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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Fitbit Silent Alarm

The other day I had an appointment with my primary care Doc, and showed him my resting heart rate from the Fitbit app on my phone. He knows I’ve been working on getting more healthy and provided the appropriate “oohs” and “ahhs” for the markedly downward trend of my resting heart rate.  He politely showed me his Fitbit. It was a Charge 2 and has way more bells and whistles than my Charge HR. He then said he wished the Fitbit was able to set alarms.Fitbit Silent Alarm  “But you can!”, I exclaimed and proceeded to show him how to set a Fitbit Silent Alarm.

How to Set your Fitbit Silent Alarm:

  1. Open the Fitbit app on your Smartphone.
  2. Click on the icon in the top right corner
  3. Select your device
  4. Scroll down to “Silent Alarms” and select
  5. Then click on “Set a New Alarm”
  6. Set the alarm to the correct time, and then decide if you want to repeat the alarm or not.  If you don’t want it to repeat, it will only set the alarm for that day, not for a future day.
  7. FYI – the time of your next Fitbit Silent Alarm will also appear on your wrist display

I have found that the Fitbit Silent Alarm is not always successful in waking me up in the morning.  It provides a quiet vibration on my wrist.  That works well when I’m already awake and aware.  If I’m really sound asleep, it sometimes takes me a while to be aware of the vibration.

By the way, I’ve been wearing my Fitbit Charge HR for the past 3 1/2 years.  (That’s a lot of health-related data!)  I was just starting to think about an upgrade when I heard that Fitbit was coming out with a new  Charge 3 in mid-October.  I’ve pre-ordered it and can’t wait until it arrives!

Are there other other things you’d like to learn how to do with your Fitbit?  Ask a question in the comments below!

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

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 $99/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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Streaming Music Apps – Part 1

Streaming Music Apps

I’ve used Pandora for streaming music for years. Whether I’m on a road trip or just driving to Staples, it’s been easy and convenient.  Recently though, I’ve been hearing more about Spotify.  And that set me to wondering what other streaming music apps are out there. I wanted to find out what other options I have.  Are these other apps free? How many commercials do I have to listen to? And what are my options for commercial free streaming? (Please note that some of the links included may be affiliate links.  If you click on them, Geek For Hire may receive a small commission.)

Research:

c|net is a website that I’ve liked for a while as it gives good explanations to technical subjects.  Naturally I looked to see if they’ve done any research on this subject as a place to start.  In a recent article, they listed their top six streaming music apps:streaming music apps

  • Spotify
  • Apple Music
  • Tidal
  • Amazon
  • Pandora
  • Google Play

Pandora:

Since I’ve used Pandora for years, I already know what I like about it.  Streaming music is free (as long as I listen to commercials every five or six songs). I’m able to choose songs I like or don’t like via the thumbs up/down buttons. I can search for and find music I like, even the first CD recording from a local band. While I don’t really like the commercials, I do like that Pandora will occaisionally give me the option to watch a longer video for an hour of commercial free play. I also don’t like that you are allowed only so many thumbs down clicks per hour.  But all-in-all, it’s worked well for me, for years.  Pandora Streaming Music

Google Play:

Of the other five that c|net mentioned, I tried Google Play first.  Since it’s Google, I easily signed in with my Google login info. There are two options: the Indivicual plan for $10/month and the Family plan for $15/month for six people.  Both come with the first 30 days free. I clicked on “No thanks” and moved on.  There were a number of playlists available on the first screen.  Since none of those appealed to me, I quickly typed a favorite band into the search box and clicked the play button.

I noticed right away that there are the same thumbs up and down buttons I am used to on Pandora. Once the music was playing, I switched back to the Notes app on my iPad, and continued listening as I typed.  When the first song was done, another song, in the same genre but different band started playing.  So far, so good.  And also, so far no commercials!  (We’re on song number six now with no commercials and only one earned a thumbs down so far!)  Google Play Free Trial.

Conclusions:

Check back next week for my review of the remaining four streaming music options and my favorite choice.

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

Spam Calls on Your Smartphone? How Can You Minimize?

Over the past few days I have been absolutely inundated with fraudulent callers, telemarketers, and just plan old spam calls.  But the good thing is that I know what they are and can choose not to answer!

I’ve been using a new app on my iPhone called Call Protect.  It works with my AT&T service and it seems to work very well.  Here is a list of the spam calls I’ve received today:

Spam Calls on your smartphone

It’s pretty annoying to receive all of those Telemarketer and Spam calls while I’m trying to work!  If you have AT&T service, you can head over to the app store on your Smartphone to download and install this app for yourself.

I’ve been looking to see if Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile have a similar app and haven’t had any luck.  If you know, please provide a link to the app in 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 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.)

Nature Apps to Help You Explore the Great Outdoors!

When you’re wandering around on a hike, you’ll sometimes come across a tree, or a plant, or a bird that you can’t identify.  There are nature apps for that!

Nature Apps for Trees:

Leafsnap is one of the nature apps for your mobile device – Smartphone or Tablet – that lets you identify trees from their leaves.  Take a photo of a leaf, upload it to the app, and voila!, they’ll tell you what kind of tree it is! For now, it only identifies trees in the north eastern part of the US, but they are working on adding the rest of the country soon.  Info is on their website: http://leafsnap.com/ (FREE)

Birds:Nature Apps

Sometimes identifying birds at the feeder or while on a hike can be challenging. This app lets you compare the bird in front of you to its photo on the app.  There is a good written description of each bird and a sound file too.  More info here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bird-guide-offline-bird-identification-app/id1122226312?mt=8 (FREE)

Mushrooms:

If you’re looking at mushrooms, want to identify them, and want to keep track of where you saw a particular species before, then Roger’s Mushrooms is the app for you.  The app includes tutorials so that you can learn about particular species.  More info here: http://rogersmushroomsapp.com/ ($4.99)

Noxious Weeds:

In Colorado, we have a lot of invasive species.  This app helps you identify a particular plant with photos of the plant itself, leaves, and flowers.  There is also a written description of each, including its height, habitat, and max elevation.  More info here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/colorado-noxious-weeds/id833042035?mt=8 (FREE)

Clouds:

Did you ever wonder what kind of cloud you’re looking at?  Is it likely to bring rain or are clear skies on the way.  Coton is the app for you.  It helps you identify the clouds you’re seeing, ventures a guess at your forecast, and gives you a little science lesson too!  More info on their website: http://cotonapp.com/ ($1.99)

What are your favorite Nature apps for exploring?  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 if you sign up.)

Weather Websites and Apps for Traveling

The winter holiday’s are coming up and lots of folks will be on the road.  I thought this would be a good time to revisit my list of favorite weather websites and smartphone applications.

NOAA –  When you enter your city and state into the “Local Forecast” box, you can see just what is in store for your area.  In addition, if there is a big storm coming, you’ll see a “Hazardous Weather Conditions” box across the top.  I like the NOAA forecast because it is generally right on target.  NOAA also has radar and satellite maps.  By the way, NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is located right here in Boulder, Colorado!Weather Websites - Spring Snowstorm

Weather Underground  – My favorite of all the weather websites is Weather Underground.  I like it because I have several different weather stations to choose from in my town. In addition to the forecast, WU tells me what’s happening right now.  When you click on the information from a particular station, you can also see if they have a webcam set up.  Then you can see the snow and wind for yourself!  Those webcams are especially helpful if you’d like to see the weather in a place where you are traveling to.  You can also save favorite locations, so it’s easy to see what’s going on at Grandma’s house before you get there!

The Weather Channel – The Weather Channel has all the same information the other websites have.  Because they consider themselves a news site, they’ve also got, what I can only call Weather Entertainment.  Big Floods! Amazing Ancient Ruins!  20 Places Overrun by Animals!  And More!!  My favorite feature on the Weather Channel is their travel map found here.  When you enter your starting place and destination, and the date you will be departing, the map calculates your route AND the expected weather.

NEXRAD – “Nexrad (Next-Generation Radar) is a network of 158 high-resolution Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service” This website shows the radar for the whole US, or just your state.

WeatherTalk –  is a Facebook page.  Colorado Weather Analyst Greg Berman gained recognition when he accurately forecasted the extent of the rains and subsequent Front Range floods in September 2013.  If you’re on Facebook, I’d highly recommend this page to “Like” and bookmark.  His forecasts include most of the Colorado Springs and other Front Range areas.

Aurora Alerts – And if you’re looking to see if there may be an Aurora in your neighborhood, check out the NOAA sun activity page.

What is your favorite of all the Weather Websites? Share in 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.

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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4 Top Sports Smartphone App’s

For those of you who know me well, you know that if there is one sport I follow, it’s baseball. I like hockey too, but don’t follow the games and teams as closely as baseball.  I really L O V E baseball!  I love attending the Rockies games at Coors Field, with the smells, sounds, and excitement.  And when it’s time for the World Series, well, I’ll be glued to a TV, or, one of the Sports Smartphone App’s on my iPhone to keep track of the scores!  After baseball season was over this year, I started wondering how people who follow other sports get their info.  As per usual, any question I have involving technology, however peripherally, gets explored here!

There are a bunch of Sports Smartphone app’s recommended by folks in-the-know.  I’ve checked them out and found these four to be easy to use and very easy to customize so that your favorite teams are listed right up front.Sports smartphone app's

  • Bleacher Report for Android or iPhone – iMore really likes the Bleacher Report.  Here’s what they have to say: “If you prefer something with a bit more of a modern interface, then check out the Bleacher Report. Rather than providing its own coverage, the Bleacher Report curates all the best sources on the web so that you get all the news you can about your favorite teams and players.  You can open a stream to get scores, stories, videos, and photos from local and national newspapers, blogs, Twitter, and more.”
  • ESPN for Android or iPhone – Tom’s Guide says: “The ESPN app brings users the latest and greatest sporting news and information worldwide. Whether you’re looking for updated scoring information, breaking news for various teams and leagues, or professional analysis, the ESPN app has got your back.”
  • theScore for iPhone –  iMore rates theScore as their #1 choice.  Here’s what they have to say: “theScore is the sports app. It’s simply the best. You can follow tons of professional leagues (even including NASCAR) and receive updates on scores and news from any and all teams you’d like to follow.  You can even follow individual players, and you can customize alerts so that you only get pinged for what you want to know. theScore has a great-looking interface and setup is simple — just pick your leagues, pick your teams, and away you go.”
  • Yahoo!Sports for Android and iPhone – AppOlicious says: “Plenty of sports apps will give you the latest scores. Only a few will keep you up-to-date on every single play of the game. And even fewer will do all of that plus let you pick games, chat with other sports fans and set alerts for numerous game scenarios. Yahoo Sports continued to operate in a special stratosphere in 2017, making it a continued must-download for the sports fan who wants everything under one app.”

Which is your favorite sports smartphone app to track your favorite teams?  Share in 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.

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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My 7 Favorite Weather Websites and Apps

With all the snow in the forecast, I thought it was time to revisit my list of favorite weather websites and smartphone applications.

NOAA –  When you enter your city and state into the “Local Forecast” box, you can see just what is in store for your area.  In addition, if there is a big storm coming, you’ll see a “Hazardous Weather Conditions” box across the top.  I like the NOAA forecast because it is generally right on target.  NOAA also has radar and satellite maps.  By the way, NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is located right here in Boulder, Colorado!

Spring Snowstorm

Weather Underground  – I like Weather Underground because I have several different weather stations to choose from in my town. In addition to the forecast, WU tells me what’s happening right now.  When you click on the information from a particular station, you can also see if they have a webcam set up.  Then you can see the snow and wind for yourself!  Those webcams are especially helpful if you’d like to see the weather in a place where you are traveling to.

The Weather Channel – The Weather Channel has all the same information the other websites have.  Because they consider themselves a news site, they’ve also got, what I can only call Weather Entertainment.  Big Floods! Amazing Ancient Ruins!  20 Places Overrun by Animals!  And More!!  My favorite feature on the Weather Channel is their travel map found here.  When you enter your starting place and destination, and the date you will be departing, the map calculates your route AND the expected weather.

NEXRAD – “Nexrad (Next-Generation Radar) is a network of 158 high-resolution Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service” This website shows the radar for the whole US, or just your state.

WeatherTalk –  is a Facebook page I’ve recently found.  Colorado Weather Analyst Greg Berman gained recognition when he accurately forecasted the extent of the rains and subsequent Front Range floods in September 2013.  If you’re on Facebook, I’d highly recommend this page to “Like” and bookmark.  His forecasts include most of the Ft. Collins / Denver / Colorado Springs / Front Range area.

Storm Shield Weather Radio will send severe weather alerts to your smartphone.

Aurora Alerts – And if you’re looking to see if there may be an Aurora in your neighborhood, check out the NOAA sun activity page.

Do you have a favorite website for weather forecasts? Share in 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.

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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Where To Turn, When You Don’t Know Where To Turn

I received some bad news yesterday about a friend who lost his battle with depression.  Whenever this happens, and it has happened too frequently in my lifetime, I wonder if there was something I could have done differently.  In most case I know though, that people tend to hide their demons behind a happy face.  They don’t want to burden their friends and family with their struggles.

That got me wondering:  Are there apps or other online resources that a person could go to anonymously for support and guidance?

I did a little bit of research, and the answer is Yes, and No.  Sure there are apps, but research is finding that those apps aren’t as helpful as actually talking to a trained counselor.

One app that is sponsored by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is MY3.  MY3 lets you name three people you can contact in a crisis.  You set this up ahead of time, and contact them when needed.  These three people could be your therapist, your religious leader, a family member, a close friend, or even a neighbor.

My3 App Suicide Prevention

If you know you have suicidal tendencies, by all means, get into counseling now.  Many times the cost will be free, or on a sliding scale, so don’t let finances be a factor to not seeking help.  You can find a competent therapist by contacting your County or State Department of Human Services or by calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline – 800-273-8255.

If you are wondering what some of the warning signs are so that you might be able to help a friend or family member, check out the list here.   Some of the warning signs include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

Our society has two demographics that are particularly susceptible to depression and suicide: Teens/Young Adults and Veterans.

Teens, especially, have many resources.  One message board that I found allows teens to “chat” with other teens about a variety of subjects from Gender Issues to Child Abuse to Eating Disorders, Suicide, and other topics.    Remember that if you do join a Message Board to head over to gmail first and create a new anonymous email address.

I’ve recently become aware that an average of 22 Veterans are killed by suicide every day.  Head to either one of these two websites for more info and assistance: Veteran Crisis Line or 22Kill.

Many of the websites I looked at this morning cite suicide as one of the leading causes of death in the US.  Keep your eyes and ears open.  If you see a friend showing any of the above signs, gently talk to them, and provide them with some of these resources.

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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Olympics!

Will you be following the Olympics?  More and more people I know don’t have cable or satellite TV service anymore and are wondering how to keep up. Here are some suggestions:

2016 olympic logo

  • If you do still have a TV with an antenna, tune your set to NBC.  If you are near a large city that still broadcasts, you should be able to pick it up.  (Unless you’re in Colorado’s Foothills!)
  • Your second option is to view it via NBC’s live stream:  Note that I had to reload the page a few times before it would start playing.  I’m guessing their servers are busy!
  • You can also try Sling.com.  They have a one week free trial.  Remember to cancel before the free trial ends though, or get ready to pay $25 per month.
  • You can also download the Olympic app on your phone:  Note that it’s not very intuitive and takes a while to figure out how to navigate it.  If you’re just looking for results, though, this is a good place to start.You can also get information about the upcoming Olympics in PyeongChang, Tokyo, and Beijing.

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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