Need a new part?

For Geek For Hire, last week was all about installing new parts for our customers.  Chris replaced (or added) parts on new and older computers.  If you have a non-working part on your computer, don’t think you need to get a whole new computer just to get it to work!

  • For example, one customer had a non-functioning keyboard on his laptop.  Chris ordered a new keyboard from the manufacturer and installed it.  Another option is to get an external keyboard – either wired or Bluetooth.  Although your laptop is not quite as portable when you have to lug around a keyboard too!
  • Another customer got a new desktop computer but it came without a DVD drive.  Chris ordered a very high quality DVD drive for this customer.  He took the desktop apart, put the Drive in the right place and securely attached it to the inside.  Then he tested it to make sure it worked properly – both read and write functionalities.   (I wonder what movie they watched!)
  • A third customer needed more RAM which Chris was able to install.
  • Another customer ordered a new soundbar and asked Chris to install it for them.
  • Another customer woke up to a black screen.  Chris determined the problem was the monitor and not something internal to the machine.  A new monitor was ordered – problem solved!  (Sometimes there is a problem with the video card inside the computer which causes the monitor to not work.  Chris can replace those too.)

Other miracles Chris performed last week included bringing a MiniMac back from the dead, removing several hundred viruses from a MacBook Air, removing viruses from a Dell Windows 10 machine, and uninstalling Windows 10 and reinstalling Windows 7 on yet another machine.

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.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted! Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link:  Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

The Scariness Increases

Ransomware

Chris forwarded a link to me the other day about some scary “malvertising”.  For those of you who didn’t have Senor Garcia for High School Spanish, “mal” is a Latin prefix meaning “bad”.  Other words you might be familiar with include “malware” and “malicious”.  And that’s what this is: Malware that looks like advertising, but really contains malicious code.

I can hear you saying: “But I know how to be careful and not click on stuff that looks suspicious!”  And that’s the issue right there.  These are “advertisements” that appear on highly respected websites.  ARS-Technica warns us that:

“Mainstream websites, including those published by The New York Times, the BBC, MSN, and AOL, are falling victim to a new rash of malicious ads that attempt to surreptitiously install crypto ransomware and other malware on the computers of unsuspecting visitors, security firms warned.

The tainted ads may have exposed tens of thousands of people over the past 24 hours alone, according to a blog post published Monday by Trend Micro. The new campaign started last week when “Angler,” a toolkit that sells exploits for Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and other widely used Internet software, started pushing laced banner ads through a compromised ad network.”

Another technical site, MalwareBytes, mentions some other websites, including Newsweek, Realtor.com, and NFL.com.

And, the malware that is being downloaded isn’t your run-of-the-mill virus.  In many cases it is Ransomware, which takes all of your files and encrypts them with a special key.  You then need to pay a ransom to get the encryption key to get your data back.

This is not a message you want to see popping up on your screen!

Ransomware Image - source: http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/03/big-name-sites-hit-by-rash-of-malicious-ads-spreading-crypto-ransomware/

Ransomware Image – source: http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/03/big-name-sites-hit-by-rash-of-malicious-ads-spreading-crypto-ransomware/

What is our advice?

  1. Use an adware blocker like AdBlock Plus
  2. For some websites, they won’t show you ANY content unless you agree to see their ads.  In that case, never click on an advertisement.
  3. If you really are interested in a product or service that is being offered, go to the company’s site directly.
  4. Keep your data backed up to an external source.  And back it up at least once a month – more often if you are working with ever-changing and precious data.

If you need help getting rid of any malware, or learning how to regularly back up your data, give us a call!

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.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted! Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link:  Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Custom Computers

Gaming Computers

One of the services we provide is to build custom computers from scratch.   Chris is building one now for a long-time customer. In fact, this is the second machine we’ve built for this particular customer!

Here’s the process. Chris talks with the customer about what their goals are:

  • What do they hope to use this computer for?
  • How much storage should it have?
  • What software is required?
  • Should this be a portable computer or one that stays in the office?
  • What is the budget?

Once Chris has a good understanding of what the requirements are, he does some research to determine exactly which parts need to be ordered. Often times there is a choice to be made between two or more options. He’ll have a conversation with the customer to decide which will best meet their needs. Once all the parts have been decided, he’ll send the list (with all the order links) to the customer for ordering.

When the parts arrive, it looks a little chaotic for a while, but then it all comes together!

You can hear the excitement in Chris’ words:

“One of my special joys is to design and build full custom computers, and this one is for a customer who is still using last full custom computer I made for them about 5 years or so ago.

There are several special features in the design, but one of the special results is absolutely Smokin-Hot processor performance: using a modern 4 core processor and water cooling, the stock speed is 4Ghz on each of the 4 cores.

To make sure things are thermally stable, I’ve been running a CPU heating utility, which launches 8 CPU intensive processes all running in parallel, and after about 1H the cooler is only warm to the touch with a slight increase in overall fan sound. Nice!

Note: this picture was taken after the computer was on for about 10 minutes, but /before/ the burn-in process was started.”

 

This computer is almost ready to be delivered to the customer!

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.

Free Substitutes

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can’t believe how expensive everything is getting!  When I look at the prices for different software, I am astounded!  So, with that in mind, here are some Office Suite products you can download for free instead of buying the latest version of Microsoft Office. (All of these say they will work with Windows, OS-X, and Linux.)

OpenOffice:

For common office software like spreadsheets and word processing, many people like and use OpenOffice. Here’s the description from the Apache website:

“Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.”

Head to the OpenOffice website for more info.

LibreOffice:

The Document Foundation’s LibreOffice is another office suite.  Here’s the description from their website:

“LibreOffice is a powerful office suite; its clean interface and powerful tools let you unleash your creativity and grow your productivity. LibreOffice embeds several applications that make it the most powerful Free & Open Source Office suite on the market: Writer, the word processor, Calc, the spreadsheet application, Impress, the presentation engine, Draw, our drawing and flowcharting application, Base, our database and database frontend, and Math for editing mathematics.”

More info here.

Caligra Office:

Yet another Office Suite.  According to their website:
“Calligra Suite is a set of applications written to help you to accomplish your work. Calligra includes efficient and capable office components: Words for text processing, Sheets for coputations, Stage for presentations, Plan for planning, Flow for flowcharts, and Kexi for database creation.  In addition, Calligra offers cutting edge applications for artists to work on 2D drawings and illustrations: Krita for painting and raster drawing, and Karbon for vector graphics.

More here.

Chris has been using OpenOffice for years and can provide some training if needed.

Note:  Some of these applications require that you have Java installed.

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.

Adventures!

As some of you know, our kids are taking an epic trip this year.  They’ll be hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.  They start at Springer Mountain (north east of Atlanta, Georgia) next week and plan on arriving at Katahdin (Maine) by September.

Can you say “Wow!”?

Our son has been doing the back-country adventure thing for awhile so he has most of the gear he needs.  But our daughter needed more modern gear.  Most of her gear was hand-me-down stuff from friends and family.  An eight pound pack and six pound tent just won’t cut it when you’re walSPOT Messengerking 2200 miles with them on your back.  So, she’s been getting all the equipment she needs over the past six months or so.  Some of the things she’s acquired include an ultra-light tent and backpack, a bear-bag, an efficient stove, and a warm sleeping bag.

One of the things we got – more for our peace of mind than anything else – is a SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger.  Josh had one several years ago and we liked being able to see where he was, and, more importantly, that he was still alive!  At the push of a button, the SPOT Messenger lets you tell your friends and family:

    • Where you are
    • That you are okay
    • or, That you need emergency assistance

Because it uses satellites, and not WiFi or the cellular system, you can use it just about anywhere.  I think it will update a website too, but we’re still looking into that.

Have you ever thought about an amazing adventure like this one?  Here are some…

Helpful Links:

You can follow their adventures on Bailey’s blog – AT-2feet  She’ll be keeping it up-to-date using the WordPress app and camera on her iPhone.

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.