Make Sure Your (Password) System Works
Some clients along with yours truly use a sophisticated password manager. At the bare minimum you should have a paper notebook. And then you should start new notebooks when they get all messed up and full of cross-outs. However, whether manual or electronic, your system of password keeping is not good unless you regularly test that it works. It’s just bad data if it doesn’t work. So I’m suggesting that quarterly (if not more often, with banking and sites you frequent) — you should log into every website you have a password for. Make sure you have WORKING PASSWORDS.
Common websites you need to check are —
You should also try
-Microsoft Office subscription / Microsoft account https://account.microsoft.com
-Your banking / investment websites
-Newspapers and publications
**It’s really really bad form to keep passwords in an unencrypted Word or Excel file stored on the computer. You are setting yourselves up for theft. Modern versions of Microsoft Office will allow you to save PASSWORD PROTECTED Word and Excel files. These are somewhat encrypted and the encryption improved in Office 2016 and later. Still not my favorite – but better than naked files.
(The 1990s is calling and they want their e-mail back. HA HA.)
All kidding aside for some reason — you may still be using AOL for email. I had a client last week who got scammed by a bogus e-mail that got through to his AOL account. 3/4 of his messages are SPAM. His computer ended up being taken over by hackers. It required a 3 hour appointment with me (and 1 hour follow up today), a complete erasing of the computer and setting it up again.
AOL Mail does not have customizable Spam settings where you could tell it for example to be Stricter about filtering spam. However…….. we discovered there is a VERY powerful feature in the Options / Mail Settings. If you are highly bothered by Spam in your AOL account — I strongly suggest turning it on.
The name of this feature is
Block All Senders Except Contacts
It does exactly that. Senders who are not in your Contacts will not be able to email you. If you want to receive email from a particular person — add them to the Contacts. People whom you’ve previously e-mailed are already in your contacts.
This feature is in
Options >> Mail Settings>> Block Senders
*My client is thrilled now as his Spam volume will be cut down by 90% or more. This will save him from costly mistakes and the hassle of having to close his checking account and re-open a new one.
I paid $4.59 for gas yesterday. According to a major bank, the average may be $6.20 by summer. A discount grocer I shop at used to sell eggs for $1.19. They are now $2.45. I don’t think these issues are going away any time soon. The valleys of life sometimes entail living with the consequences of others’ (poor) decisions. 2022 is going to be one of those times.
but there are — Stories of Hope
My 89 year old great aunt and 94 year old grandmother recently have recovered from Covid 19 after getting infected about 1 month ago. Recovery is possible, common, and likely. Both took the new anti-viral medications. I believe early treatment is essential, whether you take conventional or unconventional paths. Once again you are able to order 8 free tests for your household. It takes a minute to fill out the form. Here is another tool for your tool bag.
Computer Speed Up Specialist
Do you have a 3 to 7 year old Windows computer that is starting to get a little slow? Are you put off by the supply shortages and the cost of buying a new computer? I think I may have an answer for you. Unlike modern Macs, that have all soldered in unremovable parts — most Windows systems have a replaceable hard drive. If your system seems that slow, you can likely benefit from a replacement with a solid state drive (SSD). I make sure your files are backed up and then re-install Windows and your essential programs and copy your files back on to the computer. This is a real jolt in the arm for your PC and it likely feels faster than when the computer was new. These jobs can take as little as 2 hours. I just did one last week for a client that was 3 hours. When choosing your next computer, only get one with an SSD in the future. The Windows and Mac operating systems are meant for SSDs, in fact it is not possible to buy a Mac without one.
Welcome to the world of high tech finance, I suppose. For years, customers have always been able to finance an Apple product and get a certain number of interest free payments, at least on their first purchase. Most recently, shoppers were offered a Barclays Apple Rewards Visa. However, in 2019 Apple decided to take things in house and offer their own Mastercard called the Apple Card. Apple is putting their name on it and demanding certain standards, but the banking back end is provided by the consumer division of Goldman Sachs.
Why might someone want the Apple Card?
Well you get a card made out of titanium that is heavy and makes you feel important. (Come on, that’s not a valid reason!) OK, getting serious here — the Apple Card seems like a valid choice for customers that regularly shop from Apple. There is 3% cash back on all Apple purchases. Interest free financing can also be used with all Apple purchases. Furthermore, the card is automatically added to the Wallet app on the iPhone. For any “tap to pay” situation, there is 2% cash back. (There is also 1% cash back whenever you use the physical card). The card can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted. The full card number is not printed on your card. It can be looked up in the Wallet app and a new number can be issued in the event of a security issue.
How to apply?
You apply using the Wallet app on your iPhone. It’s very simple and takes about 5 minutes.
Who is this not for?
The Apple Card is not for someone who wants paper statements or to send in a check every month. You really need an iPhone to be a card member. You will make your payments through the Wallet app or by logging on to a website on the computer with your Apple ID and password.
Starting Light — Beverage Pick Of The Week
I probably have 2 alcoholic drinks a year, so my beverage pick is going to be something else. Diet soda can be taboo, but some people just prefer it or can’t handle a regular cola. I don’t drink a lot of soda, but I am a big fan of Polar beverages based in Worcester. I just happened to see a liter of their Diet Cherry Soda at the grocery store. I’m so glad I took a chance. Its the best tasting soda I’ve ever had. Moxie would be #2 for me.
Tech Tips You Can Use
I think it’s a great idea to Restart or Shut Down your computer every week or at least every two weeks. Macs and Windows PCs can be restarted. iPhones and iPads must be Shut Down, by either going to Settings >> General >> Shut Down or by pressing the the correct buttons (hope I’ve shown you this already). Some Android phones have a Restart feature, some will also need to be shut down. The shut down should just be temporary. I do not believe in shutting down the computer every night. Repeated on and offs will shorten its life. Just let your computer go to sleep. This way it will get its updates.
Deal of the Day (and in General)
Fifty dollars off on a Mac computer is a deal, even in these times, but the $699 Mac Mini is priced to sell from the get go. This model has the 256 GB SSD hard drive and is really targeted to those users who are doing email, shopping, browsing, and banking with small collections of photos and music (not tons of files). Amazon often has this model for $650 which is great but while supplies last they are selling it for an amazing $570. A steal! Keep in mind with the Mac Mini you provide your own keyboard mouse and monitor and speakers but you can buy these economically. Apple brand is not required. Under $1000 for a Mac desktop all in sounds like a winner to me. Amazon link https://amzn.to/3sxYvxs
Coming Soon To A Theater Near You
Well — it should be a live streaming event and not a theater, but I expect Apple to release a new iPhone SE as soon as this month. It is expected to feature 5G radios for the first time. With ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile operating only on 4G and 5G signals by the end of the year – I’ll be curious to see if Apple can include 5G for the past $399 price. Anyway, the SE is the winner winner chicken dinner of the low cost iPhone options. Get the 13 if you need the better cameras, but the the SE is still a fine phone.
Song of the Week
On this back to business theme, how could I not close with a song with the chorus line of “let’s get down to business.” Put on your dancing shoes, get up and move. Here is a techno song from your tech guy. “The Business” by Tiesto. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PO_d169ibZ8
Big Kid Macs
I was basically right in the email that I sent out to my Mac clients early Monday morning about Apple’s new Mac Book Pros. I knew the pricing would be higher. The new Mac Book Pro 14 inch starts at $1999 and the 16 inch (which I don’t expect a lot of my clients will be buying), starts at $2499. These are not rip offs by any means. They are high powered professional machines. Unless the “best” is desired out of principle rather than practicality, I think the Mac Book Air is going to suit the vast majority of my Mac clients seeking a laptop. The 512 GB model @ $1249 would be the one I steer you toward.
Couldn’t Stop This Scam
I had a sad phone conversation with a client today about their friend. Sadly this friend had been given my name before but had never joined my business family and the system of services and education that I provide. This person got a call from “Amazon” saying that someone had tried to purchase an iPhone Pro Max with their card but they had “stopped” it. Sound real? Think again. The representative was granted access to the victim’s computer and had them log into online banking. There the refund was “issued.” However it wasn’t. The scammer simply adjusted the text code on the banking website. Instead of a $1400 refund, the victim was “credited” $14,000 – by “mistake” of course. The scammer said they would lose their job and demanded the difference back as a wire transfer. Hint: If it was $1000 involved, the scammer would have asked for gift cards. However, the scammer saw that there was more than $14,000 in the victim’s bank account. Only a wire transfer would do! Their bank actually allowed the victim to send out the transfer, which went to Hanoi.
UNBELIEVABLE!! It really happened. And the victim still believed it was real. I told my client to tell this guy to go to his bank immediately. Explain he is the victim of a crime. Maybe — it can be reversed — but it’s doubtful in my opinion. It’s hard to claw back a wire transfer, especially an international one.
I sense this calm before the storm feeling right now. I fear a serious economic disruption that could affect so many of us. I hope the trajectory changes, but I have my doubts. Prices are going way up from common items to larger purchases. I got take out at a restaurant last week and there was a sign at the register. “We can’t honor the prices on our menu for the following items…..” Apple just announced they are cutting iPhone 13 production due to chip shortages. I have seen delays spanning months on computers I wanted to order for clients. Holiday gifts you may want to buy for your loved ones may be in short supply. Some of the new Apple Watch 7 models going on sale this Friday have delivery dates pushed out to late November and early December. You may be putting off car repair, a water heater, a computer, or an iPhone. My advice would be – Buy Now! Commit to your parts / items now, even for installation at a later time, whether the delay is by choice or reality.
Dear Clients and Computer Students:
I wanted to send this update now — just in case you are thinking of buying an Apple Watch over this holiday weekend.
Consider this a PSA with direct language that Apple is never going to deliver to you. Please feel free to forward to anyone you know that has an Apple Watch.
People are getting out more. They want to exercise and breathe in the fresh air. I recall sitting in on a training class in 2018 about the Apple Watch and everyone other than me in the class was a senior. I’m not surprised by this now, but I truly was at the time.
Here is the problem — the Apple Watch is not cheap. It is a fitness oriented computer on your hand. The best Apple Watch sold right now is the Apple Watch 6. With one of the sport bands and the standard aluminum case, it starts at $399. That is what you should expect. It’s a $400 watch! You have to really want to use it. It’s not a fashion watch. Once you get into the stainless steel case and better bands — the price goes up by several hundred $. It’s a computer. And you still have to charge it up every night. The Apple Watch 6 has the senior friendly fall detection feature, tracks your heart rate, but also can measure your blood oxygen and does a basic ECG (not as good as the doctor’s office but has been very helpful for some).
If you want most of the fitness features including heart rate, steps, and fall detection but a more modest price point – Apple started selling the Apple Watch SE in 2020 for $279. It’s a reasonable offering for the price.
However, here is where the crimes start!!
In order to say they can sell you an Apple Watch for $199 — Apple has continued to sell the Apple Watch 3. It is a 4 year old Apple Watch. Those early models were not meant to go for 4 years. Apple is fooling their customers.
DO NOT BUY AN APPLE WATCH 3! IF YOU HAVE ONE, AND WANT CONTINUED ENJOYABLE USE — YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO GET A BETTER ONE. APPLE SHOULD APOLOGIZE TO YOU IF YOU RECENTLY BOUGHT ONE.
Sitting back down at my seat, rather than standing on it, I will say that due to a recent update of the iPhone, the next update of the Apple Watch (which gets updated via the Watch app on the iPhone) will require a complete erasure of the Apple Watch 3 and a reinstallation of the operating system. This may take hours. The Apple Watch 3 has a hard drive that is too small to handle the new software versions as a simple update. Apple needs to stop selling it.
So the the Bottom Line is — The Apple Watch 6 is a $400 + investment, definitely geared toward older / active adults and has the most features. You may be able to get away with the Apple Watch SE at $279 if you don’t care about the O2 monitoring and ECG. Do not buy the Apple Watch 3. You are throwing money away. If you have one, you’ll need to upgrade sooner than later. If you want a fitness tracker in the $100’s with heart rate and steps — The Fit Bit Charge 4 provides a great cost / function proposition.
You may need to do something right away and can’t get the help you need that hour or even that day. I’ll try to get there as soon as I can. However, we all have situations where it just can’t wait. I want to let you know that there isn’t only one way to surf the Internet, check your email, or type a document on your computer. You must understand — and perhaps this is new learning territory for you than we can cover in depth in our next session — that there are at least 2 ways to skin a cat. Exploring the options can get you out of a jam and open mental pathways. Here are just a few scenarios……
– Comcast or Gmail e-mail: Your account can be set up in the Mail app (or Outlook) but you can also visit Gmail.com or My.xfinity.com to access a fully functional mail system in your web browser.
-You prefer to go on the Internet with Safari or Chrome: What do you do when they don’t work or become corrupted? You need a second browser at your disposal!! This could be Firefox, Edge, Vivaldi, or Brave. Chances are that the second browser is going to work. Get familiar with it.
-Time to type a document — Oh no! Microsoft Word is not working. Did you know that you can type and save basic documents in Text Edit (Mac) and Word Pad (Windows). For letters and basic writing with paragraphs they are just fine.
I want to thank those of you who have sung my praises on the Nextdoor website for your neighborhood. A new client contacted me on Friday. I did a bit of phone triage with her and allowed her to thoroughly explain her issue with a series of follow up questions on my end. It seemed like this client was working from home and regularly typed up Word documents which were carefully saved on the Desktop and another location. All of a sudden these 2 documents that were there day after day (seemed like a continuing work routine) were gone. Not in the Recycle Bin (or Trash as a Mac user would call it). Gone! They seemed like really important files. By asking some very specific questions – I determined that there were no backup copies of these files online or on external media. When I charge clients for a session — I don’t promise a guaranteed outcome. Clients pay for my time, for the consultation. However, I want to operate with the utmost integrity. When I go to see a client I want to make sure there is a likelihood of success. I told this new client that I don’t think I can help her and I’m not one to make false promises just to earn a sale. She thanked me for my honesty and said she would certainly call back when other technology needs arose. Thanks how I do business folks. A straight shooter.
I don’t know if the caller recently had a Windows update, but I will note that I recently dealt with a client that had a major update (or what I like to call an upgrade) to their operating system and lost all of their applications, but not their files. Major updates are a potential peril. Whatever the danger — if you have files you can’t afford to lose on your computer — you need a backup system and ideally more than one. You may want to employ a cloud based backup system such as Carbonite or Backblaze. A lot of you incorporate cloud based storage such as iCloud Drive (very popular with my Mac users), Microsoft One Drive or Dropbox. One thing I like about One Drive is that it will save multiple versions of a Word document you are working on and they can later be restored. Keep in mind that the iCloud, Dropbox, and One Drive are more accurately described as “file synchronization services” rather than bakcups — even though they do backup your files. I say this because if you delete the file from one device it will be deleted on the others. Finally, a physical backup is very important as well. With my clients, this takes the form of an external hard drive plugged into the computer. Using Time Machine on the Mac and File History (or Macrium) in Windows, you can have a physical backup that can be restored from in times of crisis.
What is your backup plan? Let me know if you need help coming up with one.
Don’t put your gear on top of other devices that are charging. If your laptop is charging at night, don’t leave your phone or anything electronic on top of it. I think this would apply to other mechanical devices as well. I developed a bad habit of placing the Seiko watch I got for my Big Birthday earlier this year on top of a closed laptop at night. Well well, the watch became demagnetized. It’s in the shop now. 😦
I am trying my best to weather the Covid 19 storm and also prepare for possible changes in operations once the weather gets colder. I am doing about 2/3 of appointments in person right now, but if we have to go mostly remote, let’s make sure we are prepared. With the vast majority of you, we are already set up to do Quick Assist (Windows) or Team Viewer and Zoom (Windows or Mac). If for some reason you think you are not set up to do a remote session with me, I can help you get set up at no charge by phone or when I am in the area.
I describe myself as someone who provides I.T. consulting and tutoring with a teacher’s heart. After all, I was once a certified teacher and have a Masters in Education. (And would you believe I am getting calls to come back in for school based positions? I told them, no thanks! I am not working in a classroom and jeopardizing my clients’ health.) I try to incorporate a teacher’s spirit in what I do. This makes me so different than the I.T. Guy from the big box store or some nerd driving around in a VW Bug.
I have gotten a great feel for how older adults learn and process information. The teacher in me believes in high standards and expectations. I want to take you into expanded portals of possibility. You might think your potential is at ground level. I have my sights set on the stars. I think if we end up somewhere in between, you will be able to get a lot out of your technology.
One of my goals going forward is to help you simplify routines through sequences of brief, memorable steps. When working with a client recently, I broke down emailing scanned documents to
Keyboard shortcuts are another way to simplify tasks.
Want to create a new folder for your files?
In the File Explorer (Finder – Mac), create a new folder by pressing Ctrl (Cmd – Mac) Shift + N