Taking Notes Digitally

Happy President’s Day!

Taking Notes Electronically

I have taken notes on my computer and smartphones for more than a decade.  I love making little journal type notes, writing lists, and making agendas with note taking software.  I know some of you even keep passwords in Apple’s Notes app on your iPhones (Yikes!).   You don’t have to take all of your notes on paper or think you have to create a Word document and save it in a folder.  Use a note taking app!  Add pictures and attach files. Some examples I am very familiar with —

1.  One Note from Microsoft.  FREE.   iPhone / Android apps, Mac and Windows apps, Via web browser @ Onenote.com

2. Apple’s Notes.  FREE.  iPhone / iPad apps, Mac app, Can use in Windows via web browser @ iCloud.com

3.  Google Keep.  FREE.  iPhone and Android apps, Via the computer at keep.google.com

4. Evernote.  Can use apps for free on 2 devices, Can use for FREE via web browser @ evernote.com, Paid options available for power notetakers

3 Reasons Why I Always Recommend Windows 10 Pro (as Opposed to Windows 10 Home – shipped with most consumer grade PC’s)

– Prompt for Credentials can turned on — This means that your password needs to be typed in whenever new software is installed or major changes are made to the system.  This is very secure (just like on the Mac).  You need the Pro version of Windows for this feature.   The default option is just YES  or NO, not good enough.  The password prompt makes you stop and think.

– Windows Feature Updates (ie. New Versions) can be delayed by up to 365 days.   Don’t be a guinea pig for Microsoft.  I like setting a 120 day delay at a minimum. 

-Bit Locker can be turned on.  Bit Locker is similar to File Vault on the Mac (which is included for Free by the way).  It encrypts your hard drive.  Therefore if a bad guy steals your computer – they can’t easily get at your files. 

* If you get stuck with a computer that has Windows 10 Home, you can still upgrade to Pro. However, it is a $99 charge.  Pro can be activated through the Microsoft Store app.  It’s a quick process and takes less than 20 minutes.  It’s better to order a computer with Windows 10 Pro from the beginning.

Laptop Talk At The Oscars

Best Moment of Oscars

https://mobile.twitter.com/indiewire/status/1226704317136220160

Filmmaker Taika Watiti (short interview clip – via link), instead of talking about his work, took the opportunity to slam Apple on their awful keyboards in their recent Mac Books.  Can you believe it?  This event was supposed to be about the films, the actors, the great production staff — and it’s Apple’s keyboards that he really to speak of.   Going back to early 2018, I have been really hard on Apple and I have let you know it.  Some of you simply had to get new Macs over the past few years and I was very straight with you, even when Apple wasn’t.   I let you know about the 4 year warranty from date of purchase on the keyboard replacements.  I have also let you know that a Lenovo Thinkpad or Dell Latitude would be a much better investment, if you could see yourself switching from Mac to Windows.   There will likely be some good news around the corner, however.   Between March and June — I expect Apple to release new 13 inch Mac Air and Pro models with the “classic keyboard”.   That would be a keyboard similar to the 2015 models, the last good Mac laptop keyboard.  When those products launch, I will be telling you it’s time to buy. 

The Cadillac of VPN’s

This is a message for the more privacy focused among us.  You may travel a lot.  You may use WiFi at coffee shops and hotels. You may just not like the idea of your internet service provider knows everywhere you go online.  If you are one of those people, you need a VPN.  A VPN is a little app that runs on your computer, smartphone or tablet that creates an encrypted tunnel for all your traffic to flow through. It’s simple to use, you turn it on and  you turn it off.  Your internet provider will never see any of the sites that you visit. A good VPN will cost $8 to $12 per month, give or take.  The best of them will never keep any logs of your activity.  I used to recommend 2 particular VPN services.  I have refined my picks, due to experience.  The Cadillac of VPN’s — the best you can get right now, Is a company called  Express VPN.  They are so easy to use. and they offer 24 hour technical support (via chat on their website).  I know that older technology users like good customer service.  Current pricing is $12.95 month to month and $100 if you paid for 12 months.   My second choice, let’s call them the Volvo of VPN’s, is Private Internet Access — PIA.  PIA’s commitment to privacy has held up in court.  However, like Volvo, they were recently sold to a new company but have promised to keep their past commitments and maintain their legacy. PIA is cheaper than Express VPN.   It remains to be seen, if there will be long term changes under the new management.   If I could tell you to go with only one VPN — go with Express VPN.


Financial Safety Tip of the Week

This is a really simple tip, but very relevant to the scam calls that are going around today.  You may get a message saying they are from your credit card.  Do not call back or answer the call.  Call the customer service number on the back of your card or on your statement.  If you are the type that likes to throw everything out, always keep the last statement of all of your bills in a folder.  That way you have a good number to call.  Not everyone can see the numbers on the back of a credit card without a magnifier. 

Post Super Bowl Update

Super Bowl Recap

What a game last night!   Technology was a big part of the game — as there were 4K viewing options — and furthermore “tech” was featured prominently in the ads.   Verizon and T-Mobile were jockeying for position regarding their 5G networks.   Should you be concerned about 5G?  It’s just getting off the ground and available for consistent use in a limited number of places. When Apple starts selling phones with 5G features — then you can take it seriously.   If you need a phone right now, there is no need to feel bad about not having 5G.  Get the best phone for yourself.   Speaking of other ads, Google had a very touching ad where an older man used Google to take notes to help him remember his favorite memories with his wife.  You too can use Google like this and use the Google Photos app.  Google does invade our privacy a bit, but I don’t think they are doing it to be a malicious company.  Plus — they do let you see all the data they have saved on you and you can download or erase it at any time.  Google is an advertising company and I don’t like how they have “blacklisted” people in certain industries, like the health field  Ultimately, one of their mottoes used to be “Don’t Be Evil” and I think for the most part — they are not.     Were any of you up out of your seat during the halftime show?  I was dancing a bit and my wife was laughing at me.   Don’t worry, I will not ask you to dance at our next appointment.   I know some of you are getting older and have a lot of aches and pains.  After all, Shakira would say — the “Hips Don’t Lie”. 

A Bit of Guidance on Xfinity Mobile

I just wanted to brief you on some developments with Xfinity Mobile.   Some of my clients use this newcomer in the cellular field.  They are a “virtual network operator” and run their calls through the Verizon network.  There have been some changes to the offerings that started last year and fully took effect February 1st.   XM offers a very simple pricing model — $12 for 1 GB — a low use plan  or $45 for “Unlimited” — a great plan for very active users.   There was a loophole that some customers who signed up prior to “fall 2019” were able to latch on to.  If you used VERY LITTLE data,  less than 100 MB (or 1/10 of 1 GB) your bill for services was $0 and you would only pay $3 or so for taxes.   Obviously, how long could that go on for?  Some customers abused the system.  So now it is a minimum of $12 per month their low use “by the gig” plan.   The next tier up from the $12 plan is  $30 for 3 GB of use.   The $45 “unlimited” plan is still in effect.  I will also give a word of warning about buying phones from them.  As is the case with many carrier sold phones, these devices are LOCKED to the network.  You cannot get them unlocked unless the phone payment plan is paid off in full.  Again, this is often standard practice out there for financed devices — with some exceptions.   The other thing I want to make you aware of is that Xfinity Mobile has poor options for international travel.   By poor options I mean — they are expensive.  You can just resolve to use your phone on WiFi only overseas or use it lightly.  Those are options.  However, they don’t have a $10 / day  Day Pass type option like Verizon or ATT where you can just take your plan with you when you go.    With all this said, I just want to be totally up front with you about XM.  I still have a line in my name that a family member uses.

Small Biz Spotlight – Buddy's Jeans

They don’t make ’em like they used to. Soon that will be true for a great American company.  Since 2009, Buddy’s Jeans have been the only ones I’ve worn.  In an age when a designer pair of jeans can easily be $70 to $100 and an American made pair can go for $200 — Buddy’s have been a true gem.  Jane Little took over the factory in Mississippi in 2002 and has sold the brand in her store ever since.   At $50 per pair, they are hard to beat for men’s jeans.  Unfortunately, Jane made the difficult decision to close the factory.  It seems as though there is still a sizeable inventory left but when they are gone, they’re gone.  I just talked to the staff last week.  So here you go — http://buddysjeans.com/products.html   Odd sizes and lengths are their speciality.  The relaxed fit or original fit are going to be most likely what you want as they are 100% cotton denim.  The “cowboy” jeans are a much more rugged variety.    

Praise for Xfinity Today – 2x

I know it’s very easy to rip Xfinity these days due to price increases (largely because of junk fees) and I rip them with the best of us, but I want to give praise where it is due. I got great service from them today.

I received very prompt support from @ ComcastCares on Twitter (direct message) and had a very informed discussion about my package and options. One thing that I got loud and clear that everyone else should take note of. When you have a contract or an offer and lets say you have services that are for example 79.99 per month and that price is good for 12 or 24 months. Taxes and Fees (like broadcast TV fee, sports fee) could make your monthly bill go up. They are not subject to the contract. I also found out about Super Bowl 4K viewing options (hint — for now the Fox Sports app is required. Xfinity is evaluating other options)

Secondly, I received great service in my local Xfinity Store. It was just remodeled and frankly looks better than my local Apple store but I really get the Apple vibe (all wood look, individual stations for service through out the store, A+ for design). Anyway I had an X1 box and remote that weren’t cooperating upstairs – 2nd box in the house. The rep was so friendly. He gave me the smallest X1 box possible (some call it a satellite box) and did not try to upsell me at all. And the box self configured, no call in on activation was needed.

A Half Mac–Half Windows Bulletin

Social Media Tips of the Week 

I don’t know if you are on Instagram but I decided to sign up a few years ago due to the fact that I had some clients on it who needed me to teach them a thing or two.  I don’t actually post anything on there but I use it to follow personalities in the realm of health and other fields.  It is sort of a “one way Instagram for me.”   On Instagram you can share or view photos from family and friends without the mess of Facebook or nastiness of Twitter.   One account that I like following is @poetic_outlaws.   The account owner always posts timely, thought provoking content from writers who lived on the edge (ie. Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, Mary Oliver, Ayn Rand, etc).   If you like a daily dose of stimulating quotes, check it out.


End of Windows 7 

Since half of my clients use a Mac, I did not share this with all of you last week.  However, January 14th marked the end of life for Windows 7.  It will no longer get security update from Microsoft.  Therefore, users should either upgrade to Windows 10 or buy a new computer.   In case you are unaware, Windows 7 was released in late 2009.  It is truly one of the best operating systems of the past 20 years and was the last Windows operating system written solely for the computer (with no tablets or smart stuff in mind).   Here is my somewhat sentimental, somewhat humorous tribute on the passing of Windows 7 — https://theacronym.com/2020/01/15/celebrating-the-life-of-windows-7/


Mac OS 10.15 – Catalina

I think I have discussed this a bit in the past, but it doesn’t hurt to bring it up again with a new spin.  Mac OS 10.15 is the latest yearly operating system released by Apple.  It came out in the fall of 2019.  While browsing the internet and emailing and other basic functions work just about the same as they always have — there are major changes under the hood.  This operating system, coded named Catalina, only runs 64-bit Mac apps.  That means all of the older 32-bit apps will not run in this OS.   If you depend on old software that has never been updated by the developer or software that you are not ready to purchase / learn / install an updated version of — I don’t think Catalina is ready for you right now.   Furthermore, it has come to light that some devices on the Mac — critical ones — like PRINTERS — don’t always play nice with Catalina.  Today, I was all set to recommend a very new model of HP printer to a client.  Then I read that in order to get basic features to work — an app called HP Smart needed to be installed from the Mac App Store.   HP Smart is actually brilliant app in Windows, but has been poorly executed on the Mac thus far.  I’m glad I recommended a different printer.

I believe I have told this to many of you already — but if I have worked on your Mac since the fall — I have actually blocked Mac OS 10.15 from installing.  I did you a favor.  You are fine with OS 10.14 for now.  It is still getting security updates. You are current.   10.14 (aka Mojave) was the OS that came out in late 2018.  Unless there is some feature that you are dying to have in 10.15 Catalina — let’s keep holding off.  We should talk about getting you on the latest Mac OS at the end of 2020 or early 2021 if you are going to stick with your current Mac.  At that time an upgrade to 10.16 will likely be in order.

Coming Soon…

I want to let you know what equipment is truly required to become a cord cutter or at least a video streamer in 2020

Celebrating the Life of Windows 7

You may have seen the “obituaries” in the news in passing, but in case you didn’t, I wanted to let you know that January 14th was the end of life date (EOL) for Windows 7.  It is technically secure right now, but Windows 7 will receive no more security updates from Microsoft.  There will be no more Patch Tuesday — 2nd Tuesday of the month updates that have protected users for more than 10 years.    With the exception of a couple of loose ends that I am tying up, this EOL date didn’t affect many of my clients because I got them all onto Windows 10 in 2015-2016 during that first year.   Some of them have also purchased new computers since then as well. 

I want to take this opportunity to remember Windows 7 as a cherished member of my life.   During the summer of 2009, Microsoft offered a discount to buy Windows 7 in advance.  It was $50.  I jumped on that right away.  (Normal retail pricing for Windows 7 was about $100 to $150).   Windows 7 launched on October 22, 2009.  Naturally, I installed it on day one.   I actually put in on a Mac as a 2nd operating system.   For years, even now, a Mac can support Windows through Boot Camp or other virtualization software.   There were days when I used Windows 7 even more than the Mac OS.   I loved you at first sight Windows 7.     Windows 7 was such an improvement to the unstable Windows Vista and provided a timely refresh to Windows XP which was about 8 years old at the time.   Windows 7 also became “Mac like” in a sense because Microsoft offered some free apps to mimic Apple’s iLife Suite.    Windows 7 users could install Windows Essentials which gave them Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, and a blogging tool called Live Writer.

Windows 7 had one major update or upgrade as I like to call it.  It was called SP1 — service pack one which was released in 2011.  That is quite a contrast to the present era when we get 2 new versions of Windows 10 every year.    The problem with this servicing model was that — lets say it was 2013 or even more recently and Windows had to be re-installed.  Even if you got a Windows 7 disc or USB with the SP1 version, you would need to install ALL OF THE SECURITY UPDATES. from 2011 to the current date of install.  This could take days!   It was really difficult for both the user and their favorite tech support guru.   One of the great features of Windows 10 is that, if your computer needed a reinstallation of Windows 10 today — I could install the latest version Windows 10 – 1909 and only a minimal number of updates would be required.  There is no need to go back and download the original Windows 10 from 2015, followed by endless updates.

Windows 7 — I loved you for your stability and predictability.  When I abandoned the Mac OS as my primary computing platform in early 2014 — I raced for an HP ProBook laptop with Windows 7 Professional.  You were there for me and meant a lot in that time of change.   I will forever miss your Start Menu.   Goodbye old friend!