Is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Still Worth Reading?

My personal copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, sitting on my desk.
My personal copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, sitting on my desk.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I like to read. And anyone who knows me really well knows that I like to read on self-improvement.

Even though I read a lot, I rarely write reviews. Sometimes that’s because I need time to internalize a book’s message. Other times it’s because a book underwhelmed me, and I don’t like to leave a critical review.

Then occasionally, a book comes along that impresses me so much that I can’t help but write about it. The Count of Monte Cristo is one of those, as is War and Peace.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is also one of those books.

I had known about this book for a while. My mom likes to use the phrase “win friends and influence people” (even though she’s never read the book herself), so you could say I grew up hearing about it a lot. I don’t know anyone else who has read this book, though.

After reading many self-improvement and “soft skills” books over the past five years, I decided to read this classic. I found that many other self-improvement books, while meaning well, fell flat to some extent. They lacked something. I hoped that, because this book has stood the test of time (80 years in print and millions of copies sold), it would contain whatever it is that those other books don’t have.

For context, I am an extraverted introvert. I enjoy being around people in small groups and in small doses, but have to retreat to solitude at the end of the day to recharge. I’m not socially incompetent, but I’ve always felt I had subpar social skills, even among those within my “inner circle”.

I was blessed to get a college job that forced me to improve my social skills and deal with people more, mostly over the phone and via email. My boss kindly coached me in ways to improve my communication, and over time I developed a sense of “how to say things best”. I practiced these “tactics” over and over, and I began to see that people almost always responded positively and predictively to them. Pretty soon, these skills became second nature, and now I’ll forever use them without thinking twice about it.

I say all that because I waded into How to Win Friends and Influence People with at least some sense of how to win friends and influence people. Still, I figured there was plenty more that I didn’t know.

Boy, was I right.

Carnegie is a rags-to-riches kind of guy from a little farm in northwest Missouri. Read his story in the book.

First of all, if you are organized and methodical like myself, this book is for you. Carnegie simplifies and codifies the basics of human behavior. You can flip to the last page in each part and read the rules for winning friends, leadership, etc. Review these often!

Second, for each rule, Carnegie provides a plethora of stories from real people. This isn’t some theoretical psychological ivory-tower talk. People have tested and proven this stuff, time and time again. Read their stories to learn how they did it and how you can do it, too. (Note: The latest editions contain some updated anecdotes that are more relevant for today’s readers.)

Third, the sections are short. You could read one rule a day and put it into practice. Or you could read a whole section. I did both as I devoured this book.

As I read, I found myself making mental notes: “Hmm, that’s interesting. I need to try that out.” Or, “I think I already do a pretty good job of this.” Or sometimes, “Oh! So that’s why people act that way!”

So, if you’ve read this far in my review, I bet you’re wondering whether it has helped me.

Well, I read this book in about two weeks, giving myself plenty of time to digest each section. I needed to think about how to best put the rules into practice in my everyday life, whether at work, home, or elsewhere. I just finished the book a few days ago, so I haven’t had a chance to put everything into practice yet.

That said… I’m already seeing positive results.

I sat down with my old boss a couple weeks ago with a business proposition for him. I didn’t even do much of the talking. I let him talk about his business, life, and so on. I asked a few questions here and there because I wanted to see things from his point of view, and nodded with interest as I listened to his answers.

By the end of our meeting, and with little pushback on his part, he accepted my proposition. And all I had to do was listen with interest and let him do the talking.

Given, we’ve known each other for a while and have a high degree of trust in each other, so I’ll give another example.

At a friend’s wedding, I reconnected with some friends I hadn’t seen since high school. I’m not a Type-A personality, but I took control of each conversation and started by asking them how they were doing, what they were doing, and so on. I don’t like to talk much anyway, so all I had to do was stand, smile, and listen. Some of them went on and on and on… because they felt like I cared about what they were saying. And I did.

The end result? Reconnected with old friends, who lamented the fact that I had to leave early. (We would’ve partied all night!) I gave one guy a compliment and it hit him like a fly ball out to left field! He and I had never been super close, so it was the last thing he expected to come out of my mouth. The surprise on his face was priceless.

But what was even better was the fact that, by employing these rules, I drummed up conversations with people I’d never met before. I had some fantastic conversations with some fantastic people: an attractive young lady who (like me) stood alone at the reception, several of my friends’ parents, other guests…. Breaking the ice and establishing rapport was a piece of wedding cake.

I’ve even noticed a change in myself. Smiling more has improved my outlook on life. I feel more in control of things that happen at work. I can better gauge others’ expectations and meet them. I’m not afraid to sit down with my manager and discuss a problem.

I feel more in control of life in general. I feel more confident. And confidence is contagious in the best way possible, folks.

To answer the question this article poses, yes—How to Win Friends and Influence People is absolutely still worth reading.

Why? Because even though times change, people remain the same. Human behavior is the same across the ages—just pick up any history book and see for yourself. People twenty, two-hundred, and two-thousand years ago responded to social cues the same way they respond today.

If you want to improve your social success, read this book. Read it, and be diligent in putting its principles into practice. That’s the only way you’ll ever be able to improve. Knowledge isn’t power, but applied knowledge is.

There is a key, though: You must be genuine in your interactions with other people. Smile from the heart. Nod in affirmation. Try to see the world through their eyes. If you do… even if you do it imperfectly… you will win friends and influence people.

I have. So let’s see you do it, too.

Buy your copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People today.


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What if I told you that you could quickly and easily learn how your computer or smartphone works?

What if I told you that troubleshooting your technology can be easy and painless?

Well, now I’m telling you! My book How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t explains, in everyday English, how your computer operates and what you can do when it’s not operating the way you want it to.

It teaches you about the basic components without getting too technical, so you can become more computer-literate.

It walks you through simple steps to fixing common computer problems, so you can get back to using your computer instead of struggling with it.

It explains how to easily solve issues such as sluggish performance and virus infections, so you can keep your computer running smoothly—instead of running out to buy a new one.

And… it includes over 30 full-color pictures, so you can actually see what I’m talking about.

I’ve spent a great majority of my life solving computer problems (and I’m only in my twenties!), and I studied IT in college partly for this reason. I’ve helped kids, seniors, and everyone in between… and now I want to help you.

This book contains all the “secrets” I use to solve computer problems… secrets that everyone can use, including you.

Imagine feeling confident that you can solve your own tech problems without calling your tech-savvy friend, child, or grandchild. Imagine quickly feeling at home with software or apps you’ve never used before.

With How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t, you will!

How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t is available on Amazon in all regions for Kindle and in paperback. Why not pick up a copy today and start becoming comfortable with computers?

P.S. If you opt for the paperback version, you can also get the Kindle version for only $0.99 more and read wherever you go on your smartphone, tablet, or Kindle e-reader. Also, be sure to sign up for my email list to receive free bonus content to supplement the book.

They Won the Wage Battle… But They Lost the Work War

The red fist of socialism.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

Margaret Thatcher

Today, FoxNews reported that Bernie Sanders finally gave in to his campaign staffers’ clamoring for a $15 minimum wage. A victory for the common man, right?

Actually, quite the opposite.

Because of the hiked minimum wage, Sanders’s campaign cut its staffers hours. That means they’re not making any more than they did before. That means they’re not going to be nearly as effective in their work to get Sanders nominated.

And I think this could mean doom for Sanders’s campaign, and for the socialist movement in general.

Talk about feeling the burn. (Or is it Bern?)

To be fair to the staffers, they didn’t say anything about maintaining a 40-hour workweek. I guess they assumed that would be the case.

It’s basic supply and demand. There is no demand to justify staffers being paid $15 an hour. Therefore, when an outside entity violates the natural balance by placing a price floor on minimum wage, the supply is forced to decrease.

After all, Sanders’s campaign would go belly-up if it was forced to keep all its staffers, well, on staff at $15 an hour for 40 hours each week. They’d have to solicit more donations, probably from rich people (the same ones they hate and want to tax to death), in order to stay alive.

In this case, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Socialism just got schooled.

We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.

Adolf Hitler

I’m shooting from the hip here. I don’t get political on this site very often. Yet I don’t see this as politics.

I see socialism and the “gimme” mentality as a great evil that imperils not only the U.S., but the world. I see it as a broader global, social issue that could (and likely will) inevitably lead to totalitarian regimes that mimic Venezuela at best and Stalin’s Soviet Union at worst.

Here are some cold, hard facts to be learned from Sanders and his staffers:

  1. Some jobs just aren’t worth $15/hour.
  2. If the minimum wage is increased, employers will be forced to reduce the workforce or working hours in order to keep profits in the black.
  3. Get ready for computers and robots to replace minimum-wage workers—because they work minimum-wage jobs for free. And they don’t complain or form unions, either.

And here’s three more tough truths for good measure:

  1. Life is hard, and you aren’t owed anything. In fact, life is downright cruel. And you shouldn’t trust anyone, especially not the government, to take care of you. You’re fortunate to wake up and live in one of the best times in history in the greatest country on the earth. You have a relatively comfortable life because of people who worked hard thousands of years before you to bring humanity to its current state. You have opportunities people halfway around the world could only dream of.
  2. Instead of clamoring for a higher minimum wage, get out there and learn some skills that will make you more money. The more value you provide to others, the more money you will receive as a result. Anyone can flip burgers or solicit. Not everyone can sell homes, repair faulty wiring, or manage investments. Very few can win Oscars, perform to 10,000 people, or start world-changing companies. The more value you provide to others, the more money you will receive as a result.
  3. Socialism does not work. It runs counter to human nature that God created in all of us. It discourages innovation and hard work by punishing the high achievers. It encourages complacency because those at the bottom aren’t compensated according to the value they provide. There is no incentive for them to work harder if big government is always taking care of them. (If you want evidence of socialism not working, I need only point to Venezuela.)

Socialism states that you owe me something simply because I exist. Capitalism, by contrast, results in a sort of reality-forced altruism: I may not want to help you, I may dislike you, but if I don’t give you a product or service you want, I will starve. Voluntary exchange is more moral than forced redistribution.

Ben Shapiro

You may say that selfishness is wrong, but at the end of the day, we’re all selfish. Even the most selfless things we do, we do because we want something out of them—whether because we want the feeling of well-being that comes from doing them, because we want to avoid the guilt we’ll feel if we don’t do them, or because we want to look good in our peers’ eyes. Socialism violates this natural human behavior of operating selfishly.

Once people understand very basic economics and human behavior… socialism will become a footnote of history.

And now, I’ll step down from my soapbox. For now.

But first, I’ll leave you with a haunting quote.

The goal of socialism is communism.

Vladimir Lenin

The Three Best Personality Tests (So Far)

An unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

I wouldn’t go so far to say that it’s not worth living, period. But it’s a bad mistake to go through life without some self-examination.

Without self-examination, you may find yourself in the wrong career. You may find yourself in a relationship with the wrong person.

And if you’re a young person, like myself, this is the prime time to start self-examining. You can course-correct with minimal change!

Socrates’ quote links to the Delphic maxim, “Know thyself.” You could ask a dozen philosophers what “Know thyself” means, and you’d probably get a dozen (or more) different answers. I think the kernel of the maxim is this: You need to examine yourself so you can understand what—and how—you think, so you can find your optimal place in society.

Why is this important? As an example, if you don’t examine yourself, you might find yourself in an unfulfilling career. You might think you’re supposed to be an engineer, but you actually like working with people more than you like working with things. But you may not understand that, and so you’ll go to work every day feeling unfulfilled at best—or hating your job at worst.

Knowing yourself also helps you know other people better. You understand where you fall on various scales, like introversion-extraversion. You learn the oft-forgotten fact that not everyone thinks the same way you do. Even your friends think differently from you. That’s what makes us unique, and that’s what keeps society functioning—because if we were all wired to be doctors, who would write music?

But perhaps the most important reason to take a personality test is this: You start to understand how the world perceives you, and find areas where you can improve your life.

If you think you’re a psychological anomaly, you’re probably not alone. A personality tests shows that you fit into a category with other like-minded individuals. This is comforting.

You start to feel better about yourself, accepting yourself for who you are while working to improve in weaker areas. You start to make life changes that will lead to greater self-satisfaction. In turn, those life changes will help you better sympathize and empathize with others.

At the end of high school and through college, I was blessed to have taken personality tests several times. These tests helped open my eyes to understand how I work, how other people perceive me, and how I could best “plug in” to the crazy world we live in.

It’s been five years since I first took a personality test, and I took three recently to see if my traits would change. I explain each test below, and give my opinion.

So, take these tests, know thyself, and then get to work! Then come back, a few years from now, and try again—and see if your results change at all.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

A lot of people have heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Two ladies, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, designed the test during World War II. They based it on the four personality traits identified by Carl Jung.

It’s got its fair share of critics and some consider it pseudoscience, but don’t let that stop you. It’s great for an initial yet thorough self-assessment. I’ve taken it at least a half-dozen times over the years and scored pretty consistently each time.

The Myers-Briggs test gives you a four-letter abbreviation that represents your type. Each letter represents one end of a scale. The best way to understand this is to use an example.

My Myers-Briggs personality type is INTJ:

  • I: Introversion over Extraversion
  • N: iNtuition over Sensing
  • T: Thinking over Feeling
  • J: Judgment over Perception

You can find several Myers-Briggs tests online. My favorite so far is 16Personalities, which does a good job of not type-casting you, but instead showing where you fall on a scale.

For example, I may score as an Introvert, but 16Personalities notes that I’m in fact 72% introverted. That means I’m 28% extraverted. (At a party, I’m not the socially-awkward guy in the corner—just the guy who prefers smaller groups and more meaningful conversation!)

16Personalities also adds a fifth metric: Identity. Identity ranks how confident you are in your abilities and decisions, on a scale from Assertive to Turbulent.

So, with 16Personalities, your final personality type looks something like this: INTJ-A.

16Personalities gives you more than a rather vague four- or five-letter personality type. It gives you an identity to go along with that type. For example, being an INTJ, I’m considered an Architect.

Image courtesy of 16Personlities.com.

At the end of your test, 16Personalities provides a thorough breakdown of your traits. You can read how your type works best, fares in relationships, and so forth.

You can even pay to access additional resources. 16Personalities provides a type-specific e-book. They also provide an Academy, which consists of further assessments and improvement exercises.

Last week, I retook the 16Personalities test to see if I’d score would change. Turns out, this time I scored as INFJ-T, the Advocate.

Image courtesy of 16Personalities.com.

What’s the difference? The Architect thinks more than he feels, and the Advocate feels more than he thinks.


In looking at my results, I find that I’m only 60% Feeling. I recall from my first test that I was only about 60% Thinking, too. So perhaps I oscillate between Thinking and Feeling—or maybe I know a time to think and a time to feel!


All that to say, this is a great first personality test to take. Scientific or not, it should give you a better idea of who you are and what someone with your personality is best suited for in life, love, and work.

The Enneagram

The word enneagram comes from two Greek words meaning “nine” and “symbol”. Hence, the Enneagram is a personality test with nine types.

I find the Enneagram the most confusing of the personality tests I’m sharing with you. To me, it takes some extra effort to wrap your head around the results. But that doesn’t mean that it’s any less valuable.

Image courtesy of EclecticEnergies.com.

The essence of the Enneagram is that you fall into one distinct personality type with a “wing”. That is, your dominant type also possesses traits of an adjacent type on the circle.

When I took the Enneagram, I scored 5w4. That means my personality type is a 5 (The Investigator) with some traits of a 4 (The Individualist). That makes me a “thoughtful identity seeker” who is observant, unique, and different. I’d say that’s accurate.

I can definitely see how my Enneagram results complement my Myers-Briggs results. Both emphasize introversion, intuition, and thoughtfulness.

Another interesting note is that I retook the Enneagram last week and this time scored 1w2. Type 1 is The Reformer, and Type 2 is The Helper. I suppose that makes me a “perfectionist helper” who is responsible, selfless, and socially aware.

I’m not quite sold on these results, and I don’t see much of a correlation with my newer INFJ personality type. I see the perfectionist in myself, and I’m happy to help others, but not to the point that either overrides my tendency to deeply analyze things.

If you’d like to take the Enneagram, the site I used is Eclectic Energies. And no, I don’t do any of the chakra stuff, nor do I intend to. I’m just there for the test.

Understand Myself by Dr. Jordan Peterson

Hey! We’ve been talking about knowing thyself, and here’s a test called “Understand Myself”. What a find, right?

If you’ve never heard of Dr. Peterson, I’ll give a quick introduction. He’s a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, and he’s probably best-known for his YouTube channel where he posts clips of lectures, talks, and more. He’s also written a fascinating, highly-informative, and best-selling book called 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. The book rolls psychology, philosophy, and more into twelve rules you can follow to live maximally, as he would say.

You owe it to yourself to check him out.

I’m a fan of Dr. Peterson because his take on things is a breath of fresh air in the post-truth, politically-correct culture we live in. Dr. Peterson tells it like it is—and if you’re looking for some intellectual entertainment, check out all the videos of him “destroying” feminists, postmodernists, social justice warriors, and more.

And if you’re a feminist, postmodernist, or social justice warrior, well—to put it politely, maybe it’s time you examined yourself and your beliefs.

Anyway, I learned that Dr. Peterson developed a personality test of his own called Understand Myself, and knew I had to take it. Unlike the previous two sites, Understand Myself costs $9.95 one time—and you can only take it once.

Image courtesy of Understand Myself.

This test is the most scientific of the three. It evaluates you based on the five personality traits generally accepted in psychology: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience.

At the end of the test, you’re given a fifteen-page breakdown of every metric, tailored to you. You get to see where you fall on the spectra compared to the hundreds of thousands of other examinees. Pretty impressive.

Some of my results didn’t surprise me very much. For example, I scored in the 93rd percentile for Orderliness—that’s why, when my brother and I take trips, I’m the one who does the planning! (And why, for the most part, things go as planned!)

Other results did surprise me. I scored in the 40th percentile on Extraversion, which classifies me as “Typical”. Guess I’m not as introverted as I thought! But the description fits me like a glove:

People with average levels of extraversion are not overly enthusiastic, talkative, assertive in social situations, or gregarious. They enjoy social contact, but are also happy spending time alone. They will plan parties occasionally, and make people laugh, but are often willing to let others take the lead in organizing social situations and entertaining. They have a balanced view of the past and the future, neither over-emphasizing nor dismissing the positive.

Needless to say, I’ll be reading and reviewing the results of this test for a while. It’s by far the most comprehensive I’ve ever taken.

Conclusion

So, should you take all three tests? That’s up to you. I recommend you at least take the Myers-Briggs test to get an idea of where you stand personality-wise. If you want a second assessment, take the Enneagram.

That said, if you don’t mind spending $9.95 and you can be completely honest with your answers, take Understanding Myself. Remember, you can only take it once—and Dr. Peterson advises taking it when you’re not hungry, tired, or under any kind of stress. If you can do these things, you may find that $9.95 to be the best $9.95 you’ve spent in quite a while.

If you take any or all these tests and want to share your results, please drop them in the comments below. And if you know of other personality tests worth checking out, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time—make it a great week, and don’t stop improving!

How to Reset a PC Without Wiping Windows

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Or should we call it Windows-washing? (Ba-dum, tish!)

I’ll be here all night, folks.

Anyway, a very good friend of mine approached me about cleaning the data off his old PC. He wanted to give it to his sister, but didn’t want a complete Windows reset because he wanted her to have the Microsoft Office products already installed.

This is something I’ve done a few times for people, so I figure it would make a good tutorial. It appears there’s a lot of folks (more than I thought) who want to clean up an old(er) PC without completely wiping and reinstalling Windows.

Note to Mac users: This article doesn’t cover anything Mac-related, but many of the principles are still the same. I’ll probably write something similar for you in the near future.

Anyway, in cleaning data off an old PC that you want to give (or sell) to someone, there are seven basic steps that I follow, and that I will explain in this article.

  1. Remove any cloud backup software.
  2. Deauthorize accounts from software/the computer.
  3. Uninstall all unnecessary programs.
  4. Delete all unwanted files.
  5. Clear browsing history, favorites, etc.
  6. Clean up leftover files and the registry.
  7. Change the login information.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. Remove any cloud backup software.

The reason you want to do this step first is simple: If you start deleting files before you’ve deleted the software that backs them up, there’s a very high chance you’ll delete those files from the cloud. That means they’ll be deleted from all your other synced devices. Not good!

Uninstall programs from this section of the Control Panel.
Uninstall programs from this section of the Control Panel.

To uninstall cloud backup software such as Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive, do the following:

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Start typing “control panel” in the search bar and select Control Panel from the Start menu when it appears.
  3. Click on “Uninstall a program” under the Programs header of Control Panel.
  4. Find the cloud backup software in the list of programs, left-click to select it, and then click the “Uninstall” button on the bar along the top of the program list.
  5. Follow any instructions that the software uninstaller gives you.

Easy enough, right?

2. Deauthorize accounts from software/the computer.

If you have any programs that are licensed (i.e., you pay to use) or require you to have an account to work properly, you’ll want to sign yourself out. If necessary, deauthorize the computer from your account settings.

What does this mean? Well, put simply, if you’re using iTunes and you don’t want your PC’s new owner to be able to buy songs and movies, you’ll need to deauthorize iTunes on your PC and then log out of your account.

The same is true for software such as Spotify, Kindle, and Microsoft Office. The steps vary for each program, and if you’re having trouble, a quick Google search should help.

In general, you’ll want to click through the menu options on the top bar of the program (such as File, Account, etc.) and look for options to deauthorize or log off. You might also find these settings under “Preferences” or “Settings” in certain programs.

To deauthorize a device on Amazon, for example, you have to log into your account, go to "Your Content and Devices" (under the "Your Account & Lists" menu at the top-right of every page), and then select the device you want to deauthorize from the Actions column.
To deauthorize a device on Amazon, for example, you have to log into your account, go to “Your Content and Devices” (under the “Your Account & Lists” menu at the top-right of every page), and then select the device you want to deauthorize from the Actions column.

In some cases, you may have to log in to the software website in order to deauthorize the computer. This is true for Kindle, which requires you to deauthorize the computer from Amazon’s “Your Content and Devices” dashboard.

Once this part’s done, we get to start cleaning house!

3. Uninstall all unnecessary programs.

Let’s revisit our buddy Control Panel from Step 1. At this point in the process, we’ve already uninstalled the cloud backup software. Now, we need to uninstall everything else that your PC’s new owner doesn’t want or need.

Use the same steps as before: Select the program from the list, left-click to select it, and then click on the “Uninstall” button. Follow any directions in the program uninstaller, and you should be good to go.

Here’s a big rule of thumb: Don’t uninstall anything that you’re uncertain of! When in doubt, leave it out!

However, with some discernment, you can safely clean up all the unneeded or unwanted programs without affecting anything mission-critical. Here are some more guidelines to follow:

  1. Don’t delete anything that lists “Microsoft” or “Microsoft Windows” as the Publisher.
  2. Don’t delete anything that lists the PC manufacturer (e.g., Dell, HP, ASUS) as the Publisher.
  3. Don’t delete anything that’s driver-related. These are a bit harder to define, but in general, anything related to mouse, sound, or graphics should be left alone.

I know I wrote “When in doubt, leave it out!” just a few paragraphs ago. That said, the best thing to do would be to do a Google search for the program name and find out whether it’s something you should keep or not. You should learn enough about it from the first few Google results.

Keep your work gloves on, because once you’ve trashed the programs, it’s time to recycle.

4. Delete all unwanted files.

This part is probably the easiest. Select files and delete!

Wait! Before you get started, make absolutely sure there’s nothing that you need to back up first! And then, make sure there’s nothing you want your PC’s new owner to have!

My book How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t explains more about how to back files up, so I won’t cover it in-depth here. You will want to store the files on some external medium, such as a USB flash drive or an external hard drive, and then transfer those files over to another computer.

I suggest you start by cleaning up the Desktop. Delete all files there by right-clicking them and selecting the option to “Delete”. Then, when prompted, you will want to click “Yes” to send those files to the Recycle Bin.

Once the Desktop is clear, move any files you want the PC’s new owner to have onto the Desktop. This will keep them out of the way when you start indiscriminately deleting all the other files in sight.

To delete a lot of files at once, go into a folder (like Documents), press Ctrl+A on your keyboard to select all the files, right-click on one of the selected files (all the other ones should remain selected), and then “Delete”. Do this for every main folder on the computer (e.g., Documents, Pictures, Music, Video). Leave no stone unturned or folder unchecked!

When deleting a lot of data, you may be told that it won’t fit in the Recycle Bin. That’s okay; delete it anyway! Assuming you don’t need to back it up (or you already have), just send those files directly to the shredder.

Do your part to help the environment (well, not really) by emptying the Recycle Bin.
Do your part to help the environment (well, not really) by emptying the Recycle Bin.

Once you’re done deleting, you’ll want to empty any files still left in the Recycle Bin. On the Desktop, right-click on the Recycle Bin and select the option to “Empty Recycle Bin”. At this point, the files are essentially gone, gone, gone.

Except, maybe not! If your computer has a traditional platter hard disk, Windows has merely deleted the references to the files on the hard drive. What this means is that someone could recover the files on the disk if they wanted to. It’s probably not a big deal if all you had were vacation pictures, but if you had important financial documents, well, that’s another story.

How do you know if your computer has a platter hard disk or a solid-state drive (SSD)? Simple.

Open the Start menu, then start typing “optimize” until the option titled “Defragment and optimize your drives” appears on the menu. Select it.

The Optimize Drives utility that appears on-screen will list any and all storage disks on your PC. If the primary disk (usually C:) is listed as “Hard disk drive”, then you have a traditional hard disk. If it’s listed as “Solid state drive”, then you have a speedy new SSD, in which case your files are already gone.

If you have a hard disk drive and need to scrub the drive clean, hang on for just a minute. We’ll cover how to do that in Step 6. But first, Step 5.

5. Clear browsing history, favorites/bookmarks, etc.

Just like you don’t want your PC’s new owner to see all your personal files, you probably don’t want them to see all your Internet activity, either. Cleaning your browsers up isn’t difficult, but can be a little tricky.

If you’re logged in to your browser(s), the first thing you’ll want to do is sign out for good. This varies from browser to browser, and providing a how-to for every browser is beyond the scope of this article, so Google is your friend if you need specific instructions.

Next, go into the browser’s settings and delete all history, cookies, and cache items from all time. Again, this process is different on each browser, so ask Google if you need assistance.

Once that’s done, you’ll probably want to clean up your favorites or bookmarks. You’ll probably need to do this part manually by opening up the list of bookmarks, right-clicking each one, and then selecting “Delete” (or similar).

On Firefox, you can delete bookmarks en masse by clicking on the Bookmarks menu item, then “Show All Bookmarks”, and finally selecting all the bookmarks with Ctrl+A and right-clicking to delete. This saves a ton of time.

Once that’s done, your browser should be squeaky clean—but we’re going to do one final thing to make sure you didn’t miss any spots.

6. Clean up leftover files and the registry.

To this point in the walkthrough, I haven’t had you use any third-party software to clean up the PC. Now, though, we’re going to have to in order to make sure we’ve covered all our bases.

Download and install the free version of CCleaner. (Instructions are on the website.) If you’re prompted to install Avast! Antivirus when installing CCleaner, I advise against it if you already have an antivirus on your PC—and if you don’t, it probably wouldn’t hurt to install it.

The CCleaner "Custom Clean" screen. Check all the boxes on the left in both the Windows tab and the Applications tab. Don't select "Wipe Free Space" unless you know for sure you have a hard-disk drive.
The CCleaner “Custom Clean” screen. Check all the boxes on the left in both the Windows tab and the Applications tab. Don’t select “Wipe Free Space” unless you know for sure you have a hard-disk drive.

With CCleaner open, you’ll want to select the option to do a Custom Clean. Go ahead and check all the boxes in the left pane, and then click over to the Applications tab to check all the boxes in that list as well.

If you determined that your PC has a hard-disk drive in Step 4, you’ll want to make sure you check the box to Wipe Free Space. This will greatly increase the time it takes for CCleaner to run, but it will ensure that your files are wiped from the drive.

Go ahead and click the “Analyze” button. CCleaner will scan the drive and report back with the files it intends to delete. Once it does, click “Run Cleaner” and sit back while CCleaner gets rid of the gunk.

Make sure to save a backup of the registry just in case. I've used CCleaner to clean up the registry for years and never had to restore it from a backup. But you just never know...
Make sure to save a backup of the registry just in case. I’ve used CCleaner to clean up the registry for years and never had to restore it from a backup. But you just never know…

Once the cleaning is complete, you’ll want to run the registry cleaner. Click on the “Registry” button on the left side of the window, ensure all the boxes are ticked, and then click “Scan for Issues”. After it scans, click “Fix selected Issues…”, click “Yes” back up the registry, save the backup to your Documents folder, and then “Fix All Selected Issues”.

Et voilà! Now we’re almost done. You can keep CCleaner installed for the next owner, if you’d like. (It’s a good tool to have on-hand and run often, as I explain in my book.) If you’d rather get rid of it so the new owner has a completely clean slate, refer back to Step 3 to uninstall it from the Control Panel.

7. Change the login information.

Finally, you probably want to change the username and password for the computer. We saved the easiest part for last, so keep your chin up! We’re almost done! You can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Go back to the Control Panel and click on the option to “Add or remove user accounts” under the User Accounts and Family Safety header. Make sure that you’re the administrator (main user), else you may not be able to do this step.

Like I said, this part is very easy. Change the account name and then create a password. You can even change the picture if you'd like.
Like I said, this part is very easy. Change the account name and then create a password. You can even change the picture if you’d like.

This part really is easy. On the account in question (which is probably yours, if it’s the main account), click on “Change the account name” to enter the new account name. Once that’s done, click on “Create a password” to enter a new password.

Wow, that was easy, wasn’t it?

If there are any other accounts, you’ll probably want to go ahead and delete them. I suggest you log into those accounts first, though, and make sure that there are no files within that need to be backed up or deleted.

Otherwise, you’re done!

In conclusion

You’ve now restored your computer to a near-new state without having to completely wipe the drive and reinstall Windows. Give yourself a pat on the back!

There are a few final things you may want to do to the PC, depending on who’s going to be the proud new owner:

  1. Forget your wifi settings (settings vary from Windows 7 to Windows 10)
  2. Change the desktop background (especially if it’s personal, like a family portrait)
  3. Change the screensaver, if there is one (same as above)

When you hand off the computer to its new owner, the last thing I’ll advise you to do is make sure that you also hand off all necessary peripherals: power adapters, mice, keyboards, and the like. The last thing you want to do is give someone a computer and then they can’t charge it because you forgot the power adapter!

If you found these steps helpful, let me know. Feel free to bookmark this walkthrough for future reference. And please share this with anyone you know who needs them!

And, if you have any questions, or you think I left something out, go ahead and drop me a line in the comments below!

Until next time… make it an awesome week.


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What if I told you that you could quickly and easily learn how your computer or smartphone works?

What if I told you that troubleshooting your technology can be easy and painless?

Well, now I’m telling you! My book How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t explains, in everyday English, how your computer operates and what you can do when it’s not operating the way you want it to.

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It walks you through simple steps to fixing common computer problems, so you can get back to using your computer instead of struggling with it.

It explains how to easily solve issues such as sluggish performance and virus infections, so you can keep your computer running smoothly—instead of running out to buy a new one.

And… it includes over 30 full-color pictures, so you can actually see what I’m talking about.

I’ve spent a great majority of my life solving computer problems (and I’m only in my twenties!), and I studied IT in college partly for this reason. I’ve helped kids, seniors, and everyone in between… and now I want to help you.

This book contains all the “secrets” I use to solve computer problems… secrets that everyone can use, including you.

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How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t is available on Amazon in all regions for Kindle and in paperback. Why not pick up a copy today and start becoming comfortable with computers?

P.S. If you opt for the paperback version, you can also get the Kindle version for only $0.99 more and read wherever you go on your smartphone, tablet, or Kindle e-reader. Also, be sure to sign up for my email list to receive free bonus content to supplement the book.

25,000 Words

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote anything on my blog. Other stuff just kept taking priority—but that was priority of my choosing, so I really have no excuse.

Anyway, rather than write any big, long piece to make up for what I haven’t posted in almost a month, I’m going to share some of the output from one of my hobbies: photography.

My grandparents gave me my first Vivitar camera when I must have been three or four, and I’ve been snapping pictures ever since. (I still have the Vivitar!) I upgraded to a digital Panasonic when I turned thirteen and more recently upgraded to a Canon DSLR last year to really take it to the next level.

Now, whether my eye for photography has ever been any good is for you to decide. And whether the shots come out looking great is also up in the air.

My goal as I work on photography on the side is to learn not only the mechanics of camera settings and framing the shot but also the post-processing that is done with image-editing software such as Photoshop. I’m a cheapskate (and Adobe charges out the nose for a Photoshop subscription now), so I’ve been using the open-source image-editor called GIMP. I think the results are pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

So, without further ado, here are some shots of airliners taken at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, TX and muscle cars taken at Lone Star Muscle Cars in Wichita Falls, TX. Enjoy and please let me know what you think.

Omni Air International 767 taxiing in the foreground; American A321 taking off in the background.
Omni Air International 767 taxiing in the foreground; American A321 taking off in the background.
American MD-83 in the foreground, American 777 in the background. Both planes are landing into the south.
American MD-83 in the foreground, American 777 in the background. Both planes are landing into the south.
American 737 landing in front of Omni Air International 767.
American 737 landing in front of Omni Air International 767.
American A321 coming in for a landing.
American A321 coming in for a landing.
Omni Air International 767 taking off into the south. A Qantas A380 is parked on the tarmac in the background.
Omni Air International 767 taking off into the south. A Qantas A380 is parked on the tarmac in the background.
Omni Air International 767 retracting its landing gear as it switches to the departure frequency.
Omni Air International 767 retracting its landing gear as it switches to the departure frequency.
Volaris A320 "María Amalia" approaching the runway.
Volaris A320 “María Amalia” approaching the runway.
Alaska 737 painted in a Toy Story 4 livery.
Alaska 737 painted in a Toy Story 4 livery.
American A321 landing in the foreground. The Alaska 737 is lined up for takeoff on the neighboring runway. Lined up in the background are an American (Embraer) ERJ-175, American 737, another American ERJ-175, and an American 787 Dreamliner.
American A321 landing in the foreground. The Alaska 737 is lined up for takeoff on the neighboring runway. Lined up in the background are an American (Embraer) ERJ-175, American 737, another American ERJ-175, and an American 787 Dreamliner.
Air China Cargo 777, JFK-bound, taxiing in the foreground. A Canadian CargoJet 767 waits to cross the runway in the background.
Air China Cargo 777, JFK-bound, taxiing in the foreground. A Canadian CargoJet 767 waits to cross the runway in the background.
The Air China Cargo 767 waiting for clearance to cross the runway.
The Air China Cargo 767 waiting for clearance to cross the runway.
American A321 at the moment of touchdown.
American A321 at the moment of touchdown.
Hmm, which one do I want?
Hmm, which one do I want?
1970 Ford Mustang Mach I. Easily my favorite Mustang ever.
1970 Ford Mustang Mach I. Easily my favorite Mustang ever.
1985 Mustang GT Predator 302. Probably my second-favorite Mustang.
1985 Mustang GT Predator 302. Probably my second-favorite Mustang.
1969 Dodge Super Bee.
1969 Dodge Super Bee.
1962 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster.
1962 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster.
1969 Chevrolet Camero.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro.
2001 Dodge Viper. Get stung with V10 power, baby!
2001 Dodge Viper. Get stung with V10 power, baby!
1966 Dodge Charger.
1966 Dodge Charger.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS "Moovin' Milk". I wouldn't mind if the milkman drove this. Wait, I guess milkmen don't exist anymore.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS “Moovin’ Milk”. I wouldn’t mind if the milkman drove this. Wait, I guess milkmen don’t exist anymore.
1965 Ford Mustang grille.
1965 Ford Mustang grille.
2002 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. I really like the firebird graphic on the hood.
2002 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. I really like the firebird graphic on the hood.
A spider! Guess the Dodge D150 he was hanging out on hasn't been driven in a while.
A spider! Guess the Dodge D150 he was hanging out on hasn’t been driven in a while.
Another shot of the 1969 Dodge Super Bee, but the grille this time.
Another shot of the 1969 Dodge Super Bee, but the grille this time.

One thing I really like about photography is that it gives me an excuse to get out, explore, and experiment. As you can probably tell, I like photographing machines, but really anything that (I think) exhibits beauty is worth capturing.

Coming soon: enhanced photos from my spring-break trip to Utah. Until then, thanks for reading and viewing.