Wednesday Wine Pairing & Getting Rid of A Windows Password

untitledAre you sick of having to type in a password every time you want to use your computer?

If you’re on a PC with a Windows operating system, then here’s how you can get rid of that pesky thing. 

  1. Click the Windows Start Button–the little orb in the lower left of the screen
  2. Click on the Control Panel
  3. Click on User Accounts
  4. Click Remove Password
  5. Enter your password
  6. Click OK to remove the password

You’re free!  Go celebrate with a glass of wine with Jeff.

Winebits 347: Ordering wine, Big Wine, Treasury wine

ordering wineWhat does it say that this is even necessary? The Daily Meal website offers advice on “How not to sound stupid when ordering wine,” the need for which makes the Wine Curmudgeon cringe. But it’s mostly good advice, and I will likely borrow some of it when I revise the cheap wine book. My favorite of the six: “Tell the server how much money you’re comfortable spending. It’s their job to point out a wine or wines you’ll enjoy that fit your budget.” The catch, of course, is that too many restaurants spend as much effort on server training as I do preparing to run the marathon in the  Olympics.

There’s Gallo, and there’s Gallo: The blog has spent much time discussing how Big Wine dominates the wine business, but never with quite this much humor. Marnie Old at points out that someone who doesn’t want to drink an E&J Gallo wine often ends up drinking it anyway (and is even nice to Gallo in the process, which one rarely sees on the Internet). By her reckoning, 15 of the most recognizable grocery store brands are Gallo, dating to the 1970s.

Bring on the bidders: Regular visitors here know that the Wine Curmudgeon is trying to finance his retirement to Burgundy by buying low on ailing Treasury Wine Estates and pocketing zillions after the company is taken private. The good news is that it looks like a third private equity group wants to bid for Treasury. The bad news is that the stock price still isn’t going anywhere, and I may not even get a bottle of Burgundy out of this. I’m also starting to feel a little guilty, since the new owner will fire thousands of people, pay off the executives who ran Treasury into the ground, and give themselves huge bonuses for doing the deal. It’s hell being sensitive when money is involved.

I hope Jeff doesn’t move to Burgundy TOOOO soon, there’s still so much for me to LEARN!


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Technology: Silencing Our Cell Phones

Jack Lemmon

Funny Jack Lemmon

This last weekend, Hubby Scott and I watched “Good Neighbor Sam,” an ancient (from the early 60s) movie with Jack Lemmon and Dorothy Provine and about every character actor you’ve ever seen from that era.

A clean, simple, funny, sweet, predictable story about mistaken identity, missed meetings, and bad communication.  We loved it.

Harrison Ford

Hunky Harrison Ford

Don’t get me wrong, we were also first at the theater to see the new “Expendables 3″ movie, where everything that could get blown up did, and by every hunky, aging action star I’ve ever loved from Harrison Ford to Sylvester Stallone.

What’s the difference between movies then and movies now?  Besides the twin beds, fully clothed stars, clean language, gloves and hats?


None of the old screwball comedies could even be written today because one cell phone would solve all the problems and end the movie before it got started.  No  mistaken identities–you’ve got a picture on your phone. No “ships in the night”–you’re tracking each other’s GPS.  No lost opportunities–text your intentions immediately.

Movies today use cell phones as the central theme. One cell phone call, one text, one video or picture can pivot the movie this way and that, driving the characters and the action.

Technology is pretty much my livelihood. BUT I like the idea of silencing my cell phone occasionally to let my life in.

I also miss the gloves and hats.

Ciao, sweeties,

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5 on Friday: FREE Anti-Virus Software

Computer-keyboadThey say there’s no such thing as a free lunch or anything else for that matter.  Everything comes with strings, right?

Well, today is the day we will get something good for free! Pay attention, sweeties.

If you use a PC, you have to have security that includes a good anti-virus program. Install it in a clean computer and do the regular updates and virus scans and you should run smoothly most of the time.  But is there such a thing as a good, free anti-virus?

There is and it’s fairly simple to download and install.

There are probably at least three or four programs available at any given  time but the list of the most recommended ones changes a little every year. I’m not trying to endorse one over the others, but some good ones are Avast, AVG, and Bitdefender. You can search “best free anti-virus” and get various opinions on the most reliable programs out there. One way or the other any program is better than none at all. And remember, they all have to be renewed every year.

Follow this process to protect your PC using AVG Free:

1. In your browser, search (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) AVG Free Cnet. Cnet (see the article from Wednesday) is a handy software site that’s safe and doesn’t try to sneak in other downloads you don’t need or want.

2. You will see a large green button that says download AVG Free. Click it and follow the bouncing cursor, so to speak.

3. When prompted, click “run the program” rather than “saving” it. Somewhere along the way it will ask if you want the free version or the paid version. The free version is fine. 

4. Continue to follow the bouncing cursor which means click “accept”, “next” and “okay” when they come up on your screen.

5. It’s okay and really best to go ahead and register using your email address when finishing up. They won’t harass you.

Now you’re protected for a year.  Good for you!

There’s one more thing you need to be aware of where ant-virus is concerned. You probably won’t be able to install it correctly if your computer is already full of malware. Make sure the computer is clean then download an anti-virus program to keep it that way. If you need to clean it up first, you’ll need some different software and possibly the help of an expert.

I have to go now and meet my Mom for lunch–her treat.  Hey, there is such thing as a free lunch!

Ciao, sweeties,

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Wednesday Wine Pairing & CNET, which stands for Computer Network, is a media website that publishes reviews, news, articles, blogs, podcasts and videos on technology and consumer electronics. When you go to the website, in the download section you will find a long list of the most popular utility software – video players, mp3 players, anti-virus and computer cleanup programs– that you can download right then and there into your own computer. Most downloads are free but some programs will require payment when installing them. Downloads from CNET are safe and usually easy. Check it out. It’s full of cool stuff.

Speaking of cool stuff. . . here’s Jeff with our Wednesday Wine Pairing.

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2013

Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2009This South African white is one of the world’s great cheap wines. So why did I have to taste it in a restaurant in San Diego, instead of buying it in a store in Dallas?

You know the reason for that: the three tier-system.

But the Wine Curmudgeon will not let that deter him from his life’s work. What’s a constitutionally-protected regulatory system when terrific cheap wine is at stake?

Because the Ken Forrester ($10, purchased, 13%) is terrific – a surprisingly rich mouth feel given this is $10 chenin blanc, plus green apple fruit, a tiny hint of honey in the middle, and even some minerality on the finish. In this, it’s the kind of chenin — not sweet, not syrupy, not a sauvignon blanc knockoff, but with character and interest — that makes me wonder why the grape isn’t more popular. I rarely quote producer websites, but this is spot on: “Perfect everyday drinking wine.”

Especially if you live in the ninth largest city in the country where 100-degree summer days cry out for this kind of wine. Or, as several of my colleagues said when we bought the wine in San Diego, “What do you mean, you can’t buy this in Dallas?” Which, come to think of it, has always been a problem.

Highly recommended, but since it’s not for sale in Dallas, it can’t be in the $10 Hall of Fame. Unless I change the rules, but I don’t run that kind of Hall of Fame.


I love a man with principles.

Ciao, sweeties,

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5 on Friday: Buying the Right Computer

computerBuying a new computer can be fun or, if you’re like most of us, your worst nightmare. Should you buy a Mac, a PC, desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone or even a watch? That’s right. The Dick Tracy smart watch has arrived. And then there’s Google glass. But now I’m just confusing myself.

Many of us still buy desktop computers for the office, although laptops are far more popular. For the purposes of our discussion we will not talk about pads in this post.  And for either one of these two choices there are a few components that I would recommend you look for. They are:

  1. Processor-–An Intel i5 or, better, i7 processor. AMD series A processors are almost as fast. The AMD Athlon is a good choice.
  2. RAM–-At least 8 gigabytes of RAM. The more RAM the better and it’s the least expensive component for a noticeable increase in computer speed.
  3. Hard Drive—A 750 gigabytes to 1 terabyte hard drive (for program and data storage) is adequate for most users. If you’re working with video or other large files you may want a bigger drive or use an external drive for more storage.
  4. USB Slots–-4 USB slots. At least two should be the new faster USB3 slots (universal serial bus). Most devices from keyboards to printers use this universal connection.
  5. Video Card—Nvidia Get Force and AMD Radeon are the two most common video cards and either will do a good job. You can have a more powerful video card installed in a desktop computer if you need it for video editing or CAD design.

Little Extras that make a big difference:

  • HDMI port
  • Web cam –laptops usually have these built into the lid
  • Wireless Internet

Remember, RAM (random access memory) refers to computer speed and not to how much stuff you have inside there somewhere which is known as hard drive storage. Really?!?  Like the whole computer thing wasn’t confusing enough that they had to call it random access MEMORY when it has nothing to do with memory.  That’s just mean.

Anyway, it’s the weekend, time for you to go to the nearest computer store and SHOP!!!!

Ciao, sweeties,


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Wednesday Wine Pairing & Getting Faster Customer Service

customer service

Cheerful, helpful Customer Service clones and some strange drone hovering overhead.

Have you had it with waiting forever to get an answer from Customer Service after the dry cleaner shrunk your blouse or the sofa you ordered arrived in the wrong color?

We’ve all heard the horror stories.

The other day the folks on Good Morning America–my coffee companion for years–mentioned that you might get quicker customer service response by posting your grievance on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Companies are keeping an eye on social media and they know the power it holds. So, most of the time they respond to your complaint within 48 hours as opposed to NEVER using traditional means.

By way of celebration about this piece of good news, let’s share a glass of wine with Jeff.  It is Wednesday, after all.

Winebits 345: Sipping wine, wine in China, cheap wine

wine news ChinaBring on the students: It’s hard to believe that Texas is more progressive about wine than California, but it apparently was until last month in one area. That’s when the latter’s governor signed legislation to allow underage beer and wine students to taste in class. The bill requires them to spit, but that’s what we’ve been doing in Texas for years. One of the great joys during my tenure as the wine instructor at the Cordon Bleu in Dallas was enforcing the spit rule during the classes’ red and white tastings at the end of each term. Not surprisingly, the students who didn’t like wine were most demonstrative in showing me they were spitting.

Not quite yet: The wine business has been falling all over itself trying to sell wine to China, figuring that was the easiest way to make zillions and solve its other problems while not actually doing anything to solve them. Now, someone besides the Wine Curmudgeon is wondering if that’s the best policy. Margareth Henriquez, who heads Krug Champagne, told Britain’s Harpers wine trade magazine that the wine business should devote more resources to serving customers in more established markets, including and especially the United States. “China will take some time, certainly for sparkling wine producers, and it would be a mistake, I believe, for the wine world to put too much emphasis on this market,” she said. And to think I’ve been giving that advice away for free; I never was much of a businessman.

Bring on the cheap wine: This is not news here, of course, but is worth noting since it’s a health item, and how often does one see cheap wine and health linked? (And also why it gets an exemption from the blog’s ban on wine and health news). A British cardiologist says cheap wine is better for you than expensive wine, since $10 wine may have more anti-oxidants than the expensive stuff. The story in the link is poorly reported (picked up and edited from elsewhere, perhaps?), and seems to apply only to wines from certain parts of the world. But it’s still worth a giggle.

Thanks, Jeff!  I’m giggling all the way to the fridge.

Ciao, sweeties,

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Saving Photos from Facebook

Hubby Scott

Tech-savvy hubby, Scott

If you’re like me, you post photos to Facebook and people post to your timeline, too. And then the pictures live forever in FB, trapped on your Timeline, locked in your albums.

This morning my hubby, Scott, who’s about as tech savvy as they come, but who does not linger on Facebook much, asked me how to get a picture off his FB page.   I showed him and he said that some of you might want to know, too.

So here we are.

mom and sissies

Tech Mom, sisters and Mom at her 89th birthday bash. This picture bears saving!

  1. First, log on to your Facebook account.
  2. Go to your photos and pic the one you want.
  3. Click it open into the picture tagging/sharing window.  Notice that you can do several things here like tagging/ commenting/sharing.  The reason you want this picture is that it is the biggest file size you can get from FB and you’ll be able to do more (like print a 5×7) with this size.
  4. If you click on your right mouse button, a menu pops up.  In the middle it will say SAVE PICTURE AS.  Click that with the left mouse button.
  5. Your MY PICTURES window will open and you can click the folder you want to save the picture into.
  6. You’ll can also change the name of the picture (and I suggest you do) to something other than the string of numbers FB assigned to the pic.
  7. Click SAVE and the window will close.
  8. Close the FB picture window by clicking on the X in the upper right corner.

Now you have the picture you want where you want it, released from Facebook prison.

Have a great weekend, sweeties.


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5 on Friday: Just the Basics

to do listEveryone loves lists and I’m no exception. In fact, right now my desk is littered with lists of things I need to be doing. But I’d rather be here, so I’ll compromise and share one of my lists with you.


  1. When in doubt, use the right mouse button.  A magical world of options lives in the right mouse button. When you need to do something and can’t find it anywhere on the screen, click the right mouse button and check the list.
  2. When you don’t know how to do something, read every word on your screen or in the window.  Start top left and go to the bottom right. You’ll probably find what you’re looking for. If you don’t, see #1 above.
  3. Be sure to shut down your computer the way God and Bill Gates intended.  Open the little Windows orb on the lower left and click shutdown.
  4. When you start back up, be sure to give the computer plenty of time to boot completely. Wait for everything to stop spinning on the desktop.  And wait for all the icons on the lower right (we’ll visit them one day soon) to load.
  5. And as I told you on our first day together, if you’re having trouble, reboot. Shutdown the computer properly (not restart, but a full shutdown,) then start it up again and wait the full amount of time (see #4) before you click anything.   You’ll be amazed at how your troubles will clear up.

Sometimes things are just so simple.

Have a lovely weekend checking things off all those lists.

Ciao, sweeties,

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Wednesday Wine Pairing and an iPhone Trick

Wren-2 months

This is Wren, 2 months old. This has nothing to do with my post. I just wanted you to see her.

We talked on Monday about turning your smartphone this way and that to get the best picture.  But that was not solving every problem for one of my readers.

She sent a note about a trick she’d learned for her iPhone.  The landscape (horizontal) pics from her phone kept coming in UPSIDE DOWN.  YIKES! So she found out that if she turns her phone so that the volume buttons are down and uses the volume up button as the shutter on the camera her pics come in correctly!

I tried this on my Samsung Galaxy (an android phone) and the volume slider worked spectacularly well as a zoom-in-and-outer, but not as a shutter.   (But, then my pics don’t come in upside down. )

The lesson here is–it takes a village–and  I’m so excited to share this reader’s tip with you that I will be sending her a bottle of something grape-ish.

And, speaking of. . . here’s Jeff!

Mini-reviews 63: Da Vinci, Fetzer, Villa Maria, Santa Cristina

Mini-reviews 63: Da Vinci, Fetzer, Villa Maria, Santa CristinaReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another.

Da Vinci Chianti 2011 ($12. sample, 13.5%): Much, much better than the past couple of vintages of this Italian red, with an effort made to make it taste more like Chianti and less like merlot from California. This means less soft fruitiness and more earthiness, plus sangiovese’s tell-tale sour cherry.

Fetzer Gewurztraminer Shaly Loam 2012 ($8, purchased, 12%): This white wine won a platinum at the 2014 Critic’s Challenge, and  if that seems to be a bit of a stretch, it’s still an excellent example of an off-dry gewurtzraminer (though it could be a little more crisp), and especially for the price. Look for apricot fruit and white pepper spice.

Villa Maria Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 ($14, sample, 13%): Surprisingly dull white wine from an otherwise fine New Zealand producer, lacking fruit, crispness, and with a very bitter finish. If it didn’t have a screwcap, I’d think it was corked.

Santa Cristina Cipresseto Rosato ($12, sample, 11%): OK Italian rose made mostly with sangiovese, but nothing special, and especially for $12. Could use a little more interest, be it fruit or elegance or even a little acidity. More thin than anything else.

Thanks, Jeff. Show of hands for those of you who can pronounce Fetzer Gewurztraminer Shaly Loam.   Right, me neither.

Ciao, sweeties,
Tech Mom

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