Electronic Recycling and Buy Back Programs

I received an interesting email the other day from Staples telling me about their recycling program.  I always assumed I could walk into any big box store with my old electronics and pay a fee to recycle it.  This email told me that I could bring it there for free.  That made me start to wonder what other options are out there for our customers, not only to recycle, but also, to possibly get a discount on on their next purchase.  We frequently get calls from folks wondering about electronic recycling.  Here’s some helpful info:

What to do first:

Once you’ve decided to get rid of your older devices, you must remove all of your sensitive data.  Deleteelectronic recyclinge all of your apps, all of your contacts, your emails, your texts, photos, etc.  Many of the Electronic Recycling Programs say that they will do this for you before they sell it to someone else, but why take the chance?  (Yes, we can help you with this if you’d like.)

Why do you want to Recycle your Electronic Devices:

Many of the components in our electronic devices are toxic, so it’s really important to make sure they get recycled properly. If you just toss your laptop battery in the trash, many of those toxins will leach right into our water supply!

Electronic Recycling Options:

You have a  whole bunch of options for getting rid of your old stuff

Sell It

Rather than electronic recycling, you can try to sell your old phone, tablet, or computer.  You could start with eBay or Craig’s List.  You can also try buy-back programs at places like Best Buy, Amazon, AT&T, Sprint, Staples, and Apple.  You’ll get a little less money for your device, but it’s really easy to do, with much less hassle than finding a buyer, shipping it, etc.

Donate It:

Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc

Give It Away:

Put the item on your local Facebook page, or post it in your local Freecycle group.  But, please make sure that you have removed all of your personal data first!

 

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 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.)

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Screen Time – How much time do I spend playing games on my phone?!

Several months ago I checked out the beta version of the newest Operating System for my iPhone. (Check out my blog on the subject.)  I did this primarily because I had heard about Screen Time, a new app that helps you track the amount of time you are spending on your Apple devices.  I only signed up for the trial on my iPad, because, if they were to release a beta OS that crashed the system, I didn’t want to be without my phone.

Although Screen Time says "Gail's iPhone", it's really data from both my phone and tablet.

Although Screen Time says “Gail’s iPhone”, it’s really data from both my phone and tablet.

Well, now that they’ve fully tested the software and released it to the public, I’ve installed it on my phone, and updated my tablet. (By the way, I’m using iOS 12.0.1 on my iPhone and 12.1 on the iPad.) So, now there’s no getting around it.  I spend a LOT of time on my devices playing games and checking social media.  But, I’m also happy to see that I do actually spend more time reading, researching, and other productive activities.  (Check out the grey bars!)

How often do I…

The App also tells me how many times a day I pick up my phone (54 times a day), and how my notifications I get (71 per day).

How to install Screen Time:

Screen Time is easy to activate and use once you’ve upgraded to the newest iOS.  Simply go to Settings, and scroll down about one screen until you see Screen Time.  Click on Screen Time, then “Turn on Screen Time”.  Read the introduction, then click on “Continue”.  Next it will ask if this phone is yours or for a child.  It will allow you to set up a downtime for the phone, and other parental permissions. (You may also notice that I have VPN activated on my phone.  Here’s my blog about that subject.)

If you found this helpful, please forward it to your friends!

 

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

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 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.)

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How to Use your iPhone’s Health App

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

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

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

Mindfulness

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

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

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

Nutrition

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

Sleep

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

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

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

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How to download a PDF to your Kindle

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

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

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

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

Email to Download a PDF:

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

Transfer to Download a PDF:

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

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

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How is a Coffee Shop Like a Sickbed? 8 Things You Need to Set Up a Great Virtual Office

Never have I been so happy that I already have a virtual office set up as I have been for the past few months. Last year I traveled several times to the East Coast while my kids hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Because of my virtual office set up, I was able to manage our business wherever I was. Recently though, I’ve had a much greater need for a virtual setup.

In the past three months, I’ve had two surgeries.  A total knee replacement in February, and my other knee in April.  When you can’t get around, and spend most of your time resting and healing, it’s good to have tried and true technology at your bedside.

Virtual Office Requirements:

WIFI:

You must have fast WiFi. A minimum of 12mbps is recommended. Remember that you may have to upgrade your router in order to provide the actual speed that is being flowed from your ISP to your devices.  Good routers have low latency and can support many simultaneous users.  Cheap routers tend to support only one user at a time. Chris recommends this Linksys router.

Tablet

Sometimes a laptop is just too heavy!  My iPad has been perfect for internet research, sending email, and keeping the Geek For Hire calendar up-to-date. And it’s great for watching AmazonPrime movies and keeping up with Facebook.

Cell Phone:Virtual Office in Bed

Well, that kind of goes without saying!

Charging Cords

Make sure you are able to easily reach your charging cords.  You may need to add a power strip right next to your bed to easily charge your phone and other equipment.

Optional:

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.

Headphones:

Sometimes when you’re stuck in bed, it’s hard to sleep when other people are sleeping and you don’t want to disturb them in the middle of the night. Having a good pair of headphones keeps the volume down when you’re watching Speed at 3am.  Here’s my recent blog about Bluetooth headphones.

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 can’t type.  (Two of my friends have recently had shoulder surgery.)  Many of our customers have used Dragon Naturally Speaking to get their thought down without typing.  Keep in mind that it does take a bit to customize the software to your voice.

Remember, it’s better to plan ahead and get your virtual office technology in line before you need it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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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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Backing Up Your Data and The Cloud

It’s time again for my reminder about backing up your data!  For many people, when you travel, your laptop could get banged up at the airport or in the camper.  For others, summer is the season for extreme weather.  It could be fires or floods or tornadoes or hurricanes, but there is always the chance that your home could be damaged, and your computer as well.

That’s why it is so important to make sure your data back up is current.  The most convenient way to keep your data backed up is to use one of the Cloud backup services.  I’ve had many people ask what “the Cloud” is and how it might affect them.  The Cloud is a term used to describe using another company’s servers to store your data or to provide off-site computing.

Here’s a better definition from wiki:

Cloud computing, also known as on-the-line computing, is a kind of Internet-based computing that provides shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services), which can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort. Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and enterprises with various capabilities to store and process their data in third-party data centers.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

There are a many companies that provide cloud storage.  I’ve been using Dropbox for a number of years and like the simplicity of it.  (Disclaimer: if you use that link to sign up for backing up your data, you’ll get 500 mb for free, and I’ll receive 1g as a thank you from Dropbox.)   https://db.tt/0ZRkMXZ

backing up your data

I like Dropbox for a number of reasons:

  • It will automatically upload a file to the cloud every time I make a change to it.
  • I’ve set it up so that it uploads photos I take on my phone to my account.
  • I can open files on my iPhone and iPad when I’m away from my computer.
  • Dropbox stores data for several weeks.  If I get a bad virus, I can ask them to restore my data to a particular date.

All of this enthusiasm about cloud storage for backups aside, it’s also important to keep a physical copy of your data.  About once a month, I backup my data to an external hard drive.  Chris has set me up with the Seagate Backup 2TB Portable External Hard Drive which is convenient and easy to use.

If you need help backing up your data, let us know!

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.

Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now

 

 

Top 10 Ways to Use Siri

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays.  With New Years Eve just around the corner, I’m giving this post another go!  Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve had a number of friends tell me recently that Siri is worthless and never gets anything right. “And besides,” they say, “I can just do it faster myself than asking Siri!”

Granted, Siri had her challenges when she was first rolled out, and many of them remain. But if you just ask her to do simple tasks, she’ll generally get them right.

Here are ten things I frequently use Siri for:

  1. Call people:  For example, ask Siri to call your Mom. (If you haven’t set up relationships within your contact settings, here’s an article that teaches you how to do that.)
  2. Email people
  3. Text people:  I especially like this feature. I will dictate the message to Siri and she’ll type and send it.
  4. Set timers and alarms Just be aware that Siri sometimes hears “60” as “16”. I will instead ask for a timer for “61 minutes”.
  5. Check on the weather
  6. Show most recently received email
  7. Search emails:  You can find emails with specific text in them or emails from a specific person
  8. Find out the time and weather in another city:  Don’t forget, these are two separate questions!
    1. Siri, what time is it in London?
    2. Siri, show me the weather forecast in London.
  9. Search for a local business When you ‘re looking for a specific business, ask Siri to look it up for you. She’ll generally respond with a map and all of their contact information.
  10. Open an application on your phone:  Simply ask Siri to open the map application or the FitBit application, etc.
  11. Tell you a bedtime story:

Tell me a bedtime story

Siri still has her flaws, but if you know what they are and can work around them, she’ll serve you well. (In a limited capacity!)

How do you use Siri?  Let us know if the comments below!

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

Top Ten Ways to Use Siri

I’ve had a number of friends tell me recently that Siri is worthless and never gets anything right. “And besides,” they say, “I can just do it faster myself than asking Siri!”

Granted, Siri had her challenges when she was first rolled out, and many of them remain. But if you just ask her to do simple tasks, she’ll generally get them right.

Here are ten things I frequently use Siri for:

  1. Call people:  For example, ask Siri to call your Mom. (If you haven’t’ set up relationships within your contact settings, here’s an article that teaches you how to do that.)
  2. Email people
  3. Text people:  I especially like this feature. I will dictate the message to Siri and she’ll type and send it.
  4. Set timers and alarms Just be aware that Siri sometimes hears “60” as “16”. I will instead ask for a timer for “61 minutes”.
  5. Check on the weather
  6. Show most recently received email
  7. Search emails:  You can find emails with specific text in them or emails from a specific person
  8. Find out the time and weather in another city:  Don’t forget, these are two separate questions!
    1. Siri, what time is it in London?
    2. Siri, show me the weather forecast in London.
  9. Search for a local business When you ‘re looking for a specific business, ask Siri to look it up for you. She’ll generally respond with a map and all of their contact information.
  10. Open an application on your phone:  Simply ask Siri to open the map application or the FitBit application, etc.

Siri still has her flaws, but if you know what they are and can work around them, she’ll serve you well. (In a limited capacity!)

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Myth – Mac’s Don’t Get Viruses

Source: Internet meme
Source: Internet meme

More than once I’ve heard someone say they won’t ever get a virus because they have a Mac.

Unfortunately that’s just not true. Mac’s can get viruses just as easily as any other kind of machine. It used to be that malware was written specifically for the Microsoft Operating System, because there were just so darn many of them out there. If our experience at Geek For Hire, Inc. is any guide, plenty of our customers with Apples are getting all kinds of malware.

(By the way, “malware” is the catch-all phrase for any software you haven’t deliberately chosen to load onto your computer. Remember from high school Latin that “mal” means “bad”. “Malware” includes viruses, spyware, rootkits, and more.)

In fact, way back in 2012, Apple itself recognized the flaw. In April, 2012, more than a half million Macs were infected by the Flashback Trojan bug. Shortly after that, PC Magazine reported that Apple “removed from its website the claim that its Mac operating system is not susceptible to PC viruses.”, and changed its tagline to “It’s built to be safe”.

Today, even more malware is being written specifically for the Mac OS. And Apple does not seem to be on top of getting fixes out to their users.  In an article by Digital Trends, they stated:

“Apple has also been criticized for being slow to deal with threats and shut vulnerabilities down. Rootpipe was discovered in October 2014, but the fix only came out this month (April 2015), and it only patches Yosemite, not older editions of OS X. To make matters worse, the patch doesn’t actually fix the problem properly. Apple’s big rival may have a bad reputation, but it has taken decisive action to tackle that perception.”

It’s best to protect yourself with a good anti-virus program for Macs. We like ESET’s Cyber-Security.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to post them below. I’ll try to respond to every single one!

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