Easy Fixes for Your Mac or PC

Every once in awhile we get called to someone’s home about a problem that has been perplexing them.  We get there and, for us, these are easy fixes, and we have the problem resolved within 15 minutes.  Of course, I try to screen those calls when they come in and talk the caller through a potential solution, but it doesn’t always work out.  Plus, sometimes people just want to have someone else take care of it for them!

Easy Fixes for your Mac or PC

Vintage Geek For Hire – make your computer really cook!

Keep these easy fixes in mind when you run into computer troubles:

  • The screen on my laptop has cracked and I can’t see anything:
    • For the short term, you can plug a monitor into your laptop so that you can see what is on the screen.
    • For the long term, you’ll need to decide if you want to replace the screen, or just get a new laptop.
  • My wireless mouse (or keyboard) isn’t working:
    • Check the back to make sure you didn’t accidentally turn it off
    • If that doesn’t work, make sure the little dongle you have plugged into one of your USB outlets is plugged in all the way.
    • If that doesn’t work, change the batteries.
    • If that doesn’t work, plug in a wired keyboard or mouse, or get a new one.
    • And if that doesn’t work, there is probably an issue with your machine and it’s time to call in the pros
  • The keyboard on my laptop isn’t working, or one of the keys doesn’t work.
    • For the short term, you can plug an external keyboard in, or use a wireless keyboard
    • For the long term, you’ll need to decide if you want to replace the keyboard or just get a new laptop
  • All of a sudden, I can’t print from my phone or tablet:
    • Make sure your phone or tablet is connected to the WiFi
    • If that doesn’t solve it, turn everything off and back on again, including the router
    • If that doesn’t work, it’s time to call in the pros
  • My laptop won’t charge
    • Does the charging cable sit firmly in the plug/outlet on your laptop?  If it doesn’t, you might need to have the plug/outlet replaced on your laptop.  You might also consider getting a new machine.
    • If you always have the laptop plugged into the same outlet, check that the outlet still works.  Plug a lamp in and see if it turns on.  If it doesn’t, call your electrician.

Are these Easy Fixes helpful for you?  Please forward to a friend!

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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7 Great Websites for Tech News

Chris and I are always scouring the InterWebs for tech news.  What new developments will affect the world of technology?  Who has a new gizmo out there and what are the experts saying about it?  And, most importantly, what new developments will impact our customers?  We have a bunch of favorite websites for tech news that we’d like to share with you:

Grerat Websites for Tech NewsChris’ favorite websites for Tech News:

Because he’s the Principal Geek, Chris’ reading tends to be more technical than mine. Here are three of his faves:

  1. Ars Technica – I think this is his most favorite site.
  2. C|Net – I like C|Net too.
  3. Wired – I can’t prove it, but we were one of Wired’s first subscribers to their print magazine!

Gail’s favorite websites for Tech News:

I’m more like an average person with a little bit of tech knowledge.  Here are four of my favorites which tend not to be as technically complicated as Chris’ reading:

  1. Fast Company – I like FastCo because they have some pretty engaging content.
  2. Huffington Post – Granted, these articles are “dumbed down” for the masses, but it does give me more of an idea of what people are worried about with their tech right now.
  3. Gizmodo – Lots of gadgets – it’s all about the gadgets.
  4. The Verge – Reviews of lots of trendy new tech toys.

Check out these websites and let us know what you think.  Do you have other favorites that we haven’t listed here?  Let us know in the comments below.  And, as always, If you found this helpful, please forward it!

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How to organize your Gmail to Get to #InBoxZero

Recently, a Facebook friend was complaining about all of the emails she had in her Gmail inbox.  She ended up deleting any email that was more than one year old!  Gmail makes it really easy to organize, so there IS a better way to get to #InboxZero than by deleting everything.  If you need help to Organize your Gmail, read on:

Organize Your Gmail FoldersOrganize Your Gmail:

The first thing you want to do is to think of the email categories (or folders) that are relevant to you.  Some basic categories might include:

  • Friends
    • you can even set up one folder for your best friends that you email a lot
  • Family
    • Again, you can set up a separate folder for each family member
  • Business
    • Whether you work for a corporation, or are an entrepreneur, your sub-folders might include Vendors, Marketing, Sales, Etc.
  • Hobbies
    • One folder for each Hobby
  • Organizations you belong to
    • Do you volunteer in your community or belong to professional organizations?

The second step to Organize Your Gmail is to set up the folders (Gmail calls them labels)  you think you’ll need. Click on the wheel near the top righthand side.  Then click on Settings.  The first option is “General”, the second option is “labels”.  Click on Labels.  Near the bottom of your screen is a button titled “Create New Label”.  Click on that.

  • Next create one label for each of the categories you specified above.  For sub-categories, create another label which is”nested” under the main category.
  • Once you have all your labels created it’s time to move your emails. Don’t worry! you wont be moving each individual email one at a time.  You’ll be creating rules to properly filter each email as it arrives into your inbox.
  • Open (or click on) an email that you would like to file.  Then, click on the tag icon at the top of the email and create a label for that email.  Next, click on the down arrow on the right side of the Search bar. Enter the email into the email box, or, if it is about a particular subject, enter that into the “Has The Words” box.  Be sure to include quote marks if there is more than one word for your search.  Then click on “Create Filter With This Search” at the bottom right of the window.
  • A new box will pop up with your options.  Remember to select the correct label for your selection.  And, if you have a number of emails already which meet that criteria, click on the “Also apply filter to matching conversations” box.  You have a number of other options here too.  You can automatically file the email without it reaching your inbox, or you could mark it as important.

Then, follow the same steps to Organize Your Gmail until everything is labeled and neatly filed!

Please forward this to a friend if you found this helpful!

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How to Use your iPhone’s Health App

It’s true.  You can now use your iPhone’s Health App (and equipment connected to your iPhone) to track many of your body’s functions.  For example you can track your heart rate, the Oxygen saturation in your bloodstream, or the number of steps you walk.  If you have the iWatch, it can also track how far you swim, how long you stand, and other activities.

How to Use Your iPhone's Health App with Sleep CycleActivity

The iPhone’s Health App will automatically track your steps, flights of stairs climbed, and how many miles you’ve walked, but you do need to always have your phone with you in order for the data to be accurate. If you synch your iWatch with your iPhone, you have access to additional data that is much more accurate.

Mindfulness

There are a number of apps that you can connect to your iPhone’s Health App to help you meditate and practice mindfulness.

  • Calm: Calm has a few options available for free.  Most of the meditations require a monthly, annual, or lifetime subscription.  Calm also has bedtime stories to calm you down and help you to get a more restful nights sleep. Calm is rated 5 stars with 1482 reviews.
  • 10% Happier – Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: 10% Happier also has a few meditations available for free, with an option to purchase a monthly or annual subscription.  It also has a meditation to help you wind down for sleeping.  10% Happier is rate 5 stars with 676 reviews.
  • Headspace: Guided Meditation: Like the other two apps, Headspace requires a paid subscription to gain access to most of the meditations.  It is rated 5 stars with 592 reviews.

Try them out and see which one works best for you.  You may find that you don’t even need to sign up for a paid subscription

Nutrition

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any great apps to track your food intake.  The iPhone’s Health app does allow you to manually enter data which is very easy to do.  If you take vitamin supplements, you can also enter the amount of Vitamin A, B, etc., that you are consuming. Don’t forget to drink lots of water every day!

Sleep

Getting a good nights sleep is very important to your overall health. And collecting sleep data is the first step in understanding how your productivity is impacted by your sleep.  I looked at several different sleep apps, but only Sleep Cycle seems like it will work well:

  • Sleep Cycle doesn’t require that you place the phone under your pillow.  Instead it uses the microphone on your iPhone to track your sleep sounds to determine when you are sleeping and how deeply.  It even records you when you snore!  Sleep Cycle is rated 5 stars with 1340 reviews

Have you learned more about tracking your health with your iPhone? If you found this helpful, please forward it!

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How to download a PDF to your Kindle

Wondering how to download a PDF to your Kindle?  I have an ancient, first edition Kindle.  My brother gave it to me years ago and I have had endless hours of reading pleasure with it.  As technology has changed and Kindles have gotten better, I’ve stuck with my original version, primarily because I’ve downloaded the Kindle app onto my iPhone and iPad.  Once you log in to your Amazon account, you’ve got access to everything in your Kindle library!

Download a PDF to your KindleI love real books; the smell of a book that’s been on the shelf for a year and I’m re-reading for the fourth time, the feel of them in my hands, the weight on my chest when I’ve fallen asleep reading, and the cool bookmarks I find and use.  But there’s something very convenient about the Kindle.  I can carry a couple of tomes on a trip without the additional storage issues.

Another thing I like about the Kindle is that I frequently see free PDFs available to download.  Sure it’s nice to have a free book, but if I didn’t have an easy way to read it, I’d pass.  It took a while, but I’ve finally figured out how to download a PDF to my Kindle account and can read them there.

(FYI, Hay House frequently has Books from top authors available for free to download a PDF. You do have to sign up for their newsletter, and the free books are only available for a short time.  You can also do a search for free books to download to find more.)

Email to Download a PDF:

  • To upload one of those PDFs to your Kindle account, you’ll need to know your Kindle email. That’s usually easy to find.  Log onto your Amazon account, look under your devices, and you should see your Kindle email there.  In my case, my Kindle email is my login id followed by “@kindle.com”
  • Once you know your Kindle address, you can email those PDF’s to that Kindle address. Then when you open your Kindle or Kindle app the next time, you’ll be able to read the book!
  • Know that Amazon does have a small charge for this service. The last time I uploaded four good size books, I was charged $0.90 for all four.

Transfer to Download a PDF:

  • You can also transfer the PDF file to your Kindle. You would do this by connecting your Kindle to your computer with the Kindle USB charging cable.
  • Once the Kindle is connected, locate the Kindle folder using “Finder” or under “Computer”. It might show up as an external memory or hard drive.
  • Once you know where the Kindle folder is, head over to where you have saved the PDF. I always save mine in the “My eBooks” folder.  Highlight the file and copy.  Head back to the Kindle folder and paste the file in the Kindle folder under “Documents”.
  • Once the file is copied onto the Kindle, you’ll be able to access it on your Kindle or on the Kindle app from your Smartphone or Tablet. Remember to click the button to safely disconnect the Kindle!

Now all you have to do is find a quiet time to sit down with your new book!

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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3 Steps to make your iPhone screen more efficient

Are you one of those people who have to scroll through four or five pages on your phone to get to the application you are looking for?  I’m here to tell you that your iPhone screen can be much more efficient, and you can make it easier to find your importaniphone screent apps.  (Here’s what my home iPhone screen looks like – so easy to find my most used apps!)

  1. First, you need to think about which apps you use multiple times a day.  Those are the apps that belong on your Home or first iPhone screen.  It’s simple to drag and drop them to that first page.  Put your index finger on the icon for that app and hold it there.  Don’t tap it!  After about 3 to 5 seconds, it will start to “wiggle”.  Then you can move the app by dragging it.  If it’s not already on the first page, drag it towards the left until the previous page appears.  Continue doing that until you are on the first page of your phone.  Then you can drop it onto that page.
  2. Next, you might have noticed that some of your apps are related.  For example I have several apps I check for the weather, several for News, and several for sending messages.  I have grouped those apps together so that they are all in one place.  Again, hold the icon for one of those apps until it starts to “wiggle”.  Then drag it on top of the app you want to group it with.  Your iPhone will give the grouping a name.  You can change that name by clicking the small “x” next to the title, and typing in your own name for that group.
  3. Lastly, once you have all of your apps in different groups, it is easier to “drag and drop” them to the Home page or a second page.  I try to keep all of my apps on just two pages.  The first or Home iPhone screen is where I have the apps I use the most.  The second page has the apps I don’t use every day or even once a week.

If you found this helpful, please forward it to your fellow iPhone users!

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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4G Service – What the heck is that?

Have you ever wondered what 4G service is? Have you wondered what the code is next to your cell phone bars of service?  For example, right now my iPhone shows 4 dots (out of 5) and the code LTE.  It looks like this:

LTE or 4G service

 

 

 

What the heck does this mean?  And sometimes when I complain to Chris about my lousy cell quality he’ll ask me what kind of service I have.  Invariably the answer is “3G”.  What the heck is that?!  Basically, my phone is currently providing me with 4G service so that I can surf the internet and send videos to my friends with wild abandon!

A little history:

When we first started using cell phones, they were for voice and simple texting only, which doesn’t take as much bandwidth as data does.  Gradually, the sophistication of the phones, and the service provided on the cell towers, improved.  Using vast amounts of creative thought in naming each new improvement, they were named 2G, 3G, 4G, and the yet to be released 5G.  (The “G” stands for Generation, so the 4G or 4th Generation phones are better than the 2G phones.)

I like the way PC Magazine explains the difference in the different generations:  “1G was analog cellular. 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds.”

At the beginning of this year, AT&T shut down their 2G network.  It was state-of-the-art when it was first introduced in 2000, but 17 years later it’s totally obsolete.  Engadget put it this way:

“The shutdown is also a reminder of just how far mobile data has come since 2G hit the scene (in the US, at the turn of the millennium). EDGE was considered fine at a time when any mobile data was a relative novelty, and the most you did with it was check email or surf the most basic of websites. Now, even a modestly-sized app or photo download would absolutely crush 2G — the modern mobile internet depends on speeds that are orders of magnitude faster. We can only imagine what it’ll be like when 3G bites the dust and LTE is considered the baseline.”

4G Service

According to Wiki, LTE or 4G service provides your phone with technologies that “include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D television.”

5th Generation

The 5G technology is still being defined, but you can expect to see it in the next year or two.  In the meantime AT&T and Verizon are launching pre-5G which will increase speeds and decrease latency.

 

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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Ducking iPhone! How to change your auto-correct settings

My friends and I joke about the auto-correct feature on our Smartphones. (We call it “auto-cucumber”.)  I don’t use the “F” word often, but when I do, I never mean to type “ducking”!  Then there are the times when you have to type in your email over and over again, and you wish your iPhone could just remember it.  And, there are words that you ALWAYS misspell.  How many times have I typed in “Boukder”, and had to go back and change that “k” to an “l”?!

This is easy to fix!

First, click on “Settings”, then click on “General”, scroll down to “Keyboard”, and finally, click on “Text Replacement”.

Once you’re there, check over the existing auto-correct list that the iPhone may have already created for you.  Do they all make sense?  Delete the ones that you don’t want to keep by swiping the word to the left.

Now it’s time to add your customized auto-correct words and phrases!iPhone Auto-Correct

Click on the plus sign in the upper right corner to add new words and shortcuts.  In the “Phrase” field, type in what you want to appear on your screen.  In the “Shortcut” field, type in the shortcut.  Some suggestions:

  • Type in the first few letters of people in your family as a shortcut
  • Type in a common misspelling and it’s correction
  • Add your email address
  • I added the shortcut “ty” for “Thank you!”
  • I added the shortcut “omw” for “On My Way!”
  • And “GFH” becomes “Geek For Hire, Inc.”

Think about the words and phrases you commonly use on your iPhone and add them to your Auto-correct.

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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Stop using the Internet! 4 ways to maintain your online privacy

The other day I was thinking about new shoes.  I went to Google and typed in “Keen Mary Janes”. Now, all I see when I’m on my computer (and phone!) are ads for Keens and ads for Mary Janes.  So much for my online privacy… I keep wondering if I do decide to buy them will the ads disappear and I’ll start seeing ads for a different product that I’ve Googled.

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy lately, ever since the House & Senate passed a bill last month in favor of blocking internet privacy rules.  You can read more about that here.  This bill essentially gives Internet Service Providers more leeway in selling our searching info to advertisers.

There are ways to keep our data more private, one of them being setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). That’s a little over my head, so I’ve asked Chris to write a blog about that.  In the meantime, there are four pretty easy ways of keeping your searching history more private.

Online Privacy – What can you do?

You could….

Well, you could just stop using the Internet.  No more email. No more Facebook and other Social Media. No more online shopping sprees.  No more checking the news online.  Yeah, like that’s gonna happen!

Or, you could….

Do all of your shopping in person.  With cash.  Without signing into the store’s reward program. A good friend of mine once went to a store and bought a pair of pink Ugg boots for a friend with cash.  Unfortunately she did use the store’s reward card.  For weeks afterwards she got ads on her computer for Uggs!

Or, maybe….

You can go to your local library.  As long as you don’t sign in to your email or any other account, your online privacy is maintained.  You can search for anything while you’re there without worrying about what your ISP will see.  You can print off the relevant pages, fork over 10¢ or 20¢ per page,  and be on your way.

Realistically….DuckDuckGo helps protect your online privacy

You can use apps that protect your privacy.  Two that come to mind are DuckDuckGo for Internet searches and What’sApp for texting.  I like What’s App’s description of their end-to-end encryption:

“WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is available when you and the people you message use the latest versions of our app. Many messaging apps only encrypt messages between you and them, but WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. This is because your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read them.”  Here’s the link to download WhatsApp to your Smartphone or tablet.

It’s easy to change your default search engine on the iPhone to DuckDuckGo.  Click on the Settings icon, then scroll down to Safari.  Click on Safari and select your preferred Search Engine. On your computer, just bookmark the DuckDuckGo page and use it whenever you do a search.  I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and am not noticing a difference in the quality of responses to my searches.

Using DuckDuckGo and WhatsApp doesn’t protect you 100% but it does help you maintain some online privacy.

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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4 Ways to Tell if the Person Calling You is Not a Scammer

This may seem counter-intuitive, but I don’t think you should always answer your phone.  More and more, the person on the other end isn’t someone you know.  They just want to sell you something, or scam you, or they just want to see if they’ve got a working phone number on their call list.

So, how can you tell if your caller is legit?  Spoiler Alert: I saved the best one for last!

1. Their name and phone number pop up in the caller ID, and you recognize the name.

Many times I receive a call from “Unidentified Caller” or “Number Blocked”.  Why should I answer those calls? I primarily use my cell phone but my carrier only sends me a number, not the full caller ID info.  That is why I always add every caller to my contact list.  If it ends up being a sales call or a scammer, I block the number from being able to call me in the future.

Sure, this means I sometimes miss a call from my kid when she’s lost her phone and had to borrow a friends.  But then, she always leave a message.

What a Scammer will say to you: "We just want to make sure your machine is okay."

What a Scammer will say to you

2. When you don’t answer, they leave a voice mail.

Legitimate callers leave a message. It’s a friend or family calling from a new number.  It’s your Dry Cleaners calling to let you know you left a credit card in your shirt pocket.  To be sure, this isn’t a sure-fire way to filter out the junk calls.  I get plenty of messages that start with “If you want to make $1000 each and every day then please listen to this entire message.” But, for me at least, it works 90% of the time

3. Their phone number doesn’t show up on 800 Notes.

There are several websites that let you check the caller information.  I’ve found that 800 Notes generally has current info. You won’t always find out exactly who is calling you, but you can tell, if a lot of people are reporting the same number, that it’s not someone you want to talk to.

4. They don’t tell you that your computer has malware or isn’t up-to-date. (Scammer for sure!)

Recently, we’ve had several people call us to repair their computer after they’ve had a conversation with “Microsoft” or their “Internet Service Provider”.  There are variations, but it comes down to the same basic thing:

a) “Microsoft” or “Dell” calls to let you know that your Operating System is out of date and you need to update it right away.  The caller would be happy to update it for you, if you’ll just give them remote access to your computer.

b) Your “Internet Service Provider” or ISP calls to let you know that you have a terrible virus and you are spreading it all over.  Again, they’d be happy to remove all the malware.  You just have to give them remote access to your computer, and generally pay between $75-500 for the privilege.

Unless you’ve have already signed up for a service where you have asked a company to scan your computer on a regular basis, no well meaning person is going to call you to “help” you with your computer.  When someone remotely accesses your computer, they will generally add malware to it, not remove it!

If you’ve given a cold caller remote access to your computer, and now you’re worried that they installed a virus or other malware, give us a call.  We’ll do a complete scan of your machine and remove all the malware we find.

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 fifteen 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, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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.  I’ll try that next!   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 (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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