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.
(If you don’t have important files on your PC — if you use it to surf the Internet and check email only — this doesn’t apply to you. Perhaps you could forward it to another Windows user).
However, I know that most of you have important files on your Windows PC. They could be work files, documents, proposals, and photos.
I’m giving you a true report from the field here and let you know that the recent BIG UPDATE to Windows 10 (version 2004) that has been installing on your computers over the past couple months has created A FEW problems. Well over 90% have been smooth sailing. But — there are 2 that I can think of — that were a big problem. In both cases — the computers needed to be erased and have Windows 10 reinstalled. In one situation — it didn’t matter. In the other situation, the client was in a tough spot because there were important work documents and no backup.
You can avoid this all together — by having a backup system in place. This might be an external hard drive. It might be an online file storage service like One Drive or Dropbox. Or you may even want to consider an all encompassing online backup service like Carbonite or Backblaze for about $6 per month.
Updates and Upgrades do fail from time to time. Windows may have to be reinstalled. You may need several hours of help from someone like me when this happens. Having a backup of important files makes your life SO MUCH easier.
5G – Here And Getting Closer
I outlined some basics on the new 5G towers a few weeks ago, but I wanted to simplify and add to it as well. Basically there are two 5G technologies being deployed in this country at the moment, sub-6 and mmWave. T-Mobile and ATT are going mostly with the sub-6, which will reach more people. Verizon is going with mmWave, which is even faster but restricted to specific spots like stadiums, stations, or a place like Times Square. Consequently, Verizon is way behind. Ultimately, all of these carriers will deploy a mix of both types of 5G towers. If you are due for a new phone, I am going to give you my opinion as to when 5G should mean something to you. This does not mean give up on your carrier or that your carrier is bad or that you need to throw out your 6 month old phone to get a 5G phone. I’ve uttered no such words. I got a real life test of 5G on the T-Mobile network in Boston last week. My wife’s 5G Samsung clocked in at double the speed of my iPhone 11. Therefore, if you are a T-Mobile customer — I would say the time to buy a 5G phone (again if you are phone shopping) would be as soon as these iPhone 12 models come out. Then you will have a mix of low end phones like the Revvl 5G, or the Samsungs, and the iPhones to choose from — all with 5G. ATT is at the middle of the pack. Their 5G is not as widely deployed as T-Mobiles, but they are getting there. If you still want to save some money by buying that iPhone SE, go for it. But by 2021, early next year, I think you should definitely be considering a 5G phone if you are phone shopping. With Verizon, on the other hand, I think there is no rush to get a 5G phone — probably until the 2nd half of next year. Ultimately, two years from now, Verizon may end up having the best 5G network. Slow and steady wins the race? We hope or they hope! Rumor has it that only the super expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max model will even be able to communicate with Verizon’s mmWave towers. The other 3 models coming out this fall will not. If I were a Verizon customer, 5G wouldn’t even be a part of my thought process yet. (And yes, you can still buy any of the other iPhone 12 models to use with Verizon’s existing network.)
Fall Is Peak Season For Technology
Fall is the busy season in my business and in the world of personal technology. We will see new iPhones before the end of October, perhaps in two separate launches for the 4 models expected to be released. New Apple Watches as well as iPads (possibly) will be coming out next week from Apple. There will be brand new computers from Microsoft, including a reported “moderately priced” Surface laptop. Wait there’s more! Apple is coming out with a brand new macOS 11 which is supposed to be the biggest deal for the Mac in 20 years since OS X came out. Finally, ioS 14 / iPad OS 14 will be here quite soon. Let’s make sure you have a backup first. And for my students in the back of the class, if you have a 5+ year old Verizon flip phone (iPhone 5s or 5c too), it’s time to get a new one. Verizon is retiring its old calling network on 12/31/2020. Your old phone will be a paperweight. What a season we can have together — I’m looking forward to being there for you, every step of the way! Now you know why I get excited about the fall!!
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