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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, February 1, 2015

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Utility Shut-Off Scams Heat Up As Temperature Falls
Special Feature: How to Boot to the Desktop in Windows 8.1
Special Feature: Mac: Keyboard Shortcuts for OS X Yosemite
Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Turn Off Auto Start Programs - MSCONFIG
Special Feature: iPad: The List of All the New Gestures In iOS 8
Websites of Interest: Super Bowl; Seattle Seahawks; New England Patriots; Super Bowl Recipes; Puppy Bowl; Groundhog Day; Punxsutawney Phil; Malverne Mel; Holtsville Hal


Special Feature: Utility Shut-Off Scams Heat Up As Temperature Falls

By Sid Kirchheimer of aarp.org

Recent falling temperatures in parts of the U.S. have prompted a new wave of a time-tested power play – fraudsters posing as utility company workers who threaten to shut off your service because of supposedly unpaid bills.

The Shutoff Swindle has prompted warnings in recent weeks from utility companies from Maine to Washington State, including (usually) warmer-weather states such as Texas.

Typically, this scam occurs by telephone. Callers claim to be billing representatives from your utility company. They say you’ve got an overdue bill and need to pay quickly to avoid an impending shutoff. They may use “spoofing software” or Internet-based phone services to falsely display the name and phone number of your utility company on your Caller ID. Often they ask for a credit card or prepaid debit card for payment.

But officials and targeted customers now report that some of the scammers ask for cash, offering to dispatch someone to your home for immediate payment. The fraudsters may even tell you they’ll waive supposed penalty fees for cash payments.

The phony utility workers might also show up unannounced at your front door, seeking “overdue” payments or claiming a need to check your heating system.

What You Should Know:

If you really are overdue on your utility bill, most utilities will mail at least one – if not several – past-due notices before terminating service. Never accept a caller’s claim about a bill. When in doubt, contact your utility by calling the customer service number on your bill – not a phone number provided by a caller.

Utility companies do not dispatch employees to your home for payment, and rarely show up unannounced for service calls. If self-proclaimed workers arrive in pairs, assume it’s an attempt for a quick burglary. One will likely try to lead you to your furnace so the other can steal money, prescriptions or jewelry.

Never provide credit card information to an unknown caller. Some utility companies may accept payments by prepaid debit card but likely will not specifically request that payment method.


Special Feature: How to Boot to the Desktop in Windows 8.1

By Rick Broida of pcworld.com

One of my chief complaints with Windows 8 is that Microsoft forced you to boot to the new Start screen rather than giving you the option of booting to the desktop--which is where I prefer to hang my computing hat.

With the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has added the capability. In other words, now you can boot directly to the desktop. It's not immediately obvious how--Microsoft still doesn't outfit Windows with any "guides to new features" or the like, a silly oversight--but at least it's easy once you know the steps:



Special Feature: Mac: Keyboard Shortcuts for OS X Yosemite

Make your work go faster with these OS X Yosemite keyboard shortcuts.

Command Keyboard Shortcut
------------ ---------------------------

Add Selected Item to Sidebar Command+Control+T
Close All Windows Option+Command+W
Close Window Command+W
Copy Command+C
Cut Command+X
Dashboard F12 (fn+F12 on laptops)
Eject Disk Command+E
Empty Trash Shift+Command+Delete
Find Command+F
Get Info (on selected item or items) Command+I
Go to All My Files Shift+Command+F
Go to Applications Folder Shift+Command+A
Go to Desktop Shift+Command+D
Go to Home Folder Shift+Command+H
Help Shift+Command+?
Hide Current Application Command+H
Hide Other Applications Command+Shift+H
Log Out Current User Shift+Command+Q
Minimize Window Command+M
Mission Control: All Windows Control+Up Arrow (F3 on Apple keyboards)
Mission Control: Application Windows Control+Down Arrow (Control+F3 on Apple keyboards)
Mission Control: Show Desktop F11 (fn+F11 on laptops) (Command+F3 on Apple keyboards)
Move to Trash Command+Delete
Empty Trash Shift+Command+Delete
New Finder Window Command+N
New Folder Shift+Command+N
Next Window Command+`
Open Command+O
Paste Command+V
Select All Command+A
Show View Options Command+J
Show/Hide Sidebar Option+Command+S
Show/Hide Dock Option+Command+D
Show/Hide Status Bar Command+/
Show/Hide Tab Bar Shift+Command+T
Show/Hide Toolbar Option+Command+T
Turn Zoom On/Off Option+Command+8
Undo Command+Z
Redo Command+Shift+Z
View Window as Icons Command+1
View Window as List Command+2
View Window as Columns Command+3


Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Turn Off Auto Start Programs - MSCONFIG

As your Windows computer ages, its speed can decrease. You will notice an increase in response time when you give commands to open programs, files or folders, use the Internet and other tasks. There are several things you can do to speed up your computer.

In our ongoing series, Speed Up a Slow Computer, we will present articles discussing some of the steps you can take to speed up your slow computer.

Important: Before making any changes to your system, always create a Restore Point. If anything goes wrong with the changes you make, this will allow you to revert back to a point when the computer was operating correctly. Please visit our Newsletter Archives to read our article, All About Restore Points:

Turn Off Auto Start Programs - MSCONFIG

Every program that is open and running slows the computer down. The more programs that are running, the slower the computer will go. When you turn your computer on, many hidden programs start up and run in the background. Some of these programs are essential, but most are not. Turning off some of these hidden programs can significantly increase your computer's performance and reliability.

Windows has a special tool called the Microsoft System Configuration Utility or MSCONFIG. It is designed to help troubleshoot computer problems but can also be used to find and turn off some of the hidden programs that are not needed.


In XP, click the Start button and click Run. Type msconfig in the Open box. Click the OK button.

In Vista / 7, click the Start Orb. Click in the Start Search box and type msconfig. MSCONFIG will appear in the search results, at the top of the menu. Click to open it. Vista will ask for permission to continue; click to agree.

This will open the Microsoft System Configuration Utility. Click the Startup tab at the top of the window.

The items in the list you now see are programs that open every time you turn on your computer. Some startup programs are essential; many are not. The nonessential programs can be turned off by clicking the box to the left of the item name. Once clicked, the checkmark will be removed.

To determine which items can be turned off and which must be left on, visit this website:

At this site, most items in the startup list can be researched.

In the System Configuration window, note the Command column to the right of the item name column. The entry in this column will be used to research whether that item can be turned off or should be left on.

Increase the size of the Command column. To do so, point to the vertical line between the Command and the Location column headings. The mouse pointer will change into a plus sign. When you see the plus sign, hold down the left mouse button and drag the line to the right. This will increase the size of the column. Increase the size of the column so that each entry is completely displayed.

A typical entry in that column will look something like this:

igfxtray.exe is the filename and the part that will be researched at the pacs-portal website.

In your System Configuration window, write down the filename of one of the items you would like to research. Make sure you write it down exactly as it appears. Go to the sysinfo.org website. Scroll down to the Search box, click in it and then type the filename you wrote down. Click the Search button.

If the website has information about the startup item, a description will be displayed. The status column will display one of these codes:

Y - Normally leave to run at start-up
N - Not required or not recommended - typically infrequently used tasks that can be started manually if necessary
U - User's choice - depends whether a user deems it necessary
X - Definitely not required - typically viruses, spyware, adware and "resource hogs"
? - Unknown

If a Y is displayed next to your item, leave it as is. If any of the other codes are noted, the item can be turned off. In the System Configuration window, click the box to the left of the item to remove the check mark.

This process can be done for each item in the System Configuration window. After you have finished, click the OK button and then click Restart to restart the computer. When the computer restarts, a window will open where you will confirm selective startup. Click to not show the window in the future.

In Windows 8/8.1, go to the Desktop. Right click to open the Power User Tasks Menu (Windows logo, bottom left). Click Run. Type msconfig in the Open box. Click the OK button. This will open the System Configuration window. Click the Startup tab and then click Open Task Manager.

Items can be researched as described above. To disable an item, right click on it and then left click on Disable from the resulting menu.

Note: It is highly recommended to turn off only one or two items at a time, and note what items you turned off. Then use the computer to make sure everything is working fine. If problems do occur, the items that were turned off can simply be turned on again. To do so, open the System Configuration window and click to turn on the item.

In our next edition, learn how to speed up your computer by disabling unnecessary services.


Special Feature: The List of All the New Gestures In iOS 8

By Gautam Prabhu of iphonehacks.com

iOS 8 includes hundreds of new features including major ones like Interactive Notifications, third-party keyboards, the all-new Messages app, Notification Center Widgets and lots more.

iOS 8 also includes a number of new gestures, which you may not have discovered yet, that let you do things faster.

Here’s the complete list of all the new gestures that we’ve discovered so far in iOS 8:



Websites of Interest:

Super Bowl
Visit the official site of Superbowl XLIX.

Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots

Super Bowl Recipes

Puppy Bowl
Do you like dogs better than you like football? Visit this website!

Groundhog Day
Will we have 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring?

Punxsutawney Phil

Malverne Mel

Holtsville Hal