Electronic Recycling and Buy Back Programs

UPDATED: 20 May 2019

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 their next purchase.  We frequently get calls from folks wondering about electronic recycling.  Here’s some helpful info.

If you’re thinking about fixing your older equipment, take a look at this article.

What to do first:

Once you’ve decided to get rid of your older devices, you must remove all of your sensitive data.  Deletelectronic 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. (Remove your personal data first!) 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. But, first of all, remember to remove your personal data!

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!

Recycle it Properly:

If you’re not able to sell your equipment or give it away, bring it to an authorized recycling center. Head over to this website and enter your zip code to find the nearest place to you.  This is sponsored by DirecTV, but I took a quick look at the recycling centers in my area. It seems like they take more than just TVs. Expect to pay anywhere from $5-$50 to recycle your equipment.

What to do first – Yes, the very first thing you do!

Before you sell, give away, or donate your equipment, remove your personal data!

(Originally posted on 6 November 2018.)

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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 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.)

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Mesh Router – Getting WiFi Throughout Your Home

I’ve been hearing a lot about mesh routers recently and I wanted to learn more about them. Basically, a mesh router will allow you to more ease-fully access the WiFi signal in your home or yard, even in the “dead zones”.  In the next few paragraphs, I’ll tell you why you might want a mesh router when you don’t need one, and other benefits.

What is a Mesh Router?

A mesh router is made up several devices that allow you to place them in strategic areas around your house to improve your WiFi signal.

Why would you want a Mesh Router?

Ubiquiti Amplifi Mesh Router
A mesh router will generally have a primary unit and two or more secondary units that can be placed in strategic areas in your home.
  1. You have radiant heating and it’s hard for the WiFi signal to pass through floors.
  2. Your home is more than 2500 square feet.
  3. You spend a lot of time in your yard and need to access your internet from anywhere.
  4. You have walls made of brick or other material that inhibits the WiFi signal from passing through.

When is a Mesh Router overkill?

Not everyone needs a Mesh Router.  They are a bit on the expensive side, and if you don’t really need one, why do it?

  1. Your home is under 2500 square feet.
  2. You don’t have any problematic architectural features that could block the signal.
  3. You only have a few “dead” spots that can probably be solved by placing your current router in a different spot or getting a new router with a larger range.

Additional Benefits of a Mesh Router:

  1. You want a higher level of security that you may not be able to get with a traditional router.
  2. You have IoT (Internet of Things) devices that you want to connect to your network. (Refrigerator, Security system, etc.)
  3. You want to create a separate guest network for your house guests.
  4. Mesh routers seem fairly easy to set up, even for a non-technical person.

I hope you learned a little about Mesh Routers, and what the benefits would be for you in your home.  If you have any additional questions, please comment below!

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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 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.)

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Router Virus aka VPNFilter Malware

The Router Virus

Have you heard in the past few weeks about the router virus that is impacting hundreds of thousands of routers?  The FBI even issued a report recommending that everyone reboot their routers because:

“Foreign cyber actors have compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and other networked devices worldwide.”

Over the past week or so, we’ve been getting calls from our customers who are very concerned about the router virus they keep hearing about.  And they’re right to be concerned.  The malware has been programmed into hundreds of thousands of routers. Big deal, right?  Because I don’t run any programs on my router, I’m protected, right?  I don’t store any of my data on my router.  It’s just that black box that sits in the corner that brings my WiFi signal from my ISP to my tablet. Completely harmless, right?

What can go wrong?

Harmless? Well, no.  This particular router virus can make your router inoperable.  Even worse it can collect any information passing through the router. And then it could possibly collect your ID and password for your bank account.

How do you protect yourself?

The FBI is recommending that you reboot your device and then upgrade to the latest firmware.  You should also change the router password to a super-super secure password.

How do you reboot your router?The Router Virus aka VPNFilter Malware

Rebooting your router is just like rebooting your computer.  Unplug the router (or turn it off if the on/off switch is clearly marked), Wait 30 seconds, then plug it back in.

Will a reboot of the router always work?

Several privacy and security companies are saying that a reboot does a partial job.  Apparently, a router has two kinds of memory: Volatile and non-volatile memory.  Sometimes the router virus will also write data to the non-volatile memory too.  A reboot will clear volatile memory only.  In order to clear non-volatile memory, you’ll need to reset your router.

Should I reset my Router instead?

A router reset is more complicated than just turning the device off and on.  You’ll need to enter certain information and then follow certain steps. ESET (the company we like for antivirus software) has provided instructions for performing the reset.  You can find them in this article.

Which routers have this virus?

ESET has published a list of routers known to be infected with the router virus.  There are probably many others and the best thing would be for you to reboot your router regardless of which model you have.  Here is the list from ESET:

  • “Asus: RT-AC66U, RT-N10, RT-N10E, RT-N10U, RT-N56U, RT-N66U
  • D-Link: DES-1210-08P, DIR-300, DIR-300A, DSR-250N, DSR-500N, DSR-1000, DSR-1000N
  • Huawei: HG8245
  • Linksys: E1200,  E2500, E3000, E3200, E4200, RV082,  WRVS4400N
  • Mikrotik: CCR1009,  CCR1016,  CCR1036,  CCR1072, CRS109, CRS112, CRS125, RB411, RB450, RB750, RB911, RB921, RB941, RB951, RB952, RB960, RB962, RB1100, RB1200, RB2011, RB3011, RB Groove, RB Omnitik, STX5
  • Netgear: DG834, DGN1000,  DGN2200, DGN3500, FVS318N, MBRN3000,  R6400,  R7000,  R8000,  WNR1000,  WNR2000, WNR2200, WNR4000, WNDR3700, WNDR4000, WNDR4300, WNDR4300-TN, UTM50
  • QNAP: TS251, TS439 Pro, Other QNAP NAS devices running QTS software
  • TP-Link: R600VPN, TL-WR741ND, TL-WR841N
  • Ubiquiti: NSM2, PBE M5
  • Upvel: according to Talos, malware targeting Upvel as a vendor has been discovered, but researchers have not yet determined which devices are targeted.”

Will you reboot your router or re-set it?

If you decide you want to “re-set” your router rather than “reboot” it, let us know if you need help.

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.)

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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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My Power Went Out!

It’s winter here in Colorado and that means blown down or frozen power lines.  The power goes out at our home about once every four to six weeks in the winter and we’ve learned what to do to keep our equipment safe.

Power Lines Down | Source: WikiMedia
Power Lines Down Source: WikiMedia

It’s really simple:

When the power first starts to flicker – the lights turn off for a half second or the smoke detector beeps – we go around the house and unplug everything from the wall.  This includes the computers, printer, TV, stereo, entertainment system, everything that would be expensive or inconvenient to replace.

What about a Surge Protector?

Surge protectors are okay, because you are not always at home when the power goes out and they do provide a small amount of protection.  Just know that they are not always able to provide 100% protection to all of your equipment.

Don’t forget your Router:

Remember to unplug your router as well.  Many times, we’ve been called to a client after a power outage and they’re no longer able to get their internet service.  Sometimes the power surge will “fry” the router and there’s nothing to be done but to get a new one.

If your power had been out and you need help adjusting your settings for your printer or router, just 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 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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My WiFi Isn’t Working!

It sure is frustrating when your WiFi isn’t working.  We rely on it to get work done and keep in touch via email.  Facebook and Instagram, of course, rely on a good solid connection to the internet too.

If the WiFi itself isn’t really broken, then there are a couple of quick things you can do to get it working again.

My WiFi isn't working!
My WiFi isn’t working!

Airplane Mode?

First, is your device in Airplane mode or has the WiFi been turned off? On some laptops there is a simple switch (usually in the front) that is easy to accidentally turn off.  On other machines you’ll need to hold the function key and “radio” key down at the same time to toggle it on or off.

Forget the connection

Tell your device to “forget” the connection, then reconnect and reenter your WiFi password.

Router

If you have access to the router, turn it off, wait 10 seconds, then turn it back on again. Then, relog into the wifi on your computer or other device.

Call Your ISP

If you’re still not having any luck, call your Internet Service Provider (CenturyLink, Comcast, Xfinity, Rise Broadband, etc.).  Let them know that your WiFi isn’t working.  They should be able to tell you if it is something they can fix, or if you need to call in outside help.

You’ve followed these steps, but still your WiFi isn’t working?  Give us a call!

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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