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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Why Isn’t My Printer Working?

You printed a document last night and now, this morning, your computer can’t seem to talk to your printer.  What gives?  It’s a common problem which has several possible causes.

Power?

Check to make sure your printer is on.  Is the printer securely plugged into the outlet? Is your house experiencing a power outage? You can try a different outlet too.

Printer Cable Securely connected?

Printer Cables (Source: WikiMedia)

Printer Cables (Source: WikiMedia)

If your printer has a cable connecting it to the computer, is it securely fastened?  Check the connections at both the printer and the computer.

WiFi?

If you have a wireless computer, check to see that your WiFi is working. Does your computer have the WiFi turned on?  Is the signal strong enough? Is the WiFi working on the printer?

Is it Wednesday?

If you have a Windows machine, Microsoft sometimes sends out updates on “Patch Tuesday”, the second Tuesday of every month.  (Microsoft has been talking about discontinuing “Patch Tuesday” for the past year or two, in favor of automatic updates, so this may not be a reliable indicator in the future.) Occasionally, the update will change some of your computer’s settings.  Try reinstalling the printer.  You can also check to make sure you have the proper driver installed for the printer. Even if Microsoft moves from a monthly update to automatic, any update can still mess with your printer settings.

When All Else Fails:

Turn your computer off and back on.  Turn the printer off and back on.  Sometimes that will reset whatever bug was preventing you from printing.

If you still can’t print, it might be time to bring in the services of an independent IT professional.

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 when you sign up.)

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DDoS? And Why YOU May be to Blame

Last week, many websites and apps were severely compromised, especially on the East Coast. Apps like Twitter, Reddit, Spotify, AirBnB, and Netflix slowed to a crawl or were shut down altogether.  A DDoS attack was launched against Dyn, a New Hampshire company that provides DNS routing.

Level3 Outage map on 24Oct16 Screen Shot by Geek For Hire, Inc.

Level3 Outage map on 24Oct16
Screen Shot by Geek For Hire, Inc.

What did you just say?

  • DDoS = A “Distributed Denial of Service” occurs when hundreds of thousands of messages are sent to specific internet addresses with the intent to overload that service and shut it down. (In this case, the intent was to take down Dyn in order to affect many websites and not just one.)
  • DNS = The Internet’s Domain Name System translates the URL’s we enter, like www.google.com, into “the numerical IP addresses needed for the purpose of locating and identifying computer services and devices.” (From wikipedia)

In the past, most DDoS attacks were focused on a particular website.  Last Friday, the attack was focused on a company which the NY Times calls “one of the Internet’s giant switchboards”, which had a devastating impact.

So, how is this MY fault?

Do you have a surveillance camera on your front door? A wireless printer? A “smart” refrigerator”? All of these are connected to the internet with their own numerical IP address.  The “bad guys” can run through a list of IP address to see which addresses can easily be compromised.  Once they’ve identified these devices, they can use them to add to their arsenal to send the messages that create the attack.

I still don’t get it.  How is this MY fault?

Do you use a password on all of your internet connected devices? Is it secure? A password of “admin”, “123456”, or “password” is NOT secure!  Have you ever been out looking for free WiFi, and something like “HP-M475-5E3F78” was presented as an available WiFi that you could connect to?  That is what happens when someone does not put a password on their printer.  There are literally millions of WiFi connected devices in the US.  How many of those are vulnerable to participating in these types of attacks?

Please make it a point to use a secure password on all of your internet connected devices.  Change it today!

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.

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.)

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Custom Computers

Gaming Computers

One of the services we provide is to build custom computers from scratch.   Chris is building one now for a long-time customer. In fact, this is the second machine we’ve built for this particular customer!

Here’s the process. Chris talks with the customer about what their goals are:

  • What do they hope to use this computer for?
  • How much storage should it have?
  • What software is required?
  • Should this be a portable computer or one that stays in the office?
  • What is the budget?

Once Chris has a good understanding of what the requirements are, he does some research to determine exactly which parts need to be ordered. Often times there is a choice to be made between two or more options. He’ll have a conversation with the customer to decide which will best meet their needs. Once all the parts have been decided, he’ll send the list (with all the order links) to the customer for ordering.

When the parts arrive, it looks a little chaotic for a while, but then it all comes together!

You can hear the excitement in Chris’ words:

“One of my special joys is to design and build full custom computers, and this one is for a customer who is still using last full custom computer I made for them about 5 years or so ago.

There are several special features in the design, but one of the special results is absolutely Smokin-Hot processor performance: using a modern 4 core processor and water cooling, the stock speed is 4Ghz on each of the 4 cores.

To make sure things are thermally stable, I’ve been running a CPU heating utility, which launches 8 CPU intensive processes all running in parallel, and after about 1H the cooler is only warm to the touch with a slight increase in overall fan sound. Nice!

Note: this picture was taken after the computer was on for about 10 minutes, but /before/ the burn-in process was started.”

 

This computer is almost ready to be delivered to the customer!

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.

What Do I Do With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!

No matter where I am, when I mention what I do, the questions start flying. Last Sunday, the conversation centered around printers.

The problem with printers these days is they are designed to be a throw-away appliance. The cheaper ones may last for a year or two, but even the more expensive ones can break down, and then it’s more efficient to just get a new one.

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 holder. Sometimes the paper is just stuck coming out of the holder. If that doesn’t work, 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 the paper cannot be removed.  In equally rare cases, the paper may bend some of the metal bars.   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.

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.  Input your Wi-Fi code into the printer control panel and you should be good to go.

Printer won’t turn on
Sometimes a printer just won’t turn on. Check all of the connections. Is it plugged into the wall? 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 over night. If it still won’t turn on, it’s 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
  • Black vs. 4-color
  • Printer only vs. Multi-Function (Copy, Print, Scan, Fax)

I really only have strong opinions about the first option. Get a laser printer. Yes, they are a little more expensive to purchase, but they cost less to operate in the long run. In addition, the ink in a laser printer doesn’t dry out. If you only use your printer occasionally, the ink in an ink jet printer will dry out (because it is water-based) and you’ll need to purchase ink much more frequently.

Of course, we can help you with  your printer issues.  Give us a call and give me a run-down of the symptoms.  If it can be fixed in a reasonable amount of time, I’ll let you know.  If not, I’ll let you know that too.

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.