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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The title of this post will suggest it’s one for geeks.

I’ve just upgraded my Window 10 Home OS to the latest preview build using the Windows Insider Program. So far so good, although a driver for my printer appears to need updating. One friend has commented that he’s had nothing but problems since installing it.

The obvious difference is a change to the file icons, and I’ve also noticed that when you restart you have an option to restart apps after signing in. Time will tell what other changes there are.

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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Rain Alarm Pro (a favourite app)

This is not just a favourite app, it’s my current favourite app (April 2021). It was recommended by a friend, and it really is one of the best weather apps available. It does what it says on the tin (as the saying goes) and alerts you when rain is in your immediate area.

Unlike a normal weather app (although this one is also that) Rain Alarm Pro doesn’t just tell you the percentage chance of rain, it actually shows you where the rain is. It connects to rain radar centres and gives you a very accurate picture. You can see where the rain is, how intense it is, and which direction it’s travelling in.

So, instead of a general 50% chance of rain (for example) in your area, you can make a judgement that it’s actually going to miss you. This is invaluable for outings, picnics, and barbeques.

There’s a free version, but it’s well worth paying for the pro version and supporting an independent developer.

Ed Balls Day (2011)

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Ed Balls Day is a bit of fun, the stuff of nonsense, and this year (2021) is the 10th anniversary celebration. Basically, on 28 April 2011, Ed Balls (then a British politician) tweeted his name thinking he was entering it into a search box.

Since then […] every year Twitter rejoices in the madness of the internet gaffe and marks Ed Balls Day. Source

A simple mistake has made him the Patron Saint of Simple Mistakes. To his credit, he hasn’t deleted the tweet, it remains on Twitter in all its pomp and glory, although at the time he didn’t know it was possible to delete them.

It’s a day to look forward to, it’s a day to enjoy with family and friends, it’s a day to share with others. It’s a day that unites everyone. Whatever your race, colour, or creed, everyone can enjoy Ed Balls Day.

Some bemoan the fact that’s it’s become too commercialised these days, having lost its true meaning. So, however you celebrate, make sure it’s significant.

Yes, it’s a bit of fun, but at its heart is the positive affirmation of simple mistakes and a willingness to own them.

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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Unfollow Inactive Twitter Accounts

Today’s post is a very niche one, only useful if you’re a Twitter user. Twitter is great (I’ve been using it since March 2008) although it can also be a nasty place, bringing out the worst in people. I have ways and means of avoiding its excesses and try to use it for good, but occasionally for a rant.

UnTweeps is a simple tool for weeding out inactive accounts you are following:

  • The number of people you can follow is a valuable asset to your Twitter presence.
  • Don’t waste this resource on accounts who aren’t even using Twitter!
  • Unfollow inactive and zero tweet accounts
  • See who you are blocking.

You simply login with your Twitter account, allowing UnTweeps access.

See also: Delete Tweets with Semiphemeral