I’m still trying to keep an open mind about Windows 11. At best I think it will be the most secure operating system Microsoft has ever offered. At worst, it could be another Vista or Windows 8. For Chrome, Word, shopping, paying bills, and banking Windows 11 is just fine. Many new computers sold today come with Windows 11. However, if you still want a new computer with Windows 10 — I can find one for you. Quantities may be limited and you have to be ready to order now. My general guidance is as follows — a passable / average / perhaps above average system — $900 or so, good to great system $1500, and top of the line $2000-2200. (Keep in mind that a Mac Book Air with 512 GB hard drive costs $1249 and a Mac Book Pro 14 costs $1999). I just ordered one of those top tier models, a Thinkpad X1 Yoga touchscreen laptop, with a client. It came to $2257 with tax and we are super excited about setting it up.
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
Remember — there are no real emails from Norton asking you to pay large sums of money, no legitimate car warranties calling you, no arrested grandsons calling for money, and no legitimate popups on the computer saying you are infected with a phone number. (I feel like I can never give these warnings enough because every week I get asked about such scenarios).
Coming Down The Pike
I have some credible rumors that Apple will be hosting a technology event next month (or just a product release) and that the iPhone SE is likely to be updated. There may even be a new Mac Mini. My clients were very receptive to the iPhone 8 sized SE that came out in early 2020. While I still prefer the better battery life and features of the iPhone 13 series, a $400 SE is really all that some people need or want. It gets the job done. It facilitates Facetime calls. It allows you to send those blue iMessage text messages to all of your friends (more secure text messages). From what I’ve read, the new SE will still be $399 and should sport 5G radios. If you are hanging on to a 7 or 8 or even want to upgrade from your previous SE — this may be the phone for you.
On every Windows computer I’ve touched, I have turned out or opted out of the Windows 11 update. Keep in mind that Windows 11 will only be available for late 2017 and newer Windows computers. I think there will be significant updates between now and the summer. On a new computer, we may not be able to avoid Windows 11 and that’s ok. It’s not a disaster. Installing a familiar Start Menu app – like Start 11 can make Windows 11 a lot more friendly. Later in the year, I think it may be fine to upgrade to Windows 11. I’ll keep you posted.
I always say your iPhone will update automatically, so will Windows and so will your Mac. Then those updates don’t happen. So I think it a good idea to check at least once a month. You should know how to do it by now
iPhone / iPad: Settings >> General >> Software Update
Windows: Start Menu >> Settings (or Search)>> Update & Security
Mac: Apple Menu >> System Preferences >> Software Update
Happy snow day! I am thinking of warm beverages. Warm winter beverages. OK, I’m thinking of Starbucks. And I’m thinking of the Pumpkin Spice Latte or Supra Dupra Latte — large size of course. They are about $6. 6 bucks! But of course I won’t touch one of these beverages because I’m addicted to sugar and I only drink sugar free beverages.
I have a better deal for $6. And for those of you who have been with me many years you are familiar with this program, a prior version of it (although it was $5 then — inflation is rampant I guess). At some point we are all going to be stuck with Windows 11. Let’s make it a blast. You are going to get Windows 11 with a new computer. You may update to it by mistake. Or down the road you may just say why not. ( I haven’t updated my Thinkpad to it yet but I probably will in the summer or fall.) The start menu and taskbar are kind of jarring. And from running a business based on serving “old people” I know that change isn’t cool.
So I am going to seriously recommend Start11 once you get to Windows 11. You may remember, I recommended Start 8 when you had Windows 8 and I recommended Start 10 when you got to Windows 10 (eventually the Windows 10 Start Menu grew on me and I accepted it but for the first few years I wanted the old familiar). Start 11 is put out by Stardock Software –based in Michigan. Again its $6 only. And I think it can make Windows 11 a lot more friendly and usable. Check it out — https://www.stardock.com/products/start11/
Watch the little video — see the pictures. If you like it — Buy it — download and install it. Windows 11 could be considered like a dance hall that isn’t fully painted yet and maybe some ceiling panels are missing. You can still dance and party. I think Start 11 can just make it a whole lot better.
PS. If you are looking for THIS kind of start menu in Windows 10 — Start 11 has replaced Start 10 and works on Windows 10 as well.
Windows 11 is out. It’s gaining more attention. There are even commercials. First of all, you should know that roughly speaking only computers that are model year 2018 and newer can be upgraded to Windows 11. If you go (but don’t go) to the Windows Update section of your computers, you may see the option to download Windows 11. I am not suggesting you do this now. Bugs are still being worked out even though it has been released publicly. Release first, fix later? Maybe so.
Even if you never want to install Windows 11, you will still get security updates for Windows 10 until 2025 and this includes all of you that have a computer that is ineligible for Windows 11 to begin with.
It’s my plan to continually reassess this Windows 11 situation and then begin to help clients migrate to it starting on July 1, 2022. There’s no rush. I will still try to find Windows 10 computers for clients when ordering new systems but will certainly set up a Windows 11 PC if one was purchased on a deal that just couldn’t be refused.
Everyone has used Microsoft Word over the years. You’ve likely used Excel too. You may have even used Power Point (or at least viewed a presentation), Outlook, or even Publisher. All of these applications are part of a suite of programs known as Microsoft Office. Office is truly a cross platform offering, being available on Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android. In the recent past Office was an expensive package. Around 2007 or 2008, I recall going to Staples with a client and buying Microsoft Office Professional for $400 to $500. For a typical consumer or home office user, there are 3 distinct Microsoft Office options:
1) FREE — Office.com — In what may come as a surprise to many — you can use basic versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your computer’s web browser for free. These web apps do not have all of the features or perhaps the ease of use as the full featured desktop apps, but they get the job done for many. Documents can be printed, downloaded to the computer, and even emailed out directly or indirectly. These documents will be stored in Microsoft’s cloud storage known as One Drive. You get 5 GB for free. That allotment can hold thousands of text based documents.
2) The License / One Off Purchase — Microsoft sells Office for Mac and Windows as a license for one computer. It is truly one computer only. Home and Student (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) will run you $149.99. Home and Business (all of the previous apps plus Outlook) will cost $249.99. These are one time costs. The licensed versions will receive security updates from Microsoft for 5 years from release of that version of Office (not 5 years from your purchase date). However, if you were to buy Office 2021 now — you would pretty much be getting 5 years because it was just released. Microsoft used to offer 10 years of updates for the licenses. This is all happening because Microsoft wants to push you into……
3) Microsoft 365 — Personal or Family — This is the ongoing subscription version of Microsoft Office and is how most of my clients are buying Office these days. It’s hard to argue they are not offering a lot for the price of admission. In addition to Word, Power Point, Excel, and Outlook — Windows users will also get Publisher and Access (sorry those do not exist for the Mac). The Personal edition($69.99 / year) will allow you to install Office on a total of 5 devices that you control (all under your Microsoft account). Mix and match Windows, Mac, and iPad — no problem! You will also get 1 TB of cloud storage space. That is huge. Honestly, other services could literally charge you $70 a year for just that cloud storage. The Family offering casts its net even further. It allows you to have 6 people in your family (all with their own Microsoft account) install Office on up to 5 devices each. That is a potential of 30 devices for $99.99 per year. How can you beat that? Additionally, each of the 6 people will get 1 TB of cloud storage space. That can cover tens of thousands of pictures, videos, documents and such. Finally, with Microsoft 365, you never have to worry about updates. You will always have the latest version of Office. Some family members and I have been subscribers to Microsoft 365 since it was released for consumers in 2013.
The commercial real estate market is tough right now, so I will let you choose which Office you want to move into. In a future Update, I will also cover some non-Microsoft office alternatives.
I may be wound up tight, but my mainspring is not going to break. (That’s a watch joke, if you didn’t get it.)
Work Wisdom – Rideshare, Door Dash, Etc.
This is not going to apply to you, but it may be relevant to one of your kids, grandkids, a friend or a neighbor. In this “new economy” people are working for companies like Uber, Lyft, and Door Dash to make some extra cash or possibly even as a full time gig. While working for these outfits, they are a 1099 contractor. Expenses can be deducted but good records (like mileage) must be kept. Taxes are not withheld. Drivers should be saving part of every check to cover the Self Employment Tax at a bare minimum. Additionally, these workers should purchase extra car insurance to cover what the company won’t. There is often a gap in coverage. Finally, they should ask if this kind of work voids their car’s warranty.
Shopping For Computers – Summer 2021
I just want to set the expectations so that now one is surprised later on. For the most part, prices are going up. Discounts are few. I’m sitting here in front of a Thinkpad T series — $2000 MSRP, that I got for $650 (new) in January 2020. I also have a Dell Latitude 5450 that was about $1100 that I picked up almost 6 years ago for under $400 with some extreme couponing on Dell(dot)com. Complete fairy tales in 2021! Fiction! Most of you are buying laptops. I still like all of my old picks — MacBooks, Dell Latitude 5000 series or 7000 series, and Thinkpad T or X series. However, for a solid laptop (I’m not even talking about top of the line or luxury), you are looking at $1500 to 2000 for a brand new unit. The Mac Book Air starts at $999. However to get the 500 GB SSD hard drive its + 200. These new Macs have such a brand new unique architecture and everything is built in, with no replaceable parts. I would seriously consider getting the 3 year Apple Care warranty for $250. That puts your right around $1500 considering taxes. For one of the better Windows laptops, you’ll be paying the same or more. A client was recently considering a Thinkpad T15. The price dropped to $1274 for a very well equipped system. I said — TAKE IT; that’s a buy price! In terms of iMacs, the $1699 model is the one you’ll really want. So where can you save these days? Well, the Thinkpad E and L series are not bad as long as they are properly outfitted. The Mac Mini is still Apple’s bargain desktop. With a $150 monitor, your own non-Apple mouse and keyboard, + $25 speakers, I think you could have it out the door for $1250. (With these new M1 Macs, always buy a larger hard drive than you need (one step up). Don’t say, I’ll never use that much space. The larger hard drive you get, the longer the system will last. Remember, that internal hard drive can’t be replaced.) Finally, you could always try the Dell or Lenovo Outlets. You have to think fast, but bargains exist.
Conclusion and Song of the Week
It was a rough week. You have the right to feel confused and even angry. They are your sincere emotions. Monday through Saturday – I watched ZERO TV. I don’t use Facebook. I don’t use Google other than for e-mail and to look up local businesses. Personally, I’m seeking calm in the storm while fully acknowledging that sometimes one has to hit the punching bag and let off some steam. I thought this piano interpretation of “On My Way” by Peter Buka really fits the mood this time around. He may not have a mainstream style, but he is doing something right with 7.5+ million views on this song alone. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/w2IH69pFsI0
Two Points for you today
1. Some of you use a 3rd party anti-virus – a Norton, an Avira, ESET, etc. That’s fine. Keep using it if you like the features it provides. However, for most Windows clients I say to use the built-in Windows Defender. This is what the majority of you are doing. You have heard about these awful ransomware attacks in the news. Individuals and companies get their files locked and then get asked to pay thousands of $$$ in ransom. Fortunately, Windows Defender now has anti-ransomware technology built in. However, it has to be turned on. I found this helpful article from Forbes that tells you how to do it. If you feel uncomfortable doing so yourself, write this down and we can save this task for a future appointment. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brookecrothers/2021/05/16/yes-windows-10-has-ransomware-protection-heres-how-to-turn-it-on/?utm_source=pocket-chrome-recs&sh=d09573a4c575
***If you use a different anti-virus — look into whether or not it has anti-ransomware capabilities. This Forbes article is not meant for you at this time.
2. There should be some exciting news coming out of the Microsoft camp this week. On Thursday, they are announcing the future of Windows — which may entail a new version of the operating system called Windows 11. Some test versions of this new software have leaked out into the wild and I have attached a picture for you. I think Microsoft is going for a fresh look and a simplified interface. When Windows 10 came out in 2015, it was billed as the last version of Windows ever. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft explains their change of heart. If they indeed call it Windows 11, it seems like a game of copycat is being played here. The latest mac OS is also called version 11. I have no idea when Windows 11 will be released or which existing computers it will be appropriate for. I’ll fill you in as I find out.
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.
Small Biz Spotlight
(Unsolicited) If you don’t believe in Chiropractors, you have my permission to skip this section. I realize that some in the profession have made dubious claims. However, many of us out there feel that chiropractic care helps us feel better and move our joints more freely. If this is how you feel, please let me introduce you to Dr. Rick Araya of West Hartford, CT. Dr. Rick is a straight shooter. He doesn’t try to rope you into some $5000 treatment plan with a bunch of gimmicks. He runs his business like I run mine. If you want to pay by the visit – you can pay $45 per visit (even less if you are 65 and older). He doesn’t waste your time by doing massage, lighting candles, or any of that stuff. Most follow up visits are 5 to 10 minutes – in and out. As an advocate for senior consumers, I can’t think of a better chiropractor — if that’s your thing. To learn more – http://goodchiro.net and if you go let Dr. Rick know I sent you.
Another Apple Event
Apple is really hitting it out of the park this year. Last week there was a report of record Mac sales — powered by all models but especially the Mac Book Pro. According to Bloomberg, Apple will be holding their 3rd big event in as many months next week. They are expected to release new Mac Books this time with their own CPUs (just like the iPhone and iPad). This will be the 3rd processor transition in the Mac’s history. In 1995, they went to IBM Power PC chips and in 2006 Apple migrated to the current Intel architecture (just like PC’s). Apple feels that they can deliver a better Mac when they control the entire manufacturing process and that is just what they are doing. Are your Intel Macs junk now? Of course not. Even if you are buying a new Mac before early – mid next year you may still want to get an Intel Mac. However, Macs with Apple silicon inside will be with us soon and are here to stay. Rumor has it that Apple will continue to support current Intel Macs with updates for about 5 years from a certain date (to be announced). I don’t think this will be a painful transition.
Black Friday – Holiday Shopping
Black Friday is coming early this year. Traditional stores and online sellers are slow rolling their deals. While the discounts on Apple products may be in the low hundreds of dollars, there are bound to be terrific deals on other items. Just today I helped some clients order Thinkpad X1 and T laptops ( every bit as good as a Mac) that are normally about $2000 plus, for $999. Those deals are going to be gone by the time you read this. I will be your scout for other bargains. Keep in mind, as long as there is no wall mounting required I can help you set up most TV’s as well. For as rotten as the cable company can be, there is nothing quite like a new TV with an X1 cable box and voice remote from Xfinity. You can speak and have it take to you any channel or available movie.