Inkjet printer

When Your Printer Won’t Print…

Don’t you just hate it when your printer won’t print!!

I get calls from clients about this all the time.

The good news is that there’s usually an easy fix.

What do you think it is?

For a Printer connected directly to the computer with a cord:

  1. Make sure the printer is plugged in, turned on, and has paper in it.
  2. Make sure the printer cable is properly connected to the printer and to the computer.
  3. Check to see if there is a paper jam. Most printers have a flashing light to indicate a jam.
  4. Check to see that the printer toner, or ink is adequate. Printers will not print when even one cartridge is out of ink.
  5. Make sure the printer is switched to Online mode. There is usually a button on your printer’s control panel. If it is switched to Offline mode, it will not print.
  6. Try rebooting both the printer and the computer
    1. Turn them both off.  Then turn them on again in this sequence.
    2. Turn the printer on first
    3. Then turn the computer on.

If it still doesn’t work, the printer will need to be un-installed and re-installed.  I can do it for you in a few minutes via remote access.

Wireless Printers

Wireless printing is very convenient at times, but it’s slower and less reliable than a wired connection.  If your computer is usually near your printer, consider using a wired connection. You can get printer cables as long as 25 ft..

If Your Wireless Printer is not working:

Reboot the computer, printer and wireless router

  1. Turn off the computer and printer and unplug the router (If your router is built into the modem, unplug the modem.
  2. Plug in the router or modem and wait for it to reboot (all the lights are on)
  3. Turn on the printer
  4. Turn on the computer

If that doesn’t work, call your technician or call me for a referral to a good one.

 

To receive a handy printer troubleshooting cheat sheet and checklist to put on your printer, send me an email below.

Please share this with your friends and encourage them to sign up for Techie Tips so their techie lives can be simple, easy and fun too.

Your friends can sign up for Techie Tips right here.

Enjoy!

Mardi

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Good News About the CCleaner Hack

Oh my…another security hack!  The Good news is that it’s probably not a problem for my people.  I’m reporting about it because I installed it on a few machines and I’ve seen it on many others and some of you will have concerns.

The malware was found in CCleaner version 5.33, which was actively distributed between August 15 and September 12.​  You probably use the free version which doesn’t update automatically.  So if you didn’t install CCleaner or update it between these dates, you are OK.

If you want to geek out, you can read all the gory details in this article on TheNextWeb.com  Kudos to all those who worked hard to discover and fix the problem quickly.

I deleted CCleaner from my PC because it doesn’t do anything that I can’t do myself.  I can teach you how to do without it too if you’re interested.  Maybe that would be a good subject for a Techie Tips Live online class soon.  If you are interested, let me know in the comments below.

If you switch to using a Chromebook like I have, you won’t need maintenance or virus and malware protection.  

Enjoy!

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credit.com logo

More on the Equifax Debacle

In response to my last post about the Equifax debacle, one of my students sent me a link to this interesting article by Adam Levin, co-founder of Credit.com

I was curious how my student happened to find this, and I thought it was interesting that he is on the credit.com newsletter list because one of his doctors experienced a data breach and the doctor is provided him with credit monitoring by credit.com.

To keep things simple for you, I will quote the info that I found most useful but I encourage you to read the entire article, especially if you are a victim of the Equifax breach.

  • There are problems with freezing your credit report
  • The potential problems for those compromised go beyond credit cards and taxes
  • You can sue Equifax if your data was compromised
  • Tips for protecting yourself from now on

The Problem with Freezing Your Credit Report

“The New York Times reported still more bad news in the wake of the Equifax announcement.

The credit freeze service the credit bureau offered (originally offered for a fee until it finally decided to provide it for free for 30 days) generated PINs that were based on the time and date the PIN was created. These PINs are required to release the freeze whenever you need to grant access to your credit files in connection with a loan, an apartment rental, or a job application (where permitted by law). Unfortunately, they’re laughably easy for a hacker to guess before then.

The bigger problem is that a freeze needs to be in place at all three reporting agencies in order to be effective. As credit expert John Ulzheimer told the New York Times, putting a freeze on your credit with only one reporting agency is ‘like locking one of three doors in your house and leaving the other two unlocked. You’re hoping the thief stumbles on the locked door.'”

Types of Fraud to Be Aware Of

“…the threat goes way beyond maxed-out credit cards, fraudulent credit applications, and tax-refund fraud. With Department of Motor Vehicle information also in play, the risks are elevated. A fake ID made out in your name could cause you to get arrested for an outstanding warrant. In the realm of identity-related fraud products, a fake driver’s license is a luxury item for sure, but it’s still one that could hurt you if a scammer provides your information on a fake license the next time they’re pulled over for speeding or collared for a crime.

And then there’s the serious risk of medical-identity fraud. Consumers could see delays in prescription fulfillment because of fraudsters using their health care information. Worse, consumers may not be covered for health care expenses until they are able to prove they are who they claim to be using the same information that the crooks used—a frustrating and often complicated process.”

Legal Remedies

“One can only assume there will be lawsuits galore. In fact, one enterprising person has already automated the process. A robot lawyer is on the case, allowing consumers to automatically file a claim against Equifax in small claims court.

According to the Verge, consumers are still able to join class action suits while pursuing a small claims court remedy.

‘Even if you want to be part of the class action lawsuit against Equifax,’ the Verge reported, ‘you can still sue Equifax for negligence in small claims court using the DoNotPay bot and demand maximum damages. Maximum damages range between $2,500 in states like Rhode Island and Kentucky to $25,000 in Tennessee.'”

Protecting Yourself Now

“While it’s okay to hope that your services and vendors will do things right, you need to stay vigilant. And this should go without saying: if you can change privacy and authentication settings on a product or service, do it. If that’s not possible, perhaps you should consider finding a new vendor or service.

The easiest way to protect yourself, in my opinion, is by using a system called the “Three Ms.” The Three Ms is the centerpiece of my book, Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers and Identity Thieves, and the approach continues to be the best way to keep your personally identifiable information from being used in identity-related crimes.

And they are simple:

1. Minimize your exposure. Don’t authenticate yourself to anyone unless you are in control of the interaction, don’t overshare on social media, be a good steward of your passwords, safeguard any documents that can be used to hijack your identity, and freeze your credit.

2. Monitor your accounts. Check your credit report religiously, keep track of your credit score, and review major accounts daily if possible. (You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.) If you prefer a more laid-back approach, sign up for free transaction alerts from financial services institutions and credit card companies, or purchase a sophisticated credit- and identity-monitoring program,

3. Manage the damage. Make sure you get on top of any incursion into your identity quickly, and enroll in a program where professionals help you navigate and resolve identity compromises—oftentimes available for free, or at minimal cost, through insurance companies, financial services institutions, and HR departments.”

“…Equifax is not the first, nor will it be the last, breach of note. Being prepared and alert is still the best remedy, because breaches have become the third certainty in life—right behind death and taxes.

A final tip: check with your insurance company, financial services institution, or employer. You may already have access to identity protection and resolution services, which is your best bet when it comes time to navigate the identity theft quagmire.

Many thanks to Adam Levin and credit.com for this helpful information.

I invite you to post comments or questions below and I will respond.

Enjoy your day in any case!

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Equifax Data Breach

I hate to trouble you with bad news, but you need to be aware of this.

Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, has revealed that an estimated 143 million U.S. customers may be affected by a data breach carried out by criminal hackers. It includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. Additionally, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers and dispute documents with personal information for approximately 182,000 consumers may have been accessed.

Many thanks to Kim Komando who has written an excellent article which you can read here for all the details. My simple and easy version for you is…

Equifax is sending direct mail alerts to customers whose information was included in the data breach. Keep an eye out for the notice in your mailbox.

The company has created a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers check if any of their information has been affected. However, the tool requires you to provide your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number to initiate the check. I question if it is a good idea to give information to a company that just experienced the largest credit bureau data breach in history.

You can call Equifax’s dedicated customer care number 866-447-7559 to check but, judging by the magnitude of the breach, there will probably be long wait times. Let me know if you try that and how it goes so I can let others know.

If you use the website tool and are found to have been affected by the breach, you will be offered a chance to use Equifax’s own credit monitoring program, TrustedID Premier, free of charge for one year. However, you will have to agree to its Terms of Service and buried in the fine print is this a specific arbitration clause that waives your ability to participate in a class action lawsuit against Equifax.

Considering the extent of the stolen information, I doubt that one year of free credit monitoring is enough. With Social Security numbers involved, the threat of identity theft for those affected will assuredly be lifelong.

Kim suggests that you put a credit freeze on your accounts and she provides excellent instructions on how to do that here.

Other Important Steps To Take If You Are Affected

Scammers use the information they’ve stolen to target victims with other scams. If your data was compromised, please take extra caution and watch out for the following schemes:

Keep an eye on your bank accounts – You should already be checking your bank accounts online or your paper statements for suspicious activity. It’s even more critical now. If you see anything that seems strange, report it immediately.

Beware of phishing scams – Scammers will try and piggyback on data breaches like this. They will create phishing emails, pretending to be from the affected company, hoping to get victims to click on malicious links that could lead to more problems. They are tricky so call me if you suspect anything.

I hope you are not affected by this. (If you are, let me know.)

As always, if you have any questions or if you suspect a scam, feel free to call me and leave a message. I will get back to you just as soon as I can.

In any case, I hope you enjoy your day,

Mardi

What to Do With An Old Computer

When I saw this astonishing video I realized that I should address this issue in my Techie Tips.   

Screenshot 2017-09-09 at 11.06.45 AM

When clients ask me what to do with their old computers, I recommend recycling them at Best Buy.  It’s quick and easy.  You just drop them off at the customer service desk.  

Many times, my people like to donate them to a charity or give them to a friend or relative.

In any case, you need to protect the data on your hard drive if you have any sensitive information on it that you would not want criminals to see.

How It Works

You cannot actually erase data on a drive.  When you delete something, the space on the drive gets marked as “vacant” or “writable” so new data can be written over it.  The original information is still there until it’s overwritten and can be found with specialized software.

Some people assume that they can reformat their hard drives, but that just erases the directory that the computer uses to find the files.  It doesn’t delete the files.  The physical bits and bytes still exist.  With regular use, the data  will get overwritten, but it’s a random process and you won’t know which files have been overwritten and which haven’’t.

A “full format” will overwrite the drive with zeros but it’s still possible to recover data with specialized software.

The Solution

DBAN is a free software that overwrites the drive multiple times.  I found a comment online by a Tech who said that after 20 passes, nothing can be recovered.  He swears by it 100%.  I looked up DBAN and it has a disclaimer that it’s not “certified safe.”  I imagine certification would be important in situations where there is legal liability — where you are responsible for someone else’s sensitive data.  If you are willing to install the software and do 20 passes this might be a good solution for your needs.

The most common recommendation is to remove the hard drive from the computer and smash the disks or memory chips with a hammer (wear safety glasses.)  I did that with my old PC laptop and I thought it was fun but you might not share my enthusiasm for taking things apart to see what’s inside.  

I told Angel Sanchez at NYPC Repair (on Hwy 111 in Palm Desert near the Red Barn) that a lot of my clients would probably not want to deal with removing the hard drive and he said you are welcome to bring your computer into the shop and they will take it out and smash it for you with no charge!  Isn’t that great!  Love NYCP Repair!

In Summary

Now you know the whys, the hows and simple solutions.  Your choice will depend on your level of comfort about the security of your files.  For most of us, it isn’t an issue but if it is, you know what to do.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or need help.  

Enjoy!

Mardi  

P.S. If you have found this information helpful, please support my mission to make technology simple, easy and fun for mature adults.  Share this post with others and encourage them to sign up to receive all my Techie Tips via email.   They can sign up here  Thanks!

Shutterfly for Photo Sharing

Are you taking lots of photos this summer?

I got a call this week from a client who had just returned from an amazing caribbean vacation with family and wanted to know the best way for them to share their photos with each other. What fun!

I thought you might like to know about it too. It’s Shutterfly.com. Are you familiar with it?

Shutterfly offers free, unlimited, secure photo storage! They also offer photo prints, photo books, cards, stationary, calendars, and personalized gifts like coffee mugs.

It’s very easy to set up a free private website where a group of people can upload their photos to share and then everyone has the opportunity to download their favorites to their computers, and order prints or other items from Shutterfly.

My nieces send my mother little books with photos of their children after they visit and she loves them.

I’m eager to know if you use Shutterfly and what you think about it.  Send me a message below.

If you are trying Shutterfly for the first time and have questions or want me to help you set up a site, let me know that too.

If you have any other questions about photos, I’m always happy to help.

Use the handy form below:

 

Feeling Better About Having to Change

frustrated computer user

The world is changing rapidly these days, largely due to technology.  My goal is to help people adapt as simply, easily and affordably as possible.

Perhaps thinking about the situation in a different way will help you feel better about changes.

We can’t turn back the clock or stop technological evolution, but we can control how we respond.  

We can choose to resist what is, get upset, refuse to change and be continually frustrated, or we can do what we need to do to make things work and make ourselves happy.  

Think about the things you wouldn’t be able to do if it weren’t for technology.  Make a list of all the ways you benefit.

Then remember that in order to benefit, you will need to invest in equipment and maintenance from time to time, just like you do with your house appliances and automobile.

Here’s a good analogy:

How old is your car?  (Is it as old as your computer?)  If your mechanic said it wasn’t possible to get parts to fix it because it’s too old, would you insist on driving it anyway?  It it couldn’t pass a smog check, would you drive without registration?

Computers and technology may become obsolete faster than cars, but the principle is the same.  There comes a time, when it’s more effective to change than to hold on to the old.  Sometimes that requires a little education, similar to taking continuing education courses for professional certifications or learning how to use a new TV.  You just get a little instruction and enjoy the benefits of the new information.

I hope thinking about technology in this way will help you feel better and inspire you to change your equipment or way of doing things when necessary.

If you need help to decide on the best equipment and apps for your individual needs and instruction on how to use them, just let me know.  I promise to make it as simple, easy, affordable and fun as possible.

If this has been helpful to you, please share below so everyone can feel better about changes too.  

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Do We Need Mousepads Anymore?

mouse pad

Do you still use a mouse pad? I haven’t used one in years but I don’t use a mouse much either. I like the trackpad on my Chromebook just fine.

Now that most of us use an optical mouse that works on almost any surface, I figured we didn’t need mouse pads anymore but a recent article by Michael Crider on howtogeek.com made me realize that there are actually some benefits to using them.  I thought you would like to know.

Remember the old ball-driven mouse?  Mouse pads provided a smooth and predictable tracking area, and helped to keep the tracking ball free of dirt.  Do you remember having to open them up to clean the tracking ball with alcohol?  (I thought it was kind of fun and used to do it for people at my office.)

At the turn of this century, Microsoft and Logitech introduced the optical mouse, which has a tiny, low-powered optical sensor and LED (light emitting diode) instead of a mechanical roller ball.  These offer consistent tracking on almost any surface (as long as it isn’t reflective or transparent, like glass) and eliminate the buildup of oil and debris on a tracking ball.

A few years later, the laser-equipped mouse came on the scene and it would track on any surface. Thus, mouse pads began to fall out of fashion.

However, mouse pads still serve several important functions. First, they project the surface of your desk at your usual mousing spot.  The repeated motions of the rubber or plastic feet of your mouse against the surface of your desk will wear away the finish on most pressed wood, particle board, leather, and even polished hardwood if it’s not well maintained.

And even though your mouse’s tracking function no longer picks up dirt and skin oil from your desk, the feet of your mouse do.  A mouse pad won’t completely alleviate this, but it will keep those little feet fresh longer. Crider says you can even buy replacement pads to stick on the feet of your mouse if they are so worn that the plastic body is dragging.

So, do you need a mouse pad for your desk? Technically, no. But you should probably use one if you’re mousing in the same place for any extended amount of time. Both your desk and your mouse will thank you.

But the most important reason to use a mouse pad is that the pictures on them are just so darn cute.

For the complete article and some great illustrations, go to https://www.howtogeek.com/304367/do-you-really-need-a-mouse-pad/

Share this with the folks you care about and save their desks and mice too.

Enjoy!

Mardi

Tablet VS Chromebook

tablet and chromebook.jpeg

I received this question recently and thought you might be interested too…

Question:  Hi Mardi,  Thank you for always sending these healthy tips for the computer.  My question is what is the difference between a Tablet and a Chrome Book?

Answer:  Tablets are lightweight so they are easy to carry around but they are mainly for “consuming” information.  Any amount of typing with touch screens can be very, very frustrating.  You can get keyboards for them and then they are more like small laptops, but the screens are very small for doing much in the way of work and you have to buy a fairly expensive model in order to get the processor speed of a laptop.

A Chromebook is a laptop computer that does almost everything online so it doesn’t need a hard drive.  That makes it nice and lightweight like a tablet but it comes with a regular full size keyboard attached.  It’s better than a traditional laptop because it doesn’t need maintenance, backups or  antivirus programs.  It’s really trouble free. It’s also much less expensive than traditional laptops.  Good ones are less than $300.  The battery charge lasts a long time too, because it doesn’t have a hard drive with cooling fans.

If you are going to do any amount of work, like spreadsheets, or documents or blogging, you will be happier with a Chromebook than a tablet because of the full size keyboard and larger screen.  You will need to learn how to use Google docs but it’s pretty easy, and they are free.  All your docs will back up to the cloud automatically.  The other Google apps for the Chromebook like the photos app, are great too.  You need a wifi connection for Chromebooks because they work off the internet, but you can download some things and work offline when necessary.

If you only need a small lightweight device for travel to watch movies, youtube videos, check your email and calendar, a tablet will work, but, again, the screens are pretty small.  I think of a tablet as a larger version of a smartphone without the phone.  lol

My clients who have switched to Chromebooks love them because they are so trouble free and easy to use.

Let me know if you have any other questions or if you want me to help you buy one online. (I don’t recommend the HP Chromebook at Best Buy because mine stopped working on wifi after 18 mo.  My daughter’s HP Chromebook is still working fine, though and  been a couple of years.)  I have a Toshiba and I like the ACER that one of my students has.  Let me know what you decide to get.

If you, or people you know, are considering a new computer or mobile device purchase, please contact me for a complimentary consultation which I’m happy to do.  Buying the right equipment is the key to making your techie Life simple, easy and fun.  Let’s schedule a time to discuss the best purchase for your needs and budget….

 

Choose the Right Tools

cartoon of frustrated computer user

Are you thinking about doing any techie projects?

Many of my students call me because they need help with a project of some kind and I love seeing the interesting things that people in our age group are doing with modern technology.

Sometimes we get started on a project on a computer or mobile device and become so frustrated that we just want to give up. Yep, it’s happened to me too! : (

Often this is caused by not choosing the right tool for the job. We start with the apps that come with the computer or tablet without considering that there might be other options that could make it “simple, easy and fun.”

I want you to know that you (and the people you care about) are welcome to call or email me for a complimentary consultation before you launch a project so I can help you get started on the right foot.

Some of my students have:

  • written books and screenplays (two of them used an iPad instead of a computer)
  • learned how to use spreadsheets to keep track of golf groups and party invitations
  • made collections of photos and archived them for their family members
  • set up groups in their contacts to send broadcast emails and print mailing labels

Sometimes they start with the wrong tools and by the time they reach out to me, they have wasted tons of time and are extremely frustrated:

  • An author had written a book with his iPad and was starting to have trouble because parts of it were written in different apps and it was causing problems with formatting the final draft.
  • A woman was going to type addresses in a mailing labels template instead of in a spreadsheet or address book app that can rearrange the list alphabetically after new contacts are added. (Fortunately, she called me before she was too far along.)
  • A business owner was planning to send broadcast emails without using a service that would ensure that emails get opened rather than being flagged as spam.

There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes! Mistakes are an integral part of learning and I admire people in our age group who are willing to jump in and try new things but I want to make it a smoother road for you, so feel free to consult with me first so you can select the best app or hardware.

I’m always happy to answer your questions and, if someone you care about is embarking on a project that involves technology, invite them to check-in with me too.

Email me to schedule a complimentary consultation