How to Clean Your Phone – Staying healthy during the Coronovirus

Picture this:

You got a new puppy and your friend asks to see a photo.  You scroll through your pictures, find a great one, and give the phone to your friend. They “ooh” and “ahh” appropriately as they scroll through your other pictures, and then they sneeze.  Into their hand. Then they transfer your phone into the hand with all the germs and keep scrolling. And THEN they give your phone back to you.

Ewwwwwww…..

With all the winter germs around, and talk of the coronavirus (aka Covid19), I thought it might be time to find out the best way to clean your phone. And there’s a reason to be concerned. Studies show that our electronic devices have lots of germs. In fact, a recent study showed that an average of 17,000 bacteria (bacterium?) were found on participant’s phones. Another study (pdf here) found that only 40% of Baby Boomers wash their hands after using public transportation. The study went on the say:

“With the majority of people admitting to using their phone in the bathroom (88%), while cooking (89%) and while using public transit (80%), these devices are regularly exposed to everything from strep, to E. Coli, to strains of staph found in fecal matter! Our phones become dangerous when they aren’t regularly cleaned or sanitized, allowing bacteria to continue to breed and spread. With one in four (23%) having never cleaned their phones, mobile devices could host more bacteria than someone’s household bathroom (which four in five (80%) clean once a week). To make matters worse, when their hands are full, two in five people (41%) won’t hesitate to put their phone in their mouths, putting bacteria directly into their system.”

Double ewwwww…..

I had thought that carrying alcohol wipes and using that every day to clean my phone and keep it free from germs would do the trick, but the experts disagree.  It turns out that alcohol can damage the screen. Apple and Goole both have a page dedicated to how to clean their devices, which you can find here and here. The gist of it is:

To Clean Your Phone:

  • Use a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth—for example, a lens cloth.
  • To kill the germs, you’ll need to add a teeny bit of diluted soap into the mix. Do it carefully. Make sure the cloth is only slightly damp, not wet, and make sure not to get any water into any openings.

To Clean Your Phone, don’t use:

  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Windex
  • Vinegar
  • Makeup remover
  • Compressed Air
  • Undiluted Soap
  • Wet Lens cloth

All of those products can damage the screen on your smartphone.

Update:

I called our local AT&T store the other day to confirm the advice. The rep I talked with specifically recommended using Clorox Wipes or Lysol Wipes to clean your phone.

Bottom Line:

Regularly clean your phone, especially if you use public transportation, go through an airport, or go to other places where lots of people congregate. Don’t put your phone in your mouth. Cough & sneeze into your elbow. Don’t use your phone in the bathroom. Stay healthy, and wash your hands!

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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.

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3 Simple Steps – What Apple Is Charging You For

Are you bewildered when you check out your bank or credit card statement by the charge from Apple? It’s only $1.99 or $3.99, or some other very low number.  If you’re as busy as I am, it’s not really worth it to spend time figuring out. But it still makes you wonder. How do I find out what iTunes is charging me for?

Today I saw how those charges can easily add up.

This morning I went to check the weather on my iPhone.  A friend had mentioned that we would be getting a huge snowstorm overnight.  I had checked the Apple Weather app and Weather Underground (my favorite), and both said we’d be getting about an inch of snow today, none tomorrow, and another inch or so the next day. Since that didn’t square with what my friend had said, I thought I would try another app.  My iPhone has a plethora of Weather Apps.  Here’s a link to my favorite apps for weather.

Apple charging for apps - iphone tips

(If you’re looking for some adult humor, check out WTForecast. If you want to see where lightning is striking RIGHT NOW, check out RealLightning.)

I ended up opening up the NOAA app which I’ve used plenty of times in the past. This time, however, I was confronted with a screen that wanted me to sign up for a trial before I could access the weather information.  When I clicked on the Trial button I read the fine print. I learned that once the trial period was over, they’d be charging my Apple account $2.99 per week!

sneaky iphone charges

What Is iTunes Charging Me?

That got me thinking.  Have I signed up for other Apps without realizing there was a monthly fee?

I started hunting around on my iPhone to find what I might be paying for month after month. This was more confusing than I thought it should be.  It was not intuitive at all, which is very unlike most Apple products.

Three Easy Steps to find out what Apple is charging you for:

I looked at “Settings” with no luck.  Next, I opened up the “iTunes Store” but couldn’t find anything there either.

Step One: Then I opened the “App Store”.

Step Two: I pressed the icon in the top right corner which opens up my account.

Step Three: I clicked on “Purchased” and found all of the apps I’ve downloaded, most of them were free. Then I clicked on “Subscriptions” which shows all the apps which charge on a monthly or annual basis. I was happy to see there were only two:

  • Pillow – which I purchased last year to track my sleep.
  • Call Protect – which is supposed to protect me from scam calls, but doesn’t.  I canceled that one and will be saving $3.99 every month!

Remember that if you are sharing your Apple account with another person to check in with them before canceling a subscription.

Conclusion:

Once you know how, it’s easy to figure out what Apple is charging you for!

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 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.

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What is the Cloud and how do I use it?

We’ve had several people ask us recently about the Cloud.  They’re not sure if they should use it, and they are especially not sure if they should trust it!

I’m here to say “YES!”, you can use it and you can trust it. But let’s go back a step or two.

What is the Cloud?

The term “cloud” is used to describe the nebulous place in the ether where you can store documents, files, movies, spreadsheets, and more. Essentially, it is online storage similar to an external hard drive, or a thumb drive. You use it in the exact same way: to store your files in a secure location. But don’t take my word for it.  Here’s a great description of the Cloud from PC Magazine:

“In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.”

Here’s my little picture of how it works:

The Cloud
The Cloud on a post-it

How do I use the Cloud?

Use the Cloud the same way you would any storage device. Configure your account so that the documents you choose are uploaded, and so that any time you make changes to those documents, those changes are uploaded as well.  I have configured my account to upload photos I take on my smartphone up to my Dropbox account.

How much will it cost?

Many providers have a small “starter” program for free.  You can expect to store up to a gig or two for free. For many of us, though, that would cover maybe a few months of photos! Bigger plans are available based on the amount of data you want to store. For example, my Dropbox account is ten dollars a month for one terabyte. One terabyte is way more than I need, but it’s their smallest plan so that’s what I use.

Who do you use for Cloud storage?

I have used Dropbox for ten years, at least, and really like it.  Other providers include Amazon, iCloud, Google Drive.  Dropbox, and other providers, let you access your stored data from anywhere.  I can open a file on my phone when I’m out of town, or on my tablet.  I’ve even accessed and printed a document at a public library.  Talk about convenient!

Let us know if you need help setting up a Cloud account, especially if you want to make sure it uploads changes to any document in near real time.

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  (Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

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iCloud – Valued Apple Feature or not?

iCloud

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Apple’s iCloud recently.  iCloud is something many of us have been using for years.  But are you sure how to best take advantage of it?

If you have multiple devices – an iPhone, iPad, and iMac, for example, you can listen to your music whether you’re at home, a coffee shop, in your car, or on a trip.

If you don’t have an Apple computer, you can still access some of the iCloud features from your Windows computer.  Head over to www.iCloud.com and sign in with your user ID and password.  Some of the features available at the website include Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Photos.  Access to your music is not available here.

20160621 iCloud image

The “Find My iPhone” feature is available at the iCloud website.  Take a minute now to sign in.  Navigate around the site briefly, but especially take a look at the “Find my iPhone” feature so that if you do lose your phone, you’ll know how to use it.  (Make sure any folks in your family who are challenged in the area of knowing where their possessions are, have this feature turned on!)

When you sign in to the iCloud, your user ID is probably your email.   If you’ve forgotten your password,         it’s relatively easy to reset it.  Remember that the password for your iCloud account is different from the security passcode you may have set up to access your iPhone or your iPad.  If you have set them up to be the same, please change one of them now!

Another feature I’ve just learned about on the iCloud is the ability to share photos with other people.  When you click on the “Photos” icon, your pictures appear.  At the bottom of the screen there are three buttons – Photos, Share, and Albums.  Your Photos shows all the pictures you’ve taken from a given point in time organized by date.  Albums arrange your photos by different categories like Selfies, Panoramas, Videos, and Screenshots.

To share photos, click on “New Shared Album”.  Give it a title, and select who to share it with by entering their emails.  Once the structure is set up, you can then add photos to the album.

If you need help setting up your iCloud properly, check out Apple’s Help pages or the Genius Bar at the Apple store.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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