Windows 10 System Restore

System Restore is a lifesaver and might well get you out of a serious computer problem, as it has for me on a number of occasions. It’s a digital ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card.

System Restore is a feature in Microsoft Windows that allows the user to revert their computer’s state (including system files, installed applications, Windows Registry, and system settings) to that of a previous point in time, which can be used to recover from system malfunctions or other problems. In Windows 10, System Restore is turned off by default and must be enabled by users in order to function. This does not affect personal files such as documents, music, pictures, and videos. Source

Unfortunately, as you can read above, it’s not turned on by default. I’ve also found out that, even if you have previously switched it on, it gets switched off with a Windows 10 upgrade. So, whenever your Windows is updated, it’s worth checking. As well as switching it on, you can decide how much space to allocate to the feature, and create manual restore points. I make a point of creating one each week to be on the safe side.

One day you’ll thank me!

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PhotoScan (a favourite app)

Until recently I’d been using Microsoft Office Lens (part of Microsoft Office Mobile App) to scan documents on my smartphone, but I started having issues with focussing. It could be one of many reasons and nothing to do with the app itself, but I’ve gone back to using PhotoScan by Google to scan documents and photos.

I use it mainly to scan receipts and other text documents, but there’s all sorts of features to use with photos. I’d been looking at various apps to scan old family photos, but I think PhotoScan will do the job. The only cost would be if you needed extra storage on Google, and that’s relatively cheap on a monthly basis.

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The dominant emotion of 2021?

I guess we’ve all been finding life difficult during the ongoing pandemic; possibly feeling overwhelmed and sometimes emotional, but maybe just meh!

A friend shared this recently, and (like an article last year) it rang a bell with me, and helped me understand why I’m feeling like I am in April 2021 (over a year into the pandemic). Could the neglected middle child of mental health, one that can dull your motivation and focus, be the dominant emotion of 2021?

But enough of me! Read this article for yourself, I’m sure you’ll find it helpful.

New York Times: There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing

What’s in your Pocket?

Well, if it’s my children’s pockets as I load the washing machine, it could be all sorts of things from small stones to Lego – but that’s not what I’m referring to.

I recently posted about the Reading List in Google Chrome and mentioned Pocket as a long-term bookmark storage solution. You can use the website (additionally with a browser extension) and/or the app on mobiles and tablets.

Save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app. Curate your own space filled with everything you can’t wait to learn. Immerse yourself in great content anywhere – even offline. Read or listen without distraction, on any device. Source

One of the best features (for me anyway) is that you can tag everything in order to index the pages you save as you go along. I use the free version, but there are extra benefits of a premium upgrade. Why not check it out?

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Reading List in Google Chrome

How do you save web pages you want to read later?

Until recently I’d been saving web pages in a variety of places, including Facebook and Twitter bookmarks. I still use those, but now I’ve become better organised. Sites I visit regularly are bookmarked in Google Chrome (so they synchronise across all my devices) with my top sites on the favourites bar as icons only.

I don’t know how long Google’s [Reading list] has been available, but I’ve only recently discovered it. If it’s not showing you can activate it after typing the following command into the address bar and pressing [Enter]. You can also use the same command to disable it.

chrome://flags/#read-later

Anything I want to read later now gets saved into my [Reading list] by bookmarking and choosing that option. Most recent pages are saved to the top of the list and get moved to the bottom of the list (below a divider) when you’ve read them. You can then delete them, keep for future reference, or transfer to another bookmarking service.

For long-term bookmark storage I use Pocket, which I’ve written about here.

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NAPS2 Scanning Software

For years I’ve been using ScanWiz for scanning documents, but it hasn’t been updated since 2012 and I’ve been having some issues using it with the latest Window 10 OS. Since last year, I’ve been using PaperScan Pro made available free during the coronavirus pandemic (until April 2021). This no longer works now, although you can still get a limited free version.

Needing to scan some personal documents I stated looking for some open-source software that would do the job using the helpful website Alternative To. I came across NAPS2 and it’s just what I needed. Check it out for yourself here.

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Google Photos (OCR)

I’ve been using Google Photos for ages, but it was only recently that they added an optical character recognition feature. Basically, if you take a photo of text on your smartphone, check it out in the Google Photos app or (after it’s been uploaded and synchronised to the cloud) computer web browser and you get the option to optically scan the text in the photo and convert it to editable text. It will even read it aloud for you.

While we’re on the subject of Google and text, there’s also another app that’s very useful, one that I use all the time. One of the features of Google Keep is that you can record audio notes that are automatically transcribed into text. It’s remarkably accurate and useful for those times when you have an idea and are unable to type. I used it for this blog post and it required minimal editing to finish it off.

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Don’t let perfectionism rule you!

Committing (at the start of 2021) to writing and publishing at least one blog post a day has reinforced an important life lesson. Don’t let perfectionism rule you!

Give everything your best shot, but know when to stop. Some things you can go back and change, at least I can go back and edit blog posts (for example). But some things you can’t, and you just have to accept that. It’s an important lesson to teach our children.

Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unattainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their expectations. Source

Perfectionism can (of course) be both positive and negative, but it often drives people to be concerned with achieving unattainable ideals or unrealistic goals, leading to a whole host of mental health problems.

We need to learn the lesson of Islamic rugs and knock the edge off our perfectionism. Flaws in Persian carpets are no accident:

In many handmade Persian rugs and carpets you will discover [a] deliberate mistake. Followers of Islam believe only Allah makes things perfectly, and therefore to weave a perfect rug or carpet would be an offence to Allah. The original deliberate mistake is usually made in the execution of the pattern of the rug and not in the dying of the wool or silk, and certainly not the quality of the weaving. Genuine deliberate mistakes in oriental rugs and carpets may be very difficult to spot and can be as subtle as a different colour used in a flower petal. Source

Finally, I hope you enjoy my eclectic and imperfect blog posts.

World Backup Day

NEVER rely on only ONE important file (or files) on only ONE laptop or device. Just in case you didn’t get that, I’ll repeat it – NEVER rely on only ONE important file (or files) on only ONE laptop or device!

World Backup Day is a very special day, and the focus is to showcase the significance of the role of data in our everyday life. It’s important to take regular backups so that you don’t miss out on anything crucial. It’s celebrated on the 31 March every year.

We occasionally hear stories of someone has written a book on a laptop, and that laptop has broken or been stolen. There are some very easy ways of backing up files, of ensuring you have a copy somewhere else. This can be in the cloud or on a USB flash drive, for example. I’ll post in more detail later on.

Remember: NEVER rely on only ONE important file (or files) on only ONE laptop or device. Happy World Backup Day!

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Dining Table School Class

Home schooling and Zoom classes have been a regular part of our home life for many weeks during the coronavirus lockdown, but yesterday I had the new experience of actually teaching a primary school lesson from our dining room table by video call.

Going into schools as a Salvation Army Officer is something I’ve always enjoyed; either leading an assembly, taking a class, or simply attending an event. Fortunately, it’s something I can continue now I’m retired. So I was pleased to be invited by a friend to teach a Reception Class at Morgans Primary School, Hertford.

I spoke about the Salvation Army and Easter, answering questions such as: Is it a real fighting army? Why are there so many celebrations and holidays around Easter? Is the Easter bunny a Christian thing?

It seemed to go well and I look forward to further opportunities in the future, and hopefully in person at Freddy and Matilda’s school when life returns to normal.

Note: It was the first time I’d used Google Meet and I preferred it to Zoom.