user interface for PortableApps.com program

Portable software can be used from any USB drive provided that there is enough space on the drive for the program files to be saved.  After saving the files to a portable device, the USB drive or SD card can be connected to any computer and the installed programs can be used.

How about you?  Have you had a good experience using portable software before?  Or perhaps a not-so-great one?  Share your opinions (or ask your questions) about portable software in the comments below.

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Catch Wi-Fi from a Distance

I have discovered a great product for catching a stronger Wi-Fi signal at greater distances from a router.  The Rosewill RNX-N180UBE USB Adapter is a strong Wi-Fi antenna that can allow your desktop or laptop to snag a wireless signal from places that it may have struggled with before.  This antenna is stronger than some built-in to older computers and can replace wireless receivers in laptops when the internal wireless card goes dead.  The antenna plugs into your computer’s USB 2.0 port and, after you install some simple software that comes with the device, can easily connect you to a Wi-Fi signal.  This might help one to connect to a public network that suffered a weak connection in the past.  The adapter itself is a USB device that can attach to a long antenna for reception of the Wi-Fi signal.  The adapter can plug straight into a USB port or make use of the USB dock (included) that allows the antenna to stand straight. 

The Rosewill brand offers many computer accessories including multiple wireless receivers.  You can visit the Rosewill website at http://www.rosewill.com/Default.aspx.  The Rosewill RNX-N180UBE USB Adapter currently sells for $20 at Amazon.com, and the device is well worth the price.

Visit http://www.amazon.com/ADPT-ROSEWILL-RNX-N180UBE-USB-RETAIL/dp/B004BV4JXI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1331083384&sr=8-2t to view user reviews, product prices, and features about the Rosewill RNX-N180UBE USB Adapter.

Review: I rate the Rosewill RNX-N180UBE USB Adapter 5 out of 5 stars for the user-friendly software, effectiveness, nice design, and low price tag.

Free Up Your Cluttered PC with Disk Cleanup

If your personal computer is rapidly running out of hard drive space, you may need to run the Disk Cleanup utility.  This may sound hard, but it is actually very easy to doRunning the Disk Cleanup utility allows your PC to scan for and rid itself of temporary files such as thumbnail images and internet page files.  These files (such as thumbnail images) are created as you open different computer folders and take up some space on your PC hard drive as they sit waiting for you to open the folders again later.  Disk Cleanup can even free up space by removing old Windows Restore Points – automatic saves of your PC settings and some installed programs (not including personal files) that allow your to “Restore” your computer to a previous state when it becomes unstable due to an update or installation.  Running the Disk Cleanup utility is very simple:

  1. Click the Start menu on your PC desktop
  2. Click on All Programs
  3. Navigate your way to Accessories –> System Tools
  4. Select the Disk Cleanup program
  5. When asked “Choose which files to clean up” click either “My files only” (if you are on a shared computer) or “Files from all users on this computer” (if you are the administrator of the computer).
  6. When the program is finished scanning, select the types of files* you want deleted and click OK.

(*Note: I do not recommend deleting the Hibernation Files from your PC – read the description in the Disk Cleanup program for more information on this particular subject.)

The Disk Cleanup program will now run and delete unnecessary files from you PC in order to free up Disk space on the hard drive.

Below is an image of what the Disk Cleanup user interface should look like on a Windows Vista or Windows 7 computer.

The process and look of the program will be very similar on a computer running Windows XP.

Get Creative with SCRATCH from MIT

Have you ever wanted to experiment using your own programming skills?  Using Scratch, the free programming software from MIT, now anyone can create their own videos and games to share.  Check out the MIT Scratch website @ http://scratch.mit.edu/ to learn more about this cool free software and to watch videos created by others using the software.  Scratch is free to download from the MIT website and easily installs on your computer.  Useful tips and a user guide are available @ http://info.scratch.mit.edu/Support.

Download Scratch now and program your own creations!

More about Scratch:

“Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.  Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Intel Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Google, Iomega and MIT Media Lab research consortia.”

 

HOW TO — Avoid Overheating

If you have an older PC, or if your PC is prone to collect dust, you may be in danger of overheating. If the internal temperature of a computer becomes too high the computer may shut itself off automatically in order to prevent further heat-related problems. This overheating may happen if the PC cooling fan is broken or is blocked by excessive dust. You can prevent these heat troubles by following these simple recommendations: (1) Vacuum the dust out of all the fan vents on the computer, or (2) Remove clutter from near the computer to reduce the amount of dust build-up. It is also possible that you may need to replace your PC cooling fan completely. Decreasing the chance of a PC overheating can also be a boon to your computer performance in general.