Taking Control with Hosts Files

windows hosts file example

One of the lesser known, but important files included with Windows is the hosts file. It’s a simple text file without a file extension that was designed to map or override IP addresses before accessing a domain name server. Recently, it’s taken a more protective role in ad blocking and stopping spyware.

Connect to FTP Sites with a Web Browser


The acronym FTP may sound new, but it is a well-established transfer protocol. Webmasters use FTP software to upload files from their computer to a web server. Some companies use FTP to distribute software updates, patches and forms. Although you can use dedicated FTP clients such as CuteFTP, WS_FTP and others, it’s easy to connect to FTP servers using your browser if you know the FTP browser syntax.

Make Keyboard Symbols & Special Characters

Character Map with Cents Sign

I recently attended a meeting where an agenda item was to review a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. One bullet point showed a daily cost of 37 cents. Several people wanted the bullet point to show 37¢. Others commented that there is no way to use these symbols as the cents sign since they weren’t on your computer keyboard. This got me thinking about the different methods you can insert special characters in Windows .

Create Distribution Lists in Gmail

Sometimes Gmail’s simplicity makes people think it is missing features. A case in point is distribution lists or group lists. Many people think that it’s not possible to send an email to a group of contacts or email addresses. The truth is that you can create personal Gmail distribution lists in a couple of easy steps by using Gmail groups.

When Microsoft Outlook Links Fail to Open

Edit Windows registry value.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you appreciate a feature until it breaks like Outlook hyperlinks. It’s frustrating because you know they worked before. In this tutorial, I’ll explain some reasons why your Outlook hyperlinks are not working and possible solutions. Incidentally, the problem may show in other Microsoft Office programs.

3 Easy Ways to Block Website

OpenDNS custom categories.

The internet can be the world’s biggest distraction. Sometimes you need some simple steps to block access to various websites either on a permanent basis or maybe certain times of the day.

Protect Your Online Accounts with 2FA

Cloudflare two-factor authentication dialog.

Recently, I met a friend who looked stressed. He returned home from work only to find out that someone had broken into his online accounts. Naturally, he was concerned about the data, but also the amount of time it would take to fix the problem. I told him an easy way to reduce the risk of account breaches is to use something called “two factor authentication” or 2FA. But, it has some issues if you’re not careful.

How to Make a Picture Smaller

Squoosh app and controls.

Have you ever had one of those photos that you wanted to share or upload only to find out there was a file size restriction? Professional photographers and designers know how to make a picture smaller. Fortunately, some easy and free online picture optimization services can reduce image file size without sacrificing quality.

Essential Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts & Customization

Toggle for Gmail keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to enhance your productivity. The benefits are compounded the more you use a program like Gmail. The problem is learning them and committing them to memory. In the case of Gmail, there are quite a few and some don’t seem intuitive to me.

How to Check PC Specs With Free Windows Tools

Speccy summary panel

Recently, I was trying to track down some system specs for my computers and ran into a snag. It had to do with this Meltdown and Spectre chipset nonsense. It seemed that some articles referenced the “chipset” and others the “code” name. I didn’t have a decoder ring so decided to see if various system utilities could help me check my computer specs. I came away thinking that these profiler tools vary widely in information and details.