I represent about an equal number of Windows vs. Mac clients. A few are iPad or Chromebook only. I just wanted to say that if you are not absolutely locked in to particular apps on the Mac or you might be turned off by some of Apple’s decisions with the Mac or leery of the upcoming processor transition — you could probably do really well with a solid business class Windows desktop or laptop. Excluding any possible discounts or outlet purchases, I think you can get a nice system for $800 to $900. These computers cannot be purchased in stores. I know how to order them and have been doing so for years. The kind of computers I have in mind are often repairable and upgradable — serviceable is the word I am looking for. There is a reason why the State, the big hospital systems, and big insurance companies buy these computers by the hundreds (if not thousands) — they stand the test of time. They’re not buying Macs. It’s just something to keep in mind. With that said, I have helped Mac clients switch to Windows and Windows clients switch to Mac. I am a versatile provider of technology consulting services, with no preconceived notion that one platform is best for all clients.
Not Everyone Gets The Same Priority
I am talking about data prioritization with your cell phone plan. I have touched on this in the past, but I wanted to revisit it. Did you know that some of you might have prioritized data with your carrier and some of you may not? There is an order of data — when on a congested tower — where some users will be given preferred access and others may be slowed down or get slowed down to a crawl. (Prioritization is different than being capped or throttled. A cap would be — you get 5 GB of total data per month and you are totally cut off after that. A throttle would be — we limit all traffic to 5 mb/s even if you can get a faster speed in theory. Some plans are throttled to a very slow speed after reaching the cap.) But what I really wanted to address here is the idea of prioritization. You might be out and about trying to book a restaurant order or launch the Maps app or even buy some clothing for quick online pickup — then your phone just slows to a crawl. It’s possible that you are being deprioritized. There may be a lot of other users on that tower with priority over you. There is a good chance that it won’t happen to you. It might be congestion, however you just might not have the “top banana” priority. I haven’t heard of it happening a lot locally, but there are definitely parts of the country that are oversaturated on Verizon towers, ATT towers, etc. They have no choice but to route traffic with a certain order.
Let me just state a couple examples to help you clear up the confusion. If you get a monthly bill and you are on an older Verizon / ATT plan and you get like 2 GB of data per month, 4 GB, 8 GB — you are prioritized. If you have the first tier of Verizon’s new unlimited plans known as Start or Go unlimited – you are always deprioritized. Again, it may never be a problem for you. I just want you to know. The next level of Verizon’s unlimited plans tells customers they can be deprioritized after 25 GB of use (which is probably a lot more than most of you would use in a given month). Prepaid plans are generally always deprioritized, although ATT Prepaid has some exceptions.
I have some bad news again on Windows. Last time I emailed you about printers. Not its FORCED UPDATES. This time it’s for my Windows Pro users. Of course you should know by now that when I order a client’s computer that I try to order Windows 10 Pro whenever possible. Usually this about $30 to $50 more at the time of ordering the computer ($99 if you upgrade after the fact). I have been big on the Pro version for 3 reasons.
1) Bit Locker included: This is a Microsoft technology that encrypts all your files. If someone steals your hard drive, they aren’t going to get access to your files.
2) Better security w/ activation of the password prompt: When major changes are being made to your computer, you will get prompted with a request to type in your password – not just a YES / NO prompt. This really makes you think – do I want to do this?
3) (And probably the best one) – the ability to delay new versions of Windows by up to 365 days – called Feature Updates. Microsoft comes out with 2 new versions of Windows 10 per year. This is crazy, but we are not going to change their behavior at this point. I have consistently told you to set the delay on Feature Update to 3 to 4 months (at least).
As reported on the great Windows commentary website, Thurrott.com, you can cross #3 off the list. Now Microsoft is hellbent on forcing new versions of Windows on us, even if we paid extra for Windows Pro. Shame on them!! This change will take effect when the latest version of Windows hits your computer – Windows 10 2004 (no not year 2004, “2004” here refers to year and month or 04 of 2020.
So now, you can only delay the new versions by 7 day – 5 times – for a total of 35 days. What a drag! I am beginning to wonder who is getting worse on Updates – Microsoft or Apple? Now you know why people are buying and doing a lot of their computing on Chromebooks. You might not be able to do as much on Chrome OS – but it is a no B.S. operating system.
Now of course – you are probably asking – it’s there something you can do for us? Well actually – yes! I have a solution. I found some quick, deep level programming I can do on your Windows computer to bring the delays back and even possibly extend them. I will try to do this for you at our next appointment and yes, I think I can do it virtually.
As I said to my Mac clients earlier today – why can’t we just get one version of the operating system and stick with it for 5 years – just getting minor security updates? Life would be so perfect. Windows 7: we miss you.
PS. If you bought your Windows computer on your either before meeting me or on your own, none of this applies to you. You are going to get the SLOP when Microsoft dishes it out. Lately it has been slop!
Unfortunately, this is not a Lionel Richie love song.
Here is the reading material — https://www.engadget.com/microsofts-windows-10-updates-printer-bugs-000112943.html
Unfortunately, June’s monthly Windows update (began rolling out 6/9) is messing up printing on what is likely a small but significant number of computers. The same exact thing happened, including to several of you, back in October.
I remember all that I had to go through with my clients. I had to come out for a bunch of appointments because of these printing woes caused by Updates. In numerous instances, I had to delete and re-add your printer in Windows. In one case, a client had to buy a new printer (which did solve the problem). In the most extreme scenario, nothing was working for me. I was ready to give up! I literally had to back up all the files, erase the computer, and then “clean install” Windows 10 1909 which was the latest version of Windows in December 2019. That fixed it.
These monthly updates are supposed to mitigate security concerns. They should not break essential functions like printing.
I hope it doesn’t happen to you now — either again or for the first time. If you purchased your Windows computer on your own, outside of my guidance, you probably have Windows 10 Home. You are going to be forced to take the Updates when Microsoft dishes them out.
On all computers I had a hand in ordering — I made sure you have Windows 10 Pro. With the Pro version — updates can be delayed. I have likely delayed or instructed you to delay Feature Updates (new versions of Windows) by at least 3 months. We have never touched Security Updates which are the monthly updates that are screwing with printing right now. I think that Security Updates should be delayed by 7 days. I could see doing 14 days, but I wouldn’t want you to go beyond that. These monthly and “odd times” updates address pressing security matters.
If you remember how to change these options — you go to — Start Menu >> Settings >> Update & Security > Advanced Options. The delay for Feature Updates should be 90 to 120 days. The delay for quality (aka security) updates should be 7 to 14 days. If you don’t see these choices in Advanced Options — you have Windows 10 Home.
One good thing is — if you have Windows 10 Home — you can upgrade to Pro for a one time cost of $99. It’s pretty painless.
1. Windows 10 — version 2004 is beginning to roll out. I hate the naming scheme on this because it makes one think that this is Windows 2004. The 20 and the 04 refer to the year and month that this version was finalized. Anyway, there is no rush to install it now on day one. It will be pushed out to your computer in due time. If you want my help with a professional install, we can look into that down the road.
2. For nearly all clients that I work with, I don’t think you have to pay for a separate anti-virus for your Windows computer. The built in Microsoft Defender is quite adequate. Only pay for anti-virus if it offers you something really special for what you are paying. I used to recommend one particular anti-virus because they offer phone support. I thought when dealing with an older client base, that would mean something. Over the years it really didn’t. Clients would still call me first if they had an issue. I don’t want to toot my horn but I haven’t had a client with a Windows security issue in a couple of years. So what I am saying is that I think the free built in Microsoft Defender is probably just fine. (If I were going to pay for an anti-virus, the only two that come to mind that I would probably pay for are PC Matic — $50 / yr for up to 5 devices for home use or Malware Bytes $40 /yr 1 device / $80 / yr 5 devices. This is NOT an endorsement, but I will support you in using either. ) If you are paying for an anti-virus as a home based consumer, I think you can stop at your renewal, but please take #3 below to heart.
3. So how do you keep yourself safe?
-Don’t install something you didn’t go looking for
-Treat links in e-mails and attachments skeptically
-Have multiple backups of your data. Carbonite and Backblaze are good online backup services. If you have a locally attached hard external hard drive, disconnect it from time to time. Macrium Reflect is my favorite Windows backup software. The built in Windows 10 File History is not terrible either.
-Use an ad-blocker in your browser – preferably uBlock Origin.
-Keep up to date with Windows Updates. I rarely shut my computer down and let the updates occur automatically. If you regularly shut your computer down / disconnect from the internet. You should be checking for Windows updates weekly or biweekly.
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.
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.
I want to let you know what equipment is truly required to become a cord cutter or at least a video streamer in 2020
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!
As we come to the end of the year, we also come to the end of the 2010’s. (Whether or not it’s truly the end of the decade, may be a technicality. Some of my elementary school teachers would have said that the decade is 2011-2020), but for all intents and purposes many in the technology community are looking at how far we have come in the last 10 years.
I will just give you a few of my thoughts. I will also ask you, how has your use of technology changed in 10 years?
-The iPhone was not Apple’s bread and butter in 2010. In the USA, it was still an AT&T exclusive. Verizon users were being pushed to get a DROID, which was special branding put on Android phones made specifically for Verizon. Big iPhone competitors that year were the Motorola DROID, the DROID X, and the HTC DROID Incredible. As a Verizon customer, I could not get an iPhone. My first smartphone was the Incredible. Everything opened up in early 2011 when Verizon came to an agreement to sell the iPhone on their network. I got my first iPhone in the fall of 2013 and haven’t looked back.
-The 2010’s were also the decade of the iPad. I acquired my first iPad in 2010. To be honest, I didn’t see much use for it in the beginning and I sold it in about 6 months. Today, we see the iPad as the tablet done right. It does not run a full, traditional computer operating system (now called iPad OS) but it gets the job done well enough for quite a few folks as a primary computing device and nearly everyone else as a “secondary screen”. Want to use it in the hand? You can check email, shop, bank, read books, and watch TV / video. Want to use it with a keyboard? It is a near laptop. When Apple came out with the iPad Pro a few years back — they really blurred the lines between Mac and iPad. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though I would still prefer a full Mac / Windows computer as my #1 device. There was a lull in the iPad market in 2015 and 2016. It seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere. But then, Apple lowered the price of the “standard iPad” (9.7 inch, now 10.2) to $329 in 2017 and sales have gone up like wild flowers.
-10 years ago — many people thought the PC (personal computer) would soon be dead. Remember when netbooks were a big thing? These were small – 9 or 10 inch — very underpowered Windows laptops that were meant for travel and quick browsing or e-mail. I fondly remember — hacking a Dell netbook and putting the Mac OS on it. It ran well for a while. The keyboard on that netbook was excellent, though cramped. Fast forward to 2019 and the PC is not dead. The industry has innovated. In late 2010, Apple released a timeless design with its 2nd generation Mac Book Air. This Ultrabook design helped change Windows PC’s for the better. No longer did a powerful machine have to be a big clunker. Microsoft also got into the market in 2012 by releasing its own line of tablet computers called Sufrace. The original Surface concept (which ran a limited version of Windows RT) was a flop, but the Surface Pro (which runs full Windows) has been a huge success. This 12 inch tablet, with keyboard has aged with conservative design changes and is really the gold standard for small, sub-13 inch computers. Consumers with simpler needs have moved to the smartphone and the iPad, in some instances – exclusively, but the PC market is still here. The premium PC market is strong.
-During the past 10 years — especially 2016-19 — Apple lost its perch in the laptop market. Beginning in 2016, they wanted to get so thin and light in order to shave a couple of millimeters that they released a horrible keyboard design. Many claims of defects were made and lots of warranty work had to be done. The problem became so bad that in 2018, Apple decided to give all owners of the new Mac Book Pros a 4 year warranty on the keyboards. This special warranty now covers the late 2016 to 2019 13 and 15 inch Mac Book Pros and the 2018 and 2019 Mac Book Airs. Good news! Apple has seen the error of its ways and recently came out with a new 16 inch laptop with the old 2015 style keyboard. Hallelujah! We can only hope that Apple will revise the 13 inch Mac Books (models my clients would be most likely to buy) accordingly next year.
-On a personal note, I just want to say that I have learned over the course of 10 years that not everything online is better. 10 years ago, I was actively pursuing my Bachelor’s degree online (with a few on campus courses mixed in). That evolved into an exclusively online Master’s for the academic portion, with some in-person internship or practicum experiences. It was a colossal $60,000 mistake. Some day, I should write an article or short guide about online college studies. Ultimately, what I learned is that online education is not appropriate for all learners and career objectives. Just because it’s more convenient or you are a technologically savvy person or you can express yourself more freely by typing — does not mean an online degree is appropriate. Online education would be appropriate for someone who is already established in an industry, even in an entry level way, and they are aiming for their degree (hopefully with the encouragement of management) in order to advance in that field. Online degrees are right for someone with an established network that is using that degree to get a bump in pay due to that accomplishment (ie. a teacher getting a salary increase for a Master’s). Online coursework would not be appropriate for someone looking to blaze a new path in a field where they have no relationships. That is where I got lost in the maze. I also believe formal college education is not right for everyone and that trade schools and apprenticeships are a very sustainable path for our young workers. It makes me think of a picture that you have problem seen passed around in chain e-mails depicting two “learners.” Jim — 4 year degree in Philosophy – $100K in debt, no job. Joe — 4 year paid apprenticeship. No debt. $80K a year salary. Today, Joe works for the electric company and cut off Jim’s lights for non-payment. Sad, but could be very true.
Do I need to do the updates? is a common question I get from clients. Well, they are pretty hard to avoid in many instances. Software updates to our devices bring us feature improvements (or new features), security and stability fixes. Due to the fact that I deal primarily with an older client base, new features don’t tend to WOW “Bobby from Southington” that much. However, one new feature that I think is pretty cool is that iOS 13 now offers a light mode and a dark mode. It can even automatically switch between the 2 at night which is very easy on my eyes. The Mac and Windows operating systems had a dark mode previously. Primarily, I think updates are important because they patch holes that attackers can use to penetrate your system. I try to be consistent in the language I use with you. Updates are the little fixes that come out all the time, for example 13.1.2 that just came out for iOS and iPad. Upgrades are the major new versions of the operating system. For Macs and iOS devices — these come out once a year. Windows has been rolling out 2 new versions of Windows per year since 2017 — which is one version too many. I usually put my Windows clients on a delay when possible. In general, I like the idea of setting devices to update automatically. Set it and forget it (no I did not pay for the trademark!).
Updates Can Wreak Havoc
Though Windows 10 has generally been very stable for my clients since it launched in July 2015, there have been more than half dozen new upgrades / new versions of Windows 10 released since then — all called Windows 10. HOW CONFUSING RIGHT? I think that a Windows 10 upgrade has only trashed a client’s computer three times and two of those times were with the same client. Sad, but true. I think their PC was never really meant to be supported by the manufacturer for Windows 10 in the long haul. I am not a commissioned salesperson, but that is why I always recommend letting me order a business class Windows computer for you. My wife has been using a Dell Optiplex desktop — purchased in 2008 — with upgrades to hardware over the years — to this day. It has gotten all the new versions of Windows 10 since 2015. Minor updates can cause problems too. On October 4th, Microsoft pushed out an update for Windows 10 that was supposed to improve Internet Explorer (who uses that anymore?) and printing functions. Unfortunately, it blocked printing for a small but ticked off percentage of Windows users including one of my clients. An update to the update was put out on October 7th to fix this. Are you keeping score at home? Good, because I’m not. 🙂
Be Careful About the New Version of Mac OS Released Yesterday
Mac OS 10.15 – code named Catalina – was released yesterday. I often tell my Mac clients, with compatible Macs (2012 and newer in this case) to upgrade. It doesn’t have to be right away but within the first couple months is fine. I also make myself available to clients to manage the upgrade for them and make a backup of the installer. Things can go wrong and most feel that a 2 hour appointment for this is well worth it. However, for 10.15 I am pumping the brakes and telling you to do the same — IF — you have a lot of software on your computer dating back years. Mac OS 10.15 does not support 32-bit Mac apps. These are usually apps that are more than 5 years old that have not been updated recently. Those apps may be very important to you. If so, hold off on 10.15. Microsoft Office 2016 will be fine. All current Apple apps are fine. However, your case may be the exception. Reach out and ask for help if you think you may have an issue. OS 10.15 will be great, but you may want to give yourself time to work out alternatives.
Don’t know if anyone has been following this — but it’s the real deal
Microsoft was the king of the browser world in 2005. Through mostly illegal tactics, they killed off Netscape Navigator. The Mozilla project was underway and Firefox was just being born. Chrome was not even a factor yet.
Fast forward many years later, if you factor in iOS devices and Android phones — which are truly computers in their own right — Chrome and Safari became the dominant browsers. By the time Windows 10 came out in 2015, Internet Explorer was an afterthought. Microsoft buried it in the operating system in favor of a new “E” logo browser, the completely re-written Microsoft Edge. I’ll be honest, it was decent, but it never amassed more than a 2 or 3% market share.
Several months ago — Microsoft decided to do something radical. They began re-working Edge this time based on the open-source Chromium project (the foundation of Google Chrome). Wow. By being part of the Chromium project Microsoft is also able to contribute to development of this browser. It is also available for the Mac!! Think of the new Edge as Chrome underneath — but without any connection to Google services. Some people may really like that, though I think Brave and Vivaldi are also fine Chromium based browsers for those not wanting to be “dialing out” to Google all the time.
After several developer releases, Edge was finally released in Beta last week. Microsoft claims its ready for prime time. It is compatible with the Chrome Web Store for extensions. The official release should be out later this year, we hope.
Official link — https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/