Blog: Tech News & Tips

9 Easy Tips for Online Safety

Staying safe online takes constant vigilance!  Clicking on links in your email, an app, or on a random website can lead to lots of problems.  But THINKING about it all the time is exhausting! Thankfully, there are a few shortcuts to ensure your online safety

Don’t give real answers:Internet Safety / Online Safety

Probably the most important thing to remember is that not everyone is entitled to real answers. Closely guard your personal information.  Who needs to know your birthday and why? Do you need to be at least 21 or 55?  Make up a birth date to fit those criteria! Do they want to know what your zip code is to show you the closest store to you?  Type in 80305 instead of 80302! No one except maybe your bank needs to know your mother’s maiden name. Come to think of it, most apps don’t even need to know your real name or email address.  Which brings us to tip #2…

Create a throw-away email address:

It’s easy enough to set up a new email using Gmail. Use a fake name. Forward the emails to your real address so if there is something important you’ll be sure to receive it.

WiFi:

When you’re using WiFi away from your home, office, or other trusted location, be very careful to ensure that it is a legitimate service. Always ask the coffee shop, or wherever you are, what the name of their WiFi is.  Be sure you are clicking on “Starbucks” and not “S1arbucks”.  (Did you see what I did there?) And, you should always connect to WiFi on your phone or tablet via a Virtual Private Network or VPN.

Online Safety with a VPN:

A Virtual Private Network helps ensure your online safety.  A VPN is encrypting software that masks your identity and location by hiding your IP address. Check out this article explaining what a VPN is and why you need one.

Banking:

If your bank gives you the option, you should check your balance online every day to make sure nothing nefarious is going on. (If they don’t offer online banking, I’d suggest switching banks.  After all, this is the 21st Century!) Another thing you should expect from your bank is a robust Fraud Department.  As a business, we’ve occasionally had to make online purchases from other countries.  The Fraud Department at our bank calls us each time to make sure it’s really us doing the transaction. I appreciate their diligence.

Online purchasing:

If you make a lot of purchases online, you should probably open a new debit card at your current bank just for those transactions. When you make a purchase, go to your bank account online and transfer enough funds into the account for that specific purchase. If your information is compromised, you can easily close that account.

Passwords:

Online Safety
Don’t use these passwords!

I know I’ve said this before. You can’t change your passwords often enough! Online safety starts with a secure password. Change your password on all of your apps and online accounts AT LEAST once a month.  Don’t reuse passwords.  Make sure they can’t be cracked. Use at least 12 characters.  So many rules!  Sign up for our free Guide to creating a secure and easy-to-remember password.

Location tracking:

Remember to check occasionally which apps are tracking your location. Yeah, you might have it locked down, but when you update the app, they may turn location tracking on again. Yes, you want the weather app to know where you are when you want to know how much snow you’re going to get.  Once you have your forecast and close the app though, they shouldn’t still be tracking where you are.

Online safety at Libraries, Hotel Business Suites, and Internet cafés:

Most of us can do just about everything we need to online with our phone or tablet. But there are times when we need to visit a library, internet café, or the “Business Suite” at a hotel. Be especially careful in these locations.  If you need to print an email, use your phone to email the document to your throw-away email account.  Then log in to that account instead of your real email.  If you do need to log into your real email, a financial account, or another secure app, change your password on that account as soon as you’ve completed your business. And use your phone or tablet to change your password, not the computer at the library or business suite.

Conclusion:

Online safety is a habit you can grow.  Be aware of what information you’re sharing and where you are sharing it.  What information can stay private?  You can do this!

Do you have additional suggestions?  Do you need more info or clarification?  Write a comment below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

9 Easy Tips to Set Up a Virtual Office

Please note: We often recommend products that we like.  Some of these are affiliate links and we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Virtual Office Requirements:virtual office fast wifi

WIFI:

A virtual office must have fast WiFi. A minimum of 12mbps is recommended. You may need to upgrade your router in order to provide the contracted speed that is flowed from your ISP to your devices.  (Check your actual speed at SpeedTest.)  Good routers can support many simultaneous users and fast speed.  Chris recommends the Nighthawk AC2300 router which lists for $200.  You can find it at Amazon or Best Buy. I’m pretty lucky at my friend’s home.  They’ve got great wifi!

a Virtual Office needs fast wifiTablet:

Sometimes a laptop is just too heavy!  My iPad has been perfect for internet research, sending emails, and keeping the Geek For Hire calendar up-to-date. And it’s great for watching AmazonPrime movies, playing games, and keeping up with Facebook. Here’s our Buying Guide of what to look for in a tablet.

Cell Phone:

Well, this kind of goes without saying! But it’s important that folks can reach you. If you’re working in your car in between appointments, make sure you’ve got great cell service.

Charging Cords:

Do you have the proper charging cables for all of your devices?

Optional Equipment for your Virtual Office:virtual office

Laptop:

Sure, you can get a lot of business accomplished with just your Smartphone and tablet.  But sometimes, you just need your laptop to do certain tasks. For example, Quickbooks won’t let me enter all the detail I’d like on their mobile app. I need to login to Quickbooks from my laptop to do that.

TV:

Entertainment value.  Pure and simple. Sometimes it’s nice to have background noise in your Virtual Office.

Headphones:

If you’re watching a movie at a coffee shop, having a good pair of headphones is essential!  When I got a new pair of headphones, here is the buying process I went through.

External Keyboard for Tablet:

Typing on a tablet can be cumbersome.  The hands – so big.  The keyboard – so small.  The mistakes – so many! Get yourself a Bluetooth keyboard and typing will be much easier.  The newer ones have back-lighting which makes it easier to type when the lights are dimmed.

Speech to Text Software:

Sometimes you just don’t want to type, or you can be more creative when you speak rather than typing on a keyboard. Many of our customers have used Dragon Naturally Speaking to get their thoughts down without typing.  Keep in mind that it does take a bit to customize the software to your voice.

Do you have a Virtual Office?  What tools do you rely on? Let me know in the comments below!

Please share this with your friends who don’t work in an office building.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

10 Password Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

As a Mac and PC repair company, when it comes to password mistakes, we’ve seen it all!  From people using “password” to log into their investment account, to people giving their email password to a hacker who calls them on the phone. (“But he sounded like a such a nice guy!”)

Here are 10 password mistakes you don’t want to make when logging into an account on the internet.

password mistakes

  1. Don’t share your password with anyone.  If someone needs to log into one of your accounts to fix something, make sure you trust them.  And when they’re done, change your password on that account right away!
  2. Don’t save your passwords in the “cloud”.  There have been a lot of hacking attempts, and corporations are not always as careful with your data as they should be.  In fact, we’ve had two customers who have lost access to their password account.  One of them needed to log into ALL of her accounts and change the password on each one! I keep all of my passwords in an Excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet is on my computer, which has a pretty secure password, and the file itself is password protected with a 12 character phrase.
  3. Don’t keep a written list of your passwords next to your computer. (…or under your keyboard, or taped to your wall…)
  4. Don’t keep a written list in your planner (aka calendar) or phone book.
  5. Don’t auto-save passwords on your browser.  This is the same logic as saving passwords in the cloud.  Yes, it’s a pain to have to type it in each time, but corporations like Google and even Firefox don’t always follow great processes to keep your information secure.
  6. Don’t use sequential numbers or letters, like “111111” or “12345678” or “qwertyuiop” or “abcdefgh”. Click to receive our Guide on creating a secure AND easy-to-remember Password.password mistakes
  7. Don’t use something easy to guess like “password”.  Every year top security companies look to see which are the most commonly used passwords.  (“Password” has always been in the top 5.)  Wikipedia published this list in 2018. Make sure your password isn’t on this list!
  8. Don’t use a password that’s under six characters.  The longer your password is, the better.  In 2017, it took four hours to crack a simple eight-character password and 200 years to crack a simple 12 character password.  In 2019, with computer speeds ever-improving, those times will be shorter. Take a look at this infographic for more details.password mistakes
  9. Don’t use your name or your birthday, or any personal information.
  10. Don’t use your mother’s maiden name. In the last century, most women were married and took their husband’s name.  In 2019, that’s all changed.  Along with other personal information, figuring out your mom’s last name is pretty easy.  Just take a look at one of your Facebook acquaintances for a few minutes. You’ll be able to figure out their mom’s name as well as other personal information in no time at all.

Which of these password mistakes have you made?  Are there others I should have included?  Let me know in the comments below!

Please share this with your brother-in-law, who is making these password mistakes!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Wireless Keyboard – Buying Guide, Seven Features, and our Recommendations

We received a call recently from a long-time customer who wanted to upgrade his wireless keyboard.  That was all the push Chris needed to do some research for a new toy!  But, before I reveal what his new favorite is, let’s talk a little about seven different features you might look for in a new wireless keyboard.wireless keyboard

1 – Mouse:

First, you need to decide if you want the keyboard to be paired with a mouse. The benefit is that you would only have to use one USB port on your machine.  The downside is that not all keyboards come with a mouse, and you may decide that the wireless keyboard you can’t live without, doesn’t have a mouse.

2 – Ten-Key:

What’s your preference?  Using the numbers along the row above the letters, or do you prefer to use the number pad off to the right of a standard keyboard?

3 – Media Keys:wireless keyboard

Do you want to manage additional tasks from your keyboard?  I like that I can control the volume from my keyboard, I can open a window to send a new email, I can open a new browser window, and so much more.

4 – Backlight:

Do you often work in a darkened room?  You may want to consider a backlit keyboard.  The laptops that Chris has been designing recently all come with a backlit keyboard, which is useful when you’re working in bed next to your sleeping spouse.  If you primarily use your wireless keyboard at your desk, you probably don’t need a backlight.

5 – Size:

How big of a keyboard do you want?  Do you want a portable one that clips onto your tablet?  Should it be foldable to fit into your backpack? Or do you want a full-sized wireless keyboard that you can leave on your desk?

6 – Tactile Response:

Clicking?  Silent?  If this is important to you, make sure you know ahead of time what the keyboard will do.wireless keyboard - Logitech MK 320

7 – Ergonomics:

If you have issues with carpal tunnel or spend all day typing, you may want to look for a keyboard that has a unique design to keep your wrists in the proper position while typing.

I have a laptop.  I don’t need a separate wireless keyboard!

That’s what I used to think.  But my laptop is on the small side, and the keyboard is too.  My fingers were continually confusing keys and mis-spelling words.  Worst of all, the heal of my hand would accidentally touch the keypad, and the mouse would go flying to a different part of the screen.  It was very frustrating.  I’ve since learned that I’m not the only one to experience this.  I solved this by purchasing a wireless keyboard, which is the size of a conventional keyboard, and works well for me.

Geek For Hire Recommendations:

Please note: We often recommend products, parts, and resources that we like.  Some of these are affiliate links and we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

  • Chris’ new favorite keyboard is called the Logitech Craft.  It has a funky knob on the top left side which allows you to adjust images in Photoshop or Illustrator. It has a backlit keyboard and (WHAT?!) can manage up to three devices from the single wireless keyboard!  It’s compatible with both Mac’s and PCs.   This one retails for $199, but Amazon and Best Buy currently have it priced at $170.  I’ve seen it on other sites at prices ranging from $179 to $199
  • The wireless keyboard I had been using for the past few years suddenly died last month.  I purchased a Logitech MK320, and I love it. It came paired with a mouse, which means only one USB thingie.  That’s important to me because my laptop only has three USB ports.  It has a separate ten-key which I like.  And, as I mentioned above, I can manage more than just typing with this device! The keys are big enough that my fingers to confuse the “m” and the “n.”  Overall, I like it and loved the price.  It retails for $40, but Amazon currently has it priced at $32 and Best Buy for $25.
  • If you’re looking for a great keyboard for your kids, the wired LearningBoard keyboard comes highly recommended.  It encourages learning and has very good reviews.  Amazon has it for about $ 40.
  • Don’t forget to check pricing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These keyboards may be discounted!

Please forward this to your colleague who constantly has spelling mistakes.

Note:  This guide to purchasing a wireless keyboard was initially published on 15 January 2109 and updated on 17 October 2019.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Quick Buyers Guide on Bluetooth Speakers

Have you ever been listening to music on your phone or watching Netflix on your tablet and wished for better sound?  Me too. And that’s where Bluetooth speakers come in.

Please note: We will often recommend products, parts, and resources that we like.  Sometimes we’ll receive an affiliate commission for at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

My favorite Bluetooth Speaker:

Several years ago, I got a JBL Charge 2 as a gift for Chris and promptly claimed it as my own! It was small and compact and had great sound. And it was red, my favorite color!  I think I got it for about $100 at Best Buy. I loved it!  Then suddenly last year it just stopped receiving a charge. Talk about giving up the ghost! I needed to find something else.

So, I did a little research and decided on the JBL flip 4.  It’s smaller than the Charge 2, but that’s fine because it fits perfectly in the cupholder.  It has excellent sound, and the battery lasts forever.  I mostly use it in my Sprinter (camper van).  On road trips, I use it primarily to listen to audiobooks (during the day while driving), and watching Amazon Prime Videos at night. It lists for about $100. though Amazon has it for $90 and Best Buy has it for $100.

JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth SpeakersChris has fallen in love with the JBL Pulse 4. It’s a light show in a speaker!  You can change the color scheme in an app, and you can hook up several of these speakers together.  It is also waterproof.  Frankly, I find the pulsing light distracting, and I’ll stick with the Flip 4.  This one lists for around $300. Best Buy has it for $230 and Amazon has it for around $250.  Here’s the review that turned Chris on to this speaker.

Bargain Bluetooth Speakers:

Both of those bluetooth speakers are a little pricey. If you’re looking for a speaker that is under $25, you’re in luck because I’ve done a little sleuthing on Amazon for you. Remember though, that excellent sound quality requires expensive electronics. If you’re an audiophile, these are not good choices for you!

(You might wonder how I can recommend a product that I haven’t used myself.  I head over to Amazon and look for a specific product. Then I refine the results to only look at items rated 4 stars or higher. Then I look at the number of ratings. So a product with 1000 reviews and 4.8 stars gets more credence than a product with two reviews and 5 stars. Finally, I look at the 1-star reviews and see if any of those are deal-breakers for me.)

Here are two bluetooth speakers that I feel safe recommending. Either of them would make great stocking stuffers and there may be even better pricing on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

XLeader:

The XLeader sells for about $16.  It received 4.5 stars from over 4700 reviews. It comes in black and rose gold. Some of the common reviews say that it is easy to set up, it’s small with big sound,

The biggest con I could find is that the speaker is on the bottom of the unit, which is fine when placed on a hard surface. This reviewer laid it out pretty well:

“Speaker is at the bottom of the unit so you cannot keep it on your couch or bed or any fabric. It has to be on a solid surface, or else the sound will be muffled.”

Oontz:

The highest-rated Bluetooth speaker in this price range is the Oontz Angle 3. It’s got a whopping 38,000 reviews with an average of 4.4 stars.  It has a long range – 100”, great sound, and is water-resistant. (Not waterproof!) It’s available in pink at this price, or you can pay a little more to get it in black, red, white, and orange. The biggest knock on this one is that the sound is not what you would get out a high-end speaker.

Bluetooth Speakers we don’t recommend:

Just for grins, I checked out the JBL Go and the Sony XB01 speakers.  Both are in the price range, and both have above 4.5 stars.  After reading the reviews though, I just can’t recommend either of them.

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Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

The Latest in Tech News

There’s so much happening in the world of tech right now.  It’s hard to keep track.  Here are some of our favorite tech news sources and what they’re saying.

Mac Operating System

Chris’ favorite tech news site is ArsTechnica.  This week they have a review of the newest Operating System for Apple computers. macOS 10.15 has been dubbed Catalina.

“Catalina moves macOS further and more decisively in the direction of iOS than ever; for the first time, third-party code written for iOS and iPadOS can run on the Mac with relatively few changes. At the same time, Apple remains adamant that the Mac and iOS/iPadOS are separate platforms that differ in ways that go beyond the underlying processor architecture or the primary input mechanism.”

tech newsGalaxies

Another article in ArsTechnica explains some of the research about nearby galaxies.

“The large galaxies present in the current Universe weren’t always so big. Evidence indicates that they were built up over time, largely by collisions with other galaxies. These collisions have left marks that we can still detect: streams of stars that were drawn in from the victims of the collisions, and faint dwarf galaxies that still orbit the larger object that devoured many of their stars. With enough data, it’s possible to become a galactic historian and reconstruct the events that brought the modern-day giants to their present form.”

Tech News and Processors

I like Gizmodo.  Here’s an article about new processors from Intel, with better performance and lower prices to attract more gamers.

“Last week news broke that Intel had a whole new line of X-series processors, and this week the company has performance data, prices, and a shiny new Xeon processor to pile on top of that. All of it combines to suggest that Intel is might be done gouging people who want a processor with a lot of cores.”

Digital Privacy

I also like the NY Times Technology section. There’s an excellent article about digital and internet privacy and how you can make things more secure.  It’s an excellent read.

“It’s perfectly legitimate, by the way, to enjoy seeing ads that align with your interests. You could argue that they’re actually more useful than irrelevant ones. But millions of others are creeped out by the tracking that produces those targeted ads.”

The NY Times also wrote about how the new iPhone OS will help you safeguard your digital privacy.

“For iPhones, that’s especially true now. That’s because Apple’s iOS 13, the most recent mobile software for iPhones, arrived last week. Similar updates to iPadOS, the operating system for iPads, were released this week. And they offer many new tools that help safeguard our digital privacy.”

Windows 7

Don’t forget that Microsoft will discontinue support of Windows 7 in three months.  Here’s a recent blog about how you can approach that if you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet.

“The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product.”

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Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Tech for Seniors – Resources

I’ll bet you didn’t know that October 1st has been designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Older People. (UNIDOP for short!) When I found that out, it got me thinking about Tech for Seniors.  Many of our customers are Seniors. Just like every other demographic, they are all different.  Some of them call and say “I’m in my late 50’s and too old to learn this new technology,” while others are still working and adopting new technology well into their 70’s and 80’s!

United Nations 60+ Counts logo - Tech for seniors

Tech for Seniors – Resources:

Over time, we have found some resources to help our older customers.  Here are just a few:

(Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

  • Set up your Alexa / Echo / Siri to call a trusted contact when you can’t get to the phone.  Keep in mind that it won’t be able to call 911 for you, but it could call a family member or neighbor. Check out this blog I wrote about why you can’t use Alexa to call 911.
  • At your next family gathering, ask your grandkids to show you how to use Facetime.  That way you can have a video chat with them very easily throughout the year.
  • You should also make sure your computer keyboard fits your needs.  I’ve talked to several people who have a separate keyboard and mouse even though they have a laptop.  Laptops are getting smaller and the keyboards are almost too small to type on!  After I made many (MANY!) fat-finger mistakes on my laptop, I got a wireless keyboard and mouse which helped immensely.  I wrote a post about wireless keyboards earlier this year.
  • Head over to your local bookstore or even Amazon and browse some of the “Dummy” or “Idiot” books for help with specific topics.  I also like David Pogue’s “Missing Manual” series.  I got turned on to them when I got my first iPhone and couldn’t figure out how to do anything.  It was very helpful!
  • Check with your local senior group, library, or Chamber of Commerce. They probably have classes on Social Media, photography, email, and other subjects that you may need help with. (Save the phone calls to your granddaughter for the tech emergencies!)
  • Then, cultivate a relationship with a tech expert that can come to you and fix problems and provide some training.  Ask your friends for recommendations.

Conclusion:

You know how they say that age is a state of mind?  Take your tech one step at a time.  Learn it in little bits and be open to finding out new ways to do things.  Before you know it you’ll be teaching your kids a thing or two!

Please share this with your “older” friends!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Cell Coverage – Where to go to get the best signal

Ever since my post a few months ago about poor cell service, I’ve been wondering where the cell towers are. Is there a way to determine if one area has better cell coverage than another area? And then I realized, there must be an app for that!

It turns out it’s not as easy as that.  There are plenty of apps which show coverage, but not location.  And the apps which show coverage aren’t always accurate. I looked at the AT&T map and was very surprised. I regularly drive through Boulder Canyon and know that there is zero coverage. However, according to their legend where blue equals service, AT&T says the entire mountain region west of Boulder has full coverage.

AT&T Cell Coverage

Frankly, I’d prefer to look at an independent app that measures actual cell coverage rather than advertised coverage.

I checked out the OpenSignal app on my phone.  This app showed actual coverage reported by consumers.  Green dots indicate adequate or great service and inferior coverage is indicated by red dots. It also shows the location of cell towers.Cell Coverage from OpenSignal

Other apps I’ve tried which measure cell coverage include:

  • I like FindTower because it tells me who provides the service on each tower. That is helpful information. If you’re driving around looking for a good signal, you’ll want to head to a location near the tower that provides your service.  No good to park near a Verizon tower if you have a T-Mobile phone!Cell Coverage - FindTower
  • Coverage Map has colored circles to tell you where the coverage is.  Dark blue circles indicate superior service, red circles indicate service which will be problematic. No circle equals no coverage!
  • I also tried Site Locater US but found it confusing and not intuitive.

Reminder: as long as you know your location, you do not need to provide your location to the app on your phone or your computer.  Think: Privacy!

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Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Sim Card Swapping Scam – Three easy steps to protect yourself

I just heard about a new scam that I want to make sure you aware of as well.  It’s called the Sim Card Swapping scam. This is when someone decides to target you (who knows why – your status? your wealth? your position in your community?) and takes over your cell phone number.  From there, they can take over your social media, gain access to your financial accounts accessed via your phone, and any number of any other nefarious acts.

How does this scam work?

The process is relatively simple.  The scammer enters the physical store of your cell phone provider, or they call the toll free number, pretending to be you.  Then they provide a forged license or other personal information. The scammer will say they lost their phone.  They say they already have a new phone; they just need your service provider to transfer all of the information from the “lost” phone onto the SIM card of the new phone.

sim card swapping scam

…. and Boom!  Just like that, they have access to all of your contacts, their phone numbers, affiliations, birthdays, and any personal information you have about each contact.  They also have access to any apps you’ve allowed from your phone. Do you have the Dropbox app installed on your phone?  Now they have access to all of those documents as well.  How about Amazon? Does the Amazon app have your credit card information stored? Sounds like a fun shopping spree…

I called my local AT&T store in Boulder, where I’ve been a customer for years and spoke with one of their floor representatives.  When I asked him about the SIM card swapping scam, he wasn’t aware that it was a problem.  He said that as long as you have a photo ID with the correct address, you should be able to gain access to your account. That didn’t give me a lot of confidence! I then asked him about the PIN that we set up a few years ago.  He indicated that if an account has a PIN set up, they will ask the customer for that number in addition to verifying name, address, and photo. I then asked what the maximum number of digits were for the PIN which he said was six.

How to protect yourself from the SIM card swapping scam:

In all likelihood, the vast majority of the public won’t be targeted. But if you are known in the crypto-currency community, are wealthy, or have a high profile in your town I would recommend that you be extra vigilant.  Regardless, I would recommend doing several things right away:

  • First, enable 2FA or two-factor authentication. In the past, I’ve talked about two-factor authentication and why it is so important. Try not to use “text message” as an option to confirm your identity. Set it up so that they need to call a land-line with the code, or send the code to an email address that is not set up on your cell phone.
  • Next, talk to your cell phone provider and make sure you have a PIN set up.  Make sure it is a long as they will allow.  (Note to self: Change AT&T PIN from four digits to six!)
  • Then, log out of all of your Social Media accounts on your phone.  Set it up so that you need to log in each time.  Remember to log out every time! (This is something that Chris does.  He has never downloaded the Facebook app to his phone.  Instead, he accesses Facebook via Safari and logs in/logs out each and every time.)

Here are some articles to learn more about SIM card swapping:

Please share this on Facebook and Twitter!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

My WiFi doesn’t work – What Can I Do?

I get frustrated sometimes when the WiFi signal on my computer at home won’t work. Sometimes this happens when I try to start working for the day. Other times it stops as I am using it.  One minute the WiFi works and the next minute the WiFi doesn’t work! Has that ever happened to you?  There are several reasons why this can occur:

  • The power went out
  • Your house experienced a power surge
  • Someone in your home is downloading massive amounts of data
  • Your computer took an update overnight, and you need to re-enable the WiFi connection

What you can do when your WiFi doesn’t work:secure wifi on vacation - wifi doesn't work

  • First, check your computer to verify that you have your internet turned on. I had a laptop that had a switch on the side to turn the internet on and off.  Sometimes I would flip that switch without even realizing it. (I chalk that one up to a design flaw!)
  • Next, who else in your house is using the Internet?  What are they doing? If they are downloading a huge file, ask them if they can stop and restart it later – like after midnight!
  • Turn your router and modem off and back on again.  Sometimes everything just needs a reset.
  • Then, you can check your phone or tablet.  Are they able to connect to the WiFi?  If not, you may need to call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to report the problem.  They may be able to talk you through a fix on the phone, or they may need to schedule a service call.
  • Chris likes this Netgear router which lists for $220.  It’s currently available from Amazon for around $190.

Don’t be afraid to call your ISP for help.  If you feel like the service rep isn’t being helpful, hang up and call back to get a different person.

Please forward this to your Mom who calls you whenever her WiFi doesn’t work.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.