Tag Archives: techie tips

Printer Meltdown

Techie Tips Live Class This Saturday – How to Buy A Printer: Tips and Tricks

Do you find shopping for printers to be very complicated and a little overwhelming? I do too! There are so many makes, models, features, and prices!

People frequently ask me what I recommend and it’s hard to know where to start.

I recently had to buy a new printer myself, and in my haste, I made a big mistake. I learned from the experience and I decided it would be a good idea to create a class on how to go about finding the best printer for one’s individual needs and budget.

This class will teach you:

  • What to look for
  • How to do research and
  • How to shop for a new printer.
I hope you will join me this Saturday, November 18th, at 9:00 AM for this complimentary online class (in my Zoom Room)

I will show you my process, some internet tips, tricks, and answer all your questions. It will be fun!

The class will be recorded, so if you can’t attend the in person, register anyway and I will send you the link to see the recording.

Please share this invitation with your friends so they can register too.

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.

When: Nov 18, 2017, 9:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/386200396fdbb7e04…

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Hope to see you in class!

Enjoy!

Mardi

P.S. If you’ve never used Zoom before: Zoom will automatically instruct you how to download the Zoom interface and join the session. It will only take a few seconds, and you only need to do it once. You can see a tutorial video here https://youtu.be/vFhAEoCF7jg

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Leo Laporte, The Tech Guy from techguylabs.com

Love The Leo Laporte Show

Do you know about the Leo Laporte Tech Show?

I’m a huge fan. He’s taught me a lot about how technical things work, keeps me up to date on new developments, and I really enjoy his sense of humor. We have the same opinions about a lot of things too, and it feels good to have my opinions validated by someone so knowledgeable.

I just roared when he said recently:

“I think a lot of what I do here in the show is I’m like Dr. Laura. It’s more emotional support– like I don’t know if I can fix your problem but at least I can let you know you’re not alone and and we all have to suffer with this. ‘Now go take on the day’ — that kind of thing. You know it’s just kind of relaxing and it’s, you know, ‘misery loves company.’ So if you listen to the show then you know we all suffer to some degree from technology. You don’t want to put up with these annoyances but we do. There’s the big annoyances which you fix but then there’s the little annoyances, like that chair that squeaks — they’re just little ones and there’s a lot of them with technology.

His advice is, to the degree that you can maybe set aside an hour a week to make a note of the little annoyances and set aside a little bit of time, not a lot, every week to kind of trim them, because it’s like death by a thousand paper cuts. No individual annoyance by itself is gonna drive you nuts but in aggregate — when you combine them all, in sum total, is a pain and the stress could shorten your life. (chuckle)

I loved hearing that because it explains exactly what I do! My tutoring is a lot about emotional support and letting clients know that we all suffer from the “squeaky chairs” of technology. I encourage people to make a list of all those little frustrations and then have me show them the solutions so they won’t suffer “death by a million paper cuts.” It’s so important for people to get over these little hurdles so they can have more fun, and it’s so rewarding to be able to help.

If Leo’s show is “TMI” (too much information) for you, I totally understand. Sometimes it’s too much for me too. No worries, I pass along the information that I think you need and I trust that you will let me know when you have questions you want answered.

Leo’s shows are available on his YouTube channel, are available as podcasts and are posted on http://techguylabs.com/ with show notes and time stamps.

Don’t suffer “death by a million paper cuts.” Make that list and call me if you need help.

Enjoy!

Mardi

P.S. Who do you know who could use my help with a list of little frustrations? Just send me their name and number. I’ll follow up and take good care of them.

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!

Windows 10 Update

Windows 10

You may remember that, back in July when Windows 10 originally became available, I recommended that everyone wait until “the bugs were worked out.” Now that Windows 10 has been available for five months and “the dust has settled,” it’s time to give you an update.

I recommend that people who are running Windows 7 on older machines do not upgrade to Windows 10.  Updating to Windows 10 has caused some computers to lock up or crash, and I have had to refer several clients to a computer technician for expensive repairs.  I recommend that people with Windows 7 wait until it’s time to get a new computer. (If your computer is 4 years old…it’s time to get a new one!)

People with Windows 8 on their machines can probably update to Windows 10 without problems. They will find that it is much less confusing.  (They might want to have me tweak the settings so so it looks like good ‘ol Windows 7.)

People who are are making the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 because they survived the update or got a new computer, may want to have me tweak the settings so it looks like Windows 7, and take them on a tour of the new features.

 For many reasons, that I won’t go into here, I have been very disappointed with Microsoft and its products and recommend avoiding them if possible. (You probably don’t want all the gory details but if you do, just ask.)  There are other computers systems that are easier to use and more reliable.  I have been using a Chromebook for almost 2 years and it cost less than $300!  I also highly recommend Apple computers and tablets.  Of course the choice depends on how you use them and your budget.

When it’s time to make a purchase, please consult with me first.So many problems and frustrations can be avoided by choosing the right equipment for your individual needs, and I can often save people a lot of money.

I also do free presentations on “How To Choose The Right Computers and Gadgets for Your Needs”.  If you know a group that would like me to speak, just let me know.

Plan Your Year

Great tools here…especially for business owners that already have a lot “on their plates” and more they want to contribute.  Sometimes paper is as better than digital.  Yes,  I did say that.  LOL  However they will have “an app for that” too.

Wait Until The Bugs Are Out!

With new technology, it’s best to wait until the bugs have been worked out…to wait until the “early adopters” have found the major problems and the company has had a chance to fix them.  We’ve seen this recently with the release of the iPhone 6 and the Apple watch. Now, Microsoft is offering PC users the opportunity to upgrade their operating system (OS) to Windows 10 for free and people may be wondering if that is a good idea. It’s not!

Microsoft’s wants it’s Windows 10 operating system to be installed on 1 billion devices within three years so it’s giving it away for free.  I doubt that this is going to be enough of an incentive for people to change. Even though Windows 10 will look very similar to Windows 8.1, people who use Windows 8.1 vividly remember how traumatic that change was, and will be hesitant to trust the new one. Windows 7 users are determined to avoid going through that.

People running Windows 7 or Windows 8, should already have had an invitation to “reserve” a copy of Windows 10.

If not, they can run Windows Update to see if any updates are available for their PC.  The one to they want is KB3035583.  This puts a small white Windows logo – the GWX, “Get Windows 10” app – in the system tray on the right hand side of the Taskbar.

Alternatively, they should be able to find the invitation by going to Windows Update in the Control Panel (via System and Security)

The point of “reserving” the upgrade

The point of reserving the upgrade is to allow Microsoft to download Windows 10 – probably 4GB or more – to PCs in the background over a period of time. It doesn’t want to download the code to 400 million PCs on the same day.   Even if someone reserves Windows 10 now, they may not be invited to install it for days or weeks after the official launch on July 29.

To cancel a reservation

Right-click on GWX, the white Windows icon on the Taskbar, select “Check your upgrade status” and then “Cancel reservation”.

How can People avoid Windows 10?

Nobody is forcing people to get Windows 10. If they don’t want it, they don’t have to reserve it or install it.

To remove the reminder, right-click on Start and select Properties. Next, go to the Taskbar tab, click the button that says “Customize …”, and find GWX, the Get Windows 10 app. The drop-down menu offers the option to “Hide icon and notifications”.

To go further, run Windows Update and click “View update history” to see all the updates installed. Look for KB3035583, select it, and then click to uninstall or change it. Windows will ask “Are you sure?” Just click “Yes”. It will never bother you again … unless you reinstall KB3035583.

Can they downgrade later if they don’t like it?

Microsoft aims to enable people to “roll back” to their old operating system, if required. However, I wouldn’t rely on this.  In any case, it would be wise to backup the old system before installing a new and use the option to create “recovery media” with the old system, so that they’re not totally dependent on the “roll back” working.  Remember, you, and you alone, are responsible for preserving your own data.

More details

The software which will begin rolling out July 29, will be offered as a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PC and Tablet users.  (Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 operate 74.1 percent of all devices, according to NetMarketShare.)

Unlike Apple, who offers OS upgrades for free, the Windows free upgrade will only be available for one year…until July 29, 2016.

For those eligible for the free upgrade, the process will only grant you a comparable version of the software. If you had Windows 7 Home, you get Windows 10 Home. If you had Windows 8.1 Pro, you get Windows 10 Pro. For those who wish to upgrade from the Home edition to the Pro edition, a Windows 10 Pro Pack will cost $99.

Windows 10 will cost the same as its predecessor, Windows 8.  A copy of Windows 10 Home will run $119, while Windows 10 Pro will cost $199.  Copies of the software will be available online and in stores.  This option will be used by the minority of users who don’t have an eligible machine or wish to build their own computer and install Windows themselves.

Have you heard about Telikin?

Have you heard about Telikin?

A client asked me this recently so I looked in to it and I am impressed!  Telikin is a super easy to use touch screen computer.  It will be a great solution for many of my clients and I thought you might be interested in it for yourself or for someone you love.

My Mother saw it in the AARP magazine a few years ago and I didn’t pay much attention because she already knew a little bit about how to use a PC laptop and I didn’t think a Telikin would be the best choice for the price.  Now that she is 93 and having some vision problems, I think the Telikin would be better for her.  Even though she is my “poster child” for what “tech resistant” elders can do, (she has hearing aids that connect to her TV and iPod with bluetooth) I think she would enjoy her computer more and use it more if she had a Telikin.  They have easy payment plans so I just may be getting her one soon.

This week, I had an online meeting with Nancy Allegrezza, Director of Sales and wife of the inventor of Telikin.  Nancy is also a nurse, and her passion for helping seniors and providing excellent customer service is truly inspiring.

Nancy and her husband got involved because they had aging parents with disabilities, and wanted to help them stay connected via email, photos and video chat.  There weren’t any easy computer solutions.  The Telikin computer, its apps and customer service are all designed to make everything fun and easy.  

In my experience with clients to date, the best solution has been the iPad.  However, the screen is very small and the the apps have commands that are hard to see and sometimes hard to find.  I keep wondering why someone doesn’t come up with a better solution.
http://telekin.com/
Telikin may be the answer.  Everything is in large letters and the navigation buttons are clearly visible and well labeled.  There is nothing to open or close, you just touch the big buttons on the screen and you are where you want to be!  The price is just about right, too – $699 isn’t a lot to pay vs. a $599 for a Mac Mini without a monitor.  

You can try a Telikin for two months and get your money back if you don’t like it.  They provide VIP tech support (including remote access) to ensure that you have a good experience right from the beginning.  And it has a “tech buddie” feature so a trusted friend or relative, anywhere, can access your computer remotely and help whenever you want.

I’d love to know what you think about it.  Do you think you might be interested in getting one?  Do you know someone who might like one?

Click here to see a video and learn more about the features and benefits and let me know what you think.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

In joy,

Mardi
“Helping people enjoy the many benefits of modern technology is my passion”

P.S.  Feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

Crapware

Crapware:

Why manufacturers install it, what you can do about it, and why it’s not going to go away   Based on an article by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes  http://www.zdnet.com/

Crapware, also know as “bloatware” or “junkware,” are apps that hardware companies install onto their devices on top of the operating system (OS).  It’s a bunch of free trials and demos that nag you to buy the full version. Most annoying to me, is when you start using the app, not realizing that it’s a free trial, and then find out that you have to pay in order to continue accessing the work you’ve done.
snailThe worst consequence is that crapware can dramatically slow down system performance or even compromise your system’s security. I frequently see relatively new computers running slow because of the weight of the crapware that has been installed on them. They run great once all the junk is removed. One has to wonder about the number of people who spend hard-earned money on a PC only to end up getting a third-rate experience because of crapware.
Furthermore, many of these dissatisfied PC owners may end up blaming “Microsoft” or “Windows” for the performance issues, when the real problem is that the manufacturing company took money from third-parties to fill their computers with junk.
Microsoft is well-aware of this.  It’s now offering Signature which is free from the clutter that “can slow down your computer and junk up your Start screen or desktop.”  See it here
Screenshot 2015-03-07 at 1.35.12 PMScreenshot 2015-03-07 at 1.36.27 PM

If you ask the hardware makers why they install this stuff, they’ll tell you they are offering you extra value. That’s a lie.  They do it because they make money for doing it. Except for Apple products, computer profits are very thin. Hardware makers are happy to install junk onto new systems in exchange for a few extra dollars.

Photo courtesy of www.kitguru.net
photo.apple_.windows.crapware (1)

 

Eradicating crapware from Windows PCs isn’t easy, and when it comes Android smartphones and tablets it can be almost impossible.  There are tools out there for the PC such as PC Decrapifier and CCleaner that do a reasonable job of cleaning a system, but they’re far from perfect.

 

The purveyors of crapware have become wise to these tools and take deliberate steps to make it difficult. It’s best to call my friends at Desert Cow Computers. www.mydesertcow.com

desert cow computers

Hardware manufacturers operate in a cutthroat business environment and crapware can make the difference between almost no profit and a little profit, especially on budget systems.  Perhaps you will decide to stay away from budget systems now.
Microsoft offers the Signature range of PCs and Google sells Nexus-branded devices, These products are free from crapware. If you’re looking for a pure Windows or Android experience, then this might be worth investigating.  Another option is to switch to Apple or Chromebook.

nexus

If more people complain or vote with their feet by purchasing crapware-free products, perhaps equipment manufacturers will be persuaded to make crapware easier to remove.

 
Thoughts or comments about this topic?  Please comment below.  Thanks!

No More Password Hassles with LastPass

No More Password Hassles!

Treat your password like your toothbrush.
Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months.

Clifford Stoll                                      Read more at brainyquote.com

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Are you ready to put your password hassles to rest once and for all?  I’ve got a great solution for you!   Get LastPass password manager.  It’s free! It will generate secure passwords for all your accounts and insert them automatically. You only need to remember one master password.  Everything is encrypted and safe.

No more updating pages and pages of accounts and passwords or going through a bazillion steps to reset the ones you forgot!  LastPass even let’s you know if you have an account with a company whose data base has been compromised so you can change your password immediately.

I’ve been using the basic features of LastPass for years, but I just took a class on it to learn more and I am very impressed.  I had the opportunity to teach a client how to use it this week and she is so happy and relieved that she’s telling all her friends.

You can learn more about it here  www.lastpass.com  I urge you to use it.  The little bit of time it takes to install and learn how to use it, will be minimal compared to the time it takes to clean up a mess if someone hacks any of your accounts.

Please share this with everyone you know so they can be safe and feel relaxed, happy and confident with their computers and techie gadgets.

Please post your thoughts or comments below….

Thanks!

Looking for Work On Craigslist – Safety Tips

CRAIGSLIST-large570

Hi Mardi,

I am still in Brazil.

I am trying to put an add for a new job on craigslist and I can’t do it.

I open the craigslist page but I can’t find the right place.

Could you help me doing that?

I will try to call you.

I recently received this message from a client and it reminded me to let you know about a couple of hazards to avoid when you, or someone you know, is looking for work online.

When I first moved to the Desert, I was looking for work on Craigslist and encountered two potentially dangerous scams.

The first and most obvious scam, was an email from a company offering me an interview and requiring that I get a credit report to bring to the interview.  They said I needed to get it from the company they recommended and the link to the website was included in the email.

I couldn’t imagine why someone would need a credit report before an interview or expect me to divulge financial information to a company I didn’t know, so I knew it was a scam.

facebook login

The second scam almost got me!  A company said they were interested in me and I could learn more about them at their Facebook page.  At first, I thought it was strange that they didn’t send me to their company website, but then I thought they might be trying to be hip and leading-edge by having a company Facebook page.

I clicked on the link and it took me to a page that looked exactly like the Facebook sign-in page.  I signed in, but had a weird feeling that something was off.  I looked up at the address bar to see exactly where I was and it said “fakebook.com/….”  I thought oh my gosh, they just captured my Facebook login and password!

I immediately opened a new window and went to my Facebook page and changed my password.  Luckily I got there, before they were able to changed my password and lock me out.  Whew!

craigslist banner

There are good jobs available on Craigslist and I actually found one at that time.

You just need to be careful and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Please forward this to everyone you know who is looking for work so they can be safe and feel relaxed, happy and confident while using Craigslist.

Thoughts or comments about this topic?  Please share in comments below.