Category: Windows

Windows Users–Benefits Of Using One Drive

Though some of you are the exception — the easiest way to make sure you don’t lose files on your Windows — is to have One Drive for Desktop and Documents turned on so it backs up and synchronizes your files.    If you are not using One Drive for your files — maybe it’s time you start.  $6 per month — and it gets you Office 365 (and the latest Word, Excel, etc).  (If I already have you using Carbonite or BackBlaze — you are probably the exception to the rule but we can talk about this next time).  Saving a spreadsheet to One Drive that went missing today saved my client from catastrophic data loss. 

The Value Of Anti Virus and Defensive Computing Strategies

(A couple of definitions before we start. I have talked about VPN’s before, with the VPN being a piece of software that runs on your computer (or computing device) that runs your internet traffic through a private tunnel. This can be done for privacy, security or both. DNS is the “phone book” through which you look things up on the internet (domain name system). By default you use the DNS of your internet service provider. If you own your own router, you can set a custom DNS (free option) that blocks most malware.)

The best anti virus is a strategy built around defensive computing practices defensive computing practices

– If I could only choose 2 of the following 3:  (#1) VPN that has a malware block option, (#2) using Quad 9 or similar as the alternate DNS in my router (which blocks about 99 % of known malware domains) for those situations when I don’t have my VPN on or I have browser bypassing my VPN, or (#3) traditional anti virus software…..

…. I would choose the first 2. 

however since it seems like many clients want to have the additional protection of antivirus software…..  you have to remember that the typical clients I serve are older adults either at home or in their businesses who are not very technologically savvy and like a lot of customer service and handholding.   I don’t necessarily put a lot of weight on antivirus rankings and publications that claim to do those rankings because a lot of them are just paid advertisements.

Traditionally — my go to recommendation for Mac AV has been Intego.  They are a French company with local phone support based in Texas. They’ve actually removed viruses from my clients’ computers so that’s why I trust them. The phone support has been excellent when my clients have needed them.

I’ve had good experiences with ESET on the Windows side – and based on my dealings their customer support was located in Southern California even though they are also a European company. I’ve never tried them out on the Mac but I wouldn’t doubt that they are an outstanding product.

Bit Defender has a legendary reputation but I don’t have a lot of real world experience with them. However, it should be known that they provide support by chat, E-mail and phone – so another senior friendly option.   Another Mac Anti-virus that I have found valuable in the past — though they are not necessarily known for providing great customer support for seniors is Avast antivirus. I don’t know if they still do this but they had a habit of scanning websites before you visited them which I thought was great. One time a Mac client was going to upload some sensitive information to his accountants website and avast detected that it was compromised. It led to a startling revelation for the accounting firm.

An antivirus that I would like to try out but haven’t is PC Matic. You may have seen a lot of their ads on TV. They’ve recently expanded to support the Mac and they use a very different strategy than traditional antivirus by blocking you from ever accessing tons of harmful websites.

In conclusion…

1.  Use defensive computing practices, do not click on links or open attachments from people you did not expect to receive them from. Do not re-use passwords. Use an ad blocker in your browsers.

2.  If desired, use a VPN that offers malware blocking meaning they block malware domains as one of the filter options. Personally, I use Windscribe VPN but there are others that do this as well.

3.  It’s impractical to use the VPN 100% of the time. Frankly, some of my clients just won’t use one period. I actually keep mine on pretty much 100% of the time but I’m allowed to exempt certain browsers so I always exempt one browser and therefore my activity in it is outside the VPN. For those situations that is why I have Quad 9 as the DNS in my router because it blocks 99% of malware domains.  Quad 9 is free to use.

4.   Antivirus is great for when strategies one through three fail or when you’re dealing with attachments or files on the computer. I would just make sure that the antivirus that you’re using scans all files opened, and ideally that they do a little scan of websites before you visit them. If customer support matters to you, I have given you a couple options that are better in that area. 90% of my Windows clients just use the built in Microsoft Defender. This anti-virus also features Smart Screen but it really only works if you are using the Edge browser. If you are on Windows and you are not paying for a 3rd party anti-virus – consider making Edge your primary browser. It is Chrome based these days and works very much like Google Chrome.

Retiring My Trusty Dell Laptop

I finally did it!

I came back into the world of Windows as my main computing platform in 2014, after 10 years of being a very loud and proud Mac user.  Apple was generally very good to me but there was a repeated failure with my Mac Book Air that they just couldn’t explain.  It ultimately was a lack of honesty on their part.  So I got an HP Pro Book, a business class laptop, that is about equivalent to a Dell Latitude 5000 series or Thinkpad E series. 

A little more than 18 months later, I was tutoring a student from New Zealand who was originally from Nigeria.  He needed a laptop so I just gave him my Pro Book.   Unlike 2022, where there are basically no deals — there were some screaming deals in late 2015.  I got a $900 + Dell Latitude 5000 series for $386 (wow!) from the Dell Outlet.  I added 16 GB of RAM about 8 months later and a solid state hard drive with a clean install of Windows 10 in fall 2018.  At some point the web cam stopped working, which was definitely not ideal for the Zoomer / Covid 19 era. 

Watch collectors often talk about the “grail watch” in their collection.  This might signify the peak of their hobby or the last watch they ever buy.  My “grail computer” was always a Lenovo Thinkpad T series.  These days they typically sell for $1500 – 2000.   $1500 was certainly a common price in early 2020.  I kept saying to myself if I ever found a SCREAMING deal, I would get one.  I wasn’t seeking just a sale, but a once in a lifetime price.  On the first weekend of January 2020, I found it.   a $2000 Thinkpad T was available new in box on Lenovo.com for a little over $600 + tax.  I took it.

By February 2020, I made it my primary computer moving over all my files — which was rather easy through One Drive, Drop Box and a backup drive.  However, the one thing I did not move over was Quick Books.  That is the accounting software for my business.  I kept procrastinating and delaying some more.  So I kept running this dual computer adventure keeping both laptops on my desk. Covid 19 happened and I delayed further. I got used to this odd existence. 

Finally, over the past few days, I made the move.  I realized that all desktop versions of Quick Books 2012 and later can be re-downloaded.  I backed up my 2 Quick Books files on the old computer.   I installed my copy of 2016 on the Thinkpad.  I then entered my serial numbers.  No issues.  I then RESTORED my backed up company files.  Done deal.   I have finally taken the Dell Latitude off my desk.  I will continue to use it sparingly or as a backup. I may even install Linux on it and learn that operating system a bit.

I have my whole computing life on my Thinkpad T now.  Typing on this keyboard feels to me what it must be like for a master pianist to use a Steinway.  It’s still a dream. 

Microsoft Word Secret Revealed

I’ve been using Microsoft Word for how long — 30 years almost!  You might think you know all the ins and outs of Word.  Today, I confirmed something that has always been true but I think a lot of Word users don’t know and would be shocked by.   Here is the big TRUTH BOMB:   With one exception ** Microsoft Word does not  — absolutely does not — auto save your document.   What?  But — I have always gone into the Word Options (File menu >> Options >> Save and set it to 5 minutes or 10 minutes).    @Look again Word users @   Even I did a double take.   You are saving Auto-Recover information to a certain location on your computer.   That is not the same as auto saving the file every 10 minutes.  Bottom line:  Word does not auto save your file — with one exception.  This Auto-Recover business is about if you were to lose power or Word was to freakishly quit in some sort of computer error — you MIGHT be able to go to the Auto-Recover folder on your computer and retrieve a recent version of your file.  MIGHT is the key word, because I have seen many instances where this does not not happen for my clients. 

Alright, alright.  So I have to keep pressing the save button on my file?  Generally, yes.  What is the exception?    The exception comes if you are saving your files in Microsoft One Drive.   One Drive is a service and a folder on your computer that synchronizes with the cloud.  It is a direct competitor of Dropbox.  It shouldn’t surprise you that it integrates very neatly with Microsoft Word and other Office programs.   One Drive works on Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android.   Don’t want to pay anything?   Don’t have to.  The free tier of One Drive gives you 5 GB of free space — that is good for potentially thousands of Word documents.   When you pay the $6 or $8 a month for Microsoft Office 365 the annual subscription to Office that I set up for many of my clients — you get 1 TB of One Drive space or 1000 GB.   That is more than enough space to likely save your whole digital lives. 

So what I am trying to say here is — if you are doing important work in Word — you should be doing one of 2 things

1) Regularly clicking Save

2) Save your documents in the One Drive folder (One Drive is built into Windows. It has to be installed on a Mac from the App Store.)

I tried looking at alternatives and here is what I found.  In the Pages word processing app on a Mac — files do auto save.   Using Google Docs in the browser — files also auto save.     You may or may not want to use One Drive.  Some of you probably should.   But now you know the truth about Microsoft Word.   One way or another — save your files!!    Utilize a backup system as well.

$329 Windows laptop and Windows 11 22H2 Review

1) $329 laptop?

I think the sub $800 computer market is pretty dead and the manufacturers really don’t care about this segment of the market. However, to quote Al Pacino in the movie Donnie Brasco — “even a dog gets a warm piece of the sidewalk sometime.”   Once in a blue moon you might get lucky.  There might be a clearance sale, a loss leader type of sale, or some type of promotion that just lasts for a couple days.   I get asked by clients — I just need a Windows laptop for e-mail, browsing, and Word.  I would like a secondary computer.   I want a laptop to give to a kid or donate to a kid.  I usually don’t have a pick for you.  Today I do

-This Dell Inspiron 3000 – 15 inch — with the Intel Core i3 processor and 128 GB SSD hard drive  is $329 right now at the time of sending this email.

https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/laptops/intel/spd/inspiron-15-3511-laptop/nn3511eyxsh

-If you need a 256 GB hard drive it’s only $120 more @ $449. 

– Couple of other thoughts:  Is it as good as a Thinkpad T, Thinkpad E, Dell Latitude, or HP Pro Book?   Of course not!   But it will get the job done for basic tasks and last a couple of years if you are price sensitive.    Word to the wise — the trackpad (mouse) on cheap laptops is always garbage so plan to use a wired or wireless mouse. 

The Windows 11 Article I Didn’t Have To Write For You

2)  I have been a fan of Paul Thurrott (thurrott.com) who has been writing about the world of Windows for over 20 years.   He has written a lot about how Windows 11 was rushed out last year and has been a mixed bag.  Recently, he went into depth about version 22H2 for Windows 11 (2nd half of ’22) and how it delivers a more complete offering, while still having a few shortcomings.  Here it is, with pictures.  https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-11/270334/windows-11-22h2-review-a-little-of-this-a-little-of-that

My thoughts are I’m not afraid of Windows 11.  I had a client who wanted me to purchase and set up a Windows computer for him.  My preference was to order a Windows 10 system from Dell.  It would have taken about 7 to 10 days.  However he said — I need a computer now, man.  Like tomorrow! My only choice was to go to Best Buy and get him a fairly well equipped HP desktop with monitor for $1000 (on sale — wow). It has Windows 11 and he’ll survive.  Using Word or Chrome — seem just like they always did.  It’s just the menus, the options, the little quirks — the look — are going to be different.  Like Mr. Thurrott says — it’s not as bad as Windows 8

I’m going to install 11 on my Thinkpad when the 22H2 comes out within the next 1 to 2 months.  I’m will install that $6 helper that I have been telling you about — Start 11.   Windows 10 computers are still available by online order.   Any further questions — please ask me.

Windoze 11? Putting Computer Shopping In Perspective

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.

Lets Get Down To Business

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

Coming Down The Pike

Scams Reminder

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

iPhone SE

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. 


Windows 11

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. 

Updates

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

Little App To Make Windows 11 More Friendly

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–Not Yet

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.