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Stuck Using Windows 8? 5 Helpful Navigation Tips

Windows 8

Windows 8. No matter how glamorous, appealing and trendy Microsoft and some of its PC manufacturing partners try to make it look, IT SUCKS!

It’s NOT user-friendly, it’s NOT easy to use, it’s does NOT work well on a regular desktop or laptop computer, it requires a HUGE learning curve, and it’s VERY FRUSTRATING for normal computer users. (You can still read my complete review of Windows 8 by downloading it at

I’ve spoken with computer professionals nationwide, as well as some of my more “techie” friends. Every single one of them who has tried Windows 8 say the same thing – “it’s HORRIBLE!”  Then they proceed to permanently erase it from their computer and reinstall Windows 7.

Thus far, I’ve been fortunate to only have had to work on one computer with the Windows 8 operating system installed. I think this is because most of my clients (and hopefully readers of this column) heeded my warning late last year to stay away from – no, avoid like the plague – buying any computer with Windows 8 on it.

However, I’m sure some of my readers didn’t hear (or heed) my Paul Revere-esque alarms. Now they’re struggling trying to make sense of this strange, new operating system.

(By the way, just because all the computers at the big box stores come with Windows 8, does NOT mean you’re stuck with it. We can still order new computers with Windows 7 preinstalled – saving you the headaches and frustrations of Windows 8.)

So for those of you who maybe got a new computer with Windows 8 for Christmas and haven’t yet returned it or thrown it out the window, here are a few tips and tricks to help you:

  • Use Search to open programs. When your computer powers on, you’ll see what is now called the Start screen. Unfortunately, it’s flat and doesn’t show all the software installed on your PC. However, you can launch programs using Search from the Start screen (located on the right side of the screen). Simply type in the name of the program you want, then click on the program’s name in the list of search results.
  • Forget the tiles, go to the desktop. Well, almost. The start button in the bottom left corner of the screen no longer exists. But you can go back to the familiar desktop by pressing Windows+D on your keyboard. (The Windows key on your keyboard has the Windows logo and is usually to the left of the spacebar.)
  • Quickly navigate to everything else. The Windows+X key combination gives you access to the control panel, power options, programs and features (where you add or remove programs) and much more.
  • How to close apps. Windows 8 apps do not have close or minimize buttons in the top right corner like a Windows desktop program. To close an app, move your mouse pointer to the top of the screen until it becomes a hand icon, then left click, hold and drag down. The app will minimize, allowing you to drag it to the bottom of the screen. Or, just press Alt-F4 to save a few steps.
  • Customize the Start screen. When you install software on your PC, their tiles are automatically added to the Start screen. But you can add your own. Simply press Windows+Z, select All Apps, then right-click the program you want to add.

Windows 8 is VERY CONFUSING. If you don’t already have it, avoid it. If you do have it, I would strongly suggest purchasing the book “Teach Yourself Visually Windows 8.”  It provides step-by-step explanations with pictures. You’ll need to keep this book next to your computer at all times!  You can purchase the book here:

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Avoid Getting Ripped Off on Black Friday

Black Friday 2012

Christmas is just 42 days away. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday draw closer, you will be bombarded with TV and print advertisements from all the major retail stores touting the “great deals” offered if you roll out of bed at 3 a.m. (or earlier!).

But when it comes to desktops and laptop computers (and even televisions), are these “deals” really saving you money?

The answer is a resounding NO!  For at least 2 reasons, which I will explain.

An October 8 article in Time magazine reported: “While the main supposed draw for Black Friday is good deals and ultra-low priced “door busters,”… pricing studies… highlighted the fact that Black Friday didn’t offer the best value for shoppers, especially when it comes to popular holiday purchases like electronics and toys.”

Did you notice the one key phrase in their statement?  Didn’t offer the best value.

You can buy all sorts of items at low prices. But the real question is, are you getting something of value?

According to website, budget (think cheap) laptops hit an all-time low of $180 on Black Friday last year.

Answer this question honestly:  Do you seriously think you’re buying a quality, long-lasting laptop when it’s priced at only $180?

The only way manufacturers and retailers can offer these computers at such ridiculously low prices is because 1) they’re made with lower-quality components that have a higher failure rate and 2) they’re subsidized by software companies that load up the computer with junk programs that slow the computer down by as much as 40%.

I’ve seen plenty of these cheap computers (desktops and laptops) come into our shop just a few months after they were purchased. They have problems like: the hard drive had crashed (thus causing the user to lose all their data files) or the computer wouldn’t power on because the motherboard died or the power supply had failed.

When you buy one of these cheap computers on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you’re throwing your hard-earned money away. You save a few bucks now, but end up spending way more in the end – either paying for repairs or having to buy another computer to replace the cheap one.

In this tight economy, can you really afford to not get the best value for your money?

A second reason to avoid the Black Friday/Cyber Monday computer specials is because most of them will come with the new, horrendous Windows 8 pre-installed.

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll remember that on August 7, I detailed why Windows 8 is a nightmare of an operating system for most computer users.

  • The look and feel has drastically changed from what you are used to. They’ve taken away the familiar START button, as one example.
  • It will require you hours to figure out how to do things that you used to be able to do with just a click or two of the mouse.
  • You cannot play DVDs without purchasing the Windows Media Center add-in from Microsoft or using another program to play DVDs.
  • Some of your existing hardware (printers, scanners, digital cameras) and software may not work with the new operating system. Thus you will have for spend MORE money to buy hardware and software that does work with Windows 8.

My complete report about Windows 8 can be downloaded for free from our website at (NOTE:  We can still order computers with Windows 7, but your big box store retailers cannot.)

Bottom line is this:  I don’t like seeing people get suckered into buying something that isn’t truly a good purchase and a wise use of their money. I hope you will share this information with your friends and family, so they too can make the right purchase for their next computer.

As always, I’m willing to assist you in making your next computer purchase. Simply call our office at (812) 386-8919 or e-mail me at

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Why You Should Avoid Windows 8: Part 3 of 3

Windows 8

In the first two installments of this 3-part blog series, you’ve learned that Windows 8 will be an operating system that you want to avoid.  The only way to do that is by purchasing a new computer that has Windows 7 installed on it.  But time is running out because all new computers will come preloaded with Windows 8 starting sometime in October, according to Microsoft.

But you don’t want to just run out and buy any computer.  You need to make an informed decision before spending your hard-earned money.  That is what I want to share with you today.

4 Things You MUST Consider Before Buying A New Computer

The big box stores notoriously advertise inexpensive computers that look extremely appealing to the average consumer.  But are these really good computers?  Is it truly a wise investment of your money?

The old adage really is true: You get what you pay for.  While I don’t believe that you have to buy the most expensive product on the shelf to get the best there is, I do believe that when you simply buy any product based solely on price, you’re setting yourself up for problems later.

Buying a computer requires you to look at the long-term costs of owning your computer, also known as the total cost of ownership.

Imagine shopping for a house.  There are dozens of houses available in all price ranges.  You decide that you want one with two bedrooms and one and a half baths.  After narrowing down your search, you find two that match your criteria.  Both are in great neighborhoods and offer the amenities you desire.  One is priced at $69,900; the other at $99,900.

You opt to buy the cheaper house – the one for $69,900.  Actually, you get an ever better deal because the seller is motivated to get rid of it.  You’re able to buy it for $62,000.  The inspection goes well and you’re proud of your new home – ready to show it off to friends and family.

Three months after you move in, you discover a leak in the roof creating a discolored spot on your living room ceiling.  You call your trusted contractor to inspect the problem.  He arrives and enters the attic.  When he emerges, he has a grim look on his face as he breaks the bad news to you.  The leak started as a small hole but over time has gradually gotten bigger.  Not only has it now damaged your ceiling, but because it’s been leaking for quite a long time, there’s significant damage to the joists and trusses.  The moisture buildup over time has been a ripe breeding ground for black mold, which has spread to nearly three-fourths of the entire attic.  It’s going to require some major work to fix everything.  That translates into thousands of dollars.

This cheaper home has now become a source of aggravation and maybe unnecessary expense.

Having been serving clients’ computer needs for nearly 8 years, I have seen hundreds of clients buy a cheap computer from a big box retailer only to have to spend a few hundred more in parts and labor to fix something that had failed a short time later.  The computer was a “great buy” based on the purchase price, but they didn’t think about how much it would really cost them.

So why should you stay away from the big box store computers?


  • They are loaded with “junk-ware” that slows them down.  You’ve seen these computers that have all sorts of icons for programs that you will never use.  Some are games, some are offers for Internet services, and who knows what else.  If you have to ask, “What is this?”  It’s probably junk-ware.

A recent study shows that these junk-ware programs can slow your computer down by as much as 40%.  But these computers manufacturers load them up with all this useless software because the software companies pay a small fee to have it pre-loaded on there.  This allows the big box stores to then drop the price on the computer to make it attractive to you.  But the problems these programs can cause will cost you lots more than the dollars you save.

  • Most big box store computers either come with no antivirus protection or a 30-, 60-, or -90-day trial antivirus protection.  This means you will have to spend more money after you buy your computer to keep your computer safe from viruses and spyware.  Additionally, the antivirus software the big box sales people push you to buy is generally less effective at protecting your computer.
  • Beware of the warranty on store-bought computers.  The warranties on most big box store computers are only a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.  These warranties generally require you to send your computer to a repair depot half-way across the country.  Repairs can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks.  Do you really want to be without your computer for that long?

One of my clients experienced this first-hand.  They bought a cheap laptop from a local big box store.  Soon after they had a problem and had to send it in for repair.  It was nearly 6 weeks before they received their laptop back – and the problem wasn’t even fixed!
They sent it in again.  It took another 4 to 6 weeks for the repairs to be completed.  This time when they got it back, the tech at the repair depot forgot to put the screws in the bottom of the laptop, so the entire bottom fell off after a couple days of use.

By this time, they were really upset and frustrated, so they brought it to us and we were able to resolve the problems for them.

  • Finally, these computers typically are built with slower, lesser quality parts that tend to fail more frequently and don’t last as long.  It’s another way that the big box store can offer you a computer for $298, $398, or $498.  Cheap computers end up costing you more in repairs and replacement in the long run.

Fast forward 18 months.  The same client mentioned above recently brought their laptop in to us because it was running slow.  The computer is only a year and a half old.  Our diagnostic tests found that the hard drive was failing, the source of their problem.  Additionally, the hinges holding the screen to the base of the laptop had broken away from the plastic.

They only paid $400 for this laptop.  Now have to buy another laptop because the cost to repair this “cheap” laptop is almost as much as they paid for it.

Had they purchased a laptop made with higher quality components and that had a three-year manufacturer’s warranty (with on-site service), they wouldn’t be spending over $800 in 18 months for two computers.   Not to count the time they were without their computer and the headaches and frustration they’ve experienced because of all these problems.


The Bottom Line

I trust you can see why waiting to purchase a new computer system for your home or business will not be a wise decision.  I also hope you understand that buying just any computer isn’t a good investment of your hard-earned money.

With a simple phone call to my office, I can help you avoid all of the problems I outlined in this special blog series.  I can help you choose a new computer that perfectly meets your needs and is a wise purchase with your money.

So if you need a new computer and want to avoid getting in a “bad relationship” with Windows 8, I strongly encourage you to call me today at (812) 386-8919 and let me help you get one now.

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Why You Should Avoid Windows 8: Part 2 of 3

Windows 8

In the first installment of this 3-part blog series, I shared that Windows 8 will be extremely difficult to use and will take you hours to figure out how to do things that you’re used to doing in just a few clicks of the mouse.

Today, I want to share with you two more reasons why you will want to avoid Windows 8 and how you can avoid this nightmare of an operating system.


Windows 8 Doesn’t Allow You To Play DVDs

Nearly every computer manufactured in the last 5 years comes with a DVD-player or DVD-burner installed.  All current versions of Windows allow you to play DVDs with the built-in Windows Media Player.

But Microsoft, in their quest to radically alter their operating system, has chosen to remove the ability for you to play back DVDs on your computer – unless, of course, you purchase a program or add-on that provides that capability.

It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive workaround, but the fact that Microsoft is removing a key built-in component that’s been available in many of their previous versions of Windows is bothersome.  It just creates another problem that you have to fix when you buy a computer with Windows 8 pre-installed.


Your Current Hardware And Software May Not Be Compatible With Windows 8

Hardware, such as printers, scanners, and webcams, require drivers to communicate with the operating system to work properly.  Software programs require special coding for each version of an operating system to insure they run error-free.

Many computer users – and you may be one of them – found that their existing printers and other hardware and software didn’t work with Windows Vista when it first came out.  This required them to spend money buying new hardware or upgrading software so it would work.

Several reviewers of the Windows 8 operating system report having problems getting current hardware and software to work because updated drivers are not available.  Manufacturers of these devices may or may not release updates because it takes significant time and money for them to create these updates.

Simply put, by purchasing a computer with Windows 8 installed, you may also have to spend more money buying a new printer and new software and other peripherals that will work with Windows 8 – because your existing ones may not work with it.


How Can You Avoid This Nightmare?

I’m not the type of person to pressure someone to purchase something.  I absolutely despise going to a business where the salesperson is standing over my shoulder and pressuring me to buy.  Even if it’s something that I already know I want.

As your trusted computer advisor, I feel it is my responsibility to arm you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about what’s best for you regarding your computer.

With the big, sweeping – and not so user-friendly – changes coming with Windows 8 sometime in October, I honestly believe that if the thought about buying a new computer has even remotely crossed your mind, NOW is the time to do so.  You absolutely will not want to wait until after September because all new computers will come with the horrendous Windows 8 pre-installed.  And you will have NO CHOICE but to live with and spend hours learning the devilish operating system (and regretting not buying a computer with Windows 7 installed).

Windows 7 is the most recent operating system currently installed on all new computers.  It maintains the look-and-feel that you are used to (with a few slight changes if you’re still using a Windows XP computer).  It is a stable and reliable operating system, just like Windows XP was.  It has very few problems and most computer users like it.

The best time to buy your new computer is NOW – before Windows 8 is released, which is scheduled for some time in October.  This will insure that your computer has the Windows 7 operating system and protects you from the nightmare of Windows 8.


But don’t just go out and buy ANY computer with Windows 7.

I would be doing you a major disservice
if I didn’t inform you of four things to seriously
consider before you buy a new computer.


In the last part of this blog series, I will share with you the 4 things you must consider before buying a new computer.

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Why You Should Avoid Windows 8: Part 1 of 3

Windows 8

“Windows 8 is like a bad blind date,” boldly proclaimed the blog post headline.

“I wouldn’t recommend Windows 8, in its current form, to anyone,” concluded the author’s first paragraph.  He then goes on to write, “Windows 8 is the blind date who is pretty in the red dress but a real b**** outside the bedroom.  She’s too demanding.  She’s fussy.  She wants you to change to conform to her rather than finding common ground.”

Wow!  That’s quite a scathing, unflinching analysis of the new operating system Microsoft will be pushing out on all new computers starting sometime in October.

But I agree with it. 

The purpose of this 3-part blog series is to provide you with my thoughts and opinions about why Windows 8 will be a HUGE NIGHTMARE for computer users.  If you’ve even been remotely thinking about buying a new desktop or laptop computer for your home or business, you will want to do so BEFORE the end of September.  Otherwise, you may be stuck in a “relationship” with a computer and an operating system you hate.


Windows 8 Is Not Easy To Use

You have most likely been using a computer for several years, whether it’s been to browse the Internet, send and receive email, communicate with friends and family using Facebook, scan and edit pictures, or perform business-related tasks in programs like Microsoft Word or QuickBooks.

You’re accustomed to the familiar layout of the Windows operating system.  Things like the Start button in bottom left corner of your screen and the listing of All Programs available on your computer from a menu on the left side of your monitor.

If you made the transition from the decades-old, but very reliable, Windows XP operating system to Windows Vista several years ago, you know that some of the changes in the operating system’s appearance took some getting used to.

  • The Start button no longer read “Start”; it became a circle with the Windows logo.
  • A new desktop sidebar with gadgets appeared on the right side of the screen.
  • Names for several components changed names, such as “Add/Remove Programs” became “Programs and Features.”
  • The list could go on and on.

One of our clients here at Calibre Computer Solutions performs genealogical research online and scans documents and photos for related projects.  Her primary desktop computer ran the Windows XP operating system.  She had been using it for years and had perfected the ability to perform her tasks down to an art.  She knew exactly how to open certain programs and what buttons to click to complete a certain task.  Her job was very enjoyable.

When she bought a new laptop computer a few years ago with a new operating system for her work, she discovered that simple tasks that used to take five minutes to finish now required double the time and many more mouse clicks.  What used to be simple and easy became more complex.  Now her job isn’t quite as enjoyable.

The changes coming in Windows 8 are more drastic than ever before, especially how it looks and feels.  These changes are NOT user-friendly to say the least.

In his blog with a very definitive title, Final thoughts on Windows 8: A design disaster, technology reviewer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes: “On the face of it, the Metro UI (the new look of the operating system and seen in the picture on the next page) looks good … And then you start to use it.”

He continues on, “Not only did someone at Microsoft think that it was a good idea to make Metro the primary user interface in Windows 8, but they also decided to destroy the ‘classic’ interface experience by also ‘ribbonizing’ most of the applications.”

Simply put, the look and feel of your computer running Windows XP or Windows 7 is COMPLETELY CHANGED in Windows 8!  For example, the Start button present in bottom left corner of your screen since the early versions of Windows NO LONGER EXISTS.  It’s GONE!

Windows 8 Has A Learning Curve … A STEEP One!

Because they’ve changed even the most basic visual elements that you are used to on your current computer, it will require you hours to figure out how to do things that you used to be able to do with just a click or two of the mouse.  You will feel lost and frustrated with Windows 8.


Coming Up…

In part 2, I will share two more reasons why you want to avoid Windows 8 and explain how you can completely avoid getting caught in this nightmare!