Category: Tips & Tricks

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?

Laptop VS Notebook?

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a laptop and a notebook computer?

The question came up last week when I was doing a purchase consultation and I thought you might want to know.  Here is a great article that explains and compares them.

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Laptop_vs_Notebook

Things To Consider When Buying a New Gadget

Mardi Speaks to Group about How to Buy The Right Gadget For Your Needs

Do you belong to a group that would like me to speak about Things to Consider When Shopping for a New Gadget?

Attendees receive a handy Needs Assessment Questionnaire, and have an opportunity to get their questions answered.

I do these presentations as a complimentary service because working with gadgets can be soooooo much easier when you buy the right equipment for your individual needs and you can save a lot of money by not buying features you don’t need.  Also, I appreciate the opportunity to connect with new people who might need my services someday.

You Can Be A Hoax Slayer

Displaying Displaying pasted image 0

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

The Magic of the Right Click

Some of my most helpful tips are so simple that I don’t think to mention them in my Techie Tips newsletter.  But when a client gets so excited about one, like happened recently, it reminds me to let you know too.  I hope you will enjoy this and be inspired to share it with others.

Do you use the right click button on your mouse or trackpad?  If not, you must try it.  It reveals a short menu of choices that may be exactly what you need.  You don’t have to waste time searching through all the options on the toolbars at the top of the screen or trying to remember where you found it last time.

Also, if you use a very large monitor, you won’t waste time running your mouse pointer back and forth between your work area and the toolbars way up at the top of the screen.

The Apple “magic mouse” and trackpad do the same thing if you double tap them.  My Chromebook trackpad shows the menus with just a single tap on the right side.  Each gadget is a little different and occasionally the feature needs to be set up in the Settings.  Let me know if you need help.

The menus change, depending on where your pointer is when you click or tap.  For example, if your pointer is on a toolbar, it will have commands related to that toolbar, like Manage Bookmarks or Add Toolbar, or Change Position.  If you right click in the middle of a document, it will offer commands like Copy, and Print.  If you right click on a webpage it will have choices like Back or Print.  If you click on a tab in your web browser you will see Close Tab, New Tab and even Reopen Tab.

It’s “the best thing since sliced bread”!  When clients get really excited about a tip, it makes my day! I hope you find this helpful and that you will spread the word.

Enjoy!
Mardi

How To Clean Gadget Screens

People often ask about the best way to clean the screens on their computers and mobile gadgets. I’ve tried a lot of things and I’ve found a simple solution to be the best… plain water or eyeglass spray and a regular size microfiber towel.

Be sure to reserve a special towel that is used only for gadgets so it won’t have a bit of sand or grit in it from cleaning something around the house.


Microfiber towel for gadgets only
Get a nice big one and just keep refolding it into little squares until you have used all the clean surfaces. You will be able to do a lot of cleaning before you have to wash it. (Don’t bother with those itty bitty cloths for eyeglasses…they get dirty too fast and get lost in the wash.)
Spray water on cloth only
Be sure you moisten the towel and don’t spray anything directly on the glass because it might seep into the gadget.

A less “green” solution is to use eyeglass spray and a tissue.  Then you don’t have anything to launder.
If you enjoyed this tip, please share it so your friends and relatives can enjoy their gadgets more.  Thanks!

What To Do If Your Cell Phone Gets Wet

cell phone in the toilet

One Saturday night, I received an urgent call from a client who had dropped her cell phone in the toilet. It had fallen out of her pocket. I know…it’s funny….but embarrassing too. Well, she isn’t the only one. It’s a fairly common occurrence. Don’t we all know someone….?

If your cell phone gets wet, you will need to act quickly and you won’t want to be wasting valuable time doing research on the internet.

 

It isn’t always easy to find the most reliable information either. Just because it’s on the Internet, doesn’t mean it’s true. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and some background knowledge to find the right answer.

I thought you would like to have the results of my research and an article to print in case of an emergency. Please share this with the people you care about so they can be prepared too. And, encourage them to subscribe to my Techie Tips. Thanks!

boy on bike in the lakeIf you do a google search, you’re going to see many articles that say the best way to prevent water damage after dropping your phone into a toilet, (or lake any other liquid) is to put it into a container of dry, uncooked rice. Conventional thought says the rice will suck the moisture right out of the phone and restore it to life.

 

The folks at Gazelle wanted to find the truth about rescuing drowned phones, so they gathered nine devices destined for recycling and put popular wisdom to the test. What they learned surprised them. See Gazelle’s Guide To Water Damage for the details.

If you just want to know what they recommend and don’t care about how they arrived at their conclusions, here’s the instructions to print: How to Save Your Phone From Water Damage

If you enjoyed this article, please share it and encourage your friends and relatives to sign up to receive new blog posts in their inbox so they can enjoy modern technology more.

Enjoy!
Mardi

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.

​Do You Use Skype or Face Time?

Why Use Skype?

Skype is an app that lets you connect with people using the video camera on your computer or mobile device.

Face Time does the same thing, but only works with Apple products. Even if you use Face Time, it’s a good idea to know how to use Skype as well. They are both very simple and easy to use and they are truly one of the best benefits of modern technology.

A friend of mine uses Skype to play checkers with her 9 yr. old grandson who lives out of state.

Parents use it to stay in touch with their children when they have to be away on business trips or vacations. They can read the children a bedtime story, watch them get tucked into bed, and throw them a kiss goodnight.

Several clients have had me show them how to use Skype for important job interviews. We practiced calling each other, chose the most flattering camera angle, picked the most attractive background, and discussed what to wear. It is so rewarding to see people gain confidence and be optimistic about getting the job!

Video chat is great for online dating and long-distance relationships too.

Businesses use Skype for video conferencing because they can have multiple people on a video call. They save a lot of money on air travel, hotels and meals.

On an internet enabled big screen TV, it can feel like you’re actually in the room with distant family members. You can even watch each other open Christmas presents!

On mobile phones, you can only use audio for group calls, but on your computer or internet enabled TV you can do video conference calls.

Skype also supports audio calls to traditional phones. Using Skype on your tablet or smartphone, you can call somebody on a regular telephone. This is really handy if you are traveling and don’t have access to phone service but do have access to wifi.

One of my clients who is retired from the Foreign Service, learned how to use Skype so he could stay in touch with his friends all over the world for free.

All of the features of Skype are free, except calling people on regular telephones. However, Skype phone calls are a lot less expensive than traditional long distance calls.

How to Use Skype

Skype is a free download from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store and is already installed with Windows 10 and Window phones. (It’s owned by Microsoft.)

You need to have an account to use Skype. You can set up a free account or, if you already have a Microsoft account, you can just log in with that.

On iPads, iPhones, Android phones, and Android tablets, each version of Skype will look a little different but the functionality is the same. There are just a few minor differences on each device

When you login you will see three screens

  1. RECENT- shows the most list of people most recently talked to
  2. FAVORITES – shows the contacts you have marked as favorites
  3. PEOPLE – is your list of people you can call on Skype. They have to have an account also and they have to agree to be connected with you.

To Add a Contact

Search for the person in the Skype database. There are millions of people in the Skype database and lots of people with the same name…even unusual names. It’s amazing!

Therefore, the quickest and easiest way to find people is to search for their unique Skype name. Email address work sometimes too because there aren’t duplicates of those but it’s really easier to ask your person for their skype name.

When you find them, tap the button that says “add people.” Then tap “send a contact request.”

The person’s name will show up on your contact list but, they will not show up as online and accessible until they have accepted your request.

After they accept your request, you will be able to see their status next to their name, which lets you know when they are online for you to call them.

Note: some people leave the Skype app open all the time to receive calls. Other people text or email each other to set a time and then open the app. It depends on how often they use it.

To make a call

Select a contact and you will see buttons at the bottom of the screen. You can choose to do a video call or an audio call. They both work pretty much the same. Tap on the button for audio or video. The camera starts running right away so you can frame up your shot while you wait for the other person to pick up.

After you start talking, the buttons at the bottom of the screen will fade out of the way, but when you tap on the screen, they’ll pop up again.

You can mute and unmute your audio by hitting the mute button.

You can disable the camera by hitting the camera button if you want to talk and see them without them seeing you.

When you’re done, just hit the red hang up button.

To receive an incoming call

The app will make a sound and you will see a choice of buttons.

If you don’t want to answer a call, you can just hit the red button.

If you want to answer but only want to use audio, then hit the green button in the middle.

To see video and hear audio, hit the camera button.

To hang up, tap on the screen to bring up the controls and hit the red button

You can also use Skype to have a text chat.

On the screen, with a contact’s information, tap on the field that says “type a message”. Type and then hit the Send button. When he responds, you’ll see his response pop up.

Calling regular telephones

This feature is particularly useful when you’re traveling to a place where you won’t have a cellular phone connection, but you will have wifi.

This is called Voice Over IP, or VOIP. Using this feature, you can call a regular phone as long as you can connect to Skype on your mobile device.

This is the one feature that is not free but Skype is much less expensive than traditional long distance rates. To get an idea of the pricing options, check out their website. http://www.skype.com/en/

You can login to your Skype account on the website and add Skype credit to your account.

Or in the app on your mobile device, you can hit the “my account” button (top right), and there’s an option for “Skype credit”. This way, it’s an “in-app” purchase and it will be charged to your iTunes account or Play Store account. It will ask for your password for confirmation. Then hit “Buy”.

To make a call to a regular phone

At the bottom of the screen, there’s a dialer button and you can just dial a regular phone number. Also, there’s a button at the top that links directly to the address book on your device so you can find the person and tap on the number. When you hit the phone button at the bottom, it will dial. When he answers, you will be having a conversation just as if you were using a regular telephone. To hang up, just hit the red button at the bottom

Skype is a great app for video and audio calls because it runs on all mobile devices and computers no matter what platform. Group video calls are not available on mobile devices but video calls to individuals work.

I hope you will try this and enjoy it. If you need help, just let me know.

Please share this with your friends and relatives. Your referrals are the heart of my business and my mission is to help people more fully enjoy the many benefits of modern technology.

Thanks,

Mardi

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!

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