What To Look For When Buying A Computer

In the past few weeks, we’ve had more than a few people ask us what to look for when buying a computer. Is it pent-up demand after a year of hanging out at home? Was it for Back-to-School? Is it pre-planning for Black Friday? Is it the regular paycheck again and can finally afford to replace that old Windows 7 machine? (If you’re looking for a new MacBook or iMac, check out this article for Chris’ recommendations.) Whatever your motivation, if you’ve been wondering what to look for in a computer, here’s our advice.

Computer Purchasing Tips:

Laptop or Desktop:

We live out west where “fire season” is almost the same time as “hurricane season”. It starts in early summer and lasts through October or November. Because we never know when we’ll be evacuated, we lean towards laptops. We’ve found that there is not a whole lot of performance difference between desktops and laptops anymore. When someone says “Your next computer should be a desktop”, we respectfully disagree.

If you do prefer to have a computer on your desk, get an external monitor or two, a docking station, a wireless keyboard, and a mouse. With this setup, it will work just like a desktop.

What to look for when buying a computer - image of laptop, 2 monitors, wireless mouse and keyboard

Here’s my setup with the laptop and two monitors.

Because laptops are more portable by design, if you do get evacuated, you can just toss the computer in your laundry basket and head out to your vehicle. (More advice on how to keep your tech safe during fire season.)

Do you want a Touchscreen: 

We find that touchscreens add extra complexity and end up making the total cost of the machine more expensive without useful functionality. Unless you have a real need for a touchscreen, we’d advise against getting one. (My current laptop has a touch screen which I almost never use. Partly because the lid is always closed!)

How much Storage:

Choose a Solid-State Drive over a traditional Hard Drive. SSDs are much faster than a physical hard drive. In addition, they are more robust because they have no moving parts. Check to see how much storage you are currently using, then double it or more for your new machine. You’re not going to take fewer photos in the future! And, as technology changes, those photos will be larger. I have a 2 TB SSD which seems to work well for me. (More information about storage, SSDs, and hard drives.)

How much RAM:

I always get confused between “memory” and “storage”. RAM is memory. When you’re buying a computer, get at least 8 gigs of RAM as two separate sticks, not one. If you’re the type of person who opens a bunch of windows and tabs, you’ll want to bump that up to 16 gig or more of RAM.

What kind of Keyboard:

Do you want a 10-key Keyboard? (A 10-key is the number pad generally to the right of the rest of the keys. Accountants and anyone who works with numbers use them.) I once got a USB-connected 10-key accessory because my computer didn’t have one. It worked, but it was cumbersome. If you think you’ll want one, make sure it is a part of your ordering process. Do you ever work in the dark? Think about getting a backlit keyboard. Do you like the clickity-clack of an old-style typewriter?

The size of the keyboard can also dictate the size of the laptop. If you’re an expert typist, a smaller keyboard may work well for you. If you tend to make a lot of typos, look at a larger machine.

Do you want a Video Camera:

If you do a lot of Zooming, Facetiming, or Google Meeting, think about getting a video camera. There is not as much of an ordering backlog as there was six months ago. Most laptops come with a camera already built-in. A higher quality external camera can be added later.

What size Battery:

One of the things to look for in a computer is battery life. Get the largest battery offered for the machine so you can continue working a long time without being plugged in.

Also, order a second power brick. Keep one on your desk and one in your laptop case to simplify travel. (And, if one of them stops working, you’ll already have a spare.)

How long of a Warranty:

When you’re buying a personal computer, don’t forget about the warranty. We’ve noticed that computers tend to have issues with their component parts at about the 3 ½ to 3 ¾ year mark. Get at least a four-year warranty from the manufacturer. Don’t get a warranty from the store. Sometimes, when you buy a new computer at a store, like Best Buy or Costco, they won’t offer a manufacturer warranty. In that case, get the longest warranty the store offers.

Against our advice, a recent customer got a one-year standard warranty on an inexpensive machine. They had a lot of questions that the warranty covered, but if they spill coffee on the laptop next year, they’re out of luck.

Read the fine print! Not all warranties provide coverage on liquid spills or falling off the rooftop of your car while driving. Don’t sign until you ask a ton of questions!

What kind of Processor:

The Core I3 processor is pretty slow. Chris recommends the Intel Core I5 or I7. (The I9 is also available. It’s smokin’ fast and a lot more expensive.) There’s more info about the Intel processors here. We’ve found that in most cases the AMD processors tend to perform poorly.

How much will a new computer cost:

Expect to spend at least $1000 on a machine that will still serve you and that you’ll still like in three years. Like most things, computers are a “you get what you pay for” kind of thing. There are “cheap” machines which are, unfortunately, sold for more than they are worth. Do your research and let us know if you need help. Also, most of the major manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, HP) have payment plans. Ask! If you purchase a new computer for less than $800, expect to be disappointed.

What else do I need to know?

How long do laptops last?

Computers are still pretty robust. Expect to get four to ten years out of a good laptop or desktop, with more and more problems occurring after the four year mark. (FYI, we have a 2008 iMac that is still going strong.)

I really don’t know what to look for when buying a computer!

Need help? One of the services we provide is to work with different manufacturers to get the best machine possible for our customers. Chris will listen to your requirements and design a machine that will work for you. Because of our long association with Dell, Chris is generally able to get a 30-50% discount on those machines. He gets less of a discount with other manufacturers. We have a one-hour design fee for this service. If you’ve already done some selecting, schedule a consultation with us. Chris can review the design and make suggestions before you actually purchase the machine.

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 provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!

9 Tips For Keeping Your Data Safe during Fire Season

Fire Season
James Peak during Fire Season

Note: I originally wrote this post about Prepping your Tech for Fire Season on 1 May 2018. It’s been updated to add more information.

I woke up this morning to a hazy, smoky view and I am reminded that it is Fire Season again.  In this case, the fire is two states away, but the smoke is pushed hundreds of miles by the jet stream. Even though the fire is so far away, it is a reminder that when you live in the west, you need to be prepared to evacuate, at a moment’s notice. Here are our recommendations to be prepared for Fire Season, to keep your data safe, and to make sure your technology continues to work wherever you land.

Recommendations for Fire Season:

Use a laptop for your daily computer:

  • There is not a lot of difference between a laptop and a desktop anymore, so get the computer that will allow you to grab it fast.  You can still have a large monitor and keyboard on your desk.  If you need to bug out, just unplug everything.

Get two charging cables for your laptop:

  • Keep one at your desk and the other in the laptop case.  This way you won’t need to grab anything extra.

Use the Cloud:

  • Make sure you use the Cloud to back up your data.  An external hard drive can accidentally get left behind.  Or worse, you may not even have time to grab your laptop.   I like Dropbox because I can log onto the Internet from anywhere to easily access my data.

Get a Hot Spot:

  • Talk to your cell phone provider about turning your cell phone into a hot spot.  As long as you have access to a good cellular signal, you’ll be able to send a good wifi signal to your laptop from anywhere.
  • Speaking of “Hot Spots”, here’s a great video from Jefferson County Fire Department on what to do if you think you spot smoke or a wildland fire:

POWER!

  • Make sure you have a bunch of fully charged battery packs.  I recommend getting two of these Power Banks. Several months ago I purchased two and was constantly using one or the other until I gave one away to someone who really needed it.  It’s in my laptop case, so if I run low on charge, I can easily get recharged again.

More Tips:

  • Keep the Geek For Hire phone number handy.  We can talk you through most issues you might be having.  Remember, if you just have a quick question, we don’t charge for phone calls under 10 minutes.
  • During Fire Season, remember to keep your precious photos and other valuables in a bin by the door ready to go in case you do get evacuated.
  • Keep your fuel tanks at least half full throughout Fire Season.
  • Grab your laundry basket.  All of your favorite clothes are already in there!

On the bright side, we’ll be treated to some amazing sunrises and sunsets until that fire is under control!

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

INFORMATION ABOUT GEEK FOR HIRE, INC.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’d like to receive our newsletters in your email, please click here.

Hacked Email? Check your “Rules”

This past week, we received hacked email messages “from” several different customers indicating that their email account has become compromised. I have “from” in quotes because the emails weren’t actually from those people.

Each email was similar, in that they all started with a benign and short email message saying “Checking in” or “Favor to ask!” or “Hey there?”. The request said something like “I wonder if I could ask your help?”. All the messages were received within the past 7 days. This indicates an active and fruitful attack that is going on right now.

HACKED EMAIL – CHECKING IN:

Here’s a screenshot of one of the first hacked email messages we received:

Hacked email example - need a favor

Chris replied with a quick email that said “Yes, I will call you later today”.  Our “Spider-Sense” was tingling about this message – because this is not something that this customer would do via email.  A few minutes later, we received this message:

email hacking example - Apple card for neice

We noticed that the “reply from” address was slightly different from his actual email address. (An “R” was added to the end of his name.) I called the customer a few minutes later, and he said he had not sent either of the messages. We talked for a while, and I recommended that he turn off his computer, and wait until I could arrive later that day.

Super-Geek To The Rescue:

The first thing was to review his MSN account security information, such as the cell phone and alternate email addresses on file which can be used for account recovery, and to change his password.  I enabled a feature to disconnect all already connected email programs which might still be connected. We wanted to make sure the hacker did not still have access to his account, to possibly seize back control.  I looked through his past login history and found that there were several recent attempts from Nigeria using Exchange.  This was a smart and sneaky attack.

Hacked email - unusual activity from Nigeria

I scanned his machine, and found the machine was not infected – but there was something wrong with his MSN email account. His Inbox showed that it had not received any new email messages for the past several days. (He could send email messages just fine.)

I looked through his account configuration within MSN, and found that a Rule (which did not have a name) had been added. It was applied to every new email message.

Hacked email - account rules changed and archive message

  • Mark the message as Read
  • Move the message to the Archive folder
  • Forward a copy of that email message to a different email account. This looked like the customer’s email address but with very subtle differences.

I found that all of the customer’s recent email was indeed in the Archive folder, and moved them back to the Inbox.  I deleted the Rule added by the Hijacker.

HEY THERE?

Here’s another hacked email we received:

Hacked Email Example - slick get back to me asap

 

This was a sneaky one too with multiple Rules added to their email. In this case, their Comcast email account had been modified to have a similar Rule added, which was forwarding a copy of all email messages to a similarly named email address under the Hotmail.com domain that did not belong to the customer.  The password was changed, the account recovery information was reviewed, and the silent email forwarding Rules (there were two) were found and deleted.

FAVOR TO ASK!

For another customer, we received this “Favor to Ask!” message:

Hacked email example - another Favor to Ask

We contacted them with a different email to let them know. They sent an email blast to their contacts announcing that their email address had been compromised, which is good. But they didn’t BCC everyone so we:

  • saw their complete list of contacts, and
  • so did everyone else.

Remember, if you need to send an email message to many contacts, follow good Netiquette and don’t use CC. Using BCC will hide all contacts that you are sending to. (Who remembers “carbon copies”, “blind carbon copies”, and getting their fingers all inky?!)

FAVOR TO ASK?

We also received this similar message from a hacked email:

example - favor to ask - AmazonAgain, the hacker changed the rules within their email account.

GREETINGS

And, last but not least, we received this convoluted request:

Another example requesting a Home Depot card

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR EMAIL INBOX:

If you get an email like this, it’s important to let the person know, WITHOUT using the email address that was used to send the original message! The best option is to call or text them. If you don’t have their phone number, see if you have another email for them. You can also contact a family member and ask them to pass on the message. I’ve even resorted to sending the person a message on Facebook.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE DEALING WITH A HACKED EMAIL ACCOUNT:

If you find out that your email has been compromised there are several things you should do right away:

  • Change your password on your email account.
  • Double-check that your “reply to” address is really your address. Look for an extra letter. Is the domain correct? (Comcast? Gmail? Outlook? etc.)
  • Check your email account “Rules” to see if any new emails are forwarded to a different address?
  • Let people know that your email is compromised. Make sure they know you’re fine and don’t need a gift card for Amazon or Apple. If you send one email to a bunch of people, please use BCC.

As always, if you need help, give us a call. In most cases, we can help you remotely.

CONCLUSION: 

Scammers, hackers, hijackers, and spear-phishers are getting more sophisticated in their attacks. Here’s a recent article about a big-time Nigerian email scam. Today is a great day to run your virus scanner, change passwords, set up two-factor authorization, and back up your data!

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Macs and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

Spring Cleaning Your Tech – 5 Easy Tips!

I don’t know about you, but when I think “Spring Cleaning”, I’m thinking about dust bunnies, dog nose art, and getting the sleeveless shirts from the back of the closet. (Fun trick: Turn hangers backward for your clothes at the start of a new season. At the end of the season, anything you haven’t worn, donate!)

Please note: We often recommend products, parts, and resources that we like.  Some of these are affiliate links, and we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

When I hear “Spring Cleaning”, I’m not thinking about my technology. What about you? Do you think about Spring Cleaning Your Tech? Here are some tips for you:

Spring Cleaning Your Tech – aka Computer Maintenance:

  1. Take a minute every month or so to scan your computer for viruses. Many of our customers use ESET, which Chris has recommended for years. It’s easy to do. Just open the ESET/NOD32 app and click on “Scan Your Computer”. It will run in the background while you continue working. Spring Cleaning - run your virus scannerWhen it’s done, it will tell you and let you know if it has found anything suspicious.
  2. Back up your computer regularly, especially if you have precious data on it. I use Dropbox which backs up everything automatically. I have the Dropbox app on my phone as well, so I can access files from anywhere. Plus, if my computer is down for any reason, I can head to the Library, log onto Dropbox, and pull up the file I need to work on from there.
  3. Purchase several thumb drives and make a copy of the photo albums you have stored on your computer. Keep one and give the rest as gifts to your kids, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.
  4. Change your passwords for financial accounts at least monthly. That includes your checking, saving, and investment accounts. Don’t forget about any app or website where you’ve saved credit card information, like eBay, PayPal, Amazon, etc.
  5. While you’re at it, please change the password on ALL of your social media accounts. Do it right now! And set up two-factor-authorization (2FA) at the same time. We’re getting between two and five requests every single day about a hacked Facebook or Instagram account. I haven’t heard any success stories here.

Dropbox:

Keep your frequently used files in the “Starred” folder. These come up first, so you won’t have to search for them. I keep insurance documents and other important papers, as well as frequently accessed Word and Excel files, in that folder.

More Tips:

Insurance Cards: Do you ever get to the DMV to renew your registration and they want to see your insurance card, but you haven’t brought it inside with you? Me too! Now, whenever the new cards arrive, I take a photo with my phone and put it in my “Favorites” album. Then if the DMV asks for it, I can bring it up quickly.

Speaking of important information, it’s not a bad idea to take a photo of everything you keep in your wallet in case you misplace it. Keep all those photos in a password-protected folder on your Mac or PC.

Conclusion: 

Today is a great day to run your virus scanner, change passwords, and back up your data!

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Macs and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

Daylight Savings Time – Atomic Clocks Reviewed

Between the extreme wind, heavy snow, and very cold temperatures, we’ve had a lot of power outages. I got tired of resetting all of the clocks plugged into shore power (see what I did there vanlifers?!), so I decided to get a few battery-powered atomic clocks. That way the clocks keep the time during power outages AND reset themselves when Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins and ends. Double win!

I ended up getting four different atomic clocks that sync with the WWVB broadcast from NIST.  (Bad joke: What tim eis it? It’s NisTime!) Two of the four I like. The others I am returning as soon as the driveway is shoveled and I can get into town!

Just so you know, if you purchase anything from the links on this page we may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

When DST begins and ends, I get so confused. Did I lose an hour? What is the true time? Will I get an extra hour of sleep? Did I spring ahead or is it time for turning back the clock? I just know that I hate Daylight Savings and it is time for a permanent daylight savings. Or permanent standard time. Either one is okay with me.

But today is not the day for those issues. Today is the day to find the best atomic clock. Here are the ones I purchased to review for you:

WallerGe Digital Atomic Wall Clock:

The first one to arrive was the WallerGe Atomic Clock:

 

This one is on the wall in our family room. The numbers are big enough to read from the couch, and I can see the temperature in the room at a glance. I give it a solid 3.8 out of 4 stars. It came with the batteries and quickly acquired the correct time and date from the official atomic clock at www.time.gov, aka NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Boulder, CO.  I love that it will automatically update the time when Daylight Savings Time (DST) kicks in. Why not four stars? It doesn’t light up in the dark which I didn’t realize I wanted until this one was on the wall. At the time I purchased it, the WallerGe clock was $28

Marathon Atomic Clock:Digital Clocks make Daylight Savings easier

Once I realized I wanted a clock that would light up at night I ordered the Marathon clock which was about $40.


I really like this one. It came with batteries so I set it up right out of the box. I clicked the button to get the atomic time reading from NIST and it updated right away. I put it in the bedroom and when I wake up in the middle of the night I can easily read the time, even without my glasses.

There are three settings for the light; off, high, and low. There is a little sensor on the front that can tell if it’s dark or not. When it’s dark, the light turns on.

It’s got six times zones to choose from, so it works anywhere from Newfoundland to the west coast – all of Canada, Mexico, and most of the continental US. (Sorry, Alaska and Hawaii. You’ll need a different clock!)

October 2021 Update: The Marathon Clock is by far my favorite!

Sharp Atomic Clock:

An analog atomic clock is like a unicorn. This NIST clock from Sharp is perfect for just above the sink in the kitchen. It reminds me of a classroom clock. (I loved school!) I really wanted to like this one, but it wasn’t totally silent, and the time was sometimes off by a few minutes.

LaCrosse Technology Atomic Clock:

The last one we tried out was the LaCrosse Atomic Clock, and it was the worst.


I got this atomic alarm clock because the digits are large and I thought it might be hard to read the Marathon clock in the dark. Wrong.

  • You actually need to push a button to turn on the light. Having it across the bedroom and expecting to read it while still in the dark is unrealistic. The light on this one is either on or off. If it’s on, it is extra bright, even with the low setting. If the light is off, it’s unreadable in the dark.
  • In addition, it came with the alarm pre-set to midnight and turned on. So the first night we tried it, we were blasted awake at midnight!
  • Third, it didn’t come with batteries, so I had to dig around for a while before I found the right ones.
  • Then, it took its sweet time (55 minutes!) to get the time signal from NIST. After the first 20 minutes, I realized that it was no longer searching for the signal so I needed to push the button again. (And again and again every five minutes after that until it finally captured the signal.)
  • This clock was around $24. Since the Daylight Savings Time (DST) is tomorrow I’ll get a chance to see if it updates automatically before I return it. (It did.)

Conclusion: 

Now is a great time to get an atomic clock that you don’t have to reset after every power outage or Daylight Savings Time (DST) change. And, just for fun, here is a link to a daylight savings meme or two.

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Macs and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

Facebook Hacking is on the rise! (It’s not your imagination.)

This is short and sweet – 5 steps to keep you safe from Facebook Hacking. If you want more tips, please sign up for our emails.

(Updated from 31 March 2020.)

Chris has been getting a lot of calls recently about hacked Facebook accounts.  A lot of the Facebook hacking starts when you click on a video that a “friend” sent you via Facebook Messenger. It is most likely that your friend’s account has already been compromised, and it is the Facebook hacker sending you the video.

If someone else has gotten control of your Facebook account, it is really hard to get it back. So follow these steps before that happens!

What to do:facebook hacking

Here are Chris’ suggestions if your Facebook account has been hacked:

  1. Change your password.
  2. Change your security question(s) and answers (in case they were reviewed by someone else).
  3. Log out of all locations where you are logged in.
  4. Confirm that your recovery email address and your mobile phone number is still yours and not set to someone else’s.
  5. Tell your friends not to open any videos or any other links that you have sent.

Doing this will help you keep your account yours after you change your password.

Facebook Hacking via Messenger:

It seems like we are all using social media more now than we did even a month ago. Try not to send any links at all via Facebook Messenger for the time being.  If you do get a video (or other links) on Facebook Messenger, don’t click on it right away. Instead, send an email to your friend confirming that they sent the video.

Facebook Hacking Service:

I also did a quick Google search to see what other advice is out there to make your account more secure. Boy, was I surprised when I saw links to a Facebook Hacking Service and an ad to Hire a Facebook Hacker!

Online Security:

Finally, we recommend ESET to keep ALL of your devices safe online.

Other Hints:

  • Also, please remember to stay well clear of shortened links unless you know without a doubt where that link will take you. That includes most bit.ly and owl.ly links. Here’s a recent article about short links.
  • Likewise, there are a lot of scams out there. Read our article about Covid19 scams.

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

INFORMATION ABOUT GEEK FOR HIRE, INC.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Facebook Account – Has Yours Been Hacked?

I read an article recently about how to find out if someone in a different location was logged into your Facebook account. I followed the steps and saw that someone in Dallas was logged into my account! Whoa! I logged out of the devices in those locations pretty quickly.

Originally posted on 13 February 2018.

There are several steps to follow to see if someone has hacked into your Facebook account.

The first thing to check on your Facebook account:Facebook Account

The first thing you want to do is to determine if you are logged into your Facebook account from odd locations. To check this, click on “Settings” and then on “Security and Login”. That screen will tell you all the places (and devices) that you are logged in. If something seems odd, then log out of that location. For example, did you use the library computer to check Facebook? Did you want to show your aunt that funny meme and logged into Facebook on her computer but forgot to log out.

Second thing:

Check your birthday and email to make sure they haven’t been changed. If they have been changed, change them back and then immediately check the recovery email. Is it still your email address, or was it changed?

Also, has anyone told you they received a second friend request from you? Or are there messages that have been sent, but not sent by you? Again, this is a good time to change your password and notify your friends not to open a recent private message from you. You should also notify Facebook that your account may be compromised.

You should also:

Now is a good time to change your password as well. It’s on the same screen as “Security and Login”. Click on “Change Password”, and choose a secure one! Here are some tips for creating a strong password.

Lastly:

Bump up your security settings. Ask Facebook to send you an alert when someone tries to log into your account. Now is also a good time to set up Two-Factor Authentication. You can access both of those settings from the same “Security and Login” screen.

You can also check out this recent post about Facebook Hacking too, for five easy tips to keep you safe.

ONLINE SECURITY:

We recommend ESET to keep ALL of your devices safe online.

Watch Out For Phone, Text, Email, and Other Scams:

  • Remember to stay well clear of shortened links unless you know without a doubt where that link will take you. That includes most bit.ly and owl.ly links. Here’s a recent article about short links.
  • Right now, there are a lot of scams out there. Read our article about Covid19 scams.

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Love Your Computer? 3 Quick Tips to Renew the Love Affair With Your Mac or PC

When it’s slow and sluggish, it’s hard to love your computer. Here are 3 quick tips to give your Mac or PC some pep.

  1. Make sure your Operating System is up-to-date. Are there any updates you need to download and apply?
  2. Empty the trash. If you haven’t done that in a while, you could free up a lot of space!
  3. A couple of times a year you should delete all of your cookies. Here’s a blog I wrote about how to delete cookies

We’ll often recommend products and services and sometimes we’ll earn a small commission if you purchase something through our links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Do you need to replace any of your equipment?Love Your Computer

Sometimes upgrading or replacing some of your peripheral equipment makes you love your computer even more!

You Can’t Love Your Computer if Your WiFi is Slow:

If your Internet seems slow, there are several things you can do. First, test the actual speed you’re getting. (This blog tells you how.) If it’s slower than you expect, contact your ISP.

If your home has radiant floor heating, you might consider a mesh router to distribute the signal more efficiently.

Monitor:

Even though I have a laptop that I can bring anywhere, I have two monitors on my desk. That helps me be more efficient when I’m working in my home office. Chris set me up with two Dell Ultra series monitors. They were really high end at the time and still do the job nicely. He set the monitors up so that I can drag a window from one monitor to the other which is helpful when I need to see both windows in full size. Sometimes, when I don’t need that additional “real estate”, I will put a live stream video on one monitor. I love watching the grizzlies catch salmon in Alaska, or the wild surf in Down East Maine.

Mouse and Keyboard:

Lately, some of our customers’ keyboards have stopped working and they need a replacement. Chris has been doing some research to get them a keyboard that works perfectly for them. Some of them even have multi-colored backlights!

Printer:

Sometimes you have lots of issues with your printer, and it colors your entire computer experience. More and more people are moving away from even having or needing a printer. If you think you need a replacement, check out our Buyers Guide.

Conclusion – It’s OK to Love Your Computer:

If you’ve tried but just can’t love your computer, it might be time for a new one.

But think twice before you get one off the shelf in a big box store! They’re made to fit the requirements of the average person. You are not an average person!

Chris has great contacts at Dell and can get you a substantial discount on a custom PC that you’ll love.

He doesn’t have the same connections at Apple, but he does know which options to go for and which to avoid, so you’ll end up with a Mac you’ll love for years! (One of our customers bought a Mac at the Apple store. Boy was he disappointed! Here’s his experience and how Chris helped him. Now he loves his iMac!)

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

Extreme Privacy: What it Takes to Disappear – Book Review

When I saw Extreme Privacy by Michael Bazzell on Amazon I was intrigued. Many of you know that Privacy and Security are very important to me. This book might give me tips on how to make my online presence even more private! I ordered it right away. (FYI, the third edition, published May 2021, was completely rewritten.)

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Extreme Privacy Overview:

At 566 pages, Extreme Privacy: What It Takes To Disappear, is a hefty book. There are so many topics covered, in so much detail, I wasn’t able to read it all the way through. In many places, the material was too dense for a layman to comprehend. One of my big complaints about the book is the Index on page 566. A one-page index does not do this 20-Chapter book justice.

Despite the length, I did thoroughly review the whole book. The first part of each chapter was interesting and was written at a pretty high level. I was able to get the gist of each chapter without having to read all the detail on subjects in which I wasn’t terribly interested.

This book is primarily targeted at high-profile people who need to implement extreme privacy. (Think movie stars, CEOs, and billionaires.) It’s also directed at people who have been seriously threatened and need to disappear. But it also has some great tips for people who just want to be more digitally secure. Our information is EVERYWHERE, and even companies who say they will be careful with our information are subject to cyber-attacks. (Right now, we’re still waiting to see the complete fallout of the 2020 Solar Winds attack on US government systems.)

What I learned:

One of the big takeaways I got from Extreme Privacy is that hiding is not cheap. There is new equipment to buy, with cash. A trust to set up. Accountants and Lawyers to advise you on what is legal and what is not. A new home to buy or rent. Multiple online devices to purchase; one to use only at home, and another to never use at home. And then there is all the equipment that normal people use, like a VPN, Servers, and routers.

Another thing I learned is that all of the work you do disappear can all be undone with a little social engineering. For example, if you have your mail delivered to a private mailbox in another state, which then forwards the mail to you. An unscrupulous person finds the address and phone number of the private mailbox company. They call and say they are your brother or wife and ask for the address to which mail is forwarded. Boom! All your hard work for privacy is gone.

Another potential problem is hacking. You bring your pet to a new Vet and provide your real address and phone number. Many Veterinarians provide their customer data to marketing firms so they can keep in touch with their clients. Then the marketing firm gets hacked and your data is “in the wild”.

I also learned how I could go about removing my information from public databases.

What I liked about Extreme Privacy:

I thought the book was well organized. Using the Table of Contents it was easy to find the sections that I was interested in. I learned about a lot of new tracking tools that are being used, and how to legally get around them. For example, license plate scanners: How can you legally get around having them scan your license plate?

Another thing I liked was that Mr. Bazzell has years of experience and he’s made a few mistakes. He discussed those mistakes openly – what the mistake was, and how he does things differently today.

I also liked that the book takes a proactive approach. It outlines the things you can do today before you run into issues with privacy and security.

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

TECH TRENDS: A Look Back – 2020 Tech Review

What a year it has been! Technology in this year of COVID is all about designing new ways to socialize, new ways to work, and new ways to go to school. We are spending more time online and demanding faster internet speeds and more bandwidth. We’re working from home at the same time that our kids are learning at home. Who ever thought that we’d be talking to our insurance agent and hear a baby cry in the background?! 2020 Tech has been an adventure!

2020 Tech:

When I asked Chris what was new in Tech this year, he reminded me, while there have been few new things, it has mostly been a year of learning how to better use the tech we have.  For example:

Conference Services:

We’re using more face-to-face calling than ever. Between work and school and family – we want to SEE the people we’re talking to. But, because the technology is so new to many of us, we think it’s our fault when something goes wrong. Before you start tearing out your hair, check Downdetector.com to see if Zoom or Google Meet to see if they are the ones having a problem.

WiFi:

This year, it’s been a struggle getting adequate WiFi at home when everyone needs to use it at the same time! Some things you can do include:

  • Check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to make sure your home is getting the highest rated speed for your area. (Yes, your monthly fee will probably go up.)
  • If your Smartphone comes with a personal hotspot, turn it on and tether your computer to it. That way, you’re not competing for WiFi resources with the rest of your family. (Keep an eye on your usage, though. When you reach certain thresholds, your cellular provider may start to throttle your coverage.
  • Check into getting a separate hotspot. I have a Jetpack from Verizon that can connect up to 15 devices.
  • If your home is large, consider a mesh router to reach every corner of your home. (Check out our Parts page for Chris’ recommendations.)

Streaming Movies:

We’re watching more movies and TV series too. Some of the streaming services let you download a movie or several episodes to watch later. Do that downloading late at night for the next day. That way, you’re not interrupting the workflow of someone else in your family.

2020 Tech – What Technology was new in 2020:

Battery Life:

After five or six years with the iPhone 7, Chris and I decided it was time for an upgrade. We are THRILLED with the battery life on the iPhone 12. We can go a full day and still have more than 50% of battery life left – even without an external battery case! 2020 Tech rocks!

M1 Chip:

Apple has developed a new chip for their MacBooks. Reviews so far are mostly raves.

5G:

The 5G network has been big in the news this year. It’s been touted as the next great thing. But right now, 5G is just a number. On my iPhone, I see “5GE,” which is very similar to (and might be identical to) 4G LTE. According to macrumors.com:

“Real 5G networks offer much faster connection speeds and better performance. … Actual 5G networks, when up and running with full coverage available, may be anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than LTE networks …. 5G technology requires new modem hardware, so until there is an iPhone with a 5G modem chip, no iPhones will work with 5G networks. Your current ‌iPhone‌ will not connect to 5G networks and will be limited to LTE.”

So it might be a while before we get real 5G service.

Want to read more?

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.