Simple Tech

The Dork Group presents Simple Tech

My son Jack & his day of shreddin' around the hood

Greetings kids & welcome back to another issue of The Dork Group

In this issue I will be discussing everyday Simple Tech & simple things you should already have - or know in your daily online life. 

Like many tech support geeks, or those heavily immersed in the IT Industry - you find yourself working on a lot of relatives and friends systems. You also often find yourself answering a lot of interview-like questions of what you use, and how you use it. 

Well, today I am going to share with you some of the items I use - and hopefully make you the hero of the day in someone's life.

You're A Hoarder & Possibly Don't Know It

One of the biggest complaints I hear from pretty much anyone that has issues with their device is: "My device running really slow, and lagging. Do I need to install more memory, or get a new device?"

You're just a hoarder and quite possibly don't know it. Don't be mad, it's not entirely your fault. Just like everything else anymore - your device collects a lot of useful and useless information about your habits. Your browser especially loves to track everything you do online.

 Don't worry, or go completely off the grid just yet - there is a powerful, yet simple tool that I use and you possibly already use for another application - your phone.

Clean Master for PC from Cheetah Mobile

Not only will Clean Master keep your device optimized and free of junk files, it also provides complete protection from viruses and helps manage the apps you've installed.  

As I have mentioned - it is a very powerful tool that encompasses a lot of areas that you use with your devices. I use it daily myself and have released Terabytes of junk that gets lodged in my devices. It's the number one thing that I recommend for a simple optimizer for your system(s). It's slick, it's small and the user interface is pretty friendly. I've even got my wife using it daily - and she will tell you herself that she isn't tech friendly at all. But, that is something we are working on.

CCleaner from Piriform

CCleaner use to be my number one (1) optimizer for my devices, but now it has dropped down to my number two (2) slot. It would still be my number one (1) if it had the slick and user-friendly interface that Clean Master has. Also, keeping CCleaner from my number one (1) slot is that it's not entirely free. There are three versions of CCleaner you can get. One (1) is free, and the other two (2) you have to pay for.

The free version covers optimizing your system and privacy protection. While the paid versions cover what the free version covers, plus real-time monitoring, disk fragmentation, and automatic updates. Plus, a couple other bells and whistles. 

Don't think that the free version is less than the full versions. I have two (2) versions - and believe that they are both equally powerful. They both have a very inclusive list of features that will clean and optimize your system. As I have mentioned the others have more bells and whistles attached. 

With that being said - coming back to what I hear most as far as being the biggest complaint about devices running slow or lagging. I usually have the end-user run Clean Master or CCleaner if they are able to - and go from there. Another plus for Clean Master is that you can see what applications are dragging your memory down, and what applications are actively running. You can then choose what can stay or what can go.

Get The Picture

Now that we've got your system running a bit smoother and faster, let's discuss something that we all spend a lot of time messing around with on our systems - Pictures. 

We all spend a great amount of time surrounding ourselves with images. There is not a medium that I can think of that doesn't have pictures and images involved with it. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever social media you use - we all pride ourselves with the images we show.

I will begin at the top with the crown jewel - Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite. If you are not blessed yet with Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite - then I would say there is no better time to treat yourself to the best. 

Without getting off-track I will tell you what Wikipedia says about Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite & what it has to offer:

Adobe Creative Suite (CS) was a series of software suites of graphic design, video editing, and web development applications made or acquired by Adobe Systems. The collections consisted of various groupings of Adobe's applications (e.g., Photoshop, Acrobat, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects) based on various technologies (e.g., PostScript, PDF, Flash) and organized by industry. The last version, Adobe Creative Suite 6 (CS6), was launched at a release event April 23, 2012, and released on May 7, 2012.

On May 6, 2013 Adobe announced that CS6 would be the last version of the Creative Suite, and that future versions of their creative software would only be available via their Adobe Creative Cloud subscription service. Adobe also announced that it would continue to support CS6 for OS compatibility and would provide bug fixes and security updates as necessary. The Creative Suite packages were pulled from Adobe's online store, but still remain available via a section of their website.

Brief descriptions of the applications in the various Adobe Creative Suite editions:
Adobe Creative Suite on Wikipedia

I started tinkering with Photoshop in the mid 2000's and always liked what it had to offer, but never went that deep into what it could really do. Now, I don't know what I would do without it. There is just so many robust, and helpful tools for every aspect of my creative life. Pretty much anything you see in the media has had been touched with Photoshop. It has become the standard.

I Love Photoshop

Now, if you can't afford thousands of dollars worth of Adobe Creative Suite tools - that's okay - I've got your back. Adobe Creative Suite comes with a hefty price tag - and not all of us are artists, and site builders - so you may not need the extensive amount of tools that comes with the Creative Suite.

PaintShop Pro from Corel

Imagine your best photo ever-now bring it to life with the ultimate photo editor. Corel PaintShop Pro Ultimate combines the pro-quality photo-editing tools of PaintShop Pro with powerful image correction technology Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging, portrait beautifying tools Reallusion FaceFilter3 Standard and a collection of creative extras. With smarter editing features, 30% faster brushes, new creative tools and easier color selection, it’s the photo-editing and design software that will help you achieve your photographic potential.

I've used Corel PaintShop Pro since the late 2000's. Corel PaintShop Pro has a very user-friendly interface. Even with the early generations of this software - I have been able to just jump right in an edit whatever project I am working on. I still rely heavily on this tool and will continue to do so many generations down the line. It's very affordable, and is such a great tool. Pretty much every image I publish has been through Corel PaintShop Pro.

Okay, we've discussed a couple of paid image manipulators - and if your looking to try your hand at editing photos and are looking for some freebies - I've got you covered too. 

IrfanView by Irfan Skiljan

IrfanView is a freeware/shareware image viewer for Microsoft Windows that can view, edit, and convert image files and play video/audio files. It is noted for its small size, speed, ease of use, and ability to handle a wide variety of graphic file formats, and has some image creation and painting capabilities. The software was first released in 1996. IrfanView is free for non-commercial use; commercial use requires paid registration.

Good Lord, has it been that long?! This amazing little piece of software was my baptism into photo manipulation. I have done so many great things with IrfanView. Before Corel, before Photoshop - came this little juggernaut. I have spent countless hours trying different things with IrfanView. It even comes with a great little set of plugins. Nostalgic and fun to look back at how far I've come regarding image manipulation. 

If your new to the game and want to try some things with your pictures - I highly recommend IrfanView. It was a perfect tool at the time for me. 

Gimp Gnu Image Manipulation Program

If you're a Linux user you may recognize Wilber here. GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

GIMP is written and developed under X11 on UNIX platforms. But basically the same code also runs on MS Windows and Mac OS X.

My ol' colleague Dr. Joern Jernsletten uses this program quite religiously. Geophysicist's often have to show their work to clients and office staff quite often for quality control. This piece of software is perfect for that job, and well pretty much anything you throw at it. 

We once had a pretty douchey client that wanted screen shots of pretty much everything we did. Joern took the helm and spent a couple of days pumping out an endless supply of screen shots for this asshat. Needless to say that Joern has this program wired. A true hot key master. 

Finding Zen in the Art of Writing
Well, we have talked about some great tools for optimizing your device's performance. We've talked about some more great tools for optimizing and manipulating your images. I think we should talk about tying it all together with writing.   

Writing is something that I wish I had more time to work on and perfect. My composition of writing falls into its own unique group - so I need all the help I can get. If you're like me, this next tool will help you when you are in a hurry to get something out.

How it Works

First, write out your text as usual in any word processing program that you prefer. Review it yourself first to catch any stray words or thoughts and bring them in to order.

When you’re done, enter your text into the form above (bookmark this page now for later use!)

Press the grey Free Check button. If you see an underlined spelling error, style suggestion, or grammar suggestion in your text, click on them to see more options. Apply corrections where you need them. Then, the system will automatically check grammar usage and spelling and give you the final verdict. Lastly, make the suggested changes to your text before you send it on its way. Make a final read-through to make sure that you’ve caught everything, and that you agree with the changes.

Meanwhile, the orange Deep Check button checks your text the same way the “Free Check” button does. The difference is the Deep Check button is capable of detecting even more difficult-to-spot mistakes, such as run-on sentences or dangling modifiers, and up to ten times more mistakes than popular word processors.

This little gem has saved me a lot of time and frustration when composing emails, blogs and well pretty much everything I need to write. I don't have to fight with Microsoft Word. I just open up GrammarCheck, cut and paste whatever I am writing and get instant results. It's just that easy. I like that.

Hot Keys Are So Hot Right Now

One more item I think is perfect for today's topic of Simple Tech, and one that doesn't quite get the admiration that it deserves. The Hot Key

Hot Keys or Keyboard shortcuts are combinations of two or more keys that, when pressed, can be used to perform a task that would typically require a mouse or other pointing device. Keyboard shortcuts can make it easier to interact with your computer, saving you time and effort as you work with Windows and other programs.

Most programs also provide accelerator keys that can make it easier to work with menus and other commands. Check the menus of programs for accelerator keys. If a letter is underlined in a menu, that usually means that pressing the Alt key in combination with the underlined key will have the same effect as clicking that menu item.

Pressing the Alt key in some programs, such as Paint and WordPad, shows commands that are labeled with additional keys that you can press to use them.

You can also create new keyboard shortcuts to open programs. Yeah, they're that cool. You can control what opens, and how it opens.

Hot Keys are available for pretty much every application out there. So, if you get tired of pushing your mouse around, look up the keyboard shortcuts for whatever application you run the most, and save yourself some time. You will impress the few purists that are still roaming around out there. 

Well there you have it. Simple Tech in all its glory. Hopefully, you have found some items that will help you with your daily online life. These tools that I have mentioned here have been lifesavers. In future issues of The Dork Group I will be getting a little more in depth with tech and some image manipulations with Photoshop that I use daily. The possibilities are endless. 

With that being said - I thank you for your time - and I wish you the best with all that you do - and I will see you all again very soon. 

David Gumm  - The Dork Group