Category: Uncategorized

Be Versatile In Using Technology

This is a follow up to a previous update, with some specific tips. Eventually, the way you normally do something is going to go wrong. Outlook is going to fail you, Apple Mail (Mac or iOS) is going to fail you, your browser of choice (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc) is going to fail you. Gmail may even fail you. There will be a time when you need to reply to or send out a key e-mail. You may have a contract or a statement to print out and your browser starts acting goofy. You will have that instance where you need to do something meaningful to you and what should be simple seems like a technological roadblock.

At least once a month, try doing what you normally do a different way. If you usually use a separate e-mail application to read your mail — try going to the web mail client of your provider. Reply to messages and send new ones out. Test it out. Check to see what contacts are stored there. Depending on your provider, you will be going to (for Hotmail and addresses) (for Office 365 workplace e-mail accounts provided by Microsoft)
or possibly another website depending on your provider

Furthermore, make sure you have a 2nd e-mail address that you can send and receive from. Simply changing how you access the account may not fix your problem. A second address gives you a communication lifeline.

In addition to your primary browser which is likely going to be Chrome, Safari or Firefox — at least once a month, use another browser on your computer. You may be opening up one of the aforementioned 3 or possibly Microsoft Edge (on a Windows computer). Check your Start Menu (Windows) or Applications folder (Mac) for that secondary browser. If you need to download and install another browser, here are some relevant links.

Get comfortable trying alternative methods of performing routine tasks. Your willingness to be flexible can really help you out when you are in a jam.

CT Big List and Dealing With Technology Stress

** Brief correction
:  While I did watch and listen to Apple’s WWDC keynote address live and then combined the best of reliable sources and my own analysis for you, I left out one key equipment compatibility detail.   The late 2015 iPhone models — 6s and 6s Plus — WILL be compatible with iOS 13 that comes out this fall.  I had originally told you iPhone SE and later.   Essentially the SE (a small, 4.0 inch iPhone released in March 2016) has the same processor as the 6s family.  It makes sense then that the 6s models are still kosher.  If you have a 6s, I’m not saying that you have to get a new phone.   You may still want to get a new one (because of age, declining functionality etc) or you may want to get the battery replaced.  I will support you in those decisions.  iPhone 6 is a different story — it is not going to work with iOS 13.  As for iPads, my initial report was correct.  iPad Air 2 (2014) and iPad Mini 4 (2015) and later are supported.  The original iPad Air (2013) and previous models will not be supported. 

PSA:  This is not a scam. It comes directly from the CT State Treasurer’s Office.  You should check out the CT Big List.   This is where funds from all closed and forgotten bank accounts, insurance policies, and other funds (like mortgage rebates) go to.  I have found clients names on the list in the past.  Some of you are currently on the list. You do not have to pay anyone for claiming your missing funds. If your name comes up in the search, simply follow the steps, print out the form, get it notarized and you will get your funds.  Your bank will most likely notarize for you for free.  There are hundreds of millions of $$ available to CT residents.  It’s YOUR money.

PSA 2:   Since I have had a handful of clients who have been hacked recently  — mostly because of insecure and re-used passwords and also some instances of bad browser extensions — I want to share this again.    If a “bad guy”  gets your e-mail messages and your contacts, there is nothing to stop them from e-mailing your contacts over and over again asking for money and trying to scam them.   You can change your e-mail address (and maybe you should, at least for the defense of “I don’t use that account anymore”) but even still, that person can impersonate you and make it look like messages are coming from your old address or even a new address that seems to be you.  The bad guy may continue to harass you.  Don’t take it too seriously.  Don’t give in.  Think about it this way — if a drug dealer knows he can make a lot of money selling on one street corner — he is going to keep going back to that street corner until it becomes unprofitable.   If a scammer has been successful at obtaining gift cards or cash from your contacts — he will hit them up again and again.   Common logic tells you that once people stop giving in, the scammer will get bored and move on to other victims. 

Dealing With Technology Stress

Here are a couple of simple steps to help you work around frustrating situations with technology

1.  Have you tried turning the device off or closing the software application and restarting it?

2.  Have you tried doing IT a different way? For example — if your e-mail account is not working in the Mail app on your phone or computer — have you tried going directly to, or or to check your e-mail?  Have you tried using a different browser?   Instead of Chrome — try Firefox or Safari (You should have more than one browser on your computer).  Once a month, make it a point to try out alternatives to common tasks so you are not stuck.

3. Strange pop up on the screen from “Microsoft Support”  talking to you with a phone number to call?   Quit the browser or turn the computer off.  Ask for help from a legitimate resource if you can’t get out of it.

4.  Put the devices down or turn them off — take a walk —- >> Go out for a while.   Talk to real people.  Do something that doesn’t give you stress!  Remember how life used to be?  All you needed was a quartz wristwatch, a wallet, and some family or friends to have a good time.

Technology Update 6/1/19 – Internet Deals

Current Comcast Deal
Most of my clients are Comcast customers. I know that it is tough to keep up with their promotions. They come and go with no set schedule. I know that it feels weird or even wrong to have to keep calling them on a yearly or bi-annual basis to ask about a new promotion. When you contact them, an appropriate promotion may not be available. A week later, you may be a very happy person. I always get asked about ways to save on the bill. I have said in the past — you may have to make some compromises. They have a current promotion for those of you who want Internet and TV only. Do not try to add anything to it. It is called the Standard Double Play HD promo. With this package you will get an extremely fast internet speed, plus their Standard TV plan (not Limited Basic). You will get local channels, sports channels, cable news networks, and entertainment channels like USA, TNT, FX, Lifetime, Hallmark. The base price of the package is $59.99. Of course you have to factor in the $10 Broadcast TV fee (local channels) and regional sports fee (8.25). I am basing this on Connecticut prices. The cost for 1 TV is about $90 a month. The cost for 2 TV’s comes out to just under $100 a month. I think this is a good offer if you are looking to hit that $100 price point. It is valid for 1 year. Then of course, you will have to renegotiate. That’s the name of the game. One more thing, you will have to contact the Retentions department to get this promo. You need to call and say you want to "cancel service". Official Comcast representatives can also make these kinds of offers through a private message on the discussion website Reddit. For as big as they are, they have gotten really modern in offering support. This deal should be good for new customers as well.

Apple’s Big Event
Apple is hosting their annual WWDC (World Wide Developer’s Conference) next week. The big keynote will happen at the beginning of the week. I’m not really expecting new devices as they have already released new iPads, iMacs and Mac Book Pros this year. However, I think there will be announcements about the future of the Mac. I expect to see more convergence between iPad and Mac. One rumor that has come on pretty strong over the past 24 hours is that Apple will be retiring iTunes software in favor of a Music app (same as iPhone / iPad). You may remember iTunes as a music manager but it was also an iPhone manager. It was great for making local backups of your iOS device to the computer. It could also be used to restore an iOS device from the backup. I hope that functionality is kept because it has been very useful in my efforts to help you. I will have more to report in my next update.

Brief Android Update – Late May 2019

Dear Android Clients — the proud and few:

I just want to let you know that Google has come out with a new Android phone (directly) that brings back memories of its great Nexus phones from 2013 and 2015. Back then Google had a line of phones called Nexus. They were middle of the market priced phones (sub $400) but they were very aspirational. I think they were a good alternative to the iPhone. Google deviated from the plan in 2014 by releasing a huge Nexus 6 phone that was made by Motorola. It’s hard to remember this, but Google actually owned Motorola for a few years. 2015 brought us the Nexus 5X and its larger brother the 6P. Unfortunately, they did not keep the Nexus line going and have been going with a high end Pixel line of phones since late 2016.

A few weeks ago — Google gave us a glimpse of the glory days. They released a Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. They are priced a lot like Nexus phones at $399 and $479 respectively. They are being sold directly by Google and by major carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile. These phones have a great camera and retain the traditional headphone jack. Google will support them with software updates for 3 years, which is a better guarantee than you will get from almost any Android phone maker.

Other lower cost Android phones for 2019 that I like are the Moto G7 or G7 Power from Motorola ( The Power has a huge battery if you like that sort of thing. Both phones are priced under $300. Skip the G7 Play. It is less capable than the other two. Unfortunately, Motorola does not make a guarantee about updates. So for just a little more $$ it seems like that Google Pixel 3a is a better deal.

I don’t have a lot to say about Android devices these days because 90% of my clients use iPhones for their smartphone. I have to stay invested in this market because these are the clients that are going to regularly have me come out and help them with phone issues in significant numbers. In my heart though, I am with you. The Android platform was my first entry way into the smartphone world back in 2010. I think there is more flexibility to do tasks in multiple ways with Android. It’s more computer like than the iPhone in that regard. I miss my favorite Android app – Doggcatcher.

Android 9 is the current version these days. Not all older phones will upgrade to this version. When Google releases a new version of Android, the Google devices get it right away, also some devices that are branded Android One will get it promptly (like newer Nokia phones). The better Android phones will guarantee security updates for a period of time, like 2 or 3 years. Sadly, because there is not uniformity among Android device manufacturers, certain phones will never get the updates they need.

New iPads and Macs – The Product Matrix

*For expert technology consultations in the Hartford, CT area — specializing in age 55+ (residential consumers, their businesses, and non-profits) – contact VIP Computer Care today 860-656-6439.  Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, and Android.  We transform lives through technology!  Prepare to be excited and encouraged.*
New Stuff From Apple
Apple launched a silent refresh of some major products this week.  There was no big event, no streaming video broadcast.  It really makes me wonder what they will reveal at their March 25th event.  Hmm. TV Service?  Well on to the sure things —
For the first time since the fall of 2015, Apple has updated the iPad Mini and they want it to be known as just the iPad Mini, but some are calling it the iPad Mini 5.  This is the perfect iPad for those of you who want to use it as more of a reader, to check emails, maybe do some surfing and messaging or who just otherwise think that the 9.7 inch iPad is too large.  In a bit of a surprise, Apple is keeping the price the same at $399 for the 7.9 inch device, while the regular 9.7 inch iPad is still $329.  Very interesting, but I think it will be well received.
Apple also brought back a name from the past — and released an updated iPad Air (aka. iPad Air 3).  The iPad Air name has not been used on a new product since the iPad Air 2 came out in the fall of 2014.  At that time, it was seen as Apple’s standard 9.7 inch iPad.  This time around, the 2019 iPad Air is positioned as a mid-tier iPad and starts at $499.  It sports a 10.5 inch screen.  It has a more powerful processor than the regular $329 iPad and also can be used with the Smart Keyboard.  Old name, new parts, and the previous $499 price.  Got that on your scorecard?
iPad Product Matrix
With these new iPads, it’s really important to have the cheat sheet for this current family of iPads.  Here is how I keep them straight:
* iPad – 9.7 inch – starts at $329
* iPad Mini – 7.9 inch – starts at $399
* iPad Air – 10.5 inch – starts at $499
* iPad Pro – 11 inch and 12.9 inch – starts at $799
My thoughts — I think the iPad progresses from being more of a tablet to a computer as you go up in the various price levels.  I have clients that are using their iPads as their primary computers.  As long as you can live within their limitations, they can be a fine option, but for many will still be a secondary computing device.  iPads are simpler than a Windows or Mac computer.  They are safer.  On the models that allow for the Smart Keyboard, they are more laptop like than ever.  I memorably stated a little over a year ago that an iPad Pro with a keyboard is the “best Mac” offered.   I said this as we were just coming off of horrific 2016-17 Mac Books.  Apple redeemed themselves with strong 2018 Mac Book Pro and Mac Book Air offerings.  However, it’s clear that they are offering us a competing computer universe called the iPad.   If it’s calling you, make the most of it. I would like to help.
New Macs
Apple also put out a refresh of their beloved iMac desktops.   We hadn’t seen new models since 2017.  The 2019 all-in-ones certainly do not reinvent the wheel but offer the current generation of Intel processors.  I will always tell it to you as I see it with technology.  The iMacs are the only Macs that are still sold with traditional spinning hard drives as the base option.  These are hard drives are QUITE SLOW.  I refuse to let you get stuck with them.  If you are an iPhone or iPad user and are accustomed to how responsive they are,  you need an iMac with at least the Fusion hard drive or ideally, the SSD hard drive.    So here is the rundown:
*The entry level  21.5 inch, $1099 iMac is not the one you want because it has the bad screen, the slow hard drive, and the 2017 processors.
*The next level of the 21.5 inch iMac comes with the gorgeous 4K screen and new processors (check!) but comes with the criminally slow hard drive @ $1299.
How to overcome this?
-Do a custom order from Apple with the fusion 1 TB hard drive ($100) or the 256 GB ($200) SSD drive.  Among these choices are where you should focus your vision.  Stay away from store bought iMacs!
-Of course, Apple still sells a VERY LARGE 27 inch iMac, fully updated as well, but I think the sweet spot lies in that mid-level 21.5 inch model with the upgraded hard drive — for my typical client.

Technology Update 10/12/18

I am not going to make this update overly complicated for you, but I want to deliver value in brevity.

Naming Your Files
Remember back 25 years ago? We could only give our files 8 character names. That was very limiting. Today we can be quite descriptive. Ultimately, please remember my two simple rules when naming your files. I think these really help when moving files between different types of media and with online backup services.
-Do not spaces in your file names or punctuation. You may use hyphens – or an underscore _ .
-While 8 characters may be too short, try to keep your file names to a reasonable length. 20 characters or less seems reasonable.
** Additionally, you may want to put dates in your file and folder names to help keep them organized. I have seen computers that change the timestamp of a file with no rhyme or reason. In these cases, the traditional sort by date will not work. Do not name the item "May292018_MyFile". It should be "20180529_MyFile".

Backup: Self Assessment
– (Some of you just use your computer as a dumb terminal to get on the internet and check e-mail in Chrome (or another browser). If so, this segment is not for you.")
-However, if you have files that you don’t want to lose — what is your backup system? Do you have multiple methods of backup? Can you name them?
-Are your e-mails backed up on a server somewhere?
-If you need help completing this quiz, please ask the professor.

I look forward to serving you.

10 Best Android Phones of All Time

With it being the 10th anniversary — how about the 10 best Android phones?

That OG Droid (meaning original Droid) from Verizon in 2009 was amazing and featured almost Apple like marketing. They went after the iPhone head on. It was so meaningful in the success of Android in the US. It was the fall of 2009 and Verizon didn’t get the iPhone until almost 18 months later. (It was an ATT exclusive for almost the first 4 years). Verizon customers were stuck on blackberries for the most point until that time.

I personally think the Nexus 5 should be on there also. It was sold by Google starting in late 2013. It worked on all major carriers and proved that inexpensive didn’t have to mean cheap. It sold for $349. The Nexus 6 sold by Google the following year was a dud, but the Nexus 5x (and larger cousin 6P) that went on sale in late 2015 were the beautiful "grand finale" for Google’s mid-ranged price, very competitive phones.

These days — Google competes directly with the iPhone for premium priced $700-1000 phones. They really need a winner with the Pixel 3 that is coming out in 2 weeks. Given that Apple is pricing the iPhone XR at $749 — I think its going to be really hard for a premium Android phone to sell for more than that unless there are actual features to justify the price.