Category: Lessons

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
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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!

You Can Be A Hoax Slayer

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Friday, I received a call from a client about a phishing scam that was very convincing. It’s time to review the guidelines again.

“Be wary of ANY message that claims that you must click a link or open an attachment to upgrade account details, rectify a supposed account issue, or implement new ‘security’ measures. If you receive a suspect message, do not click on any links or open any attachments that it contains. Instead, login to your account by entering the address into your web browser or via an official account application.”

This particular scam was pretending to be from Microsoft Outlook Team but there are others for Facebook, Yahoo, dating sites, and more.

Here is a great resource for you: Bookmark http://www.hoax-slayer.com It has information about email, social media and internet scams. Many thanks to Brett for his voluntary service on our behalf.

Please share this with the people you care about and encourage them to call me whenever they have a question or need help with their techie tools and toys. My passion and mission is to help you and your loved ones more fully enjoy the many benefits of computer technology while keeping it it simple, easy and fun. Thanks!

Enjoy!
Mardi

Facing Fears and Moving Forward

Victory laptopLearning new computer and gadget skills is as much about overcoming “fears” as it is about learning skills. Most of my clients express some version of “I feel so stupid, or I’m afraid I’ll break it, or I’m too old to be able to do this.” When we try new things for the first time we often experience fear of failure, but my clients inspire me everyday as they “step up to the plate,” face their fears and move forward! As they learn new skills they are empowered to take their personal lives and businesses to the next level:
  • consultants learn to use video conferencing

  • authors learn to blog

  • real estate agents learn to send contracts to clients for digital signatures,

  • coaches learn how to use Facebook groups to motivate and inspire their clients

  • Grandmothers learn how get grandkids photos from their smartphones to Costco for prints

These victories fuel my passion for my work and I’m so grateful for the opportunity!

Enjoy!

Mardi

Fear Not the F Word!

From my favorite business development program, www.BookYourselfSolid.com  As an educator, I always want my clients to know and accept that “there are no failures, only lessons.”   Enjoy!

How I Nearly Got My Mouth Washed Out With Soap

Ralphies-soap

Growing up in my family, we never talked about the F word. It was never, ever tolerated.

My mother was an especially difficult taskmaster. The mere possibility of the F word would incite her fury; and her condemnation. I could get my mouth washed out with soap!

The F word: Failure. Bad.

If I brought home a paper or a quiz with a B+, my mother would say, “That’s nice, dear. But it’s not as good as an A.” If I came home with an A, she’d smile and observe, “That’s wonderful dear. But it’s not as good as an A+.” A shadow would hang over a 99; after all it wasn’t a 100. (“Not good enough” was the message.)

While this spurred in me a drive toward perfection and excellence (and no doubt a bit of neurosis), it also deprived me of opportunities. I eschewed risk because risk could lead to failure.

I have come to discover – and appreciate – that there are no failures. Only lessons.

In his fascinating book, Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed contrasts how failure is understood in the fields of aviation and healthcare. In aviation, pilots and teams are encouraged, without penalty, to disclose and report errors. Failures (accidents) are relentlessly scrutinized (often by analyzing black box data).

The information gathered is meticulously analyzed, clearly assimilated and rapidly disseminated so that ever more reliable systems and processes can be implemented. The culture surrounding the aviation industry expects and demands this; and the result has been that the fatality rate in aviation has plummeted.

Aviation accidents now are rare.

Health care, on the other hand, has demonstrated a culture of obfuscation when it comes to failure. It tends to deny and cover up its errors. Some physicians tend to have an aura of infallibility. The hierarchical structure discourages the questioning of a physician’s decisions. Bad outcomes are clothed in euphemisms. Incident reporting is often frowned upon, and sometimes punished. There is no standardized industry-wide error reporting system.

Preventable medical accidents are now rampant… and increasing. (By one estimate equal to a jumbo jet falling from the sky every single day!)

In aviation, failure is the opportunity to learn. In health care, it is a call to circle the wagons… and hide.

What will it be for you?

Too often, fear of failure has caused me to keep my head down, to play it safe. Too often I haven’t pushed the edges: Those edges where we grow. (And beyond those edges – oh my, that’s where the magic dwells.)

Too often, I have made failure personal, a sad story all about me. Rather than saying “It didn’t work,” I would think, “I didn’t work. Poor me.”

But what’s true is this: Great minds, great creators, great artists, great athletes, great innovators… they embrace failure. They seek it out. They see it as part of a magnificently generative process. They see it… as opportunity.

They know that the faster you iterate, the faster you fail, the faster you learn what doesn’t work, the faster your journey to success.

I have discovered, too, that following a tried and true formula like Book Yourself Solid® ensures faster iteration and reliable results.

By now, I have made a gentle peace with failure. I’m not yet courageous enough to seek it out. But when it shows up – as it often does – I sit it down and listen to it. I study it; and learn from it as best I can. And quietly remind myself that “it” didn’t work; that I’m ok.

Because I have come to know this: When we study failure – and learn from it objectively – we grow, our businesses flourish, and our lives become richer. When we fear and eschew failure, we deny our humanity, we narrow our potentiality, and we disserve our destiny.

There is a weary world that needs us, that desperately needs us to show up now, with those gifts and talents that only we can share, unburdened by any of our sad stories of inadequacy.

So fail forward fast.

And fear not the F word. It is the road to the business and the life you want.

Walt

Walt Hampton, J.D.
President & Chief Operating Officer
Book Yourself Solid® Worldwide

Six Simple Maintenance Tips for Windows PCs

Most computer owners don’t know much about basic computer maintenance and their PCs are likely to slow down or crash as a result.

Of course, most of us don’t know much about cars either, but we know to give them gas, change the oil and keep an eye out for flat tires. It’s the same with PCs. You don’t need to be an expert to keep your PC in relatively good condition. You just need to perform a little basic PC maintenance and, more importantly, be observant.

Here are six simple steps you can take to keep your PC running quickly and reliably:

Windows Updates1. Keep the Window Operating System (OS) Updated with the Latest Patches

Windows Update scans your system and updates it with the latest security patches and service packs. You can schedule these updates to run automatically, so there is really no excuse for not having an up-to-date system.

To access Windows Update click on the Start button, All Programs and scroll through the list to find it.

2. Keep Your Applications and Utilities Patched  Java update message

This may surprise you, but all the applications and utilities on your system are prone to security risks and need to be updated regularly.

Programs that you use everyday like Adobe Acrobat Reader, QuickTime, Realplayer, Skype, WinZip and more require both maintenance and security updates from time to time. Even applications that run in the background like Flash and Java are at risk.

When update notifications pop up on your screen, allow them to install. Just read the screens as you go, to be sure they aren’t offering to install promotional software that you don’t want. You may need to uncheck some boxes.

If you have my business card, you have a list of safe updates on it. If you don’t have my care or aren’t sure if a pop up is a legitimate update, just give me a call.

Norton Expiration Notice3. Keep Your Spyware and AntiVirus Programs Updated

No matter how good your spyware and antivirus software, it won’t do you any good if it’s not updated or, worse, not running because it expired.

Most antivirus applications load an icon in the Windows tray, (lower right corner) which lets you verify its status at a glance. Always verify that the application is running after starting Windows.

In addition, these applications should be configured to perform definition updates everyday and complete system scans at least once a week.

4. Clean Off the Desktop  Cluttered Windows Desktop

Having a lot of files on the desktop will actually slow down your computer because each file and its icon preview take up RAM and resources. The less RAM you have the more you’ll notice the sluggishness resulting from a cluttered desktop.

It’s really more efficient to get in the habit of filing things in the appropriate folders instead of on the desktop; but if you can’t be bothered to do that, just grab all the files and move them into the appropriate folders from time to time.

If you can’t remember to do it yourself, there are apps that will automatically clean it for you by moving files and folders to a designated place at a regular interval.

IDrive Online Backup5. Regularly Backup Your Computer

Performing regular backups is essential for you to be able to quickly recover from potential disasters. I recommend iDrive or Carbonite. They are easy to set up and make it easy to restore your data when you have a disaster, or upgrade to a new computer. You can access your files from your mobile gadgets too! If paying the annual fee bothers you, just think of it as insurance, like your auto and home insurance.

6. Defragment and Check Your Hard Drive for Errors Regularly  Defragmenter Utility

In order to maintain the integrity of your data there are two hard drive tests that you should run at least once a month.

The first is to Defragment your hard drive. Over the course of regular use, your files get fragmented or spread out all over your hard drive. So while an MP3 or WMV file appears as a single file to you in Windows Explorer, small pieces of the file could literally be spread across the entire hard drive. Gathering all of these distant pieces back together into a single continuous order, makes files load faster. Defragmenting your drive can can make your system noticeably faster if you had lots of files fragmented.

The other test is Check Disk. This tool checks hard disk volumes for problems and attempts repairs. (It can repair problems related to bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files and directory errors…but you don’t need to know all that.) Just remember that Disk errors are a common source of difficult-to-track problems, and running this test regularly can significantly reduce your risk of having problems.

Windows has a built-in defragmenter and check-disk utility. Just open Windows Explorer and right-click on the drive you want to examine. Select Properties and then click on the Tools tab. To defragment your hard drive, go to the Defragmentation section and press the Defragment now button. To perform a check disk, go to the Error-checking section and press the Check now button.

You don’t need to be a computer expert to keep your computer running well. Preventing problems doesn’t require much understanding about computers. You just need to pay attention and actually read those messages that popup on screen during an installation and use the tools that come with your computer.

Just follow these basic steps, and your computer will be safer and far more reliable.

4 Simple Apple Computer Maintenance Tips

Did you know that your computer needs some regular maintenance, just like your car?

Just like your car, your computer is a substantial financial investment and causes major inconvenience when it doesn’t run properly so it’s important to keep it in good shape. In both cases, you can learn how to do the maintenance yourself, or you can pay someone to take care of it for you.

If you don’t want to deal with it, I’ll be happy to take care of it for you…one time or on a monthly basis via remote connection.

I hope you find this information helpful and that you will forward to others so they can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.

There are four simple maintenance tips that will help you keep your computer in tip-top shape and running at its best.:

Run Apple Disk Utility1) Run Disk Utility

Running Disk Utility every month or two is a good for: repairing permissions, and more importantly, verifying and repairing the hard drive.

Disk Utility is included on all Macs and found in the /Applications/Utilities folder, under the “First Aid” tab and can be run one after another.

Repairing permissions is a good procedure to run, especially after installing or uninstalling a lot of applications.

Repair Disk s probably the most important thing to do with Disk Utility. Be sure to run Verify Disk not only on the drive itself (physical drive name), but also the boot partition (Macintosh HD). If any errors are found, they’ll appear in red, and thankfully Disk Utility is usually more than capable of handling such repairs on it’s own.

The best way to repair the boot disk is to boot from the recovery partition by holding down Command+R and running Disk Utility from there. This will be necessary if bad blocks are found or if the drive is corrupt.

Mac Software Update2) Keep your Mac Software Updated

Keeping your software up to date is vital. Periodically run Software Update from the Apple menu, and periodically check the Mac App Store for updates of your apps too.

Updates contain bug fixes, feature enhancements, and security fixes. and it’s so easy to do there is no excuse not to.

Software Update will check for updates once a week by default, but the Mac App Store has to be manually checked for updates in OS X Lion.

With OS X Mountain Lion and newer, Software Update moves to the Mac App Store so this whole process will be automated for modern OS X users, including El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks.

Mac Desktop Clutter3) Clean Off the Desktop

Having a lot of files on the desktop will actually slow down your computer because each file and its icon preview take up RAM and resources.

The less RAM you have the more you’ll notice the sluggishness resulting from a cluttered desktop.

It is more efficient to get in the habit of filing things into appropriate folders instead of on the desktop; but if you can’t be bothered to do that, just grab all the files and move them into the appropriate folders from time to time.

If you can’t remember to do it yourself, there are apps that will automatically clean it for you by moving files and folders to a designated place at a regular interval.

Set Up Time Machine4) Regularly Back Up Your Computer

Performing regular backups is essential for you to be able to quickly recover from potential disasters.

The simplest back up solution for Macs is Time Machine. You’ll need an external hard drive, but once you set up Time Machine, automatic backups occur without any effort.

If you haven’t set up Time Machine yet you really need to do so. Get a large external hard drive and configure Time Machine through System Preferences.  I’t’s easy to do and you’ll be very thankful you have a back up in the event of a hard drive failure.

You should also do a manual back up before allowing system software updates. I’t’s rare, but things can go wrong, and it’s best to be prepared.

“Listen to your Mother” and do your maintenance so you won’t have regrets later ; )

Enjoy!

To Sleep or Shut Down, That is the Question

When your computer is not in use, do you shut it down, put it to sleep, or just keep it turned on?

In working with clients, it’s come to my attention that many people don’t completely shut down their computers from time to time.  Letting your computer just go to sleep night after night can cause problems.  For the average user, I recommend shutting it down completely, at least once a week.  The same applies to mobile gadgets like tablets and phones.  (See below for more details.)

If any of your techie tools are acting a little weird and slowing down, they may just need a reboot (shutdown and restart).  Try rebooting and then call me if that doesn’t work.

I hope you have found this tip useful and that you will forward it to others so they too, can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.

Pros and Cons

Putting It To Sleep   Computer in sleep mode

The advantage to putting it to sleep is that it provides the easiest and fastest way to resume work while minimizing wear and tear on the hardware. The computer goes to sleep instantly and when it wakes up, all of your open apps, documents, window arrangements, and web pages, are exactly where you left off with almost no delay. For average users who want to quickly get back to what they were doing, sleeping is perfect.

  • Pros: Quickly resume exactly where you left off; sleep and wake can be scheduled or even done remotely
  • Cons: Minor power consumption; system temp fluctuations, swap, and cache files don’t get cleared out during as during a reboot process; system updates requiring reboots don’t install automatically and need a manual reboot; performance is best for computers with 4GB RAM or more

If you use your computer every day, simply putting it to sleep when it’s not in use or overnight is probably the best choice. Just be sure to reboot every once in awhile to allow system software updates to install. Waiting for an operating system Update or Security Update is generally a sufficient time between reboots.

shutting down computer for updatesShutting It Down

Shutting it down isn’t necessary unless it’s going into a longer term state of inactivity or storage. Shutting down is slower because all the open applications and documents have to quit; and when you turn the machine back on, everything has to re-open again to get back to where you were prior to shutdown.

  • Pros: Saves power, doesn’t strain hardware; system temp, memory, swap, and cache files get cleared out during boot; allows for major system updates to install
  • Cons: Takes a while to boot up and resume previous activity

For the power conscious or for those trying to squeeze the absolute longest lifespan out of hardware and hard disks, shutting down when not in use is the best choice. This is also necessary if you’re going to put your computer in long term storage, won’t be using it for a longer than a few days, or you’re going to be traveling and not using it during the travel period.

Computer as a serverKeeping It Always Turned On

Leaving a computer constantly turned on is best reserved for computers that function as servers. On the plus side, you don’t have to bother resuming anything since it’s already on, you can schedule all maintenance and backup tasks to occur in the wee hours of system inactivity, and it allows for a server or media center to be running on the machine. The downside is the constant power consumption and the constantly active hardware, which can limit overall lifespans of the computer components.

  • Pros: No waiting for use; instantly resume all apps and tasks exactly where you left off; allows for servers to run with constant accessibility; backup and system maintenance tasks can be scheduled for off hours
  • Cons: Constant power consumption; more wear and tear on hard drives, fans, and physical hardware due to possible heat

For the casual user, it’s best to put it to sleep when it’s not in use.  It gives hard drives and fans a rest, and will generally lead to a longer lifespan of the computer.

Convenient & Affordable New Service for You!

Convenient & Affordable
New Service for You!join.me

From time to time, clients have said they wished they could have me on a “retainer” to answer a quick question or get them out of a jam.  We have discussed a subscription service where people would pay a monthly fee, but most people wouldn’t need help every month. This week, the subject came up again and my clients said they would love to be able to “pay as needed”  They suggested that I charge $60 hr. (to keep the math simple) and bill in 15 min increments (to make it worth my time).  I thought it was a great idea and a real win-win solution. I’m excited to be offering this this as a new service.

I will be happy to answer your questions on the phone, by remote access into your computer, or by email. This is a great option for people who need some help, but don’t need a whole one-hour appointment in their home.  Bring me all those niggling questions and frustrations and let’s get you back to full enjoyment of your techie tools.  Call me today for an appointment!

Amazing Uses for Photos

Amazing Uses for Photos

This past week I did a lot of instruction in photo management and it wasn’t with vacation photos as you would expect for this time of year.  Of course, the techniques are the same but it’s amazing how many interesting things clients are doing with photos.

Even more important to me, is that three wonderful clients have a more positive attitude toward technology and their ability to use it.  They are excited with the work they have accomplished, are eager to do more and are using technology to build their businesses.  These success stories light up my life and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help.

53885 Avenida Martinez, La Quinta, CA 92253 Photo 1

Marcia, a busy Realtor learned how to get photos from her camera to her computer automatically, and how to quickly upload professional listing photos from her photographer’s website to her listing in the MLS.

Marnell relaxes at home.

Marnell, an enthusiastic, Yoga instructor learned how to get photos from her smartphone into her computer, upload the photos to her Facebook page, her Twitter profile and her business website, and use Google images to get the logos for her Chair Yoga class. YogaWithMarnell.com

Fairy Taking A Bath

Mahara, a gifted artist, learned how to create an online portfolio for 80 amazing and beautiful fairy paintings, and send it to a publisher.  Best of all, she gained confidence in her ability to use technology. She is feeling really good about her accomplishments instead of feeling afraid she wouldn’t remember how to do it.  She has uploaded additional pictures on her own and shared her portfolio with friends.  Now she is prepared to share her art with the world, and, hopefully, make some income from it.  So exciting!

Would your life, or the life of someone you care about, benefit from learning about photo management?   I’m here to help and I promise to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. Call or email me ASAP.  You’ll be glad you did. (And I always send a thank you gift for your referrals.)

Looking forward to hearing from you…

In Joy,

Mardi

New Play Shops/Gadget Clinics Soon

Last year’s Play Shops were very fun and people asked for more of them.  Please let me know the times, days and topics that appeal to you.  We can do almost any topic that is of interest to a group of 12 to 20 people.  I do home parties too!

You can post your suggestions and comments here.

Thanks!

Mardi

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