Top 10 Ways to Use Siri

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays.  With New Years Eve just around the corner, I’m giving this post another go!  Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve had a number of friends tell me recently that Siri is worthless and never gets anything right. “And besides,” they say, “I can just do it faster myself than asking Siri!”

Granted, Siri had her challenges when she was first rolled out, and many of them remain. But if you just ask her to do simple tasks, she’ll generally get them right.

Here are ten things I frequently use Siri for:

  1. Call people:  For example, ask Siri to call your Mom. (If you haven’t set up relationships within your contact settings, here’s an article that teaches you how to do that.)
  2. Email people
  3. Text people:  I especially like this feature. I will dictate the message to Siri and she’ll type and send it.
  4. Set timers and alarms Just be aware that Siri sometimes hears “60” as “16”. I will instead ask for a timer for “61 minutes”.
  5. Check on the weather
  6. Show most recently received email
  7. Search emails:  You can find emails with specific text in them or emails from a specific person
  8. Find out the time and weather in another city:  Don’t forget, these are two separate questions!
    1. Siri, what time is it in London?
    2. Siri, show me the weather forecast in London.
  9. Search for a local business When you ‘re looking for a specific business, ask Siri to look it up for you. She’ll generally respond with a map and all of their contact information.
  10. Open an application on your phone:  Simply ask Siri to open the map application or the FitBit application, etc.
  11. Tell you a bedtime story:

Tell me a bedtime story

Siri still has her flaws, but if you know what they are and can work around them, she’ll serve you well. (In a limited capacity!)

How do you use Siri?  Let us know if the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

A Look Back at 2015 in Technology

Every year there are new developments in the Technology world, and 2015 was no exception.  Here are just a few:

VR Headset – At the CES 2015 show in January, no one expected Virtual Reality for the masses to be available this year.  They were wrong!  Announced in time for Black Friday, Oculus as released a headset that works exclusively with the Samsung Galaxy smartphone.  More info here:

iWatch – Apple has been developing their watch since 2011 and it was finally available in the spring of this year.  Reviews on the different tech sites that review these things have been mixed.  Reviews by Amazon consumers are much higher.

Intel Skylake – Chris is pretty excited about the new 6th generation Intel Core Processor.  He says it will run better on mobile technology.  Do you know what the 1st generation was?  Check out this article and astonish your geeky friends!

Tesla – Chris is also excited about the new Ludicrous upgrade to the Tesla Model S P90DL.  Well, anything that takes you from zero to sixty in under three seconds has got to be worthy of some salivation!  Here’s a link to DragTimes video.

Car Hacking – This was a big story this past spring.  Computers in cars are pretty ubiquitous now and are just as susceptible to hacking as other computers are.  The difference  here is that car manufacturers don’t seem concerned and are not doing what they could to make their systems more secure.  A previous blog about a report released by Senator Ed Markey has more information.

DieselGate – Earlier this year we found out that VW and Audi installed software on many of its 2009-2015 diesel models that would essential “cheat” emissions tests.  From this NYTimes article The software sensed when the car was being tested and then activated equipment that reduced emissions, United States officials said. But the software turned the equipment off during regular driving, increasing emissions far above legal limits, possibly to save fuel or to improve the car’s torque and acceleration.”  There’s more info here: Late last month, VW announced their fix for the diesel engines.  Automotive News describes the modifications that will need to be made here

What do you were the most significant technology announcements in 2015?  Share in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

How To Keep Your Online Presence Safe During the Holiday Season

With the holidays coming up, people are doing lots of online shopping.  It is very important to keep your online presence safe!  Last week I heard the Amazon website may have been hacked and user IDs and passwords may have been compromised.

Now is the time to change your password for all of your online accounts.  Especially accounts where you have credit card or other financial information stored!

When you change your password, make it a STRONG password!

Use each type of character that the website allows. For example, some websites only allow you to use letters, capital letters, and numbers.  Others allow you to use special characters like “@”, or “&”, or “#”.  Always use the special characters unless the website doesn’t allow you to. One of the best ways to make a strong password is use a word that is familiar to you and change some of the letters.  For example, you can change “a” to “A” or “@”.  You can change “o” to “O” or “0”.  An “s” can become “5” or “$”.  You get the idea.  It’s also important to use a long password.  Most websites require eight characters, but you should use at least 16 characters wherever the website allows you to.  Adding a date to your familiar word will add another eight characters to your password

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Use letters and capitals
  2. Use numbers
  3. Use special characters
  4. Replace letters with capitals, numbers, and special characters
  5. Make the password at least 16 characters long, or as long as the website will allow you

So a good strong password could be “1_lIk3-$un5ets_1215” instead of “Ilikesunsets”

When you change your password, make it a UNIQUE password!

Use a different password for each site.  When you use the same password on multiple sites it makes it that much easier for hackers to get into your accounts on other sites as well.  Each site where you have stored credit card information or other financial information should have a different and unique password.  So, yes, you’ll need a different one for Amazon and eBay.  And, you’ll need a different one for Fidelity and  Charles Schwab.

What’s the best way to do this?  Add two or more characters to your strong password to indicate which site it is for.  For example, you could use  “1_lIk3-$un5ets_F1d”, or  “1_lIk3-$un5ets_eby”

Phishing is also a holiday issue!

Phishing is where someone tries to trick you into giving them your sensitive and private information.  Generally, they’ll send you an email.  (They might also call you on your phone.)  They tell you that there is an issue with your Amazon or Charles Schwab account and you need to update your password immediately.  The email looks legitimate and you are tempted to click on the “Log into your account now!” button.  Even if it is a legitimate email, you should always go directly to the official website and log on from there.

 

Do you already use strong passwords?  What tricks do you use?  How do you remember them all?  Share your tips with your fellow readers in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Patch Tuesday

A couple of years ago, when I started leaving my computer on all the time, I noticed that my computer would be turned off in the morning. Since I knew I hadn’t turned it off, I turned to the most likely culprit. I asked Chris why he had turned off my machine without letting me know so that I could save all of my stuff first!

That’s when he told me about Patch Tuesday. Microsoft has been sending out monthly updates, generally on the second Tuesday of each month, for a long time. They formalized this process in October 2003. According to this article:

“Microsoft has a pattern of releasing a larger number of updates in even-numbered months, and fewer in odd-numbered months.[7][8][9] Minor updates are also released outside Patch Tuesday. Daily updates consist of malware database refreshes for Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials. Sometimes there is an extraordinary Patch Tuesday, two weeks after the regular Patch Tuesday. Some updates could be released at any time.”

Although Microsoft has changed the name to “Update Tuesday”, the new name hasn’t gained wide acceptance in technical communities. The patches generally include code to update your Operating System to fix known bugs and to plug up any vulnerabilities from malware.

Most people notice a “Patch Wednesday” more than Patch Tuesday. Since the updates are generally installed overnight, you might be prompted to turn off your machine on Wednesday morning to finish installation. And, occasionally you’ll experience glitches with your machine on Wednesday.

Patch Wednesday is also called “Crash Wednesday” since your computer is more likely to crash after the Patch Tuesday updates have been installed. We frequently hear from customers on “Patch Wednesday” who tell us that all of a sudden they can’t print, or their internet isn’t working. Lots of times the fix is as easy as turning off the machine and turning it back on again. But sometimes they need us to reinstall drivers or re-configure their router.

It’s also been called “Exploit Wednesday” since there have been times when the Microsoft patches have left machines more vulnerable to malware. In fact, a recent blog by UK engineer “Zeros & Ones” is a bit of a rant about the whole Patch Tuesday process.

“Security is not ‘my bag’ as such – but the people at Microsoft seem to be in a fantastic situation where security issues only arise on Tuesdays. How do they do they seem to manage to get the ‘bad man’ on side?”

If you’re interested in all the patches over the past ten years, check out this website, or this one for the past five years.

What do you think about Patch Tuesday?  Share in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

My Favorite Websites

Several months ago, I blogged about Chris’ favorite websites.  People keep asking me what mine are so here goes!

Searching:

For searching, I prefer Google over all the other search sites like Bing or Yahoo.  I think it’s results are accurate – it finds what I am looking for, especially if I use the provided search tools, like Images, Video, Date, etc.

News Sites:

I’m a Jersey girl and grew up with the Sunday New York Times – every week!  For a long time I didn’t like it because at my friend’s house, they had a newspaper with comics!  But as I got older, I learned how to read and enjoy it.  Now it’s my go-to website for what’s going on in the world.

I like the Huffington Post for its left-leaning news, and its separate pages for meditation, healthy living, and eastern religions.

I started following Mashable on Twitter ages ago.  Now, the website is my go-to site for news that not everyone is writing about.

Other:

Call me weird, but I have a huge collection of books.  I like LibraryThing because it helps me keep them organized.  You can borrow and lend books with other LibraryThing members too.

Entertainment:

If I ever have a question about a movie, or an actress, or who was that guy in that TV show, I head over to IMdb.com, short for Internet Movie database.

Eagles:

In the spring, there are a couple of webcams pointed at eagle nests.  I found it very relaxing to watch the mama and papa eagles tend the eggs and then the eaglets.  There’s one from Minnesota, one from Georgia, and one from Pennsylvania.  The webcams generally operate from February thru July.

What are your favorite websites?  Let me know why!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at www.GeekForHireInc.com. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. They can provide remote service throughout North America.