Tag: gadgets

​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

Have you heard of Mophie?

Have you heard of Mophie?

It’s a compact battery that can charge almost any device.  It stores enough juice to charge two tablets at the same time… and it charges fast!

It’s great for keeping your cell phone or laptop charged when you don’t have access to electricity.  It’s perfect for long bike rides, camping trips, and road trip adventures.

It’s handy at home too. When your phone battery is low, (which seems like all the time) it’s nice to be able to talk on the phone while it’s charging without having to be tethered to a cord in a wall socket.  I think it charges my phone faster than a wall socket too!  I can charge my phone several times before I need to recharge “the Mophie.”  I’ve used it to charge my Chromebook also.

There are other “battery packs” on the Market but my friend who told me about it, did very thorough research and determined that the Mophie powerstation is the best.  If you’re constantly frustrated by your gadgets running out of juice, you might want to consider getting one.

There are smaller, less expensive models available but the Powerstation XL has the most power for the money.  Here is a link their website.

I hope you find this tip helpful and that you will share it with your friends and family members.  Please help me to connect with all those people who could be enjoying their computers and gadgets more if they just had a little help.  Your referrals help me to “restore peace and joy in the world through computer and mobile gadget education” and are much appreciated.

Enjoy!

Mardi

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!

Simple Fixes for Webcam Spying

Are you scared by all the news stories suggesting that hackers can spy on you through your computer and gadget cameras?

My mother has been really concerned about it and I understand how scary it can be.  It is almost overwhelming and really annoying when all these “advances” in technology bring new challenges and require more education!

You don’t need to worry though, I’m dedicated to calming your fears and giving you the information and help you need so you can relax and enjoy your toys again.

Despite the potential dangers, webcams are great tools for chatting long-distance with friends and family, and conducting  business.

When you understand how they work and how to secure them, you will feel much better and have more fun.  Enjoy!

Please help others by forwarding this to all your friends and relatives and encourage them to subscribe to my techie tips so they can be protected and have peace of mind also.  They can click right here to subscribe.  If you are into social media, you can use the sharing buttons provided. That will be a big help also. Thanks!

INTERNET-ENABLED CAMERAS  Internet Cameras

Internet-enabled security cameras and baby monitors are becoming more and more common because they are inexpensive and easy to set up.  These gadgets connect to your Wi-Fi network and they are a great way to keep an eye on kids, aging parents and your possessions.

However, many people don’t follow the directions when setting them up and leave the default username and password in place. Hackers have made it their business to know all the default login information for every gadget on the market.  If you don’t change the factory settings they could find your camera online, log in, and watch you or put you on a website with thousands of other cameras for curious snoops to browse.

Good News!
The solution is easy: just remember to change the default password when you set up any type of new gadget. If you buy a camera that doesn’t have a password, exchange it for a different model.

COMPUTER WEBCAMS  lamptop cam

Once hackers get on your computer, they can use programs to turn on your webcam without triggering alerts like the webcam light. Thus, covering or unplugging the camera when not in use is a good idea.

However, hackers could still have full access to your computer. They could rummage through your email, browser history, passwords, documents and anything else they want.

And, of course, when you do use the webcam, they can eavesdrop.

To get on your computer, hackers use a remote access tool, or RAT. That’s what tech support agents use to get on your computer remotely to change settings or fix a problem. Fortunately, remote access tools require your permission, so a person can’t just take control without your permission.

However, hackers have many ways to trick you into letting them on to your computer — fake email attachments, malicious links, Trojan viruses, and phony tech support calls.  Once you’re tricked into running a file, clicking a link, or inviting them on to your system, they can take control and do whatever they want.

More Good News!

The solution is pretty simple. Just avoid unsolicited email attachments and links, run up-to-date security software and don’t believe anyone who contacts you claiming to be tech support for a major company.

Operating systems on your computer may have a remote access tool (RAT) built in. This makes it easier for real tech support to get on your system, but it also makes it easier for a hacker to trick your system into letting them on.

To turn off Remote Assistance in Windows, go to Start>>Control Panel. In the Search box in the upper right corner, type “remote” and then click the “Allow remote access to your computer” link.

Uncheck the “Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer” option and click OK.

For Macs, go to the Apple icon and select System Preferences. Click the Sharing icon and uncheck Remote Login, Remote Management.

If you use a company laptop, it could have similar software on it. Companies are supposed to disclose the presence of that kind of software but they don’t always do it, so if it doesn’t belong to you, be mindful of what you do on it.

smartphone cameraTABLET AND SMARTPHONE CAMERAS

Tablets and smartphones also have cameras but I haven’t heard of any malicious apps or spying apps that can trigger the camera.  That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or won’t exist in the future but I will let you know if that changes.

A word to the wise….if there is something you really don’t want the world to see, don’t put it on your smartphone or tablet.

If you have any questions or comments about this or if you have any suggestions for future tips, please post a comment below and let me know. I always love to know what you think and how I can help you. Thanks!

The Joys of Airplane Mode

Airplane Mode for Travel

 

Many of us will be traveling and visiting family this time of year.  Here are some tips to enhance the peace and joy of your holiday season.

Using Airplane Mode on your smartphone isn’t only useful for flights. The feature can prolong your battery life or allow you to unplug and enjoy some uninterrupted family time. Here are some surprising ways you might want to use it.

1: During a flight

Screen shot of Settings for Android

If you have been on a flight in the last few years, you have heard the constant reminders from the flight attendants to turn off all electronic devices. Once the plane has reached an altitude of 10,000 feet, cell phones can be used in airplane mode.

To activate Airplane Mode on your phone, simply go into the Settings app and turn it on.  There are shortcuts to do this, depending on the type of phone, (ask me to show you on yours next time we see each other) but this method will work for everyone reading this article.

Once Airplane Mode is activated, your phone turns off both the Wi-Fi and cellular connections. This means you will no longer be able to make or receive calls, texts, or e-mails, or browse the Internet — anything that requires a data connection will not work while Airplane Mode is activated.

Wi-Fi can be turned back on and connected to a network while phone is in Airplane Mode.  If you are lucky enough to be on a flight with Wi-Fi, you can turn just the Wi-Fi connection back on and send emails, browse the Internet, or send instant messages.  (Again, just go into the settings app and turn the wifi on.)

 

Screen shot of Settings for iPhone

2: To unplug for awhile

Airplane Mode is a great way to unplug in order to spend some quality time with your family or just take a break from the beeps that seem to control our lives sometimes.

Putting your phone in Airplane Mode puts you back in control. You may be surprised how quickly you forget that your connection is turned off, and how peaceful your evening can be.

This is also a great way to silence your phone during important meetings. Don’t worry, all of your messages will be waiting and will download as soon as you turn Airplane Mode off.

 

 

3: While traveling internationally

Screen shot of Airplane mode on iPhone

Traveling across borders can be an expensive affair for you and your wireless carrier. International roaming charges are very pricey. One way to avoid the extra roaming fees is to activate airplane mode on your phone and only use Wi-Fi hotspots while you travel. You won’t be able to receive text messages or phone calls, but you will still be able to check your e-mail, use instant messaging, and browse the Internet over a Wi-Fi-only connection.  (You can let people know you will be out of town and suggest they communicate by email until you get back.)

 

 

 

 

screen shot of movie on phone

4: While the kids play games or movies

Your smartphone can provide a welcome distraction for your young kids or grand kids. However, as you can imagine, kids will start pushing and tapping anything they see on the screen.  You don’t want them accidentally dialing phone numbers or sending random texts. If you are going to let your favorite little people play games or watch a movie on your phone, turn on Airplane Mode before you give your phone to them. This not only prevents them from calling anyone, but it also stops push alerts from interrupting their game or movie.

 

5: To save battery

screen shot of battery status on iPhone

We have all been in a situation where we suddenly have a low battery and no access to a charger. One way to help slow down battery drain is to turn Airplane Mode on. When your phone is on, even with the screen off, it is constantly searching for and monitoring data connections. Turning those connections off with Airplane Mode will save battery, allowing you to make calls only when you absolutely need to.

iPhone VS Android — “The Boys Slug It Out For Another Round”

iPhone Vs Android
“The Boys” Slug It Out For Another Round

Apple and Google went for another round in the competition for market dominance this week as Apple launched it’s larger iPhone 6 models and its iOS 8 operating system for all its gadgets.

iOS 8 has has some very cool new features and I noticed that many of them are features that Android phones have had for a long time.  (I have used both and currently use an iPhone.)  My son, Jason, who is convinced Android is far better than iPhone and hated to see me switch, sent me this hilarious joke about the news.

Reaction to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been lukewarm. Many have accused Apple of playing catch up with rivals such as Samsung, rather than leading the way. An image titled 'Dear iPhone 6 users: Welcome to 2012' has gone viral, (pictured) which lists new Apple features that have existed on Android phones for years

I asked Jason if he thought I should wait to install the update until the bugs are worked out and the app developers have more time to fix their apps to work with it, and he said,

Jason Griswold's profile photo

“Nah, that’s for normal people, we are in tech…we live to have our world turned upside down.”

He’s so funny!  But it’s true.  I love the challenge, the adventure and being able to make your transitions easier by sharing my experience.

Who do you know that…

  • Is trying to decide whether to buy an Android gadget or an Apple gadget
  • Needs help with updating to iOS 8
  • Wants a tutorial on the changes and new features or
  • Wants to learn more about their Android phone

Please let me know so I can help them “make peace with the ups and downs of computer technology.” 

Back Up Your Smart Phone and Tablets

 

Please Check This Now!

Is your smart phone or tablet doing backups?
Did you even know that it’s supposed to?
Do you realize that if your phone or tablet breaks or is stolen, you might lose your photos, music, address book and notes?
Apparently none of the people who sell phones are setting it up or explaining it to their customers because most of the phones I examine are not doing back ups.  This issue has come up so many times in the past two weeks that I decided I’d better give you a heads up.

Please check your gadget’s settings and make sure backups are set up and operating. (It will show you the last date a backup occurred.)
This is especially important if you are going to be traveling on vacation this month!

com.alienmanfc6.wheresmyandroid_banner-450x220

 
Also, it’s important for you to know that there are really neat apps that enable you to locate your gadget if it is lost or stolen.  They even enable you to delete your data and lock the gadget so it will be useless to a thief.  (Even if you don’t get it back, you will have the satisfaction of knowing the thief didn’t get your stuff and couldn’t use it.)

If you have an iPhone or iPad you may have noticed the “Find My Phone” or “Find My iPad” icon and assumed that it would help you in an emergency. It won’t unless it is enabled in settings. I’m amazed how many iPhones and iPads I see that don’t have this feature activated!

screen568x568

A related issue that comes up frequently is people want to know if they can see their phone or tablet photos on their computers.  Yes you can!  It’s just a matter of getting things set up properly.

I hope these Techie Tips will ensure that you are protected and enable you to take advantages of these neat things that technology can do for you.

As always, if you, and your friends and relatives, need help with any of these things, just call me to set up an appointment.

In Joy,

Mardi Boettcher

“Helping you make peace with the ups and downs of technology.”

Having A Computer is Like Having A Car

_MG_2157 copyThis Wednesday was my turn to present my business at the Desert Networking Professionals  (DNP) weekly breakfast meeting.  My topic was “Having a Computer Is Like Having a Car.”

I believe one of the reasons my clients are frustrated by their computers and gadgets is due to unrealistic expectations.  If you consider that having a computer is like having a car, you will have a different perspective.  First, you don’t even have to have a computer or car if you don’t want to.  Really…some people don’t have one.  However, you might think it’s a necessity for your lifestyle or your business.   If you choose to get one, there will be some training involved in learning to drive it.  There are rules you need to follow, or you’ll get into trouble.  You have to have insurance (back ups and anti virus protection), and, from time to time, it will need tune-ups, and repairs.  You can pay a professional to teach you to drive it and to do the repairs, or you can get a book or do research online and learn how to do it yourself.  It’s a choice.  If you choose to do it yourself, there is going to be a learning curve, some mistakes, and it’s going to take longer.  That’s just the way it is.  And you have choices.

I hope that this analogy will help everyone to have more realistic expectations and make peace with the ups and downs of the technology world.  I hope that everyone will have the insurance of backups and anti-virus protection.  I hope that everyone will choose to learn how to use the gadgets and gizmos and be able to function with ease and joy.  And, I recommend that you call a professional when there are problem or questions.  After all, having peace and joy in our lives is all about expectations.  Let’s be realistic, do the few things that need to be done, and focus on enjoying the many benefits of computer technology.

If you need help with any of these things, please let me know.  I promise I will make it as easy, fun, painless  and affordable as possible.

_MG_2151 copy

Pre-purchase Consultation Questions

One of my services is consulting with people to help them choose the best computer or gadget for their individual needs.  So much frustration can be avoided by buying the right product in the first place, and I have already test-driven quite a few of them in order to pave the way for others to have a more pleasant experience.  See my previous posts for the gruesome details.  LOL

Here are the questions I use for my consultations.  Please forward this to your friends and relatives so they will have it when they are considering a computer or gadget purchase.   They will thank you for it.

1. What is your budget?

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

3. What screen resolution do you want?

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low, Medium or High)?

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, etc.)

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer, Blue Ray ROM/Writer, etc ?

12. Please tell me about the brands that you prefer and the brands that you don’t like and explain the reasons.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell me any additional information if needed.

Additionally… you should consider available support options in your area. If you buy something abroad, will you be able to have it fixed near where you live? Does the warranty apply? How quickly do local accredited technicians fix laptops?

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