Recent Jobs

Just a random selection of recent jobs I’ve completed for customers.

  • New HP Laptop and printer set-up
  • Windows not booting after using system restore to attempt a fix, and printer problems – fixed. Set up email on Android phone, and set mobile broadband data use warning and limit
  • Same-day-service for business customer to fix “no internet” problem. Also installed and set up Dropbox, and set up and run their first backup
  • Windows Login problem solved, Windows Updates completed, Antivirus installation
  • Non-starting Windows PC problem solved, advice on Windows Updates, and advice and tuition on Kindle Fire Tablet
  • Failing hard disk on a laptop. Backed up data, replaced hard disk with SSD (Solid State Disk), installed Windows 10, restored data
  • Windows XP won’t shutdown. I know, Windows XP! Retro! Also, fixed line, wired phone sometimes can’t dial out.
  • New printer installed and set up so customer can print from PC, iPad, iPod and Android phones. General PC tune-up highlighted Windows Updates were failing (now fixed), and a security checkup (Norton auto renewal).
  • Lenovo Ideapad set-up, Norton installation and activation, Gmail account creation.
  • iPad locked during update and couldn’t access iTunes server on Windows Vista, solved by using another computer and resetting the iPad and installing updates.
  • Computer infected with viruses and malware due to Norton not working – disinfected and fixed Norton, updated Windows, tested emails. Installed ad blocker on another PC. Advice on tablets and phones.

If there’s anything I can help you with please contact me on the numbers top-right of this page or by using the Contact form by clicking here.

Thanks for reading.

Projects in Google Keep and Google Drive

I use Google Keep to keep track of thoughts, tasks and to-do lists, and reminders. If, like me, your Google Keep is becoming hard to manage then I have some ideas that you might like to try to keep more organised and efficient.

To give this some context, let me explain that I have adapted some methods from the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity system to suit my needs. In GTD there is a concept of Projects and Next Actions. A Project is the thing you want to achieve (like “organise Emma’s birthday party”) and the “Next Action”, or “NA”, is the very next thing that can be done towards the project. There may be lots of things to be done on the project, like “send out invitations”, but the only thing that should be on your to-do list is the very next thing you need to do, such as “Call the play centre to check availability of dates”.

So, generally there are two types of projects, big projects and small projects. If you keep all these projects in Google Keep, you will find that you have a mass of Notes which are hard to organise and go through even if you’re using colours and labels. We need to keep Keep clean. So, here is my suggestion…

If a project has only a few steps then use a List with check-boxes and keep everything for that project in that list. Use colours and labels to organise as you would normally, but keep everything about that project in one Keep note.

Drive docKeeping a big or complicated project in Google Keep makes it hard to manage, especially if there is more than one thing that you could describe as a Next Action like “Call the play centre to check availability of dates” and “draw up a list of attendees”. Use a Google Docs (word processing) document in Google Drive to organise your project with notes and lists of things to do (use bullet-points). When you know what your Next Actions are, put each Next Action in its own Note in Google Keep and refer to the main project, such as “Draw up a list of attendees – see Google Drive ‘Birthday’ project”. And here’s the best bit…

You can add a link in the Google Keep note which will take you to the Google Drive Project. When you open the Google Keep note, you can click the link within it and it will open up the related project document in Google Drive, allowing you to note down your progress, review the project, or set a new Next Action. This link works on computers, tablets and phones; wherever you’re signed in to your Google Account.

Drive linkTo insert the link, go to the Google Drive document, highlight the entire URL link (the website address) and select Copy. Then open up the Google Keep note, and Paste the link into it.

It sounds more complicated than it is in practice. Once you’ve done it a few times it will seem easy. Your Google Keep will be less cluttered and you will be more efficient.

If you need any help with Google services, with computers and IT generally, or even entire organisational systems, please contact me using “Contact” at the top-right of this page or phone me on the numbers just below “Contact”.

Tip for fast account switching in Chrome now the user icons gone (again)

Old User IconI wrote in January 2015 here about Google removing the user avatar icons from the top-left of Chrome which allowed fast switching between Google (Gmail) accounts (and having multiple accounts open at once). Included in my post was a way to switch back to the old icons. Unfortunately, I’ve just noticed that Google has changed it again and I can’t figure out a way to change it back. However, I have a tip to make it easier to switch between the accounts.

New User TabLook for the new user tab at the top right of Chrome, right-click it, and then select the account you want to open. This should open a new instance of Chrome signed in with the other user.

If you have come here looking for a way to be signed in to two or more Google accounts at once, please let me know and I will reply with a tutorial to set it up (if I get round to it). Alternatively, if you’re in a rush, contact me and we can set up a remote support session and I can do it for you.

Revert from Chrome’s New User Tab to Old User Icon

Edit: This changed again in August 2015. For the new post please see here
New User TabGoogle Chrome has a new User Tab interface, removing the old user icon from the top-left of Chrome and replacing it with a User Tab on the right. If you use a lot of tabs, the new user tab takes up valuable browser tab space, and switching between users takes three clicks instead of one. Old User IconHere’s how to revert from the “new avatar menu” (as they call it) to the old icons:   Open a new tab and type/paste “chrome://flags/#enable-new-avatar-menu” (without the quotes) where you would normally type in a website address, hit Enter/Return. Disable new avatar menu In the top drop-down box, select Disabled. Then close that tab. Next time you open Chrome, the new User tab will be gone and your your old icon will be back. If you have any problems, please get in touch and we’ll arrange a remote support session for me to do it for you. Please Like, Share, etc

SearchGol browser hijack removal

A new client called me in because they had adverts on their search page and pop-ups, and their home page was set to  These browser hijacks or search hijacks aren’t just annoying, the can lead you to other websites that install more rubbish on your system, and the certainly track your internet searches and browsing history and habits.

I have had lots of this type of thing lately and usually it’s fairly easy for me to remove these search hijacks, but it was the first time I had seen SearchGol.  I removed everything as usual, but each time I restarted Chrome searchgol came back.  Internet explorer was ok, but even unistalling Chrome and reinstalling wouldn’t stop the searchgol redirect from coming back.

[EDIT: I subsequently suspect that Search Protect was being used to prevent the user (and me) from changing the search provider too.  Search Protect can also be difficult to remove]

I tried all the tools and instructions I could find when searching for a solution on Google, but none of them worked.  It had taken much longer than the time I estimated, but I was determined not to give up.  I slept on it, and had an idea.  The next evening I tried it and it worked, searchgol was gone!

I’m usually good at finding a solution on Google, but none of the solutions I tried had worked.  Sometimes, I have to rely on my own brain to solve a problem.

If you have ads showing on your search engine (or search page) then you might have a browser hijack or search hijack.  Contact me and I will arrange an appointment to remove it either in person, or by remote login to your computer.

Google: change for change’s sake

Google are at it again! They’re changing lots of things including the layout of Google Reader and Google Docs, and they’ve virtually hidden the ‘cached results’ from Google Searches.

I am sad to say that the New Look is here to stay on Google Documents (and Google Reader by the looks of it). I prefer the ‘classic view’ of gDocs but they’ve taken away that option. How very Apple of them.

It looks like there’s no way to get back the old interface of gReader either, although I haven’t thoroughly researched that point as I don’t use gReader at the moment.

Regarding cached results in Google searches, there used to be a link just under the search result for the cached copy, but now you have to hover over the double arrow to the right of the search result, wait for the page preview to load, then select ‘cached’ from the link at the top. Considering Google’s efforts to make search quicker, this change seems counter-productive.

It seems that Google has moved it’s focus from functionality to appearance.

In haste,


Google Calendar and Android Calendar one-way sync problem solved

I was having a problem where events I add on my Android phone would sync to Google, but events added on Google Calendar would not sync to my phone.  I searched Google Help, and a wider internet search on Google, but there were pages and pages of people having the opposite problem; their phone would get new events input on the web, but new events on the phone weren’t syncing.  Synchronizing is a major part of the Google-Android system, but there seemed to be nothing from Google about these problems.

Anyway, I found the answer to my problem.  On the Android phone, go to the Home Screen, Menu, Settings, Applications, Manage Applications, Calendar Storage. Then select Clear Cache.

If you found this useful. Please leave a comment or link to this site from your site.  Thanks.

Syncing Android phones with multiple Google gMail accounts

A rare post from me.  I don’t plan to post much for at least four months, but this one might help others.

I own a HTC Wildfire, an Android phone.  I added my Google account to it and it all synchronised well.  Although there is an option to add another account, after the entering the details it would say “Signing in”, and:

“Your phone is communicating with Google servers and setting up your account. This may take up to five minutes.” 

Well, it would rarely get to five minutes before reporting:

“Can’t establish a reliable data connection to the server. This could be a temporary problem or your SIM card may not be provisioned for data services. If it continues, call Customer Care.”

I finally found a solution:

Go to the phone’s YouTube app

If you have an account, sign in.  If not, create an account using your Google username and password.

That’s it!  The phone now has the new account.  You will probably want to go to settings, Syncing and Accounts, and set it to sync automatically.  You’ll then get your second or subsequent gMail accounts in the gMail app.

If you found this useful, please let me know with a comment.  I might start posting tech-related stuff again in 2011, but want to know if anyone is interested before I spend time on it.  Thanks.

Google’s interest-based advertising looks like Phorm/Webwise/spyware

Google will replace their current Adsense advertising with Phorm-style interest-based advertising with effect from 1st April 2009.  They’re advising website owners to update their privacy policy becuase of this, but I don’t think that doing that is sufficient.

Their current Adsense ads show advertisements that are based on the content of the site on which the ads are shown.  For example, on this site the ads might include F1 race tickets or karting companies.  Google’s new Interest-based ads will show ads based on websites that the person has previously visited.  So, when someone visits a site that contains Google ads, Google assumes that the person is interested in the content of that site and records that person’s interest in it.  When that person visits another site with Google ads, Google will show ads based on the database of what Google considers interesting to that person.

This sounds like the Phorm (AKA Webwise) privacy scandal that BT and other ISPs got into before.  Basically, they installed equipment an advertising company’s equipment that monitored websites their customers visited, and served adverts related to those previous websites.  The Information Commissioner (Data Protection Act) and the EU law enforcers were concerned that privacy was being breached.  It seems that BT (and maybe Virgin and TalkTalk) are going to introduce this spyware-like technology at some point in the future.

Getting back to Google, they sent an email to website owners saying “your privacy policy will need to reflect the use of interest-based advertising”.  Well, I don’t have a privacy policy because I don’t collect personal data.  I’m certainly not going to spend time and money getting one drawn up so Google can earn more money by placing interest-based ads on my site; ads that might have nothing to do with the content of my site.

And having a privacy policy for a website is not sufficient legally, in my opinion.  In order to view the privacy policy, someone has to visit my website.  By visiting my website, their visit is logged by Google before the person has a chance to decide whether they want that data recorded or not.  So, in effect, data about their visit is collected without their consent, and that’s illegal in the UK.

Quite simply, this whole thing worries me.  It sounds like spyware.  After all, people’s browsing habits are being tracked without their express permission, and that to me is spyware.  So, come 1st April, my site will no longer be showing Google ads.  That leaves more space for me to add things that my visitors actually want to see.

Comments welcome, for or against.