Q&A with Chris Eddy (iMac’s, PDF’s and Windows 10)

Question:

I’m currently running window 7 professional on my work laptop.  Windows 10 want to upgrade computer software.  I have office 2003 and ms project software  2010 and I’m wondering if windows 10 compatible with these programs?  Also since I’ve been rejecting windows 10 computer seems to constantly upgrade software (daily) and is running slow.  Any way that not upgrading to 10 can be causing this?

Answer:

I think you should decline the W10 upgrade because W7 works fine for you, I don’t think that W10 has enough new and different and better stuff that you should run right out now (metaphorically) and get it.  Also, I’m seeing occasional strangeness with W10 becoming unresponsive or very disk intensive for long periods of time, and have seen occasional filesystem corruption after things like a graceless shutdown which causes the machine to require serious startup repair (not the automated one), but W7 would have recovered from that in stride.

Question:

An associate recommended PDFMerge as a great program to take individual pdf pages and be able to combine them into a document. I went to the website www.pdfmerge.com and downloaded it. …. Well now every pdf on my laptop is a soda pdf. This was not what I intended – will this cause me problems since they are no longer adobe pdf’s? Should I have you change it all back? Worried about this change. Recommendations?

Answer:

This is an easy thing to change.  Go to the file using Windows Explorer, right click on the file name, go down to “Open With”, select the Adobe Acrobat Reader program, and make sure you put a check in the box to use this program for this file type in the future.

Question:

Do you have an opinion on the iMac all in one?  The 21.5 ” most suitable for my space and I’d like to connect it to a TV and be able to watch TV at same time as using computer – is that possible or a pipe dream?

21.5" iMac

Answer:

In general, I like the iMac.  And, in a nutshell, yes.  But you’ll need an “Apple TV” device, which is a white hockey puck sized thing that connects to the house network and to the TV.  More here: http://store.apple.com/us/question/answers/appletv/can-i-use-apple-tv-to-mirror-my-imac-on-my-tv/QCFJP9Y472HAJP9YP

Do you have a quick question about your Mac or PC?  Send us an email to support@geekforhireinc.com

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

Windows 10 – Once more

It’s almost like it’s Groundhog Day. Again.  (The movie, not the holiday.)  Yes, we are still getting calls from customers who have upgraded to Windows 10 and immediately began to experience issues with their machine.

What are some of the issues?  Here’s a sampling of some of the questions we’ve received:

  • I can’t find any of my files! They all seem to have disappeared!
  • I can find my files, but my computer won’t let me open any of them
  • My applications don’t seem to work properly anymore
  • My computer can’t find my printer, or the network
  • I’ve got the dreaded black screen (or blue screen)
  • My computer won’t boot

The problems go on and on.  I am guessing that there are plenty of times that someone upgrades to Windows 10 with zero problems.  Those are not the people who call us!

We still have the same advice that we did in February:   http://geekforhireinc.com/windows-10-update/

  • If you have a Windows 7 machine, don’t upgrade unless you have a serious business need.
  • If you have a Windows 8 or 8.1 machine, you should be okay to upgrade, although you may still experience some issues
  • If you have a Windows XP or earlier machine, don’t (DO NOT!) upgrade.  Consider purchasing a new machine with Windows 8 or 10 already installed.

If you’re planning to upgrade do this first:

  • Back up your data.  Use an external Hard Drive if you have one, or upload to the Cloud
  • Make sure you have a list of all the programs and applications that you use.
  • Make sure you know what all of your passwords are, especially if you have asked your computer to remember them for you.
  • Make sure you know what your WiFi Router password is.

Please let us know if you experience any issues with your upgrade.  Call with any questions!

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

Review of the Word Flow keyboard for iPhones

Smartphone Keyboard

Last week Chris introduced me to a new keyboard app for the iOS. He thought it might help me have less.carpel tunnel symptoms while typing.  I’m trying it out by typing this blog with it. It is called Word Flow and was developed by Microsoft.
 
Mostly it is doing okay. It has good predictive skills, though not all that much better or different than the standard predictive text that comes with the standard iPhone.  It only has four punctuation marks available; period, comma, exclamation point, and question mark. (But, really, how often do you use a semi-colon?!)
 
One issue that I am experiencing is that when it thinks I’m done with a sentence, it will randomly throw in a period! Another issue is that it doesn’t “know” the shortcuts I’ve programmed into the phone to get a jumpstart on the predictive text.  For example, when I type “bou”, the iPhone will complete the word “Boulder.  Word Flow doesn’t do that.
Here’s an example of what the keyboard looks like and the predictive text errors:
Word Flow

Word Flow

 I think that for people who are one handed typers or thumb typers , this will be a great product.  For people like me who are used to typing with both hands and more than two thumbs, there aren’t a lot of benefits. 

As a person who is very much concerned with security and privacy, I did take exception to allowing Word Flow access to my data.  Take a look at the verbiage for the “permissions screen”.Word Flow Full Access Disclosure

“Full access allows the developer of this keyboard to transmit anything you type, including things you have previously typed with this keyboard.  This could include secretive information such as your credit card number or street address.”

Ummmm, no.  I think that is part of why the shortcuts I’ve programmed into my iPhone aren’t working with this app.

If you think this might be right for you, take a look at this, more positive review.

What keyboard are you using with your smartphone?  Is it the standard one that came with, or another app that you’ve installed?  Let us know what you are using, which phone you have, and how the keyboard is working!

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

 

 

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.

How do I … (fill-in-the-blank)…?

How-To Books:

Like a lot of our customers, I try to figure things out for myself before I call in outside support and training. That is doubly true for learning new software and applications. If my friends can’t help, I type my request into Google. If that doesn’t work, I head to the bookstore. With that in mind, here are some books we recommend:

If you’re trying to learn Windows 10:

If you can’t figure out your Windows 8 machine:

If you need help learning how to navigate on your new Mac:

Microsoft Office

Open Office:

  • I’m trying to find a great book to recommend on using OpenOffice, a replacement for the (fairly expensive) Windows Office Suite. If there is a book that you love, please share the title with me and let me know why it’s so great!

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. Links to products may provide a small commission to Geek For Hire.

 

Windows 10 Update

Upgrading to Windows 10?

We continue to see machines that have upgraded to Windows 10 with serious problems.  And, I continue to get asked if machines should be upgraded.

Here’s the scoop:

  • If you have a Windows 7 machine, don’t upgrade unless you have a serious business need.
  • If you have a Windows 8 machine, you should be okay to upgrade, although you may still experience some issues
  • If you have a Windows XP or earlier machine, don’t (DO NOT!) upgrade.  Consider purchasing a new machine with Windows 8 or 10 already installed.

If you’re planning to upgrade do this first:

  • Back up your data.  Use an external Hard Drive if you have one, or upload to the Cloud
  • Make sure you have a list of all the programs and applications that you use.
  • Make sure you know what all of your passwords are, especially if you have asked your computer to remember them for you.
  • Make sure you know what your WiFi Router password is.

Tired of the Win10 “Nag” message?

I asked Chris how to get rid of the message that pops up frequently reminding you to UPGRADE NOW! WHILE IT’S STILL FREE!.  Here’s what he said:

  • “The only reliable method I’ve found so far to prevent a machine from presenting the “Get Windows 10 Upgrade” (GWX) nag message is to rename the GWX folder which contains the upgrade program.
    • See a small window icon in the tray, to the left of the clock in the task bar.
    • Go to the folder: “C:\Windows\System32” /and/ the “C:\Windows\SysWOW64”
    • Rename the “GWX” folder to something else – such as: “_GWX”, if it exists in either folder.  Note that you will see a popup titled “Folder Access Denied” and the message “You’ll need to provide administrator permission to rename this folder”.  Click on the “Continue” button to proceed with renaming the GWX folder.
    • Reboot your machine.
    • See that the small window icon is not present, and note that it does /not/ reappear”

If you have any questions about upgrading, 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.
Shop Amazon – Contract Cell Phones & Service Plans

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.

Windows 10 Advice – Revised

A few weeks ago, I asked Chris about Windows 10. Should I upgrade right away, or wait awhile?  What should I tell our customers and readers of the blog? His answer was basically:

“Unless you have a reason to stay with your current operating system (and especially if you have Win8), it should be fine to upgrade.”

Well, he’s changed his mind.

Windows 10 has been plagued with issues, especially for computers without the capacity to properly run it. So, if you have Windows XP, or Windows Vista machine without a modern processor and upgraded RAM, you should do those upgrades first, or consider a new machine with Windows 10 already installed.

Chris has also talked with other people that have upgraded with zero problems.  One guy said that the upgrade “breathed new life into his laptop”.  Chris added:

“Of course, it could just be that we’re only getting calls from folks who are having issues!”

Another huge issue with Windows 10 that is just starting to come to light, is the amount of information that Microsoft collects. The collected data isn’t just for targeted advertising  A recent article in Wired states:

“Of course, Microsoft’s privacy statement outlines all the data that is collected, and you agreed to this when you downloaded Windows 10 and checked the terms of service.

In this Age of the Unread Terms of Service Agreement, it’s important to, well, read the ToS. It’s too easy for our technologies to gather personal information without our realizing it. Microsoft is far from the only perpetrator…”

Of course, in order to actually use Windows 10, you do have to agree to the Terms of Service. Once the new Operating System is installed, you should change the privacy and tracking settings.

So Chris’ new advice is to wait until you have a real need before installing the Windows 10 Operating System. Windows 10 doesn’t really give you much more than Windows 7. You don’t really need to run right out and get it now.  If you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10, what was your experience?

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 on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Windows 10 Upgrade

If you’ve got any version of Windows, from XP to Windows 8, you’ve likely seen the new little icon on the bottom of your screen. It looks something like this:

Get Windows 10The current information available is that this is a free upgrade offer from Microsoft It is available for a limited time.  After the free offer expires, the upgrade will cost around $200.  Microsoft is saying that the upgrade will be ready on July 29th.

I asked Chris why our customers should (or should not) upgrade to Windows 10.  Here’s what he said.

Reasons to get the Windows 10 upgrade:

  1. It’s a free way to get the next version of the Windows operating system.  My computer has Windows 7 Professional 64 bit, and I was presented with the choice to receive the new operating system as a free upgrade.
  2. This is the general direction of where Microsoft is going with the operating system, and you are probably better off with it than without it.
  3. There has been discussion about the Windows 10 user interface being more like Windows 7 than Windows 8. Since Windows 10 has not yet been released to the public, what it is is still an unknown.

Reasons not to get it:

  1. If you have applications which require Windows 7 or XP, or there is concern because those applications have not yet been tested to work with Windows 10.
  2. If you need to reinstall the operating system onto your hard drive or SSD in the future, you’ll have to install the previous version of the Operating System, but may not be able to receive the update to Windows 10 without paying for it.

The upgrade may not include an installation disk, which would allow a clean install of the Windows 10 operating system in the future.

More information about the upgrade can be found on Microsoft’s website. http://www.microsoft.com/EN-US/windows

Apple has been offering OS upgrades as digital downloads through their App Store for years, and no one is complaining.  The no-media upgrade process tends to work, even though it takes several hours to download (1-4H depending on the speed of your line to the Internet) and install (1-2H depending on the speed of your computer and the speed of your hard drive).

However, I think this will be the first Operating System upgrade that Microsoft is doing that is a digital download.  The Windows Operating System Upgrade is inherently more complex than the Apple Operating System Upgrade, because Windows runs on many more machines from different manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, HP,  etc., etc.,) than the Apple software does (which is exactly one: Mac’s).  The Apple environment is proprietary and “closed”, eg: you are licensed to only run the Apple Operating System on Apple hardware, where the Microsoft Operating System does not have this constraint.  Apple doesn’t charge for new versions of their Operating System, but Microsoft traditionally has.

Let us know if you have any questions about Windows 10!

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 on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.