Blog: Tech News & Tips

Poor Cell Phone Service – Some Tips to Remedy

Even with all the improvements in cellular technology I still run into areas which have very poor cell phone service. There are the times when I’m the passenger in a car and the cell phone quality just gets worse and worse.

Does this ever happen to you?  You’re talking on the phone and the quality of the call keeps decreasing.  You keep waiting for your call to switch to the next cell tower but that never seems to happen.  What should you do?

We used to drive up and over a section of the highway that we dubbed “The Hill of Cellular Death”.  It was pretty much guaranteed that when you got about two-thirds of the way up the hill on either side, your cell call would drop.  It got to be that I wouldn’t even answer my cell phone when the vehicle I was traveling in was within a half mile of that hill.  Thankfully they now have a low profile tower on that hill and my calls don’t get dropped anymore.

What should you do when your smartphone gets really poor cell phone service?

This is what that pesky “Airplane Mode” button is for!  Put your phone into “Airplane Mode” so that it turns off your cell service, your WiFi, and your Bluetooth. Leave it off for about five to ten seconds and then turn it back on.  This will force the phone to search for the strongest cell tower in the area.

bad cell service

More Info:

Please forward this to your friends who complain about their poor cell phone service.

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. 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) 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 online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

What Is Wrong With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!

When I mention what I do to new acquaintances, I get this question a lot: What Is Wrong With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!  A major problem with printers these days is that they are designed to be disposable, a throw-away appliance.  The cheaper ones might only last for a year. Even the more expensive ones break down.  Then it could be more cost effective to get a new one rather than trying to get it fixed.

What Is Wrong With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!

Here are some of the common printer problems:

Paper Jam

If you have a paper jam, the first thing to do is to pull out the paper tray. Sometimes the paper is stuck just as it comes out of the tray. You can also try this: carefully open up your machine and turn all the knobs and wheels that move the paper forward. If you can see where the paper is stuck, carefully give the paper a little tug to see if you can pull it out. If it feels like it might start to tear, stop pulling. Continue moving the knobs and wheels until the entire piece of paper has been removed. In rare cases, the jam is so severe that you cannot remove the paper.  Sometimes trying to remove the paper can bend some of the metal wires.   In that case, it’s probably time to look for a new printer.

 

Driver upgrade

Sometimes, with both Mac and Windows machines, your computer will take an upgrade overnight which then requires a new software printer driver for your printer.   Go to your printer’s website – Hewlett Packard, Dell, Brother, etc. – and download the new software. Once you have downloaded and installed the software, your printer should work again.  Call us if you need help.

What Is Wrong With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!

Wireless printer won’t connect to the wifi

If your computer suddenly can’t find your wireless printer, somehow the printer lost its connection to the Wi-Fi router.  Turn both your computer and printer off and on again.  If that doesn’t work, input your Wi-Fi code into the printer control panel and you should be good to go.

What Is Wrong With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!

New Ink Jet Cartridge doesn’t work:

Your printer tells you it is time to replace the cartridge.  You install the new one and still get the same error message!  This is most likely because the ink dried inside the printer nozzles.  This happens when you haven’t used your printer in a while.  If you still have a warranty on the printer, take it in to see if they can repair it.  They may decide to replace it.  If you routinely go a week or more without using your printer,  consider replacing it with a laser printer.

Printer won’t turn on

Sometimes a printer just won’t turn on. Check all of the connections. Is the cord firmly plugged into the wall outlet?  Is the cord firmly pushed into the back of the printer?  You might need to try a hardware reset of the printer back to its default settings.  If it still won’t turn on, remove the power cord and let it rest for a little while or overnight. If it still won’t turn on, it’s probably time to get a new printer.

New Printer?

What do you look for in a new printer? There are several options, which depend on your preferences and requirements:

  • Ink Jet vs. Laser – I certainly prefer laser printers. Yes, they are a little more expensive to purchase, but they cost less to operate in the long run, and your printed pages look better
  • Black vs. 4-color
  • Printer only vs. Multi-Function (Copy, Print, Scan, Fax)
  • Print one side only vs. print front and back – Many of the newer MF Printers have duplex printers.  I like this option because it saves on paper!

Of course, we can help you with your printer issues.  Give us a call and give me a run-down of the symptoms.  Do I think we can fix it in a reasonable amount of time?  I’ll let you know before we schedule an appointment.  If not, I’ll let you know that it’s probably time for a new one.

Please forward this to your colleagues who ask you: What is Wrong with my Multi-Function Printer?

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. 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) 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 online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Wondering How To Rent And Stream “A Star Is Born” And Other Oscar Nominated Movies In 2019?

Have you been wondering how to rent and stream “A Star Is Born” and other Oscar Nominated movies in 2019?  Technology seems to change so quickly and it’s hard to know how to do stuff that was easy just a few years ago.  (A few years ago we would run down to the local video store, then pick out what we wanted, and finally get ready to pay the late fee when it wasn’t returned in two days!)

I don’t know about you, but ever since this version of “A Star Is Born” came out, I’ve been thinking about the one with Kris Kristofferson from decades ago. Maybe not the best actor, but I loved his music!

Here’s a list of all the nominees for Best Picture:

Available to stream on Netflix:

  • Black Panther
  • Roma

Available to Buy or Rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and YouTube:wondering how to rent and stream "A Star Is Born"?

  • Black Panther
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • There’s a link to a free Amazon Prime trial below.

Available for pre-order:

  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Vice

Are you still wondering how to rent and stream “A Star Is Born”?

Head over to their webpage.  You’ll see all of the options there to stream online, or to go to a physical store to purchase it.  Then pop up a big batch of popcorn and enjoy!

Free Movie Streaming

There aren’t a lot of places to watch movies for free online.  Doing my research today, I did find a website that has (older) movies, documentaries, educational, and training films.  It’s called Kanopy.   The only catch is that your library needs to be registered with them.  Check them out!

Please forward this to your movie loving colleagues.

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 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Weird, but easy to fix computer problems

Weird, but easy to fix computer problems:

I received a call this morning from someone who was having a whale of a time trying to figure out what happened to his machine.  It ended up being one of those weird, but easy to fix computer problems.  His screen had turned upside down!  Now, this has happened to me a few times.  It generally happens when I’m juggling a notebook and phone which both fall onto my keyboard.  When you have an unexpected upside down screen, it’s pretty hard to do a Google search to figure out how to fix it.

How to do a Google search when your screen is upside down:weird, but easy to fix computer problems

  • First, open up a new tab in your browser by pressing the CTRL key and the N Key at the same time.
  • Next, carefully bring your mouse to the bottom of your screen and click inside the search bar
  • Finally, type your question in the search bar and then click on ENTER.
  • You could also do this search on your smartphone!

Email doesn’t arrive:

Another one of those weird, but easy to fix computer problems happened to me today.  I was expecting an important email from a business associate.  It didn’t arrive.  I asked them to send it again which they did.  Again, it didn’t arrive.  I was freaking out, wondering if someone had hacked my email account and was receiving all of my emails.  (That totally didn’t make sense, because I was receiving other emails from other people.) She resent it four times before either of us thought to check my spam folder.  Yup, that’s where all those emails were.

Also, I do try to check my spam folder two or three times a week.  We sometimes get customer emails that land up there, or an email from Staples when I really do need more copy paper.

Slow WiFi:

Another one of those weird, but easy to fix computer problems is when your wifi suddenly becomes g…l…a…c…i…a…l.  It still works, but just takes forever for a page to load.  When this happens, simply reboot your Router.  It’s just like your Windows machine.  Turn it off, wait 10 seconds, then turn it back on again.  If it continues to be really slow, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and report the problem. They will run some diagnostics to confirm the problem or not.  If it ends up being in their network, they’ll get it fixed.  If it is a problem inside your house, ask them what they think the problem is.  They may tell you to get a technician in to help, or to get a new router.  Here’s a link to Chris’ favorite router.  If you need to troubleshoot the issue, we are happy to help.

So How Do I Fix the Upside Down Screen?

Press the CTRL key, the ALT key, and the Up Arrow at the same time.  (You can see that you probably pressed CTRL, ALT, and the down arrow to get there.)

Please forward this to your colleagues who have weird, but easy to fix computer problems.

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 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Need To Call 911 – Don’t Use Alexa!

Last week I learned that you can’t use Alexa or other “smart speakers” or “virtual assistants” to call 911 in an emergency.  It seems like this would be the perfect use for such a device.  You slip getting out of the shower, without your smartphone or smartwatch nearby, and break your arm. You call out to Alexa in the next room. “Alexa! Call 911!” And it says “I’m sorry, I can’t make that call.”

Well, why the heck not? (Go ahead. Say that with Lwaxana Troi’s voice like I just did!)  It seems like that would be the perfect application for such a device.

Why You Can’t Call 911:

It turns out that the FCC needs several things in order to allow a device to access its Emergency System.  Here are the most significant requirements:Call 911 - FCC logo

  • First, it needs a two-way connection and must be able to receive incoming calls so the emergency responder can call back.  Currently, most (maybe all) “smart speakers” aren’t designed for that.
  • Also, it needs to be able to provide an exact location.  Frankly, I’m not sure what the issue is here since the location information is much more stable than your standard cell phone.  After all, you’re probably not driving around with it in your car, or bringing it on airplanes to distant cities.  It seems like you would just have to register the device to a set address and they would know where to go.  (Unless you’re using it in your RV or Camper.)
  • Finally, once those obstacles are overcome, the FCC will probably charge a per device fee.  They do this for landlines and cell phones now, so this would not be unprecedented.

Important:

If you do happen to call 911 accidentally, stay on the phone and let the dispatcher know it was an accident.  Because they need to follow up on each call, even hang-ups, it takes less time for them to receive your “Sorry, wrong number” than to try to track you down after you hang up.

I am sure that this technology will all be worked out within the next few years.  For now though, if you (or your parents) are at risk of falling, it would be better to purchase a medical alert necklace or bracelet, the kind you don’t take off for bathing.

Please forward this to your colleagues who have a “smart speaker” at home.

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 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

pwned? 1 PAINLESS step To Find Out If Your Email Info Has Been Compromised

Have you heard of the term “pwned”? Last week Chris shared a news item with me about a recently discovered list of email addresses and passwords.  These are for sale on hacker websites.  If you are on this list or any of the other lists of stolen emails, you have been pwned. This list, “Collection 1”, consists of 772.9 million unique emails along with 21.2 million passwords.  You might wonder why there are so many more email addresses than passwords.  That is because so many people with multiple email addresses use the same password for everything.

Don’t do that!

A little history about the word “Pwned”:

The Urban Dictionary postulates that Pwned came into use after one of the designers for the game World of Warcraft typed “has been pwned” instead of “has been owned”. Another Urban Dictionary contributor says it is actually a commonly used chess term, where you use your pawn to check your opponent. Regardless of the various definitions, this term means “you are dominated”.

Have You Been Pwned? 1 Painless Step to Find Out:Wondering if you have been pwned?

Head over to Have I Been Pwned to find out if your email address is compromised.  Many people use different email addresses for work and home.  If you have multiple emails, be sure to check each of them.

This site will also tell you on which websites or apps the data breach has occurred.  (My email is compromised.)  I immediately changed the password for both accounts.  It also told me that the breach came from my Dropbox account.  I then changed my login information on Dropbox as well. Another breach occurred on my LinkedIn account so I changed my info there too.

5 Quick Steps to keep your information safe:

  1. Change your password on each account frequently. I change my passwords every 3-6 weeks.
  2. Change your password on financial accounts even more frequently – at least every two weeks.
  3. Never use the same password again!
  4. MOST IMPORTANT: Use a password that is hard to guess.  Make sure you use at least 10 characters.  You should use at least one of each of the following: an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, and a special character.  I always end with punctuation too.  Swap out letters for numbers or special characters. Lately, I’ve been using book titles to craft secure passwords.  So “The New Relationship Marketing” would become “th3NewRel@t1onshipMarket1ng;”  (Check it out.  It’s a great book by Mari Smith.)
  5. Next, always keep track of your passwords using a secure system.  I use a password protected spreadsheet. (Why don’t I recommend a cloud-based password manager?  I’ve recently heard of two people who lost access to their online password tracking system. They had to go to each of their emails and apps to change their passwords. Each One!)

Let me know if you have an effective tip for setting up great, secure passwords.

Please forward this to your colleagues who never change their passwords.

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 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 online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

(As always, any links may provide a small commission to us, with no increase in price to you.)

Geek For Hire Recommendations:

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  • 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 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

When Should I Turn Off My Computer?

When I got my first computer, I would turn it off every time I left my office for more than a half hour. A few years later I would turn it off when I left for the day. Now, I’ll turn it off a couple of times a week. Why the change? Have you ever wondered: When Should I Turn Off My Computer? You might wonder how often you need to turn off your machine, or if you even need to turn it off at all!

Here’s what Chris says:

“I really wish Gail would turn her machine off more frequently!” When Should I Turn Off My Computer? Not as often as you think. Hint: Don't just puss the power button

Do I need to turn off my machine?

The short answer is Yes! When you turn it off the machine will clean itself, reorganize files, empty the trash, install any updates, and generally make itself faster and more efficient for the next time you turn it on. Other reasons to turn your machine off include saving power.

It’s really a balancing act. The process of turning your machine off and back on takes its toll on the mechanics of your computer. But leaving the machine on all the time does the same thing. If you use your machine constantly throughout the day, by all means, leave it on. If you access your machine from a remote location, then you definitely need to keep it on most of the time!

When should I turn off my computer?When Should I Turn Off My Computer - windows start button

Every couple of days save all of your documents, close all of your applications, and turn the machine off. Leave it off overnight, or just for a few minutes.

If you use it for only an hour or two at a time, then you should turn it off when you are done. If you know you won’t use your machine all weekend, you should turn it off.But, if you use your machine all day long, there’s really no need to turn it off every day. Turning your machine off once a week should be sufficient.

Remember, when you turn off your machine, don’t do it with the power button. Use the off button on the screen menu. This allows the machine to shut off gracefully.

General computer health & Well-being:When should I turn off my machine?

Some other things you should do for the general health and well-being of your machine are:

  • Always use a surge protector. These help even out any power spikes so that they don’t damage your machine. We also advise that you use a UPS (Universal Power Supply). This is a battery backup system that protects your equipment from power surges, and provides a limited time of battery life. This is helpful when you’re in the middle of working on a project when the power goes out. It gives you enough time to finish up and save everything. (There is an annoying and frequent beep to let you know that you are using battery power.)
  • During lightning storms, you should turn off AND unplug all of your electronics. Even a surge protector can’t always help protect your equipment if there is a nearby lightning strike.
  • Uninstall and delete any programs that you are no longer using. Even if you’re not running a program, it may still be processing in the background.  This will undermine the efficiency of your machine. (Yes, we can help you with this if you don’t feel comfortable choosing which programs to uninstall.)
  • Keep your machine clean! Periodically open it up and remove all the dust and pet hair that have accumulated. Dust tends to accumulate on the fan, which is there to keep your machine cool. If too much dust is there, the fan won’t run properly and your machine will overheat. (We can help you with this too!)
  • Finally, When Should I Turn Off My Computer?  At least once a week!

Please forward this to your colleagues who ALWAYS leave their machine running.

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 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 $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Cryptocurrency – How To Use

When I read last month that the State of Ohio has begun to accept tax payments in Bitcoins, I knew that the legitimacy of cryptocurrency has turned a corner.  Normally I see the use of Bitcoins limited to investing or collecting ransoms for reasons varying from malware placed in my computer to last week’s example of a bomb placed in my office building.  This act by Ohio sets a whole new precedent. Frankly, I expected to see this first in a state which has legalized recreational marijuana, not in a state which has only just started to offer a medical marijuana program.

Cryptocurrency

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“On Monday, Ohio became the first state in the nation to accept the cryptocurrency, bitcoin, for 23 different business taxes ranging from sales tax to severance taxes on oil and gas…..a business signs up through OhioCrypto.com, enters their tax payment information then pays through a third-party processor, BitPay. BitPay then converts the bitcoin into dollars that are deposited into the state’s accounts. There is a minimal fee, 1 percent, for the transaction compared with 2.5 percent assessed when businesses use credit cards.”

Where could I use Cryptocurrency?

Well, if you lived in Ohio, and ran a business, you could obviously use it to pay your taxes.  You can also use Bitcoins to pay for your vacations (CheapAir and Expedia), Food (Subway and PizzaForCoins), Technology (NewEgg, Microsoft, Dish), Jewelry at Reeds, and coffee (Starbucks will be accepting Bitcoins in 2019).  Here’s a partial list of companies that accept Bitcoin payments.cryptocurrency for coffee

How would I do that?

First off, you’ll need to set up a Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency wallet.  There are a number of different kinds and brands of wallets available.  Here are two articles that explain how to choose a wallet that will work well for you:

Be sure to understand the fee structure, privacy, and security prior to setting up your own wallet.  Read the fine print!

Taxes:

In the US, the IRS considers Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies to be a form of property.  This means that each transaction must be recorded for gains and losses and filed with your tax return.  (This article has an overview, but please ask your accountant for more detailed information.  Hey, at least the Bitcoin tax payments would be deductible!

How much does a Bitcoin cost?

Like other currencies, the price of Bitcoins fluctuates. After hitting a high of about $15,000 last year, Bitcoins are currently trading around $3,500.  Here’s a graph of Bitcoin prices over the past three months:

Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin trading

Bitcoins are used outside of the United States too.  Countries with very high inflation rates see Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies as a “stable” form of currency.

 

Please forward this to your colleagues that might be interested in using CryptoCurrencies too. Did I forget some critical advice, or do you have questions?  Let me know in the comments below.

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 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 online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Location Privacy and your Smartphone

There was another article this week about Location Privacy and “Services” on your smartphone. I have services in quotes because I don’t think the entity being served is the person using the phone.

According to this article, Smartphone applications can and do gather and collect location information on individual smartphones.  Then they sell that data.  Marketing firms can find out who is in the ER and sell that list to Legal Firms, or who is at Victoria’s Secret and sell it to Macy’s. Privacy, especially location privacy is on its way out.

Most smartphone users don’t really lock down their security settings, sticking with the default settings that came with the phone. When they add a new app to their phone, they may not think to check what data they are sharing with the app developer.  When the app asks if they can access the user’s location, they may think it makes sense to share their location, without know what the app will do with that raw data.

What do Marketing Firms really need to know?

As I read through the article, I found the whole thing very disturbing. Should anyone really know that one woman, a middle school teacher, went hiking, goes to the gym, visited a dermatologist, and stayed overnight in another home? While location data is supposed to be anonymous, the specificity of the data means that companies are able to track the location of a smartphone down to the minute.  From the article:

“Elina Greenstein, an executive at the location company GroundTruth, mapped out the path of a hypothetical consumer from home to work to show potential clients how tracking could reveal a person’s preferences. For example, someone may search online for healthy recipes, but GroundTruth can see that the person often eats at fast-food restaurants.”

By tracking the smartphone, you can track the person. If you can connect the smartphone location to home and work, you can figure out the person, and track all of their other activities.

Why would you want to share your location information?

There are lots of reasons to share your location.  Getting good traffic information is one.  Getting the weather is another.  But once you’ve checked the forecast, do you really want The Weather Channel (owned by IBM) to continue tracking your location?

What should I do?

I take location privacy very seriously, so here’s what I do.  About once a month I go through my list of apps and see which I’m sharing my location with. I turn off location sharing for any apps that don’t need my location to provide a service; social media accounts for example.  Then I make sure that I am only sharing my location with apps /WHILE THAT APP IS IN USE/.  (I do need to remember to close down the app when I’m done.)

How do I ensure my location privacy?

For the iPhone, click on the “Settings” icon, then scroll down to “Privacy”. Click on “Location Services”, and then scroll through each of your apps.

location privacy - iphoneI borrowed a friend’s Android phone to see how she would do this.  Again, click on “settings”, then “apps”.  At that point, you need to open each app to adjust the location sharing setting. Once you’ve opened the app, click on “Permissions” and adjust the location privacy settings.

location privacy android

Please forward this to your colleagues to help keep their online privacy safe too. Did I forget some critical advice, or do you have questions?  Let me know in the comments below.

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 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 online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)