Author: Mardi Boettcher

My Mission is to teach adults how to enjoy the many benefits of computer technology and make it simple, easy and fun.

Great Solution for Robocalls

image of phone

Photo by Arun Thomas on Pexels.com

How are you managing robocalls these days?

I recently read a great article from How To Geek that validates my advice to not pick up calls from people who are not identified on your phone’s caller ID.

Did you know that if you pick up and answer a robocall, you are more likely to get called again?

It also explains why other commonly recommended methods don’t work.

And it suggested a great solution for those times when you might be expecting a call from your doctor or the pharmacy.

Here’s a great Techie Tip from the article:

If you’re continually expecting calls from doctors, customers, lawyers, or anyone else, add trusted businesses, customers, and professionals to your contact list. Ask companies for their outgoing phone number, and be sure to check if they use multiple outgoing numbers.

Then use the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone. The Do Not Disturb feature allows you to choose which numbers can call you. If you’ve set up a detailed contact list, this feature can help you block out scammers without missing out on important calls from your family or your doctor. And, if you’re ever expecting a call from an unknown number, you can quickly turn off the Do Not Disturb feature until you receive the call that you’re waiting for and then turn it back on.

Apple Do Not Disturb for iPhones and iPads

Android Do Not Disturb mode .

Another method is to set your phone to not ring for incoming calls except for your Favorites which then allows specific numbers to bypass the block.

I hope you found this helpful and that you will share it with your friends and family.

And, as always, if you or someone you know, needs a helping hand or some compassionate techno-therapy, just give me a call at 760-348-8867 or schedule an appointment here.

In any case…

Enjoy!

Mardi

You Aren’t Too Old or Stupid For Technology

Screenshot 2019-04-30 at 1.30.11 PM

Do you feel still feel stupid sometimes when it comes to technology?

People often tell me, “I’m so stupid when it comes to technology and I’m always quick to say, “You’re not stupid, you just need a little education!”  I hate to see them so down on themselves or convinced that there is something wrong with them because of their age.  It’s not true!

Well, I recently, I discovered a new book by Seth Godin which gave me a new perspective on stupid.  I hope you find it as helpful as I do, put your thoughts in the comments below,  and share this post with your friends so they can feel good about feeling stupid too.

Enjoy!
Mardi

From Your Turn by Seth Godin

The fear of stupidity is not uncommon. Stupid is the way we feel when working on a difficult problem. Stupid is the emotion associated with learning—we are stupid and then we are not. The pre-learning state is stupidity. A scientist might work ten years on solving a problem of math or logic or biology. Or a lifetime. And until the problem is solved, she’s stupid. And then she isn’t. Which is all fine, actually. The problem comes with the emotion that we’re supposed to feel when we feel stupid: Fear. We are supposed to be afraid of stupid, to get stupid over with as soon as we can. Change, of course, makes everyone feel stupid, because change breaks all the old rules, inventing new ones, rules we don’t know (yet). And so the equation is obvious: Change —> Stupid —> Afraid. One way to avoid this is to avoid change. One way to avoid this is to avoid freedom. The best way to avoid this is to embrace stupid and skip the last part. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Nothing except avoiding the feeling of stupid. And stupid is a good thing.

P. S. Who do you know that would feel better about themselves if they had a little computer tutoring.  Just send me their name and number.  I’ll follow up and take good care of them.  Thanks!

 

Windows 7 and Office 2010 End of Support Deadline

burial cemetery countryside cross

Photo by Mike Bird on Pexels.com

This month, Microsoft has started reminding users that the company will no longer provide free support for Windows 7 after January 14, 2020. This means no more updates or fixes, including security fixes after that date.

Microsoft’s March 12 blog post about the coming “courtesy reminder” about Windows 7’s end of support notes that users will see the notification “a handful of times in 2019.” The notifications will include a checkbox for “do not notify me again,” enabling them to not receive future reminders.

Note: Just closing the pop-up using the X in the right corner won’t prevent users from getting more of these notifications

Business users will be able to continue to get security updates beyond the January 14, 2020 date by purchasing paid Extended Support Updates and buying Windows Virtual Desktop (which includes Extended Support Updates for no additional fee) but this does not apply to regular users like you and me.

Please, please, please, don’t even consider using Windows 7 without updates!  It’s not just a matter of whether you have anything valuable on your computer itself.  You run the risk of hackers getting into your whole home network!

Do you have an exit strategy yet?  Now would be a good time for you to learn more about Chrome OS Devices (Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and Chromebases) and Google’s free Office Suite apps (GSuite). 

By the way…Google Chromebooks have captured 70% of the school market?  So if you want to keep up with the younger generation…

In any case, I encourage you to talk to me before making any new purchases.  I can help you get the most appropriate device for your needs and budget.

Do you have a Windows 7 and Office 2010 exit strategy?  Share with us in the comments below and post any questions or concerns for me to answer.

And please share this with your friends so they can benefit too.  Thanks!

Above all else…enjoy!

Mardi

 

Backups Don’t Have to Be Hard or Confusing

diagram of cloud and mobile devices

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I love articles by How To Geek because they often cover basic information that my clients should know.  The articles are written very clearly but sometimes I make them even simpler by providing a shorter version and definitions of technical terminology.

I’ve talked about backups many times, so I think most of you will be able to understand this article as it is:  What’s the Best Way to Back Up My

If you know me at all, you will know that I recommend Chromebooks and Google Drive as the best solution for most people.  My second choice for simple and secure would be an Apple iPad and iCloud backup.

As they say in the article: “Everyone loses data at some point in their lives. Your computer’s hard drive could fail tomorrow, ransomware could hold your files hostage, or a software bug could delete your important files. If you’re not regularly backing up your computer, you could lose those files forever.  Backups don’t have to be hard or confusing.”

Please just make a decision and do it!  And check monthly to be sure it’s working.

If you need help, you can make an appointment here or call 760-348-8867.

Let us know what you use for backups in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and for sharing with others. 🙂

Enjoy!

Mardi

 

 

The New iPad Air – Power For The Rest of Us

image of the new iPad AirIn addition to the new iPad Mini, Apple has announced a new iPad Air.

If you’ve been wanting an iPad Pro but weren’t willing to pay the price, you may be excited about the iPad Air. It provides most of the features of the Pro for a much lower price.

The two iPads are really very similar except the Pro 10.5” has “Promotion Technology” (That means the screen refresh rate is 120 MHz refresh rate while the iPad Air refreshes at 60 MHz.) If you’re not a serious gamer or video editor, you don’t care. For more about refresh rates see this article at livewire.com https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-refresh-rate-2625984

Additionally, the main camera on the iPad Pro is 12 megapixels instead of the 8 megapixels on the iPad Air.

I imagine you can live comfortably with those two compromises for the much lower price of $499.

The iPad Air supports the smart keyboard (available separately for $159), has a more powerful processor than the iPad Pro 10.5 inch, has pencil support (the old pencil, not the newer second-generation pencil), TrueTone (True Tone allows the display to adjust its color temperature based on the light of its surroundings so images appear more natural. True Tone was introduced with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro in 2016 and has since slowly made its way to all Apple’s mobile devices.) and wide color gamut support, the same resolution as the old iPad Pro 10.5 inch model and it weighs slightly less, at just one pound.

Apple’s goal is to provide “more of our most powerful technologies to more people than ever” by offering a bigger iPad that’s not quite at the “Pro” level but still more powerful than the smaller 9.7-inch iPad.

This model fits in the iPad lineup between the larger iPad and the iPad Pro models. You can see the whole product line here https://www.apple.com/ipad/ 

Apple says the new iPads can be ordered today and will be in the stores next week.

I think iPads or Chromebooks are the best options for most people and I love it when the products keep getting better and more affordable like this.

Are you going to buy a new iPad Pro 10.5? I’d love to know what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for being here!
Mardi

A New and Improved iPad Mini is Here

image of iPad MiniAfter almost four years, Apple has updated the iPad Mini and, at the same time, managed to keep the prices down.

The processor has been updated from an A8 to a A12.  (These numbers reveal how outdated it had become.) This processor should speed up the performance substantially.

In addition, the display is brighter and picks up True Tone.  (True Tone allows the display to adjust its color temperature based on the light of its surroundings so images appear more natural. True Tone was introduced with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro in 2016 and has since slowly made its way to all Apple’s mobile devices.)

The front-facing camera now has 7 megapixels instead of 1.2 megapixels.  There’s no Face ID support yet.

They’ve added Pencil support too. I think that might appeal to a lot of you for taking notes or creative doodling.

Apple managed to hold down the entry-level price to $399 by reducing the storage from 128 GB to 64 GB.  For $549 you can increase that storage to 256 GB.

I personally don’t see the advantage of a mini tablet because the screen is small and it doesn’t have a phone in it.  I’d rather have a larger iPad or a Chromebook, but I know some of you like the mini.

What do you think?  I’d love to know if the new iPad Mini appeals to you.  Let me know what you think by posing in the comments below.

 

Thanks for being here!

Smart TV’s are Stupid!

Do you use a Smart TV or are you thinking about buying one?

Here is some important information you should know.

If you would prefer a video version of article, click here

First, What exactly is a “Smart” TV?

A smart TV is a TV that can connect to the Internet and has built-in apps for playing videos from services like Netflix and YouTube,
apps for social networking like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,
games like Angry Birds,
and a web browser.

In theory this is great because you wouldn’t need a separate device (like Roku, Chromecast or Apple TV).  You get a web browser and everything else you’d want to use, all integrated into the TV, saving you money and eliminating the clutter of additional boxes and cables.

However…

App displayed on a monitorThe software is not very user friendly

The software interface (the way you interact with an application) can be very confusing and it requires you to use a remote controller to select buttons and images.  It’s not simple like using apps on smartphones and tablets. The process can be very slow and frustrating!

It’s estimated that only 10 percent of smart TV owners have used the web browser on their smart TV and about only 15 percent have listened to music from online services. However, the majority have used apps, to watch Netflix on their TV without plugging in additional boxes.

They Collect Data On You to Sell to Advertisers

Not only are Smart TVs not very smart, but they collect data on your viewing habits to sell to advertisers.  Since everything on your home network is using the same router, you could be watching a particular program on TV and then start seeing ads on your smartphone, tablet, or PC, for a product or service related to the program.

If you use the always on voice controls feature, your TV can send data about what you watch, to third parties.

Nielsen gets permission to monitor what people watch.  Did your TV ask you for permission?

Don’t people buy a Smart TV so they won’t have to watch all those commercials on regular TV?

The manufacturers do provide an option to turn off the tracking — you can go to the Menu and then into Settings and find “Smart Interactivity” and turn it off — but how many people can do that?

On most TVs, this setting is enabled by default because no one would enable it if they had a choice.  And they call it “Smart Interactivity” to make it sound like something you would want.

Cartoon of frustrated TV user with remote controller“Smart” TVs Get Dumber

Smart TVs will become dumber over time because their operating systems may not receive updates from the manufacturer and the apps and services won’t continue to work.

Providing “Smart TVs” with better interfaces and making them more easily upgradable would cost the TV manufacturers more money and their profit margins are already very thin.  Thin profit margins are the reason they are pitching ads to you.

image of a padlock and keyHere’s Your Solution…

Ignore the smart features

 

Buy a TV based on your budget, the size and quality of the screen and buy an external device which will have more “smarts.”  When you get home, don’t even hook up the TV to your Wifi network.

If you already own a smart TV, just turn off it’s Wi-Fi so it can’t send your viewing data anywhere and then go get an external device.

image of Apple TV interfaceExternal Device Options

There are a variety of external devices and they are relatively inexpensive. The manufacturers are invested in the user having a good experience. These devices will have more polished interfaces, good mobile apps that you can control from your smartphone or tablet, more streaming services, and will receive updates for a longer period of time.

For details about the various devices see my Techie Tip from December, Do I Need A Streaming Device?

screenshot of Wirecutter webpage

These devices aren’t above tracking you for advertisers. For details about the privacy policies of these devices see this excellent article by The Wirecutter,  Your Privacy, Your Devices and You

You should also be aware that the content you stream, any websites you access, any apps you download, or any games you play may also have ways of collecting—and possibly distributing—information about you and what you do.  It’s no different than the privacy considerations when using your computer. Just be aware of it and use reputable sources.

In summary…

Forget about smart TVs

Their software is just not very good.  It’s better to pick up a streaming device and use it.

A few years from now, it will still be getting updates while your TV will have been forgotten by its manufacturer.

Even if the box becomes outdated, it can be replaced for a lot less money than it would take to replace your TV set.

Need Help?

Devices like Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast are fairly easy to install if you have the patience to follow the instructions and, of course, it helps to understand how they work with your WiFi and your TV.

If you’d like help, you can set up an appointment on my calendar here or

Call 760-348-8867

Please share this Techie Tip with your friends and encourage them to get help from me if needed, so they can experience technology made simple, easy and fun too.  Thanks!

Do you use a “Smart TV” or an external device?  Was this Techie Tip helpful?  Please let us know in the comments below...

Enjoy!
Mardi

This article is based on an article by How to Geek. Their website is a great source for technology education and “how to” information.

You Don’t Need A New Galaxy S10 Phone

image of Galaxy new S10 PhoneI just read a review of the new Galaxy S10 and S10+ by Engadget and was absolutely amazed that it was described as “a superb phone” in spite of an “inconsistent fingerprint sensor and a subpar digital assistant.”

If you like technology simple, easy and fun like I do, you’re probably wondering…

  • Why in the world would anyone spend $1000 for a phone?
  • Do I need an amazing screen to check email, text messages and use Google maps?
  • Am I watching YouTube videos and movies on my phone?
  • The only reason  to have a big screen is to have larger keys on the keyboard for typing and with a good voice assistant and predictive text, I don’t even need to use the keyboard very much.

And speaking of typing, it’s critically important to me that a phone’s digital assistant can understand me and type accurately.  I’ve found Google assistant to be much better at this than Siri.  Samsung may have improved it’s Bixby assistant but I wouldn’t even consider paying $1,000 for second-rate voice to text.

Another huge priority for me is a digital assistant that can find answers for me and deliver them verbally.  Apple’s Siri doesn’t understand me and she isn’t very smart.  The Google assistant (I call her Google Girl) is much more capable.  Whereas Siri (if she can find anything at all) will display a search results page, Google Girl will usually tell me verbally what I want to know.  This is particularly important when I’m driving my car.

The other most important feature to me, is a quick and reliable way to unlock my phone.  I’ve grudgingly accepted the fact that we need to keep our phones locked but it’s a big nuisance.

The fingerprint sensor on my iPhone 6 Plus is not only inconsistent but it forgets the fingerprints over time and I have had to go into the settings and set them up again.

I don’t bother with fingerprints anymore.  I just use my 5 digit passcode. It’s quicker and it always works the first time.

There are android phones for $250 that will do everything I need and that’s what I’ll be getting as soon as my iPhone 6 Plus (a gift from my wonderful son) dies or is rendered obsolete.

If you’d like to simplify your techie life in this way and want recommendations for purchasing a new phone or help with setup and learning how to use it, you can schedule an appointment here or call 760-348-8867.

What kind of phone do you have?  What do you like and dislike about it?  Let us know in the comments below so we can all benefit from your experience.

 

 

Google Password Checkup is Such Great News!

With the frequent news about security breaches, are you concerned that your passwords might be compromised?

Have you registered with https://haveibeenpwned.com/?

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

I’ve got great news for you!
Google Chrome Can Tell You if your passwords have been compromised!

Google has created an extension (software program) for its Chrome web browser that will alert you if a username and password is known to be unsafe.

The extension is called Password Checkup and it checks a database of 4 billion credentials that have been compromised (stolen and exposed) in various data breaches.

When the extension detects an insecure password, it will display a big red dialogue box telling you to immediately change your username or password.

Of course, allowing an extension to read all your usernames and passwords raises concerns about privacy.

Google is well aware of this and has designed an encryption system to keep all your information private and anonymous:

“We built Password Checkup so that no one, including Google, can learn your account details. To do this, we developed privacy-protecting techniques with the help of cryptography researchers at both Google and Stanford University. For a more technical description of these innovations, check out our security blog post.”

Here’s a short video tutorial on How to Install Password Checkup

Or follow these steps:

Click on the 3 stacked dots (upper right)
Hover over “More Tools”
Click “Extensions”
Click on the menu icon (upper left corner)
Click on “Open Chrome Web Store (lower left corner)
In the “search the store” box, type “password checkup”
Click on Install
Click the X to close the confirmation window

If Password Checkup lets you know that a password you use is unsafe:

Sign in to the account with the unsafe password.
Create a new, strong password for the account and any other accounts that use the same password.
If the site offers another security measure, like Two-Step Verification, consider setting it up.

Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below

If you need help, you can schedule an appointment on my calendar here

I’m so excited to have a simple solution for keeping your passwords safe!
I hope you will forward share this tip with everyone you know.

Enjoy!
Mardi

P.S. I try to use as little Geek speak as possible, but you do need to understand a few terms.
I highlight them in bold so you can check yourself and look up the ones you don’t know.

Here’s a little self-test for you. How many do you know?
What is a web browser?
What is a browser extension?
Why does it matter if your account is taken over?
What is a dialogue box?
What does “account credentials” mean?
What does “compromised password” mean?

How To Make Your Technology Less Frustrating and More Fun This Year

“It’s that holiday time of year again, and that means it’s over the river and through the woods to…well, fix my family’s Wi-Fi and other tech problems.”  From: The Complete Guide to Giving Better Family Tech Support  by Jason Fitzpatrick
family-dinner-3407701_1280
Do you have someone in your family who takes care of your techie problems for you?

I was that person for my mother. In fact, she was the one who suggested that I start this tutoring business to help other retirement-age adults.

I often laugh and tell people, “I’m your person, when you don’t have access to any techie relatives or you don’t want to impose. ; )

I recently read a fun article by How to Geek. The Complete Guide to Giving Better Family Tech Support  and I realized that it’s time to remind you that, “a few times a year someone needs to make sure computers are up to date,photos are backed up, and the tech is humming along as it should, so you won’t be in a in a position to have people exploit your computers, lose your photos to a hard drive crash, or otherwise be miserable because you just didn’t know any better.  After all, you aren’t out there keeping up on all the tech news and reading how-to guides.”

image of computer with 2019 on the screenAnd, there’s another great article for the New Year… Lock Down Your Tech With These New Year’s Resolutions by Justin Pot.  It urges people to:

  • “Use a freaking password manager
  • Lock Down Important Accounts With Two-Factor Authentication
  • Backup Your Computer (Seriously)
  • Update (or Upgrade) Your Router
  • Clean Out Your Browser Extensions
  • Remove Unused Third-Party App Access From Google, Facebook, and Other Accounts
  • Encrypt Your Computers and Phone”

As I often say, “using technology is like driving cars, they need check ups from time to time, and you have to know the rules of the road for your safety and security.

sparkler-839831_1280No Worries…There Are Easy Ways To Get It All Done:

  • Read the two articles and follow their very clear instructions or
  • Send these tips to your “Family Tech Guru” so he or she can do it or
  • Hire me to teach you how to do it or
  • Hire me do it for you

Whatever you decide is fine, but  please make a decision and “get ‘er done” so you can have less frustration and more fun.

Wishing you a very happy new year and may your techie world be simple, easy and fun this year!

Enjoy!

Mardi

P. S. Please share this with your loved ones so they can get the help they need too.  Thanks!

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